Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2113rd Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3561, November 10, 2005.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:email@example.com
|L.A.con IV in 2006!||Nippon 2007 in 2007!||Salamander Press #2596|
Last week was unusually active for me.
On Tuesday the 1st, I was visited at the hospital for an hour in the afternoon by Widya Santoso, who was passing through L.A. on his way home to Australia. Santoso is one of the two Aussie fans I know (the other is Robin Johnson) who seems to spend his life attending conventions around the world. The last time I saw him was at AWA 10 last year in Atlanta. He said that his visit to L.A. this time was the followup to attending three cons on three weekends in a row; in Sydney, NSW; Ghent, Belgium; and Houston, Texas. Santoso also visited the Comic Art Museum in Brussels, and we spent most of the hour talking about French-language bandes dessinées, which old Apa Lers will remember was my big interest pre-Japanese anime & manga. He looked forward to seeing me again at L.A.con IV next year, which I hope to be able to attend.
Later that evening, I went with both Michael Burlake and Rob Powell (the first time all three of us have gone together) to the DreamWorks Studio's "Animation Campus" in Glendale for the "7th Annual Animation Show of Shows". This is a co-production of ASIFA-Hollywood and Acme Filmworks (one of the "secret" animation studios scattered around L.A.; it produces mostly animated TV commercials). Acme's president Ron Diamond attends international animation festivals regularly, and this was his selection of the nine best animated short films produced during 2004-2005. Acme is also the bankroller of Animation World Magazine, so Diamond was responsible for my paycheques during the years that I reviewed anime for AWM. We had a pleasant conversation although I had to explain that I am unlikely to be able to resume reviewing anime anytime soon. Fred Ladd, the TV producer of Astro Boy, Gigantor and Kimba the White Lion in the 1960s, got my promise to come to ASIFA's Kimba 40th Anniversary Celebration next (this) Thursday evening; one of the few things that could take me away from the weekly LASFS meeting. (So I will not be at the meeting this week.)
It used to be easy to identify animation techniques. Hand-drawn cartoon animation was clearly distinct from stop-motion clay or wooden model animation, or "mechanical-looking" computer graphics, or pixellation of photographs like Mike Jittlov excelled in. But today, animators have grown so adept in using computers to blend styles that you can look at an animated film and have no idea how many or what techniques it incorporates. That is certainly true for City Paradise, a surrealistic fantasy-comedy about a Japanese girl who moves to London and tries to learn English while exploring the city, by Gaelle Denis & Erika Forzy at Passion Pictures for British TV. It is most comparable to Terry Gilliam's animated segments in Monty Python, but with computerization making for much smoother animation and an art style all its own. Pixar's brand-new One Man Band (written/directed by Andrew Jimenez & Mark Andrews) presents another hilarious pantomime winner in the style of Tin Toy, Geri and Pixar's similar CGI shorts that will doubtlessly become well-known to American animation fans. Life in Transition by John R. Dilworth's NYC Stretch Films is an amusing but plotless kaleidoscope of Dali-esque imagery melting into each other. Jona/Tomberry, from "Rosto" at the Netherlands' Studio Rosto, is the most nightmarish descent into paranoia that I have ever seen; I would have liked to have gotten Philip K. Dick's opinion of it. It is so surrealistic that I could not tell whether it has a plot or not. At the Quinte Hotel, by Bruce Alcock, animated with Canada Arts Council funding, is a sqiggly-line (mostly) arty visualization of a 1968 recording of an avant-garde/beatnik Canadian poet reading one of his works about getting drunk & into a bar fight. Overtime, by Oury Atlan, Thibaut Berland & Damien Ferrie at French studio Supinfocom Valenciennes, is a touching if slightly creepy necrophiliac tale of a group of Muppet-like sock puppets who try to bring their puppeteer back to life after his death by animating his corpse in Muppet style. The Fan and the Flower is Bill Plympton's latest exercise in "one-man" animation (but with many other names in the credits including Marv "Bambi Meets Godzilla" Newland), a tale of a romance between a ceiling fan and a potted plant, supposedly touching in a Shel Silverstein style except that Silverstein did it much better. Fallen, by Peter Kaboth at Peter Kaboth Film in Cologne, is one of those German existential comedies (Kaboth describes it as 'dadaistic") about the Teutonic overweight Common Man that leave you wondering, "what is the point of having lived?" Ho, ho, let's commit suicide (except it would be too much trouble). Mourir de Amor, by Gil Alkabetz at Sweet Home Studio in Stuttgart, however, is such a Latin comedy of romantic infidelity that I would have assumed that it was French or Italian or Portuguese or Argentine (all countries where it won festival awards) rather than German, if not for the studio's location. It will be too bad if LASFen do not get the chance to see City Paradise, because this is a film that any s-f fan (except Marty Cantor) will love, but Pixar's One Man Band is sure to be widely shown around America; and the rest are frankly worth seeing mostly if you like arty film festival faire. (For further information about most of these shorts, go to the Animation World Magazine website and check the last several "Fresh From the Festival" monthly reviews.) After this program, Diamond showed a couple of episodes of the Acme-animated Drew Carey's Green Screen Show that the Comedy Central channel has not broadcast yet.
