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06 March 2011 @ 06:26 pm
Dolores Park in San Francisco:

06 February 2011 @ 04:52 am
Updated animation demo reel, needs a few more tweaks for compression etc. but it's seeable.

Oh man it was a pain in the ass to work with such a variety of clips at SD/HD/24fps/29.97fps and old stuff impossible to re-render, and get it all to render out as one piece without problems (like frame juggling, motion judder and just getting the encoding to work.) After edit, half the work was troubleshooting those.

16 January 2011 @ 02:38 pm
Here's 45 sketchbook pages from around San Francisco in rough order of how I drew them.

Noisebridge hacker space


Dolores Park people



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21 October 2010 @ 12:54 am
Another post of recent sketchbook pages. Just very casual practice.

First here's David posing at my favorite tuesday life drawing session. He might be a bum, a magical wizard, or both.



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05 October 2010 @ 04:38 am
Overdue post... went to east coast the other week. Did a bit of outdoor sketching.

Rhode Island: Grandma at the beach


A few photos of same, with nephew infestation

2010-09-20 17.18.26

2010-09-20 17.17.56

2010-09-20 17.18.33

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06 September 2010 @ 10:11 pm
Went sketching in Dolores park, got sidetracked by a chatty park resident. No park sketch today, so I'll post a couple I found from last year.

The beautiful weather brought a million people to the park. I was trying to concentrate, and kept getting distracted by people running bikes over my toes and grazing me with frisbees. 1/4 way through a sketch, a semi scruffy old latino guy lounging under a tree came looking over my shoulder. He asked about it, then took his own drawings out of a shopping bag and made me flip through. I wasn't going to get anything done after that, so I let him be chatty. He was living under a bridge and dumpster diving because he didn't want to spend money on rent, but when I asked if he needed something to eat he showed me a new laptop and $500. He mentioned coming from Buffalo, and by surprise we had a bunch of people in common: Potter, Tim, Nicole, and others he named, while he told me about his romantic powers. That's what happens when you hang out at a Buffalo co-op with people who travel and get around... you go to Dolores Park in San Francisco and get to talk about them with Fernando. I wish I had sketched him, but I'm sure I'll see him in the park again.

Tim told me: "That's really great :) Fernando is one of my favorite people in the world. He is very wise, and is the best chess player I have ever met!"

I left the park after an hour of talking. When I came to the apartment, a homeless dude was sitting on the sidewalk next to the gate enjoying a hardcore porn mag. He scooted over to get out of view and I was like "nah enjoy yourself, everybody else is today."

These are a couple of the OK sketches from a year or more ago. They're not as solid or confident as I would prefer to draw, because they were done with no under drawing, just straight to ink with an extra fine pen (I like brush pens most.)




02 September 2010 @ 04:46 am
I went for most of a year with barely any drawing practice, besides animation on a Wacom, which isn't the same thing. Pirate Scum was finished around May/June and it's taking a while to send it to film festivals. Now I'm starting to feel like drawing again.

Here's a giant post about stuff I've been up to:

- A month back, mega talented illustration man Mike Halas gave me a nice invite to a drink & draw at the Secret Alley (my review). It's a weird and cool art space only 1 block away between our places. I was so rusty I just didn't think about what I was going to make, and this happened.


- Last week, I felt like getting back into sketching. It was an incredibly gorgeous day, best I've seen all year. Dolores Park was a great place to go in this brief time when San Francisco isn't buried in fog. It has great views from a hill and everyone brings kids, beers, radios or dogs.


This started messy but I cleaned some of the more patchy parts as best as I could. I need to get bolder with blacks.


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28 August 2010 @ 04:03 am

I found this randomly while treasure hunting, and had to watch it before selling it. The Bridge at Remagen seems obscure, but it turned out to be a very well made World War 2 action/drama from 1968 that holds up strongly today. Maybe naming it -obstacle-spanning structure- wasn't the most memorable choice for a movie with bad ass action and crusher tanks of doom, (more about that later), but low quality isn't a reason I'd never heard of it.

It has many of the standard features that came with a war movie of it's time: an old fashioned heroic story, but with shades of grey, and cynical, hard edged characters beaten down by forces beyond their control, fighting for ambivalent victory. It came around the time when well worn genres were getting new life with stylish experimenting and revisionism (you know, spaghetti westerns, Peckinpah, and awesomely edited Steve McQueen car chases). This movie breaks no creative boundaries and stays safely inside the main stream, but does it well, with touches of awareness about turmoil of it's time like the war in Vietnam, and the importance of showing boobs at least once with a 99% male cast. The only actress with lines only had like 3 lines, but got misleadingly featured in the trailer. Hey, it's a war movie.

