Friday, August 31, 2012

Mysterious Booms Part 2: Why Reconnaissance ?

[If you wish, you can save some time and just cut to the final post which is concise and skeptical. See]

Part 2:  Why does it seem that they are always building secret airplanes for reconnaissance ?

In our previous episode, we discussed some of the reasons to believe that there is both a history of development of various kinds of aerospace technologies in secret, but that in general they do not deploy those technologies secretly, except on a few occassions, because it is so expensive.

Often these technologies that are proven as a black project are incorporated into the next generation of aircraft (e.g. fighter, bomber, drone, whatever) and becomes a normal military secret. Or the technology doesn't work well or is not worth the expense and is dropped.

But in a few cases, they go ahead and develop a limited-production model, and put it into special, black, operational use. That is so expensive that they only do so when there is a serious advantage in doing so.

And, it just so happens that in reconnaissance there are a number of reasons why keeping things very secret is desirable.

The more the opposition knows about how you get your information, the more countermeasures he can take and the more you have to worry that they are trying to fool you. A classic example of deception was the creation of an imaginary, second attack army in England before the Normandy invasion, and then making sure that the Germans found out about it. And the last thing you want is for your reconnaissance to be predictable, e.g. they always look every 3 days at 10AM, which is exactly what happens with satellites. They are very predictable, unless you move them around, and that is very expensive. On the other hand, it is much harder to know when a high flying stealthy aircraft is about to be overhead.

Spontaneity is one advantage airplanes have over satellites, but it is not the only one. The others include the ability to put the airplane right over the area of interest, and put it at a much lower altitude than a satellite which makes it much easier to get detail and to collect various kinds of electromagnetic signals. And even very expensive airplanes are much less expensive to build and operate than a satellite.

So if you have built a new vehicle that would work for reconnaissance, then you may very well wish to build an operational reconnaisance unit to operate it and keep it all black. That is what has happened in the past with the U2 and with the CIA Oxcart / SR-71 project. It may be the most effective way to get the information, and less expensive than other options, however expensive it may be in its own right.

So it is plausible that they (e.g. the CIA, the USAF, and others) might do such a thing again.

(Continued in Part 3)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Sword Fight in The Princess Bride (1987)

Before we discuss the evidence for currently operational secret aerospace projects, we will briefly digress to a seemingly unrelated topic: the sword fight in cinema.

Although very little can compare to the sheer drama and subtlety inherent in a fight between giant robots, arguably the most important contribution of visual effects filmmaking in history, there have in the past been other conventions to demonstrate conflict and skill between characters.  At one point in the history of filmmaking  the sword fight was a required scene, a platform for good and evil to metaphorically struggle against each other and settle the matter once and for all time which of the two will triumph.

Although fans of fencing and students of fencing argue constantly about what would constitute a decent fencing scene in cinema, and whether any exist at all, there is general agreement that the sword fight in The Princess Bride (1987) between Inigo Montoya and the mysterious "Man in Black" is a cut above (as they say in the fencing world) most of the others in the genre.

If you do not know this sequence, or if you haven't seen it recently, here is a link to a decent version on youtube.

The scene was choreographed by the late Bob Anderson, Hollywood's most famous sword fight coach, and the uncredited fencing double for Darth Vader in the early Star Wars films.  It features a dialogue between our two characters that, to a student of fencing, is apparently completely hilarious.  But most amazing of all for those knowledgeable about some of the techniques of fighting with swords, although the fight itself is not realistic per se, it does at least actually use genuine fencing technique most of the time.  Inconceivable!

As I mentioned above, the dialog is something of an in joke for those who know the history of fencing.  

Montoya: You are using Bonnetti's Defense against me, ha !
Wesley: I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.
Montoya: Naturally you must expect me to attack with Capo Ferro.
Wesley: Naturally. But I find that Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro, don't you ?
Montoya: Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa... which I have !
Montoya: You are wonderful !
Wesley: Thank you, I have worked hard to become so.
Montoya: I admit it, you are better than I am.
Wesley: Then why are you smiling?
Montoya: Because I know something that you do not know.
Wesley: And what is that?
Montoya: I am not left-handed.

These are not the names of real techniques in fencing, but they are the names of well-known people in the history of fencing: Rocco Bonnetti, Ridolfo Capo Ferro, and so forth. See this link for a full discussion of who these people were.

