Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Complications from Taking Things for Guinness

I like burnt toast. I made a crunchy meatloaf tonight. It has carbon. I am carbon based. If I ever burn my fingers, I may be my own lunch. I also had a bear tonight.  A beer. A bear would be silly. If I were a bear's lunch, I'd be pretty burned. And then I'd have dinner too. Maybe I'd invite the bear for a beer.  A Hamm's. A hemms. Ahem. Time to dream of bears. A bare dream. No that's something completely different.  That's a Python. A python in a bare dream with a beer and a bear. As long as I'm not bare with a bear and a beer.  That would be a bore.

I should write this down.

And later:

There once was a saucy mosquito
Who craved a juicy burrito

But when she lay in the mud

Con-templating blood,
She switched her desire to some Cheetos.

Sleep can only help so much....

(rewrite when awake to...)

Abuzz in jungled mosquitoes
Was an egg-borne pester of cheetas
She hummed o'er the swamp
All primed for a romp
But settled for tartare burritos

And, emerging from the fog:

A submental collection of weasels,
Oleagenous as freshly-lubed diesels,
Tied themselves into knots
On the subject of shots.
News report: they all died of the measles!

Monday, April 08, 2019

Talking Alone to the Phone on a Long, Long Drive....

Maybe an animation narration here...(begun in the mid 1980s, bits found on a micro cassette from that "era"):

Said Laura Palmetto McGregory Toon
“I just read a story that ended too soon!
Oh sure, it had gremlins and dragons unnumbered,
And even a princess in eternal slumber.
The problem’s the story just ended too soon!”
Said Laura Palmetto McGregory Toon

She went to her granny’s, found all the best books
She read them in crannies, she read them in nooks.
She read them with cookies piled high upon lace,
She read them so close she smeared ink on her face.
She read them at night, with her little flash lightie,
She read them all cuddled in a blue flannel nightie. 

A distraction appeared, as a canine named Beet
(But he'd answer to "Boo!" or "Come Here for a Treat!")
She taught him to sit, to roll over, and stay
But found he liked books in a very wrong way... 

She read tawdry romances - novels - adventures!
(And a medical essay on old ugly dentures).
She read about people from Kalamazoo
She read about hormones (and made a few, too). 

She planned a career with keyboards and easels,
And was vaccinated against getting three-day-old measles
She never found princes, nor flared dragons, either,
Just boy after boy all determined to tease her. 

She was married once, she was married twice:
The first one for love, the other for vice.
She had a sweet daughter, the usual way,
Who turned 17 and then sauntered away. 

So what was this story that caused all this strife?
It wasn’t a story, it was simply a life.
So while it lacked princes, it gave a good slumber
And moments of happiness too many to number. 

“The problem’s the story just ended too soon!”
Said Laura Palmetto McGregory Toon.

Margaret Millington MacDonald O'Foon
Tina O'Leherity Smith-Wallington Soon
Stacy McMacey Sans-Souci Muldoon
Racheal Fontunis FitzWalletter Moon
Vickie McLitchey Sympatti Racoon

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The View from Paris - 1973

For less than $400 you could get 8 days, 7 nights, in France in the Spring of 1973.  A king's ransom to a 17 year old saving for pharmacy school, but I figured it might give me a memory or two.  Also brought along a new Bolex Super 8mm camera, so I still have at least two memories, attached:

"The Students are Revolting" (and they were - a quarter million took to the streets to protest the mandatory draft while we were there.  I took teenage liberties with the edit.)

And we'll see if the other memory can be uploaded:

Sunday, March 10, 2019

ASIFA Central - notes on Board Meeting Wednesday, March 6 2019

After some entertaining log ons and sound loss, the meeting began, with illumination guiding the proceedings ---

ASIFA Board Agenda and Notes for March 6, 2019
Present: Deanna, Brad, Jim, Julie, Chuck, Steve, Chris


1. ASIFA Website Needs:
Launch date? We didn’t decide on a launch date, though we’re still making some changes beforehand.
** Maybe launch it after Brad updates the heartfelt welcome on the home page? Deanna (that would work -- Chuck)
Where should we place new information: ex. Newsletter Archive - 39 pdfs of the previous newsletters are ready!  This should be along the top of the site - “events” and “join” banner - make a new page and off you go to the races! - other newsletter archives are being gathered at ASIFA East by JJ Sedelmeier (he may even have all the ASIFA Central newsletters in his collection, if we are missing any issues or cannot find them in our digital scans)
Is there a basic tutorial for posting on the website that Julie can recommend?

