Friday, July 17, 2009

Family Guy? Best comedy series Emmy nomination shocker!

For the first time since The Flintstones were nominated in 1961 (the Emmy nod eventually went to the Jack Benny Program) has an animated show been a contender for an Emmy for best comedy series.

Does Family Guy deserve it? Debatable. The show has certainly had funnier seasons and not even The Simpsons has been nominated. Family Guy is hilarious, however, and it's nice to see an animated program back in comedy Emmy contention, even if it is going to lose out to 30 Rock.

Other nominees in the best comedy series category are:

"Family Guy
"Flight of the Conchords"
"How I Met Your Mother"
"The Office"
"30 Rock"

What do you think? Leave a comment with your Emmy pick.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Otakon says "Ohayo gozaimasu Baltimore!"

For three days, the world of anime and pop culture will revolve around Baltimore.

While Artscape takes over the Station North district this weekend, over 27,000 attendees are expected at the Baltimore Convention Center for Otakon 16, where intricate costumes and a frenetic, festival atmosphere will turn downtown into a colorful display of cutting edge Japanese pop culture.

Guests include voice actors Crispin Freeman ("Hellsing", "Howl's Moving Castle"), Kikuko Inoue (Oh My Goddess, Ranma 1/2), Mike McFarland (Dragonball, Lupin the Third), Tony Oliver (Bleach, Eureka Seven), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Naruto, Cowboy Bebop), director/producers Noboru Ishiguro (Space Battleship Yamato, Macross), Yukio Kikukawa (Legend of the Galactic Heroes), Masao Maruyama, founder of Madhouse Studios (Death Note, Vampire Hunter D, Urusei Yatsura, Red Line), and musical guests MELL and VAMPS.

Those not watching guest panels, attending concerts or mingling with the crowds will have their pick of video game rooms, shopping, crafts, costume contests, role playing games, dances, workshops, art shows and seven screening rooms showing a wide variety of anime and Asian fare, running from 8:30 am to 2:00 am Friday and Saturday, and 8:30 am to 4:00 pm Sunday.

For more info:, Otakon events schedule

Plympton to host animated shorts program at Baltimore's Artscape

On Friday, July 17, legendary animator Bill Plympton will host Artscape's Friday Night Shorts program at the Charles Theatre in Baltimore, courtesy of the Maryland Film Festival.

Starting at 7:00 pm, the 90 minute "Cartoons from Hell" collection will show, including:

Fantaisie in Bubblewrap - Arthur Metcalf
Lupo the Butcher - Danny Antonucci
Puppet - Patrick Smith
Santa: The Fascist Years - Bill Plympton
The Box Man - Nirvan Mullick
Son of Satan - JJ Villard
Seventeen - Hisko Hulsing
Bar Fight - Christy Karacas
Ah L'Amour - Don Hertzfeldt

Rounding out the weekend will be a selection of animated shorts reflecting the Maryland Film Festival's reliably brilliant taste in assembling animated short subjects.

Schedule and short film descriptions courtesy of the MMF website:

Noon: Program One - Animation
1 PM: Program Two - Avant-Garde
2 PM: Program Three - Comedy
3 PM: Program Four - Documentary
4 PM: Program Five - Narrative
5 PM: Program One - Animation
6 PM: Program Two - Avant-Garde

Noon: Program Three - Comedy
1 PM: Program Four - Documentary
2 PM: Program Five - Narrative
3 PM: Program One - Animation
4 PM: Program Two - Avant-Garde
5 PM: Program Three - Comedy
6 PM: Program Four - Documentary


Fantaisie in Bubblewrap - Arthur Metcalf

A whimsical jaunt through the world of bubblewrap..

Lupo the Butcher - Danny Antonucci

The story of a psychotic butcher, who swears at his meat and has a huge temper when the smallest things go wrong. He eventually gets angry to the point that he cuts off his own thumb, his body falls apart, and a fountain of blood is unleashed.

Puppet - Patrick Smith

A sadistic sock puppet turns against it's creator. Through an escalating series of torture, the possessed sock puppet takes embodiment of fear, chaos, and willful self-destruction.

