H.o.p. Art – Modeling Clay Creatures and notes on films you'll never see

H.o.p. should be blogging these things on his blog but he never thinks to do it. He’s been on another modeling clay kick the past few months. We have literally hundreds of his creations all over the apartment, most of which he fabricates intending to use in little films, but then he doesn’t get around to the films and he piles these things all on his desk and then knocks them off and his chair rolls over them so the majority end up broken with lost arms and legs and horns.

H.o.p. art - 2008

H.o.p. art - 2008

H.o.p. art - 2008

There are several more empty beautifully formed turtle backs on his desk.

Too bad we don’t know how to make plastic toys. He could do limited editions and sell them out in a week. Though not the ones above as they are based on a Mario game creature named Bowzer. And the below is based on Scab, from the game Spyro.

H.o.p. art - 2008

So, anyway, he makes many of these things for his movies but was he making a movie with them this week? No. You know what he was making a movie of…?

Last summer, he endlessly filmed the cartoon “Arthur”, editing in camera with other films he made of morphing shapes and colors, and carefully laying over all this Space Ghost sound tracks, the completed product a bizarre psychedelic version of “Arthur” that is quite long and to be must understood at all must be watched in its entirety and attentively, disparate clips dialoguing intentionally and humorously with each other to make a very out there kind of joke that takes 20 or so minutes to spin out.

“Arthur” repeated several times a day on television, and he knew what episodes would be repeating and in order to edit this all in camera, knowing exactly what he wanted, he would wait for the shows and sit through them and film the desired parts.

Not knowing what he was planning on doing with his films of “Arthur”, I thought it was crazy. Only when I sat with him and put all the parts together in Quicktime did I see that he had, from beginning to end, this all planned out.

Still, thankfully (as far as I was concerned), I didn’t hear “Arthur” all fall, winter and spring long.

Then the middle of this week H.o.p. started filming “Arthur” again.

“Why?” I asked. “Why are you doing this? You could be making your own films instead.”

Ah, but what’s he doing? Meticulously re-editing scenes in camera to completely different sound tracks. The “Arthur” music tends to be cheery and not so very dramatic. He’s re-editing innocuous scenes with dramatic music highlighting them. “See how music changes it?” he says to me. “Aren’t my choices better?” And he makes music as well for it on his electric piano, putting together a musical language of synth sounds articulating impending doom, anxiety, AHA and resolution.

So, he’s naturally teaching himself. It’s interesting. He does all these movies we’ll never put on line because it’s really all personal teaching material…he’s educating himself by filming other people’s things and re-editing them, teaching himself film pacing, editing, and how different music and edits can make entirely different moods.

Drives me nuts, totally crazy, H.o.p. with his little digital camera on his tripod putting so much energy and time into this type of thing when he could be working on his own stuff, but I keep my mouth shut…99.9 percent of the time and the other 00.1 percent doesn’t matter because H.o.p. doesn’t listen to what I say anyway.

Today, Marty had a day off from the studio. The plan was we would all do something together, like go somewhere, but H.o.p. decided he wanted to make another one of his radio shows, he and Marty not having done one in months. I didn’t feel like going down to the studio and sitting there for several hours, and had some website updates I needed to do for someone so I elected to stay home. H.o.p. got his bag and he went around gathering percussion instruments and different things he collects for sound effects and off they went.

They have just returned home and say things went “Great!”

Scratching the sacred itch of secular mysteries

We’re big appreciators of Tom Waits around here. H.o.p. as well. He’s been an avid listener since he was little. When he was two or three he listened to “Bone Machine” non stop for a year.

Back in 2004 when he was, what, 6, he did the below picture as a tribute to Waits’ “What’s he building in there?”


H.o.p. listens to not only the music, he keys into the lyrics. A few weeks ago he admitted that some of them used to frighten him but he said he gets it now that he “understands poetry”. And we knew that some of the imagery used to frighten him–yet he was fascinated, he loved the music, he just had to listen. A kid and his magnet, there was no drawing him away from the music of Wait.

