today is my birthday.
Archive for June, 2005
This weekend we went up to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens for the opening of the oddly-ubiquitiously-publicized Gumby Exhibit. Gumby turns 50 this year, see, and so they have a rather tiny collection of Gumby sets and scripts and two rooms of memorobilia and two film showings. And you could meet and take your picture with Gumby LIVE and in person!
Art Clokey the mild-mannered beatnik creator of Gumby… no, he’s not dead… was supposed to “open” the exhibit, but his son came instead. Art had fallen and broken his hip. Before the screening, his son did the intro and mentioned this fact and then added, heartbreakingly, “My father hates being 85.” This depressed me for the rest of the day. Also, Joe Clokey and I have the same fisherman’s cap. Luckily, I did not wear mine to the museum. That would have been embarassing.
While the museum was awesome… a mix of weird and easily-corruptable interactive activities related to the practice of making film and television, historical artifacts (cameras, broadcast equipment, tv sets) and pop culture crap. We particularly enjoyed the ADR booth where you can redub dialog from “Babe,” the editing room where you can add new soundtracks to “Vertigo” and “Twister,” and the green screen room where you can rip off bits from “Wayne’s World.”
The Gumby opening was kinda all over the place. There wasn’t an opening ceremony of any kind until the 2 PM screening. We came right at 12, so we watched a Museum intern and none-too-adept public speaker labor her way through a presentation on how to make Gumby (and later, animate Gumby). It was long, so I wandered around the floor while Kirk watched attentively and asked thoughtful questions about the process.
We finally found Gumby after walking up and down the stairs being told “he just left.” We finally found him and sadly, it was another Museum intern, probably nominated for the job for being the shortest girl on staff crammed into the too-small, shoddy costume. Still, this was the only thing at the show that held the interest of the little kids dragged along by their pop-culture-collector parents. Gumby even did some of the museum activities with the kids (like the “make a flip book” video booth… where your 3 seconds of video get printed out for your cut-and-pasting into flip book). It was throat-cloggingly adorable.
The biggest “event” was the screening of an hour and a half of Gumby episodes from the 50s, 60s, and 80s as well as a late 70s art film and some commercials. The curator or president of the museum did a particularly boring and creepy introduction, thanking all the people who helped set up the exhibit, giving a play-by-play of who talked to whom about how the exhibit came about, asking the hard core Gumby obsessive super-fans (obese people in homemade Gumby shirts) to put the museum in their will so when they die their 4000 happy meal toys and ebay finds will be “taken care of forever.”
As this speech was going on, the costumed Gumby make his/her way into the theatre, first lurking in the back unsurely, as the bored kids (including a toddler sitting near us who appeared like he might have been Joe Clokey’s son, or nephew or something) in the audience took notice and started screaming “Gumby! Gumby!” The costumed Gumby could tell she was drawing attention away from her boss, so she made her way to the front. Then the museum lady altered her speech to humiliate and indicate to the intern this was not cool. “We all know Gumby is very polite person who knows how important it is to say thank you. So he’s going to go away so I can finish saying thank you to all the people who made this show possible.” Uh oh Gumby, you’re fucked now. Gumby took a bow and clumbsily tottered out of the theatre. I wonder if Gumby got fired for that.
A lot of this exhibit was pretty unfriendly to kids—the displays were up really high, not at kid eye level. The boring speech. The too complicated demonstration. The overly long screening (kids can’t sit still for an hour and a half). Making Gumby go away.Then as we watched the hour and a half of episodes which probably bored the pants off of any actual kids in the audience, I realized Gumby is probably designed more for stoned or autistic adults anyway. A lot of the stories just end. There may be a build up to some event, but as soon as the episode has filled up enough time it will just cut off.
No character matches any other character design in the Gumbyverse. Gumby’s family and Prickle, Goo, The Blockheads and that weird “Professor” are all brightly colored abstract humanoids (and animaloids). But the other “people” look fairly realistic, like Davey and Goliath, or doll-like (with real hair) or animal-like. Toys are alternately huge or tiny, sometimes he’s in a Earth-like world, or in that creepy “playroom” with the giant books he walks into. I suppose each book is a planet and the “playroom” is empty space, so when he seems to be in his house or a town he’s in a book called “House” or “Town” or “Gumby’s Home.” Who publishes these books?
The late 80s Gumby cartoons are the ones I remember most, though they showed all the old ones along side them in the 80s show. Those seem the most odd to me because they had refined a lot of the “look” to be standard and slick (wheras you can imagine ol’ Art cooking up the 50s ones in his basement. Thumbprints in the clay), but they kept the weird stories that just end. Added a bunch of new but relatively personality-less characters (a chicken and a wooly mammoth—both realistic) as well as some poorly understood “cool things”—rock bands, skateboards and a weird reference to “protein shakes” in the example we saw.
We left after touring the 2nd floor of the museum and eating at a conveniently placed fancy diner. “The Cup.” It was ok.