Brad writes something for the home page - overall vision and goals for this year, mentioning some of the things coming up, and we can look it over, toss in our ideas, we can approve it and then start letting folks know what’s going on! (ie St Louis in July).  This will also be in our spring newsletter.

2. Next Event planning?
-Gretchen was going to check the cost of renting the facility - weekdays are likely less expensive
-DIA has some programs coming up - if someone wants a drive to Detroit...that has some options for activities
-Tom Sullivan - Jim will reach out to Tom for availability and what he’s able to bring - his requirements/needs; it may be a draw for local GR folks, more difficult for at-distance students (even Allendale to Grand Rapids journeys can be a challenge) - some students become so entrenched in their own projects and challenges that they don’t leave their workbenches - Jim will talk with Gretchen for available dates.

- School reels - and “open mic” from schools - drop box student films from the past 2 years that can be passed along (April 26-28 - Chris’ Kinematifest) - deadlines are pretty informal - April 1.
- Nina Paley: Seder Masochism feature-length animated film
- Ann Arbor Film festival is March 26-31. See below for some selected programs that feature animation…

3. Newsletter: Deadline for articles and how many newsletters we doing this year? Four issues per year is the goal - Jim will send some lists of PD music and open source software for comments.  The next newsletter release will be by April 15.  Taxes and Animation!
Topics for the next newsletter - Brad’s Presidential insights, thoughts from members’ blogs (Chuck’s ongoing reviews and adventures), IAD AniJam (10 participants so far, based on the yet-to-be made public poster for the 2019 October IAD), Public Domain music and material, and open-source software (Storyboarder/Blender 2.8alpha, Grease pencil, etc.) - probably an ongoing examination of available material out there at low cost.

4. Open Projects:
- Call for Writer/Researchers: Deanna and Brad will help Submit in April ?? till Sept.
- Summer Retreat - July 20 and 21 in St Louis - place that on the website with info TBA - Chris will build a promotional for the retreat, now in development
RETREAT Committee: Chris, Gretchen, Bob  details by next meeting
- IDEAS for RETREAT: Pixelation exercises and explorations, TED talk/tech talk/microtalk type presentations (ie, animation history), student involvement - Chris DeWitt from Indiana may be a - Ray Pointer from Michigan - invite the Chicago animators to show their work
- Cut out weekend workshop “Lizzo” the seamonster - replacement animation project - couple pixelated humans with cartoon objects that can be swapped out
- A wall that can be drawn on, with people pixelated in front of it (increase participant involvement)
- The ever popular Show and Tell (Symposium?) - or something that sounds like an Academic Report for the faculty folk

5. Member Enrollment numbers
- We currently have 36 members.
- Julie will review ad Google dollars and opportunities (Corey Francis-Parks -sp) (ASIFA has worked this, using membership size to instill interest)
- Confusion email with the ASIFA international group has dropped considerably - We are .org, they are .net - we have a stealth launch….

6. DRAFT :  Call for Writer/Researchers (Deanna will send out general information to the membership; is someone within ASIFA Central a possibility - letter of intent or note of interest?)
- ASIFA/Central USA has announced a call for writer/researchers to compile and write two pieces for two separate projects.
- Honorarium $400. (for each project)
- Letter of intent with writing sample April 1
- Draft presentation deadline July 1
- Final deadline Sept 1
- To apply, please indicate which project(s) you are interested in pursuing, and send a writing sample or link to previous writing to Deanna Morse (
- The material would be used in some manner to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of ASIFA, in 2020.