So after he said that he gets the music now that he “understands poetry”, I asked him why he would repeatedly listen to the CDs when he was younger, though some of it was frightening, giving H.o.p. the ten-year-old the opportunity to think about it and explain. “Because I loved the music,” he replied.

I also suspect it was scratching the sacred itch of secular mysteries (or the secular itch of sacred mysteries, it’s all the same). He would listen and for weeks and months would question us on the lyrics of every song, what they meant. He would also ask about instrumentation. He was eager to learn about it all.

I may be a writer, but Tom Waits, and his co-writing wife, Kathleen Brennan, have been H.o.p.’s big window on the art of telling a captivating story that drags universal meaning from the incidental.

Marty was the one who first brought the music of Waits home many years ago (he was a household name before 1979) but I didn’t start listening to Waits until about 1995.

The last U.S. stop for Tom Waits on his present “Glitter and Doom” tour is Atlanta. Walking distance from here. When I first tried for tickets, none were available. Not only that but the tickets are paperless and only two are sold per household.

They had sold out in 30 minutes.

Late in June and I was still thinking about it, how H.o.p. and Marty had to go see this show, which I’d read was incredible. Late one night, on a whim, I looked the Atlanta show back up on the off chance that someone had canceled their tickets…and this time, by some insane miracle, two were available.

I promptly bought them for H.o.p. and Marty.

Marty and I argued about it the past couple weeks. He wanted me to take H.o.p. I kept saying no, I wanted him to take H.o.p. He’s a musician. He can relate a lot to H.o.p. about the show that I can’t. Tell him things about the band and the performance that I don’t know. It would be a memory that they can talk about together for years, each ever augmenting with an intellectual musical appreciation that is beyond my ability.

I really wanted H.o.p. to see Waits, the performer (and just plain wanted Marty to finally see him).

This evening I walked them up to the Fox Theater. Accompanied them inside. I needed to as I made the purchase and the paperless tickets are only available to the individual who purchased them. My bag was checked for the camera I didn’t bring along because I knew they’d be checking bags for cameras. Identification properly made, I told Marty and H.o.p. I hoped they’d enjoy the show, gave each a kiss, and Marty and H.o.p. progressed on inside to see Tom Waits in his last U.S. show of his “Glitter and Doom” tour, while I weaved my way back out through the crowd, against the tide, and walked on back home.

I read that the wonderful Lucinda has been played at every show. I put on the new album, “Orphans”, on which the song appears.

H.o.p. will be likely hoping they play “First Kiss”. He is fascinated by the image of the woman who, through holes cut in the back of her dress, wears scapular wings covered with feathers and electrical tape. He plays that song over and over.

I instead play “Dog Door”.

I’m playing it now.

No sacrifice. I did the right thing on my summer vacation.

Update: The Atlanta setlist is now up at The Eyeball Kid’s blog.

Forget music appreciation night, H.o.p. was suckered in by the disco ball bowler Wait wore during the Eyeball Kid, he thought it was great. 🙂

I’d wanted H.o.p. to see the performer, the theatrical element. I thought it would teach him something about the music.

When he got home and I asked him about the show and the hat was the first thing he went on about, pretty much overshadowed everything else…except for his wanting to find out the name of a song that he didn’t recognize and that he really liked. Turns out it’s “9th and Hennepin” off “Rain Dogs”, which we have but is an earlier vintage than what is usually playing of Waits around here.

The show started a little late. 45 minutes or so. By about that time H.o.p. needed to visit the restroom but he was scared to go because he didn’t want to miss the opening song. So he waited and he didn’t miss the opening song and eventually made a break for the bathroom about four songs in.

Marty said it is the show of the decade.

Updated update: I see people writing about powder ghosting up around Wait’s feet as he stomps his two leagues’ legs in the show’s opening, but Marty described the effect as coming from a smoke machine underneath the riser on which Wait’s was standing.

