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Blog Posts from February 2007:

February 24, 2007 sat
February 24th, 2007

I just got a nice e-mail from my old boss, animator Jack Zander.

Jack was born in 1909 and began at the Rohmer Grey Studio in 1930. He worked at Looney Tunes, MGM and Lantz and was the first president of the Screen Cartoonists Guild when it formed in 1938. He did some great Tom & Jerry animation. After the war he moved to New York City where he became a mainstay in New York Commercials- with Tempo, Pelican, then his own Zanders Animation Parlour. Until age 90 was riding a Harley Davidson and he rode it across the U.S. to get his lifetime achievement award from ASIFA/Hollywood. Former employees of Jacks included Nancy Beiman, Dean Yeagle, Chuck Harriton, and Preston Blair. I worked as a freelance assistant at Zanders in 1977-79. His son Mark also has his own studio.
Jack and me in 1997. click on image to enlarge

I saw animator Doug Crane in New York last week and I was wondering how Jack was doing. So it was a pleasant surprise to receive this e-mail. He had given me some great stories for my book. I hope he doesn’t mind my printing some of it. But I know many of his old friends and employees would get a kick out of hearing from him.






Nice hearing from you Jack! I hope you like the book!

B-Dazes: Roman Emperor Hadrian, Winslow Homer, Arrigo Boito, Wilhelm Grimm (a brother of the brothers Grimm),George Harrison, Abe Vigoda, Edward James Olmos is 60, Barry Bostwick, Michel Legrand, James Farentino, illustrator Zdzislaw Beskinski, Michael Radford, Billy Zane, Dominic Chianese- Uncle Junior Soprano, is 76

495 B.C. Roman Festival REGIFUGIUM in honor of the overthrow of the Tarquins and foundation of the ROMAN REPUBLIC. The king of Rome, Tarquinus Superbus -Tarquin the Proud, Rash, Pain-in-da-Butt, whatever, capping off a history of arrogant rule raped Lucretia, the daughter of a nobleman named Horatius. She tells her dad and he stabs her to death to save her further shame ( I guess that's 'tough love 'or something). The Roman people lead by the Horatius’ and his brother Marcus Brutus drive out the king and establish a republic. For the next 450 years Rome is a democracy led by a Senate-from" senates" or elders, electing two Consuls (presidents) a year with the common peoples spokesmen called Tribunes of the Plebs who could veto. The motto the Republic Romans would carry to the ends of the earth is S.P.Q.R.- Senatus Populusque Romanum -The Senate and the People of Rome.
The proudest status foreigners like Herod or Saint Paul could aspire to was to be made a Citizen of Rome. They could get out of any jam by announcing “Civities Romanum Sum!” I am a Roman Citizen. This meant you could not be imprisoned or otherwise punished by provincial or local authorities. Or if Saint Paul read MAD Magazine he would say " quid, me anxius sum?" what, me worry ?

1928- Frenchman Nicholas Landru, called BLUEBEARD was executed by guillotine. Landru married ten times, bringing the ladies up to his home, murdering them, and burning them in his furnace. He'd then live off their estates and sell their furniture. When the prosecutor said :"So, you made a career out of the suffering and swindling of others !" Landru replied:" No monsieur, I am not a lawyer."

1987- US Robotics sold the first 56k modems.

1988- The US Supreme Court defended the right of public figures to be satirized by throwing out a lawsuit Rev Jerry Fallwell brought against Hustler Magazine owner Larry Flynt. Flynt published a drawing describing Rev Fallwells first romantic experience in an outhouse. The Court ruled a public figure can be lampooned so long as it is not portrayed as factual.

1989- According to the David Lynch television series Twin Peaks this is the day Laura Palmer’s body was found and F.B.I. agent Dale Cooper came to town to investigate.

1996- Los Angeles Angel Flight reopened.

1997- The announcement of the first successful cloning of a mammal embryo, a sheep named Dolly in Scotland. To prove even though they're research scientists 'boys will be boys' They used cells from a mamary gland to do the cloning so they named their creation after busty singer Dolly Parton. After a series of illnesses the animal was put down in 2003, living half the life span of a normal sheep but she mated and had babies normally. But the drive to develop cloning continues. In 2002 the a successful cloning of a cat was claimed by a California company called Commercial Savings & Clone.

2003- State Farm Insurance Company announced that they would add a clause into future car insurance policies that Nuclear Explosions and Terrorist Biological Agents would not be classified as Road Hazards and so not covered. Yep, if a Hydrogen Bomb goes off in my neighborhood my first concern will be about my insurance premiums.

February 23, 2007 Friday
February 23rd, 2007

People are always asking me, what are my favorite animated scenes? I have so many I can't really choose my favorite, but here are some:

All of Bob Clampett's Great Piggybank Robbery,

All of Friz Freleng's Back Alley Oproar.

The Horse in Chuck Jones's the Draft Horse.

