The 39 Second Single & Idol Critic: Liza Persky

I was watching the Weekend Today Show when vloging was mentioned. Intrigued, I watched the segment about Liza Persky, the 39 Second Single: a woman, single and dating at age 39. Her first video can be found here. My question is, would you eat Steak Tartar to please someone else if you didn't eat red meat?

Liza also stars in Idol Critic, a fun and funny poke at American Idol.

Idol Critic 7: The Top 9 (+ Sanjaya)


What if the Beatles Were Irish?

Roy Zimmerman has a new take on the Beatles, singing their songs in an Irish folk style. See more of Roy at YouTube or his website at Roy Zimmerman.


A Short Time From Now, At A Post Box Near You . . .

You may have heard that the United States Postal Service and George Lucas have joined "Forces" to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars. If you'd like to see the teaser, go to R2D2 Mail Box. The artist, Chris Scalf, had the daunting task of translating the look and feel of the little droid into a mailbox. To see his work go here.
The Lego R2D2 seen above was created by artist, Eric Harshbarger (no relation) and his work can be seen here. May The Delivery Be With You.


This Must Be The Place: Hawaii

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Hawaiian trip on December 18, 2006


Dreams with Sharp Teeth - A Film about Harlan Ellison

I've read and enjoyed the works of Harlan Ellison for about thirty years. Ellison is a polarizing figure whose friends are legion and enemies, nearly so. I've had the honor and privilege of facilitating several appearances by Ellison in Arizona where he engaged, entertained, and enlightened audiences for hours on end. To learn more about those presentations go here and look for "Harlan at Glendale Community College, March 1999" and "Pictures from the Arizona University West Appearance."

You can get a sense of Ellison's charisma when you hear him perform readings of his own work and the work of others. Several audio recordings of Ellison have been available through Audible.Com and at bookstores such as Amazon.Com and Barnes and Noble.

I found an extensive list of Ellison recordings at the Islets of Langerhans. and there are some video clips of Ellison at Dark Carnival, but the most exciting news is concerning the documentary, Dreams with Sharp Teeth being shown April 19th in conjunction with an appearance by Harlan Ellison at the Writers Guild of America, more information can be found here with tickets available here. Clips of the documentary can be found here. Sweet dreams.


Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Superman!

Growing up, I fell in love with animation. The Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were among my favorites, but I was also very fond of the more formal animation of Disney's movies. It wasn't until I became an adult that I discovered Max and Dave Fleischer and their animated adventures of Superman.

The infancy of the Fleischer Studios can loosely be traced back to 1914-15 while Max Fleischer was Art Editor of Popular Science Monthly. During that time, Max developed the idea for the rotoscope, a mechanical means of crafting animated films using live-action film as a guide. Working with his brother, Joe, the two perfected the machine, called upon their brother, Dave, to play the clown (who was later named Koko or Ko-Ko) in their first live-action film footage, and by 1919 the three brothers had a one-minute sample reel and eventually had a deal with John R. Bray to produce one cartoon per month. One of the early pioneers in animation, Bray used their work in Paramount Pictograph. By 1921, Max and Dave Fleischer formed a partnership, with Max as the producer and Dave as the director, and the two left the Bray studio to create their own animated films. By the mid-1990's, MIT Media Lab veteran computer scientist and animator, Bob Sabiston, developed a computer-assisted "interpolated rotoscoping" process. Director, Richard Linklater, employed the system to create the first entirely digital rotoscoped full-length feature film, A Scanner Darkly.

Fleischer Studios was a haven for innovative ideas. Ko-Ko Song Cartunes were sing-along shorts featuring the famous “Follow the Bouncing Ball.” These cartoons featured synchronized sound three years before The Jazz Singer and four years before Disney’s Steamboat Willie. They also were the first studio to make more efficient use of their master animators with the implementation of In-betweeners or assistant animators. The in-betweener would take the finished animation cell drawn by the master animator and work to progress the action so that it will fluidly connect to the next cel in the sequence drawn by the master animator. An invention that rivaled Disney’s 1933 multiplane camera was the Fleisher Studios 1934 Three-Dimensional Setback or Tabletop camera. Used to great effect in Betty Boop, Popeye, and Color Classic cartoons, the Setback camera used three-dimensional miniature sets built to the same scale of the animation artwork. The cels were placed so that multiple objects could pass in front of and behind them, and the entire scene was shot using a horizontal camera.

