Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2153rd Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3601, August 19, 2006.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:firstname.lastname@example.org
|L.A.con IV in 2006!||Nippon 2007 in 2007!||Salamander Press #2636|
Last Tuesday, my sister Sherrill brought me to her apartment to go through all my old clothes that she had just retrieved from Lee Gold who had picked them up from my apartment just after I had my stroke. There was everything from my junior high school glee club sweater to worn-out shirts I had been saving for rags to my tuxedo that I had only worn twice. This filled the afternoon. Sherry asked if I could recommend anyplace for dinner in the area besides the Denny's near the LASFS. I named the Pinocchio Italian restaurant on Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank that Michael Burlake had introduced me to. Sherry phoned Michael and Rob Powell to invite them to join us. Rob was spending the day with LASFan & animator Mario D'Anna, so we invited him to join us. Michael had to work late and did not join us until the rest us of had finished eating, but the after-dinner conversation of the five of us went on for another hour. It was the most pleasant & relaxed dinner party I have been in since my stroke, even though much of the conversation was about the current state of the animation industry, which we agreed looked dismal except for the creative takeover of Disney by Pixar. I had just gotten an ASIFA-Hollywood invitation to a screening of The Ant Bully, but it was on Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. at a distant theater, and D'Anna, who had been one of its animators, said it was not worth the trouble to attend. We agreed with the current animation industry opinion that, following the successes of Shrek and Shrek 2, Ice Age, and all Pixar's movies over the last couple of years, the Hollywood studio executives all believe that every computer-graphic feature will be a box-office smash, no matter how poor its story is. We are seeing the result this year, with only a few hits like Cars and Ice Age: The Meltdown, and most like Doogal, The Wild, Over the Hedge, Monster House, The Ant Bully, and Barnyard (with Everyone's Hero, Open Season, Happy Feet and Flushed Away still to come this year) only moderately successful or failures. D'Anna said that one of the industry's current gripes is that most of these new pictures are being released under only the names of the distributors. The actual animation studios are not getting any public credit except for those like Pixar with Disney or Aardman Animatons with DreamWorks. Who knows that The Ant Bully, distributed by Warner Bros., was actually produced by DNA Productions, Inc.? Or that Paramount's Barnyard is by O Entertainment, which also produced Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius a couple of years ago? Or that the recent Disney bomb The Wild came from C.O.R.E. Feature Animation in Toronto? I commented previously about how Hoodwinked (also Doogal) was actually produced by Digital Art Asia Studio (DA2), a brand-new studio in Manila. 20th Century Fox has done a slightly better job of attaching the name of Blue Sky Studios with the two Ice Age movies. But in general, the new CGI animation studios are practically invisible to the public.
Last Thursday, Michael Burlake took me to the LASFS meeting. I had further discussions with Marc Schirmeister & others about plans to get me to L.A.con IV. I collected the manicure kit that Kay Shapero has been using to trim my fingernails, to give to Sherry who will take over this caregiving task. (Thanks, Kay, for doing it for so long.) Michael & I did not spot any errors in what we saw of the National Geographic Channel's Space Race, Pt. 2 before we had to return to the hospital, although the errors we saw in Part 1 made us suspicious of it.
On Friday, Sherry brought me back to her apartment. My new computer there had been connected to the Internet, and I spent a few hours luxuriating in the DSL connection, looking at animation sites that I had been unable to see on my computer at the hospital with its much slower dialup connection, such as the trailer for the forthcoming ultra-violent Afro Samurai Spike TV series with Samuel L. Jackson, being made by the Gonzo Digimation studio in Tokyo. We unpacked another of my boxes of books. Sherry's new 42" Toshiba TV was set up; not yet connected to cable so she could get broadcasts, but capable of playing DVDs. We watched the first episodes of a couple of my anime DVDs (the Noir crime/killers-for-hire thriller, and Mars Daybreak, a boys' s-f adventure series with lots of submarine action in the oceans of a terraformed Mars), and the picture was superb; much sharper than the LASFS' projection TV images, if not quite as large.
