Saturday, August 29, 2009
SHANE'S SUMMER READING LIST
Big Plans Bob Shea
Are You Ready to Play Outside? Mo Willems
Watch Me Throw the Ball! Mo Willems
Elephants Cannot Dance! Mo Willems
I Am Invited to a Party! Mo Willems
Today I Will Fly! Mo Willems
I Will Surprise My Friend! Mo Willems
My Friend is Sad Mo Willems
There is a Bird on Your Head! Mo Willems
I Love My New Toy! Mo Willems
It's Not Easy Being Big Stephanie St. Pierre
Six Sticks Molly Coxe
Arthur's Reading Race Marc Brown
It's Not Easy Being a Bunny Marilyn Sadler
In a People House Theo. LeSieg
The 1st of Octember Theo. LeSieg
Fox in Sox Dr. Seuss
Monster Munchies Laura Numeroff
Danny and the Dinosaur Syd Hoff
Oliver Syd Hoff
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Mo Willems
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late Mo Willems
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog Mo Willems
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy Mo Willems
Go, Dog. Go! P.D. Eastman
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb Al Perkins
Ten Apples Up On Top Theo. LeSieg
A Fish Out of Water Helen Palmer
Hop On Pop Dr. Seuss
Otto Has a Birthday Todd Parr
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Dr. Seuss
Sammy the Seal Syd Hoff
The Early Bird Richard Scarry
Put Me In the Zoo Robert Lopshire
The Gas We Pass Shinta Cho
Walt Disney's Pinocchio Campbell Grant
Walt Disney's Seven Dwarves Find a House Anne North Bedford
Sesame Street's Mother Goose Rhymes Constance Allen
Disneyland Parade Walt Disney Productions
Mickey Mouse's Picnic Jane Werner
Underwear Do's and Don’ts Todd Parr
From Trash to Treasure Lisa Alexander
Mr. Fancypants Geof Smith
I Want To Be a Police Officer Liza Alexander
I Want To Be a Doctor Liza Alexander
Say Boo Lynda Graham-Barber
Batman: From Alfred to Zowie Ruthanna Thomas
Bears on Wheels Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Diggingest Dog Al Perkins
The Berenstains' A Book Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstains' B Book Stan and Jan Berenstain
Happy Birthday, Thomas Rev. W. Awdry
Everyone Poops Taro Gomi
If You Give a Moose a Muffin Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Cat in the Hat Dr. Seuss
Otto Has a Party Todd Parr
Sam and the Firefly P.D. Eastman
Are You My Mother? P.D. Eastman
One Fish, Two Fish; Red Fish, Blue Fish Dr. Seuss
Arthur Tricks the Tooth Fairy Marc Brown
The Tooth Book Theo. LeSieg
Amelia Bedelia Peggy Parish
Polly Hopper's Pouch Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud
Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street? Eleanor Hudson
Oh, the Thinks You Can Think Dr. Seuss
Glasses for D.W. Marc Brown
The Eye Book Dr. Seuss
The Old Man Who Loved Cheese Garrison Keillor
Ferdinand Munro Leaf
The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone Stan and Jan Berenstain
Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss
The Foot Book Dr. Seuss
Up Lisa Marsoli
My Name is Dug Kiki Thorpe
Rolie Polie Olie William Joyce
A Day With Wilber Robinson William Joyce
Gerald McBoing Boing Dr. Seuss
Olivia Saves the Circus Ian Falconer
Olivia and the Missing Toy Ian Falconer
George Shrinks William Joyce
The Three Bears F. Rojankovsky
The Monster at the End of The Book Jon Stone
Gossie Olivier Dunrea
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Judi Barrett
Curious George Margaret and H.A. Rey
Curious George Takes a Job Margaret and H.A. Rey
Curious George Rides a Bike Margaret and H.A. Rey
Curious George Gets a Medal Margaret and H.A. Rey
Curious George Flies a Kite Margaret and H.A. Rey
Knuffle Bunny Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny Too Mo Willems
Llama Llama Red Pajama Anna Dewdney
Leonardo the Terrible Monster Mo Willems
Walter the Farting Dog William Kotzwinkle
Pickles to Pittsburgh Judi Barrett
Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride J. Otto Seibold
Dinosaur Bob William Joyce
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak
Friday, August 28, 2009
MONTY PYTHON: The Fish Slapping Dance
Today is my birthday and I wanted to see the Fish Slapping Dance.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Alexei David Sayle (born 7 August 1952) is an English stand-up comedian, actor and author. In a poll for Channel 4, Sayle, a central part of the alternative comedy circuit in the early 1980s, was voted 18th on a list of the 100 Greatest Stand Ups.