ASIFA/Central USA has announced a call for writer/researchers to compile and write two pieces for two separate projects.
Honorarium $400. (for each project)
Letter of intent with writing sample April 1
Draft presentation deadline July 1
Final deadline Sept 1

To apply, please indicate which project(s) you are interested in pursuing, and send a writing sample or link to previous writing to Committee chair Deanna Morse (

The material would be used in some manner to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of ASIFA, in 2020.

Project 1 – ASIFA PRIZE
The ASIFA Prize has been awarded since 1985 to a person or organization that has made “a significant and innovative contribution towards the promotion and preservation of the art of animation”.
We would like to complete a document that gives background on the previous awardees. This material could be printed and also downloaded from a website.

ASIFA has about 40 active chapters around the world, including 7 in the USA. We would like to compile an overview of activities that chapters are undertaking, similar to the articles that profiled chapters in the former series “Who is Who in ASIFA.” For this project, we would like to create profiles of the most active chapters, including the seven in the USA.
This material is useful for chapter to chapter communication, and would also be presented on an ASIFA website, and possibly published in some manner.

For more information on these writing projects, please contact Deanna

8. Ann Arbor Film Festival - Some Animation Programs, although animation is in pretty much all the Competition screenings - Thursday March 28
Juror Presentation: Stacy Steers: Animation and Surrealism
1:00 pm | Michigan Theater Screening Room | Free
Stacey Steers presents four short animated films spanning 20 years of process-focused filmmaking. In her handmade films, Steers experiments with new forms of animation in the surrealist tradition, using found footage in a novel way to create provocative narratives. Her mesmerizing films move with a stream-of-consciousness fluidity and summon disquieting dreamscapes drawn from allegory, myth, and archetype.

- Friday, March 29
Films in Competition 8: Animation
9:15pm | Michigan Theater Main Auditorium
Recent animated films from near and far: Quasi and the Quackadero (Sally Cruikshank), TV (Richard Reeves), Confidence Game (Kathleen Quillian), HEDGE (Amanda Bonaiuto), Intermediate Landscapes (Richard Negre), 32-Rbit (Victor Orozco Ramirez), Sun Zoom Spark (Gina Kamentsky), Cow Palace (Julian Gallese), Silver Seeds (Kim Collmer), Rabbit Tracks (Luke Jaeger), Smoke's Last Thought (Miranda Javids), Shape of the Moment (Mateusz Sadowski), Maze of Noumenon (Tianran Duan), Under Covers (Michaela Olsen).

- Saturday, March 30
Wada’s World: Wrestling with Existence - Special Program
9:00pm | Michigan Theater Screening Room
Wada Atsushi is one of the top animators in Japan. This is not that highly conventionalized and capitalized animation also known as anime. Rather, Wada presents his own strange, wonderful, and instantly recognizable world through his .3mm sharp pen. In Wada’s world, humans enjoy a peculiar relationship to the living things around them. His drawings of the animal kingdom may look relatively realistic, but his creatures emit an uncanny sense of anthropomorphization from deep inside their feral forms. Wada writes, “I like animals that give me space for thinking.” Space – or ma in Japanese – is a central concept for Wada’s practice. His visual space has the twisty-turny cyclical structures of Escher, and his soundtrack is punctuated by empty blanks inspired by composer Takemitsu Toru. Thus, ma in Wada’s oeuvre is not a cultural essence, but rather something arriving from Wada’s own artistic sensibility; one can recognize Wada’s world in the first few seconds of a film. Curated and presented by Markus Nornes.

More about the retreat
Next event - opportunities with Tom Sullivan - Jim to check
Next newsletter - April 15
Brad - something for the home page
Website notes - incorporate info from Deanna’s email
Next meeting - Brad will DOODLE

9. International ASIFA news - Deanna’s report
Here is where we are at - the new Executive Board was elected, and the next thing is to elect the Directors of Special Projects - listed on this page as functional directors. These will be three year terms.

It is taking some time to finalize the positions, but I have put stars by the ones that seem to be open/vacant...
If any of these starred positions interest you, please email me directly for more information...

