Monday, August 10, 2015

Nixon Resigns and Ford Inaugurated - August 1974

With Super 8mm film and some lucky "wild sound" lip synching....
...a homemade kinescope!...
It was a warm summer in 1974, and the shredded lettuce at Burger Chef tasted so the sweet taste of shredded Watergate documents...the sound came a few months later when a magnetic stripe was added to the original super 8mm film and the whole thing recorded on the fly, complete with projector noise.  Back when you could still do six impossible things before breakfast...

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Playing with Photoshop - 3D-ish flickerishness

Downtown Battle Creek, 19th century:

Brother Dave as Mr. DNA, ca 1978:
(the separation is a bit too much - this looks like a mutation waiting to happen...)

And, finally, Brother Dave at DisneyWorld, ca 1980 ... when potatoes were whipped only....

And go it soes....

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Animated Gif Test - Schoolhouse backside

Taking some photos behind the schoolhouse, checking the drainage on a cleaned out access space, and the results just seemed to lend themselves to an animated gif.  Go figure!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Concerning "Inside Out" - and "concerning" is the Operative Word

Regarding "Inside Out" - I attended a two-day Pixar "masterclass" seminar in Toronto a few years back, and have just finished reading an extensive analysis on the Pixar methods in Jonah Lehrer's book, "Imagine," where committees gather for long breakfasts to dissect seconds-long shots frame-by-frame.  "Inside Out" suffers from that sort of over-thinking (how many meetings were held to pick "just the right shade of green" for sadness?). 
The technique and craft are there, almost shockingly realistic in the girl's hockey game moments, but soooooo much effort is spent for us to "understand" Sadness, that Sadness starts sucking the life from the story: it takes cutaways to what the parents' minds are processing to slice some of the melancholy and pre-pubescent angst out of the air.
There are many setups in the school scenes to explore - the cliques, the classroom, the sudden appearance in the second act of the girl's imaginary friend (couldn't a meeting have been held to nudge this character into the beginning to reduce exposition later on?) - but this "What Dreams May Come" for tweens gives slow-motion crumbling of personality islands and repetitive starts and stops in the story instead. 
Some of the music seems committee-determined as well, with "It Only Takes a Moment" creeping out of the background (another "Hello Dolly" reference? A "Wall-E" connection for some internet flowchart?).  Emotionally, it tugged the right strings, but "Inside Out" seemed a LOT longer than its 94 minutes. 
And, as if to confirm my suspicions before the final credits, came visuals of the emotions within some of the  background characters and even a few random animals -- and then, suddenly, briefly, and after an hour and a half, I experienced a Pixar movie.

("Lava" as a pre-film, however, was a stunner - something about ukeleles blends wistful joy and melancholy  so effectively.)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Reprieve for Pharmacy Technicians in Michigan

In response to concerns about the ability of pharmacies to resolve conflicts with outstanding licensing applications prior to June 30, there has been a reprieve, pending Gov. Snyder's signature, to implementing the new law until October 1, 2015.

The challenge was the overwhelming number of applications, so many that the board could not examine and license the applicants until past the July 1 deadline.   The work-around was challenging to interpret, and there are still questions surrounding technicians long in the field who haven't completed high school.

The following clarification about the dispensing process, also on the heels of more pharmacy inquiries, deal with the definitions of "the dispensing process", "cashiers", and "technicians" :

"To dispense medication means to issue one or more doses of a drug for subsequent administration to, or use by, a patient. The dispensing process for medication begins when medication is placed in an approved container pursuant to a prescription. The dispensing process for medication ends when the container is closed and a label containing the information required by MCL 333.17745(6) is affixed to that container.
"An individual who handles the container after that point does not need to have a pharmacy technician license as long the container is not opened or the label is not changed or replaced; this will include the handling of the container to complete the payment transaction for the prescription."