The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts has a good collection of essays on various topics of classic sword fighting.

Mysterious Booms Part 1: Intelligence & Funny Noises

[If you wish, you can save some time and just cut to the final post which is concise and skeptical. See]

Part 1: Background Information

The point of this series of posts is to bring to your attention some evidence that suggests that one or more very secret, American, advanced technology aircraft or air/space vehicles is/are flying. But before we can discuss this, there are a few things to say about the topic of intelligence and black, or secret, projects, that you should know in order to be able to reasonably process the evidence.

Even before working at the RAND Corporation, I found the worlds of intelligence and special projects to be fascinating. It combines advanced technology, immense resources, and incredibly challenging goals and then makes it even more interesting by adding the sense of mystery and intrigue. Since I am not in that business, I can indulge my interest in the topic without being annoyed by security issues or the pesky realities that most businesses have when you know enough about them.

Although these supposed projects are by their very nature secret, it is the case that there are things that a knowledgeable observer can know about this work, if he or she pays attention. Such open sources include: (a) analysis of the federal budget to determine where and in what quantities intelligence or special projects are funded and thus get some feel for the current scope of activities, (b) review of open access policy discussions which often discuss and argue for one approach or another in the context of strategy, (c) a knowledge of the history of past projects made public as an indicator of the type of thing they might do again in the future, (d) some understanding of the implications of things they do tell the public, (e) reports of sightings of mysterious events by qualified observers, and last but not least, (f) a realization that at the end of the day physics is still physics and we all have to live with gravity and other manifestations of physical reality.

For example, during the cold war, we read how important "verification" was to the SALT treaties. This meant that both sides needed the ability to independently verify what was built, what was flying, what infrastructure existed, and so forth as it related to nuclear weapons and their delivery. From that, and from various other discussions and activities, one could conclude that it was likely that a variety of special technology reconnaisance aircraft and satellites were being built and used with some success. There were a variety of indications that something was happening, but it was the shooting down of a Lockheed U2 with pilot Gary Powers in 1960 that first brought that particular vehicle into the public eye. In 1964, LBJ revealed the successor to the U2, the SR-71 Blackbird, probably well in advance of when it should have been revealed. It was in the 1980s that we first started hearing much of significance about the satellites that had been built, although many knew that there were operating something up there.

Some other things to keep in mind is that these projects are, generally, unbelievably expensive and that means that they can only do a few of them at a time because of budget and other kinds of resource constraints.   And that they have an incentive to let people believe that some projects exist so that opposition intelligence organizations can waste their time learning about them, so one may hear rumors about many projects only a few of which actually exist.  It is the nature of black projects that they are very expensive,  but however expensive it may be to develop and demonstrate a technology, or use it once or twice in an intelligence role, it is far more expensive and difficult to keep secret a project that is deployed in any quantity. It can be done, it has been done, but it doesn't happen very often (the F117A and the B2 are the only two recent examples I know of).

Thus, even if something cool is built, and tested, and maybe even rumored about or sighted, that does not necessarily mean that they are using that technology. They may have just tested the idea and then decided to wait or do something else.

But for a very few technologies and projects, an operational role is approved and the technologies are put into limited production and, in the case of aerospace platforms at least, generally have an operational unit of some sort that is built around them. And as these highly secret vehicles are flown on a regular or semi-regular basis, that is when it is much more likely that information will start getting around.

The best place to learn something about the recent history of aerospace related "black" projects is the Mystery Aircraft page of the Federation of American Scientists, a pro-arms control group. The page has not been updated in many years, but it is still the best resource that I know of which intelligently assembles the evidence available, and then does a little informed speculation, about these projects. I believe that all the information in these pages is well worth reading or at least glancing at as background information.  A specific conclusion of the budget analysis in the Aurora section of these pages, is that the overall size and changes in the budget support the idea that something was put into limited operational use.  

(continued in Part 2)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Commentary on Ageism by Louis L'Amour (1908-1988)

I first became aware of the problem of ageism when reading an interview with the great American author and philosopher, Louis L'Amour, in an airline magazine.