Director of New Chapter Coordination – Vesna Dovnikovic (As Secretary General, she already does this)
***Director of Festival Liaison – Nancy Denney-Phelps (will be multiple directors)
AWG President – Anastasia Dimitra (Elected by AWG)

?**Directors of News and Information: Tsvika Oren, Camille Selvon Abrahams (Thomas may have folks in mind)
?**Directors of Marketing and Public Relations: Jamie Kezlarian Bolio, Annegret Richter (Thomas may have folks in mind)

Special Projects:
IAD Curator – Brad Yarhouse (No one wants a change here. He's great)
ASIFA Prize Curator – Agnes Li (No one wants a change here. She's great)
**Director of New Projects – Deanna Morse - will focus on 60th anniversary celebrations. then new projects

** Position probably eliminated -- Director of Ethics/Audits – Anastasia Dimitria
Director of Technical Operations – Corrie Francis Parks (No one wants a change here. She's great)
**? Probably will be Nelson Shin and someone else Director of Administration and Archives – Sayoko Kinoshita

Agenda and notes assembled for online posting.
Jim Middleton, ASIFA Central Sect’y.
10 March 2019

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Really Rough Pencil tests

Experiment with importing, exporting, and editing - using inexpensive and outdated software, knock-off technology and wrinkled, yellowing tracing paper, because after all, I'm cheap.... an upcoming group project in the guise of an AniJam.

Version #1:

Work process:
The original image is a painting, on canvas, that has been roughed out in 3D for a 10 sequence template.  This permits a right-to-left tracking shot for the project.
It was provided as an mp4, with a 1920x1080 resolution.
I wanted to make the contribution a 2D animation, so.... some work-arounds....
In keeping with my habit of doing things in the most convoluted, irrational method possible with outdated technology, I was able to dissect the animation template provided by inputting it into Sony Vegas (v14, I kept that somewhat up to date), then exporting it as sequential images in four formats (JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, just to have all bases covered), then importing those images into (gasp) FLASH CS3 to build a reference layer.  In effect, a panning motion rotoscope.
My use of FLASH these days is not to build a "Flash Animation," but rather, to construct the animated sequences for input into Vegas or some other video editor (I have used Premiere in the past, but it went a bit wonky on its codec, a problem that has reportedly been corrected from Those Who Know Better, but I'm at a stage where my time is spent more in doing instead of twiddling....)
An additional layer atop that was created, with the intention of drawing my 3-second sequence as a test using an "Artist 12" digital tablet.
The tablet worked well, at least for the higher-resolution FLASH environment the project required.  The FLASH pencil tool was used for this portion of the project.
Scribble time - about 90 minutes.
The under-neath, background later will be removed on completion, to create a "green screen" with an export of the Flash sequence as a series of 1920 x 1080 images.  That'll go to the ASIFA coordinator for assembly,
And, after this, ready to collapse by 9pm, such a party animal am I!

Test #2 - first clean up

And, finally with some more detail and color:

And, some more details while experimenting with color splashing at the end:

And some more details:
And some background tests for the second sequence --
After this, time to shuffle frames, adjust timing, and do a Photoshop run on the drawings....

And this should be "it" - 18 May, 2019

Well, there are ALWAYS retakes, you know....
Like this one, so Andrew Z's segment doesn't get obliterated....

Friday, February 22, 2019

Isopropanol swabs for nausea - wait, that sounds like a bumper sticker....

OK, here's a note from JAMA Surgery online, via one of those Rx newsletters that I really do read now and then:
A small study - 120 ER patients - reviewed three treatments for nausea and vomiting:
(1) taking 4mg of Zofran (ondansetron) while sniffing an isopropanol pad (one of those little wrapped alcohol wipes used to scrub the skin before an injection);
(2) sniffing the isopropanol pad while taking a placebo tablet; and
(3) sniffing a pad soaked in salt water while taking a 4mg Zofran tablet.
They used a 100 point nausea scale to rank the results.
(1) Zofran/alcohol wipe - nausea down by 30 points
(2) Placebo/alcohol wipe - nausea down by 32 points
(3) Zofran/saline wipe - nausea down by 9 points.
Alcohol wipes outperform a placebo and a gold-standard prescription medication for treatment of nausea and vomiting.
They may be on to something.... hmmmm.... (link below from March, 2018)

Friday, February 08, 2019

Osiris Posited in 2009

From Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead, a translation of texts by Normandi Ellis

A lively "Book of the Dead"

From Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead, a translation of texts by Normandi Ellis, with these gems that leap from the page:

“My body is but wax and wick for flame. When the candle burns out, the light shines elsewhere.”      

