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March 6th, 2007 Tues.
March 6th, 2007

I've been reading Michael Rubin's book DroidMaker, George Lucas and the Digital Revolution. It is a good account by a long time ILM film editor written from the inside. It covers a lot of Digital development history, primarily from the point of view of how it was effected by George Lucas and his ILM employees.

One thing caught my eye. How when Lucas was a young,intense film student intern, a union shop steward on a movie set was mean to him. Supposedly, he was hostile to film unions thereafter. Old union leaders had a particular problem in the 1960s not understanding young, hippy iconoclasts coming into the business. I once got into an intense debate at SIGGRAPH with a Digital animation supervisor about why she hated unions. She repeated almost the same story: when an intern, a union shop steward was mean to her.

To tell you the truth, I am getting tired of this argument. It's like the old " A Nun once slapped me, and so now I'm an Atheist." A union person was crummy to me when I was a kid, so now I'll help undermine the pensions and health insurance of hundreds of working union families. It's an excuse for the egotists who find brotherhood and solidarity an "inconvenience". To be fair to Lucas, he signed some of the first union contracts in the Bay Area for ILM.

When I started in the field, I had my union rep scream at me and scared the crap outta me. That still didn't stop me from one day leading that union and representing my brothers and sisters and their families. It probably didn't help my creative career, it cost me an Annie Award nomination or two, but I have no regrets. I did some good stuff for animation folks that will outlive one successful film or series. I helped everyone, even the ones who hated me.

My book Drawing the Line is about animators who came out in the open and risked their careers and fortunes to benefit all of us in the animation community. Their names were out there for all to see, for that they risked blacklisting and even physical violence. They were real heroes, they just didn't whine on a blog anonymously.

Everyone is talking about Sam Simon on 60 Minutes last Sunday, about how rich the Simpsons made him. All I think about was the dozens of animators in the beginning who hated me for wanting them to unionize-"Oh No! We can't afford union benefits, the studio will close and we'll all lose our jobs!" After the actors, techs, writers, and everyone else did it, the artists finally unionized in 2001. The Simpsons have been union for years now, and nothing terrible happened. I hope their movie kicks major ass.

You may think of yourself as a badass Lone Wolf Arteest, but to the Hollywood players we are all of a tribe. Wrists, Creatives. No brains just a steady hand. No matter how some flatter you, that's what they really think about you.

Rather than whine, go do something. It feels better in the long run.
Try to accomplish something not just for yourself, but for all of us. It's the toughest job you'll ever love.

Birthdays: Michaelangelo Buonnarotti, Cyrano De Bergerac-Servignan, Elizabeth Barrett Browning,Lou Costello,Ivan Boesky, Ring Lardner, Gabriele Garcia-Marquez,, Valentina Tereschkova the first woman in space, Tom Arnold, Kiri Te Kanawa, Rob Reiner, Alan Greenspan, DC Mayor Marion Barry, Stephen Schwarz- the writer of Wicked, Godspell and the music for Disney's Pocahontas, Shaquille O’Neal is 35, Ed McMahon is 87

1834- The Ontario settlement of York is incorporated as the new City of Toronto.

1836-REMEMBER THE ALAMO! The Mexican army of General Santa Anna overwhelmed a small garrison of rebellious Texans in an old mission. The tragic stand of 189 men led by colorful frontiersmen like Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie against 5,000 troops has become part of American mythology. That they ignored Sam Houston's direct orders to blow up the mission and join his main army with their valuable cannon is forgotten. Apologists contend that if they didn’t stall Santa Anna's army he would have swooped down on Washington-on-the-Brazos and squashed the whole Texas Rebellion while they were still quibbling over their constitution.
The attack began at 4:30 a.m. in the predawn darkness and was over in 90 minutes, a little after 6 a.m.. Jim Bowie was sick and was killed in his hospital bed. The notes of a Texas officer named Dolson who interviewed a Mexican officer named Sanchez after the battle was discovered in 1961. It revealed that maybe Davey Crockett didn't go down heroically using his rifle "Old Betsy" as a club- like in the movies, but tried to surrender. His wife was Mexican and he was a politician after all. Santa Anna had him and any other surviving men shot. Sanchez wasn’t sure if it was Crockett. We'll never know for sure. There were 16 Alamo survivors, the women and children and Colonel Travis' black servant Joe. Santa Anna made sure they were each given two pesos and a blanket and set free.

1850- Gustav Flaubert was the French writer who was once tried for pornography for creating Madame Bovary. This day while in Egypt he visited the countries most famous belly dancing prostitute Kuchuck Hanem.

1860- Republican Presidential candidate Abe Lincoln in a speech said:" Thank God we have a system where workers have the Right to Strike."in 2006 Republican President George W. Bush said he'd veto the new House Freedom to Work Bill that would help American workers unionize.

1899- The wonder drug of the age and the first patent medicine- Aspirin, is patented. Felix Hoffman isolated the compound salicin from ground willow bark, an old Indian pain remedy.

1918- The Navy destroyer USN Cyclops disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle.

1927- Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis opened in the US.

1936- Mr. Clarence Birdseye introduced frozen vegetables.

1978- Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt was shot and crippled by a lunatic.

1979- The film The China Syndrome premiered. It was about an accident at an American nuclear power plant.. Three weeks later the Three Mile Island accident occurred, boosting the box office. " It's spooky, it's enough to make you religious" said star Michael Douglas.

1981- CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite retired. Dan Rather succeeded him after CBS learned ABC was offering Rather big buxs to jump networks. Roger Mudd, who was thought to be the real successor to Cronkites job, left the network to anchor the History Channel.

1989- Time Inc. merged with Warner Communications to become Time Warner, the largest media conglomerate in the world. They were bought by AOL in 2000 but AOL proved to be dead weight and they resumed control as TimeWarner in 2003.