Now what of pre-packaging?  Unit dosing? Technicians who dutifully licensed at the start of the year, but now are being told to renew by July 1?  There are many challenges to the board and its inspectors with this new set of regulations, and it is of some comfort that now there will be a pharmacy technician sitting on the Michigan Board of Pharmacy.

One significant decision has been made amid all this - when a technician is initially certified to become licensed, the technician no longer has to maintain that certification to keep the license active.  The licensing requirements are more strict than the terms required for re-certification. This is as of June 2015... check with the Michigan LARA website for updates in its FAQ section.

Take a deep breath and HERE WE GO!!!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Elbert Hubbard Dissects Dr. Kellogg and C. W. Post, ca 1905

Elbert Hubbard received fleeting mention in the Winsor McCay film, "Sinking of the Lusitania," as one of the passengers on that ill-fated ship.  His background of philosopher was all the film gave; for full credit, he was among the most published men of his time, with volumes of essays and discussions under his belt before his death at 58, even if he had to create a publishing company of his own to do so - Roycroft Press in western New York.  What follows is an essay of his, analyzing two of the biggest names in the Surreal City at the turn of the 20th century.

IN BATTLE CREEK, the home of the Breakfast Foods, live two live men. There may be more than two live men in Battle Creek.--I really can not say—but there are only two that are so thoroughly alive that they will live long after they are dead.

Some one has said--out in Utah, I believe—that no house is big enough for two families. Also, we might say that no town is big enough for two big men.

Dr. J. H. Kellogg and Charles W. Post are men of initiative--powerful, restless, nervous, ambitious, opinionated, prejudiced, with ego plus and the Builder's Itch.

This type of man is the only kind that builds institutions and they all have the defect of their qualities.

This article is no paid ad, for sad to relate it will displease both Post and Kellogg, neither of whom will allow the other's name to be mentioned in his presence, unless you sneeze.

Kellogg has impressed himself on the world profoundly. He is hated and loved, scorned and praised, vilified and worshiped. He is a theological-psycho-medico-talkissimus who will write an editorial for a Seventh Day Advent journal, lecture for two hours, diagnose the status of forty patients as fast as a sunrise judge passes judgment on the socially derelict; and then will operate for ten hours without rest.

Through the Kellogg sanitarium pass say, ten thousand patients a year. Some die. A vast majority get well. And some get mad—and these that get mad get well, having received an impetus that stopped introspection and put a kibosh on the messianic instinct, which is simply a search for help outside of yourself.

Life is disillusion. The great man is a sore disappointment, when inspected at close range.

Carlyle said of Jesus Christ, "A great mon, a great mon—but he had his limitations! "

So has Kellogg—and so has Post. Dr. Kellogg can bring up more scientific mishmash and silly, sectarian pishmince in a lecture than any man I ever heard. He regards certain denominational abstractions as verities, and symptoms, diseases. He decides quickly—and is sometimes right. Having no children of his own, he has legally adopted forty-six babies and brought them up in the way they should go.

Kellogg is the Archbishop of Crankdom. He is a radical conservative, an altruistic individualist, and is as cock-sure as John Calvin. He has been too busy all of his life to live all of his theories. He is submerged in a sea of dialectics and dietetics, and being so occupied, it is quite likely he has made a few mistakes, for which, being a doctor, he is not responsible. On the whole, let it be truthfully stated that in his kicking, he has certainly kicked the ball toward the goal.

His vegetarian diet, his sand baths, his plea for work, are all excellent, beneficent and altogether lovely.
If he thinks that heaven is a vast sanitarium, and Gabriel an operating surgeon, this is only because, like the dyer's hand, he has been subdued by the medium in which he works. Great is Dr. Kellogg, and long may he live to replace the hypodermic needle with the hot pedaluvium, and hot air.

Dr. Kellogg is an individual. There are only a very few in this world—most folks are merely persona. Individuals lead and direct people. You can't argue with an individual—you have to obey him, kill him, or move on.

