30 December 2006


My parents flat-out refused to let my sister or I watch anything rated "R" until we were into our teens, and even then, it was only under the watchful eye of one or both parents. Sneaking a peek at an "R" rated film without parental supervision was quite a treat, believe me! It sure beat the pants off of watching "Revenge of the Nerds" with dad or "Rocky Horror Picture Show" with mom.

Well one summer my sister Rachelle and I were dropped off to stay with our Grandparents in Arkansas for a week or two, along with our older cousin Kyle. That was a life-changing summer, for that was the first time I had ever really watched horror movies. Kyle was really into horror at the time. He was into King and Koontz, and introduced me to the wonders of chainsaws and ritualistic death cults. Yay!

The two movies I remember the most are The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Children of the Corn. Probably because they were both set in very rural areas, and we were staying out in the boonies ourselves. I've been fascinated by the genre ever since, but I've never really considered myself a "fan."

It took me quite a while to get around to Friday the 13th (parts 1 and 2) I'm sad to say. I considered (especially after Scream and The Ring that there was absolutely no way a couple of movies made in the late 70s and early 80s could possible be gripping or even scary. Boy howdy was I wrong!

Friday the 13th is a far better movie than it has any right to be. I'm not going to belabor it, but the film is low-budget, and it shows. The kills are, for the most part, very well staged and executed. Pun intended. And I admit it, I jumped a couple of times.

Friday the 13th: Part Two is to the first part what The Godfather II is to The Godfather. More of what worked, only better. F13th2 had me on the edge of the seat practically the whole time. The pacing was incredible! I couldn't believe it when the movie ended, it just flew past. And the kills really hurt! Damn.

Anyway, I'm doing research for a little horror project I've been invited to write on, and I just wanted to take the time to thank my cousin Kyle for forcing Chelley and me, Clockwork Orange style, to watch an endless stream of horror movies all those years ago.

28 December 2006

He would know:

"Modesty is a virtue that can never thrive in public. . . . A man must be his own trumpeteer, he must write or dictate paragraphs of praise in the newspapers, he must dress, have a retinue, and equipage, he must ostentatiously publish to the world his own writings with his name, and must write even some panegyrics upon them . . . and must perpetuate his fame."
-- Benjamin Franklin

retinue: an entourage
equipage: a horse and carriage
panegyrics: elaborate public praise

It has occured to me that there must be an actual technique of fame. A recipe that, when followed, would result in broad public acclaim. Fame for the sake of fame. This technique, when coupled with actual talent and productivity would result in superstardom. This is the sort of thing one does not discuss for fear of being unseemly. One must not seem arrogant or egotistic, even if one is.

All I know is, if I could divine this technique and put it in written form, I'd make a mint selling it.

23 December 2006


Pamela and I caught the late show at Mann's Chinese in Hollywood, along with a very diverse group ranging from old timers to a punk band. Every race and age bracket, couples, groups, single people ... every person present was part of a celebration.

If you bemoaned the Star Wars prequel, if you cringed when you found out Superman had a bastard son, and if you've been aching for a return to the way film makers made movies back in the 70s, when film makers gave a damn about story and character ... if you have longed for a movie that's both popcorn friendly and inspirational GO SEE THIS FILM.

Stallone has proven himself to be a very sensative and approachable movie star over the past two weeks with the Q & A he took part in on www.aintitcool.com. In Rocky Balboa we see that he hasn't been blowing smoke up our ass. He respects the audience and gives us a film that is a love letter to his fans as much as it is an homage to the film that put him on the map.

His performance as the Italian Stallion is as pitch perfect as it was in the first two films. Stallone is doing the kind of work in this movie that Brando should've been doing at this age. This is the Rocky who took Adrian ice skating, who keeps pet turtles, and who doesn't back down from setting a yahoo straight. At his core, Rocky is a fragile soul inside the body of a behemoth. Here it goes: Stallone deserves an Oscar nom for this work. He won't get it, but he deserves it. Stallone is playing a Greek god! He is taking on a character of mythic proportions, and he succeeds in his task. He is so fully plugged into this role that the Sylvester Stallone of countless action films disappears and is replaced by that slugger we all knew once upon a time.

There is only one hiccup in the entire film for me ... and awkward cut between two scenes that needs something transitional between them. But that's it.

I could go on and on, but just go see it!

"You or nobody ain't never gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit... it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward... how much you can take, and keep moving forward. If you know what you're worth, go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit." -- Rocky Balboa

22 December 2006


2002 is the year. Pamela and I have moved to Los Angeles, and the quality of Saturday morning entertainment is declining to all new lows. One morning I put pen to paper and sketch out an idea for the sort of place I wish had been around when I was a kid:

Saturday Mornings

An alternative to the "boob tube!" All ages 0 - 12, parents, grandparents. (not necessarily for teens.) An indoors amusement park/carnival. Safe, clean, bright, friendly atmosphere.

  • Live theatre (improv., chapter plays, etc.)
  • Puppetry
  • Healthy breakfast available

  • Hands-on crafts

  • Classic cartoons - cool new cartoons (on FILM)
  • City Museum-esque space. FUN-FUN-FUN for the whole family. Inexpensive and always a NEW experience (encourage repeat visits.) Open Saturdays 9 am -2 pm and Sundays 9 am -2 pm.

    Part of the funding can come from major corporations who would love a chance to get new products into the hands of "test audiences." Saturday Mornings provides survey data (good work for 'struggling' actors) to these corporations. Not to mention corporate sponsorship of attractions (Disney World style.)

    Saturday Morning would be a great place to employ a variety of artists in a real "Rump Revised"* type atmosphere. Controlled creative chaos.

    Should be located in a centralized, easy-to-get-to area near a major residential area. We want to develop REGULARS. This is THE place to bring your kids!

    Make the theatre space independently accessible so it can be rented out.

    Building would ideally be a boring facade jazzed up with sculpture, paint, etc.

    Indoor playground: EVER CHANGING MAZE. Habitrail style. Rearranged every few weeks! Multi-level.

    Entry and common areas FILLED with BIG music. Classical and movie soundtracks. Awe-inspiring.

    Could have a carnival atmosphere or area with a fun darkride (non -threatening to little kids.)

    Dark ride should be interactive, but in a charming low-tech sort of way. Give the kids a way to take out their frustrations on archetypical fears (the Bully, the Mean Adult, the Boogey-man, etc.)

    * "Rump Revised" refers to a college production of "Rumpelstiltskin Revised" written and directed by noted playwright and academic hermit Allen Partridge. The show had no budget, and we literally scoured the Humanities building for materials. The set was designed by Garrick "I'm too sexy for this contest" Pass to look like coral. The costumes were designed by Andrew Rhodes and his work took him to Washington D.C. to compete at the national level of ACTF. C.J. Ellis did the prop and graphic design. He built a fantastic creature head that made my puppet designs for the show look like fabric and foam covered crap. Pamela did make-up. Oh! Rodney Fadely did sound -- fantastic found music from the library's collection of vinyl. I know I'm missing something. Who did the lights? Was it Brumbelow?

