Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2223rd Distribution,
LASFS Meeting No. 3671, December 20,2007.
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
|Denvention 3 in 2008!||Anticipation in 2009!||Salamander Press #2706|
Last Tuesday, the 11th, was my birthday. I received e.mailed birthday best wishes from ten APA-LASFS participants and from one Furry fan in Houston. Thanks, all.
Last Wednesday, my sister Sherrill took me to the DreamWorks Animation Studio in Burbank (already taking down its publicity for Bee Movie and putting up publicity for its next CGI feature, Kung Fu Panda, out next June) for the 9th annual Animation Show of Shows, a collection of sixteen short animated films that have been award winners or nominees at international film festivals this past year. The sixteen included four from the United Kingdom (England and Scotland; for some reason Wales was listed separately), three from Canada, two each from France and from the U.S., and one each from Belgium (but the writer/director had a Russian name and the subject was a traditional Russian/Soviet heavy-handed satire on do-nothing state bureaucracy), Finland, Hungary, Israel, and Wales. Only a few were what might be called "popular" - Disney's new Goofy cartoon, "How to Hook Up Your Home Theater" (it and the Ratatouille extra, "Your Friend the Rat", both look like deliberate new-Pixar/Disney-management rebuttals to Michael Eisner's proclamation that 2D animation is dead); the Finnish humorous cartoon "The Irresistible Smile", about a harried airplane stewardess; the French (but in Spanish) "En Tus Brazos", a charmingly poignant CGI tale of a crippled ex-champion tango dancer who is wooed out of his despondency by his former dance partner; the sardonically amusing UK stop-motion "Ujbaz Izbeneki Has Lost His Soul", about a bewildered nebbish's arrival in Hell and the consternation he causes there. The others were either so arty/intellectual that I couldn't figure out what they were about (or I could, but they were so pretentious that I did not care), or were creepy/nauseating horror vignettes. "The Pearce Sisters", by Aardman Animations, is an EC-type horror tale that emphasizes what Arsenic and Old Lace keeps off-camera; it cries out to be seen by John DeChancie, Marty Helgesen, and any other LASFen debating the meaning of necrophilia. It is about as far from the studio's Wallace and Gromit films as you can get - but it shows that Aardman can do superb traditional 2D animation as well as its signature plasticene stop-motion animation. The biggest disappointment for me was the Canadian stop-motion "Madame Tutli-Putli", the longest short at 17 minutes, which had looked brilliant in the advance press and its own trailer, and still looks brilliant but turns out to be one of those "but what does it all mean?" bits of existentialism that can be interpreted as anything from a nightmare to the fears of a paranoid madwoman to the machinations of a sinister 1930s police state to - make up your own meaning. And then there is the Welsh two-minute cartoon "t.o.m.", apparently about a typical British 9- or 10-year-old boy who is sent to walk to school one morning and who removes items of his clothes and hides them in the various shops and mailboxes and parks that he passes until he proudly walks into school completely naked despite everybody laughing at him. The end. A dream? A rebellion against adult authority? A determination to stand out from the crowd? A manic loony? These collections of international animated short films are always mixed bags of the arty-obscure to the crowd-pleasers, fascinating for the variety of their animation techniques and art styles if nothing else.
The Show of Shows was put together by Ron Diamond of Hollywood's Acme Filmworks, who did not include any of his own studio's work because it only makes animated TV commercials, not "art" films; but three of them are up for Annie Awards in the Best Animated Television Commercial category. All three are featured in their entirety on the studio's website. Which would you vote for? (The other two Annie nominees can be seen on their studios' websites; WILDBRAIN and Laika/house (formerly Will Vinton's claymation studio in Portland until Vinton lost it to a hostile takeover by Nike co-founder Phil Knight in 2002).)
(Speaking of animation, if America can have its anthropomorphized Cars and Britain can have its Thomas the Tank Engine, why should India be left out? "Kahani World Properties will release its first production in April 2008, the animated 3D 49-minute pre-schooler direct-to-DVD Raju the Autorickshaw." According to Wikipedia, autorickshaws are the most popular form of urban public transportation in India, so a DVD of an anthropomorphized friendly autorickshaw can teach young children how to use them. But Wikipedia says, "Chartered auto services, where the auto-wallah [driver] caters to the hirer at a fixed time every day are also common, especially to ferry children on their trips to and from school, in major cities. Such autos often have tailor-made arrangements for extra seating. Children squeezed tight with their school bags in the gaps is a typical characteristic of these autos. Sometimes, such chartered autos violate traffic rules flagrantly by overloading the passenger area with uncomplaining and playful kids - and this has often led to the autos meeting with minor to fatal accidents, which has prompted stricter control and vigilance by parents and traffic authorities." Also, "Auto-wallahs are often negatively portrayed in Indian movies, sometimes as villains who kidnap passengers or steal their money." Hmmm.)