On Saturday, Sherry took me to the August Cinema Anime meeting at Freehafer Hall. We saw the usual TV anime fare, completing the last three episodes of Samurai Champloo and seeing sample first episodes of two new series, Desert Punk and The Third, both coincidentally(?) post-apocalyptic s-f series set in deserts covering the ruined Earth, although the former is a comedy and the latter a drama. L.A.con IV was promoted a lot.
On Monday evening, I went with Sherry and Michael Burlake in Sherry's minivan to an ASIFA-Hollywood screening of Monster House at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Goldensen Theater at Lankershim & Magnolia. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Director Gil Kenan & three of the visual effects supervisors, and a lavish refreshment buffet, courtsy of Sony Pictures. I enjoyed the movie, but boy! is it full of plot holes! Kenan & the others were asked why they chose motion capture as their animation process rather than traditional cartoon or some other form of animation. They talked a lot about how only motion capture allowed them to come closest to the effect that they wanted, and especially compared the cartoony look of Monster House with the more realistic look of The Polar Express, Sony Imageworks' previous motion capture feature, as evidence of the versatility of the process; but it was mostly blather, in my opinion. Monster House reminded me more of Gremlins than any other movie I have seen (especially with its climax resulting in massive destruction of the residential neighborhood during the night which only the kids notice, and which is gone without any explanation in the morning), and that was live-acion. I saw no reason why Monster House could not have been a live-action film if they had wanted. (Sure, the house would have to be an animated effect in any case, but the gremlins in Gremlins weren't live, either.) Or stop-motion puppetry, or standard computer graphics, or any other form of animation. (They evaded answering whether motion capture was cheaper than other forms of animation.) Anyhow, we enjoyed the evening thoroughly. Especially the refreshments.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Godzilla Verses #100 - (DeChancie) Another difference between the s-f of yesteryear (the 1950s) and that of today is the plethora of formats available. In the old days an adolescent s-f fan who wanted to revel in as much s-f as possible (spend his money collecting it) was pretty much limited to acquiring books & magazines. He (or she; not many female collectors back then) could go to all the s-f movies and watch the TV programs like Science Fiction Theater but there were not that many of them and you couldn't own your own copies. The comic book s-f of the '50s like Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space was barely adult enough to be worth admitting to an interest in. Today? In addition to debating the interest level of today's s-f book & magazine authors, an adolescent could spend all his time, money, & shelf space just on DVDs of just about all the s-f movies & TV series ever made - not counting all the serious s-f in comic book/graphic novel form such as Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, or all the s-f & fantasy like Akira, Ghost n the Shell, Cowboy Bebop and Planetes in Japanese animation (which the public insists on categorizing separately from movies & TV). Even more than inflation & what text authors to read, the nature of s-f has changed so much. There will be a panel at L.A.con IV debating whether one can be a genuine s-f fan today without bothering to read at all.
MS Found in A(nother) Klein Bottle #38 - (Shapero) Add burrowing owls to the birds in L.A. For the 30+ years that I lived on Jefferson Boulevard in Culver City, the big Loyola Heights hillside that ended at Centinela Avenue just a block from my apartment was riddled with burrowing owls' burrows. When the Hughes Aircraft Company plant was there (before it moved to El Segundo) and I walked to work there every day, you could watch the owls in their burrows watching you as you went by. The hillside rose so steeply and there were so many owl burrows in it that it looked like an apartment house for owls. ## Yes, hummingbirds will chase you off if you get too close to their nests. If you put out a hummingbird sugar-water feeder and they learn to associate you with filling the feeder, they will come and threaten you if you let their feeder run dry. ## There are frogs in the little pond at the Culver City Library on Overland Avenue. You can hear them at night and on rainy days. ## There has been a lot of bad publicity for the L.A. Zoo recently about a chimpanzee dying from the bite of a rattlesnake that got into the chimp enclosure. Several years ago coyotes got into the flamingo pond and wiped out the birds. ## I read a news report some time ago about a study of opossum skeletons that showed a considerable number of healed broken bones from falls, indicating that possums are as clumsy about gripping tree branches as they are walking on level ground. ## Parrots including cockatoos are gluttons for attention from humans. ## There was a joke around the 1950s & '60s that Jerry Lewis would someday be murdered by a man named Melvin, because he played so many hopelessly incompetent nerds named Melvin in his movies. Better Melvin than Fred, has been my motto. ## Dormant gookum! Dormant gookum! ## It wasn't you who owned the Subaru Justy? I wonder what female anime fan during the 1980s it was, then? ## I doubt there are any wild hedgehogs in North America, unless someone's imported pet got loose. Hedgehogs are British and European mammals. In comic strips and cartoons hedgehogs are almost indistinguishable from porcupines, but in real life hedgehogs are to porcupines what housecats are to pumas. Britons who have pet hedgehogs are often photographed holding their hedgehogs in the palm of their hand. You would need two hands to lift a porcupine, if its quills did not make that a bad idea in any case.