    Anyway, Al took off the leash and let us run wild. There was very little design consistency over all, and the show was a potpourri of cast-offs and leftovers. But the finished product was wild and crazy and wonderfully aesthetic. Sort of like the original Muppet Show. By "'Rump Revised'-type atmosphere" I am referring to and environment that creates a sort of free-wheeling, unabashedly whimsical orgy of creativity and fun. The City Museum in St. Louis accomplishes this sort of thing.

    I hope you've enjoyed this foray into the Idea Graveyard. Who knows what we may encounter next?

    21 December 2006


    [Hmm ... that title doesn't sound right. Oh well, at least it'll bring in some hits from Google.]

    I've been avoiding Disembodied Animal Head Theatre as if it were a tofu sundae. My last attempt at shooting an episode was a couple of weeks ago. The changes I made to Tex (i.e. giving him wings and arm rods) suck and the new set piece (Tex's arm chair) is a bigger pain in the ass than trying to improvise two sides of dialogue shot a half-hour apart.

    The new 'Heads are wicked awesome, and I can't wait to shoot the actual "disembodied animal head theatre" segments, but this stupid show hinges on a working rubber chicken. I wanted to start over from the beginning with Tex, build a completely NEW Tex puppet but ... get this ... I couldn't find a rubber chicken that met up with my exacting standards for how Tex should look! That's right. I now consider myself a rubber chicken connoisseur.

    During my last shoot, I was moments away from hurling the offending rod puppet across the room when my lovely wife swiped him away and made funny for the camera. She lightened the mood enough for me to struggle through a couple more takes, and then I threw in the towel for the day.

    I need to dissasemble what I've done so far and rebuild the damned thing. I don't relish this because I AM A LOUSY PUPPET BUILDER.

    On the bright side, Pamela and I went to the Conservatory of Puppetry Arts open house on Sunday and had a great time. I bought a couple of little puppets. If I get around to it, Ill shoot some pix or video to share 'em with the world. Or at least the fourteen of you who read this.

    I have a couple of other things/possible gigs in the works, but don't want to "jinx" them by going into too much detail here. We have all seen what 'going into too much detail' has done for The Felties. Ha ha. Heh. Meh.

    18 December 2006

    So I'm in this 1950s review now. As this sort of thing typically happens, it happened rather quickly. Pamela was cast as a singer and dancer, found out they needed some guys, and I auditioned with my Epiphone dreadnought and "Twist and Shout" by the Isley Brothers.

    just add andrew

    It may come as no surprise that I'm an "okay" guitar player. I'm "okay" at a lot of things. For instance, puppetry. As a creative generalist, I am able to adapt and evolve as necessary to fulfill the demands placed before me. I NetFlixed the "House of Blues: Blues Guitar Level 1" dvd because 1) rock guitar decended from blues guitar and 2) it was the only one of two discs that covered lead techniques. It arrived, I popped it in, and decided right away to buy the disc.

    John McCarthy is a good guitar teacher. He moves at a quick enough pace that I'm not bored to tears, and he gets to the meat of the matter pretty damn quick. The first of five chapters covers the basics of blues lead, the pentatonic scale ("penta" = five, "tonic" = note.) Learning the pentatonic scale is like blowing on a blues harp for the first time. You realize that you can't play a sour note with this thing.

    I always figured lead guitar would come down to something like this. "Learn this scale. Play around with it."

    Pamela and I were at Target last night, and we went back to Electronics to see if they had any Brian Bell (of Weezer) or Paul Stanley(of Kiss) guitars left. Not to buy, necessarily. I just can't get over the novelty of signature guitars for sale at a national retail chain.

    I think it's great that Target is selling instruments. Guitars, basses ... even a drum kit! Music has always been a folk art. It's only in the last fifty or sixty years that folks have been priced out of buying decent instruments.

    Walking down the aisle past the Fender, Washburn, and Gibson made "off-brands" we find the "HOB Blues Guitar" book and DVD on sale for $25! Score!

    So to sum up: John McCarthy, Target, the House of Blues, and affordable instruments = w00+!

    08 December 2006


    Here's an idea that dates all the way back to December of 1997. Actually, it dates back to the Spring of '97 when I started working weekends at Oaklawn, the horse racing track in Hot Springs. Like so many ideas, it percolated for quite a while before I wrote it down. After college, I transferred over to the "Tote" department (basically the I.T. area in a racetrack, responsible for the servers that calculate odds.) I refer to a "Bob" below. That would be my old co-worker Bob Jackson, a great guy and big time NASCAR fan. So here it is, just in time for Christmas:

    Vampire Movie Idea

    There was a vampire special on the Discovery Channel, and I told Bob this idea, so I figured I might as well put to paper this old chestnut of an idea which has been roasting in the recesses of my mildly disturbed mind since my college days, shooting the ol' crapola with Brad McClelland regarding matters at the same time cinematic and macabre. And so ... imagine a deserted racetrack -- present day.

    WOLFSBANE PARK. Deserted since 1957. It seems that too many horses dropped dead, having had their blood drained. It is now the nocturnal home of the role-playing game "VAMPYRE WARS." Young adults don costumes and play out a drama of two warring vampire factions and the innocent mortals who become "recruits." It's all fun and games.

    But tonight -- an old psychopath breaks out of the local insane asylum. He is a former horse trainer out to rid Wolfsbane of its vampires.

    Those young adults who would stop the horse trainer's carnage don't realize until it is too late -- WOLFBANE'S VAMPIRES ARE THEIR HOSTS! And the young adults are supper.
    I can't find the notes, but I had this great idea for a gag where one of the young adults is chased down by vampire horses.

    Now that I'm thinking about it, I recall the conversation that led to this idea. McClelland and I were tossing around ideas for a horror movie, and he told me about the time he attended one of these huge-ass vampire LARPs ("Live Action Role-Playing Game") that took place in an old abandoned shopping mall.

    At the time I wrote this, I was in a band with my brother-in-law Brett, and we had written this sweet-ass song "Dying" (Pamela co-wrote the lyrics.) I thought it'd be killer to have live bands playing during the "game" and had this whole scene figured out using "Dying" as the backdrop:

    music by Brett McWilliams
    lyrics by Andrew Moore and Pamela Moore

    Well it seems your sweet breath
    Delivers up sweet death
    Lay me down in my tomb
    Lovely spectre of doom

    Dying ...

    You stole my consciousness
    And you shattered my soul
    Opened up your gates of hell
    And you swallowed me whole

    Dying ...

    Bask in the afterglow
    Red hot coals of desire
    Can you feel my lava flow
    Add your fuel to my pyre ... take me higher

    Dying ...

    "Dying", of course, in the Shakespearean sense. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say - no - more. So yes, it would be playing behind a vampire sex scene. ROCK!

    Why don't I make these crappy movies? Hell, I'd pay to see 'em!

    05 December 2006

    The Worlds Greatest Critic on cubicle living.

    Here's just a taste:
    However, one thing that is not discussed often enough is just how much people enjoy having their personal space violated in favor of your convenience. In order to alleviate this issue, please refer to this list of suggestions below which will ensure that you will be fully entertaining and endearing to your coworkers in a cubicle environment.

    The food thing is right on. I used to have a coworker who'd bring hardboiled eggs and tuna fish to work. What's so wrong with that, you ask? We didn't have a refrigerator for her to keep them in. Mmmm. Room temperature eggs and fish.