Also on Wednesday, Vanessa Van Wagner asked me for a copy of the LASFS and Loscon histories that I have been writing for the Loscon Program Books, since I have been complaining that the histories have errors added to them each year. (Sometimes they have just reprinted the inaccurate copy from the previous Program Book instead of the corrected text that I submit.) She said, "Besides having a personal interest in fannish history, I think it would be a good idea for there to be more than one copy." I agree. The histories in the Loscon Program Book have been supposed to be definitively correct since I was assigned to edit and update them each year, but I think that only one Program Book, several years ago now, did print the text that I sent in instead of reprinting older versions with errors or rewriting my submissions to add new errors, or restore old errors that had been removed years earlier. As a result, the LASFS & Loscon histories in my computer rather than the ones in the Loscon PB are the only completely accurate ones. I am sending my histories to Vanessa so there will be more than one copy of them. If anyone else would like a copy, just let me know. I have not yet confirmed whether next year's is Loscon 35 or Loscon XXXV, and whether "Roman Farce" is to be added to "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Loscon" as its theme.
On Thursday, Sherry brought me to the LASFS meeting. This was my Patron Saint's week, which was old stuff for me but it was the first time that Sherry got to hear the club say Good Things about me. Procedural elections were held for the January-June 2008 term. Marcia Minsky was reelected President (she gave out bribes of Almond Roca cookies). Nominations for Vice President grew so controversial, with the majority objecting to a five-person tag team where none of the five would have any responsibility, that election for Scribe was held first. Matthew Tepper was the only nominee who accepted. The Vice Presidential tag-team nominees were reduced to two, Tadao Tomomatsu & Mike Thorsen, which was deemed acceptable; they were unopposed. Michelle Pinkus won election for Registrar against Ed Hooper and Hare Hobbs.
On Saturday Sherry brought me to her apartment for more DVD watching and dinner. We saw the Ratatouille feature again (almost as good on Sherry's 42" TV screen as on the full-sized theatrical screen), and Satoshi Kon's newest anime feature Paprika, which I had not seen yet.
On Monday, I got a DVD of Surf's Up from Sony Pictures Animation with a cover letter listing the ten Annie Award nominations that it has. I will try to watch it before I cast my votes.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
De Jueves #1561 - (Moffatts) Kangaroos cannot be domesticated any more than deer or sheep or buffalo. They can be tamed to the extent of not being afraid of humans and taking food out of their hands, but they will wander off unless kept caged or corralled. There was an Associated Press news video last month (November 12) of a kangaroo loose in an urban Melbourne neighborhood with several Wildlife agents trying to trap it. ## Representing a gorilla suit as a good Easter costume reminds me of the old joke, I believe from the My Friend Irma movie, of some horrid breakfast food being advertised as "tastes great with peaches and cream". The straight girl points out, "Anything tastes great with peaches and cream!" ## My English translations of my De Cape et de Crocs albums were in my copies of the albums which are at the UCRiverside Library now. I can ask if they have found them in my collection yet. It would be extremely difficult to re-translate them thoroughly without the unabridged French-English dictionary that I used to have. ## After 15 years my memory is vague, but I got the impression that the proprietors of the Mexican restaurant in Angoulême, France had a reasonable familiarity with Mexican cuisine, but they were unable to reproduce it with the local cooks. They tried to come as close as they could, which was not very. The food was quite good; it was just not close to anything authentically Mexican. Contrariwise, the Mexican restaurant that Kris Kreutzman & I found in Cairns, Australia on our post-Aussiecon 3 travels in 1999 was indistinguishable from any Mexican restaurant in California or Arizona.
Oh, All Right!!! - (Lembke) I leave the bedroom lights on all night all year round. I credit this with saving my life when I had my stroke shortly after midnight in 2005; I would never have been able to stagger to the telephone and call 911 if my bedroom had been dark. I got into the habit from a combination of falling asleep while reading and getting up during the middle of the night and not wanting to stumble around in the dark while looking for the light switch. I finally decided that since I did not have any other expensive bad habits like smoking or drinking alcohol, I could afford to waste electricity in my bedroom all night long. I do not know whether this would help on long winter nights up North, but it might be better than pillows with LED lights. ## According to Wikipedia, the concept of a wife for Santa Claus was introduced in 1890 in a book of poetry, Sunshine and Other Verses for Children, by Katherine Lee Bates, but there is no mention of Mrs. Claus having a name. An episode of the 1963 Astro Boy TV series showed a Christmas party with a big MARY CHRISTMAS banner, but that was more likely due to the Japanese unfamiliarity with English (or, knowing Tezuka, it could have been a deliberate pun) than a tribute to Santa Claus' wife. Several 1970s Rankin-Bass TV Christmas specials like Santa Claus is Coming to Town named Mrs. Claus as Jessica, but that name has not caught on with other creators. Usually she is just Mrs. Claus.
Vanamonde #759 - (Hertz) The three covers of De Cape et de Crocs that I reprinted are indeed representative. The series is excellently drawn throughout.
Godzilla Verses #169 -- (DeChancie) It is quite frustrating that every attempt to publish the best French comics in English, with the exception of the Tintin and the Asterix series, have failed due to lack of sales after only one or two albums. A couple of the failures might be blamed on very poor translations (I remember one filled with references to the historical Japanese head of government, the Shotgun - it was correct as the Shogun in the original French edition), but even those with excellent translations have failed to sell.
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I have a lot of space to fill this week, so here is a hodgepodge of graphics from the Animation Show of Shows, the Orangina "Naturally Juicy" commercial, and, space permitting, more De Cape et de Crocs. The entire 5-minute film of "En Tus Brazos" is online; I recommend it.