When an individual meets another individual there is apt to be an explosion.
Charles W. Post went to Battle Creek about twenty years ago, a broken-down, nervous wreck. Dr. Kellogg was the magnet that attracted him. As Nietzsche went to worship at the feet of Richard Wagner, so went Post to Kellogg, with a like result Post soon discovered the fact that all wise men know, which is this, that the feet of all idols are made of mud.

Post thought that Kellogg's treatment did him no good. The absolute fact is, that Dr. Kellogg worked the cure of the used-up Post, and Kellogg is grandfather to Postum. Kellogg did the miracle by making Post think for himself—by stinging him into a self-reliant attitude, by arousing in him a fighting quality of mind. Post got well. He got well by the exercise of his sky-piece, which was evidently in sore danger of atrophy through disease, until he came in contact with the Battle Creek Dynamo.

Kellogg probably does not know that bee stings and irritates many of his patients into health—but he does.
Twenty years ago C. W. Post was a failure, financially, physically, mentally. Like that man who went to Muldoon's on a shutter, and in six weeks eloped with the Muldoon maid-of-all-work, so did Post go to Kelloggdom, got back his bosom, and started a business that makes Kellogg divide honors. The joke is on Kellogg.

Post is one of America's great Captains of Industry, a multimillionaire, a man in splendid health—lean, lithe, sinewy and strong—and as an economist and sociologic intellectual factor, he cannot be overlooked. Three centuries ago in France, they would have made him a cardinal.

To compare Poet and Kellogg would be unfair to both. In some ways they are very much alike. In others, vastly different. Kellogg is swamped in the shallows of detail. Post is one of those very rare men who know how to get others to do their work. He saves himself for the task which no one else can do.

Kellogg's lectures on right living set the mind of Post perambulating. Whether Grape-Nuts and Postum are superior to the products produced by Kellogg, it would be indelicate to ask.  To make the world believe they are, has been the task of Post. That he has succeeded is undeniable, even by Kellogg.

Success in life turns on salesmanship. Sheldon is right. Post is a very great salesman—he is a hypnotic advertiser.

A thing may be ever so good, but if it is not rightly presented, the enterprise is nil.  Battle Creek is a monument to Breakfast Food feuds. Factories there, by the dozen, stand idle, save for the spiders, rats and bats, and the bats in the belfries of the erstwhile owners.

Post has succeeded beyond the dreams of avarice. His success looked so easy that capital came a-running, and internee and invalids invented names, ordered cartons, and saw themselves pressing buttons and riding in limousines.

Meantime, Post plugged along, and most of the others with something just as good went to the wall. Kellogg, of course, is a fixture, for back of him is the sanitarium and a great religious denomination, preaching a doctrine of fear and making invalids faster than Kellogg can cure them, Orthodoxy supplies the raw stock—Kellogg does the rest.

Meanwhile, Post has a mortgage on the town. Also does he spend fifty thousand dollars a month in advertising—and builds hundreds of homes for folks who would otherwise be homeless--and gives goose-flesh to organized labor.

That the Post products have much merit, there is no doubt, even if they are made of nothing but wheat and New Orleans molasses. They hold the trade.

Post feeds the people, and the people pay for his advertisements. All are satisfied.

Post is a business man. As an organizer, manufacturer, advertiser, builder, he has written his name large on the tablet of the times. Not only did he have to invent his product, and name it, but he had to construct appliances to produce it. And then be had to convince a nation that it needed it.

The business that begins big, busts. The business that lasts is the one that begins small, and the man grows with it.  If the business grows faster than the man, it is nearing the rocks, and just beyond can be heard the siren song of the surf.  Perhaps, in the larger sense all business is for the production of men.

One-man power is the only kind that counts. The man who has to explain and get another's O. K. before he can act, sees his enthusiasm ooze and the idea escape.

Post is finer than anything he produces. Grape-Nuts and Postum have made Post. And just bear in mind that twenty years ago, Post was an invalid, sleepless, imitable, confused with a digestive apparatus on a continual strike.