Eric Larson's work on Figaro in Pinnochio

Marc Davis' Cruella Da Ville in 101 Dalmations

Bill Littlejohn's work on Snoopy dancing on Shroeder's piano in Charlie Brown Christmas

John Sibley's Goofy in Galloping Gauchos

All of the Mickey short, The Band Concert.

All of UPA's Rooty Toot Toot.

Thom Enriquez and Andy Gaskill's designs of the Circle of Life number in The Lion King

Eric Goldberg's Genii in Aladdin.

Frederic Back's the Man who Planted Trees in the original French. I'm not just being snobby. Although my French isn't that good, I followed the story anyway and enjoyed the images and the music more. Plus, Phillipe Noiret has such a beautiful narrating voice- apologies to Christopher Plummer.

John K's Stimpy's Invention

Paul Dreissen's Cats' Cradle

Borge Rings' Anna & Bella

All of John Hubley's Adventures of an *.

Nik Ranieri's animation of Roger Rabbit expressing his moral outrage before getting hit with a ton of bricks in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Dori doing the whale sounds in Finding Nemo

Gary Trousedale's and Chris Sander's gag drawings on any picture we happened to be on.

I'll think of some more later....
Birthdays: George Fredrich Handel, Samuel Pepys (pronounced 'peeps'), Mayer Amschel Rothschild-1743- founder of the Rothschild banking dynasty, Victor Fleming director of GWTW, Tom Bodet,
W.E.B. DuBois, Johnny Winter, Peter Fonda, Ed Too Tall Jones, William Shirer, Allan MacLeod Cormack-inventor of the CAT Scan, Kelly MacDonald, Steve Jobs, Kristin Davis, Dakota Fanning is 13.

Roman Festival Terminalia, god of borders and boundries.
Not to be confused of course with Janus god of portals and doorways.

1821- In a house in Rome’s Piazza de Espagna 25 year old English poet John Keats died of tuberculosis. As he was dying he joked: ” I can feel daisies growing over me”. He instructed that his grave marker bear only the self deprecating message” Here lies one whose Fame was Written in Water.”

1847-Battle of Buena Vista- No, not between Michael Eisner and Roy Disney but General Zachary Taylor against the Mexican army. While Zachary Taylor was called "Old Rough and Ready", Winfield Scott was "Old Fuss and Feathers".

1935- Walt Disney Mickey & Donald cartoon "The Band Concert". This was the first color Mickey Mouse cartoon.

1940-Woody Guthrie had just arrived in New York City and was staying in a fleabag hotel in Manhattan. He overheard on the radio Kate Smith singing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and was annoyed because he felt it was overtly patriotic and corny. It was everything he hated about Tin Pan Alley, a rose-colored tune denying the class injustice and suffering of the Great Depression. So Woody took out some paper and his guitar and composed six stanzas he originally called God Blessed America, but he later changed to 'This Land is Your Land". It became the song he’s best remembered for and today it’s considered just as patriotic as God Bless America.

1942- In the dead of night a Japanese submarine surfaced off the California coast and fired its cannon at lights it thinks is a city. In reality it's an oil refinery near Goleta (Ellwood) just north of Santa Barbera. The brief bombardment caused $150 dollars in damage. The sub breaks radio silence to report to Tokyo that " Enemy coast sighted. Los Angeles is in Flames." The incident fueled the panic that Californians had that the West Coast was ripe for enemy invasion. The incident was lampooned in the Steven Spielberg comedy "1941."

February 22, 2007 thurs
February 22nd, 2007

Birthdays: Hungarian King Ladislas the Posthumous-1440, Shah Tahmasp Ist-1514, George Washington, Frederic Chopin, Edward St. Vincent Millay, John Mills, illustrator Edward Gorey, Luis Bunuel, Ted Kennedy, Dwight Frye- Renfield in Dracula, Sheldon Leonard, Don Pardo the announcer on Saturday Night Live, Jonathan Demme, Kyle McLachlan is 48, Drew Barrymore is 32

1732-GEORGE WASHINGTON born- Until 1969 Washington’s Birthday was a national holiday in the USA. Despite his immense reputation George Washington is still quite an enigmatic figure. You can remember great sayings of Kennedy -"Ask not what your country can do for you..") and Lincoln "Government by the people, for the people, etc." but can you recall anything of Washington's? That's because he was a stuffy, by-the-book type who used XVIII Century prose." Conscript Fathers, it would behoove me greatly if you wouldst see fit to provide victuals whereof..".Alexander Hamilton, called him "Talented but Dull". Thomas Paine's opinion: "A Compleate hippocryte". John Adams came to call him “Old Muttonhead” that he’d rather strike leadership poses than actually lead, But Thomas Jefferson called him the" Indispensable Man" who assured that this strange new system of elected president would not lapse into a dictatorship.

SO HERE’S TO a General who lost more battles than won them,
-Who donated much of his personal fortune to the Revolution yet ended the war with a profit;
-who had a whiskey still behind Mt.Vernon and grew hemp -for rope;
-Who had few close friends and despised people touching him;
-Whose first ambition was to be an officer in the British Army.
-Who much preferred conversation about methods of raising squash to discussing his military campaigns.
-Who never went to college.
- Who was turned down for a bank loan the day he was elected President.
-Who went to Church every Sunday but never used the word God or quoted the Bible and refused Last Rites at his deathbed...

