animation, Baltimore, film

the greatest city in America, indeed

Okay, Baltimore, you win. Having now watched THE LITTLE MERMAID, the first Ashman/Menken Disney collaboration, and all the special features, I can report something important: Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist of both BATB and TLM, was born in (wait for it)
Baltimore, Maryland.

John Waters is featured all throughout the TLM features talking about Ashman.

This means more to me than any other connection I’ve had with this city so far. Even Poe. There has to be stuff about him here: and I have to find it. As if this wasn’t enough, Ashman was Jewish – something else I just learned tonight.

animation, art

making fiends, making fiends

I haven’t followed the fortunes of animator Amy Winfrey for a long time. It’s always nice when you are distracted from an artist’s work for awhile and return to find them flourishing.

Her simple and adorable MuffinFilms series got me through many a dark night of the undergrad (particularly the abstract and enigmatic “I Dream Of Muffins”) I must be the only person in the world to not know that she has two seasons in the can of a now-not-so-new animated series on Nickelodeon, based on her webisodes of Making Fiends. I’m so happy for her.

Amy Winfrey’s influence on me reached its highest point when I briefly considered going to animation school at UCLA, because she did. I thought, at the time, having alienated many of the actors I knew by choosing to direct choruses exclusively, that creating animated work was the only way I would ever realize my theatrical ideas. I sincerely believed that I had to give up what I insultingly called “live-action.” I even made a derivative homage film, vaguely in her style, called “The Misfortunes Of An Arrogant Child.”

Unlike Amy, I had no sense of humor.

Luckily for both the world of animation and for my own artistic ego, some years after that, Theatre of NOTE allowed me to realize some of those weird visions, in the flesh – with actors far better than anything I could have ever hoped to draw. The moment I was able to work with real people, I forgot entirely about cutting little characters out of cardboard.

I still have been thinking of making animated films, though – lately I’ve wanted to create a series of rocks reading poetry. It’d just be a rock moving slightly with stop-motion, almost no movement, with a human actor’s voice reading the poem. I don’t quite know why.

Anyway, thank you, Amy, for bringing me hope.

Making fiends, making fiends,
Vendetta’s always making fiends
While Charlotte’s

animation, film, Golda, humor rhymes with tumor, israel, Judaism, travel

South Texas and South Israel Park

Sari and I drove out to Poteet today, south of San Antonio, so we could see the area she covers for the paper. It’s very spread out, sunny, open and hot. We wore tank tops and shorts. The land is a beautiful place, with big overhanging trees and wide streets. I can see why people love Texas so much. It has a grandeur to it, even in a small town, and the sky really does seem large. It’s open.

But there’s a lot of poverty. The paint on the buildings is old, and the homes look patched together. We went by a mobile home with “Keep Away” spray-painted in red on one of the windows. We also went by rows of glistening, brand-new tractors, next to houses with crumbling wood. The juxtaposition between Poteet and the prosperity in San Antonio – and even more so in Austin – is extreme.

It was a drive that makes you think, a drive of extreme class contrasts, extreme poverty. Naturally, I got into talking about Golda and TJT and Jewish politics. I gave Sari my 10-minute history of Zionism and the state of Israel. We talked about politics in Palestine on the drive both there and back. We talked about institutionalized racism versus gun-in-your-face, bomb-on-the-bus racism. Texas. Mexico. Israel. The US. Palestine. Europe.

She’s helped me to remember some of the animation I used to do (Sari did the voice for this little film called “Misfortunes Of An Arrogant Child” that was at the Stanford film festival, when I was a junior) and we talked about the possibilities of making short films, short animated Internet segments a la Muffinfilms, which would have Jewish content – which would create something of an Internet comedy/theatrical voice for intelligent criticism of the Israel/Palestine conflict. (Now that’s a tall order.) Something like the South Park of the Jews. Something like a more meaningful Quarterlife. American Jews, or short animated kids, trying to make sense of it all.

It wouldn’t even have to be criticism. It could just be comedy-reportage. I’m really into this idea, but it feels like way too much responsibility – making sharp comedy about this issue is so hard, and so charged, and I’d probably end up with a real bomb on my hands, to use an inappropriate metaphor. Anyway, I don’t need another project.

Maybe I can start by making short animated films about something else with Jewish subject matter. Like I really need another project, right? Especially one that’s going to make everybody angry? But this is what I would want to watch. I guess that means it’s what I have to make.

Then we went to the zoo, came back and made chili. We’re going to see her roommate Monica play at an open mic tonight.

We also discussed, yesterday, what in modern entertainment today is the real child of Beckett.