    Also, people who use their speaker phone to keep redialing a busy number. You know, there's really no need to keep dialing back. "It's been half a second ... maybe they're off the line!"

    Fortunately, my experience in that type of office is limited. Unfortunately, I'm very familiar with working for someone in their home office. I'd like to see J.C.'s take on that!

    Sly Stallone 2.0

    Over at Aint it Cool News, Sylvester Stallone is answering fan questions in a no-holds-barred fight to the finish.

    So far he's fielding a wide range of questions from the potentially embarrasing (questions about "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!" and his mother's invention of "rumpology") to the unabashedly geeky (Is he going to be in Tarantino's "Inglorious Bastards," how does he justify Rocky Jr.'s inconsistent age from film to film, etc.)

    I highly recommend you check out this very candid Q & A series. It started on December 1st, and will run up to December 20th.

    Stallone really gets it. He's promoting his new film, but he's doing it according to the new rules of PR. He's communicating directly to his audience, being open and honest, and not shying away from "icky" questions that any sensible press agent would shun.

    As a result, I believe Rocky Balboa is going to be a Box Office K-O. I had already planned on going to see it ... Now I'm excited about it. Pamela's excited about it. The thing is, Stallone is a real guy. A bit boastful, but certainly aware of his own shortcomings. He talks about such flops as Oscar and Get Carter with a healthy sense of humor, for instance:

    It [Staying Alive] was definitely a lot better than my version of GET CARTER, which caused many people to run out and perform self-inflicted lobotomies.

    Great series. Check it out!

    30 November 2006

    Friends, I would like to take a moment here to address something that may seem non sequitur. But believe me when I tell you it is of the utmost importance that you read these words and truly take the time to weigh their meaning.

    Wired is currently taking nominations for the sexiest geeks of 2006. It is imperative that you consider putting your support behind Garrick T. Pass.

    But don't just do this because I asked you to. Get to know the man, the legend the geek himself.

    See, I know what you are saying now, what makes Garrick so f--king good? I don't f--kin' know, and I don't like it! I stay up going F--K! Why can't everybody f--kin' have it?

    Cause this is the thing... Some people learn it on the streets. Some people learn it in the schools. Garrick was f--king born with it, homes... Check it out.

    This is a man who put his life and kidneys in desperate peril only to snag a free Playstation 2. Did he stop drinking Diet Coke once he had accumulated enough points? No sir. He stayed on the path. This is a man who plays a werewolf/underwear model in Werewolf: The Forsaken!

    But he's no poser. No sir ... he got the goods. He's a tech extraordinaire, dispensing useful hacks on his blog, as well as cutting diatribes about the state of I.T. The man debugged a Windows issue via e-mail from two thousand miles away! He is indeed a tech ninja ... nay, a tech Jedi.

    All those smarts, and he's got a great wife and kid.

    You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

    We will keep in mind and remember that Garrick Pass has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

    Thank you very much.

    -- Andrew Moore

    [Please note that this blog entry contains passages from "Cosmic Shame" by Tenacious D and Ronald Reagan's 1964 speech to endorse the candidacy of Barry Goldwater.]

    28 November 2006

    Why I Love Living in Los Angeles

    I remember watching the above video on YouTube. I was sort of randomly searching around to see what puppet videos I could find. This really stopped me in my tracks because 1) I love and respect street performers, 2) I used to live right around the corner from where this was taped, and 3) it's an absolutely stunning performance.

    So imagine my delight when I saw this performer over the holiday! Pamela and I went to see Tenacious D in "The Pick of Destiny" (very funny, and directed by Liam Lynch of Sifl and Olly fame) at the Los Feliz 3 cinema. Approaching the long line for the box office, I heard the mournful sound of "St. James Infirmary." The crowd shifted slightly, and I saw the puppeteer.

    This very talented performer is Eli. What I find most fascinating about his work is that it doesn't have a narrative! It's an improvised character study -- and it's absolutely riveting.

    If you see him, tip him well. He earns it.

    (Thanks to Pam for snapping the picture!)

    UPDATE: Eli has a YouTube account and a posted video. Check it out!

    25 November 2006

    DAHT - Season Two Beckoneth
    pt. 2 of 2

    look kids! it's a new background!

    I painted up a couple of new backgrounds over the holiday. If you kind of squint, the above looks like red drapes. My painting 'style' is very gross and theatrical. Fortunately, "gross and theatrical" works with DAHT.

    the ensemble is hanging out, ready to perform!

    Pamela and I visited the Los Angeles Zoo for our wedding anniversary (zoo trips are our tradition.) I was in Disembodied Animal Head Heaven! I blogged about this earlier, but I finally increased the ensemble from two heads to seven!

    this is Jones, a totally new ensemble member courtesy of my good friends Pete and Sierra.

    Then my good friend Pete chipped in four additional heads! The Wolf you see above, and three dinosaurs, including Von Boneyface:

    Von Boneyface, also a gift from Pete and Sierra. Check out his performance on The 5 Minute Show!

    I am currently rebuilding Tex to have practical wings. It's not the Tex 2.0 I once boasted about, more like Tex 1.5, but he looks dashing with a new pant job. The only trouble is, his rubber is starting to degrade, and I haven't been able to find an exact duplicate! The rubber chickens I have found don't look as nice as Tex. The beaks don't look like chicken beaks, the rubber is thinner, the chickens are floppier, etc. Tex is conducting a poll over at www.daht.blogspot.com. Should he keep the trademark bow-tie or change into a smart ascot?

    The new season will see the first introduction of built-up set props! Tex will be hosting the show from the comfort of a 'leather' side chair. The set prop in question is on my back porch, awaiting painting.

    The first episode of the new season will most certainly cover "The Taming of the Shrew." Episode two will be a "The Tempest/Lost" parody.

    24 November 2006

    DAHT - Season Two Beckoneth

    pt. 1 of 2

    So at this time I would like to review why in god's name I first started this thing. ("This thing" referring to Disembodied Animal Head Theatre.)

    I think it's best summed up in a post from 3/2/06: "It's easy for me to comment on what I have planned with The Felties. Carving out the time to do the things that result in an actual product is a bit more difficult."

    Sometime at the beginning of this year, it occurred to me that I had be in "pre-production" on The Felties for almost a year. The puppets hadn't even been finished! I was depressed.

    Meanwhile, there were some really good puppet shorts popping up online, and it occurred to me that I really didn't know much about doing a "video podcast."

    So it was I found myself searching around the house for something vaguely puppetlike to put in front of a camera. I had a two "animal snapper" heads, a flamingo and a giraffe. Cool. A title materialized from the creative ether, carried on gossamer wings by the muse: "Disembodied Animal Head Theatre." What would I do on this show? Something in the public domain that I can easily make fun of ... Ah, Shakspeare! All I needed was a host.

    Elsewhere I've explained why the rubber chicken. In short, he amuses me. And thus I come to the point of this blog entry.

    Doing this series is fun. And it's educational. Sort of like Bill Nye the Science Guy, or looking at nudie pictures. Going all "Robert Rodriguez" and wearing every hat simultaneously is difficult. The quality suffers, to be sure. I don't have an extra pair of eyes to tell me the top of my head keeps popping up, or that my puppet keeps slipping down out of frame. (I have a monitor now, so expect that to change for the better!)

