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This week across most of the country, classes are beginning. A new crop of animation students will take the first step towards their professional career. Today all is potential, everything is hope and excitement. Here’s some advice to all you newbies out there.

You’ll be digesting lots of information in the coming months, stuff about what software program does what, the physics of movement, techniques of acting, of cinema. But theres more to being a pro.

Much of the emphasis in the next months will be on your personal growth as an artist. But remember that professional animation is a group effort. Lone mavericks like Bill Plympton are wonderful, but the exception. For most of us, animation is a collaborative medium, it requires many hands to make something that looks like it was done by one. The long hours you put in will mean you will often spend more time with co-workers than you will with your own families. This close collaboration, coupled with the money guys' tendency to treat us as a tribe and the public’s general lack of appreciation over how animation is done, has created a tight-knit community.

We all know each other, we all support each other, we hang out with one another. We know what each other is up to no matter where we are around the world. Some of us even marry one another, and we all grow old together. I watched the Golden Age animators see each other off on that final trip to Forest Lawn.

Many of us meet in college. We form bonds there we keep throughout our lives. Many at PIXAR first met at Cal Arts, many USC and UCLA classmates stay in touch long after they stopped wearing the crimson and light blue. Good collaboration begins with Trust, and we begin to take the measure of others and form that trust in college.

The projects come and go. We all read how movie empires rise and fall. Studios like Hanna & Barbera and UPA that once employed hundreds year round, are now just memories. But the animators go on. The friends you make you will have for the rest of your life, likewise the enemies you make will also follow you to the end of your life. So know this- no one project or promotion is worth losing the respect of your peers. That respect is money in the bank. I’ve had agents and promotions, but most of the jobs I got, I didn’t get from sitting in a lobby with my portfolio, I got them from my contacts.

Welcome to Animation. Enjoy the school year, learn and grow. And keep these thoughts with you, as I did after they were first told to me.


Birthdays: Man Ray, Martha Ray, LBJ ( Lyndon Baines Johnson), George William Hegel, C.S. Forester, Hannibal Hamlin- Abe Lincolns first term vice president, Barbara Bach, Theodore Dreiser, Lady Antonia Fraser, Mother Theresa, Tommy Sands, Tuesday Weld, Mangesuthu Buthelezi,Downtown Julie Brown, Charlie Fleischer the voice of Roger Rabbit is 57, Paul Rubens-aka Pee Wee Herman

53 B.C.- JULIUS CAESAR LANDED IN ENGLAND- Caesar paused from his conquest of Gaul to check out the British Isles. He didn't stay long because Channel storms were playing havoc with his supply ships. Just long enough to fight some Celts under their chief Cassilvelaunus, collect some tribute and add a chapter to his memoirs. The Romans returned in A.D. 61 under instructions from Claudius to conquer and colonize. London, Colchester and York were originally Roman army camps. The Romans never considered Britain a good investment though, for the two legions that had to be stationed there year round to protect colonists from the Scottish Picts (Painted People), all the Romans got was some tin, slaves and a bigger road map. In 401 A.D. the Romans evacuated Britain to cover their collapsing Empire. The Romanized Britons who followed the armies back across the Channel settled in North Gaul and called it Brittany. This is why Breton is a sister language of Gaelic.

1506- Pope Julius II attacks Perugia and Bologna for Holy Mother Church. After the conquest Julius has Michelangelo cast a nine foot statue of him to remind the Perugians who kicked their butts. Michelangelo created his largest free standing bronze caste, but we don't have it anymore. In 1512 Julius's enemies liberated Perugia and the happy people melted down the hated statue and cast it into a huge cannon they nicknamed :"La Julia" -Big Julie.

1660- Poet John Milton's books were publicly burned on Tyburn hill. It wasn't because of any great suppression of of humanist ideas. Milton was an outspoken supporter of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan regime that had governed England. But now the King was back on the throne and unimpressed with his writings.

