Friday, April 30, 2021

Progress Report - Ongoing Animation Tests

 Almost halfway there - some progress GIFs....

(c) 2021 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary
(c) 2021 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

And, taxing the limitations of the old FLASH CS6 software - note to self: don't render the layer filter effects "live" - render out as jpgs and then reimport to Flash once the effect is in place...

(c) 2021 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

Open Mike Night - Outline for a Lip Synch Project

 Open Mike Night - for eventual lip synch animation project

Onstage - Reading from a phone book...finger moves down page -


“Oh, it’s left to right... got it...







“Oh, I get it - it’s alphabetical.” 

(back to reading from phone book)

“Phone repair - phone repair... F,O, N...”

(hears someone in audience)


“P repair?”

“P ...  P ...  P”

(Hears someone else)


“OK, Yer .... Y....”

(gets corrected again)

“U?  You?  No?  Me? Me-ology?”

(Frustrated and confused now)

“But it’s my phone... see?”

(produces a Pop Tart from his back pocket)

“Wait,  this is a pop tart.”  

(business while he examines the floppy plasticized foil.)

“You know, I remember when you had a choice - frosted or unfrosted. We were poor.  Imagine, being too poor for frosted pop tars.  We’d get the unfrosted, and then just smear some library paste on our tongue.”


“Ah memories - kindergarten in retention, in the corner, with my jar of library paste, dreaming of peanut butter...”

(Audience input)

“What?  Oh, yeah, I was kicked in the head.  Wait a minute... I was kicked in the head by a horse, horses have hooves, hooves make library paste... I was having my revenge on horses in kindergarten.  Glad I worked that subconscious pressure out of my system early.”

(looks at his pop tart)

“And now I have a broken pop tart.”  (Plays with floppy plastic foil pack again)

(An idea! Back to phone book)

“Broken pop tarts... B ...B ... B ...” 


“You know, there’s only one thing to do with a broken pop tart...”  (eats half of it and hands out the other broken half to an audience member)

“Thank you and good night!  I have to go find my phone now.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

From the Hermetic Sensora of John Gage - PANAMAMA


Panamama, you’re my girl

Panamama, I been around this world

You’re the only girl I see

Panamama, you got my heart

Had it thumpin’ n’ bumpin right from the start

You’re the only girl for me

 Lord help me Panamama

There’s nothing I can do

As much as I love my Panamama

To the sea I must be true

If you drown me, Panamama, 

My voice will ring from port to port

‘Neath the waves that hold my breath.

Panamama, my sea bound shanty

Panamama, my whirl’d spun world

You’re the sea that I can see.


My sea bound shanty town

(c) 2021 John Gage Compositions

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

FOX on the Death of Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff, second most notorious con man and Ponzi schemer, is dead at 82. FOX blames immigration at the southern US border. "I bet he died from the CoVid vaccine, because everyone knows a prison automatically grants you herd immunity," said Tucker Carlson.

Sean Hannity openly wept at the news. "Now I'll never find out who shot J.R.! Bernie promised to tell me when I invested that 50 grand last week," he told his listeners.

Steve Doocy had no comment, but did remark that his "Happy Cookbook" is still on sale at Amazon.

I know it's true.
I read it on Facebook.

Friday, April 09, 2021

FOX on the Passing of Prince Phillip

Prince Phillip is dead at 99. FOX news is asking when the Queen plans to remarry. "Being queen is no job for a woman, especially a single one," quipped Tucker Carlson. Sean Hannity asked whether a widowed Queen Elizabeth II automatically becomes Queen Elizabeth I. "It just makes sense, since she's on her own now.," he explained to his listeners.

It's true.
I read it on Facebook

Thursday, April 01, 2021

2021 Spring - ASIFA Central Newsletter


Speak Easily - 1932 - Editing Exercise - Sequences 11 and 12 blend for The Climax and We're OUTTA HERE!

At times, portions of the final section of Speak Easily seem to predict the climax of A Night at the Opera, with Keaton swinging from the rafters across the stage.  Originally, it ran like this:

The class went nuts.  Armetta was out! OUT! and Keaton needed to have a tighter focus and not drag out his time on the diorama.  In addition, an editing continuity had them rerunning the sequence where he stumbles from the catwalk, apparently on the right side of the stage, and then swings onto the stage from the left.  Using the miracle of digital editing, that was adjusted as well.  And who puts a fade out in the middle of a comedy climax!?!?

And whoosh! It is over at last.  

