Thursday, January 31, 2008
Today is my sister Carol's birthday. She died in 1992. She drew this when she was 17, in 1959. She liked to draw with a rapidograph. I have one of her sketchbooks. This self portrait suggests so much of her complex personality.
The picture below was taken at Christmas a year before she died. Doesn't she resemble Roz Chast?
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
No, not talking about the image on my tablet laptop, but the image size on a cel phone when you're making a movie for it.
I'm close to completion of a pilot two minute movie for cel phones. Mind you, I don't have a cel phone. I have no one to call! I'm always home when other people are awake.
I've been pretty pleased with how it's been turning out, with background animation and music and weird stuff. I've been fussing over line quality to make it more artistic. I sent a dialog channel along the bottom in case you're watching it no sound, or forgot to listen to the dialog.
Then I looked at it in the mini Windows media player and it looked so wildly shrunken. I thought surely that couldn't be the size of a cel phone. The type was unreadable. I held a credit card up to the screen. It matched the size of the card. I emailed Sal, who has an i-phone, to measure her screen size. eek, it's the size of a credit card. I'm going to have to rebuild this movie a lot to make it work in that mini-mini size.
(Not much progress with the laptop tablet today. They gave instructions on how to use a paper clip to attach the pen's string to the laptop and I puzzled over it for half an hour, with no success. And I had a paperclip.)
Monday, January 28, 2008
My new HP laptop arrived today. I haven't had a chance to do anything but charge it and try out the handwriting. But how amazing is that-- with my total crappo handwriting, it instantly selected each word correctly. goodbye keyboard, hello little tablet friend!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Our blogger pal Sal mentioned Roz Chast in her blog, and I thought yes, love that hysterical cartoonist for the New Yorker ( I think the only one who qualifies as really funny anymore.) I've torn pages of her cartoons from the New Yorker- where do they end up? I always thought she was married to famous illustrator Seymour Chwast, but Roz is lacking the w.
In googling Roz Chast, I found this video interview with Steve Martin and Roz Chast. It runs about half an hour and streams well, but you can't just embed it. The New Yorker is fussy. Also if you stop it to go out to the kitchen, it starts from the beginning when you push play again.
She's charming and funny, and it's a delight, but a lot of questions I'd love to know remain unasked and unanswered. Like why she steered away from underground cartooning. Or what are her favorite fruits. She reminds me so much of my sister Carol (1942-1992).
No, not any of you dears-- it's the blood orange. They're just coming into full flavor right now. I squeeze orange juice every morning we're in Northridge-- imagine. Now you'll all want to stay here!
When a blood orange is good, the taste is dreamy-- oranges and raspberries and more. But not like the raspberry taste wine people talk about-- this genuinely tastes like the best raspberries ever.
I planted a tree right outside the kitchen window. It totally obscures the view. Last year we had a huge crop with not much flavor. This year we have a small crop with huge oranges loaded with flavor. Are bees fickle? I have no idea.
The trick is in the harvesting, for us. The oranges hang there on the tree getting heavier and heavier and it takes great restraint not to pick them early. And if you're not careful, along will come the unannounced Blood Orange Day for Crows, and the Valley Crows will all descend and eat them up- VOOP- in one day- no more oranges. And it's a lot of work for a crow to pick and eat an orange I'd think. They leave the shells scattered about. How do they know when those oranges are ready? How does the word get out?
When I first saw them in a market many years ago, labelled "blood orange" I thought, "eww, sick must be some strange religious thing." And now I'm converted.
Got a favorite fruit?
Friday, January 25, 2008
The peaceful sound of the rain last night woke me up before 4 am, and after a while I gave up and settled down in front of the computer. I checked the live web cam at the Santa Anita track, and it looked pretty bleak. Not a horse in sight. They've been having terrible problems with their synthetic track which doesn't drain right, and signifigant big races set for tomorrow. Then I thought I'd check the local radio news site.
They were reporting TORNADOES in L.A.! Wooey, as a child in New Jersey I tormented myself with fears of tidal waves and tornados, both of which were unlikely. This painting, titled "Tornados Over Kansas" by J. Steuart Curry, was in the World Book Encyclopedia. I was a bit obsessed with this painting, daring myself to look at it, loving and hating it both. "I'll just look really quick and then I'll close it."
J. Steuart Curry is the forgotten man of Midwestern Regional painters of the thirties, regarded behind Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton. But it's an awfully good painting, don't you think? Just hope they get that chicken in the basement too.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Oh yeah I'm doing my part to improve the economy. I ordered this new tablet computer from HP before I knew that Sandy Claws might be sending every citizen a check.
