Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weekend Recap and Beyond

Well, Saturday night came and went, it's high time I update the ol' blogaroo.

The Greatest Fan Film of All Time was finally completed the day before the premiere. We cut it close, but we made it. The premiere, thankfully, went really well. True to fashion, the speedbumps continued right up until showtime. Apparently Larry and the gang were having tech troubles with the projector, but managed to straighten everything out with fifteen minutes to spare.

I arrived at the Kent Stage around 7:30, bought my tickets from Derby, and made my way into the theater. It was a great setup and I was surprised how many people were already in there. And they kept coming. We planned to start the show at 8, but waited a half hour, as there were still people lined up outside.
It was great, a bunch of family came, including cousins Bob & Fran, who made the drive in from Pennsylvania. The biggest surprise was seeing Lindsy, who I haven't seen in about a year and a half. That was awesome.
I was really glad to see Aaron even made it in from the Carolinas.
The theater can seat 600, we had an audience of about 400 to 500. Not too shabby.

Before the lights went out, Larry showed our own version of the pre-movie trivia slideshow. Next up was a series of new skits the guys made. They were sprinkled throughout the night, popping up before, after, and between the movies. You can see them here (not suitable for youngins):

Next up was the debut of The Wimp Whose Woman Was A Werewolf:


Finally, it was time for the unveiling of The Greatest Fan Film of All Time (it was even my first time seeing the finished film):

It was great seeing the films with a crowd and hearing everyone laugh and react at all the right places. Just wild.

After the theater cleared out, I hung in the lobby with the remaining cast and crew for a while and just chatted. Of course, we took the obligatory group shot.

It was a crazy night and went by in such a blur. It still hasn't processed that after all those hours of work, Fan Film is finally done.

It went live on Dailymotion as the premiere was going on and has already been viewed over 11,000 times. Many thanks to Aimee Carlson yet again.

Speaking of Aimee, she gave us another shoutout on Lunchbox over at

It's been a crazy year, culminating in a crazy weekend.

Next up? I'm taking a break. A nice, relaxing break full of movies, Rock Band, and World of Warcraft. Then I'll push forward and finish The Girl and the Ghost and see what happens after that.

Mmm... downtime...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Time

On my way to the premiere, hope this all goes well.

Be sure to head to around 9 PM tonight to see The Greatest Fan Film of All Time.

Here goes...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

For Those Who Can't Attend

As of Tuesday, animation for The Greatest Fan Film of All Time is finished. I finished the main footage at 10 AM on Monday morning, Larry came to pick it up for editing that night. He showed up with Clint and Vince around 9 PM. We expected speedbumps, but not in the amount we experienced that night while copying the footage. By the time we got everything squared away, the guys ended up heading home after 7 AM Tuesday morning. It was a long, frustrating night.
Now, we find ourselves in a mad rush to get the film finished on time. No pressure. We'll get there, though. One way or another.

Have you gotten your tickets yet? If not, grab 'em up!

For those who can't attend, you'll still be able to see Fan Film on Saturday night. Here's a new trailer to tide you over.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Almost There...

The premiere is exactly one week from tonight. In dramatic fashion, we're cutting things a little close, but we're doing it. Larry finished up The Wimp Whose Woman Was a Werewolf a few days ago and I'll wrap up animation on The Greatest Fan Film of All Time tomorrow night/Monday morning.

I hit the 1,300 hour mark last night and have somehow managed to animate over 40 minutes of footage so far. I completely lost track of how many different characters I've put in there. This thing is epic. You'll see in just a week. Which reminds me, tickets for the premiere are now on sale at this link:

Get 'em while they're hot!

We want to fill this place up, so let's get some butts in these seats. Spread the word, bring some friends, tell them to bring friends (but not that guy, you know the one). If it sells out, I will personally hug everyone in attendance, and let's be honest, who wouldn't want a hug from a shaggy, wheelchair-bound animator?

So, yes, you go get your tickets and I'll go work on finishing this movie once and for all.

It's clobberin' time!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tootsie Pop on PopTub!

While I'm animating giant robots, check this out. PopTub Daily featured Tootsie Blow Pop on their show today! It's Sansoneriffic!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crunch Time

The premiere is one month from today. I'm working as hard and fast as I can to make sure I've got a completed movie to show. Maybe people wouldn't notice if I switched to stick figures...
I'm well over 1,100 hours in with many more to go. My brain hurts. I'm hoping for a burst of speed and stamina on my part. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Time is Near

I know, it's been nearly a month and I've yet to post anything about the trip yet. I promise I have a good reason, really I do. We have a premiere date for The Wimp Whose Woman Was a Werewolf and The Greatest Fan Film of All Time. On December 13th, the films will finally hit...the silver screen. Yes, we have a real theater booked for the premiere. Fan Film and Wolf will show at 8:00 PM at the Kent Stage in Kent, Ohio. We have an awesome night of entertainment lined up, so be sure to get there early.
Contact me at for ticket information.

