My other blog…

ttacelcropNow that it finally has some more content available on it, I wanted to take a moment here to mention my new blog Three From Waynesboro. It’s meant to be something of a digital memoir/scrapbook of what happened back in eighth grade when two friends and I sold a story to Steven Spielberg that became the Tiny Toon Adventures episode “Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian.” (The 25th anniversary of that episode’s airing is coming up this November, so I figured the timing was never going to be better.)

Of course, not everyone who’s following what I’m doing now is going to be interested in what I was doing when I was 13 (and vice versa), so I won’t be crossposting here. If you want to keep up with new posts to 3FW, you can follow by email (using the Follow button in the site’s right sidebar), follow the Twitter notification account, or there’s also an RSS feed if you’re into that.

I’ve been a bit slow at getting posts up there because of being busy with other things, but I’m planning on 2-3 posts a month for April and May, and then about 3-5 a month beginning in June, when my official duties to the Furry Writers’ Guild will be discharged and I’ll have a little more time for personal projects like this. 🙂

In honor of the day…

It seems every country has its bizarre nonsensical traditions, but we here in America don’t get to point and laugh, not only because that’s rude, but because we take meteorological reporting from a large rodent hauled out of a hole by some guy in a top hat.

In honor of the utter weirdness of that, here’s a take on what it would be like to be the groundhog in an anthropomorphic world. (If the poem looks familiar, it’s because I posted it here before a few years ago, and it’s also appeared in the now-defunct magazine Allasso, but I figured my newer followers may have missed it, and it’s timely. So here you go.)

 

February 1: Groundhog Goes to the FoodMart

Mrs. Fox, pushing her cart
in her best Sunday dress, string of pearls
at her red throat, reminds him
of the tenderness of spring chickens,
gives him a smile, white and sharp.

The Rabbit family crowds the cereal aisle.
As he chooses a plain cylinder of oatmeal,
Mother Rabbit says hello, steers the small talk
toward the petunias she’s planning
to brighten up the burrow,
the rows of cabbages and carrots
Father’s mapping out for the field.
The kits tug on Groundhog’s overalls, eyes bright,
whispering to him, one more snow,
one more afternoon of sledding, one more fort,
one more snowbunny with mittens for ears.

Sleepy-eyed Bear shuffles in, only nods
when anyone speaks, gets in line
with a quart of milk and a canned ham.
His bleary gaze meets Groundhog’s,
and he adds a can of coffee, economy size.

Groundhog waits in line, stares at the tabloids
while the chattering squirrel cracks gum
and rings up the shoppers ahead.
He feels their eyes on him, all watching as if
he could melt the gray slush outside with a glance,
could give them warmth and new life on a whim.
Even in this harsh fluorescent light,
he will not look at his feet.

 

Video: “Let it Snow” (the Star Trek: TNG version)

To say that I was deeply into Star Trek: The Next Generation during the last two years of high school would be an incredible understatement. As soon as I was introduced to it by a friend (who helpfully explained all the characters and the important parts of their backstories so I wouldn’t be lost), I threw myself into it, and everything that went with it — books, merchandise, Starfleet uniform… yeah. Everything.

Thankfully, I had friends then who were into it, too, since I grew up in a fairly isolated area, didn’t have the Internet then, and wasn’t able to go to cons outside of a small local one (which has since moved and is still going). We were a creative group, running around with camcorders, writing scripts and stories and fanfics, immersing ourselves in science fiction and fantasy and anything else that caught our attention — imagining our way out of a small town where finally getting a Taco Bell and a Blockbuster was a major event.

I often wonder what it would have been like for us if we’d had access to the Internet of today, to YouTube, to relatively inexpensive technology for filming and editing and making fan videos and such.

I like to think we might have made something like this. 🙂

Take it away, Captain Picard…

(Video by James Covenant.)

 

Video: The Bear and the Hare

First, if you’re one of those people who can’t stand having to watch/hear/see Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving… I apologize. 🙂 But I think this UK retailer’s holiday commercial is worth enjoying early. And often.

Sometimes the best storytelling comes in the most simple packages…

(And if you want to get the interactive book for your iPad, or the song on iTunes, or stuffed animals of the characters, or all sorts of other things, check out the Bear & the Hare page on the John Lewis website.)

Flashback: Beyond the Mind’s Eye

mindseyeWe put our satellite TV service on hold for the summer (a few too many other bills to pay at the moment), so amidst listening to a lot of NPR and watching DVDs, I’ve also been digging through some of my old VHS tapes for amusement, and recently I had a chance to sit down and watch Beyond the Mind’s Eye for the first time in years.