Now you behold a man not quite fifty, tall, erect, rapid—who can think on his feet and write as he travels.
Post's plant at Battle Creek is a model of decency, order and system. The product is produced without being touched by human hands. Every improvement in the way of sanitary appliance is found. There are bathrooms, rest rooms, pictures, books and work for the people under sunny, happy conditions.  Every improvement which Factory Inspection exacts has been seen and gone one better.  All the demands of organized labor have been met and more—save the one that the owner shall turn his business over to a Committee named by the Amalgamated Moulders.

Post believes that the man who has built up a business and who can not run away from it—who, if it goes down in bankruptcy and disgrace, has to go down with it—should he allowed to run it. This seems reasonable and right.  Post has met Unionism and fought it to a finish, as far as his own shop is concerned. Now he is devoting thousands of dollars to fighting it, on principle, and for the good of mankind.

As the implacable foe of union labor he is the foremost man in America. And indeed, with say one exception, he is the only big manufacturer who stands out in the open and says his say on labor problems. The rest of them hesitate, lisp, go slow and reach for the safety-clutch.  And yet without Unionism, the Post plant would never have taken on its present degree of excellence, any more than it would have been started without Kellogg. Post hates two things--Kelloggism and Unionism—the two things that have made him:  " And each man kills the thing he loves," etc.

Factory betterments are the result of a fight. At first they are opposed by the manufacturer; then he takes them up, becomes fired with the idea, and goes beyond what the unions ask. In this case, he in turn is then opposed by Unionism, for his efforts at betterment have become patronage, and this, American labor will not tolerate.  Post received ingratitude, exactly as the National Cash Register Company has. Both did too much. Freedom implies a great deal of play to your pulleys to get power you must not screw things up too tight.

Whether Post knows how much the Walking Delegate has done for the world by jacking up the maker of Grape-Nuts to do and dare, is a problem. But true it is, that all things work together for good whether you love the Lord or not.  Invalidism, Dr. Kellogg, and Unionism have been essential factors in the evolution of Charles W. Post, inventor, creator, builder, business man, controversialist and reformer.

(Now for my note - C. W. Post took his own life in 1914, at age 59, while Dr. Kellogg made it to 1943 at age 91.  Both are buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Battle Creek.  Post's mausoleum is a post-mortem testimonial to self promotion; Kellogg's site is a large stone.  Kellogg's younger brother, Will Keith, the one associated with the Kellogg cereal empire, is near the good doctor, with a somewhat more elaborate setting including a sundial and the interesting inscription, "The early bird gets the worm."  It is surrounded by a small fence, but it is no mausoleum.  Since the passing of these three titans of the Battle Creek cereal industries, Post cereals opted to leave in the 1960s, merged into companies, was divested from companies, and remains a modest presence in Battle Creek today...the Corporate Kellogg effectively drew the oxygen out of the room, cajoled the population to merge governments under the threat of leaving town, obtained tax relief under the threat of leaving town, paid consultants to redesign the downtown into a "water/wave" theme removing any cereal references, and has moved half of its headquarters' staff to Grand Rapids.  They no longer have to threaten to leave town.  They are doing it.  Not much political opposition to their action these days either - Battle Creek and Grand Rapids have been gerrymandered into the same district.  Sigh.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Remembering Phil Austin (1941-2015)

A founding member of The Firesign Theater, Phil Austin passed away this week.  I had the good fortune to work with another member of the group, David Ossman, directly in the 1980s, and this particular radio production, "Down Under Danger," gave me the rare opportunity to work with Phil, albeit in the background and in post-production.  The 30 minute program was intended as a pilot series for his long-established character, Nick Danger, but sadly never made it much beyond this particular episode.   If you listen in to The Prairie Home Companion's "Guy Noir" you're getting as close as it can get these days, in heavy gentleness, to this astonishing collection of patter, one-liners, and surreal plot lines.