Sometime in the late 70s, flying on Pacific Southwest Airlines, an airline which is now sadly out of business, I read an interview with Mr. L'Amour  whose work I had seen in hundreds of grocery stores and whom I had never read, and he advised:

Never tell your age. There is too much ageism in America.

Although I was in my early 20s, I somehow knew that I was hearing the voice of experience, and that I should take his advice.

Louis L'Amour at his typewriter in Los Angeles

revised 8/7/2016

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Archaeology of the Cold War: Contingency Speech if Apollo 11 Had Failed

It was announced that Neil Armstrong (1930 - 2012) has passed away.  This is something of a shock to me, as I had no idea that this was in any way expected, or that he was 82 years old.  He seemed to me to be much younger, perhaps 75.

Apparently William Safire was a speech writer for the Nixon Administration, and as a contingency he wrote a speech for President Nixon in case the Apollo 11 mission failed catastrophically and both Armstrong and Aldrin had died.

Fortunately, it never had to be used.  But it seems appropriate to resurrect this document now that Neil has passed away.

One policy note: it is pretty clear that one purpose of this speech was to try to forestall the necessity to spend the money and risk new lives to retrieve the bodies.  That would certainly be expensive and, almost certainly at least as great a risk as what they had just taken and which had not worked out.  Although understandable from their point of view it is unlikely to have worked.  Americans have a tradition of bringing the bodies back home, it is deep in our culture, and the moon would have become a reproach to all of us that we had left our friends there had we not retrieved the bodies.

The following draft speech was written by "Bill" Safire, later known as William, on July 18, 1969, in other words, two days before the landing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Defamation, Employment Contracts and the Case of "El Naschie vs Nature Publishing"

How lucky we are today to have our first legal judgment on Global Wahrman !

In this case, we have the case of El Naschie vs Nature Publishing regarding an article published in Nature which El Naschie claims/claimed was defamation.

Apparently El Naschie, if I read this correctly, started his own academic journal, and then set himself up to review his own papers,  which he had submitted to his journal.   It certainly makes sense to me that one would like one's own papers, don't you agree?    This is a peer-reviewed journal and by definition the author of a paper is his own peer.  This principle was definitively established by von Strindberg and Broadway  in their 1948 paper in Transactions on Publishing entitled "On Self-Peering".   [Editors note: this is Michael's idea of a joke, he is being sarcastic, just in case you didn't notice.] So what is the problem?    It just seems like a very efficient way to get a lot of papers published.   Anyway, these picky academics: always complaining about something. Nature published an essay about the situation and was quite clear and opinionated about the ethics of starting a "peer-reviewed journal", then personally writing most of the articles, and acting as his own peer-reviewer for those articles before publication.  As a result,  El Naschie sued Nature for defamation.

Defamation has been on my mind recently because of various contracts for employment that I have reviewed and which have "strong", or at least strongly-worded,  anti-defamation clauses.  Defamation, though, is a legal term that has a meaning slightly different from its use in the vernacular.  To the courts, "defamation" refers to the act of saying something about somebody that hurts their reputation, as you would expect.  But to be defamation, these statements also need to be  (a) not true and (b) intended to cause harm.   If the nasty thing you say about someone or some thing turns out to be true then it isn't defamation by definition.

It is also not defamation when you express your opinion as opposed to asserting something as being a statement of fact.   So for example, if I say that "such-and-such company has, in my opinion, a ridiculous employment contract that will cause them trouble in the long run because I think it will discourage people from working with them", that is not defamation.  That is just me expressing my opinion, as I am legally entitled to do.

If however I say that "so-and-so is wanted for felony assault in the State of NY and is a well-known pederast who got booted out of his home town because of his sexual proclivities," and if  that was not true, then that would almost certainly be defamation.

Why do these employment contracts have such odd and apparently unnecessary anti-defamation clauses?  I am told by my Oxford / Harvard Business School friend that it is to scare immature 23 year olds and keep them from spraying their self-righteous phlegm all over some social media web page when they get pissed off about something the company has done (e.g. for laying them off or something).   Such clauses should be unnecessary of course because defamation is illegal.   Contracts do not need to contain clauses that say "the employee promises not to have kinky sex with underage women," because sleeping with underage women is illegal in this country, whether kinky or not.  It even has its own well-defined term in the vernacular, jailbait, which is really a wonderful word when you think about it.   (And what a good example of a Germanic languages' process of creating a new word by concatenating existing words together.)    Thus no such clause is necessary in any contract, and if it were, it might be covered by a boilerplate that might say something such as "all parties agree to obey the law".  I mean really, that seems like an unnecessary thing to say, but I guess it might be worth reminding people of that general guideline in the fast-paced world of internet startups.