Santa: The Fascist Years - Bill Plympton

An dark and outrageous look at Santa Claus' hidden past, featuring a voiceover by actor Matthew Modine.

The Box Man - Nirvan Mullick

Suspicion, theft and murder in this dark tale of envy. Stop-motion short film about a man's encounter with a cardboard box. inspired by a Kobo Abe novel.

Son of Satan - JJ Villard

Bukowski would be proud of this twisted illustration of his poetry. A raw, urgent punk scream against the pain of abuse, bullying and the cyclical nature of violence and stands firmly against those who believe that animation must be clean, precise, polished and oh so f-ing sweet.

Seventeen - Hisko Hulsing

A shy seventeen-year-old construction worker tries to hold his own in the macho world of roofers. A dark tale about growing up, losing innocence, and settling into a sick cycle of hell.

Bar Fight - Christy Karacas

A simple bar fight erupts into an all out war of the worlds. It's every man for himself!... and a few other creatures.

Ah L'Amour - Don Hertzfeldt

A stick figure protagonist experiences not only the joys of newfound love but the woes of losing it -- along with his head, his arms and legs, and yes, his skin, too.


Trepan Hole – Andy Cahill, 6 minutes

Squiggling, spastic, rail-thin creatures with clay souls and throbbing heads bounce off each other for six minutes.

Enough To Drive You Mad - Karen Yasinsky, 3 minutes

A short work inspired by Robert Bresson's 1966 film Au Hasard Balthazar. Enough to Drive You Mad begins with line drawings of a familiar cartoon character interacting with Balthazar, the abused but soulful donkey, before erupting into abstract composition.

Death of a Matriarch - Takuro Masuda, 3 minutes

Based on an episode of "Kana'ti and Selu," a Native American folktale, this animated story explains how the Cherokee Nation believes farming was brought to Mankind.

The Realm of Possibility - Gerald Guthrie, 7 minutes

A digital animation based at the intersection of absurdity and logic. Deductive reasoning, as found in the syllogistic form (A is B, B is C, therefore A is C), becomes a vehicle to validate concepts that might not necessarily be true. The structure of the narrative is meant to parallel the premise of a syllogism. Many men use libraries; many libraries reference aviation; therefore, many men are pilots. In the end, navigation to another planet becomes a curious byproduct of flawed logic.

Fruitless Efforts - Fruit of the Womb - Andrew Chesworth & Aaron Quist, 5 minutes

Apple is trying to lead a normal life, but is being held back by his friends.


Xologola - Michael Robinson, 1 minute

Abstract animation created using scans and pictures of branches, broken and scratched glass, and digitally painted textures.

Dahlia – Michael Langan, 3 minutes

A moving portrait of the bustle and permanence of a city, Dahlia juxtaposes the stable forms and patterns of life with the frenetic behavior of humanity, set to a driving score of vocal percussion.

He Hates To Be Second – Kelly Sears, 3 minutes

Excavated fragments from a 1963 article about Robert Kennedy and images and advertisements from similar 1963 publications are used to create this piece which focuses on revealing, rather than suppressing, illuminating moments from our past. Layers of tigers, vintage wallpaper, coiffed ladies, and alpha males are collaged as a visual portrait of the time. The majority of the article is blacked out to highlight key phrases that speak to aggressive gestures that marked this era as a result of building tensions of the Cold War. The text functions as an antithesis to the practice of blacked out government documents that hide sensitive information.

Sea of Breath - Cloud of Ground - Michael Robinson, 5 minutes

Four animated vignettes/movements combine to relate an abstract narrative.

Life With Ghosts – Allen Moore, 3 minutes

A visual and auditory exploration of layers of light and sound, using double 8mm and 16mm film processes transferred to video.

Evolution of an Idea - Grey Adkins, 5 minutes

Panoramic views taken with multiple video cameras show average views in a whole new way. First prize winner in City Paper's Shoot – Score - Baltimore short-film contest.

Doxology - Michael Langan, 7 minutes

This humorously allegorical animation explores the relationship between the terrestrial and the celestial via singing tennis balls.