It runs 30 minutes and is connected with random images of the group and their many amazing recorded productions.  The world seems less humorous at his passing, but his work still brings a smile.  Enjoy.

The youtube link is:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Stargate through Pennsylvania

Through the mountain ... horn a-blarin' the whole time!
(cc) MMXV The Animating Apothecary

Gettysburg Ghostly GIF #1

At dusk, on 14 May 2015 --- near Devil's Den --- five flash photos over 60 seconds --- dusty or daemonic?  OooOoOooooh!

(cc) MMXV The Animating Apothecary

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gettysburg Visit from 1999

These home movie clips keep falling from the shelf, so one is moved to do something with them.  And then, there are those brown wax cylinders crying for attention.  Mix them both and viola! Two minutes of your life you'll never get back....
(p) (cc)  2015 MMXV The Animating Apothecary

Need to return someday to see if the monuments have been moved.....

Sunday, March 15, 2015

DOS Test loop from 1997 - or was it 1998? Where did those notes go....

A weekend of nudging crumbling and grumbling Genlocks and VHS duplications.  And some hand-scanned material.... so many formats ago...
Anyway, it's only about 30 seconds... what else is there on these floppy disks?!!?

Editing Keaton Exercise - Doughboys (1930)

Keaton at MGM is one lesson after another in how that venerable studio just couldn't fathom comedy and comic timing.  So many things framed as a master shot, so many jokes overexplained verbally and then's great raw material for an editing exercise.

The original clip:


And after some mild trimming:

Just like his later film, "Speak Easily," there is a pretty good movie hidden in "Doughboys."


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Battle Creek" - the TV series - Begins In Earnest

The locals in Battle Creek who like to complain about, well, everything, were certain that this series would be a hash job on this once-famous hamlet.  They dismissed it, just as they once dismissed the hot air balloon championship, the "cruise the gut" events downtown, or resurrected attempts at live theatre (of course, they do nothing to promote their city in the meantime, they just drink their bottomless coffees and mutter into their doughnuts).  Their dwindling numbers contribute little more than illogical ventilations on the newspaper's editorial page, or perhaps random radio rants on the local station whose fortunes have sunk such that it can no longer afford a call-in meteorologist.

"Battle Creek" has had two episodes now, and it's fun, but it does have some problems.  The main one is that it was a back-burner project thrust into hasty production due to the success of "Breaking Bad" and "House" -- with Vince Gilligan and David Shore giving it the attention they could, but it was certainly not undivided. 

"Battle Creek" has a near manic pacing, so much that the murder in the first episode is nearly buried beneath all the attention to character quirks, occasionally representing spectacularly bad policework termed the "Battle Creek Way" (a phrase that vanishes by the second episode) - when Dean Winters as Russ Agnew handles an evidenciary gun and takes a bite from the fleshy evidence on it, announcing "anchovy" and a resolution of the crime, you wince less at the possible cannibalistic action of the scene and more at the sheer sloppiness of the method:  why not have Josh Duhamel (Milt Chamberlain, a cute but not that clever of a character name) protest Agnew's intended action, and then have Agnew grab Chamberlain's arm while he holds the gun in gloved hand, and then bring it to his mouth to take the bite of anchovy?  That would be a "Battle Creek Way" - pragmatic, but achieving an end by working around established rules.  Something very simple, but what was shown just seemed like an underdeveloped idea.

In "Battle Creek" the interior settings are strangely dark, the exteriors strangely bright, the downtown incredibly long and large, and sometimes the green-screen backgrounds repeat themselves within the same shot, much as the backgrounds of a Hanna-Barbara cartoon did in our misspent youths.  In fact, for a town of 50,000, this representation of Battle Creek has the breadth of a Grand Rapids at 200,000.  This strange disconnect percolates through a press conference in the first episode, attended by dozens of cameramen and reporters, or in the second where a marihuana dispensary seems to be the size of a city block.  The actual media in the Surreal City no longer includes a local television station, the newspaper struggles to keep a dozen staff employed, and itinerant dispensaries hop from storefront to storefront. 

