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Blog Posts from April 2007:


The FJORG! SIGGRAPH 2007 submission site is now live and accepting submissions through May 15.
FJORG is an Iron-Chef like contest played out at SIGGRAPH 2007 this Summer in San Diego. 16 Teams will have 36 hours to create a winning CG film without taking a shower or sleep. I have agreed to be one of the judges.

Please spread the word far and wide about the greatest live animation contest on earth . . . DreamWorks is the major sponsor. Here is the link-

Birthdays: Roman emperor Otho -32ad, English King Edward II-1284, Oliver Cromwell-1599, Guiseppi Marconi, Edward R. Murrow, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Pacino is 67, Meadowlark Lemon, Talia Shire, Paul Mazursky, Hank Azaria, Rene Zellwellger is 38

TODAY is the feast of the Roman god ROBIGUS, dread god of Rust and Mildew.

1865- Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Grant left Joe Johnston commanding the second largest army of Southern troops, still facing Sherman in North Carolina. After several meetings and confused negotiations this day Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered General Johnston to resume fighting and fall back towards Texas. Johnston like Lee felt any further bloodshed was now pointless. He chose to ignore his President and accept Sherman’s surrender terms. Joe Johnston’s modern descendent Joe Johnston IV is a Hollywood film director who made "Honey I Shrank the Kids" and "Jurassic Park III".

1886- The New York Times attacks the outcry among American union workers for an 8-hour workday (the norm then was 12) as: A Seditious, riotous notion that would collapse the American economy and lead to sloth, drunkenness and debauchery. It was probably the work of foreign extremists." The eight-hour day doesn’t become a norm in America until 1913 (in animation until 1941) and is still under attack in animation studios today.

1953- Watson and Crick announced the DNA Molecular Construction Theory and the world sees for the first time the twisted ladder model. Watson went down to his local pub and told the barkeep:" Set up a round of lager, for I just discovered the Secret of Life!"

1956- Elvis Presley’s song Heartbreak Hotel goes to #1 in the pop charts.

1970- Policeman Frank Serpico’s story of rampant corruption in the NYPD explodes on the pages of the New York Times. The practices of decades of graft are exposed by the Knapp Commission and the police commissioner and several captains resign in disgrace. Serpico’s story was made into a famous film starring Al Pacino.

1972- Witty, urbane actor George Sanders ( All About Eve, Samson & Delilah, Sher Khan in Jungle Book) had turned age 65. He complained he had been famous and rich and was not looking forward to old age and having a nurse wipe his bottom. So he committed suicide and left a witty, urbane note. "Dear World: I am leaving because I am bored. Adieu, I leave you with your worries in this sweet cesspool."

1981- Dixie, the oldest living mouse died at age 6 1/2.

April 24, 2007 Tuesday
April 24th, 2007

This weekend I was talking to retired animator Bill Littlejohn. Although in his 90s Bill is still sharp and we had a stimulating conversation. We were discussing John and Faith Hubley when he told me an interesting anecdote. He said Faith once had a film in Robert Redford's Sundance Festival. All during the festival she noticed Redford was not very welcoming, in fact he was a bit cold. Near the end of the festival she had the opportunity to ask him about his attitude.

He replied that when he was a young student intern in Hollywood his first desire was to get a job as an animator! But when he visited Hubley's Storyboard Studios the woman who inspected his portfolio told him he had no talent. He should give up and do something else. He said he carried that dissappointment around for years. Faith asked him the year and the studios location, to see if she was the women in question. After Redford described the circumstances, Faith triumphantly declared to him:" Ahh...that was John's FIRST WIFE!" She said the penitent Redford was charming thereafter.

But I don't think he resumed his career in cartoons. He's done alright since, I hear.