Searching tells me the director, John Guillermin, started around 1950 and worked until the 80's with a filmography that looks undistinguished at a glance, with a few successes: The Towering Inferno (1974), the remake of King Kong (1976), and... Shaft in Africa. I do appreciate knowing about workmanlike directors, because I usually search movies out for unusual ones, and it's a lot of fun when low expectations get beaten.

I don't spend a lot of time getting familiar with actor's bodies of work, so I recognize 2 from the cast well: Ben Gazzarra (the evil tycoon from Road House... cool...) and Robert Vaughan (the Man from Uncle).

The package didn't tell me much of what it was about, beyond a battle strategy that captured the last standing bridge into Germany at the end of World War 2. I found the heart of the movie to be the relationship between the leader of a small handful of US soldiers, trying to survive and keep them together against the odds, and his despised, body-robbing 2nd-in-command. They had to capture the bridge in a last ditch effort when they were already beaten down. Meanwhile, against them was Robert Vaughan commanding the bridge, doing a great job as a morally complicated Nazi trying to stop them from winning a battle none of them wanted to be in. The pacing of the movie, which punches you into the action from the first scene then pulls back for the drama, brought out the human element not easy to read on the back of the package. The men's relationships had a lot of heart between the action.

Speaking of the action, let me tell you about those crusher tanks of doom. Holy crap those were awesome. Only one movie I've seen came to mind right away that had more scary, more personal tank action- Saving Private Ryan, with it's super modern computer enhanced magic, which is cheating compared to this. It's not a large part of the movie, but doesn't need to be. Cars and buildings explode in a way that couldn't be faked, because they used a real Czech town to drive tanks through. (It needed to get wrecked for a strip mine.) They weren't historically accurate (I guess they used Korea-era tanks) but whatever- I like to think they picked them for highest ass kicking factor. Many asses were kicked, and the body count seemed to be 100+ (not Peckinpah gory though). One of the moments of awareness that I mentioned happened when a victory became a tragedy, at the hands of a surprisingly unexpected enemy. Parts like that were surely meant to evoke Vietnam.

( not actually in this movie )

What else can I say? The sound design seemed well done with a huge variety of realistic war sounds (my neighbors might be mad.) The widescreen scenery was awesome throughout and showed much more than war scenes. After watching, I was surprised to read this history:

During filming in Czechoslovakia, the Soviets invaded and rolled tanks through Prague to take control of reforms happening during "Prague Spring." The film makers had to flee for the border in taxis. This story was told by Robert Vaughan in a 2007 BBC radio play, Solo Behind the Iron Curtain, which sounds really interesting. Speaking of that time and place, I would also highly recommend the movie Closely Watched Trains, perhaps the best known Czech New Wave film that was only possible to make in a brief time between those scary happenings.

With a back story like that, The Bridge at Remagen could use a re-release with special features to tell you about it (it has none). Seek this out for a lesser mentioned 60's war movie or World War 2 movie that's equal to the best.

I missed something notable I found in a review:
"This is the only screenplay ever completed and produced by the outstanding post-WW II novelist Richard Yates, whose first (and arguably greatest) work, Revolutionary Road, was recently filmed to great acclaim. Yates fought as an infantryman in Germany, and his experiences bring welcome touches of authenticity and depth to what could easily have become just another post-"Dirty Dozen" action flick."

22 August 2010 @ 02:08 pm
I wrote a movie review with my account on Netflix and realized they only allow a couple paragraphs, so I guess I'll stick it here!

Brubaker made me realize I've been culturally oblivious all these years. I know I've seen the "slow clap" before, (I've seen Revenge of the Nerds), but it's never registered to me as an intentional thing that people do. Watching it helped me understand the real and sarcastic meaning of the "slow clap", and significantly, that it originated in this movie. That's a reason you should see Brubaker if you consider yourself knowledgable about movies in any way.

This is the kind of movie meant to illuminate the world for you like that. (OK, not like -that-). It's a serious social-reformist movie that aims very high, full of meaningful glances and ruggedly handsome actors doing gritty things in gritty places they wouldn't ordinarily go with a $200 haircut. Robert Redford, the star, shows he's a Serious Actor in a Serious Movie with the first act, where he gets a haircut in the worst place in the entire world you could imagine getting a haircut. He's undercover as a prisoner in a medieval southern prison that he has to reform because he's actually the new warden.