1664- NIEUW AMSTERDAAM BECOMES NEW YORK. The English had disputed Holland's stake in America based on the early exploration of John Cabot. Now with the growth of the New England colonies, the English Civil War over and the Spanish Menace diminishing England sent a large battle fleet under Colonel Rollins to New Amsterdam to demand the surrender of the colony. The Dutch governor was an old one-legged mercenary named Peter Stuyversant. He wanted to make a fight of it and had even set up a battery of cannon on -where else? the Battery. However his city council were men of commerce, not soldiers. They told him if he wanted to fight he should do it himself because they were surrendering. Even his own son was against fighting. Stuyversant in a rage shouted at the burghers:" Keep to your shovels and barrows!" The governor himself hobbled up to the cannon pointed at the British fleet and lit a match to fire the first shot. He paused and noticed the silent stares of all those around him. The chaplain of the colony, Dominie Megapolensis, silently took Stuyversant by the hand down from the fort and Stuyversant signed the surrender. He was allowed to keep his large farm, or in Dutch, his Bouwerie -the Bowery. Five years later the English named renamed the city after King Charles II's brother the Duke of York for his birthday. The Duke of York's protection kept Long Island from being made part of Connecticut. The first English colony planted after the conquest was named for the only part of Britain to remain loyal to King Charles during the Cromwell period, the Isle of Jersey (New Jersey). Charles main supporter was James Leslie, Baron Newark. (Newark N.J.) and his son the Duke of Monmouth. Still the old Dutch roots were deep and even in George Washington's time Dutch was the predominant language on New York's streets. In 1832 Martin Van Buren became our first knickerbocker President.

1667- The first record in English of a Hurricane, this one striking near Jamestown Virginia. Of course the Spanish in the Caribbean had been seeing hurricanes since Columbus’s third voyage in 1503.

1776- THE BATTLE OF LONG ISLAND- The worst defeat for Americans in the Revolutionary War. The British regiments destroy George Washington’s army in Brooklyn while he was in Manhattan still waiting for the main attack. Washington sent two generals to command, Generals Sullivan and William Alexander, who insisted everyone call him Lord Stirling in memory of some Scottish inheritance he claimed he was cheated out of. George sent them without specifying who was in overall command and then went over himself and gave still more conflicting orders. The British General Henry Clinton marched down the Kings Highway to Jamaica then found a secret path behind Yankee lines guarded by only 5 militiamen. Clinton had walked these paths when he was a young officer stationed in NY. His superior Lord William Howe at first refused the idea- he said it smacked of the German School of Tactics. He felt the Americans were too stupid to panic when their flank was turned. But he gave in, the Yankees did panic and Lord Howe won a great victory.
The British had gotten over their shock of the American’s Indian style of guerrilla fighting and countered by using German jaeger battalions, professional hunters turned soldier who were accustomed to fighting from behind rocks and trees. Generals Sullivan and Lord Stirling were forced to surrender after furious fighting around the Cortelyou House. One Scots Redcoat officer wrote: “Multitudes of retreating Americans who attempted to escape across the Gowanus River were drowned or suffocated in the morasses- a proper punishment for Rebels!”

1814- in England poet Percy Shelley eloped with Mary, the only daughter of John Godwin and Mary Wollenstonecraft. Godwin had objected to Shelley’s proposal for his daughters hand because he was an opium addict, a sexual libertine, an atheist and already married with a baby daughter! Yeah, but besides all that what’s your objection? They ran off followed by Mary’s stepsister Claire who started sleeping with Lord Byron. Mary of course was the author of Frankenstein. If I knew all this maybe I would have paid more attention in English Lit 101.

1912- Edgar Rice Burroughs published Tarzan of the Apes. He made enough from it that he bought a huge ranch that today is the name of a Los Angeles neighborhood-Tarzana.

1917- Straight Shooting, the first film directed by John Ford released. Before that Ford did bit parts and stuntwork. He was a Klansman in Birth of a Nation. Not because he was prejuduced but because it was a paying extras job. You can tell him from the others because he kept fussing with his hood that slipped over his eyes while he was trying to ride.

1930- Lon Chaney Sr. died of throat cancer. During filming of a remake of the Unholy Three, a theory of the time was a wind machine blew an artificial gypsum snowflake into Chaney's mouth - it caused an irritation that became a tumor.

1955- The first Guinness Book of World Records published.

1950- NBC and General Foods abruptly cancelled the hit television show “the Aldrich Family” when a pamphlet called Red Channels accused one of the show’s stars Jean Muir, of being a communist.

1953- The film Roman Holiday introduced a new young actress from Holland named Audrey Hepburn.

1967- Beatles manager Brian Epstein overdosed on sleeping pills.

1968- Former master animator Bill Tytla's request to return to Disney was turned down. The artist who animated Grumpy the Dwarf, Dumbo and the Devil on Bald Mountain even offered to do a free "trial animation test" to show he still had it. Disney exec W.H. Anderson wrote him:" We really have only enough animation for our present staff." Tytla died later that year.

1990- Guitar great Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash outside Alpine Valley Wisconsin, on his way back to Chicago, after an "All Stars of the Blues" type show. Stevie Ray took the last remaining seat on the helicopter after Eric Clapton got off, claiming he'd rather take a limo back to Chicago, which was about an hour away.