Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cryptic Holiday Greetings for 2011

Not sure what this means, exactly, but it appeared on the sketchbook during a broadcast of "It Happened on Fifth Avenue."  Therefore, it has a holiday theme....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Playing with Online Translators - Hamlet

English to French, French to German, German to Italian, Italian to Greek, Greek to Japanese, Japanese to English:

Or, or him or that problem is not as follows:
If or of nobleness; Or as for that arm you take EmbĂȘtements
and of the sea where those to the guide
and the arrow of indignant good fortune suffer.
The mind for as for those un' you finish. Opposition?
Scale to more there is no death; As for that you sleep?
And as for the sleep which was said you finish -- traurigkeit;
Systematic love and as for trembling mile this meat, there is a successor:
As for tis that it becomes consumption– It is desired;
Enthusiasm. Do they die sleep? Perhaps, depending upon that to sleep,
ay and there' you look at dreams capacity for Friction:
Of which dream can come; For with this sleep of other those death quest
As for last that necessity, those you dying, this it is;
As for that It gives Discontinuance there The point of this in this way,
destroys long life. That rod and What which it supports; When being, of the mistake;
oppressor's man it entrusted? In damage;
What; Love, law and Lag; Haughty attitude Using;
Value of this patient dishonorable acceptance of office and pitch,
time quest As for last that bodkin of the knot and fargli which can be rescue?
Fardels of what kind of underfear something
How and you made knurren life become tired under the sweat;
As for part rear section will of return and perplexity of death
and national thing Bourn traveler on the other hand,
these It is discovered; n' Those of that hasten no one;
The exemption which it should support;
As for us thing It has; It flies those; The knowledge other things which are not?
Therefore, conscience Our ones in this way entirely in pitch characteristic,
the making which is removed; Decision East sicklied?
Appreciation of the hay to the model whose thought is thin
those from large time undertaking,
at this point in time to turn electricity
directly, and It loses Name; Behavior.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

About movies....

So often I watch a movie and find that it just hits me in unexpected ways. Then I wonder if anyone else could be equally affected. Occasionally I force stray family members to partake, but usually the result is the same–a wandering sets in, usually a wandering from the TV. So I’m posting these in case others may want to peer into my passion for films that I do not tire of revisiting.

Silence, Please:
OK, so silent films and the expressive use of pantomime aren’t to everyone’s taste, but when they are done well, and when they are shown correctly, they distill mood to its essence and create a universal, visual language:

Asphalt (1929) - Joe May in Germany tells the story of criminals and law enforcement and how human interaction can blur the distinction.

City Lights (1931) - Chaplin’s next-to-last silent feature, with the most heartbreaking final scene ever filmed.

The Crowd (1928) - King Vidor created this astonishingly downbeat story of a promising young man who has his entire life crushed by circumstance and missteps.

The Kid Brother (1928) - Harold Lloyd is wonderful in this sentimental rural story, beautifully photographed, with a realistic climatic fight on a derelict ship

The Last Laugh (1924) - Emil Jannings as a demoted hotel doorman must cover his shame, but does so without a single intertitle in this completely visual tour-de-force.

Laugh, Clown, Laugh! (1928) Lon Chaney cannot love Loretta Young, but does...

Lilac Time (1928) - a WWI love story for which a great song was written, and an equally fine ending where Gary Cooper and Colleen Moore find each other at a hospital - here's a clip from my youtube channel:

The Man Who Laughs (1928) - Conrad Veidt is disfigured as a child into a grotesque whose face has been carved into a permanent smile. His girlfriend, of course, must be blind. Paul Leni directed this atmospheric classic with an early recorded Movietone soundtrack.

Pandora’s Box (1929) - Louise Brooks creates Lulu in this astonishingly modern tale, a woman who floats freely through life, seemingly playing and being played by everyone, until she seems to get away with murder...

Picadilly (1929) - one of Britain’s few great non-Hitchcock silent classics, this one by E. A. Dupont, features Anna May Wong and the seamier side of exotic theatre.