Much of Sayle's humour is in the tradition of Spike Milligan and Monty Python, with riffs based on an absurd and surreal premise. His act is notable for cynicism, intelligence and political awareness, as well as physical comedy. Sayle's trademark appearance is a shaved head, five o'clock shadow, and a suit that is a size or two too small.
Sayle was born and raised in Anfield, Liverpool, the son of an English railway worker and a Lithuanian pools clerk, both of whom were members of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
In his stand-up comedy work, Sayle describes himself as being of Lithuanian Jewish extraction. In the aftermath of the May 1968 French uprising, he joined the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). He went to The Alsop High School in Walton. After leaving school, Sayle took a foundation course in art at Southport, before attending Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. He has been married to Linda Rawsthorn since 1974.
On 3 January 2009, Sayle took part in a protest in London along with thousands of others in opposition to Israel's ground attack on Gaza.
When the Comedy Store opened in London in 1979, Sayle responded to an advert for "would-be comedians" and became its first master of ceremonies. In 1980, he was seen performing at the Edinburgh Festival by comedy producer Martin Lewis (producer of The Secret Policeman's Balls), who became his manager. Sayle became the leading performer at the new club The Comic Strip. He also secured a radio series for London's Capital Radio, Alexei Sayle And The Fish People (1981), for which he won a Sony Radio Award. Sayle later released an album based on the show - The Fish People Tapes. He appeared on The Comic Strip Album (1981) and recorded Cak! (1982). He also appeared in the stage show, film and comedy album of The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (1981-82). In 1982, Sayle joined Central Television's late-night alternative cabaret show O.T.T. He left nine weeks into the show's run, in order to tour Australia with The Comic Strip. He was replaced by Bernard Manning.
The height of his early fame was with the single 'Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?, produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (who also produced for Madness and Elvis Costello). The 12-inch version of the single achieved notoriety due to its extensive use of profanity. The record's success changed Sayle's comedy career from cult status into the mainstream. He went on to star in many television series and films and also became one of the UK's highest paid voice-over talents. He released two more singles: Didn't You Kill My Brother?, which was accompanied by a popular music video, and Meanwhile, both from the album Panic, the cover of which parodies the cover of the Michael Jackson album Off The Wall.
Sayle was a cast member of the situation comedy The Young Ones, in which he was credited with providing "additional material". He often portrayed the students' landlord Mr. Balowski, but also played the roles of other Balowski family members. In the episode titled Oil, he sings and performs a song called Doctor Martens Boots. In 1985, he appeared in the Doctor Who serial Revelation of the Daleks. In a column for a British tabloid newspaper around the same time, he indicated that he wanted to become the "first Socialist Doctor." In 1988, Sayle played the role of Trinculo in Shakespeare's The Tempest, directed by Jonathan Miller at The Old Vic theatre in London.
Sayle has co-written many programmes, including one episode of The Comic Strip Presents..., also entitled Didn't You Kill My Brother?, (which also starred Beryl Reid), three series of Alexei Sayle's Stuff (1988-91), two series of The All New Alexei Sayle Show (1994-95) and one series of Alexei Sayle's Merry-Go-Round (1998). In 1989, Sayle was awarded an International Emmy for Stuff. In conversation with Mark Thomas on BBC Radio 4's informal chat-show Chain Reaction, Sayle revealed that the first he knew of the award was when he watched Channel 4 News and saw, to his amazement, Benny Hill collecting the award on his behalf.  Sayle alternates his comedic work with performances as a character actor ranging from serious (Gorky Park) to humorous (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). He has also provided the voice-over for animations including the character Rubbish the Cat in the children's TV series Rubbish, King of the Jumble.
