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a detail of the wall of my study.
Photo is a Hollywood Reporter portrait of me posing with Chuck Jones, Rob Minkoff and Bob Kurtz.

When I got out of school back in the Disco-Duck Era, in terms of textbooks we had only three- Preston Blair's Animation workbook, Techniques of Film Animation by Halas and Batchelor, and Animation: Concepts,Methods, Uses by Dr. Roy Madsen. Christopher Finch's huge Art of Walt Disney had great visuals, but most students like me couldn't afford to buy it. After that it was whatever we could xerox from friends.

Today we have a cornucopia of cool new books dishing out a lot of great information. When you can get me to shuttup for a moment about my own book, I'll detail some others no toonmeisters shelves should be without.

Amid Amidi's Cartoon Modern is a richly illustrated book that celebrates the years of the UPA Revolution and the 50s flat style. When old cartoons like Bambi and Pinnochio were derided as " Cambell Soup Kids "stuff. More than that, it also examines the era when many of the dynamic artists of the medium moved from the decaying Hollywood film studios to the small commercial houses. Where people once discussed the merits of Flowers & Trees and Betty Boop, they now discussed Marky Maypo and Burt and Harry Piels for Piels Beer. I applaude finally giving studios like Ray Patin and John Sutherland their due. Many rare photos of some of the forgotten greats of our art form.
Check it out at

Another good read is Your Career in Animation by David Levy. New Yorker Levy draws upon his own experience as well as lots of collected personal anecdotes about how to put together a portfolio, doing interviews and getting your first gigs in ToonTown. Whats more, chapters like Indies for Dummies, examines that rare topic, how to function as an independent animator. From Allworth Press.

More to come. By the way, did I tell you I wrote a book....?
Birthdays: Arthur Miller, Rita Hayworth, Jean Arthur, Montgomery Clift, Jimmy Breslin, Tom Poston, Gary Puckett, Margot Kidder, Evil Knievel, Jerry Seigel (Superman co-creator), Virgil 'Vip' Partch Disney animator, Charles Kraft the sliced cheese king, Beverly Garland- star of Attack of the Alligator People, George Wendt, Mike Judge the creator of Beavis & Butthead, Eminem

1814- In London a large beer vat burst and drowned nine people.

1815- Napoleon is landed on his final island of exile, St.Helena, off the coast of sub equatorial Africa. The humid climate was considered by the British so unhealthy that they rotated the garrison every year. Napoleon spent the voyage learning English and became such good friends with his assigned physician Dr. O'Meara (who was Irish) that the doctor was reprimanded. Napoleon loved to poke fun at doctors, he first addressed O'Meara- "So you are a doctor ? Well I am a general. How many men have You killed? I wager more than me! "

1904-In San Francisco Amadeo and Giovanni Giannini opened the New Bank of Italy, which in 1930 became the Bank of America. Among the 40 or so independent banks in California Gianini’s bank grew because he encouraged immigrants to put their money in, instead of in their mattresses. After the great San Francisco earthquake Gianini buried the records and total assets of their bank in a strongbox in their garden until their building could be rebuilt. The Bank of America grew from that garden to become the largest bank in the U.S. and a major Hollywood financier. They were a major financier of the Walt Disney Studio in the 1930s.

1928- Duke Ellington recorded The Mouche.

1967- The controversial play “Hair” opened at the Anspacher Theatre on Broadway. Hippies, nude scenes, The “Age of Aquarius.”

1973- THE OIL WEAPON- Arab nations of OPEC declare a crude oil embargo on any nation supporting Israel. Oil went from $12 a barrel to $79. Gas rationing and long lines appeared at gas stations in the US and England. Most distressingly, the 12 inch design of G.I.Joe figures were discontinued for twenty years.

1989- In the late afternoon the BAY AREA EARTHQUAKE shook San Francisco and vicinity. For the first time since 1906 fires were seen in the Mission District. The epicenter was a little town called Watsonville. 67 people were killed. California was planning to relieve traffic pressure by building upper levels onto existing freeways systems. The Ventura Freeway in L.A. had plans for such a system. When one of these new double deckers, the Nimitz Freeway, collapsed in this quake crushing motorists in a grisly concrete sandwich, all such plans were abandoned. There was a world series baseball game under way in Candlestick Park but miraculously no one was hurt. National TV audiences were amazed at the local fans laughing at the danger. They chanted to the TV cameras :"Welcome to California!".

2005- The Colbert Report premiered on Comedy Central.