    For season two of this humble little experiment, I will continue to improve the quality of the show and keep pushing out the boundaries of my own understanding. Oh yes, and have fun. I intend to keep having fun.

    (And I encourage anyone and everyone to join the party! It doesn't matter if you're using an archaic camera, or posting everything as .wmv files. The important thing is to do something!)

    08 November 2006

    NaNoWriMo, Plays, and Writing in general (myriad project update)

    You know, I'm not all that great at narrative fiction. I have no patience for writing it. I'm behind in my word count (based on where I should be according to the NaNoWriMo book No Plot? No Problem!) and I feel as if I'm running out of book to write! 'Point A' and 'Point B' are about to meet up in my book ... and then what? I have no idea. I guess they start heading out toward a 'Point C' together.

    I know, I know. More adjectives, more description. Yadda yadda. This is why I prefer dramatic literature (i.e. 'plays.') I hate having to describe everything.

    Speaking of plays, I have a play in 'drydock' right now (Sonny) and a couple of plays in the 'research' stage. You think I don't update this blog enough as it is? Just you wait. I'm planning on writing much more dramatic literature in the next year, with a goal of winning as many national playwriting contests as possible. It's all part of my plan to eventually publish a modest "how to" book on the subject of 'hack' playwriting. I've been blogging about the stupid little writer tricks I have learned/developed over the last decade at Mad Theatrics. I hope to pull a Seth Godin with this. Part of my evil plan is to use my own playwriting advice and win at least eight national playwriting contests in one year. (I may wind up defining "year" very liberally.) I'm off to a good start.

    Finally, because I don't feel really alive unless I'm biting off way more than I can chew, I'm 'scripting' some shorts for The Felties and a TOP SECRET music video project with my lovely wife. I'm going to make an attempt at doing this all John K-like and storyboard the scripts, rather than write them out. (This on the heels of my assertion that animation and puppetry are "cousins, Identical cousins all the way. One pair of matching bookends, Different as night and day." Sure, animation is done shot by shot and is unhindered by earthly physics and ugly arm rods. "Still, they're cousins, Identical cousins and you'll find, They laugh alike, they walk alike, At times they even talk alike -- You can lose your mind, When cousins are two of a kind.") I'll post some of the storyboarding here for all seven of you to pour over.

    That's all.

    (Okay, it's not. I can hear a couple of you out there - "whither goest Disembodied Animal Head Theatre?" I hope to pinch off a couple of episodes of SEASON TWO sometime in the next week or so. For now ... have you seen "Tex: In Studio" yet?)

    03 November 2006

    There's an interview with my friend (and occasional puppety co-conspirator) Ron Yavnieli over at Frederator. You should read it, and check out the graphic showing the puppets he built of Cal Arts instructors E. Michael Mitchell and Cornelius Cole. Oh hell, here it is:

    Animators make excellent puppet designers, and puppetry has much in common with animation. Andrew of the PuppetVision blog and www.PuppetBuilding.com has been beating this drum for a long time, and a couple of months ago blogged about using the Preston Blair book to learn puppet design fundamentals.

    Animation guru (is that an adequate description?) Eddie Fitzgerald has posted a few things about animation acting (here, here and here) that now have me interested in the book he reviews, "Acting for Animators" by Ed Hook.

    Animators and puppeteers - the Patty and Cathy Lane of visual artists?

    Why I Love Living in Los Angeles

    Last night I watched a double feature of Amelie (my favorite movie) and The City of Lost Children at the Aero in Santa Monica. Oh yeah, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (one of my favorite directors) was there for a Q & A between screenings!

    Oh yeah, and the tickets were $10.

    I was all by myself (Pamela had class to go to, and they have an upcoming showcase early this December, so she couldn't take off) which sucked, and the Aero doesn't serve coffee, but those are my only complaints.

    Amelie is a great movie. It's a work of art. Everything is in its proper place, every character engages. It's filled to the brim with whimsey, and tugs at the heart strings without ever becoming mind-numbingly sentimental. Visual effects abound, but they are never extraneous to the narrative. The Color palate is lush and dream-like, and the whole thing makes me want to move to Montmarte and scoot around to odd jobs on a moped while Pam waits tables at The Two Windmills. If you haven't seen this film, what the hell is your problem?

    The print was fairly clean. There were only a couple of places where damaged celluloid jarred the pace of the film.

    The City of Lost Children was my first Jeunet film. I remember seeing the trailer for it before ... Waiting for Guffman? It was startlingly beautiful. Pam was in the next room, and I rewound the tape and made her watch it. The film stars Ron Perlman as One, a sideshow strongman whose little brother is kidnapped by a mysterious cult. One's search for his "petit frere" is joined by the precocious Miette (Judith Vittet). The movie is not as easy to experience as is Amelie; City plays like a nightmarish children's story. You really have to stay on top of what's going on. But it is really worth the investment to experience. I've seen City a few times, but not very recently. It was a joy to discover that the film is much better than I remember! And I for the first time realized that little nine year-old Miette is absolutely in love with One. (Jeunet manages to pull performances out of his child actors that M. Night Shyamalan would envy.)

    The print for City was absolutely gorgeous. It was either a new print, or the Aero has a digital projector.

    The Q & A was pancaked between films. Jeunet is a very approachable, affable man. He spoke enthusiastically about his films and his up-coming projects. Here's stuff I learned:

    • His next project may be an adaptation of Life of Pi, but he indicated that it's still stuck in development.
    • He has plans to shoot a movie after Life of Pi similar in tone to Amelie, but showing another side of Paris, and featuring a male lead (maybe I should brush up on my French.)
    • When Fox signed up Jeunet to direct Life of Pi, the first requirement he had was that Dominic Pinon (who has been in all of Jeunet's films) would have a place in the movie.
    • The episode in Amelie with the suicidal goldfish is drawn directly from his own childhood.
    • He said he hates realism, and could never shoot a film where the camera is just locked down on two people having a "real" conversation.
    • He primarily writes only the visual content of his films. His writing partner handles most of the dialogue.
    • Wishes he could cut out the shot of Amelie, dressed as Zorro, carving a "z" in Collignon's door.
    • Jeunet lives in Montmarte, and frequents The Two Windmills. After Amelie, The Two Windmills became a popular photo-stop for tourists. Every now and then a tourist would ask Jeunet to step out of frame so they could take a clear photo! Sometimes he'd say "you know, I directed that movie" but they would never believe him. (I like to imagine a group of rowdy Americans unwittingly asking Jeunet to take their picture in front of the cafe, never wise to the fact that the auteur himself was framing them up!)

    I almost forgot: At the very beginning of the night, we watched a short film entitled Foutaises ("Things I like, Things I Don't Like.") Shot before his first feature, Delicatessen, this black and white film is a sneak peak at some of the narrative tricks he would later employ in Amelie. Dominic Pinon addresses the camera and narrates a laundry list of things he likes and things he doesn't like, while stock footage intercut with new footage displays illustrations of each thing. Nine minutes long, and the whole house was rolling with laughter.

    Did I mention tickets were only $10? If you're interested in this sort of thing and you're local, I highly recommend you check out www.americancinematheque.com and search their schedule with a fine-toothed comb for future coolness.