In 1994 he presented the miniseries Drive, which gave advice for safe driving through Alexei's signature form of humour interspersed with some serious pieces. Examples include ending a piece on the likelihood of certain behaviour causing fatal accidents with "...but it's not gonna be me, so it must be one of you", and on the subject of alertness; "You not only have to expect the unexpected, you also have to expect the utterly impossible", followed by jumping into a car with two lobsters. In 1995, he was awarded an honorary professorship at Thames Valley University.
Sayle has written two short story collections and five novels, including a graphic novel, as well as columns for various publications. His book Great Bus Journeys Of The World, co-written with David Stafford, is mostly a collection of his columns for Time Out and the Sunday Mirror. In 2004, Sayle was one of eight contributory authors to the BBC Three competition End Of Story, in which members of the public completed the second half of stories written by established authors. The winning entry to Sayle's story, Imitating Katherine Walker, was written by freelance writer Arthur Allan.
On 3 November 2006 he presented Chopwell Soviet, a 30-minute programme on BBC Radio 4 that reviewed the Chopwell miners 80 years after the village of Chopwell became known as Little Moscow.
In 2008, Sayle wrote and presented Alexei Sayle's Liverpool, a three-part television series in which he reconnected with his hometown. He stated in the programmes that on first hearing that Liverpool was to be awarded the European Capital of Culture, he received much criticism for describing the city as 'philistine'. He now feels that he doesn't know whether or not his original statement was true, but as a result of making the series he does now consider Liverpool to be his home, and he has vowed to go back there more often in the future.
PIXAR'S JOHN LASSETER: From Variety
Lasseter builds empire out of past failures
Using Pixar spirit, Disney creative chief succeeds
You wouldn't know it by looking at Pixar's track record. Since "Toy Story's" debut as the first computer-animated feature in 1995, the Emeryville, Calif.-based studio has racked up four animated feature Oscars, multiple other prizes (including a Golden Lion at this year's Venice Film Fest for Lasseter and four of his directors for lifetime achievement) and more than $5 billion in worldwide box office. With this summer's "Up," Pixar achieves a perfect 10-for-10 winning streak -- a feat unheard of in Hollywood, where a 1-in-10 hit ratio keeps most companies in business.
Talk to Lasseter and his team, and you'll get the usual platitudes about how Pixar is a filmmaker-led studio where story comes first -- principles the "Toy Story" director has carried over to Walt Disney Animation, where he has served as chief creative officer since the Mouse House bought its CG-savvy partner for $7.4 billion from Steve Jobs in 2006. But press a little harder, and Lasseter admits the mantra that sets the studio apart: "It's safe to fail."
The trick is to make those mistakes as quickly as possible and move on, a philosophy Lasseter picked up from colleague and computer science pioneer Ed Catmull (the man who lured him to Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Group after Lasseter lost his job at Disney in 1983 -- the setback that has paid off best in Lasseter's career).
"When you think about science, it's about experimentation, and 99% of the experiments fail, but you learn from the failures and you move on," Lasseter says. "That's the great thing about Ed. He's always wanting people to keep pushing, keep experimenting, keep trying, and we always learn and keep moving forward."
For all the technical advances that have impressed audiences about Pixar, Lasseter's greatest innovation has been to extend a principle of positive risk-taking to the creative process. Lasseter's approach applies at both studios, where he has introduced virtual safety nets to protect small failures from compromising an entire project.
He is adamant that teams not be allowed to sequester themselves or work too long without sharing their progress with others. No matter what state a project is in, every three months, directors are required to put their film up on reels and test how it screens. That way, Lasseter and his fellow leaders can identify problems early.
Lasseter doesn't believe in mandatory notes, introducing instead what he calls the "creative brain trust" at Pixar, a peer-support strategy in which all the directors and key story people from around the company get together and selflessly help on one another's films. "It doesn't matter whose idea it is, the best idea gets used," he explains.
"Animation is the most collaborative art form there is in the whole world," continues Lasseter, who says his goal at both Pixar and Disney Animation has been "to build a studio where everyone's working for the same thing, to make the best movie you can, and then to be open enough to let people put their two cents into it. The next thing you know, you're seeing stuff you would never have thought of yourself."