I've been eying tablet computers for quite some time, and all the reviews coming in on this one are positive so I took the leap. It hasn't arrived yet.
Last night I dreamed when I opened it, it was soft and floppy like a giant gray cube of jello and worked like one of these party favor tablets where you peel the greasy top layer to draw another image.
(It's supposed to come next week. It may actually be built in the USA, or maybe I'm naive.)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
This cartoon is a big part of me.
Watch this one while you can, as it usually gets pulled off youtube. It's written, animated and sung by Bud Luckey, with Turk Murphy and a small combo from Earthquake Magoon's accompanying him. I usually cry when I watch it. Bud Luckey has had great success at Pixar- yay BUD!
The back story:
I graduated from college early, thanks to various summer school courses. It was 1971. I'd made one animated film at Smith, and took off for San Francisco. I'd seen some of R. Crumb's work and read about underground comix. I knew it would be very different from Smith College and that's what I wanted. I enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute for a graduate course with Larry Jordan, who had made lovely animated cut-out films, and Lenny Lipton, who actually wrote "Puff the Magic Dragon" and was a worthless teacher. So was Victor Moscoso, but that's another story.
My best bud Janet and I got "jobs" as cocktail waitresses at the Magic Cellar, a bar that was a hangout for magicians-- at 490 Clay St, downstairs from Earthquake Magoons. Bud Luckey was a frequent customer of this hangout. He worked around the corner at Imagination Inc, one of the first studios to produce animation for Sesame Street. Bud encouraged me to pursue animation and tried to get me work at Sesame Street through Imagination Inc. Nothing came of it at that time. Years later a different producer ran things at Sesame Street and I had the opportunity to create many animated songs for Sesame Street.
This piece may look restrained if you have no personal memories of it, but it was a breakthrough at the time, and the true feelings evoked carry through the years I think. A sweet melancholy to the song.
Monday, January 21, 2008
That's his 1935 dual cowl Packard Phaeton. I know a lot about car design from 1950 backwards. I loved cars. I loved my toy garage with the crank elevator. I could recite Saab sales pitches at cocktail parties when I was dragged along. I still pay attention to car design. I bought the first version of PT Cruiser available. I love car museums.
I know nothing about how cars work and could care less.
Here's a poem I wrote when I was about 8:
Vroom, vroom the motors started up!
The Jaguar owner-
received the cup.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
This ad for 7-Up was directed by Robert Abel, who died a few years ago. It won every kind of award imaginable, and is still very beautiful. The only thing that really looks dated to me is the women's makeup. This ad really broke ground.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Cloned meat: I've read the explanations that say the cloning will just be of the prize animals.
No one seems to believe it.
Makes sense to me.
But even if there were cloned meat, to a reluctant carnivore like me it provides a certain way out. I'm eating the animal, but it also survives as a duplicate, so maybe it's not so bad, guilt-wise. If you see what I mean. It's hard raising pet chickens and throwing super market birds in the oven.
Jon made a movie about cloning that had interesting ideas, but it starred Arnold Schwarzenneger, to everyone's regret, and didn't do well. We still have some movie prop furniture from the movie, including Arnold's chair, which is large and comfortable. In fact I think I'll go sit there right now!
James Brown the squab or king pigeon is now sitting on at least two eggs. What is this about? He also decorated the ratty little nest with new straw pieces. I was told James was male. Is the mate the pigeon, or one of the other lovelies in the aviary? Will this result in some giant mutant pigeon? Stay tuned.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
copyright Peggy Reavey
I got an email invitation to an art opening today which mentioned a show coming up featuring Peggy Reavey. I'd never seen her work before. What do you think? I liked the imagery very much, not sure about the border decorations.
More info I came upon by accident about this artist:
At Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Reavey fell in love with soon-to-be-surrealist-filmmaker-extraordinaire David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, Twin Peaks). On the third floor of her house, she worked on the first three of Lynch's experimental films. Reavey can be observed vomiting blood in the Lynch short film, "The Alphabet." The two were married and had a child. After their divorce, Reavey took to writing novels. Soon, she felt she was writing about her life rather than living it, so she rechanneled her creative energy into making surrealist paintings instead.
Highways Gallery describes Reavey's paintings as a marriage of Ann Landers and William Blake.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Got this cookie fortune while watching the Democratic debate in Las Vegas on tv. Jon has the flu and I bought mall-style Chinese food at lunch to carry us through.
This fortune is not exactly tops on my long to see list! (Iceland geothermics) But I give the noodle company points for getting specific about things! And better than the candidates, though they did get a bit specific tonight...