Now that I think about it, isn't there some large software company in Redmond, Wa. that routinely used to violate anti-trust law ?   Maybe we should have a clause in the contracts of corporate executives requiring them to obey the law in the execution of their duties.   Its just a thought.

Anyway, this case is full of juicy charges and counter-charges, nasty emails from mysterious people, and a lot of biped mammals acting very immaturely, if you ask me.   I think it is worth a look.

Here is the first page of the judgment.

"Cinemagraphs" Animation & Photography

Clever use of gifs to do animation with photography.  These are not mine, I borrowed them from the web page below.

See web page on the process:

Archaeology of the Cold War: The CIA Report on the 1953 Coup in Iran

I propose that if we had a top ten of most controversial CIA cold war "activities", the coup in Iran that put the Shah in power would be on that list.   Everyone knows that we put the Shah in power, right ?

Well, maybe.

Maybe we did, or maybe things are a little more complicated than that.  At the very least, we (i.e. the USA & the CIA) could be accused of serious meddling, actually quite a bit worse than that. But maybe not exactly guilty of putting the Shah in power, or so it might seem.

Submitted for your consideration is a 200-page CIA historical report, more or less an after-action report, of the planned coup in Iran and what transpired.   The first thing you will notice, when you read it, is that the CIA coup failed.  What, you say ?  How could that be ?   Although I could tell you the story here, and very well may in a future version of this post, for now I am suggesting that you read the report yourself.  There is some value in watching the CIA's plans fail, see them work to get their people out of the country, and watch their confusion as things evolved beyond what they had planned.

Now I have to admit that one would be really naive to think that the CIA is going to release a report that is going to criticize themselves, and we are the first to admit that I can only guess when the truth ends and the wishful thinking, or worse, begins.

But since the situation with Iran is certainly on the front pages every day, and since many people in Iran certainly blame us for putting the Shah in power, I think it is worthwhile for concerned Americans to read a little bit about either what happened, or maybe happened, on those days long ago.

(For those who want the executive summary, it goes something like this.  The CIA coup failed.  But things were sufficiently riled up that others took things into their own hands... particularly the army, or that is my interpretation from reading this.  You read it, and tell me what you think).

For those who are upset because it might appear that I am defending the Shah of Iran, that is not the case. The Shah was completely evil!  Evil!  For example, he wanted to educate women! Can you believe that?!  What a scumbag!   No wonder they got rid of him.  (Ok, I am being sarcastic.  I have no particular opinion on the Shah.  I do have an opinion about the current government of Iran, and it is not positive.  But that does not mean that I advocate the USA being involved in regime change, overt or covert, no such opinion is expressed here).

But I digress.  Seriously, check it out.  Remember this is a CIA internal report of some sort, quite possibly deliberately constructed as some sort of disinformation campaign,  and you should assume it is not the entire truth, at the very least.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SIGGRAPH 2012 Job Fair and the Kindness of Strangers

Something very funny happened when I worked the SIGGRAPH 2012 job fair.  I got a job.  No! Just kidding.   Not even close, but something very human and nice happened, so that is what this post is about.

I was sighted working the Siggraph 2012 job fair by a variety of people, apparently. That means that various people who know me saw me there and made comments to friends who made comments to friends who maybe made comments to me.   I hear about this weeks after SIGGRAPH, by the way.  Thats all ok with me.

Its even ok with me that I heard many times "that I must have been humiliated" working the Job Fair. I thought that was an interesting comment, and I heard it several times, from different people, so I suppose I was. Humiliated, that is. I mean if they say so. I didnt think I felt humiliated, I thought I was looking for a job.

The background here is that for health reasons I have decided not to try to do anything entrepreneurial (I may have to back off of that decision) because of the stress that a startup and running a company necessarily causes. So it seemed logical to me that I would look for a job. Lots of people have jobs, lots of people have had jobs in the past, and will have jobs in the future. It seems like a logical thing to do.