For you out of towners, fret not. At some point on the same night, The Greatest Fan Film of All Time will go live exclusively at

Want some good reading? Of course you do. Felix Vasquez of has once again witten an excellent article about our films, in which he interviews Larry and Aaron. Check it out here:

Right. Back to work so we have a movie to show. I'll post vacation stuff soon.

Monday, September 01, 2008

One of Those Weekends

It's been one of those weekends where things just don't go smoothly. And they don't just not go smoothly, they tend to go badly or plain old weirdly.

Earlier in the week, I happily popped online and booked a hotel room for this Monday in Niagara Falls. All was well, I was excited.

As the week progressed, we were taking care of all those little pre-trip things that need to be handled, like making sure the van is all ready to go. We've had the van for eight years now and I've been noticing for a little while that the wheelchair lift sags a bit when I'm on it, so we thought it wise to take it in and have it looked at.

Dad took it in on Friday. He sat and waited for a couple hours before they came out and told him everything looked good. Making sure, Dad asked if they had checked the hinge pins, which hold the lift level and steady. They went and took a look, stating that they should be good for another one to ten years. Having seen how it sags, Dad wasn't convinced, so they offered to remove a pin so he could get a better look.

Upon removal, the pin broke, rendering the lift useless.

Of course, they had none of those pins in stock, but they could order them and have them shipped on Tuesday. Installation would be $700. Dad raised a bit of a fuss and they came down to $400, at which point he got in the van and left.
(Further research revealed the pins to cost only $30 a piece.)

Having worked in a steel mill for thirty years, Dad resolved to fix it himself.

So, I've been nervous about whether or not that'd be fixed or if the trip would be canceled. To add to it, Friday was the last day I could have canceled the reservation without having to pay any fees.

Later that day, we ended up stumping the phone repairman. We just upgraded our phone, internet and TV services with a package deal a few weeks back. Earlier this week, our phone service stopped working right. While still able to make calls, we haven't been able to receive any. They were finally able to get someone here, but after much troubleshooting, he concluded he had never seen an issue like this before. He said the source of the problem wasn't on our end though, and it should hopefully be fixed by Tuesday.
Seeing a pattern here?

Things got relaxed as the evening came and brought game night with it. Corey and Eric came into town for some early birthday fun and Mikey joined us. That's when the surprise came. Everyone secretly chipped in and got me an XBox 360 for my birthday. I'm still surprised and it's Sunday now. Thanks again, guys!
For the rest of the night, we played Rock Band. And we ruled.

Eventually, game night came to an end. Mikey was the last to leave, taking off a little after 1:30 AM. A few minutes later, Mom and I heard the whooshing sound of a car speeding down our street. From the sound of it, he was easily doing 60 or over. Then came the series of thuds.
Mom immediately dialed 911 and ran outside.
At some point during the swerving of the vehicle, one of the tires blew out. Out of control, the car jumped the curb, roared across three lawn, and crashed into the side of an empty house, maybe 7 or 8 houses down from our own. A few minutes later, a police officer handcuffed the driver as he was loaded into the ambulance and taken away.
Word is that there were no skid marks, so the guy didn't even attempt to hit the brakes.

Definitely one of those weekends.

Now, to end on a lighter note, Dad and his buddy Jimmy were able to fix the lift earlier today. Trip's on.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tootsie Blow Pop- Now Jumbo-Sized!

I got an email from Brian Lee, a cadet at West Point yesterday. Apparently they're looking to expand their number of wheelchair bound recruits to create a new special strike force called "Hell on Wheels" and they want me to lead them. I leave tomorrow.

Okay, not really, but that'd be kind of cool. Mount a cannon on my chair and I'm good to go.

For real though, Army has a football game against Temple this Friday night. Temple's mascot is the owl, so Army is going to play Tootsie Blow Pop on their Jumbotron.
I can't believe I just typed that. I love it.

Fan Film is still rolling along as fast as I can push it, which, sadly, never feels fast enough. One way or another, it will premier in November (more on that soon).

In other news, I'm leaving Monday morning for my birthday trip to Niagara Falls and I'm really looking forward to the break.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Lunchbox Full of Bullcrank

Aimee Carlson just featured us on her web show, Lunchbox, over at
I may be a bit biased here, but I think it's a pretty cool piece. Check it out here:

A million more thanks to Aimee!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


I know I'm ridiculously overdue for an update, so let's fix that, shall we?

I'm still working my butt off on The Greatest Fan Film of All Time. I still love how it's looking, though it's still taking forever. I tallied it up a couple weeks ago and found I have well over twenty minutes of it animated. I'd expect that would make the finish line feel closer, but so far no dice. I'm currently working on the major action scene of the film. Once that's finished, I think I'll start to feel good.