Next Week The Copy Count Goes Up To 31 - (Cantor) Dr. Melissa Conway of the UCRiverside Library and I have exchanged e.mails and agreed to meet for dinner on the first night of the Worldcon, since all our panels seem to be opposite each other. ## I have not worked out yet how to go about having my sister print ˇRR!, since part of the job is getting it to you earlier than I am brought to the LASFS. Until this is solved, I will probably continue to let you do the printing.
De Jueves #1491 - (Moffatt) Sherry was prepared to wheel my wheelchair back up to the top level of the Burbank Media Center's parking structure, but fortunately the appearance of Rob Powell rendered that unnecessary. Rob and I chatted together at the entrance of the structure while Sherry walked up alone to get her minivan and bring it down to me. ## Surely, I will be glad to try the Sayers & Walsh, the Pronzini, & the Muller mysteries to see if I like them. I just got an e.mail from a former co-worker at Animation World Magazine who now works at the Corporate Disney offices. She says, "I'll send you some books, but as I said I get very little manga. I do get tons of mysteries though so you may enjoy those." ## Yes, bulls. With udders. Ha-ha. Barnyard is not exactly filling the theaters, although it is not grossing too badly after only two weeks out (according to Box Office Mojo, $34,935,663 frm 3,311 theaters nationwide since its August 4th release).
I Read Goldilocks - (Gold) See my comment to June Moffatt above. ## It was Rudraksh, not The Avenging Fist, that has the spectacular dance numbers. ## The ants in The Ant Bully have six legs, but that is not enough to save the movie. Ward Kimball spent the rest of his post-Pinocchio life telling how Walt Disney stuck him with the job of designing Jiminy Cricket, with orders to "make him look cute". After weeks of hair-tearing and throwing out hundreds of sketches, Kimball roared, "THERE IS NO WAY ANYBODY CAN MAKE A CRICKET LOOK CUTE!", and he drew a cute character that looked nothing like a real cricket and gave it to Disney on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. ## Yes, please notify the Culver City police on my behalf. ## I would need my sister to put the glove onto my hand for me, and then remove it after I am in her van. I think this would give me a better grip than the towel over the doorframe, since the towel tends to slip.
Wonderlust - (Frame-Gray) Big & Ugly (& her hunting party of at least five other hyena warriors) did not immediately eat Digger because, firstly, she distracted them by claiming hospitality offered by another member of their tribe, and secondly, because the little black thingy with Digger turned into a fifty-foot tall shadow-demon thingy and frightened them away. See the Digger comic-strip free archive or, preferably, buy the book collections of Digger from Sofawolf Press that I have been given review copies of to promote. Digger is fascinatingly imaginative; if it did not often contain thick blacks which would reproduce poorly on the LASFS' mimeograph, I would ask Vanessa to reprint it here more often. ## There may not be a lot of carbonization left in Dr. Pepper after boiling it, but it does make an excellent sweet hot drink on a freezing winter day or when you have a bad cold.
Vanamonde #691 - (Hertz) Come to think of it, my collection at the time of my stroke was donated to the Eaton Collection because I could say so, but I am not sure that that donation will cover my new acquisitions since my stroke and in the future until whenever I do die. This should be legally ensured. Can you help with that? ## Well, steaming hot Dr. Pepper was served to the volunteers who worked on the General Motors/Hughes Aircraft Company floats in the refrigerated Rose Bowl floral float assembly buildings during the three or four years in the mid-1980s that I worked on them. I suppose that I should not generalize that Dr. Pepper was served to the volunteers who worked on all the floats, since each float had its own volunteer assembly team and procedures.