Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer In New York part 1

The Leopard finds that he spends most of his time in the Chelsea area of Manhattan these days. Yesterday was the Gay Pride Parade and the neighborhood was alive with the sights and sounds of everybody's favorite alternative lifestyle.

It simply wasn't the place to be if you don't like being checked out from head to toe. But if you don't care a wit because like the leopard, you're comfortable in your manhood, there's much to be seen everywhere. Young men with carefully cultivated hard bodies on the make; comparing abs, and shorts shorter than I've seen since the 1970's NBA.

I was returning a DVD at the Blockbuster on 20th and 8th when I saw a young man dressed only in what looked like an impossibly tight speedo standing outside the American Apparel, giving out leaflets for the store. two young Latino girls, presumably from another part of town, stepped up to him, oohing and ahhing, reached out and felt his privates in broad daylight. His reaction was only a slight smirk.

This scene seemed to shock no one, and I suddenly felt old.

Indy's Back

I finally saw Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull last night. A little background: I am a HUGE fan of the series. I loved Raiders of The Lost Ark (1981). This may age me a bit, but I saw it the first week it was out and I bought the soundtrack. I had a copy of the screenplay, illustrated with storyboards from the film. I used to read it over and over, because it was like reliving the film. I was also, like most red-blooded film geeks at that time, a huge fan of both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and I thought the film was a match made in heaven.

I was a little disappointed with Temple of Doom (1984) but I still liked it quite a bit, especially the wonderful coal car race at the end and the scene with the rope bridge. I missed Karen Allen, though. I thought Kate Capshaw was a weak substitute.

Although I liked Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), it felt a little like a retread of the first two films. The thing that worked most for me was the casting of Sean Connery who's wonderful in the role of Indy's father.

Crystal Skull, I think had a brilliant opening by setting it in the government warehouse last shown at the end of Raiders. I thought Cate Blanchett's villainess was a lot of fun and a nice change of pace. In reading other blogs, the consensus seems to be that Shia LeBoeuf's Mutt is like the second coming of Jar Jar Binks. I disagree. I think the role is underwritten, but he does about a good job with it as could be expected.

There are many nice stunts and effects as well and a nice surprise at the end. I think my favorite scene is the one with the giant devouring ants.

When we first see Harrison Ford as Indy, I felt a little disappointed. He looked old to me. But as the film went on, I forgot about it, and it all made sense. My biggest criticism of the film would be that the structure of the screenplay seems slight jumpy and stop n' start, but I thought in the final analysis, it's enjoyable and a worthy entry into the series.

My Job World, Part I

For the last 15 years, I have made my living as an Art Director. I started out wanting to be a cartoonist. I went to a well known art High School in New York called, appropriately enough The High School of Art and Design, hoping, as did many of my classmates, I'd make it as a cartoonist at Marvel Comics. Of course it wasn't long before I realized that this was more of a fantasy. For one thing, there were many better artists than me around, and also I realized I would never get to be as creative as I wanted, because as I had seen, Marvel had a factory-like atmosphere where the best attribute one could have to be a penciller was not only talent but to have an industrious nature, meaning to put out a large number of pages by deadline, not to have say on what characters you drew, and to do exactly what you were told.

I stumbled around until I ended up in Louisville Kentucky. I was brought there to be with my eventual ex-wife. She taught at a large well-known college there, and I had to make a decision on what I would do with my life.

I started working for a small magazine doing little illustrations, when I noticed the guy laying out was really lame and I hated the way he dealt with my artwork. I started laying out the pages by hand and giving him my sketches which he followed, but never to my satisfaction.

Eventually, he taught me to use Pagemaker and my designing life on computer began.

I am The Leopard

When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I created a superhero called the Leopard. His real name was the very super-hero alter ego sounding Jim Morgan. He came out of an group of imaginary characters my best friend and I created in our playtime growing up in Staten Island, NY. I had a brother and sister, but my friend was an only child. He was Jewish and I 'm not (of course I didn't know what that was at the time), and his mother was a school teacher and a lousy housekeeper.
We had his big house to ourselves and we would play with these little block that represented buildings and toy cars. We called it Bilmelytown because it sounded vaguely British. We thought anything British was cool. So my character, Jim Morgan, and his character and
brother, Rex Morgan were millionaires and Mayors of Blimelytown.

Of course, what the people of Blimeleytown didn't know was that these two were actually
The Cats: The Leopard and The Jaguar, two former archeologists who found an ancient Egyptian coin that gave them super powers when they recited the following words:

"Of All The Cats In The World,
Please Join,
Put Your Strength
Within This Coin"!

We did these characters for years. I drew pretty well, so we began creating our own comics featuring the characters which we wrote together and I drew. I went to an Art High School and my friend went to a different school and I dropped his character and the title "The Cats" and continued to make my own Leopard comics. When I look at them now he was a very obvious stand in for me. Even though on the surface he was battling super villains like The Jack O' Lantern, Spider-man style he was having personal problems with family, girlfriends and the like. It's obvious as I pore through them now he reflected my own pathetic life.

So now in adulthood, I embrace my alter-ego, The Leopard.