Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year! (c. 1998)

This was my first attempt at CG character modeling and animation, made in 1997. I printed the frames out and gave it to friends as a flipbook. They were thoroughly unimpressed.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Super Cellist can leap large intervals in a single bound

I was a music major in college and studied the cello briefly as part of the curriculum. It is physically wearing; one needs unusually strong fingers to do it right. But to play like this guy you need I-can-stab-you-through-the-heart-with-my-index-finger secret-agent strength fingers. Even the pinky.

You've heard the melody before, it's often borrowed, but Paganini wrote this originally for the violin not the cello, which makes this performance all the more impressive.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In Spain, they dream of a brown Christmas

I was sure this was some sort of Onion-esque hoax, but no... news reports that statues of a peasant squatting and taking a dump ("El Caganer") have become a popular Christmas decoration in Spain are true. Aside from this traditional model...

...they also come in celebrity and politician styles.

It gets worse:

During the holiday season, pastry shops around Catalonia sell sweets shaped like feces,
(a regular Snickers Bar or Tootsie Roll didn't look bad enough already?)
and on Christmas Eve Catalan children beat a hollow log, called the tio, packed with holiday gifts, singing a song that urges it to defecate presents out the other end.

Troubling, but they put up with Franco for 40 years, too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Redneck Delight (Steam Age)

When I was growing up we had a coffee table book by Lucius Beebe titled "Highball" filled with glorious pictures of steam locomotives. I loved the complicated mechanical nature of them, I loved the dramatic clouds of smoke they put out and most of all I loved the notion of the "cow catcher" on the front. I was always disappointed that the "real" trains I saw going down the tracks in our town looked nothing like the picture book trains.

"Danger Lights" is an old movie that revolves around steam locomotives. It's not great but it has this very peculiar sequence that I can only imagine is the Steam Age equivalent of a monster truck rally. I find the smoke shooting out of these things very impressive, almost alarming.

Item I found while looking up Lucius Beebe:
When a friend complained that if Thomas E. Dewey was elected it would set the country back 50 years, Beebe retorted "And what was wrong with 1898?"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rumsfeld: My Worst Day

Recent news item:
(AP) In an emotional farewell at the Pentagon, Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday the worst day of his nearly six years as secretary of defense occurred when he learned of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse.
I guess that would be the day he authorized it, right?

Amusing Rumsfeld clip from Craig Ferguson's show:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Payback in Chinatown

Chinese detective movies aren't remembered as the most culturally sensitive things, which makes this little confrontation in "Phantom of ChinaTown" (1940) all the more interesting.

In this scene detective James Lee Wong is visiting the home of a famous archaeologist to investigate a murder:

Boris Karloff also played Detective Wong in several movies and was criticized for not using a chinese accent. But here we have Keye Luke and he doesn't use a chinese accent either. Perhaps Warner Oland had the exclusive rights to silly chinese accents.

"Phantom of ChinaTown" is a rather modest movie, but interesting for the diplomatic manner in which Luke plays the lead role. It is in the public domain and you can download it at

Footnote: I tried dictating this post with voice recognition software. "The Phantom of ChinaTown " was transcribed as "the Clinton agenda talent". Maybe all those columnists we regard as right-wing nuts just need to go back to manual typing.