Sunrise (1927) - Visual poetry, with another Movietone soundtrack, about a rural couple’s life disrupted by temptation from the city and the ultimate triumph of love. Ahhhhh.

The Wind (1928) - Lillian Gish, who defined acting in every one of her films, goes out west and somehow survives the constant onslaught of maddening wind and dust storms

Casablanca – Ingrid Bergman’s perfect complexion. Bogart’s incredible delivery. Claude Rain’s wry amusement. Damn! I’m putting this tape in right now!

Children of Paradise (1945) – I’ve actually watched this French 2-parter six times, in addition to the commentary track, and I keep pulling more from it each time.

It’s A Wonderful Life - I’m so conditioned by this I start choking up at the opening credits. Honest. People time me. I’m choking up now.

The Palm Beach Story (1942) - Preston Sturge’s loving and screwy comedy, and how can you ever listen to Rudy Vallee’s singing the same way after this (when he starts his signature song “Goodnight Sweetheart” by screwing it up...I’m off my chair)

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg - It’s French! It’s sung! It’s beautiful! It’s referenced in an episode of Futurama! What’s not to love? Multiplying time by experience can yield adventure!

Wizard of Oz (1939) - The film that defined my existence on this planet from ages 5 to 13.

More recently:
Allegro Non Troppo - the animated parody of Fantasia, in particular the part with Valse Triste...sniff   Might one generation reach to enfold another, and with renewed appreciation, embrace life’s discovery and joy.....

Chaplin - Robert Downey Jr becomes the master.
Hair - forget “The Deer Hunter” from the same year–this is how I remember the 60s!
The Lathe of Heaven - the first PBS feature, rescued from shredding and flaking magnetic tape, is an incredible dream, or is it....NOT the remake from 20 years many of the lines in this film still involuntarily pop out of my mouth
The Mask - Amid the special effects animation, there’s actually a plot twist!
Monkeybone - Rose McGowan as a kitty? Can a coma get any better than that?
Paper Moon - This film was the first time I realized how beautiful a movie could look without being made before 1939
They All Laughed - gorgeous women and John Ritter in a wonderful film where everyone keeps their clothes on except Audrey Hepburn!
What Dreams May Come - another beautiful and heartbreaking film where people just try to find each other, not realizing how the universe can actually be in your corner, cheering you on...
What’s Up, Doc? - I watch this and keep saying Cripes! It’s Madeline! Cripes! It’s the guy from Blazing Saddles! Cripes! It’s how I survived high school!
Young Frankenstein - still laugh til I cry

This is just a few of a zillion movies that come to mind, under the category, “Is it just me, or is this a pretty amazing movie?”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

While we were reading the sports section....

...or being distracted by the media with its source over substance... this is a graph of the Canadian dollar vs the US dollar over the past month.  Notice that during bits of December, it was not only on par with the US dollar, but worth slightly more.  Didn't hear much about this during the Bring Out The Clowns debates, did we?

Data from

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

And so Albion and Marshall Don't Feel Left Out

Albion – Population 14224 (2010)

                         Stimulants  Vicodin like    Oxy-like    Methadone
totals               127774          737092           73520          134644
Per Capita         8.98              51.82              5.17               9.47

Marshall - population 14646 (2010)

totals               97505           375008             37238         69785
Per Capita       6.66               25.60                2.54              4.76

Monday, December 05, 2011

Battle Creek - You've Got A Problem!

The Michigan Automatic Prescription Service (MAPS) offers up a lot of information on controlled substance usage as reported from the state's pharmacies.  Their website even provides the raw data for the entire year of 2010, broken down by zip code.
After some research, it was possible to track down the populations for those zip code regions, then break the general use down 'per capita.'
The categories chosen for this snapshot of 2010 were 'stimulants' (meaning, all varieties of Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, and its chemical relatives), 'hydrocodone' (for all drugs similar to Vicodin), 'oxycodone' (for those like Oxycontin), and 'methadone.'
The 49014 area corresponds to an area near Battle Creek known as "Harper Creek."  The 49015 refers to the "Lakeview" region, with 49016 being those who use a PO box as their primary address, 49017 referring to the city's northern side, and 49037 to the general region known as "Urbandale."
I recommend checking out the MAPS program and looking up your particular region and crafting a similar spreadsheet.  Battle Creek may look to be problematic, but I'm almost thinking that other regions may have a bigger problem....
Now, contemplate the causes.....