And since Siggraph has gone though all the trouble to make a job fair, it seemed logical to me that I would take advantage of it. So I stood in line at various booths and talked to various human resource people. And after doing that a few times, a very amusing thing happened.

A very serious, very presentable young man who I did not know, asked me if he could have a word with me. His name was/is Michael Shaneman (name used with permission), and I am pretty sure that we had never met. Sure, I said. He took me aside and said, something like this. " I hope you dont mind, " he began, "but you are doing this all wrong. You can never be negative in front of a recruiter, " he said. "They are paid to weed out anyone who says anything negative or who is eccentric in any way" (I am doing this from memory). "You have to be positive and you have to lead with your ace. " I could tell that he was totally sincere, totally well meaning, and really wanted to help me.

Isn't that nice ? I mean a total stranger ! And he was/is completely sincere, and I think you will agree with me, completely correct. I probably wasnt even aware I was being negative. I probably thought I was being wry, or sarcastic, or even ironic, or something.

Anyway, the point is, it restores my faith in human nature that a total stranger would try to coach me to have a good attitude, and I think he deserves a pat on the back.

Of course, it would be completely misleading to try to convince an employer that I would not be jaded and cynical, and filled with a certain, hmmm, lack of enthusiasm for what computer animation has become, but its hard not to like someone who would help a stranger like that.

So, Michael Shaneman, wherever you are. Thank you very much ! It was probably the only good thing to come out of the so-called Job Fair, and if so, it was a very good thing indeed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Lytro at Siggraph 2012 and the "Technical Lytro"

On two different occasions I heard Kurt Akeley describe the Lytro camera which uses lightfields in photography.   Here is an example of a picture he took of me, at different points of focus, and then the original, live, on his web site.

I love this.

The live version is at

Here are two stills derived from the "live" version.  Yes, this is me in my "George Smiley" mode.  The other redhead is my friend Scott Elofson.

Studio / Technical Lytro ?

I asked Kurt if he / Lytro were planning to do a studio version of this camera.  He said that he wasn't sure if there was a business model for such a thing.  I said, I was quite sure whether there was a business model for such a thing, the answer is no, absolutely not.  Not a chance.

But actually, I had the terms wrong.  I meant a "technical camera", and the answer would still be no.

A technical camera is one that a professional photographer would use in his/her studio to do product photography among other things and would be capable of significant tilt & shift both front and back.

A few pictures of studio / technical cameras:

Here is a link to a description of a technical camera by Phillip Agee, see

So we won't expect a Technical Studio Lytro anytime soon.  But hopefully this first Lytro will be the first in a series of successful and innovative Lytro cameras.    I am dying to get my hands on one.

Lytro themselves can be found at

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Tony Scott "Showreel" at Robert Abel & Associates

This is a brief anecdote on how I first became aware of the work of Tony Scott.

When I started work at Robert Abel & Associates (RA&A)  in 1980 or so, while still running a laboratory at the Rand Corporation, I used to distract myself by prowling around the three-story studio on Highland and Romaine in the middle of the night.   Working at RA&A was my moonlighting job, I still had a real job during the day.

There were lots of things to see and people to talk to in a visual effects studio that used the traditional arts in the middle of the night back then.  Lots of artists on the third floor, Image G and Tom Barron shooting Pepsi Cola commercials in the stage next door, Rob Legato on Camera 2 shooting Eastern Airline commercials, John Nelson shooting camera, Steve Cooney on E&S1, Doc Baily on E&S 2, John Hughes working with Mary Lambert on a Happy Jacks commercial,  and so forth.

There was of course a room to watch videos and in that room there was a library of various commercial show reels, each of them on 3/4" video tape.   For those of you who were not around in the 1980s, 3/4" Umatic was the semi-professional video format of its day used in education and some documentary film work, but mostly used as a distribution format for professional sample reels and such things.  It was better than 1/2" and most places had at least one 3/4" machine around.

The library had about 50 or so "show reels" from various commercial directors internationally. I think some of them were just there because they were cool, and of course there were various RA&A sample reels of various collections (e.g. car commercials, broadcast openings, motion control), and of various RA&A directors: Clark Anderson, Randy Roberts, Kenny Mirman, etc.   I went through all of them and when I was giving a tour of the studio would usually show one of the RA&A reels of recent work to our visitors.