Birthdays: Daniel Defoe, William de Kooning, St. Vincent de Paul, Morgan Earp, Shirley McLaine, Jack E. Leonard, Dame Ethel Smyth, Jill Ireland, Eric Bogosian, Sue Grafton, Robert Penn Warren, Barbera Streisand is 66, Cedric the Entertainer is 44

1184 B.C.(est.)- TROY FALLS TO THE GREEKS- Despite the warnings of Cassandra and Laocoon the Trojans pull Ulysses' great horse into the city and at night the Greeks climb out and open the city gates to destruction. The reason we have any estimated date for this is this was the day the Romans celebrated a festival commemorating this event.
Conventional wisdom was always that Troy was a myth until Heinrich Schleimann found it in the 1800’s. The Romans loved a myth of their own origin that they were descended from the Trojan refugees led to Italy by the hero Aeneas. This seemed way more cool than being a grubby little Latin tribe who got their act together ahead of their neighbors.
They loved this myth so much that in 218 B.C. when the legions of Publius Scipio Asiaticus marched into Turkey to make war on Antipater the king of Syria, they paused first to go to the plains of Illium (the field where Troy once stood).
There the writer Livy states" The grim warriors embraced and wept aloud like babes, for after countless generations the children of Troy had come home at last."

1584- Japanese Shogun Hideyoshi Toyotomi ordered the Heii Shrine in Edo (Tokyo) to dedicate a new heraldic design - the red disc Asahi - Rising Sun flag is created.

1874-Outlaw Jesse James married Miss Zerelda Mimms who he called Z.

1933-Ub Iwerk's "Fiddlesticks" the first Flip the Frog cartoon, done in a simple two-color process. Iwerks was the first designer and animator of Mickey Mouse, who had left Walt Disney to open his own studio.

1961- First day of shooting on the film King of Kings, the Christ story starring Jeffrey Hunter. Called by one critic” I was a Teenage Jesus” . In 1966 Jeffrey Hunter turned down a TV series after doing the pilot episode. His wife worried that he’d be typecast. The role of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, it went instead went to William Shatner.

1981- Small companies like Apple and Commodore had dominated the personal computer market while giants like IBM stuck with large business systems. Now IBM weighed in with The IBM PC –personal computer, with basic software language DOS provided by Microsoft. It soon came to dominate the market.

1983- THE HITLER DIARIES HOAX- Gerd Heideman, a top correspondent for Germany’s top magazine Die Stern was contacted by a mysterious Professor Fischer that he had in his possession the long lost personal diary of Adolph Hitler. Heidemann was an eccentric who collected fascist memorabilia like Herman Goerings yacht and a pair of Idi Amin’s underwear! Fischer sold him the Hitler diary manuscripts for $4 million bux.
After Heidemann got British Historian Sir Hugh Trevor Roper and several handwriting analysts to declare them genuine the Hitler Diaries went public in Die Stern and Rupert Murdoch’s London Times. When Sir Hugh started to express doubts over the authenticity of the diary Times mogul Rupert Murdoch reacted in typical fashion:”F**k him. I’m in the entertainment business!” This day a Bonn laboratory declared the diaries high quality but completely phony. Professor Fischer was actually an art forger named Konrad Kujau who knew suckers when he saw them. He had an expensive girlfriend and wife to keep so he was writing the diaries in his garage on 1940’s vintage paper and ink. Careers were ruined and everyone looked pretty stupid. Even when they were all in jail Gerd Heidemann refused to believe the truth until Konrad Kujau sent him a letter in Hitler’s handwriting admitting he did the forgery.
German comedy done about the hoax.

1990-The Hubble Space Telescope was carried into orbit by the Space Shuttle Challenger.

April 23, 2007 Monday
April 23rd, 2007

Birthdays: William Shakespeare, President James Buchanan, Sergei Prokoviev, J.M.W. Turner, Vladimir Nabokov, Senator Stephen Douglas the Little Giant, Shirley Temple is 79, Roy Orbison, Halston, Sandra Dee,Valerie Bertinelli, Lee Majors is 67, Judy Davis, Simone Simon, Michael Moore is 52, Herve Villechaise- da plane ! da plane!
Happy Birthday animator Mike Sporn!

This was the ancient Roman Feast of the Vinalia, the feast of the first grapevine plantings.

This is the Feast of St. George.- George of Nicomedia was a native of Illyria (Croatia) who went up to the Emperor Diocletian’s palace and tore up his edict banning Christianity. Then Diocletian had George torn up. In the old tradition of borrowing from pagan myths the Coptic Christian monks took from the Ancient Egyptian religion the famous battle between Horus -Identified as St. George - and his uncle Seth, God of Evil and Sandstorms and often represented in Egyptian myth as a weird 'Dragonesque' animal.

1374- The King of England grants the writer Geoffrey Chaucer a pot of wine daily for the rest of his life. What more could a writer ask for !