The Rain Check

H.o.p. is posting some of his comics again over on his blog. On top of all the other drawings he does, and still making a lot of neat little sculptures, he’s churning out about 6 Angsley, Kitty and Catter cartoons a day this week.

On Monday, while the landlord was here with his helper fixing the kitchen cabinet (which was threatening to fall down), H.o.p. began drawing these cartoons of Angsley and Kitty in order to entertain them, and continued yesterday and today.

Below is one of my favorites.

H.o.p. art - Kitty and the Rain Check

This one is pretty good too.

H.o.p. art - NOT!

The Alien and the Dirty Page

H.o.p. did the animation for this back in November (so I’m giving him as age 9 in the credits) but we finished work on it on the computer today.

He really likes Scott Joplin.

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The music is Manoel Carlos Motta Jr’s rendition of the “Pine Apple Rag” over at Youtube.

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Superduck Saves the Day (Again)!

H.o.p. did this animation yesterday, then we worked on it today.

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He hopes it will entertain you.

We also hit the Atlanta History Center again. I may or may not have a pic or two. The plan was just to walk the gardens, getting acquainted with them, but instead we ended up doing the tour of the old Tullie Smith farm house (dates from the 1840s), then roamed the auxiliary buildings and had fun looking at the sheep and chickens.

Robot Escapes a Dungeon

This is the other movie we did today. Again, H.o.p. did the story and animation and I helped him with the technical aspects of putting it together on the computer.

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To my knowledge there are no parts 1 through 3.

It turns out he’d lost his camera (!!!!!!) and didn’t tell us, then found it yesterday under a bunch of his junk in a drawer. So now he’s all eager to get back to doing movies.

“I’m all out of practice,” he says.

Frankly, I think he was also going through a period of exasperation with the whole process of animation because today he admitted that he was getting tired of taking so many shots trying to get things to look right. Consequently, today he did not take that many shots for these movies. And, as he said…

“I’m all out of practice.”

I’m trying to talk him into not doing epics (he starts out with big ambitious projects and burns himself out) and instead try practicing doing little short scenes.

He’s very excited (VERY EXCITED!) about finally having sound on his movies, so I expect to see soon a number of movies of robot thwarting villains.

P.S. The Fire Rhino???!!! The Fire Rhino!!! Love it. The fire becoming a FIRE RHINO!

P.P.S. Yes, I know we misspelled “villains”. I could always blame it on H.o.p. and you wouldn’t know any better (would you) but that one is actually my fault.

Duck Joplin

H.o.p. worked on this little movie today (even though it says January, we did it today). I aided him with the technical aspects of putting it together on the computer, but he did all the animation and the story himself, and found the music he wanted to add to it. I helped him to implement what he wanted in Photoshop and Quicktime and doing the recording in Audacity, then getting it up.

It was a long day as we did two movies.

A longer day because the conversion from a mov file to flv at Dreamhost was mucking everything up and I’ve spent TWO HOURS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY after spending all day working on these two movies with him. Unable to figure out why it was all mucked up and stalling and cutting out, I finally just converted to the d**** flv myself and it seems to be working fine.

P.S. Forgive the background hum. I forgot to cut off the speakers when recording the Scott Joplin music for this. H.o.p. found a site with the music and I had to set up the mic next to his speakers and record it off his computer, but I forgot to turn off my speakers while recording and got this terrible, annoying hum. But H.o.p. likes it. He thinks it contributes to the antique ambiance. He put up the movie on his website and titled it, “Charlie Ducklin”. Cute!

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H.o.p. Art - Mission Martian Search

Haven’t uploaded anything for H.o.p. in a long while. Stacks of drawings pile up several feet high all over the apartment. I need to start getting some of them scanned in. Was just doing this one tonight because I find it heartwarming that his conviction that Martians exist is unflagging.

This is a little sketch he did in one second then finished in Photoshop, quickly illustrating for me how he wanted to design a Land Rover that would seek out those Martians. These days he spends a good bit of time working on producing finessed figures, like he sees in comic art, but I like his little flash sketches for their energy.