Friday, July 18, 2003

All the interests in my life are collapsing in upon themself into one colossal super project.
Howdy to all of you drifting in from I'm going to be pretty busy today, so forgive me for being a bad host. Feel free to polk around and make yourselves at home. There's RC, water and orange juice in the fridge if you want some. Don't touch the cat, he bites.

Let me know if there are any questions.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Hey, Team,

Jim D. is moving to Beaumont (which reminds me, I owe him money), and he has asked me to Guest Blog over at If you've been long associated with The League, you surely have flipped over to Jim's site at some point to see what the heck I was talking about. So, if my posts are shorter for a time, look for more Melbotis goodness to appear over yonder.
I am very busy today at work, but a couple of things:

1) I was thinking about the Japanese invention I mentioned yesterday which allows you to translate a dog or cat's noises into "speech" by analyzing the tone and then giving a pre-recorded verbal cue. Well, nice idea, but they need to reverse engineer the device so that I can talk back to my pets. Otherwise, the damn thing isn't going to really be of much use.

2) People looking for Ann Coulter nude continue to pour in. I'll do a final tally this weekend, but I think I had somewhere in the neighborhood of four or five people yesterday.

3) Sci-Fi Channel has been re-running episodes of an early 90's Discovery Channel program entitled Beyond Bizarre (not to be confused with "Beyond Belief", which is anything but...). Beyond Bizarre is a sort of Ripley's Believe it or Not! with an even slimmer budget.

Beyond Bizarre must not ever have had much popularity. I remember seeing the show in a drunken stupor when I was 18 and being mystified by some rocks which reportedly move on their own during the night, but I had kind of forgotten about the show the way the rest of the world must have. When you Google search for info on the show, you get bupkis, although you can buy the series on VHS.

Beyond Bizarre is done in quasi-documentary style and chronicles strange and unexplainable phenomena as well as people doing goofy stuff. Most of the strange phenomena are generally explainable with a little logic applied (although the producers of Beyond Bizarre give no siggestion that logic could ever play into these events). They explore strange monuments like Native American Mound Builder artifacts and pyramids. My favorite was an episode which explored "vampires," or bored goth kids who cut each other and drank one another's blood. Not only unsanitary, but generally a big sign that mommy didn't love you.

At any rate, I think at long last, I have found my calling. The show is hosted by this guy, Jay Robinson, whom I believe once played Dr. Shrinker on the Kroft Superstars. The early 90's delivered him to us as a man now clearly bent upon making himself into the prototype for Landau's Lugosi in Ed Wood. At any rate, Jay gets to wear all black, stand in a darkened studio with leftover Universal Monster Movie props and a fog machine while being only slightly creepy. He introduces the program and segues between segments with spooky aplomb. I am not yet old enough to have this job, nor am I likely to abuse enough drugs nor smoke enough cigarettes to have the sort of Crypty Keeper like countenance and vibrato which the job requires.

Ahhh... to dream the impossible dream.

4) A few years ago (circa 1996) some friends of friends shot and edited a movie entitled The Schedule. The film was not really received anywhere excpet for The Dobie off UT's campus. Nonetheless, it was a noble effort, and as I understand it, just never landed a distribution deal. Judging from the less than stellar 3 of 10 stars it has on IMDB, it must not have been a fan favorite.

But the premise is not dissimilar to Showtime's new program Dead Like Me. Both center around recently departed souls being recruited by the powers that be to act as agents of the Grim Reaper and collect dead folks' souls or something.

Anyway, aspiring attorneys may wish to contact the producers of The Schedule and see if they can't get a chunk of Showtime's coffers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I need to go get lunch, but, my friends, this is what I am dealing with:

Home > Local Forecast for Tempe, AZ (85287)

Mostly Cloudy Feels Like
107°F (<---this is a damn lie. It feels like my eyes are boiling out of the sockets.)

UV Index: 9 High
Dew Point: 45°F
Humidity: 11%
Visibility: Unlimited
Pressure: 29.82 inches and falling
Wind: Variable at 6 mph

I may starve to death. Please send Ho-Ho's.
Cancer Free until 2083!

Normally I try not to drift toward potty humor, but...