“Not a perfect soul, I am perfecting. Not a human being, I am a human becoming.”  

“Name yourself in your heart and know who you are.”  

“In the beat of a heart, the suck of a breath, you are the universe.”  

“In my heart are the deeds my body has done and my heart has been weighed in the balance.”  

“Mine is a heart of carnelian, crimson as murder on a holy day.”

And a section of 21 rather deadly apres-vie "ladies of the ether." They deserve one's respect, yes, ma'am!

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

ASIFA Central Meeting Notes - 4 February 2019

ASIFA Board Agenda and Meeting - February 4, 2019, a Conference Call Collossus!

Chatting up a storm, after a storm, waiting for the thermal inversions to make a mockery of Monday moodiness and frigid fiasca.  Bleary-eyed participants dialed in at 8pm, Monday, February 4.  
A proper communion of puppetry began the celebration of new home ownership, knotty pines, radiation survival, and film stripping.  
Present: Deanna, Gretchen, Julie (her first time as setting up!), Chuck, Chris, Brad, Bob S, and some half-blind pharmacist in Battle Creek

ASIFA IAD Central Review
From 50 attendants in 2017 to 125 in 2018; from 2 screening sites in 2017 to 7 in 2018.  26 chapters participated in the IAD, and 15 chapters exchanged film reels for the occasion.  By 2020, ASIFA Central will spread animation to all corners of the globe! Well, a globe by definition doesn’t really have any corners, does it?  That would be squaring the circle, which ignores pi, and a culture that ignores pi can only find culture in yogurt, which is not an ideal animation medium.
President Brad has been musing on the timing for future IAD showings, namely by pulling submission deadlines to the first of June, with this first challenge representing a best of compilation from the hours of material on the 15 programs already exchanged by the international chapters.  Then, by 2020, the reset schedule should allow for plenty of programming without the current concerns about last minute arrangements, which can contribute to a low level of animator and audience participation.

The new! Improving! ASIFA Website has some needs, mainly technical, with challenges on viewing the site based on the browser used (clipping on Firefox, trimming on Opera, and who knows what Netscape thinks of it).   Julie is working on links, Jim is prepping some mp3s to flood the fields of public domain (1924 - “Rhapsody in Blue” is up for grabs, and how one can salivate...), until then, some nice Edison masters of Felix Arndt.   Brad is working on the main header for the site.

And an earlier release of the IAD poster can improve participation (and again, reduce the rushed sense of wrapping up rapt contributions).  This year, Saturday February 23 begins ANI-JAM 19! The Grand Rapids Community Media Center will host, or members can participate via SKYPE at 1:00 EST.
Brad offered the following notes for the ANI-JAM:
Crazy idea 1: Proliferation and exuberance of life! 
Pitch: The landscape constantly scrolls belching out strange bugs till the last bug (the one on the poster appears)
Rules ideas:
One person creates the rolling landscape (it just scrolls)
The amount of landscape depends on the number of participants.
Each person gets a copy of their portion of the rolling landscape. The landscape scrolls 3 sec per person
Each person can make the animated belching bug volcanos act as they desire but the must keep moving at the same pace and match up with the next segment of the scroll. In other words during the 3 seconds, much can happen but the landscape must move consistently to the pace that you were given, and your end volcanos and holes must match the start of the next volcanos and holes. 
You can interpret the scrolling landscape in other mediums keeping consistent colors and basic shapes. (stop-motion, 3D, paint, etc.)
Within your 3 seconds you can go wild with creative insects
animators can combine their segments to make larger segments and have interaction between their bugs and interpretations of the world
Specifics will be worked out before the 23rd day of February gets nibbled away.