No shortage of bad ideas emerge, of course, but the environment is designed to be supportive enough that people feel encouraged to speak up and take creative chances.
"We fail a lot," admits "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich. "We just don't fail by the time the movie comes out. John would be the first to tell you that every movie we've made has been at one point the biggest piece of garbage we've ever worked on."
Unkrich got his first co-helming credit (which at Pixar is like playing Robin to the lead director's Batman) supporting Lasseter on "Toy Story 2."
The project "wasn't working at all," he says, until Lasseter stepped in at the 11th hour, tore up what was there and rebuilt the story to resonate with audiences, pulling off what many at the studio consider Pixar's best film. (And that was hardly an isolated case. "Ratatouille" was repaired much the same way, with "Incredibles" director Brad Bird overhauling the project late in the game. Lasseter even allowed director Andrew Stanton to "reshoot" a couple scenes on "Wall-E" -- a costly fix rare in animation.)
"Back when we were first taking over 'Toy Story 2' and trying to fix it, I had a conversation with Steve Jobs expressing our concerns," Unkrich says. "He reassured me by telling me that when he looked back on his career, all the work he was most proud of was done under circumstances just like that, where it seemed impossible, where there wasn't enough time, there wasn't enough money, and everyone had set the bar really high for themselves."
Lasseter also looks to Jobs for advice, remembering an early meeting in which he went in to pitch his idea for the short film "Tin Toy." "He turned to me, and the only thing he said was, 'John, make it great.' And that's the mantra I've been living with ever since, just do everything we can to make it great," says Lasseter, who found confidence in Jobs' relatively hands-off approach to Pixar over the years, trusting the creative talent to steer the studio in the right direction.
After being named chief creative officer of Disney Animation, one of the first changes Lasseter put into effect was dismissing the suits and shifting the focus from an executive-led operation back to an artist-driven enterprise, where the ideas for feature films "come from the heart" of individual filmmakers.
"The one aspect of Pixar that we imported is our simple philosophy that a studio is not the building, a studio is its people, so each studio is going to have a different culture," he says.
At Burbank-based Walt Disney Animation, where Lasseter spends two to three days each week, the heritage of classic stories and hand-drawn animation runs deep, which is one reason Lasseter was so excited to bring back the 2-D tradition for December's "The Princess and the Frog" (directed by "The Little Mermaid" duo Ron Clements and John Musker, the latter being a classmate from his days at CalArts, where Lasseter also studied alongside Tim Burton and Brad Bird).
"I've always felt that the studio that should still be doing hand-drawn animation is the studio that started it all," says Lasseter, who until now has been guiding projects that were already in development through the Disney Animation pipeline (he tweaked "Meet the Robinsons" and restarted "Bolt," but "Princess" is the first one he built from the ground up).
"We couldn't be more proud of 'The Princess and the Frog' and the way it's coming together," says Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook. Rather than simply replicating the Pixar model at Disney, "John and Ed Catmull are creating their own culture here, and they're allowing that culture to be developed by the artists at Disney."
Looking forward, Lasseter's Disney slate includes a mix of hand-drawn and computer-animated projects, and though both he and Cook are hopeful "Princess" will give them license to make more 2-D pics, they insist the fate of the format doesn't rely on the success or failure of that one film.
Lasseter is already planning other hand-drawn projects at Disney Animation. "Rapunzel," due out in 2010, will be CG, but the 2011 take on "Winnie the Pooh" could go either way.
"The thing I've prided myself in all the years of working at Pixar is picking the subject matters that really lend themselves to computer animation," says Lasseter, who directed toons about toys, bugs and cars himself. "Now, going to Disney, I get to think about what great subject matter lends itself to hand-drawn animation."
His new responsibilities leave Lasseter too busy to direct (one reason he tapped Unkrich to helm "Toy Story 3," a project rescued from a possible straight-to-DVD fate).
In his exec role, Lasseter can hardly ignore the business side, but creative concerns still take precedence -- and Cook has his back, stressing that the studio is once again making animation for the ages, not just opening weekend. Should "Princess" prove a frog at the box office, "Nothing's going to happen," Cook promises. "We will continue to look at all forms of animation, whether it be hand-drawn, computer or stop-motion."