    30 October 2006

    Back in the Saddle

    They say that when you get thrown from a horse, it is vital to get back on the horse. I'm not sure why. To show that horse who's boss? Anyway, I futzed around with puppets for pay this past weekend. Pamela joined me and three other puppeteers in a walk-thru haunted house at this big, impressive Beverly Hills Halloween party. Our job was to direct people through the maze, and keep the mood light (there were a lot of little kids at the party.)

    Here is Tex, decked out as a vampire:

    And here is Emo Clown:

    Emo Clown make look familiar to some of you. He's basically a spare Mimey built originally by the great and powerful Russ Walko. I was going to bring Clownie as an "Evil Clown" but didn't want to risk damaging him. So in desperation I searched the house for a puppet to bring, and fell upon the box of discarded puppet corpses Russ gave me. Pam designed the Emo overlay. She told me that Emo was far scarier than Evil, and I have to agree.

    The hair is leftover marabou from a play we did. He's wearing a baby's inside-out Chicago White Sox sweatshirt. The highly-posable pipe cleaner eyebrows are lashed to the bridge of a pair of Stan's discarded glasses. I added the pom-poms and voila!

    Pretty impressive, considering I threw him together over an hour, hanging out in the car while Pam attended a big, important theatre meeting!

    Pamela performed Emo Clown, saying such frightening things as "I love Weezer!" and "Rivers Cuomo is the bomb, yo!" and singing "The Sweater Song."

    Tex mostly just popped out and threatened to bite people. Great fun!

    Oh yeah - I also updated www.daht.blogspot.com over the weekend with an actual video! How novel of me!

    18 October 2006

    Saint Kricfalusi on Form

    In the 1970s form began to be considered uncool. It represented the rigid establishment. So everything started to become vague and mushy. These toys are just one example of the horrible thing that has happened in all walks of modern (post 1970) life. Nothing has form anymore. Music is rambling non melodic nonsense. Jorge's pants aren't the same shape as his legs. Movies and TV are vague, dark and shot with wobbly cameras. Form has since been replaced by meanness, ugliness and "attitude".
    Pamela and I routinely visit The Getty. Speaking for myself (and possibly for her) it recharges my artistic batteries to be surrounded by true masterpieces of art. After reading Kricfalusi's blog posting entitled "The Death of Form," the reason why I feel drawn to The Getty has come in focus. I am attracted to form.

    I take pride in my appreciation for chaos. I love Sun Ra, Pollock, and children's theatre. Hell, I love cartoons. It occurs to me that all that chaos hangs ever so delicately on a wire hanger of form. In other words, it takes a lot of hard work and practice to make something look so disorganized. Sloppy hacks who envy the success of something like ... oh, I don't know, let's say Ren & Stimpy ... try to "figure out" the popularity of the thing, and observe only the surface chaos, not the thought and effort that went into it. So they try to emulate the thoughtful chaos, and produce only mud.

    We are absolutely inundated by this thoughtless mud. It's on t.v., on the radio, on the web. It fills magazine racks and bookstores. For instance, everytime a show like "Lost" hits, a half dozen copycats spring up that try to duplicate the "gimmicks" of the show without ever grasping the heart of the thing. "Surface" anyone? Or take Justin Timberlake's new single ... please.

    As John K. demonstrates, there is much room for chaos within well-established guidelines. (Anyone who's ever watched a really good game of football has seen this.) Form must be present, if only so there's something to push against. Sort of like how some of us rebelled against authority in our younger (and not so younger) days.

    Sun Ra was an accomplished musician and arranger before he started skronking with wild abandon. Jackson Pollock studied under Thomas Hart Benton long before "action painting." And children's theatre ... I've got nothing. It's just chaotic.

    So I go the the Getty to be surrounded by works of art created by folks who pay heed to form. It's refreshing to know such a thing as form exists.

    10 October 2006

    The Future of The Felties

    I had a very interesting meeting last week with a very talented accquaintance of mine. He is interested in throwing in on The Felties, and had some very interesting ideas on how to accomplish what I hope to ultimately accomplish. I'm sorry I can't go into too much detail on this, but in fairly short order you will see this new angle take shape.

    Wow. Is that vague enough?

    Seriously though, this is a great idea. It's going to make The Felties an actuality, not just a felt-upholstered pipe-dream.

    Okay, here's a hint: I recently blined ("blogged" and "whined" at the same time) about how I live in L.A. and should really shoot an actual t.v. pilot and try to sell this series to some cable network or something. What my friend (David) suggested was the exact opposite: go smaller.

    Duh. And I'm the one who snobbishly quotes Seth Godin ("Small is the New Big") and Chris Anderson ("The Long Tail") at ice cream socials and coffee klatches. Just goes to show maybe I should talk less and practice what I would otherwise preach more often.

    The Felties done smaller gets back to something I had posted early on in the history of this blog. That's the idea of The Felties as a webcomic. Specifically a comic strip. Gags. David suggested concentrating on one or two characters in brief (45-60 second) gag-driven videos. The audience investment is nil (there are ad bars with animation loops that last longer than 45 seconds) and we can crank out a handful of these bits in a day on a shoestring. Compare that to the much more lofty goal of shooting 22 1/2 minutes of pilot!

    Well, we'll see what happens.

    29 September 2006

    DAHT Update

    What was it John Lennon said again?

    So I was planning on building Tex 2.0. Then life happened.

    I want the new incarnation of Tex to be uber-Tex. Tex-1000. Head movement, eye-blink, better mouth control ... bells and whistles!

    There's not a whole lot of space in a chicken's neck/head for what I want to do. And let's face facts: I'm not all that great a puppet builder.

    So the next few agonizing weeks will see me struggling with engineering, sculpture, polymers, vinyl, glue, a few rubber chickens and bicycle brake cables and levers. I feel a bit like MacGyver.

    22 September 2006

    Just in time for FESTIVUS!

    Here is the rough artwork for the dvd cover of Disembodied Animal Head Theatre - Season One.

    I'm thinking $8, through the kind folks at www.lulu.com. All five of the original episodes in slightly better resolution than you get at YouTube or Google Video, commentary for each episode, and a gag reel (mostly it's just me talking to myself. What a hoot!)

    I may even put the full version of the theme music on over the menus. (If you've ever wondered what that catchy tune is, it's the scherzo from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by that rock and roller Mendelssohn. I use a public domain recording from 1917.)

    I may do a sneak peek at season 2 video.

    Anyway, that's a whole lotta loving for $8! What d'ya think?

    10 September 2006

    This just in . . . I found footage of Groovy David's Dance Party on YouTube!

    This was my first pilot shoot in L.A., and my left arm is featured prominately. Keep an eye out for the dreadlocked, purple D.J. Beat (performed by the multi-talented Ron Yavnieli). I'm his left hand.

    I also did arm rods on occasion for the other two puppets. I remember doing Gina Jam's arm rods when she's in the flamingo costume, and Cool Cat's arm rods when he's wailing away at his guitar.

    This shoot was fun, professional and remunerative. Yay for paid work!
    BTW - you may have noticed I changed the name of this blog. That doesn't mean I've killed off The Felties, it means I've finally accepted the fact this this blog is more far-reaching. "The Felties" blog will be reactivated once the thing goes into actual production.
    Andrew Moore - Successful Internet Salesman!