Deanna Morse also let slip that she is one of four new ASIFA International vice presidents.  She discussed her projects for the newly repurposed website, with US chapter profiles, overviews of ASIFA prize recipients for the past 20 years, and a celebration of ASIFA’s 60th anniversary.  Deanna wants writers to sharpen their pencils on behalf of the projects, offering prize money to stimulate the process.  April submissions with September deadlines for those projects.  Deanna and Brad will continue discussions between ASIFA Central conference calls.
Here is her official "release" - 

Elected (re-elected) as a V.P. for ASIFA International, 3 year term. Working with Sayoko Kinoshita (President, Japan), VPs: Johnchill Li (China), Mohamed Ghazala (Egypt), Thomas Rendolder (Austria), and the many ASIFA chapter representatives around the globe. Working for peace and mutual understanding, connecting through our shared love of the art of animation. Celebrating 60 years in 2020 for this organization. 

And a preliminary discussion for this year’s ASIFA Central retreat focused on St. Louis, Missouri for the location, with details being sent “to committee” for the next meeting.  A July 20 weekend is being proposed for the retreat, to allow for scheduling access to other summer events.  We understand St. Louis in July is a specialized treat for those who enjoy heat and humidity on a professional scale.  RETREAT Committee: Chris, Gretchen, Bob; with  details by next meeting

ASIFA Central is a non-profit group, and as a non-profit, members may be able to take advantage of certain special considerations for software access and promotional partnerships.  Nina Paley’s creative-commons “Seder Masochism” is certainly worthy of an afternoon showing and discussion in its own right.

The Ann Arbor film festival is also slated for March 26-31, with at least one major session concentrating on animation, with other films being scattered among the competitors.  Other local retreats were discussed, based on availability of material, topics, and creators.  Those, too, went into a committee for consideration.

Jim Middleton
ASFIA Central Secretary

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Regarding that New "New Math"

With all the talk of New "New Math," I thought a glimpse of an 1882 guide on the subject might be worth a look.  I'm still trying to work through the "tutorial." From "Parson's Hand-Book of Forms," published in Battle Creek by J. E. White of 5 West Main Street:

...and just wait for the piece on fractions...

Phun Pharmacy Phacts for February 2019

Well, maybe a fantasy, after all.  Pharmacists are prone to fantasy, you know, like lunchtime.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Don't Be Nervous (1929) - clip demonstrating sound technique

1929 wasn't a good year for movies that moved.  Sound generally meant a camera bolted in place, boxed to create a quiet camera and dehydrated cameraman.  And for the sound itself, it wasn't high fidelity - it practically had to fight to get onto the soundtrack.  Watch The Broadway Melody (1929) to track MGM's learning curve (spoiler alert - it isn't too curvy), or examine the Marx Brothers in their first film for Paramount, The Coconuts, to observe the direct method to prevent crackly paper from destroying a take.

Lloyd Hamilton, himself

So for a two-reeler from Educational Pictures in 1929 to not only handle sound pretty well, but to add a split-screen AND interactive soundtrack is pretty amazing.  Lloyd Hamilton, generally unknown today, was appreciated by his contemporaries (Buster Keaton particularly among them), provided this example of how he handled "the talkies."  I know I was rather stunned - from Don't Be Nervous, directed by William Watson. 

The whole thing is here:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Christmas Movie Memories from 2018 - The Holly and the Ivy (1952)

Couldn’t make it all the way through “The Holly and the Ivy” on its Turner broadcast, even with a mild distraction of a jigsaw puzzle. It began interestingly enough, with some banter among two ladies trying to share the same train compartment, but having to adjust for one’s first class vs second class carriage, setting the stage for a class division between them. Then it comes to Ralph Richardson’s house and becomes a completely set stage. Lots of quiet talk, quiet outrage, quiet disappointment, restrained dismay, revelation of atheism as The Holiday service approaches, and an overarching impression that father has been more interested in his career than his own family. He prefers the abstract assistance over the concrete concern, seems mildly surprised that his family has all these stressors. Ultimately, Michael Gregory chucks it all to go to America, changes his name to Marcus Brody and becomes dean of students for Marshall college in Connecticut, only to be sobered up and perpetually frustrated by one of his professors, Henry Walton Jones, Jr. At least that’s what I remembered. The egg nog that evening was fantastic.  Sparrow agreed.