Although I am not sure he'll want to be credited with this one, Randy sent me this link. Thank you, Australian Scientists, for giving me a reason to get that subscription which Jamie has so long denied me. Plain brown wrappers, I eagerly await your arrival.
Here's an interesting device.

You know, both Mel and Jeff are noisy animals. I think that they have deciphered that noise tends to get our attention, and thus, they make noise. The cat is especially bothersome when he decides at 6:30am on Saturdays that we have slept long enough and yowls at the bedroom door. But one has to wonder, what is my dog saying?

he's saying "Hey!" that's what dogs are saying when they bark. They may be saying "Hey, I'm at the door," or "Hey, there's a dog outside the window" or even "Hey, give me a treat," but all they are saying is "Hey!"

It's my assumption that this is also what the cat is saying, but it's hard to say. As chatty as Mel is, Jeff tends to just sit in the center of the room and yowl in existential despair. I like to think that if I invest in this little box, it will decipher's Jeff's great unease with the world and give me greater insight into what it is that troubles him so. Will he be proclaiming that "God is dead and all is a meaningless void!" or will he be whining for his fish kippers? All I know is that in order to find out, I have to drop $75.
I'm still getting hits trickling in from people looking for nude pics of Ann Coulter. I think I had one or two yesterday and one today. Well, done, America.


Here's something I wouldn't encourage people to do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003


As a former Austinite, I get excited about bicycles once a year during the Tour de France. Austin's own Lance Armstrong is going for victory number 5 in this most grueling of human tests. While I think riding a bicycle for a living is as silly as walking for a living, I still get really jazzed about this guy.

Whether he actually wins or not on this go-round, Lance is an amazing athlete, and he also, apparently drives a Subaru. But Lance is also the brains or at least the mouthpiece for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Lance had a nasty bout with cancer many years ago and he came through it with flying colors, and he's always used his prominence as the World's foremost cyclist to promote awareness of cancer research and to promote the US Postal Service.

So hurrah, Lance, and best of luck.

Welcome back RHPT

Randy has blogged once more! He's returned to the world of navel gazing and spouting off of partially founded opinions. Welcome back, mi amigo. Es bueno.
I could not tell you why, but this post on JimD's blog is absolutely hysterical. Maybe you have to have been following Jim's blog for a while to find it funny, but I had to share.
I just got my paycheck, and immediately checked it to see how the tax cut was supposed to effect me. I was especially curious after the flap occuring around's post from a few weeks ago about his tax cut. Randy had noted a $20 increase.

I noted a loss of $1.20. C'est la vie.

My beautiful wife Jamie has taken it upon herself to learn the guitar. I am quite pleased with her choice as she has chosen a hobby which does not require me to lose any square footage in our house, nor does it require me to pay out for the feeding and maintenance of a hoofed mammal. Previously, Jamie has been a voracious reader, and avid taunter of the cat. Now she is cursing like a sailor while trying to learn how to tune her Alvarez.

I am not musically inclined. I played piano for a year when I was 7. For two years in middle school I played the Tuba, but found it was only adding to the malaise of being labeled "nerd boy" by much of my middle school. I have no ear for music, and it was all too late that I realized what a neat trick for picking up girls a guitar can be.

At any rate, I wish Jamie the best of luck in her new endeavor. We are truly rocking out to such hits as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Jingle Bells".

Monday, July 14, 2003


Well, I got my first hit from someone looking for pics of Ann Coulter in her birthday suit. On 7/14/2003 at 2:07:37 PM logged the first of what I hope to be many such inquiries. I posted at 1:13pm on Friday, so that'll give you an idea how long it took.

Congratulations America. You made it thru the weekend without anyone resorting to this.
He may have been dead for a century, but having watched this performance, I think Beyonce's dancing is something Grant would have firmly supported.
God speaks to each of us in different ways. TO some of us, He calms us in our moments of turmoil. Others He calls to duty. To Deion Sanders He has spoken and asked him to be really, really cheap and kind of bizarre.
I took an animation class in the final year that the University of Texas at Austin offered a non-digital animation selection. The course taught me quite a bit about film making beyond the boundaries of animation, but it also taught me a Zen-like patience that previously eluded me. You see, animation has traditionally been captured one frame at a time. There are, in traditional film, 24 frames in a single second of film. In order to create the illusion of motion on a large screen, in a single second, 24 images have ticked by. It's called Persistence of Vision.