    Well, sort of.

    I haven't made a big secret of my desire to sell merchandise emblazoned with my various intellectual properties. Hell, I'm proud of it. I have six Cafepress shops. Six! Half of those shops are practically nothing more than bookmarks. Empty shops with one or two items that I intended at one time to expand on. The other three shops are the "main" shops and have much more going on:

    • Dal Motion Pictures features the DAHT merch, the Mimey t-shirt, and various items carrying the Dal Motion Pictures logo.
    • Picture of a Dog is home to Doodlebug merch and Kung-Fu Dog.
    • Nude Beach was started to help promote the as yet uncompleted short documentary "My First Trip to the Nude Beach."
    You read that last one right. The documentary was actually Pam's origination, and it's a straight-forward educational piece on the benefits of clothes-free recreation. We have some pick-ups to do, graphics, yada yada, and hope to have it out there for broad public consumption just in time for winter.

    The Nude Beach store is incredibly lame, even by my standards. However, it has proven to be the most profitable store this year. In fact, here is our most popular item:

    The "Happiness is No Tan Lines" Jr. Spaghetti Tank. In the description I wrote "The great thing about this one, is you can show off the tan by dropping one of the shoulder straps!" It sells for $18.

    When I put this store together, I was in a pretty funky frame of mind. I was disgusted by the number of cheese-ball, thrown together on Microsoft Word t-shirt designs on CafePress, that I decided to do my own. So I made up a few cheese-ball slogans, fired up Microsoft Word, and voila . . .

    . . . success. Well, in a very limited sense. I'm not buying a yacht or anything. Maybe a sixer of Sam Adams Octoberfest.

    The irony here is that a week before the first sale, I logged into CafePress with the intention to close the store. I'm glad I didn't.

    17 August 2006


    One fall, I checked out "The Beat Generation" cd/book box set from the library in St. Louis. This is a great set, full of wild jazz, music by beat musicians, radio interviews with folk from the whole Greenwich Village scene, etc. I was inspired.

    So grab a cup of joe and pull on your trusty old beret! Here are . . .

    The Crazy Rules of Writing Beat Poetry

    (it's rules-city cats!)

    1. Treat words for emotions and all non-physical concepts as physical objects.
    Ex.: "Drink Down Hate"
    "Shovel Love off the Driveway"
    "Wash all the Infinity off of Your Hands"

    2. Use colorful, exotic nouns as adjectives.
    Ex.: "Take Dragon Steps"
    "Kiss Flamingo Lips"

    3. Mix metaphors artfully. In Beat poetry things that are similar are quite often treated as if they are identical.
    Ex.: "Swing your Bat in the Cave at the Shadows on the Great Wall of China"

    4. Twist relationships.
    Ex.: "Drug Addict is a Money Pusher,
    Drug Dealer Addicted to Dealing."


    Soldiers marching in where
    Angels fear to soldier
    And devils do their laundry
    Fear moistens the brow

    * * *

    An old van is the brothel
    Hell on cement blocks
    Wheels retired
    She's barely attired
    I just can't bear the
    Bare skin whore

    16 August 2006

    DAHT Update

    So the ensemble has officially arrived! Recently purchased at the L.A. Zoo:
    • wolf
    • hippo
    • zebra
    • alligator
    • polar bear
    . . . plus the giraffe and flamingo I started out with, the ensemble is now seven characters strong!

    It's much easier to come up with ideas now that I have the players to play with. Season one was more about the show itself rather than "bringing the arts and culture back to the internet in a [tongue-in-cheek] dignified fashion." The best episodes were the ones that dealt more directly with Shakespeare (ep. 1 - Othello, ep. 2 - Hamlet, ep. 5 - Measure for Measure.)

    In a couple of weeks I'll pick up a new rubber chicken to tear apart and put back together again for Tex ver. 2.0. I'm also devising more of a set for Tex . . . sort of a Masterpiece Theatre/A&E Biography type thing.

    Oh yes . . . and the DVD. This may turn out to be too much work for a handful of crappy episodes, but what the hell. I need to recapture all the footage and re-edit at a higher rez. I may even shoot some new footage. So I'm thinking "Disembodied Animal Head Theatre Season One: Special Edition" for the title. I haven't decided if I want Greedo to shoot first or not.

    14 August 2006

    Happy Anniversary, Pam!

    I consider myself very lucky to have you in my life!

    You rock!

    11 August 2006


    I'm a pack rat, and in recent years I've learned how to (sort of) organize my random scrawlings. For some time now, I've been packing composition notebooks full of whatever passing fancy comes my way. Sometimes the idea develops into a Torrid Affaire or a "Disembodied Animal Head Theatre." Sometimes the ideas wither on the vine, never to be heard of again.

    I thought it'd be fun to air out a few of the dead-end ideas I've had over the past few years. Fun for me. Maybe fun for you, I don't know.

    So anyway, here's a little blast from the past. I was developing an idea for a Mr. Rogers-esque children's show. I had some sort of a line to local television (a friend of a friend of a friend) and thought I could pull something together. At the time, I was babysitting my wife's nephew, a very sweet autistic boy who got me hooked on "Grandpa's Magical Toys" a direct-to-video gem. In fact, he wore out his first copy of the tape, and my sister-in-law bought a new one just after I started working for her.

    I had also just built (with the assistance of my lovely wife Pamela) and sold my first "professional" puppet! Okay, I sold it to my dad. He was a minister back then, and he used it (a goat puppet with wicked awesome horns and ears) to teach Jesus to the kids.

    Anyway, that's what was going on in my life at the time. Here's the idea in all of it's rough-hewn glory, taken more or less verbatim from my notes at the time:

    "Pandora's Garage"

    TITLE -
    Needs to convey scope and intent. It needs to express the feel of the show.

    PILOT -
    A taste of things to come? Crazy quilt episode. Cover a mess of things.

    I'm sure it's just the residual effects of the poppy seeds, but I'm seeing a neutral space with a counter top of some sort. [I was really into poppy seed bagel dogs at the time.] I had thought a living room would be cool. Platforming up for puppets? Nah, too costly. Kneel, boy!

    A garage? (i.e. Dad's garage?) Lots of junk in storage, handy counter space. Acoustics? Lights? Garage lends itself well to erratic nature of show - boxes of junk can be rummaged through for fun stuff.

    TALENT -
    I wonder what Brad is up to? [Most likely I meant Brad Parker, an old high school chum and current teacher of at a arts magnet school in Texarkana. Great guy.] Can I snag Pam? Pam - only if everything is in place.

    It would be quite swell if I had a costar who assumed different personas as required by the show. [Reminiscent of Speedy Delivery?]

    Think about Jumpy and Skip's abode [Jumpy = dalmatian puppet, Skip = mudskipper puppet.] Apartment over the garage? "I wonder who might live up there?" Figments of the imagination?

    Puppet sequences do not have to be logical, just loosely related to the main focus of the particular episode.
    5 - 13, but enjoyable by all.

    A chest (old, ancient, enticing) full of relics which get the ball rolling. Sample list of items:
    - Clown figurine
    - Dinosaur model
    - Magic wand
    - Drama masks
    - A book
    - Toy blocks
    - etc.