As we were leaving DreamWorks' Animation Campus, we paused to examine a large glass-cased display of a complete actual miniature set used in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbi, sent from Aardman Animations in Bristol. Very impressive. On the way back to the hospital, we stopped at a Baskin-Robbins for some ice cream.
On Thursday, Michael Burlake brought me to the LASFS meeting. My worry about where we would park was groundless because, for once, we got to the clubhouse while the handicapped parking space was still open. Kay Shapero brought me a new pair of pants that Lee Gold had bought me.
The meeting's main event was the voting for the Forry Award to be presented at Loscon 32. (Now that I think about it, wasn't the selection left until closer to the Loscon than usual this year?) I voted for John DeChancie in each of the three rounds of voting and I am glad that he won, although I was disappointed that my own two nominees, C. J. Cherryh and Dave Duncan, were eliminated so early in the voting. Burlake asked me if s-f publishers were eligible for the Award, and after thinking about it, I was sorry that I had not also nominated Jim Baen. I would still have voted for the others ahead of Baen, but he does deserve the Award some year.
On Friday evening, the 4th, Rob Powell took me to ASIFA's screening of Disney's Chicken Little at the big Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at Lankershim & Magnolia Blvds. The screening was followed by a question-&-answer session with the movie's Computer Graphics Supervisor, Kevin Geiger. (I wore my new pants from Lee Gold.)
Chicken Little looks like a Little Golden Book brought to life. It was made with new computer algorithms for increased detail of fur & feathers. Never before in animation have fuzzy bunnies and doggies and raccoons looked fuzzier, or fluffy goosies and duckies and chickies looked fluffier. Geiger said that Chicken Little (or his dad, Buck Cluck, or maybe both) has 76,000 feathers which each fluff up. Morcubine Porcupine looks sharp rather than fuzzy, but he may have 76,000 quills. The inhabitants of Oakey Oaks also exhibit cute animal traits; the dogs who order drinks in the coffee shop are served in bowls to lap out of. The movie also shows animal size difference in the case of Chicken Little, although he is more mouse-sized than chicken-sized (no reason given; all the other animals are standard human-sized), so there are lots of Stuart Little-type gags showing Chicken Little being late for school due to stepping on a wad of chewing gum on the street and being unable to pull loose, trying to get along with his high-school classmates in gym where he is used for a ball, etc.
If you are a Furry fan, you will love Chicken Little for its character design and animal gags. (I may see it once or twice more for this reason alone.) If you are a fan of animation technique, you will love it for its CGI expertise and advances. If you are six years old or less, you will love the story. Otherwise, forget it. Some of the gags may make you laugh, as they are all too obviously designed to, but you will probably feel that the plot is an insult to your intelligence. Disney recently closed its traditional 2D animation department because "the public only wants to see CGI animation like Pixar's Toy Story and The Incredibles and DreamWorks' Shrek and Shark Tale today". Let's see if Chicken Little shows that the public will go to any CGI movie, without caring whether its story is any good, past its opening weekend. Geiger had some interesting information about the making of it (Chicken Little was originally a girl, but Michael Eisner insisted on making him a boy because it isn't nearly as traumatic for an adolescent girl to be small & helpless), but Geiger sluffed off a question on how he felt about all the negative reviews Chicken Little was getting. ("Oh, every movie gets both positive and negative reviews, and I've seen lots of good reviews of it.") According to the Rotten Tomatoes movie website, Chicken Little is averaging only 37% favorable out of 103 reviews as of Tuesday the 8th.