In addition to Ko-Ko the Clown, the Fleisher’s big name recognition came from a character that started out as a girlfriend and soon progressed into a star in her own right: Betty Boop. On August 9, 1930, Betty made her first appearance in the sixth installment of the Talkartoon series, Dizzy Dishes. In keeping with character development established at the studio, Betty started out as a French poodle. In the 1932 cartoon, Any Rags, Betty appeared for the first time as a totally human character. Her poodle ears became hoop earrings, her curly poodle fur became a bob haircut, and Betty became recognizable as the flapper girl we know today. Voice actor, Mae Questel, was not the first to give voice to Betty, but she was certainly the most distinctive. Questel last film performance as Betty Boop was for the characters cameo in the 1988 film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The Fleisher’s were also able to take characters from other mediums and perpetuate their popularity and success. They licensed E.C. Segar's comic strip character, Popeye the Sailor, for a cartoon series of his own. In 1933, Popeye made his first animated appearance in Betty Boop Meets Popeye the Sailor. Popeye eventually became the most popular series the Fleischers ever produced, rivaling that of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoons.

Created for theatrical release, the Fleischer Studios produced nine Superman cartoons (distributed through Paramount Pictures) in 1941 and 1942. Simply titled, Superman, the first short in the series, at $100,000 had one of the highest budgets for a short produced at the time, and received an Academy Award nomination. Lavishly produced in Technicolor and employing rotoscope techniques, these cartoons still stand among the most visually interesting of any series animated short films ever created. Fleischer Studios was disbanded in 1942 and changed into Famous Studios where the remaining eight shorts were produced in 1943 for a total of seventeen shorts. Bud Collyer provided the voice of Superman in both the animated series and the radio production with Joan Alexander performing as Lois Lane in the animated shorts and on the radio. In 1994, members of the animation field voted the series as #33 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time.

In the 1980's, most of the Fleischers' films and shorts became available on video, and that's when I discovered Superman. Available in department stores, supermarkets, and other low cost outlets, the poor-quality videotapes were unable to diminish the amazing craftsmanship of the originals. Having entered the public domain in the 1950's, the Superman cartoons came out in various forms and lengths, with the final eight of the seventeen episodes difficult to find. The UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with animation fans have been able to restore the cartoons in high-quality editions available in a variety of forms including DVD.

At present, there are three versions containing all seventeen episodes: The Complete Superman Cartoons — Diamond Anniversary Edition (released in 2000 by Image Entertainment), the difficult to find, Superman Adventures (released in 2004 by Platinum Disc Corporation)--a third compilation using restored and remastered materials was released in November 2006 by Warner Home Video as part of their DVD box set of Superman films.






1. Superman September 26, 1941 (AKA as The Mad Scientist)

2. The Mechanical Monsters November 28, 1941

3. Billion Dollar Limited January 9, 1942

4. The Arctic Giant February 27, 1942

5. The Bulleteers March 27, 1942

6. The Magnetic Telescope April 24, 1942

7. Electric Earthquake May 15, 1942

8. Volcano July 10, 1942

9. Japoteurs September 18, 1942

10. Terror on the Midway August 28, 1942

11. Showdown October 16, 1942

12. Eleventh Hour November 20, 1942

13. Destruction Inc. December 25, 1942

14. The Mummy Strikes February 19, 1943

15. Jungle Drums March 26, 1943

16. The Underground World June 18, 1943

17. Secret Agent July 30, 1943


Speaking Out Loud

Mel Blanc is a hero, of sorts, to me. His broad abilities and vast talent contributed to my love of animation and voice acting. Mark Evanier recently posted on his website at News From ME a video clip his friend, Bob "Porky Pig" Bergen
had pointed out to him. This clip shows a side of Blanc few have ever seen:

his larynx, or more specifically, his vocal cords.