Dinah said the Clinton act was appearing at U.C. Davis tonight-- whew, after a two hour debate she and Mr. BC hustle the UC Davis crowd. Can you imagine?
Of course you can't, who can-- what that life is like... I was surprised to see Barack is a leftie, as in left-handed.
Then I got to thinking about handwriting. There was a signifigant book from the 20s about handwriting analysis in my house when I was little which affects my judgment still. My mother and I sometimes refer to it in conversation!
Signed: Vice President in charge of Stationery, Peking Noodle Comp.
When I first got to San Francisco I bought fortune cookies by the bag, but didn't know what to think of so many fortunes. Were they all meant for me? (Not such an airhead as that, surely.)
Monday, January 14, 2008
Click on Whinsey to start her dancing, and click on her to stop it.
Hmm, I feel as if I've seen that dance before... hmm.
Yes you have if you ever check the weather at weather.com. It's from that annoying commercial for "Lower My Bills."
Dance animation is hard to do, at least for me-- the timing has to be just right to keep it fluid yet you also need to hold poses lightly to accent steps. I was determined to figure how that motion worked. I knew I could never figure it out just looking at it. The style looks like the Sims to me, but must be some kind of 3d program-- wonder if dance steps are provided as a feature in that program?
Here's what I did:
In Internet Explorer I cleared my cache, then loaded the weather.com page.
I searched through my cache in Internet Explorer and found the swf file, and saved it. I thought I could just import that into my Flash movie and look at the motion. No go. It had some weird kind of protection on it.
So off on the Google road I went, and I found a program called Flash Decompiler Trellix, which was free and didn't look as if it was going to put endless popups with nasty pictures on my hard drive. Reckless, yes, but I proceeded. It in fact placed all the frames of the Lower My Bills Dance in a new Flash file. They were black and white and grainy looking, but that didn't matter as I just wanted to study the motion.
It just happened that the dancing girl I'd caught was wearing an outfit not unlike what I've dressed Whinsey in for my latest animation. So I redrew the whole animation and adjusted things and got so sick of it all but then liked it at the end. It still needs cleaning up further, but just thought I'd post it anyway.
Here's the reference girl side by side with Whinsey:
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Last night we went to a great party at the home of a well known tv personality. The food was terrific, prepared by the staff of the famous but now closed Hollywood hangout Chasen's. The crowd was very jolly and not too glamorous. The hosts go out of their way to make everyone happy, and seem to enjoy their own party too.
Their house is filled with pre 40's movie memorabilia-- beyond belief, and there are usually a number of animation related people at this party. Last night a man was sitting in a corner who was the voice of Pinocchio. He didn't have a long nose, and didn't say much. Last year I met Stan Freburg at this party, and years ago Bob Clampett was one of the guests. One year we drove 30's child star Jane Withers to this party. She was a riot.
It was a late Boxing Day party, and in that tradition, you're supposed to bring one present you received for Christmas that you didn't want, and bring it wrapped anonymously. We had a couple to choose from, but the unexpected one arrived while we were at the party last night.
Dinah's friend Cormorant was in an accident in downtown L.A. and asked if he could tow and park his truck at our house until he can repair it. It even came with blue wrapping. (poor guy--he was side swiped into a pole-- at least he wasn't hurt-- not his fault-- the other person sped off ) It still has its wrapper on.
weirdest gossip heard at the party- that Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise's wife, has been impregnated with sperm of L. Ron Hubbard. theremin music please!
Friday, January 11, 2008
I know this picture looks like the recovery of a teenage klepto's stash, but I actually got all eight of these in the mail today, and was I thrilled! I bought them here, and was a bit worried that it might be a fake site since I never got a confirming email and there was no shipping cost at all.
Dinah consumes chapstick as a food group. I don't usually, but I discovered Jones Soda Fufu Berry flavor at a fancy grocery store in a fancy grocery store in Colorado, and it was scrumptious. We never got back to that market, and I never found another market in Colorado that sold them.
When Dinah tasted it she declared it, on the spot, best chapstick ever.
I treasured the little tube and began to use it sparingly when I saw it was almost gone. I kept it in my car. Then one day it was missing. A day later I found it in the gutter, run over, all squished... aww, it was so sad. Quick, get me my google!
The flavors in this set are GREEN APPLE, FUFU BERRY, STRAWBERRY LIME, and ORANGE & CREAM. Who needs dinner now? I just tasted orange and cream: cream-luscious! Dinah will get four.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
You may remember we were having bad times in chicken land at the end of the year.