On Saturday, Michael Burlake took me to the Estrogen Zone meeting, to my surprise. Kris Bauer was supposed to, but she had some last-minute problems so she phoned Burlake and asked him to transport me instead. I am very grateful to Burlake for helping me out with no advance notice. This month's program was over-long movies of hit musicals. We arrived about 2:00 p.m. as Carrousel had just started, saw all of Oklahoma!, and I had to return to the hospital for my 10:00 p.m. curfew just before the end of The Music Man. (The American Cinematheque showed The Music Man a couple of weeks ago in Santa Monica with Charles Lane, who played River City's grumpy old town constable, as guest of honor. Lane will be 101 years old in January. He was also in at least one fantasy film, It's a Wonderful Life.) Burlake and Tadao Tomomatsu also measured my wheelchair for the front building, and we confirmed that while it will fit through the front & back doors, there is not enough room for it to maneuver through the narrow halls in the building, especially in the cramped club Library which would be my main reason for going into the front building. Too bad.
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Also last week, the Internet Furry magazine Anthro #2, November-December 2005, was published with the beginning of a regular book review column by me, "Seen While Prowling". This is my first published work besides ˇRR! since my stroke. Actually, while this is the first publication of these reviews, only the first (the combined review of Ralph Hayes' Nip and Tuck and Tales of the Questor collections) is newly-written. The other two reviews were written over two years ago for the never-published Yarf! #70. I wrote almost a dozen book reviews for Yarf! and Claw & Quill which were unused when those two Furry magazines "went on hiatus" without warning. Anthro has accepted them, to be intermixed with new reviews so all my reviews there will not be of one- and two-year-old books. I hate for my writing to go unused, so I am very happy to see my reviews of The Tale of the Swamp Rat and Lionboy published at long last. The books are still in print, so the reviews are still pertinent. I prefer print magazines to Internet magazines, but the latter have the advantage of being able to show the covers of the books I review in full color. Take a look at my reviews.
And, the November 2005 issue of the Midwest Book Review's Internet Bookwatch has just favorably mentioned my Watching Anime, Reading Manga in its Theatre/Cinema Shelf section, along with two other books: Fans of Japanese cinema have three excellent, very different guides to choose from. Fred Patten's Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years Of Essays And Reviews (1880656922, $18.95) reports on the anime culture in America, gathering articles on Japanese animation and comics and examining both its fan world and the business of its production. Chapters cover everything from individual anime artists to overall licensing and theatrical issues and features, anime pornography, Japanese anime and manga culture, and more. The range of issues and considerations come from an active participant in fan clubs and writings over the years and will prove a 'must' for anime followers. Cruising The Anime City: An Otaku Guide To Neo Tokyo by Patrick Macias and Tomohiro Machiyama (1880656884, $16.95) explores the Anime City - Neo Tokyo, a modern metropolis required for pure pop. From magazines and shopping to Toei animation and 'gal games', any visitor or would-be visitor to Japan who would relish its underground pop culture side must have Cruising The Anime City. From its reviews of anime studios and idols to games and movies, there's simply nothing quite like it on the market. Patrick Galloway's Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook (1880656930, $19.95) provides a critical guide to over 50 top samurai films, from well-known masterpieces to new hits and underground samurai cult works. Chapters also provide overviews of the Japanese film industry, biographies of key actors and directors, and provide plenty of critical insights by a lifelong student of Asian film, culture and philosophy with special insider insights.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Vanamonde #651 - (Hertz) If "The world is his oyster", should he put on his best suit and pledge his undying love to one? (A reference to one of Jules Verne's more obscure comedies.) ## A fez is also easier to wear than a turban.