    Chest doesn't have to be very large - one item at a time may fit. [The idea was for a simple idea to spark off a wild goose chase, lateral-thinking adventure.]

    If I tire of chest, switch to a big cardboard box of my dad's hats.

    HOST -
    Audience/host relationship: casual, informal. Audience members are "friends" who like to come over to hang out with host.

    Figure out how to work in vocab word each episode. Maybe an old, out of date (phony) "word a day" calendar. [I had read something at the time from Mensa that said there was a direct connection between the size of a person's vocabulary and their IQ.]

    I just moved back to town after college and come back to get some of my stuff that I stored in my dad's garage. "Neighbor Kids" (audience) come in to han out as I rummage for my lost box. Dad is a pack rat, so I manage to get sidetracked every time. After 30 minutes or so I have to leave (go to work/pick something up/meet someone, etc.)

    [When I'm rummaging and discovering and having a little adventure, I'm little more than a big kid who has a bunch of cool stuff. But each episode begins and ends with me as an adult with adult concerns.]

    There you go! Tune in next week when I share my unrealized plan for a cold fusion generator!

    09 August 2006

    DAHT Update

    It seems like I'm always selling something these days!

    I'm throwing around the idea of making available the first season of DAHT as a limited edition DVD. The first five episodes, with commentary tracks, in a higher resolution for viewing at home. I'm thinking $10, plus shipping. I recently fixed the framing bug that plagued episode 5, and started feeling really good about the work I did on the first 5 eps.

    Oh yes, and I've decided that the first 5 eps are "season one". This coming fall I'll be starting up "season two". Hopefully, it will be uploaded on a more consistent basis.

    One thing for sure, the puppet will be better - I'm designing Tex 2.0 at present. Tex 2.0 will have more bells and whistles - practical wings (arms), a practical head, a more eloquently controlled mouth mechanism that eliminates the visible mouth wire, and maybe - just maybe - an eye blink mechanism.

    Part of me thinks that Tex could become a minor celebrity, in a "global microbrand" sense. (If anyone else out there can point to another time someone has used a rubber chicken as a puppet, I'd love to find out about it.) I may be getting ahead of myself, but I could probably job Tex out. Seeing him on "The 5 Minute Show" really sparked the idea. Tex could do commercials . . . maybe do interstitial bits on a network like A&E or PBS. The key is expanding the Tex brand.

    Tex actually fits into the universe of The Felties as I envision it, as a puppet celebrity who lives with other latex "snobby" puppets at the fancy condo complex "The Palm", just down the street from our main characters. I imagine Mimey and the gang will watch DAHT from time to time. If Tex really took off as a "global microbrand", I could use that leverage to help launch The Felties.

    Well, that's all very nice and forward-thinking, but it depends utterly upon shooting more and more episodes of DAHT, and striving to improve the quality.

    This is what they call "bootstrapping" but I prefer to call it "pegboarding", in reference to those pegboards P.E. instructors use to torture kids:

    You have to keep placing the pegs up a a notch and pull yourself up to the next level. This sort of thing (building a "global micro-empire" if you will) is done in gradients, not overnight. It involves much strain, sweat, and cursing, but like Coach said, it builds character.

    I hope.

    04 August 2006


    I'm building up capital, friends. Unfortunately is does take money to make money. I thought I could do this on a shoestring and still make it look slick and professional. Well, I was wrong.

    I don't want The Felties to suck. I'd much rather take my time and put together my resources and do the thing right the first time. I blogged once about "protopilots" and how I was gonna "go ahead and just shoot my first episode. No more waiting until I 'really know what I'm doing.'" Something has changed since December of last year: it's become painfully obvious that the online video arena is glutted.

    YouTube has somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 videos uploaded everyday. 40-100 million videos are viewed everyday, and currently there are about 5.6 million videos on YouTube. Can you say "needle in a haystack"?

    The truth is "major" media outlets still rule all. The "first star of YouTube", Brookers, recently bagged a Hollywood development deal. She won't be making free videos for the internet, she'll be making television. Good for her! Most of her videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. A couple broke into seven digits. But note: The payoff for being a successful internet content provider is a television contract.

    So here's the new plan: Instead of shooting for an online webseries, I'm gonna shoot a "pitch pilot" and see if I can't get some play around town. Broadcasters are always on the prowl for good content. There are a dozen networks (mostly cable) I can think of off the top of my head any one of which would be a suitable home for The Felties. I live in Hollywood, for crying out loud! Maybe I should try working with "the system" before bucking it -- for a change!

    03 August 2006

    The Felties vs. The Young Ones

    The first time I saw The Young Ones it was a weekend and I was sick with the flu. I clearly remember four insane Brits carrying on like monkeys on smack. I figured it was just a fever dream, but that theme song haunted me. Years later, that theme song would be my first illegal download.


    The Young Ones only ran for two seasons, and a whopping 12 episodes total! The episodes are full of slapstick, non-sequiters, and visual puns. The stories are often surreal. The show is a high-octane bit of insanity that picks up the barest of premises and runs circles with it.

    The show also has puppets! In fact, there's a recurring puppet character named S.P.G. (short for "Special Patrol Group" a controversial Brittish police unit). S.P.G. was the pet hamster of Vyvyan, the homicidal punk/med student:

    Seeing as how the blokes who made The Young Ones also made Spitting Image, it's really no wonder they used puppetry as extensively as they did. (Picture of S.P.G. found on Andrew Morton's website, The Young Ones FAQ.)

    Here's the opening credits of the show, courtesy of YouTube. Note the stand-up comedian cat:

    The Young Ones was (in my opinion) a successful attempt to take a "Looney Tunes" approach to a live action sit-com. The Felties embodies the same frantic energy and anarachic spirit.

    (At the top of this page is a VHS copy I picked up at Amoeba Records in Hollywood the other day. $1.99! What a bargain for such a great show!)
    From Hugh MacLeod -
    The same could easily be said of Los Angeles!

    He posted a very interesting blog about ... well, blogs.

    Check it out!

    02 August 2006


    I booked a zombie movie, and spent the weekend getting my face ripped off by a hermaphroditic zombie named "Sarah" (as portrayed by the very talented and groovy M. Q. Schmidt).

    Here I am in make-up, reviewing my lines ("AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!", "OH GOD IT HURTS!", etc.), and getting some final touch-ups from writer/director Stephen Dunford.

    "I could use a stiff drink." The make-up was applied over a gelatin base. This allowed for a full range of facial expression which is good 'cuz I'm a horrible hammy hack who likes to mug for the camera. Not so much in this picture.

    "Like I told you -- I am NOT thick-skinned!" The skin around the wound was built up with tissue paper and latex. After my face gets ripped off for the camera, the director well yell cut and they'll pour fake blood over this scarlet patch. Very gruesome.

    I had a great time shooting this thing. I love zombie movies, and I've always wanted to do something that involved being in make-up for a couple of hours. Well, other than my usual routine at home before I hit the clubs. I tell you, M.A.C. is the bomb!

    01 August 2006

    Okay, so Sunday morning I took a picture of the low-tech marketing solution I came up with for my comic blog last week:

    Yay! Someone tore off one of the web address strips!