Bob Bergen has been kind enough to publicly share some personal audio of Mel Blanc and others here.

Mel Blanc in an American Express Commercial

Mel Blanc in G.I.Journal

Warning: The Private Snafu cartoons were written during a time of war and intended for military personnel and not for public distribution. They may be considered propaganda and racist. Please view them from an historical perspective.

Go here for a complete list of Private Snafu shorts. By the way, the more polite, less crass representaion of the acronym S.N.A.F.U. (i.e. politically correct) is Situation Normal, All Fouled Up. However, Fouled represents another word.

For downloads of Private Snafu go here.

Mel Blanc as Private Snafu - Spies

Mel Blanc as Private Snafu - The Home Front

Mel Blanc as Private Snafu - Booby Traps

Mel Blanc as Private Snafu - Snafuperman

Mel Blanc as Private Snafu - A Lecture on Camouflage

Mel Blanc as Savings Bond and Arthur Lake as Mr. Hook in "Tokyo Woes"

Serendipitous Tourist

The Internet is a serendipitous collage of information and diversions. In plain English, you get sucked in, you're down a rabbit hole, and hours later you wonder where your productivity went.

I've made Mark Evanier's web site, News From ME the start-up page on one of my browsers. Today, Mark has posted a link to a tour of Restaurant Relics in Los Angeles, hosted by writer, Marc Scott Zicree (The Twilight Zone Companion) and I found that short film at Turn Here interesting so I decided to see what they had available for Arizona

They had this for Papago Park,

this for Downtown Phoenix,

this for Mill avenue in Tempe,

and this one for Scottsdale.

Elements of these short films do come off as commercials (especially the Scottsdale film), but it's interesting to look at ourselves as others see us.


Childhood Memory

Childhood Christmas memory.


The Multi-tasking Mind

Right click on bottom picture, open in new window, come back to this page, select song below, go back to new window and watch animation while music plays.

Click twice to startpowered by ODEO Audio Selection #1

Click twice to startpowered by ODEO Audio Selection #2

Honda Meets Rube Goldberg

Paintings on a Canvas of Hands

If you go here or
here or here you'll see some amazing artistry.

Here is a Power Point slideshow of the artwork. Enjoy

American Idol Loser Theme-I'm Peaking Right Now!

Antonella Barba

Sanjaya Malakar

Leslie Hunt

A.J. Tabaldo

If you're following American Idol, your jaw may well be hanging loose after Antonella Barba and Sanjaya Malakar survived another week while better singers, Leslie Hunt and A.J. Tabaldo (who, oddly, both sang Feeling Good) were axed. One reason for this odd turn of events may be the website Vote For The Worst wherein they promote Antonella "Song selection, what's that?" Barba because they want "to make a funnier show."

Rob Paravonian, comedian armed with a wicked guitar, has something to say to those people voted out of American Idol.


Code Monkey On My Back

We've all experienced it, hearing a snappy tune, and then we can't get it out of our heads. I was listening to Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte on their Net At Night podcast. Amber was speaking about a song she been introduced to last summer called Code Monkey by Jonathan Coulton. As they use to say on American Bandstand , it has a nice beat, it's easy to dance, I'd give it a 98! Amber and Leo talked about the Code Monkey Remix Contest and Leo played a bit of the winning entry by Kristen Shirts and one of the runner-up entries by Ken Wagman, both of which I liked. You can hear the original and all of the winners here. I've even found three different concert performances of Code Monkey by Coulton on YouTube, a lively one here, a more sedate one here, and the Ukulele Remix version performed live with Kristen Shirts here. I also enjoyed a young lady performing a well thought-out Code Monkey Dance. If you'd like to see an interview with Jonathan Coulton conducted by Merlin Mann go here.

But now I've got a problem: I've got a Code Monkey on my back! I find myself unconsciously humming the song, it runs through my mind as I try to go to sleep, It's ruining my life! Curse you Coulton, you and your catchy Code Monkey!