All are living in harmony again. Last week I almost posted a Craigs List notice on the brown hen, Honey, because she was fighting the one eyed white chicken Pirate, to the tune of "There Will Be Blood." But a few days of isolation in a dog crate and she forgot whatever was p@ssing her off-- now all is harmony,
with the big white boy in charge!
He was standing on the top step looking in the window this afternoon. He's a gorgeous white boy.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
I was trying to figure out what wii was, and then I got to thinking about the time I spent brain storming at Interval Research, (a Paul Allen start-up), and then I opened the file cabinet and lost several hours looking at all the notes for these elaborate games we were imagining, which didn't quite have the technology ready for them. This yak picture was in the files. I was just learning Photoshop and having much fun with it.
There were some very wild ideas in the works... I only participated in it for a couple of months. It was in 1996, and that's when I got my first pooter. One name for the project that I liked was "Refried Beam."
They had technology to track movement so you became a character on screen. But cameras still all had wires, and it never turned into anything.
EXCEPT, googling right along I found that in 1999 they did come out with a product which related to what we were working on.
but I don't think that caught on either. We were going to have them surfing in hot lava with tiki trolls and other weirdness.
Is this what wii is like now?
I see that one of the nice people associated with the deep code of the project is now "creating a new computing paradigm that replicates the structure and function of the human neocortex."
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Busy at my desk when the phone rings, and Jon's in the basement.
"Hello, may I speak to Sally Cruikshank?" (charming young man's voice.)
"This is she."
"I have Sheila Dumptruck on the line on behalf of Harvey Gasbag. Please hold."
I grab paper, wonder what this is about. Harvey Gasbag is a big producer who has his own company even.
Wait two minutes. Sheila's on the line.
"Sally, been so long. Remember me?"
"I used to work for Stuart Lostwallet."
(some agent who found me no work and never bought lunch.)
Sheila continues:"I'm a big fan.. and so is Harvey"
Now I'm thinking she's calling because Sir Gasbag has heard I have interesting ideas and would like to develop them. I'm thinking I've just won the lottery. I feel lively and perky. Yes, Sheila, yes!
But that's not what it's about. She's calling to ask me to vote for Gasbag's latest film as Best Picture. Man, they've got to be desperate if they're calling me.
all the words I'm thinking but don't say as I politely say I'll look at the Gasbag Epic. (But I won't.) I would have rather gotten one of those pre-recorded Bill Clinton phone calls.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
I really enjoyed this book about Steve Martin's life before he started making movies. I almost never read celebrity bios, but I've always found Steve Martin interesting, and am sorry I never saw him in the small venue days. A review in Slate got me interested.
(some great but hard to find showbiz autobios: errol flynn: sex fiend, tiny tim: compulsive complainer, rudy vallee: had an excuse for everything, harry richman: ended up buying dented cans in miami, all eccentric books.)
This is a nice book. He doesn't fuss over famous people. It's more like "this is how it was." And that "how", was Steve Martin, a strange isolated guy with ideas, who spent hours/years perfecting a unique act in Southern California, haunting magic shops, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and playing a banjo. It's a strangely honest book in a level way. He wanted to create an act that was totally original and he borrowed from all kinds of sources to do it. The way everyone creates...
It sounds as if, for awhile, the act was sort of magical. He'd have the audience in small clubs in the palm of his hand, and then actually lead them all outside. It was performance art that was actually entertaining. I appreciated what he revealed without portraying himself as smaller or greater than anyone else who's weird and exhibitionistic and shy. And I often burst out laughing at what he'd written.
Here's his King Tut video.
Dinah's now precinct captain for Obama volunteers at Davis. She left a couple of hours ago, and I feel awfully sad and discombobulated. (Did I spell that right?) She's worked for the Democrats before. We didn't see much of her while she was home. I still think John Edwards is the best candidate, but like her enthusiasm for Obama, even if it led to some disagreements.
Now it's just Jon and me and Molly and the fish and the frog and the doves and the squabbling chickens. Oh, and wild parrots out back in the sycamore tree.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
I got this lovely youtube message tonight:
Sally, Thanks for posting your cartoons. I first saw these in 1980 at the impressionable age of 12. In 1982 I saw you speak at the Plaza Theater in Petaluma, Ca.. You were one of the influences that led me into animation. However, being hunched over a drawing board drove me nuts, so I became a photographer. I have such an affection for these. Thanks again!
The Plaza Theater ran repertory cinema. My friend booked the films. My show consisted of a long reel of old 16mm cartoons that had influenced me, and then my own films. I did a dog and pony act-- no, I spoke a bit at the end of the show.
