Monday, February 19, 2007

Giraffe, baby

In Santa Rosa, north of San Fran in Marin - there's a wild animal park called Safari West - sorta a reverse zoo, where you drive through the fake savannah, or even camp there. I've never been, it's been on my list for many years - this could be the summer! At any rate, they had the news of a new giraffe baby being born there after Christmas. The local paper has a slideshow of the birth process - warning, pretty graphic in spots... But way cute at the beginning and the end.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

James Taylor - Live!

So, Bonnie & I checked out the James Taylor concert (on
Valentine's Day, no less) at the Orpheum in SanFran! Now, hear me out - I'm actually a bigJT fan, for those who didn't know! It's been a long while since I've been to see him - I'd seen him 3 or 4 times in Michigan, and he always puts on a great show. This one was billed as the "One Man Band", so I was intrigued at how that would take form.

Impressions - great throughout, and probably the most interesting arrangement of stuff I've ever seen him do. It wasn't quite one-man, he had LarryGoldings accompanying on keys, but that was it. Oh, and a video screen behind him. And an electric guitar on stage, I eagerly awaited seeing him bust that out. I can't recall the play-by-play, but here's what I got :

He came on to raucous applause, and started with 'Something in the Way She Moves' (Bonnie's favorite JT song). Then 'Never Die Young' (one of his more underrated songs, I think). Then a lengthy discourse, with associated slideshow, about the Frozen Man discovered in the Italian alps in the 90's, followed by the song (he did a lot of talking & it seemed very natural, almost stand-up bits in between, which was neat). Then a no-guitar song, 'Mean Old Man', introduced by a story of his father being an Antarctic explorer, and his mom having to raise the family. He
rolled out a big "wood-shop" player-piano-like drum machine - literally an automateddrumset on a platform. Then 'My Travelling Star' with a video projection of a choir recorded in his hometown. He did 'Country Road' in the first set somewhere, concluding with 'Steamroller Blues' on electric. As soon as he put the strap over his shoulder, I yelled a solo 'woot', he said "Oh, you like the guitar?"

Second set started with 'Secret of Life' (I think), and included : 'You've Got a Friend' with a reminiscing of the days he hung out with Carole King, Carly Simon, and he was Joni Mitchell's "bitch" (awkward, but people laughed). He recounted his memories of Nixon's resignation on TV, mused on Elvis' sideburns going down to the floor, and followed with 'Line Em Up'. He put the acoustic down for 'Valentine's Day'. The choir made a return appearance, on 'Shower the People', as did the drum machine and electric axe on some song about Pink's Chili Dogs. Thecappers (along with tales of wild parties in the UK and Spain in 1968) were 'Sweet Baby James', and 'Carolina In My Mind'.

First encore was 'Fire and Rain' and 'You Can Close Your Eyes'. Then one more - 'Copperline'. Overall, flawless as expected, but also enough unexpected to really keep it going to the end. Excellent!

Friday, February 02, 2007

One more for Rex

Last week, Tippett Studio hosted a memorial for Rex Markle, providing co-workers a chance to honor him, where he had worked for 6 years and been the Roto/Paint department head for 4. As some know, a place like that can feel like family in many ways. It was a fine ceremony - there was a hired minister who led the proceedings, and she did a remarkable job, taking stories from John and friends and creating a very real and honest portrait. There was a slideshow of personal pics put together by M and editorial, and excerpts from an internal blog, quotes from co-workers on their reaction to the loss. They played the songs, "Gimme Shelter" (the Sisters of Mercy version), and Leonard Cohen's "First We Take Manhattan". Jules commemmorated the new editing suite the 'Rex Room', with a stunning plaque carved by Blair Clark. Larry, his brother, and Tom, his father, had gotten a tour of the Studio, along with a viewing of Rex's demo reel, and donated to the Studio a fantastic impressionist portrait done by a family friend. Phil and Craig started the comments by talking about how impressed they were by Rex's general love of filmmaking, and comiserating over the promulgation of talking animal movies vs. killer robot movies. Several people spoke, many getting choked up again. I related a couple stories - about how, when Rex started, he had taken over my roto shots for Mission to Mars, and that he never forgave me for that; and how he chastised my gig at ILM/working for George Lucas, and that even though I wasn't working at Tippett where he said I belonged, that he would still be a good friend. And he was indeed one of my closest friends in my time here in California. He touched many with his easy way, his wicked smart humor, his range of art and talent, is very missed by very many.

Later Bonnie and I went up to visit Rex's old desk, which had been converted into a shrine of sorts (reminded me of a voodoo altar, in a good way), by Tom G and his crew. Strange, but wonderful, to see pieces of his life laid out like that, a few things I had given him. Larry took some of the items to return home with.

It was also a good opportunity for me to catch up with folks I haven't seen in a long while. Sorry I didn't get to everyone I saw!

Thanks much to Phil and Jules, and all involved, for putting this together.