We bought some props for our last day of shooting on “My Wife, The Ghost” episode 3 at a strange Queens party supply store that filled up the better part of a block. It seemed to be catering to people who were planning to make EVERYTHING for their own wedding. 1/3 of the store was fake flowers in sizes from gargantuan to lilliputian.
I have absolutely nothing to do at work today. This has more often than not been the case since I started working three months ago, but now ALL the writers have nothign to do as we wait for the managers and techs to handle the final stages of “release” for an earlier game (that I had nothing to do with). It’s vexing since I have to be here, because it’s work. But then there’s nothing to do except download games from yahoo and then play them until the trial is over.
I think I’ve down loaded like 20 games in the last three days. I liked Inspector Parker a lot. The web-game is lame since you can’t get any harder than “level four” and the screen window is too small to make out the details of the rooms. Plus, if you lose, you have to replay the super-easy levels to get back to the challenging ones.
There’s no graphics programs on this work machine and it being a PC and my home hosting a Mac, it makes for compatibility muck-ups anyway. I recently got Photoshop CS on this computer though, but I’ve only used it to make concept art for shirts I’d like to make when I get around to learning silk screening. I ordered a kit from Dick Block online today.
Yesterday I didn’t show up (but said I wouldn’t ahead of time, which my supervisor tacitly approved) and we shot My Wife, The Ghost 3 for 7 hours while my mom was at work. We had a lot of trouble trying to schedule this date, and once everyone was assembled, it turns out everyone could unexpectedly do Sunday as well, so we’re going to shoot all day then to pick up the rest of the shots. Things actually went pretty smoothly for the shoot and we covered a lot.
Kirk wrote the script for 4 already, but was unsure about making it a “finale.” Just the fact that we’re losing our location seems to dictate we need to wrap it up, but he was thinking with 102 going dark in Nov and Dec, we should try and have one for every month up until then, self-cancelling in October. We do have 3 ideas for episodes we didn’t get around to, but I’d rather just wrap the show like we planned and if we decide to shoot them we’d do it away from 102 and put them on our own site or on a DVD.
This all is highly hubristic and ignores the idea we have to be “voted back,” but I think #3 is a solid, funny show (better than episode 1) so even if we (most likely) drop from #1, we should be “safe.” I also imagine there will be fewer submissions in the lazy, lazy summer.
We both have shows we want to do after this one ends. Kirk has his toys/miniatures movies and vague concepts of a superhero show. I’ve been writing concepts with Seth and we’d talked about meeting today.
I got my merit badge in NYC buses this weekend. I felt like I took a million of them. I like the subway, even in this heat, more than busses. I avoid buses…. I always feel like its going to crash, and more crazy people are on them, but most of all I dread that when I put my card in, its not going to work and then the bus driver is going to kick me off the bus. I think this is going to happen every time. It didn’t happen this weekend though and with the L train out of service, I took alot of busses (as I said before).
We wanted to have tea that morning, but once again, had no idea where Tea and Sympathy was. We got lost the last time we went and vowed to look up the address. But instead we wandered through several West Village street fairs and farmer’s markets.
After a couple hours, we gave up on tea and decided to go to the “Big Apple Barbecue Fest,” even though I felt a little uncomfortable going back to the exact area I go to every day for work on the weekend. There were banners and it was all very Hatch-Show-Print designy. Because of the bus issues we got there at 1 PM, and the fest had opened an hour earlier. We saw Chris Gethard just going in as we walked up to the park and he was visibly excited. Then he said he was excited. So he was visibily and audibly excited to eat barbecued meat from around the country.
There were only 8 or so vendors, each with one booth. This is unlike BBQ festivals as depicted on Food Network’s many “BBQ Showdown” time-waster programs and indeed the BBQ festivals Kirk has been to in Florida, where there are dozens of booths, all displaying as many banners from previous cookoff wins as possible. The booths are 5-storys of BBQ boastfulness; NYC booths are discretely rust and mustard colored and all match each other, declaring only their name, pitmaster, and location.
Chris made a bee-line for the fist booth, selling pig snoot sandwiches, which had a good 25 people in line. I looked around for a snoot-less booth and found a ribs-offering one which had… about 250 people in line. The lines were confusing and really unclear which line went with which booth. There wasn’t much in the way of crowd control. Kirk and I walked around a little bit and then decided standing two hours in line was bullshit and we took off.
We didn’t know where exactly to go so we wandered a bit. We eventually gave up on upper-lower Manhattan and surrended to the default of Chinatown, found the 4-5-6 and took off. Despite a lump of tourists obstructing the entrance, the Excellent Dumpling House was pretty empty. We didn’t share a table with a Child Welfare Counsellor having a meeting or two field-trip kids from the UN Summercamp being forced to order things they didn’t want from their bossy Chaperone… both of which marked earlier trips to Excellent.