******* - (Cantor) It seems to me more likely that Apa L will end as it did in the 1960s leading to its brief Hiatus, after it shrinks to the point that there is a consensus among its O.C. and remaining contributors that it has reached the end of its worthwhile existence and should be given a clean death. ## Okay, as long as a complete set of your fanzines is archived someplace; the Eaton Collection at UCRiverside or here at the LASFS.
De Jueves #1451 - (Moffatt) At the Autumn Holiday Party which was on the Daylight Saving Time-shift weekend, every-body screamed at Tom Safer to quit trying to reset the radio-controlled clock by hand or he would break it. It had reset itself by the time I left the party. ## If I got different cushions for my wheelchair to not use the same cushion for two days in a row, I doubt most of the nurses would take the trouble to change them. I am willing to experiment if anyone has a doughnut cushion that I might borrow. I am reluctant to spend money buying one just for an experiment. ## Chainsaw Jane (in Nip and Tuck) is a woman wrestler; much friendlier offstage than her ring persona. Thelma Possum is a big fan of women's wrestling, established in earlier sequences of the comic strip.
Godzillla Verses #61 - (DeChancie) Let us know what you find out about Wildside Press. ## Thanks for the compliment. Would that I had more time to read more books. I have enjoyed yours, and it would be good to see them back in print.
I Quash Harpies - (Gold) I doubt that the date for next October's Masoncon has been set this soon. Also, I have not gotten an answer yet to my query as to whether the Masoncon is an official LASFS event or is a party hosted informally by a loose group of Mason's friends. If it is the latter, almost certainly there has been no planning for next year's party this far in advance. ## I think the combined weight of me & my wheelchair is roughly 275 pounds. But see my comments above about not being able to get around easily in the LASFS' front building even if my wheelchair can get up the steps into it. ## My snailmail address is in every issue of ˇRR! Can somebody take charge of making sure that it gets into the next LASFS Directory? ## Has anyone recently hassled my wheelchair manufacturer about supplying the parts already paid for, and which it keeps promising to provide? It seems to be worth trying this at least once more before giving up and buying the parts separately at a medical supply store and installing them ourselves, and then trying to get the wheelchair manufacturer to reimburse me. Also, mightn't installing my own parts on the wheelchair void its warranty (assuming that is worth anything if the manufacturer will not provide the chair as specified in the first place)? ## Anything "Manor" is much too unassuming a name for a palace 1,000+ floors high. And even if it did have escalators rather than (or in addition to) staircases, it had better also have elevators if one wanted to get to the top floor in less than a week; never mind queasiness from switching back & forth on escalators from one floor to the next. ## Also see my comments above about being able to resume reviewing. I can review books which I can read in bed, but I cannot review anime due both to my difficulty in watching it at the hospital, and to my lack of my Japanese reference books & magazines for background information. ## Has the Purple People Eater movie been shown at the LASFS? Do we really want to see it? ## I am not sure if it is legal to stick decals on handicapped parking placards. Anyway, I assume that the drivers who bring me to Freehafer Hall will have their own LASFS parking decals.
Fish Out of Water #143 - (Helgesen) I recently saw a parody of a Little Lulu comic book cover as Little C'lulu. Consider-ing how much pop-culture interest there is today in Cthulhu, we should not be surprised that there are websites devoted to him - er, it. There are http://www.cthulhu.org/ and http://www.hello-cthulhu.com/ and http://www.cthulhusex.com/ among many others, in addition to the http://www.cthulhulives.org/toc.html that you cite.
Oh, All Right!!! - (Lembke) How is one supposed to eat Armenian string cheese if it regularly comes in "a braided endless loop" instead of easy-to-peel cylinders? I just hacked the loop into chunks with a knife and ate the chunks, since I can no longer peel off strips with only one hand, anyway. I gather that it was you who provided the exotic cheeses at the Masoncon; thanks very much. They were all very tasty.
The Door Into No Place - (Zeff) Excellent! I certainly will look forward to reading a whole novel of this quality.