While 20:20 hindsight is always an easy thing, we cannot fault everyone involved in the production of Speak Easily with its shortcomings, but we can use it as an exercise on how not to put together a comedy.  By today's tastes, Speak Easily doesn't hold up very well, but we must remember that in its 1932 release, it made more money than any of Keaton's silent films ever did.  So like Pixar and its Cars series, MGM felt it was making the right decisions based on what truly mattered to Louis B.  and Irving T.

1932 - 8 minutes, 2 seconds

2021 - 6 minutes, 25 seconds

The complete, entire original film - 81 minutes 

The class edit project final length - 72 minutes

Next we're going to work on either Intolerance or Gone with the Wind.  Or perhaps invest in a popcorn machine.

Complete assembly of the Speak Easily "Redux"  is on -- 

Speak Easily Redux 



Speak Easily - 1932 - Editing Exercise - Sequence 10 - The First Act

And so it begins - the show starts, Keaton reels from a sincere kiss and things start falling apart.  A face in the crowd is targeted as someone really enjoying the show.  At first, we all thought it was the university butler in attendance at opening night, but it is actually one of the show's backers.  It seemed odd to introduce him so late in the proceedings.

Keaton has a nice slide onto the stage, Durante does one of his specialty songs (which he was still doing on the Mike Douglas Show in the 1960s), and Thelma Todd gets covered in bleached corn flakes.  The sequence doesn't really build, but there it is:

Nobody really cared for Henry Armetta here, either.  I told them to check out the Marx Brothers' The Big Store someday, where the producers thought they needed a "funny Italian" (apparently Chico wasn't a comedian to them by that time in his MGM career).  Regardless, he was trimmed.  

In 1932 - 8 minutes, 22 seconds.

2021 - 6 minutes, 58 seconds


Speak Easily - 1932 - Editing Exercise - Sequence 9 - Opening Night

Speak Easily has been building up to this point.  Unlike A Night at the Opera three years later, the show is supposed to go on, and we're supposed to hope for the best with this collection of wandering vaudevillians and a befuddled professor.

Cross your fingers!

The original ran thusly:

And the project produced this version:

1932 - 6 minutes, 35 seconds

2021 - 5 minutes, 56 seconds



Speak Easily - 1932 - Editing Exercise - Sequence 8 - Fixing the Situation

The sequence begins with a Durante caricature with his nose protruding downward at a specific angle.  It comes at a reel change, so it is extended by Durante's laugh over the image.  Now think how Keaton was positioned in the shot immediately preceding this one.  I think a fade in/out transition was chosen instead of a lap dissolve for a reason.

Of course it leads to a possible compromising situation, and the troupe has now learned the truth behind the professor's inheritance, so it's time for a nice switcheroo.  And a few trims, because by now everyone was on a roll.

1932 - 6 minutes, 20 seconds
2021 - 5 minutes, 45 seconds

Appendix - here are the screen shots of the end of sequence 7 and the start of sequence 8, with a simulated midpoint of a slow lap dissolve of the two, had the transition been performed in that manner - 

Oh that persistence of vision!

Speak Easily - 1932 - Editing Exercise - Sequence 7 - The Awkward Seduction

Considering the chemistry that Thelma Todd had with the Marx Brothers in Horsefeathers, also from 1932, it is interesting to compare her scenes with Keaton with those of Groucho. Chico, and even Zeppo.  It doesn't help that this is a drinking scene, and perhaps something other than tea had been placed in the decanters.  Todd's reactions are great, nonetheless, if somewhat lost in the medium shots.  And Spite Marriage is used again for material, however briefly, in getting her to stand up near the end.

What rhythm the scene has is broken with the extended insert of the cuckoo clock, no matter how clever the swirling effect, and the class agreed that one clumsy backflip over the sofa was quite enough.  So out came the scissors, and everyone had fun resizing those master shots!

We also noticed something very odd about the staging of Keaton in bed at the end of sequence 7, especially in context of the way sequence 8 begins.  But that's another entry in this never-ending series!

1932 - 8 minutes, 40 seconds
2021 - 7 minutes, 29 seconds
Oh, if only diets were this easy!

Speak Easily - 1932 - Editing Exercise - Sequence 6 - The Rehearsal and Paying Rent

The rehearsal is centered around Durante and Toler, and somewhere along the line, someone (possibly the film's editor) noticed that the film's star was missing.  Thus the insert shots appear of Keaton, with a neutral background, looking interested in the goings on and saying nothing, so when he does appear near the end we get the impression he has been in the rehearsal room the entire time.  The "Singing in the Rain" gag is still cute, and was featured in the compilation film, That's Entertainment (1976).

Of course we had to snip here, and there:

In 1932, it ran 6 minutes, 30 seconds.

In 2021, 5 minutes, 59 seconds.