For those of you who are not aware of the commercial production business, it is very much a director's business, or at least it was and I suspect it still is.  It is amazingly competitive: unbelievably, insanely, ridiculously and pathologically competitive.  Did I mention vicious?  The primary tool of selling for the director was the "show reel" of recent work as distributed to various production companies and advertising agencies.  The show reel is an art form of a certain type: a tool by professionals used by them to sell their services to those who are in the position to hire directors.   I am sure it is filled with nuance and evil beyond imagination, for those who know how to read them, which I do not.

So as you have guessed by now, one of the show reels that was there in that library was the show reel for Tony Scott.    I have no idea why it was there.  I doubt Tony Scott worked with RA&A at least not that I ever heard about, and I am pretty sure I would have heard.  So the reel was just there because it was cool.     This was my introduction to the genre of British commercial directors, and the role of the British in inventing advertising as we know it, or at least as we knew it (it is of course changing again).

See for example the film Absolute Beginners (1986) by Julien Temple or read the famous book published in 1959 by Colin MacInnes on which it was based for an introduction to this history and the scene in England at the time.

The Tony Scott show reel was amazing.

I watched it over and over again.  Commercials are a complex art form, commercial by definition, and I recognize that there is a huge amount of skill and effort that can go into making them.  Such craft is essential, but may not be awe inspiring.  But this reel was very interesting.   It had no visual effects that I recall, no animation, maybe there was a motion controlled camera or two, but I didn't notice them.  It was great because of the style, the editing, the photography and the, pardon my French, filmmaking skill that went into them.

So far I have not found any Tony Scott commercial show reels online, but I suspect that they are there, or they will be there after his recent demise.   So I will update this post when I find one.   It will be interesting to see if it is still as impressive today as it seemed to me then.

[Addendum.  As promised, here is a link to some of the commercial work of Tony Scott, which can be found at Ridley Scott & Associates.  See here]

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Squid Move Postponed

When I lived in NYC, I had the opportunity to work at the American Museum of Natural History as they were building the new Hayden Planetarium. This was also part of the NASA Digital Galaxy Project to build a map of our galaxy for visualization purposes, which will be the subject of later posts.

I have noticed that every interesting project will also have an interesting meeting, memo, whatever that seems to capture the spirit of a project, or of a place.  This project had many such events, memos, etc, not all of them fun.  But the following email, written here from memory, was one of my favorites.  When I received it, I forwarded it without comment to about 10 of my friends and, unusually, I got a response from every one of them.   One of my friends thought at first that the email was about a "squid movie" that had been postponed.

The name below is made up, I do not remember the name of the person who originally sent it.


To:          all-amnh
Date:       July 11, 1999

Due to circumstances that were not entirely foreseen, the giant squid will not be moved on Friday as originally planned.


                     Rebecca Swanson

                     Research Associate
                     Department of Invertebrates
                     American Museum of Natural History


Smithsonian Article on the Giant Squid

The American Museum of Natural History

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Analog Computer & Its Place in History

Before the digital computer, there was the analog computer that would solve important problems that needed to be calculated and solved (perhaps in real time) using mechanical means. These "calculators" were often continuous in nature (unlike most digital computers which are discrete).

Some of the most important inventions of the second world war are in the area of these analog computers. Consider the very secret Norden Bomb Sight, the anti-aircraft fire control director for ships, and the amazing Torpedo Data Computer (of which only one remains in working order today). These are all analog computers that take input from an operator and calculate a continuously updating "fire solution" for the task at hand. In the case of the submarine, this would mean automatically tracking the speed and direction of the submarine, and receiving from the operator a heading to a target. From this, over time, the computer would estimate where the target will be when a torpedo could reach it, and automatically program the torpedos in their tubes to these settings. Its a very difficult trigonometry problem and it used to be done by hand by the capitain and his XO in the course of the attack.

Ben Clymer of MIT has written a paper on the history, significance, and contributors to this field. Although its day has passed, I promise you this is worth knowing something about. It was really very important in its day.