I'm still frequenting the movie theater when I need a break. As I anticipated, I'm a big fan of Wall-E. Cool story, amazing visuals, very touching, Pixar didn't let me down.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army was a blast and a great followup to the first.

Hancock was just okay for me. It was fun and had it's cool moments, but I wasn't blown away. I liked it though.

The Dark Knight, as I'm sure most of you know, is a beast. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed seeing a movie as much as I enjoyed that midnight screening. Eric, Jeff, Mikey, Mo and I were there in the sold out theater for the first showing. Everyone there was pumped and we even had a Robin and a Nightwing in attendance. Turns out I actually knew Nightwing.
The movie itself was great. Intense, dark, and managed to surprise me several times. I'm looking forward to a few more viewings.

DailyMotion has been awesome and very supportive of our films. After they gave Nintendo: OldSchool Revolution a couple months back (giving it an additional 89,000+ views so far), they ended up showing it at a screening at their offices last week. It's pretty wild to think that the project I animated nearly three years ago was just shown on a rooftop in New York City. Craziness. A million thanks to Aimee.

Even crazier, I got an email requesting I submit Sex Love and Honey to the Anim'est International Animation Film Festival in Bucharest, Romania. I still can't process that people on the other side of the world have seen my work and are even requesting it.
Now as part of the submission, I need to create a press kit for myself. That ought to be bizarre.

Who wants more baby Matthew pictures?

Also, some long overdue pictures of my autographed prize from Stan Lee, which turned out to be a poster for The Incredible Hulk.

I'll have to find a prime spot on my wall for this beauty.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Simply Marvelous

Still animating, still making progress. After doing that action scene, I've realized that, though relatively much simpler, animating dialogue-heavy scenes is painfully tedious and pretty boring. Just gotta get them done and get to the meat.
Our internet is finally up and running again, though I'm thinking I may continue to lay low with my online activities a bit longer to keep focused on Fan Film.

Mom and I went and saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls on Thursday night. I was surprised that there was nobody else in that theater when the movie's still so new, but it's always nice to have a whole theater to yourself.
As I mentioned before, I'm not the hugest Indy fan. I only saw the movies a couple times when I was younger, so I guess the nostalgia factor most people have with the movies isn't quite there for me. I recently rewatched the original trilogy and though I enjoyed them, they didn't fully do the trick for me. I get and appreciate that they're a big nod to the old serials, but the cheese level kept getting pretty high at times (especially in Temple of Doom) and that always tends to bug me. I think without Harrison Ford's performance, I probably wouldn't have liked them much at all, but that's just me.
That said, I really enjoyed Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. Sure, there were things I didn't like (the nuke scene, all the CGI animals, the killer ants, and everything between the Tarzan bit and the waterfalls), but I did end up really liking it. I won't give any details incase anyone reading hasn't seen it yet, but it was fun.
It amazed me how it was such a big gathering of sci-fi/fantasy movie stars. I mean, not only do you have Ford, who is both Indy and Han Solo, you've got people representing Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Transformers, Beowulf, Hellboy, and possibly my personal favorite brief appearance, though not sci-fi or fantasy, was the Janitor from Scrubs himself, Neil Flynn. That cracked me up.

Yesterday we went and saw The Incredible Hulk. I was nervous, I didn't like any of the trailers for the movie, I thought they were terrible. To my surprise, I loved the movie. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it. I thought the effects were great, but I'm worried how they'll look on DVD. CGI almost always looks better on film, but then looks really fake on DVD, in my opinion at least.
I even had a nerdy moment during the final fight when I realized I was sitting there slackjawed.
I'm surprised I'm saying this, but The Incredible Hulk is right up there with Iron Man. The movies share the feeling of a deeper world by acknowledging the existence of other superheroes and even appearing in each other's movies. It opens thing up SO much. Before this, the closest thing I can recall is a mention of Metropolis in one of the Batman movies and a mention of Gotham in Superman Returns. The result is that instead of just having Marvel movies, we now have a series of movies taking place in the Marvel Universe. I can't wait for The Avengers.
It's time for DC to step it up. I loved Superman Returns and Batman Begins and The Dark Knight looks amazing, but it's time to open up the Universe.

I got a surprising and awesome note on MySpace the other day. It turns out I was the 20,000th friend added to Stan Lee's MySpace page and will be receiving a personalized autographed prize signed by Stan Lee himself. How insanely cool is that? Expect pictures when it arrives.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tech Troubles, Movie Musings, and the Wee One

I hate those moments when I realize how much I rely on the internet. Our service has been wonky for the past three weeks. My high speed is slower than dial-up (when it even works) and only reaches close-to-normal speeds when someone's using the phone. We've called AT&T for help several times, obviously without any success as of yet. I'm pretty much fed up with them.
It's surprisingly frustrating to not be able to check your email or peruse YouTube whenever I feel like it. It does have its advantages though, as I've been getting loads of work done.