Following up on the Planetarium files

The use of mpeg format made a substantial difference.  However, using a 1320 x 1320 (vs a 1320 x 1200) working field makes a substantial difference in filling the dome.
In addition, a powerful vertigo-inducing effect can be seen by simultaneously running two layers of animation, one moving clockwise, the other counter-clockwise - the title toward the end of the 'second' set of swirling images set some profound middle ear activity into play.
Sony Vegas 9 as a video editing software does not allow for greater than 800x800 resolution, however.  For HD 1080 level of clarity, that means going with the next version of Vegas, and a Platinum one at much for budgetary constraints this quarter!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Animation Tests for the Local Planetarium

The Challenge
The intermediate animation class (ANIM235) at Kellogg Community College was given an assignment to determine whether an animation could be developed for use in a planetarium, with the result being a potential entry for the annual Grand Rapids Art Prize festival.
The planetarium in place at Battle Creek’s Kingman museum uses hardware identical to that currently in place at the Chaffee Planetarium inside of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. After making contact with the Battle Creek coordinator, the class was given its initial assignment. If the project can play in Battle Creek, it should work in Grand Rapids.
We initially did a collection of animation samples at different resolutions: (in pixels) 800x800, 1000x1000, 1200x1200. The use of a "square" shape could then be the basis for a circular design that would then fit the format of a planetarium dome.
After some research, we found that the suggested resolution from the manufacturers of the planetarium system (the Evans and Sutherland ‘Digistar 4' projection and computer device) was 1344x1200.
Ultimately, we used the three initial resolutions, then employed the fourth to complete the first test for the project.
As it was only a test, the animations created ran only 10-15 seconds, with the emphasis for the action to be in the center of the screen. The animations were completed in Flash, and then they were saved in *.fla format for archiving, and *.mov format for the projection test and for creating a DVD version.

The First Attempt - November 7, 2011
Upon arrival at the Kingman museum, we discovered that the planetarium coordinator was experienced in the specific system there, but did not have a lot of information about how the projection files were created. Nevertheless, we continued with running our test.
The *.mov files had to be loaded onto two separate computer drives, labeled GP1 and GP2. Audio for the project had to be on a third computer, labeled GP3. Audio files had to be in *.wav format only. As this was not the layout for our project, the initial test was projected in a silent version.

Initial Result
The limitation of the Macintosh network at KCC for *.mov format output from Flash quickly became apparent. The images did project, but the pixellation in the projection made for an unacceptable experience.
Upon further research with the manufacturer, the planetarium coordinator relayed to us that the *.mov files we created would not be acceptable for their hardware system, and that the files had to be in HD format for the images to be fully appreciated by the spectator.
This meant that we would have to create the movies at the KCC lab in *.fla format, then take the raw Flash files to a different system that could then convert the images into HD.

Reworking the Files - the Process
The class then created a new series of short experiments, this time only using a resolution of 1344 x 1200 pixels. The image was further restricted to a circular area based on a 1200 pixel diameter. The sound being used, a public domain recording of "Flight of the Bumblebee" from 1920, was then mastered out as a *.wav file.
Two experiments were created to devise an HD format of the test.
The first took the *.fla files, for CS4 Flash, then rendered them as an uncompressed *.mov format using the Flash software on a different platform (a PC was used for this test). The one minute experiment took approximately 32 gigabytes of hard drive memory.
The second experiment took the raw *.fla files, again for CS4 Flash, and rendered them out as a series of sequential images using the Flash software.
These sequential images were then brought into another program for video editing, Sony Vegas, Version 9. Each image was brought into the software with approximately 2 frames for each, then exported silently as an HD format for Sony, a variety of mpeg4.  Overall, using the sequential images as source material was more useful, since it eliminated the troublesome artifacts inherent in creating *.mov files from the Flash environment.