The message quoted above brought back a memory that haunts me still.
That night, at the Plaza Theater, my good girlfriend who'd set up the booking said, "Let's go across the street and have a few drinks. We'll come back when the films are done and you can talk and sign autographs."
"hey, okay, pal o mine."
When we got back to the theatre we were told that the projectionist had projected the films UPSIDE DOWN, but NO ONE had complained. They thought I did it on purpose. Hippies, god bless them.
I've been trying to get comfortable with Corel Painter Essentials 4 software. I'm not comfortable yet! This is a background sketch for the cartoon I'm working on. Some parts work better than others. I like the bush and the building just left of it. I just discovered that Academic Superstore has a fire sale price on the professional full feature set of Painter, Painter X. Instead of $400 plus it's $89! So I sprang for it. Too bad the sale wasn't running when I bought the junior version.
This image is an auto paint picture of the interior of a Fry's store. I brightened it in Photoshop.
It too makes a nice background, but the problem there is matching it for other angles. Also, I can't remember how the heck I got this expressionistic effect!
Friday, January 04, 2008
I'm working on a new animated piece which involves futuristic gadgets, so I've been scrubbing google and came upon these at pingmag. If you follow their link to the animation, it's wonderfully goofy. I'd heard that smileys are much more developed in japan.
Scroll down that first page to the jinsei ginko banks, and look closely at the graphics.
ps if I don't blog for a few days, it means our internet has gone down due to weather. The connection is very wimpy in the rain.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
We went to see Pepper today. He was looking shaggy and happy. We took bananas laced with Bute then rolled in oats and molasses. Bute eases the pain of arthritis and we're expecting big storms. Pepper nickered when he saw me, which made me feel so good. The last couple of times he hadn't recognized me. He was moving around pretty well for an old timer.
Dinah fed carrots to his bud.
Rooster Elle tried to kick sense into his psycho women but they weren't listening. Note their fluffed necks and strange posture.
Good thing we have a chicken psychologist on staff.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Maybe it's the holidays, maybe it's the blog, maybe it's my secret psychic self, but all sorts of long lost pals and acquaintances were checking in with me this week for the first time in twenty plus years. Truly a delight.
One of them triggered all sorts of memories. We'd met at a screening of my films in the 1970's. I did a lot of trouping(sp?) around the country then and met lots of people. He mentioned a woman, I'll just call D here, who had tried to get me interested in the world of computers. So I wrote back this email, which then returned as undeliverable. Of course I know sometimes those emails really are delivered, but since it might never have made it through the digital ozone, here's what I wrote to him.
(part of the email that got returned)
I have tried to remember D's name. That whole Palo Alto showing event, and a few visits with D, I've thought back on. At the screening someone gave me a napkin with a message on it. He worked with John Lily, and invited me to swim with dolphins. There was a phone number. I didn't do it, and regretted it always. Also I think that was where someone gave me a business card from the Time Travel Institute.
I googled D. and saw she's credited with designing Centipede--
wow! There was someone she wanted me to meet back then, someone who was starting up a computer company where really exciting things were happening. Could it have been Bill Gates-- or Steve Jobs? I've always wondered.
I was so shy and stuck in my ways in those days-- hmm, come to think of it I still am!Okay, that's the first one, but the second one really made me almost
faint at the keyboard. I'd been thinking of this person frequently all the past week, with no idea why. I googled her with no luck. I'd even thought of going out to the garage and digging in a box for some letters from her. For awhile she spelled her name strangely.
We were in college together. I haven't heard from her since around 1976.this is Clare-- remember me? i just spent 25-plus
years as a newspaper reporter and am trying to figure out how to make the transition to more remunerative employment... i just switched from 20 years as a self-employed correspondent for the Boston Globe to the same role for the once formidable arch-rightwing NH statewide daily, the NH Union Leader, a paper that once made liberal politicians weep but that now seems like a husk of itself...
anyway, i live in portsmouth, NH with my 16-yr-old adopted daughter, a divorced boyfriend, and 13 yr old Basset hound. I'm still a liberal. Iago just emailed me that you were on the web after Tom contacted him. We were having an email reunion on the sad occasion of a friend's suicide (Whit Garberson). Hope you are well, Clare
Molly and I got to Lake Balboa before dawn. It was wildly windy, with the coots bobbing up and down on the choppy waves. Out on the big field we saw our hawk friends soaring. Then I spotted a deflated purple balloon with streamers hanging from it. I picked it up to throw in the trash, then saw these two notes hanging from the streamers.
They were two New Year's resolutions that had already blown away. Kind of reminded me of my mother's pie pans.