The plot line in the second episode, dealing with a "maple syrup cartel" in southwest Michigan, wasn't necessarily surreal or odd, it just came across as random nonsense.  Now, it could be that "maple syrup" was originally intended as an aside to the cereal industry here, but when it comes to mentioning cereal and Battle Creek in the same sentence these days, the elephant in the room wishes to remain anonymous...Kellogg has become focused on not being associated with Battle Creek as it slowly shuffles its headquarters to Grand Rapids or becomes a buyout target.  In fact, it is the Post cereal plant and not the Kellogg plant that is fleetingly viewed during the opening credits of the series.  The maple syrup sap lines and hurriedly created processing plant are supposed to evoke memories of "Breaking Bad," but the joke is muddled by not being completely thought through.  Why a "cartel" - why not just a mobster with an obsession over maple syrup?  Or the Kal Penn character craving shredded wheat with syrup after his migraine "therapies."  To some of my associates, a "maple syrup cartel" plotline simply jumped the shark.

The series reportedly has its 13 episodes in the can at this point, and I'll be happy to add them to my collection of Battle Creek ephemera when the DVDs emerge.  It's still quite exciting to see establishing shots filmed a block from one's home on a network program, after all.   If "Battle Creek" gets a second season, I hope that these talented producers will have a chance to exhale from their other projects and think through their outlines a bit more - is "Battle Creek" supposed to be a milder "Twin Peaks" or some amalgam of "Green Acres" with "Matlock"?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Some Shameless Self Promotion

It's a slow news day at some newsletters, and a pharmacist who also makes the occasional animated film makes for good filler.
Here's how this dubious information was put to use last week:

"Dispensing with accuracy since 1978"
Would you drink poured water from this pharmacist?!?

"Jim Middleton has been director of pharmacy for two years, but he’s already becoming known for more than his professional expertise.

The bow-tie-wearing Middleton is gaining fans for his exuberant personality, quirky humor, compassion and—gasp—willingness to answer questions about medical issues.

“This small clinic pharmacy isn’t like a big-box store; we don’t just give out prescriptions. We’re a drug information source, and we’re here every weekday to answer your questions,” he says, adding that he loves the people who patronize the pharmacy. “They’re eager to learn, and they politely laugh at my jokes. I can actually sit down and have a conversation about their meds. It gives you a rewarding sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.”

Middleton, who graduated from Ferris State University’s pharmacy program, oversees the pharmacy and its half-dozen employees who fill about 1500 prescriptions each week for students, employees and retirees. He has also been a longtime adjunct instructor at Kellogg Community College and Kalamazoo Valley Community College and now teaches a class at WMU.

Prior to coming to the University in 2012, he worked for nearly 12 years as a pharmacy consultant, pharmacy- and animation-related teacher, dispenser of holistic and herbal patient care and producer of animated, historical and educational films. In fact, “Uncle Stan,” as he’s called on his The Animating Apothecary website, has been indulging a passion for animation that he’s had since age 14.

He has created stop motion, cel animation, 3D animation and more. His animation and video work include some unusual personal triumphs. There's a parody of a pharmacy school recruitment video that “played for a whole summer before it was unceremoniously destroyed” and two years working with a Chicago TV show titled “Jim Shorts Cavalcade of Sports For You” that was nominated for a regional  Emmy and canceled and in the same week. More traditional highs include the film “Alpha,” which went around the globe with the International Nuclear Awareness Festival in the mid-80’s and a short film that opened for an internet broadcast of Limp Bizkit in 2000.

Middleton lives in Battle Creek with his lovely wife Anne and is stepdad to three sons.  He collects stamps and has large public domain audio library of wax cylinders and 78 RPM records. Visit and the jimmiddleton YouTube channel to learn more about Middleton and his animation."

And now, back to counting by fives....