Monday, January 25, 2010

Disney Gets Going

Waited longer to see The Princess and the Frog than I usually do with new Disney films. The delay was for a lot of reasons, but mostly a feeling from the previews that this would be lackluster.

But I have to say, it was very enjoyable. The animation wasn't quite up to the peak of their late 90's run. Too, the character designs were a little bland, and the color palette was hazy and undefined, leaving the whole production feeling a little more like an animated Thomas Kinkade painting than any Disney film should.

All of that aside, the film was well written, easygoing and had two really stunning sequences - namely, the heroine's first song, as usual, the villain's song. Apologies for no full video on that second number, which is wonderfully kinetic and spooky, and psychedelic in the best Disney tradition. Dr. Facilier is a wonder of lanky animation, and it's nice to see that the artists aren't afraid to push his design a little bit into caricature. You can see a little of it here.

If this film is the starter's pistol in a new run of amazing animated features from Disney, then not only is it a good start, but also placing them a little ahead of the game, since I think it's a bit stronger than 'The Little Mermaid,' with the exception of Ashman and Menken's excellent songs from that film, of course.

PS: Yesenia liked it, too.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Swing of Things

The Spring semester starts this week, and I'm still only taking one class, although it's a doozy - Pre-Calculus. Just the fact that - unlike Intermediate Algebra, which met once a week - Pre-Calc is Monday and Wednesday nights, gives the whole thing an air of being harder, so the math anxiety is coiling up accordingly. Ready to strike at the first sign of weakness.

I've also started work on a 'secret project.' Nothing spectacular about it, I assure you, but I've always wanted to have a secret project. No animals will be harmed during production. The work itself goes/will go slowly, so I won't make any further announcements until there's something to announce.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Return of the Son of Vomit

Clicking on the images gives you nice, large versions.

It's been a long time since I graced these pages with a Vomit Comic. The feature (and exercise), such as it was, had migrated over to the Walrus Comix site, but even there it had stalled in September of 2008, a victim of flailing interest on the part of myself and the universe at large.

The point is that the Vomit Comics work best as what they are - sketchbook exercises, with all that entails. This means an exploration in drawing and/or writing, a ground to figure out how to work quickly and with as little of myself and my ego or sense of what's 'good' in the way. That's sometimes harder than it sounds, ego being both the drive of great art and also its bane.

Case in point: this page exists only as itself, a literal comment on the fact that it was the last page in that particular sketchbook, and I wanted to have something nice on that page. I also wanted to mess around with my grey tone Pitt Brush Pens, because while I've moved away from an interest in really involved line work, I still like to have a page display a sense of volume and tonality.

The Pitt Brush Pens, I can't recommend highly enough. If you're at all interested in drawing, they're wonderfully versatile and freeing at the same time. Not too expensive, either - I'd say they're comparably priced to Sharpies. This particular set has six markers, three in warm grey tones and three in cool grey tones. I didn't pay that much attention to the temperature of the tonality when I was putting this page together, as this unaltered version shows:

The temperature of the tones on the page is obviously kind of random, so I thought (and Yesenia agreed) that it looked better essentially in neutral grays, as at the first image.

And that's pretty much it. The writing is an automatic recursive meditation on the act of creation, which is important to the artist even when nothing of any real value is being said. It's entirely about art as being about nothing more than the fun of making marks on paper.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

He's Not Your Pal

I'm starting to wonder a little bit about the free pass that our generation has given to Bill Murray. Apparently, an avuncular screen presence in a chunk of good movies now means that we love you unconditionally. Despite the fact that it's pretty clear that easygoing, melancholic, funny guy we think we know is a complete and total projection. Well, maybe the melancholy is real.

Behind all that, I think Murray is a vain guy awash in self-loathing, and like a lot of people of that temperament, he takes it out on those around him.

Think about it; he did Ghostbusters to get Columbia to support his dramatic turn in The Razor's Edge. Then when the latter film tanked but the first cemented his status as a comedic leading man, rather than celebrate having been a part of a real cultural touchstone and true comedy (and cinematic) classic, he went off to study at the Sorbonne for four years, licking his wounds in defeat.

Are we clear on this? The guy who came to fame playing a lounge singer on late night television, a goofy camp counselor and a brain damaged groundskeeper who blows up a golf course while Wile E. Coyote-style trying to kill a gopher got pissy that his first attempt at a serious leading man role - in an adaptation of a W. Somerset Maugham novel about a WWI layabout who experiences spiritual enlightenment in India, no less - wasn't a smash hit.

Of course, years later, when he did start to receive the critical acclaim as a serious actor that he always pretty clearly thought he deserved, it did nothing to improve his lousy sense of self. He famously looked as though he was going to cry when the cameras cut to him at the 2004 Academy Awards right when the best actor winner was announced and it wasn't him.

And he kept taking out his sense of failure on those around him - stories are rampant of feuds he's had on set when he doesn't feel that the other performers are working up to his standards. Here's a hint, Bill: don't sign on to a film with Lucy Liu and expect Lawrence Olivier in drag to show up opposite you. Collect the paycheck and understand that a movie update of a show about three women who solve crimes in bikinis is not the place to find 'timeless comedic grace,' or whatever the hell it is you think you're looking for.

The deep irony in all this - and one that may be lost on him - is that Murray owes all of his later career success as a sad clown to directors who grew up loving him as, yes, a lounge singer, a goofy camp counselor and a brain-damaged groundskeeper. Not to mention a guy who catches ghosts with a portable nuclear accelerator.

Worst, and saddest, of all is the fact that when his wife of ten years - whom he married after cheating on his first wife with - filed for divorce in 2008, she cited domestic violence as the reason.

Seriously. What does it say about us as a generation that this self-important emotionally distant asshole control-freak sad clown vortex of egotistical solipsistic self-loathing is our beloved icon? Nothing good, I fear.


(Of course I'll go see Ghostbusters III.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


the mystic we

1. the world is ripe
with ghosts in walls
and invisible membranes
a thing that is impossible to see
at best
and at worst, an ineffable

the authorization of
a tired attendant
that free-running time
at the back of somebody’s
unused toolshed

too many words
too few thoughts
has perhaps given rise
to too, too many
imperfect attempts at perfection.

2. Having sometimes known
what it is that I am attempting
to get at,
I find that the most frustrating
game of all are those
oceans between
that roll and heave
an unnatural sickness
difficult to explain

"You would have to have been there"
she says, thinking me
incapable of comprehension
capable of incomprehension
I am both-

a fantastical janus
a new-fangled kind of cat
that lands on its back
without even having
fallen from some higher perch
going for the goldfish?
the bird?
the squirrel?
the sun?

no-one could catch
my nimble-footed failure
but I'm sure that I was
impressive to behold.

3. EVEN SO...
the trees are words
the bed is a book
the clock is a volume
of unlearned responses
knowed by some other

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Year We Make Contact

I'd be interested to see this one again and check how close it got to an accurate vision of contemporary domestic life. Lord knows, most of the science-fiction and political bits have either failed to come true or been consigned to the dustbin of history. Actually, the novel had bits of sociopolitical prognostication that were pretty impressive but were excised from the film - foremost among them, China as a major player in the space age.

One thing that I recall as being pretty interesting were the special effects, which had a completely unique look, the type of thing we don't see anymore in this age of homogenous CGI. Which is another big difference between the 2010 of 1984 and the actual year.