I've used the internet downtime to really hit the animation hard and finished the scene from The Greatest Fan Film of All Time that I've been dreading since the start. It was my first all out action/chase scene and I really questioned my capability to pull it off. Amazingly, I finished the minute-and-a-half long sequence and I love it. Progress is nice.
Speaking of progress, we had a recording session for Fan Film on Saturday night. Larry, Derby, Clint, and Ian came up and we got most of the remaining dialogue recorded. Jeff even pitched in and voiced the Atom. Everything went well, we had fun and got a lot done.

When I'm not making movies, I have been going to see a few. Iron Man was excellent and really impressed me. It seemed like they really went the extra mile to make it more than the average superhero movie.
I also saw The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which I loved. I remember I wasn't sure what I thought after I first saw The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was so soon after The Lord of the Rings, it seemed to me like they were trying to make a kid-friendly version to ride the wave. I liked it, but that was it. Then, every time I watched it, my appreciation for it increased, I saw new sides to it and kept getting more from it, I grew to love it. Prince Caspian was a great follow-up that really felt like it moved the story and the characters forward. For such an action packed movie, it surprised me how the whole thing seemed to have a sad undertone to it.
I still want to check out Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. I can't say I'm a huge Indy fan and I've heard very mixed reviews from friends, but I'd still like to give it a go.
It's looking to be a good summer for movies, my biggies are definitely The Dark Knight and Wall-E. I admit, I already caved and got myself a Wall-E figure, which is too cool for words, so here's a picture.

I'm curious about Hancock and hesitant about The Incredible Hulk. I'm in the minority in that I liked the 2003 Hulk movie and while the whole cast and so much about the movie tells me it should be great, the previews have left me cold.

I've gotten to hang with Cathy a bit lately, which has been really fun. She's getting married this weekend and moving to Seattle shortly thereafter. I'm so happy for her, though it'll be sad to see her go. I'm sure she and Ben will love it out there.

Matthew, me, and Hanna

Baby Matthew turned 6 months old last week. That went by really fast and yet it feels like he's always been here. The kids a bruiser and a ham, but an adorable one. His interests include drooling, eating, blowing raspberries, trying to eat things that aren't meant to be eaten, pulling his uncle's hair, hitting tables and various other surfaces, and did I mention he's a cowboy?

It's crazy to watch how fast he grows, you can see changes from day to day. He's already got a few teeth, he's very vocal, and he'll be crawling within days (right now he just rolls over and spins in circles on his belly). I discovered a few weeks ago that the Dixie Chicks song Lullaby has a powerful enchantment on him and will make him fall asleep nine times out of ten, it's hilarious.

I'm definitely keeping busy, but it's hot and I'm antsy. I want to go to Niagara Falls.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Five years today. It's hard to believe.

Miss you.

Love you.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Cause This Is What You've Waited For..."

The weeks of anticipation and waiting came to a head on Sunday night as Mom and I headed downtown. It surprised me when I realized I hadn't been downtown since seeing Superman Returns at the Omnimax back in September.
I wish I had the camera handy while we drove. The sun punched through the cloudy sky and created a perfect shimmering reflection on Lake Erie just before we got into the city.

We were sitting in traffic behind the Allen Theatre , waiting to pull into the parking garage, when my filmmaker-sense started to tingle. I caught sight of a boom mic in the distance, then I saw the camera, in front of the equipment were the stars of the night, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. I still don't know what they were filming behind the theatre, but the little glimpse was cool.

Mom was nervous as we approached the 7-foot height limit sign at the entrance of the garage in our behemoth of a van. The woman in the booth assured us we'd be fine and told us to head up to the 5th floor. So we did. Noisily. The van was just low enough to clear the ceiling, but our non-retractable radio antenna wasn't. It scraped on almost every lowered area of the ceiling on our way up to the roof. It was a bit stressful, but the tension was cut when I caught Mom ducking to clear the ceiling. While in the van.

We found our way from the garage to the theatre and met up with Eric and Bridget in a stroke of perfect timing. The usher lady (Usheress?) led us on a twisted path toward our seats. Halfway there, I started having a bit of trouble driving my chair on the somewhat steep incline and actually got stuck against some chairs. Meanwhile, the usheress didn't notice and kept walking all the way down to our seats.
As I battled gravity, the slant, and the chairs, who bumps into us? Adrienne. I couldn't believe it, I haven't actually seen her in about three years. She chatted with Bridget and Eric as I tried to free myself, but once I finally succeeded, the usheress returned and we followed. I really wish I could've talked with her and caught up a little bit.

Now at our seats, we looked around at the impressive interior of the Allen Theatre for a few brief minutes before a burly Irishman walked onto the stage. It was the opening act, Damien Dempsey. I had heard his name before, but that was all I knew of him before Sunday night. Despite his suffering from hay fever, he really impressed me. He had a great sound that occasionally consisted of a unique blend of Irish music with a dash of Bob Marley. It was his last night accompanying Glen & Marketa on the tour, so the band snuck out and surprised him by joining him on his final song.