The story's energy comes from the social dynamics between prisoners, the trustees (prisoners with privileges and duties to oversee and abuse the others), the reformist warden, and his own corrupt political overseers. It's very well executed by a cast of actors chosen for faces and personalities brutalized by a corrupt world. You won't see many movies with a cast like this. On the surface, the story does make concessions towards standard triumphal Hollywood formula, with it's choice of star and it's ending epiphany (which isn't a victory). Beneath that it's quite downbeat, in a good way, and meant to teach more than entertain. I believe that might put it in the category of 70's New Hollywood (Scorsese, etc.) characterized by counterculture-influenced dramatic subjects, creative independence and realism, and non-blockbuster budgets from big studios.

It's interesting that it's setting in the segregated south treats race in a subtle and complex way. Conflicts aren't shown in an obvious or creatively exploitative way. Instead they are implied more often than not, such as the way prisoners are dehumanized and beaten like slaves to make an example of them, in an arbitrary way where no prisoner is safe and they can't trust each other. There are no "teams" among the prisoners, or even among the corrupt powers, and everyone's a collaborator in the system. [SPOILER] One of these characters is Abraham. He is the longest serving prisoner, a black man tasked with cleaning and folding the american flag each morning, who has one eye (in the land of the blind). He exhibits conscience in a way that's key for the story, and he pays for it in a biblical way.

I recommend Brubaker without reservations. It has as much watchability as it has meaning. It seems to be somewhat overlooked. If you considered movies like Cool Hand Luke or Shawshank Redemption to be definitive examples of movies about life in prison, you should see this one.

Low-budget direct-to-DVD indie horror movie Cold Storage is unexpectedly rewarding. Independently made in 2005 for around 1 million, it won DVD distribution in 2010 with a May release. Watch it soon because it deserves appreciation. (The director made 2 previous micro-budget features that had some exposure on cable, which I haven't looked up, and this looks like the height of his movie making career so far.)

-Minor spoilers ahead-

Cold Storage begins when a pretty blonde lady, Melissa, leaves her philandering but sorry husband. Her wish to start over draws her towards a nearby rural town, where a summer theater acting gig is waiting.

Melissa’s journey takes her down a dark wet country road. She’s thinking about her new start, when something flies out of the night and shatters the windshield, and everything goes spinning. Seconds later, her car is a wreck and she lies paralyzed and helpless on the lonely road, a heartbeat from death.

A driver in a creepy old car happens on the gruesome scene. It's ominous when he doesn't leap to help, and instead he slowly backs in with unknown intentions. It’s a retarded hillbilly, who tenderly takes Melissa’s barely breathing body to the passenger seat, and tows her car to hide it where nobody should ever find it.

From this point, the first half of the movie becomes the story of Clive Mercer, the retarded loner who hides in a desolate shack on the outskirts of town. It drags a bit with only one active character, before it branches out when Melissa’s husband and sister resolve differences to team up and find her. The movie seems headed for boringville at first, but Clive’s scenes really help it cook later on, because they win genuine pity for his loneliness (a minor feat of cool writing). He becomes a sympathetic monster while he gives a horrible kind of love to his special secret friend. Despite his disgusting role, he’s not the nastiest character in the story when it reveals more than it seemed to hold at first. It’s also cool that the character who might slay the monster is hardly better. The town’s cloddishly dumb, jowly sheriff can barely be bothered to search for a missing lady, because he's dumb and doesn't care for city slickers. In one notable scene, he slurps egg yolks through a soda straw in a way that’s grosser than the worst gore in this movie.

The movie’s best asset is the way it relies so little on action, cheap scares, or effects (not that it’s afraid to go for a few hilarious gross-outs), and branches out with it’s characters in a humorously off-kilter way. Even incidental characters with just a few lines reveal a small town full of stories, such as the faded glamor queen who runs a thrift shop where Clive dares to buy something weird for his special secret friend. The movie draws from well known genre sources and combines them with it’s own personality. It doesn’t sit in one genre (horror, suspense, black comedy), it does things it’s own way (even when it’s clunky), and it mines entertainment from taboo. You can tell it has personality by the way the titular situation is only one brief episode in the story. Basically it defies category and probably wasn't easy to market. Unlike crappier horror movies, it's a book you can't judge by it's cover, and it's 73 times better than other much more financially successful ones.

I’m not saying it’s a flawless classic, but it makes me hope the creators make more and better (some of the actors have already had success with recognizable TV parts). It's worth the attention of people who like underrated, creatively creepy movies. Netflix has it, and you should give it a try.