1616-After a night out partying with Ben Johnson, John Draydon and other old buddies from Ye Old Mermaid Tavern, William Shakespeare caught a fever and died on his fifty second birthday.

1867- William Lincoln patents the zoetrope, an optical toy predating motion pictures..

1896-THE FIRST PROJECTED MOVIES IN THE U.S.- The first projection of Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope film by means of Thomas Armat’s Vitascope at Koster & Bials Music Hall on 28th street and Broadway in New York City.. Edison had to be nagged into this by his engineer W.K.L. Dickson. Edison thought projecting movies like the Lumiere Brothers were doing in Europe would never catch on and the future of film was nickelodeon machines. The movie show featured the sultry Annabella the Dancer and a boxing match, but the real hit of the evening was footage of Waves Hitting the Rocks on Shore, which made people instinctively duck to keep from getting wet.

1903- The first game of the New York Highlanders (later Yankees) baseball team. They defeated the Washington Senators, 7-2.

1951 -Comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for a stunt where he dressed as a priest and solicited funds in a leper colony.

April 22, 2007 Earth Day
April 22nd, 2007

Here's some stuff from the film I directed in Taipei last year- The English name of the short is Adventures in the NPM- National Palace Museum, because the original Chinese title sounded too much like Toy Story. I think the literal translation came out as Treasures Story or something.

The film is about some mischevious little artifacts of ancient Chinese Art that come to life when the Museum closes for the night. A jade duck, a jade dragon and a ceramic pillow in the shape of a child. This ceramic was meant to be a pillow for the imperial concubines who when resting their head on it at night would get the idea to make sons for the Emperor. Dude, but have you checked out the Jade Cabbage?

the original ceramic pillow the character in the film is based on. Here is a link to the trailor, created by award winning filmmaker Jon Bloom.
Thanks to Leah for scanning and posting these.

Birthdays:Queen Isabella I of Castille, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, Immanuel Kant, Madame De Stael , Alexander Kerensky, Arron Spelling, Eddie Albert, Glen Cambell, Betty Page 86, Marylin Chambers is 54, Charlie Mingus, Peter Frampton, John Waters, Jack Nicholson is 70

1741- Georg Frederich Handel dipped his quill into ink and began to write the Messiah.

1876- Composer Peter Tschaikowsky completed his score for the ballet Swan Lake.

1898- Teddy Roosevelt formed the First US Volunteer Cavalry, called the Rough Riders. It was a curious mix of Teddys' personal tastes- Harvard bluebloods and polo champions mixed with rough western cowboys and rodeo stars.

1906- In earthquake destroyed San Francisco, one day after the last of the fires were declared officially out, the Market Street cable car began running once more.

1934- In Little Bohemia Hunting Lodge in Wisconsin Public Enemy No.1 John Dillinger shot his way out of a FBI ambush. The FBI not only failed to stop Dillinger, they shot an innocent bystander who got caught in the crossfire.

1940- Writer Ernest Hemingway cabled his editor Max Perkins from Havana about a new novel he was writing.-" Title is "For Whom the Bell Tolls" from passage John Donne Oxford Book of English bottom page seventy one STOP Please register immediately."

1952- First nuclear bomb test shown on network t.v. -Tommy Turtle says duck and cover!

1970- The first Earth Day. The idea was started by Senator Gaylord Nelson as a Teach-In to bring attention to environmental issues.

1978- Comic actors Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi debut two new characters on the Saturday Night Live t.v. show, Joliet Jake and Ellwood Blues. The Blues Brothers are born.

1996- Christopher Robin Milne dies at age 75. The young boy who’s fascination with a bear in the London Zoo called Winnie inspired his father A.A. Milne to write the Winne the Pooh stories. Christopher Robin wasn’t always appreciative of all the attention. He said of his father: "Someday I’ll write some verses about him and see how He likes it!"

April 21, 2007 Saturday
April 21st, 2007

For all of you in the LA area, remember ASIFA/Hollywood is hosting it's big STOP MOTION EXPO at Woodbury College today. From their press release:

ASIFA-Hollywood will raise the curtain on a timeless art form by hosting the Stop-Mo Expo, a daylong event celebrating the art of stop-motion animation at Woodbury University on Saturday, April 21, 2007.