After a brief intermission, Glen Hansard took the stage by himself at 9:15. He stood at the very front of the stage with his eternal sidekick, the holey guitar. Minus microphone and guitar unplugged, he gestured for the audience to quiet down. Seconds later, the theatre was complete silence and Glen played Say It To Me Now. No matter how hard I try, it would be impossible to put that performance into words. The closest I could come up with, and I know it probably sounds a bit over-the-top, would be to say it was a transcendental experience, he removed us from our daily worlds and brought us into theirs with that song and would keep us there for the rest of the night. The song was met with an uproar of applause.

Marketa Irglova joined Glen and took center stage, singing All the Way Down and sounding amazing.
They were then joined by the rest of the band, who I realized were Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Rob Bochnik, and Joe Doyle of The Frames. This made what would have already been an incredible concert even better.

They went on to play a fantastic mix of songs from Once (Lies, Falling Slowly, If You Want Me), some Frames songs (True, What Happens When the Heart Just Stops), and even a handful of new songs. Marketa sang one I particularly liked, called I Have Loved You Wrong.
She blew me away when she sang Lullaby from The Wicker Man (the original of course, as she referred to the remake as "kind of shit").
Glen went crazy on guitar for his awesome rendition of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.
Colm even got his moment in the spotlight, performing a beautiful solo piece on the violin.

As usual, a highlight of the night was Glen's talking between songs and introducing them. He's a hilarious storyteller, he even got so into it at one point that he reenacted the classic near/far bit from Sesame Street, repeatedly running from the front to the back of the stage.
He briefly reminisced about how crazy these last couple years have been with the huge success and Oscar win of Once. His thoughts reflected my own when he expressed amazement at how the venues they're playing have changed from the venues they played before the film, giving the example of going from the Beachland Ballroom last time they were in Cleveland to the Allen Theatre this time.

After more thunderous applause, they all returned for a nice long encore which included Star Star, Fitzcarraldo, and a traditional Irish song, The Auld Triangle, for which Damien Dempsey returned to the stage. That rounded out the night of great music. I can't speak for anyone else, but I was left in awe after the show and still feel it when I think about it.

Bridget and Eric made their way to us, battling against the current of audience members leaving the theatre. We all talked about how much we loved the show before heading out to the merch booth in the lobby, where I grabbed Damien Dempsey, Rob Bochnik, and Colm Mac Con Iomaire's CDs along with a Swell Season tee-shirt.

We said our goodnights and parted ways, making our way back to the van, then scraping and ducking all the way down to the street.

That was a night I'd love to revisit, and thanks to technology I'll be able to once puts the show up.

Pure greatness.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another Left Foot

How could I forget? mentioned and The Wimp Whose Woman Was a Werewolf and The Greatest Fan Film of All Time in a recent article.
Take a look!

Left Foot, Right Foot

Still working on Fan Film. I still love how it's looking, though I must admit I'm getting a bit restless. I always seem to get an influx of ideas for other projects while I'm working on one and they have to wait until I finish and can focus my attention on them. I suppose I can try to use that as motivation to help make it to the finish line.

It is nice while in the midst of new-project-frustration to see that an old project is still going strong. Aimee from contacted us asking if we'd be interested in creating a Bullcrank channel. So we did. On the first day (last Sunday), they featured Nintendo: OldSchool Revolution on their front page. One week later and it's been viewed (at the time of this writing) 50,993 views.
It's crazy to see my first project still getting numbers like that after two years.

Bridget came by for a visit on Monday. I haven't seen her since September, so it was nice to hang out and catch up. We swapped some music and she told me about her new job at The Toledo Blade, where she recently got to interview Ben Folds. Not too shabby, eh? Nicely done, ma'am.

Fan Film is calling, I better answer.

In the meantime, check out this video Larry made showcasing seven years of Bullcrank filmmaking. There's even a glimpse at The Girl and the Ghost in there (no, I haven't forgotten about that one).

Friday, April 04, 2008

New Bullcrank Short

I didn't have anything to do with this one, but man, do I love it.

In 2008, a film was rediscovered from long ago. The film, titled "Bad Dudes With Attitudes", had begun production in 1983 and had been promptly shut down when film studios realized it was the greatest film ever created. Its lighting was brilliant, its acting top notch, its special fx immortal, and its story unparalleled. Studios knew its success would never be duplicated and that any films that came after would forever be poorly received simply because they were nothing compared to "Bad Dudes With Attitudes". This is the only finished and existing footage. Enjoy its awesomeness.

"Take a Ride Down That Yellow Brick Road..."