    Of course, I managed to screw the pooch by not actually updating the comic blog on Monday. Oops. I had a great excuse though:

    Ahhh ... the DMV. I had to renew my tags, which involved a smog inspection. If you haven't figured this out by now, you haven't been paying too much attention to this blog: I tend to put things off to the last minute. That's cool, 'cuz I like living in the charette. (That's a fancy way of saying I like the energy and creativity that comes into play when a deadline looms.)

    26 July 2006

    Why Merchandising is Important pt. II

    If you don't exercise a modicum of control over the conversation you practically forfeit your claim to the intellectual property (note: I said "practically" not "legally".) It's not necessary to bring down the iron fist of copyright lawsuits to "protect" your claim, although a fertile fanbase can still grow up around tightly controlled properties (Star Wars for instance. Lucas protects his property like a backwoods Southerner with a shotgun, yet Star Wars fanfilms set the standard for all other fanfilms.) What's necessary is giving the fans something to have, and letting them contribute back.

    Sometimes it's as simple as selling the t-shirt.

    A friend of mine, a guitarist for a punk band, once told me that his band would never sell t-shirts, because they didn't believe in profiteering off of their fans. I told him it's not profiteering if you sell a good product at a fair price. I told him "maybe your fans want to buy the t-shirt. Maybe they want to give something back to you in the form of money for the shirt and free advertising around town." They eventually started selling shirts for a very modest price. Around the same time they released their first cd , a 42 track disc that sold for $8.49. How's that for a marriage of capitalism and punk?!

    The point is merchandising doesn't have to be crass and opportunistic. It can be a part of the greater conversation artists should be having with their audiences. It is a chance for fans to own a piece of what they love.

    24 July 2006

    Why Merchandising is Important pt. I

    If you don't exercise creative control over your own intellectual property, someone else will.

    That someone else may delight in seeing your intellectual property pissing on everything from Fords to . . . well, "everything".

    I could blast Bill Watterson for being a punk-ass, whiney bitch who couldn't handle success (the poor guy) and took more delight in jousting with his management and syndicator than he did in his fans. I could. Actually, I kind of just did.

    Watterson has all kinds of great reasons why he never saw round to licensing official Calvin and Hobbes merchandise. All kinds of great reasons. For some reason, he never seemed to understand the best reason to merchandise a property such as Calvin and Hobbes: The Fans.

    Fans want to contribute back to the artists they love. Buying the merchandise is one way to do that. Look at sports fans. I rest my case.

    Since Watterson didn't set the tone of the merchandising conversation, we will forever be cursed with Calvin pissing on all sorts of stuff. Hey, maybe he'll piss on Susie Derkins! That'd be cool!

    Calvin also prays, in case you haven't noticed. To be honest, I'm not sure which version of Calvin is more insulting to the nature of the character. Calvin never really struck me as the prayerful type.

    The last straw for me on this issue was a new version of the old pissing favorite:

    Yep. That crazy tiger is pissing on the word "America". Charming.

    The problem is a whole generation of people are growing up right now who will never know Calvin and Hobbes as the stars of a beautifully rendered, side-splittingly funny, and occasionally very moving comic strip. To them Calvin and Hobbes will be a couple of exhibitionistic urinators.
    Mr. Watterson, if for some reason you're reading this blog, please give that some thought.

    Low-Tech Solution to a High-Tech Problem

    Remember last April when I was blog-whining (or "blining") about my comic strip "Up to Bat" not being seen at the coffee shop where I post it? I received and applied sage advice received from friends (for instance, someone suggested taking the strip down mid-week so that it's a little more obvious that a new strip has been put up on Sunday) and I kept the strips consistently weekly. Soon I had people asking me on Saturdays "where is the strip?" Cool beans!

    I uploaded all the strips to www.uptobat.blogspot.com, and I've been uploading new strips on Monday mornings -- fairly consistently. I've also been promoting the weblog at the coffee house. I was getting around 10 hits a week. So I registered the strip with www.onlinecomics.net and the numbers doubled. I registered with www.thewebcomiclist.com and got another little boost in traffic.

    I got cocky. I announced a t-shirt design contest. My wife entered her suggestion into the contest. She won by default.

    Well, the latest development is I quit the part-time coffee house job. (I've been meaning to for about a year now, but it never seemed to be the right time. Yeah, it got to be the right time this past week.) I think it's safe to say the owner won't be open to me coming in on Sunday mornings and taping my strip next to the register anymore. So what now?

    See the picture at the top of this entry. I thumbtacked it to the bulletin board at the coffee shop. I'm not selling a bicycle or house-sitting, I'm selling a comic strip. No one remembers URLs (let alone what "URL" stands for) so I put the web address on the little tear-tags. I'll check back next Monday and see how many have been torn off. How exciting! A project!

    More Hilarity on The 5 Minute Show, with part 2 of Tex's appearance!

    Go there now!

    18 July 2006

    Tex on The 5 Minute Show!

    As mentioned in an earlier post, Tex recently took the company limo down to participate in an episode of the lovingly acronymed t5MS! Tex is interviewed by ThePete, and develops a sort of giggly rapport with opera-diva sock-puppet Beverly Socks!

    t5MS is very funny. I could probably do a whole "Tuesday's Artists I Love" featuring ThePete and SiSi, the married couple behind this gem of cyberspace.

    Check it out here. My favorite episodes are 3 (ThePete on the deck of the Enterprise) 19 (Sister Mary Ignacious O'Bleary on God and politics -- sort of) 24 (Meet Gary TheIntern) and 28 (Gary TheIntern strikes back -- with R2D2!)

    There have been some goings-on at www.daht.blogspot.com. Just cause the show's on hiatus doesn't mean nothings happening! Check it out.

    16 July 2006

    The Felties: Set Design part three and a half

    (See also part one, part two, and part three.)

    I sat down to draft the set for The Felties, and it occurred to me: I have no idea what scale these puppets are in. I've designed sets for people, but I've never designed sets for 18-inch-tall "people". Yikes! When I first started looking for a studio, I figured the set would be about 20 feet wide by about 10 to 15 feet deep. Just a guess, you know. Not really based so much in reality or upon actual observation.

    So I did a little sketch to help sort this stuff out:

    Hmm. These puppets are small! I mean, I know they are, but until you really put it down on paper and start attaching measurements to it, it's just an abstract notion. Okay. So I finally really observed the scale of the "people" for whom I was designing a space. I started drafting . . . and realized that I still had only a vague notion of scale. Great, so the puppets are 18 inches tall. What does that mean, really? I needed a better standard in order to wrap my head around it.

    So I figured out the scale of a Felties-sized door, compared to a human-sized door:

    This involved math, and you can see part of my chicken-scratch cross-multiplication in the upper lefthand portion of the above scan.

    Eye opening sketch, huh? Wow. So I used the same little ratio-math equation thingy to figure out the size of the couch and chairs for the living room set. I cocked my head and made a face like the one my dog makes when she can't figure out what's going on, and roughed in a floorplan. As it turns out, the set will be 6 feet wide and 3 1/2 feet deep, or well less than half what I guessed it would be.

    So what did I learn? Pay attention to scale and proportion. I've never wanted to just shoot this in my own living room; I want to create an environment that can only exist in episodes of The Felties. By keeping everything scaled down to "Felties-size" I think I will be well on my way to accomplishing that goal.