Even if Pixar's incredible streak were to hit a speed bump down the road, the Disney honcho says he feels confident Lasseter's dedication to quality would carry them forward.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The three actors in The Goodies met as students at the University of Cambridge, where Brooke-Taylor was studying law, Garden was studying medicine, and Oddie was studying English. It was as undergraduate students at the University that Brooke-Taylor, Garden and Oddie met John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, who would later become founding members of Monty Python. This group of students became close friends and Brooke-Taylor and Cleese, who were both law students, but at different colleges within the university studied together, swapping lecture notes.They all became members of the Cambridge University Footlights Club, with Brooke-Taylor becoming president in 1963, and Garden succeeding him as president in 1964.
Garden was himself succeeded as the Footlights Club president in 1965 by Idle, who had initially become aware of the Footlights Club when he auditioned for a Pembroke College "smoker" for Brooke-Taylor and Oddie.
Career before The Goodies
The Goodies television series
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The show included Cook impersonating the then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan: this was one of the first occasions that satirical political mimicry had been attempted in live theatre, and caused some considerable shock amongst audiences. During one performance, Macmillan himself was in the theatre, and having spotted him Cook departed from his script and directly attacked him verbally.
Performances for Amnesty International
“ It was a very different style of improvisation from what I'd been used to, working with people like Steve Coogan, Doon Mackichan and Rebecca Front, because those On the Hour and The Day Today things were about trying to establish a character within a situation, and Peter Cook was really doing 'knight's move' and 'double knight's move' thinking to construct jokes or ridiculous scenes flipping back on themselves, and it was amazing. I mean, I held out no great hopes that he wouldn't be a boozy old sack of lard with his hair falling out and scarcely able to get a sentence out, because he hadn't given much evidence that that wouldn't be the case. But, in fact, he stumbled in with a Safeways bag full of Kestrel lager and loads of fags and then proceeded to skip about mentally with the agility of a grasshopper. Really quite extraordinary. ”
Monday, August 24, 2009
SPIKE MILLIGAN: Kilt Chimes
Terence Alan Patrick Seán Milligan KBE (16 April 1918 – 27 February 2002), known as Spike Milligan, was an Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, musician, poet and playwright. Milligan was the co-creator and the principal writer of The Goon Show, in which he also performed. Aside from comedy, Milligan played the trumpet, saxophone, piano, guitar and bass drum.
He lived most of his life in England and served in the British Army, in the Royal Artillery during World War II.
Second World War
The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d (1954) starring Peter Sellers was the first attempt to translate Goon humour to TV; it was followed by A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred, both made during 1956 and directed by Richard Lester, who went on to work with The Beatles.
I have got so low that I have asked to be hospitalised and for deep narcosis (sleep). I cannot stand being awake. The pain is too much... Something has happened to me, this vital spark has stopped burning - I go to a dinner table now and I don't say a word, just sit there like a dodo. Normally I am the centre of attention, keep the conversation going - so that is depressing in itself. It's like another person taking over, very strange. The most important thing I say is 'good evening' and then I go quiet.
Prince of Wales
In 1971, Milligan caused controversy by attacking an art exhibition at the Hayward Gallery with a hammer. The exhibit consisted of catfish, oysters and shrimp that were to be electrocuted as part of the exhibition. He was a strong opponent of cruelty against animals and, during an appearance on Room 101, chose fox hunting as a pet hate, and succeeded in banishing it to the eponymous room.
He was also a public opponent of domestic violence, dedicating one of his books to Erin Pizzey.
The grave of Spike Milligan in the grounds of St Thomas, Winchelsea, East Sussex. The epitaph reads "Duirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite", Irish for "I told you I was ill."
The Holden Road plaque
The film of Puckoon, starring Sean Hughes and including Milligan's daughter, the actress Jane Milligan, was released after his death.
On 9 June 2006 it was reported that Professor Richard Wiseman had identified Milligan as the writer of the world's funniest joke as decided by the Laughlab project. Professor Wiseman said the joke contained all three elements of what makes a good gag: anxiety, a feeling of superiority, and an element of surprise.