We took a last-minute one-day roadtrip last Friday. Raine Maida had been on tour to promote his CD, The Hunters Lullaby, for a couple weeks, but all of the shows except for two (Buffalo and Detroit) were too far away for us to make. As it neared, we decided to battle the winter doldrums and head for the Buffalo show.

Mom, Maude, and I hit the road a little bit after 1 PM. The ride was smooth until Maude started to vie for control of my iPod, a struggle which was waged all the way to Buffalo. Many excellent songs were tragically skipped as a result.

Not wanting to sit all the way in the back of our enormous van, we had a little setup with a lawn chair so Maude could sit near the front with us. It worked out fairly well, until we hit the parking lot of the rest stop in Angola, where a left turn sent her flying.

Artist's rendition

We peeled her off the floor and made our way inside to Denny's for a mid-drive bite. I loves me my mashed potatoes.

Once again, MapQuest dropped the ball at the end of our journey, leaving us circling a block, looking for the venue. Maude took a second spill as we circled. We ended up asking in a nearby police station how to find the Town Ballroom. It was two buildings down the street. In plain view from the police station parking lot.

After parking, traversing a shady alley, waiting outside the front of the building, backtracking down the same shady alley, and conquering a 5 inch step up through a doorway, we were greeted by Raine and led in to watch the the familiar faces of Chantal, Kevin, and Randy during soundcheck.

It's a music fan's paradise to sit and watch a soundcheck, I'm in awe every time. As amazing as it is to hear an artist play live, there's just something magical about watching them play without an audience. Those little random moments.
In between songs, Chantal would start playing different tunes. A few notes of Hallelujah, a Sting song I'm not familiar with, and despite it just being spur of the moment, it was beautiful. I felt so lucky as I took it all in, knowing I was seeing something not many get to see.

We chatted with Raine a little after they finished and even got to briefly meet their adorable son, Lucca.

After a few minutes, one of the opening acts took the stage for soundcheck. He didn't look or sound familiar, but it didn't take Mom, Maude, and I long to agree we liked what we were hearing. His name was David Ford and he impressed me. His voice is great and his use of a looping machine filled the room and made you forget he was performing alone on stage.

Here's a clip someone posted on YouTube from a performance in 2006.

We sat by ourselves until doors opened and we positioned ourselves by the stage for the show.

"Good evening..."
My photogenic aunt

David Ford did his thing and sounded great. He was followed by spoken word artist Jared Paul. Aside from a few times on TV and the net, I've never been exposed to spoken word performance, but it was definitely interesting and thought provoking. I'm not sure yet if it's my cup of tea, but I am glad to have experienced it.

Raine and company took the stage shortly after 9. Aside from some audio trouble with a guitar early on, it was a flawless show. They played through all the songs from The Hunter's Lullaby, including Sex Love and Honey (a personal favorite). He also covered Neil Young's Ohio and did an excellent acoustic version of Innocent, which the audience helped out with.

Chantal had her moment in the spotlight as she performed a haunting cover of Where Is My Mind? by The Pixies.
I had such a great time and can't thank Raine & Chantal enough.

After the crowd cleared out, we headed for the doors we came in through. Before we made it outside, we ended up hanging out and talking to drummer Randy Cooke and some of the crew for a while. It still cracks me up that we've been around backstage enough that the crew recognizes us and vice versa.

On our way to the van, I recognized my friend from the internet and fellow fan, Gail as she chatted with Randy and Kevin Fox. I stopped to say hello, but it was just a quick chat, due to the cold night air of Buffalo in March. It was really nice to finally meet her though.

Randy, Kevin, and me (Thanks, Gail!)
Me & Gail

We were on our way home a little after 11 PM. Wrong turns are getting to be something of a tradition on roadtrips with Mom and me, but this is the first time it's happened on a toll road and we literally had to pay for our mistake.
We made our second stop at the Angola rest stop to eat before the rest of our late night drive home. We were back on the road around 1. The ride was smooth and peaceful. Maude slept for most of it and my iPod was free to shine.

The long, but fun day was rounded out when we arrived home a little while after 3 AM. It was a crazy day, but a much needed break, I had a blast.

Until the next one.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"...I Can't Believe How Much I Love the Rain"

Easter weekend was a fun, but exhausting one. Thursday through Saturday were dominated by Rock Band, especially Friday, when we went from 9 PM until 3 AM and played 58 songs in a row to reach legendary status. My voice, surprisingly felt completely fine afterwards. We had our biggest band lineup yet, rotating between Corey, Eric, Brendan, Mikey, Jeff, Jake, and myself throughout the course of the night. While we played, the skies opened up and the guys had to dig their cars out from under several inches of snow by the time we finished.

After our Saturday night session, I was up until about 9 AM, putting another family video together for everyone for Easter. The video turned out nicely, but having gotten only 4 hours of sleep, I was pretty much shot for the rest of the day. It was nice visiting at Granny's though.