- And without whom the U.S. would not be the same. Happy Birthday G.W. !..

1805- Birth in England of Sarah Flowers Adams, whose poetry is in the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee.”

1879- Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first Five & Ten Cent-store in Utica, New York.

1911-The Kester Ranch in the San Fernando Valley becomes the town of Van Nuys, named for early settler Issac Newton Van Nuys.

1924- President Coolidge becomes first president to address the nation over the radio.

1979- Happy Saint Lucia Independence Day!

February 21, 2007 weds
February 21st, 2007

Birthdays: Leopold Delibes, C. Brancusi, Anais Ninn, W.H. Auden, Hubert de Givenchy, Era Bombeck, Sam Peckinpah,Nina Simone, Joe Oriolo, David Geffen,Kelsey Grammar is 52, Jennifer Love Hewitt is 28, Alan Rickman is 61

1838- The first telegraph message sent by Samuel Morse "What hath God wrought?" He strung electric cables up and down several floors of his art studio using wood stretchers normally used for paintings .Morse was an artist and never wanted to be an inventor, he just did it to finance his painting.

1885- The completed Washington Monument was dedicated by Pres Chester Allan Arthur. Plans for the obelisk were first drawn up in 1792 by Pierre L’Enfant and the cornerstone laid in 1840 but construction was constantly suspended. For a time because of the Civil War, another time because strict Presbyterian workers refused to handle Italian marble blocks donated by the Vatican.

1945-During the Battle of Iwo Jima the Marines raise the flag on Mt. Suribachi. Associate Press photographer Joe Rosenthal takes the most famous image of the war. It's now the Marine monument at Arlington Cemetery. Actually, he photographed the second flag raising. The first was a small flag stuck on a piece of pipe to get the artillery below to stop shelling and to give the Marines pinned down on the beach some hope. The second larger flag raising was done for the press. It was still plenty dangerous, two of the six flag raisers were later killed in battle that same day. Rosenthal almost missed the shot because he turned around momentarily to see if he was in the way of another cameraman. Actor Lee Marvin was one of Marines in the furious fighting and was decorated for his gallantry. He was quoted as saying in an interview later the toughest most heroic Marine he saw that day on Suribachi was the man who ended his life as a kiddie show host- Bob Keeshan known as Captain Kangaroo- but that was a joke that has since become urban myth.

February 20, 2007 Fat tuesday
February 20th, 2007

Birthdays: Honore' Daumier, Nancy Wilson, Ansel Adams, Sidney Poitier, Cindy Crawford, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robert Altman, Roger Penske, Jennifer O’Neill, Mike Leigh, Lili Taylor

Happy Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday- The day before Ash Wednesday ushering in the Catholic season of Lent is the cause for wild parties in many cultures- Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Venice, Quebec and other cities. Carne-Vale is Latin for Goodbye to Meat., the Lenten fast. The Mardi Gras custom in America started in Mobile Alabama around 1708 then went to New Orleans. It died out in more somber Victorian times but was renewed after the Civil War- so-' Lesse Le Bon Temps Rolle’! “Let the Good Times Roll!”Have you seen the Voodoo King?

1816- "Fee-Garr-Row! Fig-Ar- Roww- Figaro-Figaro,Figaro,Figaro"- Giacomo Rossini's opera 'The Barber of Seville' premiered. Rossini endured bad press and heavy criticism at the time because the another opera of the Marriage of Figaro had just been premiered by Paisiello, an inferior composer who was much more popular than he.

1845- The Battle of the Cahuenga Pass-Angry Spanish Californians led by Vaquero Juan de Alvarado clashed with the regular Mexican governor Miguel de Micheltorena. The only casualty was a mule. The story of Alvarado may be one of the origins of Zorro.

1925- Willis O’Brien’s silent movie the Lost World premiered. The stop motion animation of dinosaurs and exploding volcanoes issued in a new era of special effects films.

1936- The film “Follow the Fleet” premiered, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tripping the light fantastic.

1962- "God Go with You, John Glenn !" Mercury -7 sends the first American into orbit. His first words upon emerging from the space capsule were:”It was hot in there.” Glenn later became a Democratic senator and in his 70’s went into space a second time on a space shuttle in 1998. John Glenn was a combat Marine pilot, test pilot and astronaut but even he sometimes got the willies. In 1968 while traveling with the Robert Kennedy for President entourage their chartered plane hit turbulence. Bobby Kennedy undid his seat belt, stood up and said to the cabin “ I have an announcement- Colonel Glenn is Scared!”

1986- The Soviets launch the first permanent orbiting space station, Mir, which means Peace. After a long career in which 7 US astronauts among many others spent time there in 2001 it finally was brought down to burn up in orbit.

2006- The animated film Wallace and Gromet: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, won the British Academy Award (BAFTA) for the best British Film of the year. It beat out the Constant Gardner, and Pride & Prejudice.