This means that for every second of an animated film that you watch, 24 times a crew has replaced the image you are currently seeing with the next image in an exacted order. The next image is a minor and minute change, but absolutely essential to the illusion of "realistic" motion. In addition to this, these images must synchronize lip movements in a way that not only matches the audio track (usually of someone speaking), but also must match the shapes our lips create when pronoucning certain consonant noises and vowel sounds that we each intuitively recognize.

Also, timing must be determined for the length of a movement, a realistic bounce must be put into a walk cycle, and one must know exactly how many frames are funniest from an anvil entering a fram to crushing Elmer Fudd (13 frames). Each background must be drawn in detail for these animated characters to dance across. Each time an angle changes, a new background must also be produced. During filiming, each frame is documented as to which "cell" has been shot, how far the camera has been tilted, zoomed, panned, etc... and stored for later retrieval in case something goes wrong and you must do it all over again.

The process is meticulous, it is obsessive and the end results are all too infrequently the ones that the film makers were hoping for. But the two months I spent drawing each cell of a 2 minute animation (which had no beginning, middle or end to it) was possibly the most rewarding portion of my entire film school career. For two months, each night I had to draw the same characters over and over and over in slight changes in positioning, with the slightest alteration in form and movement. I cheated in the end and used photographs for my backgrounds, and I certainly had no desire to attempt dialogue. But i did it. Totally on my own, I created and drew two minutes of character animation. The beats flowed more or less how I wanted them to, and I forgave myself the sliding motion in the walk cycle, because it was STILL a walk cycle.

For two months, I was viewing the world at 24fps. I could see each move I made in the most minute detail. I counted parts of a second from a glass falling to it striking to the shards ceasing their bouncing. I watched not just how long my hands moved, but how they moved, and I watched people's eyes in detail, because how long was too long for one of my own two cartoon creations to look upon one another?

At the screening, no one knew what we had done in that class. Our animation was described as crude and unsubtle. Or it wasn't "funny." My classmates who had shown so little interest in the course from day one did lazy little projects with charcoal and paper. "I did mine all in one night!" one guy bragged to me. I just nodded. The audinece liked his charcoal smudge better than my "traditional" animations. Fair enough. "But you just dissolved between existing drawings..." "You could have done that." And I agreed.

The next year there was no animation course taught, and when it was reborn, it was a modern digital animation course, more interested on effects and generating titles for other folks' student films. And I'm sure they all worked really hard. But they didn't do anything. The computer did it.

I tried digital and couldn't get into it. It was too cold and the rules of engagement had changed. You plotted what you wanted and walked away from the computer to let it render. Gone were the mad evenings spent leaning over a light table tracing one frame from the previous, gone was the midnight to 4:00am slot on the Oxberry. Gone was the chance to try some new madness as your mind explored the mysteries of what makes up a second, and seeing what you could press yourself to do. They were creating new worlds without worrying about how the world they lived in worked. How does sand fall? You don't watch sand, you find a plug-in online. How does someone run? Don't watch them... find a walk cycle in a user-group and accelerate. If you're lucky, it'll add some jiggle to her breasts.

I miss the old tools. Those things used to work. They could be beautiful and wonderful, and nothing... not one shot for even one one moment was ever taken for granted. Everything was plotted and planned and dreamt of. Each hand which went into the projects found their own way to add something unique, something the artists could perform at especially well. They couldn't always improvise, but they could add touches, flourishes that only a mind at an easel will dream up after drawing the same face too many times.

This was supposed to be about why I wasn't a fan of the new MTV produced Spider-Man cartoon, but I think I'll save that for later, or I'll leave you to seek it out and draw your own inferences. I'm going to go track down my old film school reeel and have a good laugh. That cartoon is just god awful, but it's mine.

Sunday, July 13, 2003


Arrgghh, mateys! I saw Pirates of the Caribbean just now! Shiver me timbers, it was worth me $5.50, says I.