When we got home, I had an email from Larry with a link to a recent article about Bullcrank and our movies. Check it out here:

So, the crazy weekend is over and I return to cartoonland once again. People seem to be responding positively to the trailer, which is a nice bit of fuel during the long nights of animating.

For now, I'll leave you with another family video I cut together earlier this week. This one features baby Matthew and I'm calling it The First Four.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Something For Your Easter Basket

Larry threw together a brand spankin' new preview for The Greatest Fan Film of All Time. It's a nice mix of old footage, new footage, and pure Bullcrankocity. Feast your peepers on this!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Note From Beneath the Snow

The outside world has been swallowed and now looks like this.

Would someone kindly send the rescue dogs?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Back to Earth

As of Wednesday, my work in space is done. I finished that scene just a couple hours before Larry and Derby stopped by for a visit, so I got to show them the footage while it was still fresh out of the oven.
I'm extremely proud and happy with how these shots came out and I guess I'm not the only one. Larry's loving it and says the rest of the Bullcrank guys and gals are impressed.
We ended up talking about the rest of the movie and the big shots still ahead of me throughout most of the visit. It helped pump me up a bit and got the creative juices flowing, we even came up with a few amazing ideas I'll be including.

Aside from a few extra pick up shots, filming of The Wimp Whose Woman Was a Werewolf wrapped this weekend. It's looking to be excellent and a real step up for Bullcrank. You don't have to just take my word for it though, being the crazily driven madman that he is, Larry has already put together a trailer. Check it out here:

And you can take a look at the creation of the werewolf here:

I've been ridiculously amused at how dark, depressing, and continuously hilarious Garfield comic strips are when you remove Garfield from them and it's all thanks to Garfield Minus Garfield. I'll never look at John Arbuckle the same way again.

Our tickets to see Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova arrived a couple of days ago and the seats look great. This is going to be a fantastic show.

On to the next scene I go. We're expected to have between one and two feet of snow on the ground by tonight, so the weather's right for animating.

Stay warm.

Monday, March 03, 2008

One Night On Campus

As we got on the freeway, One Night in Bangkok started playing on the radio. I asked Mom to change it.

That's not how this day's story actually began, I just really wanted to open this blog entry with it.

Mom and I took a mini-roadtrip yesterday to see a play. Nikki has been working her butt off preparing for her school's production of Dead Man Walking. Last night was the final performance, so I thought I'd surprise her and make the trip down.

The hour and a half drive was a long, but enjoyably scenic one. The hills and valleys mixed with the clouds and setting sun were an impressive sight. I wish I had my camera handy.
The ride was broken up by a series of odd discussions with Mom, including the pros and cons of various utterances when those ever-present bad drivers make themselves known on the road.

MapQuest is great for getting you near your destination, but we've realized that actually finding the place you're going isn't always that simple. We spent a while navigating aimlessly on the roads of the campus before finally finding the Arts & Humanities building. We hustled through the cold and got our tickets. With a few minutes to spare, I found myself in an odd, funny, but unbloggable (to protect the innocent, of course) situation in the restroom.
That was immediately followed by Mom and I frantically trying to figure out how to silence or shut off my new phone as showtime approached. It would've been somewhat awkward to get to Matthew Poncelet's execution scene and suddenly have John Williams' Superman theme blare from my pocket. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to notice the button with the power symbol on it.

We were led to our seats and within moments, the lights dimmed and the show started. I'm not much of a theatre guy, I don't think I've actually seen a play since probably the 5th grade, but I have to admit I really enjoyed myself. Not being very used to the stage approach of storytelling, it took me a couple minutes to settle into it, but once I did, I liked it. A lot of work went into this and it showed.

The protest scene was especially beautiful and haunting.

Parts of the play were filmed beforehand and projected onto screens on and around the stage during the show. I thought it was a cool and interesting mixture of media.
The cast was excellent and did a great job. Acting seems daunting enough in front of a camera, but I imagine it's a lot more intimidating doing it in front of a live audience.

It was really cool to see Nikki in her element and doing what she loves. She really impressed me.

Afterwards, we headed out to the lobby, where the cast was gathered, and said hello to Nikki and congratulate her on a great show. It was just a brief chat before we exited the lobby, hoping finding our way to the freeway would be easier than finding the theatre was.

A few minutes later, we were on a long, dark, skinny road in the middle of the boonies.

It took some backtracking and a lot of reassuring talk to the nervous driver I call Mom, but we found our on-ramp. Around 10:30, we were on our way home. As we got on the freeway, One Night in Bangkok started playing on the radio. I asked Mom to change it.

The long ride home was smooth, despite accidentally taking an exit ramp in some unknown town. I was reminded as we drove just how bad the radio is on Saturday night.

We got home just after midnight, tired and hungry, but the good kind. It was a nice little detour from the norm, taking a break from creativity to absorb creativity.