The paper by Ben Clymer is at

The manual for the Torpedo Data Computer is at:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Graphic Films and the 1964 New York World's Fair

I believe that the peak of American civilization was at the 1964 New York World's Fair, and that sadly  it has all been downhill from there.  The reason for this is that, plausibly, that was about the last time American's could believe such things as (a) technology was unambiguously good and in the service of mankind and (b) that America was on the side of right in all that they did in the world.  Our strength was as the strength of ten because our heart was pure.

But whether or not that is true, I am doing research on the films associated with the fair and the production companies that made these films, in particular Graphic Films of Los Angeles.   Graphic Films was in its day one of the central nodes of the graph.  A place that anyone who was interested in that kind of filmmaking tended to end up.  Robert Abel and Associates was such a place a decade or so later.   Alumni of Graphic Films include Con Pederson, Douglas Trumbull and Robert Abel, and I am sure that there are many others.

I am mentioning this on the chance that someone who reads this blog knows something about these topics, and possibly has access to materials associated with them.  Or just knows something about the history.

If you do, please contact me so I can ask you questions.

Here are some images and a link to a brochure about the underground family home, one of the attractions of the NY World's Fair.  I am pretty sure that when the Fair was over that this attraction was covered up, and that the family is still down there, waiting.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Container Garden in Hell and its Impact on Social Networking

You may ignore this post if you are interested in the larger topics of this blog. This post is in the "trivial issues of my pathetic so-called life" topic. It does have a social networking spin though, that I at least find interesting.

I maintain a garden here in Hell. I live in Escondido, Ca, which was originally known as Rancho Rincon del Diablo (or the Devil's Place, e.g. Hell). No one knows how it got that name but I suspect that they do know, they are just not saying. I am here for a variety of reasons, but the most important one is that it saves money. Its nice but inconvenient for anything I need to do other than sit and type, and I am very lonely down here.

I have a patio, so I started a container garden because I thought it would get me outside more, be economical, possibly improve the quality of my life (e.g. fresh herbs) and because I thought it would be fun. Well it is fun, it is also expensive, and educational.

The bottom line is this. If you have to leave your garden in August and there is no one to water it (and no money to set up an automatic watering system), then in fact putting the movable part of the garden in the shade will allow it to survive for a week. Anything in the sun doesn't have a chance.  I had to leave my garden to attend SIGGRAPH 2012 and thus this experiment was performed.   

Container gardening has an interesting social networking story to tell, I think. There are a lot of gardening forums out there and there is a lot of useful information. There is also a tremendous amount of crap. Anything you read about gardening on the Internet, you can find an authority spouting advice saying the exact opposite. Frankly, its a little pathetic. Why do people say these things, when they have not tested them, or do not know whether they work or not ? Why shouldn't they ? Its really all about their ego and the size of their virtual, umm, well, you know, "member", virtually speaking that is. I think. Maybe. But what I am describing is very real, its not at all subtle. You can read an answer to any topic, and quickly find the opposite answer somewhere, equally authoritative, without any trouble. It is probably a decent topic for a masters or PhD thesis to gather some numbers on the phenomenon. This might mean picking N topics at random. Pick M answers to the N topics. See what percentage of the answers contradict each other in either subtle or overt ways.

One more thing, if you do think about a garden, I can save you a lot of time and money. Just do a fresh herb garden, it is inexpensive, it works, it is not much trouble. Plant it serially (e.g. replant it regularly, say every 4 months) and you will have a continuous supply. We are mostly talking about fresh basil here. You might also look at some leaf lettuce, a little harder than herbs, but not much harder. Once you try to scale up from there, e.g. tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans, then the space, time and work required goes up significantly. And if you are like me, you will be amazed at the number, variety, camouflage and cleverness of the biological enemies of your garden, just waiting, lurking, ready to pounce.

So keep it simple and move on.

Too bad about those forums, though.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

SIGGRAPH 2012 Issues for Discussion

[This is draft 1.05 of this post.  This is a work in progress and is likely to change.  You might note the version number of the version you read if you have a comment or wish to discuss the points within.]

Today is the first day of the ACM SIGGRAPH 2012 National Conference.

Keep in mind as you read this post, that I am being a little deliberately provocative.  I look at the program and do not see any of the issues that dominate my life or the life of many of my peers. These issues are apparently  not even acknowledged to exist, let alone addressed.  More discussion is called for, I think.

