Saul Wars

saul-wars.jpg Hmmm. What would have happened if Saul Bass designed the title sequence for Star Wars way back when? Perhaps you may not recognize the name of Saul Bass, but there is no doubt you have seen his designs in everything from company logos, to children's books, to album covers, to film title sequences. His work is amazing and he is a design legend.

Mountain Lake Park

This beautiful park is just two blocks away from where I live, and a wondrous oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the Inner Richmond. It's a wonder there's a peaceful lake just a stone's throw away, where you can go and just let your thoughts be for a while. Gulls were abound today, and a few children on the playground. I like the big tree with the sign that greets you when you walk through. sketch047.jpg

Ann Telnaes

112207bushrelasaudi.jpg I'm an avid newspaper reader. Waking up early and perusing the articles and photographs every morning with a cup of coffee and a bowl of chunky oatmeal is bliss to me. I always go through the op/ed pages which include the editorial cartoons. And over time, I've discovered that the cartoons that stick out to me the most are those by Ann Telnaes.

What I love about her work is the perfect combination of her style that makes such great use of simple shapes and caricature, matched with her searing portrayal of issues that face our country. I think she's pretty incredible. Her line quality and draftsmanship are inventive and superb, simple and precise. And her clever scenarios are full of bite, wit, and fiery satire. Indelibly, her cartoons leave a lasting impression on my mind.

Looking at her site, I discovered that I'm not alone. Ann has won the Pulitzer Prize for her work in editorial cartoons. Before cartooning, she worked at Disney as a designer, and is a graduate of Cal Arts.

Hrant Dink

dinkoneyearnyc.jpg Hrag Vartanian who took the photo above wrote in his blog about the first year anniversary of the assassination of Hrant Dink. Hrag was the last person to interview Hrant before he was killed.

It's a difficult thing. My background is fully ensconced in what this assassination represents. My Armenian family is from Istanbul, and left the country to flee a kind of persecution that is boiling under a seemingly placid surface, and rears its ugly head in tragic and violent moments like these.

I met Hrant Dink at an Armenian function in San Francisco a year before he was murdered and am outraged that his voice has been silenced. To speak up in Turkey can mean the signing of your own death warrant. But in remaining silent, you die a little each day, allowing the memory of your past to vanish into thin wisps of air.

Flashbacks

Here are a couple things I discovered this weekend while visiting home for Christmas. I found my very first record album I ever owned! My parents bought me this It's a Small World folk song album when I was probably about three years old. I remember listening to this incessantly, and as you can see it's pretty well worn. A children's choir sings various folk songs, and of course the theme song is thrown in there. The words to the songs are on the back, so when I was old enough to read, I would sing along with the record. I also adored the album art as a kid. I loved all the different costumes on all the children, and I remember trying to guess and figure out where each child was from based on what they were wearing. And what do I discover now? This fun and striking art was done by none other than Mary Blair. Signed by her on the lower right corner. Fitting, since she designed the ride at Disneyland!

smallworld.jpg

Also, I came across my maquette for Julius, my character from my animated short Elegy. This was the first sculpture/maquette I ever created, not counting a bust I had to make for a class ages ago. I made this about four years ago with sculpey and painted him with acrylics as part of my pre-production for my animation. There are supposed to be puppets on strings hanging from his hands, but I never had the chance to attach them. I actually had sculpted the little puppets too, but they were reeeaaally clumsy. As is this maquette, but I still find it charming.

Julius holds a special place for me. His character pops up for me now and then, in some form or another. I'm sure you've noticed that in his most recent incarnation he's been enjoying the snow with his red umbrella. He's become a bit shorter since the making of this maquette and the animation. I liked the soft warm glow of the Christmas tree lights that bathes him here.

juliusmaquette.jpg

Sneak Peek

Am I allowed to gloat? I got to see the final installment of Lucas' Star Wars prequel trilogy at Pixar today. And it's not even out on theatrical release yet! Mmm, digital projection and unbelievable sound... Don't worry no spoilers here. I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out, given the results of the previous two films. My only gripe is some rather sappy dialogue, wooden acting, and a few continuity slip-ups. The effects, of course, are stunning. Not a perfect film by any means, but great fun to watch. And may I say that I'm so happy the Wookies make screentime? Chewie was always my favorite!

Painted Sky

Look carefully. This could almost be a matte painting. But it just happens to be the sky in that fragile moment in between storms. You can find a moment of clarity and beauty if you only pause, and let yourself notice. Taken from my window...