Bustout - Kenneth Price, 3 minutes

If there's one thing the Superkiiids! love more than the Back To The Future trilogy, it's high-fives! And if there's one thing they love more than high-fives, it's BUSTIN' OUT OF STUFF!!!!!!!!!! But don't take our word for it...

Goldthwait Home Movies - Bobcat Goldthwait, 7 minutes

The cast of the classic short Goldthwait Home Movies reunites to record the audio commentary for the 40th anniversary DVD.

The Douser - Stephen W. Brandt, 8 minutes

When Kelly grows weary of dating jerks, a wine-making gay couple helps her transform into a superhero that helps jerks find their more sensitive sides.

Politics of Preschool - Heidi Van Lier, 6 minutes

A preschool girl attempts to gain social status and happiness through a materialistic strategy, only to find she’s been trumped. She sets out to destroy the competition by any means necessary.

Santa: The Fascist Years – Bill Plympton, 4 minutes

In this animated newsreel, we learn that jolly ol’ St. Nick has a dark, hidden past rooted in greed and politics. A new short from Academy Award© nominee Bill Plympton, featuring narration by Matthew Modine.


Wrecking Ball – Karl Merton Ferron, 5 minutes

During the summer of 2008, workers used a 4-ton wrecking ball to knock down an 80-year-old cold-storage warehouse on Baltimore’s east side. Throughout the 8-week period of the demolition, Karl Merton Ferron trained a camera on the work site from a window in the Baltimore Sun’s newsroom. The camera shot one frame every 10 seconds. Ferron also made several trips to the work site throughout the summer to record scenes of workers, equipment, debris, and the reactions of onlookers.

Out Of Print – Danny Plotnick, 4 minutes

A sweet little ode to the counterculture of the 80s and 90s, a pre-internet time when unearthing quality non-mainstream culture was a real treasure hunt.

Grand Teton – Julia Kim Smith, 5 minutes

A video portrait of a first-generation Korean-American family in transition. Director Julia Kim Smith films her family assembling once again for a group photo in the same spot where they had stood 35 years earlier in Grand Teton National Park. Through juxtaposition of photography and video, Smith documents the process of assimilation, and challenges the racial and cultural boundaries of what it means to be “American.”

Dick-George, Tenn-Tom – Gideon C. Kennedy & Marcus Rosentrater, 12 minutes

In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon visited Mobile, AL for 104 minutes, during which time he shook 100 feet of hands, lost a cufflink, and shared a stage with his biggest political rival, Governor George Wallace. Dick-George, Tenn-Tom is a sardonic look at their rivalry, the creation of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, and the attempt on Wallace's life less than a year later.


Far Out – Phil Mucci, 5 minutes

In 1972, a flamboyant producer's Hollywood party takes a strange turn when an uninvited guest comes for more than sex and drugs. Imagine Beyond the Valley of the Dolls made as a Hammer horror film. Consider your mind blown!

A Catalog of Anticipations - David Lowery, 5 minutes

A foreboding fairy tale about a little girl and her collection of dead things. Insects, flowers, animal bones - she has a strange affinity for all things deceased. Her perspective on mortality is shaken, however, when she makes a truly unsettling discovery in her backyard.

Address to Silas on the Occasion of the Retreat at Los Angeles County - David Harris, 7 minutes

The emotional landscape of a recently broken-up couple plays out as a civil-war battle that destroys both of their apartments.

The Song of the Mermaid – Troy Morgan, 13 minutes

Roselyn and William live a tranquil life in their cliffside aquarium, playing music and collecting exotic sealife. When Roselyn begins to have mysterious dreams about living underwater, their lives take a strange and unexpected turn. One night, Roselyn disappears, leaving nothing but a note explaining that she has returned to the sea. Believing that he can still find her, William embarks upon an epic search for Roselyn. He fishes everything he can out of the ocean, until he finally encounters an unearthly creature that will change his life forever. Utilizing a variety of classic cinematic techniques such as miniature sets, puppetry and animation, The Song of the Mermaid takes the viewer through an enchanting filmic experience with dreamlike images and a haunting musical score.

For more info: The Charles Theatre, 1711 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD (410) 727-FILM, Artscape