Now, back to space.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Hundred-Year Winter

I woke up today feeling like I had somehow been transported to Narnia. A big snow storm hit last night and boy did it hit hard. Take a look for yourself.

See? Told you.

I'm still pumped up about Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova's Oscar win on Sunday night. I've been following Glen since I saw him and his band, The Frames, back in 2004. I had gotten used to most people being unaware of who I was talking about, so it's been really cool to see Glen, Marketa, and Once getting all of this much deserved attention and recognition.

I recently heard they'll be playing in Cleveland in May. It's been a while, so I'm really looking forward to that.

And now I retreat to under a blanket and get back to work. Still in space.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Meanwhile, Deep in Space...

It's tough to believe I was in Windsor a year ago today, seeing Chantal and Raine play. I remember checking my email in the hotel and getting a note from Larry about a bunch of ideas he and the guys were coming up with for a new animated short. It's hard to explain, but when Larry's in his creative groove, you can somehow see his excitement in how he types his emails and IMs. He was in his groove that day as he asked me if I'd be up for taking on the project.

Fast forward a year. Those ideas evolved into The Greatest Fan Film of All Time and I'm animating like a kid in a candy shop (that is if kids could animate and chose to do so in a candy shop, which, as far as I know, they can't and don't, but I'm doing it anyway, so nyah).
I'm currently working on a recent addition to the script, which is a scene that takes place on a certain alien world. It's been interesting creating my own version of a world from scratch.
I'm having fun playing with lighting to set the mood. It can be tricky, but I'm really happy with the results so far.

A little peek

I'm really excited about this. The look and feel from Batman's Gonna Get Shot in the Face is still there, but the actual animation itself is vastly improved. I can't wait for this puppy to be ready for unveiling.

Last week's Rock Band weekend was awesome. We played for three nights and I loved it, even with the songs I'm not into. Except Suffragette City. And Brainpower. Friday was the big night of the weekend, we played through until 4:30 AM. Corey's our guitar guru, Brendan rocks out on the drums, and Mikey and Eric usually alternate on bass while I sing. Maria even hung out for a bit on Saturday and classed things up with some boxed wine.

Now I must return to space. Goodnight, Reykjavic!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Really, Who DOESN'T Like Turtles?

The wayward blogger returns. I really do need to stop disappearing like that.

I suppose I'll start by wrapping up the loose threads I left in my last entry. A month ago.
Cloverfield was a fun time. I ended up going on opening night with Mikey, Corey, and Brendan and we ended up sitting in nearly the front row. The movie itself was a ride. Cool idea, nice visuals, and I'm glad I went. I wouldn't mind catching it again before it leaves theaters.

Eric joined us the following days as we had a Rock Band weekend. I really didn't expect to be into it, but I had a blast playing that game. We played for hours on end for two days, which resulted in my voice taking a couple days off to recoop.
Round 2 is this coming weekend and I can't wait.

The weather's been crazy, varying from freezing temperatures to oddly warm to ridiculously rainy to producing Hoth intensity snow storms, the latter being what we've had for the last couple days. We even had some unusually bright lightning during Saturday night's snow.

There haven't been many openings to get out to anywhere lately, but that's actually been helpful to my animation. I've been getting quite a bit done, especially this last week. I'm not one to toot my own horn, but the last shot I finished is quite possibly the best four seconds of animation I've ever created.
Tonight was a mini-milestone. As of 2:00 AM, I finished work on one of the more important scenes in The Greatest Fan Film of All Time. I won't spoil what happens in the scene, but I'll say this...someone does something to someone. Excited yet?

It'a after 6 AM, so I guess I'll do the logical thing and go get some sleep. I'll leave you with a video that has made me crack up every time I've watched it. I still don't know what's funnier, the kid or the reporter's awkward reaction.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Normality" Restored

Things are back to normal, as the final stragglers from winter break have departed to rejoin the real world. I am sad to see things shift back, as the constant company was nice.

Friday was the last game night of the break and a smaller one than we've been having, now that Corey, Eric, and Jeff are all back at work and school. Though there was a nice change of pace, when Nikki joined Mikey, Brendan, and me for her first game night. It was a nice follow up to hanging out with her last Tuesday, during which she felt her first earthquake. Always new experiences for friends, here at the Drake house. Schedule your appointment today!*

Saturday was a relaxed night of wine and venting with Maria. It was enjoyable and much needed.

Last night, it was back to work at full force. I animated for nine hours and churned out a whopping six seconds of footage for The Greatest Fan Film of All Time. It doesn't sound like much, but it counts. It's the start of a major push from me to finish this thing.
I also managed to watch the first episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I'm a sucker for the whole Terminator universe, so I enjoyed it and can't wait to check out the new episode tonight.

Back to work for this chap. No scheduled notable breaks until Cloverfield on Friday. Wish a fella luck.

*No weirdos, please. Earthquakes cannot be guaranteed. Game night seating is limited, act fast. No refunds.