As Kirk was getting change, the lady asked where we had been? We hadn’t eaten there in a long time, she said, and she was mock-upset with us. Kirk was kinda thrown… he said we had been there three weeks ago and maybe she hadn’t been working that day. I think maybe we were skipping out because of the tourists. I guess we had achieved a new rank of regular-ness when they know you, know what your regular order is, and then note your absense.
We walked back up town and met Neil and Julie to go to the MoCCA indie comics fair at Puck Hall. We went to their house across the street first to wait for Eric Drysdale (who had already been to the fair earlier to get Kyle Baker’s autograph), Kupperman and his girlfriend Chorky. We waited a pretty long time for everyone to get there and then went over. I had never been inside the Puck Building. It was huge inside, and there were a lot of booths; it was like a regular comic convention, which I hadn’t expected, only less free shit. It’s like those fairs that are really common/mocked in animes like Comic Party. I forget the name.
I regretted that I hadn’t thought to bring stuff to sign… not that I’m a big collector or autograph hound, but there wasn’t much to do and no real reason to talk to the artists unless you were buying something or had something to sign. I saw Charles Burns, Evan Dorkin (he had a real Staten Island accent) & Sarah Dryer, and Adrian Tomine. I didn’t see Dan Clowes or Sophie Crumb, both of who were there. Matt Freazel walked by a couple times wearing the bizarre style of dress a lot of cartoonists seem to favor—the “Crumb” mix of old-timey duds and slovenliness. I didn’t talk to any of them.
I ran into a couple of people I knew and had some insignificant conversations. I didn’t really want to buy anything, since I could just get most of it at a store for the same price later (and most of the mini’s looked attrocious). I ended up getting “It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken,” since I’d been meaning to get it for awhile. Kirk got a “Paul” comic sample for free, I got “Paul in The Country” like a year ago and liked it pretty well. Neil looked bored, I’ll admit I got pretty bored as well. You could breeze through the whole place in 15 minutes and then… you don’t want to have spent $7 entry fee for 15 minutes so you go over everything again.
Like all communities centering over a fringe activity—comedy, comics—its probably more about and for the creators rather than the spectators. The con and the gathering is ultimately about doing things for their peers. That said, most of the indepentant and self-publishers I went by seemed to eb strongly in the “learning stage,” with some really shitty art displayed on many tables. Part of me is jealous of the focus (time, money, energy) that they have to put out their comics, but they were like the Channel 102 pilots of comics. Some of the freebees I got handed were even comics of people sitting around on sofas and talking (the hallmark of bad storytelling in two media!)
I still would like to do a comic at some point, I just haven’t found any story I particularly want to do. The guy who made “Paul” was a graphic designer for 20 years before putting out his first and it immediately won all kinds of awards. So, maybe in 10 years I’ll do that.
The MoCCA fair was closing so we decided to go eat something. Neil’s friend was driving in so he had to guide him through the tunnel. Two loud strange old people I didn’t know but apparently knew Julie had added themselves to the group and we headed to the Noho Star, which I had seen on Food Network but had never been to. It was like if Life Cafe on B had become really expensive. I don’t like eating in huge groups, especially if I don’t know all the people. The loud old people pointedly created the seating arrangement so that we got fucked, completely isolated from the rest of the table where the people I knew were sitting. I didn’t get to hear about Kuppy’s new comic or overhear him saying anything strange about spying on his neighbors. I drew doodles on the back of one of the worse of the free comics we had gotten but otherwise we sat in silence, pretty much.We decided to leave after eating an appetizer, but that took impossibly long to come. Luckily, one of the wonderful elements of “local color” about the Noho Star is they have free hardboiled eggs at the bar. Kirk ate two. We got rained on during the walk home, so we went to Barnes and Noble for a while so the rain would pass.
When we got home I realized how sunburned I had gotten and then conked out and went to sleep at a ridiculously early hour. This happens more often than I’d like to admit.
Pictures of “Old-Style” Japanese Juvenile Deliquents, who seem to be popping up in a lot of anime I’ve been getting lately… A girl “saved” by the heroine from being in a girl gang is a common trope.
In a future Girl Crush installment I want Urine to have been the leader of a girl gang.
While you’re looking at Sukeban pictures, check out the rest of the site as well. Masamania is hilarious for a number of reasons, only half of which are racist.
I like in his swear-filled slamming of the Tokyo police he calls a well-known brothel “Soupland” and later corrects himself to the real name, Soapland, in a footnote. Soupland is much, much funnier. Whores + Soup = comedy.
It’s happened to me twice when I try to buy a domain for different projects… I look it up to see if it’s available. The next day I go back to buy it and some domain-squatter snatched it up. I’m pretty sure there are spiders that are watching people look up names and then buy them. I settled and got “InstantCinema.net” last time, but goddamn it, I want a .com. I hope the new owners of “liveactionanime.com” enjoy their poached domain.
Now I have to think of something else.