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

San Francisco has its own flock of wild parrots that have lived taken roost in the city for quite a few years. A new documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is now out in theaters, and takes a close look at these tropical birds that somehow ended up making the hills of the city their home. I've often seen and heard the flock flying overhead, squawking mercilessly. When you first discover that they are indeed parrots, it certainly piques your interest. Wild parrots? In San Francisco??? Each parrot has a name and is studied by a remarkable fellow, Mark Bittner, who is featured in the documentary.

You're Out of My Mind

no matter which way you go
no matter which way you stay
you're out of my mind
out of my mind.
i was walking with a ghost
and i said please, please don't insist.
i was walking with a ghost
and i said please, please don't insist.

Mozart and the Arts

Above is a sample of Mozart's first composition. Now, it's written that Mozart first began composing at the age of three. (!!!) I'm not sure if the above is really an example of this, but it is well documented that Mozart was already able to play the piano incredibly well by the age of 5.

Everyday now, you hear about school closures on the news. If an entire school is not to be shut down, often classes are cut. And the first classes to be cut are those that involve music and art. It's shameful that arts and culture are considered so utterly disposable in this society. So when you discover that someone out there who has the means, is willing to donate substantial sums to the arts and give students scholarships, you stop for a moment and breathe deeply. Thank god not everyone in this country is willing to trash such fundamentals of education. Even if the focus of Nahum Guzik's philanthropy is on students in a different country, it gives me hope that people will read his story and be inspired to work to a similar cause here, where it is desperately needed.

Sweet, Sweet Paul

I have a strange fascination with Paul Williams. But it's time-specific Paul Williams. It must be the Paul Williams from the '70s, when his straw-blond hair was shoulder length, his face round and pudgy, his wire-rim glasses finishing the frame, along with the outrageous shirt lapels.

I first was exposed to this wee man on the Muppet Show in my youth, and was instantly horrified and fascinated with the way he looked. He would play piano and sing songs, but it was wholly his appearance that would captivate me. He was absolutely frightening, and yet, I couldn't look away. I still don't understand why he has this effect on me. It's kind of like slowing down to stare at a terrible car crash when you're on the freeway. You know it's horrific and terrifying, but you're still drawn in by what you find perverse and disturbing.

Values 9.0

How frightening that such an immense tragedy half-way around the world could have impacted you in the worst possilbe way. My cousin Pauline had been vacationing in Thailand this past month and just returned last night. She's here safe and sound, but just barely. She mentioned that she and her travel buddy, Julie, were considering going down to Phuket for their last day to enjoy the beaches one last time. They decided against it for some reason, and that decision saved their lives. Those beaches that they had been sunbathing on just a couple weeks before are now completely destroyed by the tsunamis that hit without warning after the 9.0 earthquake.

Estimates are that 44,000 people have been killed. I can't even begin to fathom this number. An immense catastrophe like this brings me down to an odd, sober state where I discover that all my worries are so miniscule and trivial as to be pretty damn laughable. And all the worries of this nation -- the so-called morality issues that drive the overbearing FCC oversight, the bizarre fear many people have of two persons of the same sex exchanging vows of love, honor and commitment, etc. -- these worries of the nation seem so utterly pathetic and completely useless when you see actual tragedy of such immense magnitude strike. We're just ants on a shifting surface after all.

What do our worries and fears mean? I'm sure if we look closely they tell us quite a bit more about our own character than the "values" of those we point the finger at. I'm sure the people of Southeast Asia aren't too worried about the "morals" of other people in their community right now.

Let Down by Radiohead

Transport, motorways and tramlines
Starting and then stopping
Taking off and landing
The emptiest of feelings
Disappointed people clinging on to bottles
And when it comes it's so so disappointing

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Shell smashed, juices flowing
Wings twitch, legs are going
Don't get sentimental
It always ends up drivel

One day I'm going to grow wings
A chemical reaction
Hysterical and useless
Hysterical and ...

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Let down again
Let down again
Let down again

You know, you know where you are with
You know where you are with
Floor collapsing
Floating, bouncing back
And one day....
I am going to grow wings
A chemical reaction
Hysterical and useless
Hysterical and...

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Baby-Soft Skin

Yay! I finally got the Kubrick template to work! Many thanks to Mr. Michael Heilemann for a lovely template to start with. Now it's up to me to start fiddling around and making the design relevant to my site. You can find the template at http://binarybonsai.com/. Hopefully this link will work once I post, as I am a fresh-faced newbie at this.

A Test for a Blog

Well here is my first test post. I thought I'd wait until I figure out CSS to redesign this site, since it happens to be the default. But my feet are dragging, so...... Here's a post. Hopefully I'll get it redesigned fairly soon so you'll have a much more pleasant environment to hang out in. And links to this blog will be set up shortly... Cheers!