Second Experiment Result
The results for this second series of experiments is pending our being able to schedule another afternoon’s access to the Kingman museum’s planetarium. We expect this to be accomplished before the end of December, 2011. (in actuality, it will be on Monday, 5 December - watch this blog for further results)

The following DVD demonstration will show the animation sequences created for each experiment, based on the first and second attempts.  These mp4 files are from the Vegas 9 software and were generated for this example; HD files were generated for the planetarium experiment.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Homes in "the Hood" - Battle Creek's Historic District

Elm Street

This may be on Garfield Avenue...where is that notebook!?

Orchard Place, South

Fremont Street

Frelingheuysen Street

Orchard Place, North

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Repaired - well, sort of - Banned Pharmacy Promotion Film

Found out that the earlier posting for the Ferris pharmacy promotion film was glitched beyond comprehension.  Such is the fate of a 1976 1/2 inch video master.  This one has the sound slightly corrected...maybe it is viewable now...oh these archives...who came through with a magnet!!!! EGAD!!!!!!

The youtube link:
(about 10 minutes)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Celebrating Kevin Matthews

(c) 1989 The Animating Apothecary

(c) 1989 The Animating Apothecary

(c) 1989 The Animating Apothecary

(c) 1989 The Animating Apothecary

(c) 1989 The Animating Apothecary
I got to work with Kevin Matthews on his KEVHEAD magazine back in the 1980s, and some things fell out of the archives recently!  Now he's been let go from WLAV-FM in Grand Rapids, and I have no longer any reason to listen to them ever again.  Apparently he has mended fences with Steve Dahl of Chicago and plans to do some podcast work at - so Jim Shorts may ride again!

Monday, November 07, 2011

The HMO Hydra

(c) 1998 The Animating Apothecary
With Medco and assorted mail-order companies essentially obliterating the independent retail market, it's only proper to share some experiences with these knuckle-draggers.  This is pretty much what it's like to deal with their 'help line.'  My favorite waiting message is that a "Certified Pharmacy Technician" will be available soon to direct my clinical pharmacy needs.  The last one I spoke to was "certified" after a 6 week training course at Walgreen's.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Brief Tribute to Male Nurses....

It's tough to be a nurse, but it can be an added challenge to be a male nurse...
(originally for the Journal of Nursing Jocularity in the 1990s...miss ya, Doug Fletcher!)
Illustration compilation at lulu press.  Here's the link:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jabberwockies ... Two Versions

The first, from 2006, and then as second run at the exercise, in 2010.  Ah that Lewis Carroll!

And from 2010.....because a public domain poem is PRICELESS!!!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Another Celebration of Winsor McCay

Splicing together a few clips and images reveal that Winsor McCay may have had a subconscious influence on the motion picture from his early strip, "Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend."  Without it, there wouldn't have been the Edwin S. Porter film, or a reference to set up a dream for Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., or a later short film featuring bad dreams and lobsters, or even dancing on the ceiling!

The clip runs about 20 minutes on Youtube...

Monday, October 03, 2011

Something from THIS Century - in time for flu season

OK, this one's still five years old, but it does have to do with flu season.  OK, not so much.  In fact, very little.  It's something inspired by drawing various chickens one afternoon, and then hearing "Hungarian Rhapsody #2" clucked by some 1920's Europeans.  It also really, really annoyed Flash, or at least that's how the fantasy goes.  A whole weekend never to be returned....