The expo will be comprised of two distinct events: beginning at 9 a.m. panel discussions and seminars with animation professionals and at 6 p.m. a film festival that will showcase classic and current stop-motion animated films, including rare 16 mm stop-motion films from the collection of animation director Mark Kausler. Running concurrently with these two events will be a stop-motion animation jam, a unique feature where professionals, students and members of Movies By Kids will combine their talents to create a stop-motion film.

Special guests for the panels will include:
Academy Award and primetime Emmy Award winning director/producer Will Vinton
Three-time Academy Award winning animation designer Randy Cook
Members of the special effects animation company Chiodo Brothers Productions
Animation producers Mark Caballero & Seamus Walsh of Screen Novelties
Lighting and visual effects animator Jim Aupperle
Robot Chicken and Moral Orel animator Tennessee Reid Norton
Visual effects supervisor Gene Warren, Jr.
...and many more!
"Once again, ASIFA-Hollywood will celebrate an art form that is still relevant today as it was forty years ago," said animation professor and ASIFA-Hollywood board member Larry Loc. "From King Kong to Tim Burtons Corpse Bride, stop-motion animation took audiences to places they've never been before and still excites the imagination of twenty-first century movie-goers."

Admission Information
Reservations are not required and tickets for both events can be purchased at the door together for $50 or separately: $25 for the panel discussions and seminars and $35 for the film festival. Members of ASIFA-Hollywood can enjoy a $10 discount on each separate admission or $15 off an all-access ticket. Parking is free. Woodbury University is located at 7500 Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank 91510-7846.

The original armature of King Kong from 1931.

Birthdays: Edwin S. Porter the first movie director, Charlotte Bronte', John Muir, Freiderich Froebel the inventor of kindergarten-1782, Anthony Quinn, Patti Lupone, Iggy Pop, Charles Grodin, Anna Mangnani. Andie MacDowell, Tony Danza, Elaine May, Queen Elizabeth II is 81

1911- LENIN WANTS A LIBRARY CARD. Russian communist revolutionary Nikolai Lenin was living in exile in London. In a letter dated this day he applied to the British Museum Library collection to study it's documents. His letter was in perfect English and he signed his name under the pseudonym Jacob Richter.

1910- Mark Twain died of congenital heart failure at 75 as Haley's comet appeared overhead. He once wrote: " When arriving in Heaven feel free to ask all the questions you want of Saint Peter. You may ask for his autograph however don’t take any Kodak photos or bring your dog. Admittance to Heaven is based on favor, not merit, else the dog would be allowed to go in and you kept out."

1918-THE RED BARON SHOT DOWN- In the wild duels in the air above the World War One trenches Baron Manfred Von Richtofen was the best of the best. The Red Knight had shot down more planes than anyone -80 confirmed. When other squadrons were disguising their planes with the new camouflage paints ("cubism gone to war"-Picasso), Richtofen had his men paint their planes bright colors to show their contempt of the enemy, hence the name-"the Flying Circus". On this day during a dogfight he got onto the tail of one plane and was preparing to add #81 when Canadian Roy Brown got behind Richtofen and put a burst of machine gun fire into him. Mortally wounded, The baron still managed to land his red fokker triplane before slumping over dead. Von Richtofen was 26. The plane was later torn to pieces by Australian soldiers seeking souvenirs. Recent scholarship contends he was killed by Australian ground fire, but Brown got the credit.. Roy Brown couldn't handle his celebrity status and committed suicide after the war. For the remainder of the war Richtofen's staffel (squadron) was led by a young pilot named Herman Goring.
courtesy United Press Media.

1921- The Coconut Grove nightclub opened in Hollywood.

1938- Disney animator Bill Tytla married artists model Adrienne LeClerc.

1961- Two groups of British teenage rock bands meet each other for the first time- The Beatles met the Rolling Stones.

1964- British TV viewers double their pleasure- BBC 2 goes on the air. The first program is Play School.

1989- Oil executive George W. Bush became part of a ownership consortium that bought the last place baseball team the Texas Rangers." As soon as I knew they were for sale I went after them like a pit bull on a pants leg….It doesn’t get much better than this…"

1997-The first Intergalactic Funeral. The ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and 1960's drug guru Dr. Timothy Leary were shot into space.

2000- Scientists discover the fossilized heart of a dinosaur in South Dakota. It had four chambers and an aorta like a mammal. This all but proves the theory that Dinosaurs were not reptiles but warm blooded.