As far as I know, there were four Mind’s Eye videos produced: The Mind’s Eye, Beyond the Mind’s Eye, The Gate to The Mind’s Eye, and apparently one called Odyssey to the Mind’s Eye that I had completely forgotten about until I found it in our video cabinet (I’m guessing it wasn’t all that good, because I have absolutely no memory of it). Of the three that I watched back in the mid-’90s, Beyond the Mind’s Eye was my favorite, and I also had the Jan Hammer soundtrack on CD, which I’ve still been listening to off and on through the years. (There was also one produced called Virtual Nature, where the clips all featured an animal/nature theme, but since it was mostly stuff I’d already seen and the soundtrack was just okay, I never got that into that one.)

For those who aren’t familiar with the Mind’s Eye concept, it dates to the earlier days of CGI — lots of shiny metallic surfaces and undulating blobs and artist’s mannequins — and each installment is essentially a collection of clips made for commercials or companies or by students or studios showing what they could do. All those little disparate clips were then edited into surreal music video segments, creating kind of an animated video album. There wasn’t any real narrative beyond just sometimes the clips having a similar mood or atmosphere, so it was the music that really tied things all together.

Coming back to this after so many years, now that we’ve had everything from Jurassic Park to Gollum to Avatar and beyond, now that CGI imagery can depict fur and hair and every texture imaginable with incredible realism, I was worried that this was going to feel dated to the point of being laughable. And I didn’t want it to be laughable, because it was something I’d loved, and I hate outgrowing things I love.

In the end, though, I was surprised at how much I really didn’t pay attention to the simplicity of the imagery — or, to be more accurate, the simplicity of it didn’t register as something negative, something lacking. Instead, it looked like a style, like a conscious choice by artists instead of not having the tools to do any better. And all over again, I fell in love with the strangeness of the landscapes, the hypnotizing imagery presented just for a few seconds before something else shows up. Back when these were first released, watching them was cool because it was all brand-new and amazing (look, it’s all done on computers!), and it felt cutting-edge. Now, it’s still cool, but not because it feels like the latest technology — instead, it’s cool because it feels like art.

And I found myself wishing they’d bring back the Mind’s Eyes series, working from that perspective of an album/art project. Yeah, there are tons of CGI short films out there on YouTube and so on, but there’s nothing I’ve seen as a whole that strikes me quite like the Mind’s Eye concept, because more often than not the focus is either on making an animated narrative, or in showing off how realistic something can look.  (And if somebody is doing something similar, point me in that direction!)

If you’ve never seen any of the Mind’s Eye segments, a lot of them (maybe all of them) are on YouTube. Here’s the one that was my all-time favorite back in the day (especially the music), “Seeds of Life” from Beyond the Mind’s Eye:

 

Friday Finds: Dancing tiger, Henry Jones’ Grail diary, and cartoon physics

I’ll be back soon for a regular blog post, but first, a few scattered shiny things from the Internet:

Dancing Tiger by Cindy Budiono (CindyBudiono)) on 500px.com
Dancing Tiger by Cindy Budiono

Check out this incredibly detailed replica of Henry Jones’ Grail diary from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (my favorite of the series). He’s also created a ton of other replicas, well worth checking out on the main page.

And finally, I give you the Laws of Physics: Cartoon version, laid out with scientific precision.

Video: The Potato Hunter

One of the things I love about the Internet is how it can bring things we loved long ago back to us. I’ve watched ’80s commercials, found Sesame Street clips I loved and hadn’t seen in decades, re-discovered books long out of print thanks to Amazon and eBay sellers, and much more.

When I was in high school, one of the premium movie channels (either Showtime or The Movie Channel; I don’t remember which now) showed animated shorts when there were long gaps between scheduled movies. I used to tune in when movie credits were rolling, if it was still fifteen minutes or so to the top of the hour, just to see what they’d show. There weren’t many outlets then for me to be able to see these kinds of short films, and two of my favorites from that time period were “The Ant Who Loved a Girl” (which I’ve not yet been able to find online, but I may have the title off), and this short, “The Potato Hunter.” The quirky subject matter and character styles really appealed to me, and all it took was a few seconds’ worth of YouTube searching to find the film again.

(Trigger warning for violence against potatoes.)

 

Another PBS remix

I’m now officially one video behind, since they just posted one of Julia Child today, but if you missed the Bob Ross remix when it was first posted, here it is:

Not quite as good as the Mister Rogers one, but still fun. I admit the artist in me has always cringed at The Joy of Painting as far as artistic style/quality goes (I keep wanting to yell things like “Complementary colors! Gray it down! Atmospheric perspective!”), but as a creative personality, he had some things right, anyway.