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Another crumbling artifact - 1993 animatic for "Channel Surfing"

Kevin Matthews, now back in Grand Rapids at WLAV-FM with Ed Buchanan in the morning, was one of the power players at WLUP in Chicago back when it played music in the 1990s.
At that time, he approached me to contribute to a proposed TV series he was going to produce - the project "Channel Surfing."  This was back when it was still possible to do six impossible things before breakfast.  This clip, meant to bracket either end of the never-completed pilot, took almost an entire weekend.  It was a challenge for the 286-lead sled and gen-lock in the office, and again a DOSsy project, with all the resolution of 8mm film, and remains a product of its time.  So here 'tis....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Losing Weight - Circa 1905

This has another Battle Creek connection.  Frank J. Kellogg was not related to either W.K. Kellogg (whose cereal used to be made in Battle Creek) or Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (whose 'biologic living' was ridiculed in the 2% accurate "Road to Wellville").  He sold a combination of laxatives and thyroid extracts by mail as a "obesity cure" and became one of Battle Creek's first millionaires - and was noteworthy for tying up the divorce courts so much that the Michigan Supreme Court annulled one of them, citing that the couple "deserved each other."

It took forever (it seemed) to track down a photograph of this Civil War supply sergeant-turned medical entrepreneur.  One emerged when this letter fell from the insides of a wall being torn out during a home remodel in Battle Creek.  It also gives an idea of how he did business AND how he was very, very proud of his signature.

The "Professor" is a title he bestowed upon himself. 

There's an article about his life and times, and multiple marriages, at this site:  The Kellogg Who Would Be King (shameless self-promotion alert - I wrote it!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Bit of Pharmacy History - 1919

A couple of drug pages from the E. R. Squibb and Son's "Materia Medica" book of fine, pure products from 1919.  At this point, the FDA had been in place 13 years....

...I am pretty certain that by 1919, these products required a prescription...
The text on cannabis reads:

"Cannabis has been employed as a Sedative, Anodyne and Hypnotic, in cases where opium does not agree with the patient. Unlike the latter, it causes neither nausea nor constipation. It produces at first a mental stimulation, which is later followed by a calmer mood and finally by sleep. It is used in acute and chronic mental derangements, in neuralgia, migraine, gout and rheumatism. In combination with the bromides (see Tab­lets Triple Bromides and Cannabis Compound) it is employed in hysteria, delirium tremens and mild cases of mania. All patients do not respond to it alike; and while no doubt idiosyn­crasy plays a great part, yet the quality of the drug has much to do with its constitutional effect. In all our preparations of this drug the best quality of hemp is used. "

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Benny Says HI! (ca 1995, via DOS 6)

Here's a clip I found while converting files from *.flc format from my old Autodesk Animator Pro program, something that should have become Flash, but nooooooooooooooo that would have been too easy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Moment of Snarkiness from the 2010 Edition...

 Because sometimes you can smell people before you see them.....

(c) MMIX The Animating Apothecary

        (well so much for making an animated GIF out of this one!)  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Images That Make a Collector Cringe

This came from a Popular Science issue in 1936.  With the Great Depression in full force, and radio being free, those clunky useless phonographs had to be put to some use.  After all, who'd pay money for music when you could get anything in the world for FREE on the radio? 

Now, let's jump to today and the news that electronic books are outselling paper-based books.
Sorry, gang, I'm not going to rely on perpetual easy-access to the internet or digital media.  The books are staying!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Celebrating 1911 and Winsor McCay

In 1911, Winsor McCay created his first animated film, Little Nemo, and things haven't been the same since. 
Click here to see Little Nemo (2 minute clip on youtube)

In 1930, he wrote and illustrated (at least some of it, the graphics seem a bit variable) a guide to animation for Modern Illustrating, an artist correspondance course from Minnesota.  Here are the 17 pages he created:

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Jordan Belson (1926-2011), Abstract Animation Artist

From an email via CVM and Cindy Keefer:

We are sad to report that filmmaker/artist Jordan Belson died early
Tuesday morning, September 6, at his home in San Francisco, of heart
failure. He was 85. A memorial screening is planned for October 19 at
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley. Other tribute screenings in several
other cities are being arranged, details will follow soon.

Jordan Belson created abstract films richly woven with cosmological
imagery, exploring consciousness, transcendence, and the nature of
light itself.

Born in Chicago in 1926, Belson studied painting at the California
School of Fine Art (now San Francisco Art Institute), and received his
B.A., Fine Arts (1946) from The University of California, Berkeley. He
saw films by Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren and Hans Richter at the
historic Art in Cinema screening series in San Francisco in the late
1940s. Belson was inspired to make films with scroll paintings and
traditional animation techniques, calling his first films "cinematic

Curator Hilla Rebay at The Museum of Non-Objective Painting, New York,
exhibited his paintings, and upon Fischinger's recommendation awarded
Belson several grants. From 1957-1959, Belson was Visual Director for
The Vortex Concerts at San Francisco's Morrison Planetarium, a series
of electronic music concerts accompanied by visual projections.
Composer Henry Jacobs curated the music while Belson created visual
illusions with multiple projection devices, combining planetarium
effects with patterns and abstract film footage. His Vortex work
inspired his abandoning traditional animation methods to work with
real time projected light. He completed Allures (1961), Re-entry
(1964), Phenomena (1965), Samadhi (1967), and continued with a series
of abstract films. His varied influences include yoga, Eastern
philosophies and mysticism, astronomy, Romantic classical music,
alchemy, Jung, non-objective art, mandalas and many more.

Belson produced an extraordinary body of over 30 abstract films,
sometimes called "cosmic cinema."  He produced ethereal special
effects for the film The Right Stuff (1983). His last completed film
was Epilogue (2005), commissioned by The Hirshhorn Museum. He is
survived by his long time partner, Catherine Heinrich.
  (Revised bio by C. Keefer, originally for Guggenheim Museum's "The
Third Mind" catalog, 2008.)

More information about Belson and his work can be found on his
approved research pages, at

Earlier in 2011, Belson wrote a statement asking people not to put his
films online, as it did not do justice to his work.

In lieu of flowers, Belson's partner Ms. Heinrich requests that
donations be made to Center for Visual Music's preservation and
digitization work to continue preserving the legacy of Jordan Belson.
Contact cvmarchive (at) (or paypal to cvmarchive (at)

Cindy Keefer
Center for Visual Music
453 S. Spring Street, Suite 834
Los Angeles, CA 90013
cvmaccess (at)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

1993 - Pre HIPAA and Mandated PharmD Degrees....

Here's a pilot that never got airborne, from 1993.  After about 5 months of meetings, a complete pharmacist recast, and three days of shooting video at pharmacies and laudromats that are no longer in business, I assembled this linear editing exercise with a pair of S-VHS players and lots of tachyarrhythmia.  And coffee...did I need to mention coffee?

Needless to say, the 10-episode series never went beyond these 6 minutes, and nobody gets to come around the pharmacy counter anymore without a supoena.  The "even longer for a clinical degree" - the PharmD - is now the only bona-fide entry card to "Behind the Counter" these days.

Snagged this to digital just before the original from 1993 began crumbling.  Lots of color shifts and sound drops..... egad....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PBS and History Detectives in Battle Creek!

While going through her mother's collections, a Virginia woman uncovered a box of old shellac records from the 1920s. Her mother purchased the records at a garage sale a generation ago because they featured the image and name of her father-in-law, Wallace Rogerson of Chicago. Her quest for details about Wallace and the records led her to the PBS program "History Detectives," and their investigation brought them to Battle Creek for the second time in the program’s ninth season.
One of the few online sources of information for these records was written by Jim Middleton, Battle Creek pharmacist, animator, and collector of audio artifacts. So in April, the History Detective Tukufu Zuberi came to Battle Creek with the PBS crew and spent a weekend conducting an interview with "The Animating Apothecary" and scrutinizing his collection.
Was Wallace Rogerson the Jack LaLanne of the 1920's? The mystery will be solved Tuesday, September 6, at 8pm on PBS!

                                                                 (second photo from PBS History Detectives site)

and here's a link that may work: History Detectives - Exercise Records
the webpage that helped get it started: Exercising to the REAL oldies!