I have never found that being outspoken on controversial issues does the individual who speaks out any good whatsoever.  It is almost always a negative thing for his or her career, or so it seems from my perspective and experiences.  Nevertheless it is hard to participate in a field that does not think that some of the issues below are important and I wanted to bring them to your attention.

Although a pale shadow of its former importance, ACM SIGGRAPH is still the leading conference of its type in this country and maybe the world.  But computer animation and visualization is no longer a brand new technology looking to prove it can be useful in the world.  Not only is it part of some very large industries, but it has the maturity to be able to say that it has had several major economic booms and busts behind it, not to mention mergers and acquisitions, and is the target of large scale government subsidies by non -US countries in order to affect trade and employment, outsourcing and offshoring, to the detriment of the computer animation industry in this country (at least in terms of employment and the financial well being of people who live here).

It is not clear to me what the role of the entertainment industry in this field is or should be.   Is entertainment and media production (e.g. movies, television, internet production, games, etc) the driving force and the primary participants of this conference, even over education and academia ?  One argument that entertainment / media is the leading participant comes from the evidence of the location of SIGGRAPH.  It is said that when they hold SIGGRAPH outside of Southern California it loses money.   On the other hand, one might wonder if even that equation will still hold true, even if entertainment has become the driving force, as so much of the field has left for offshore.

ACM SIGGRAPH is very expensive compared to conferences in other academic fields.   Or maybe it is just expensive relative to the other fields I am interested in (e.g. the American Institute of Archaeology and the American Philology Association meet each year and the cost of the full technical program is about $200.  Of course, infrastructure support for an Archaeology conference is mostly a few overhead and slide projectors, I think.)

This hastily written post, however sincerely written, can not be comprehensive and present these complicated issues in a fair and balanced manner.  Although I would very much like to do that, it may be beyond my skills and available resources to do so.

Hopefully, it can inspire discussion and not blow up in my face too badly.

Some specific notes, obviously some are much less important than others.

1. Does or should  SIGGRAPH serve as a professional society, in some sense of the word ?  Should we be discussing unemployment, "oversupply" by schools of people in the field?  Should we be discussing the impact of subsidies and other government policies (mostly non-US governments) and its huge impact on employment of people in this field?   With the latter issue, I may have also included an issue that might be more properly addressed by a "trade organization" rather than a professional society.  Maybe.

2. SIGGRAPH implicitly encourages people to go into this field, the glamourous and exciting field of computer animation.   It does so by having all these panels and courses from the motion picture industry and all the rah rah rah related activities over the years.  But many of the production and technology people who have worked in this industry are unemployed today.  Those that are employed will only be working for a brief period before they are unemployed again.  Many employed do not have nor do they have any prospect of getting such things as health insurance.  The point is, what is the moral position of SIGGRAPH in encouraging people to go into this field.   Now a personal note.  I got into this field early after attending SIGGRAPH 1980 in Seattle.  When I did so, I had no idea that computer graphics was such a small niche inside the larger field of computing.  But it is.  By choosing this specialization I was also very likely choosing unemployment as people look at specializations very seriously when hiring people, something I did not realize at the time.   What is our moral position of encouraging young people to specialize in this field without warning them that it may cause them to be unemployed later ?   Archaeology which has none of the glamourous aspects of our field, also makes it very clear that there is little or no employment in that field.  Anyone who studies to be a writer, or say a standup comic, is well aware of the economic implications and makes a conscious choice.  But I assure you that the art schools and SIGGRAPH do not give this impression to the potential new person.  Thus I propose that SIGGRAPH is in a compromised ethical position by failing to do so.

3. Where does SIGGRAPH stand on the issue of ageism?  Well, they are against it I am sure.  But consider,   ageism is rampant in computer animation and the game industries.    If that is news to you, then you haven't been looking very hard.  Of course ageism is present  in many if not most areas of our society, but even so, ageism may be extreme in the technology and media industries.   My perspective on this is that by not addressing the issue openly, and sponsoring such well-intended events like the job fair (which is, unfortunately, very ageist, arguably) that we are perpetuating ageism, or maybe, just not trying to do something about the specific ageism that is in our midst.   I know many people who are executives in these industries (computer animation and related digital production) who believe that ageism is just good business practice and it doesn't bother them one bit that it is illegal.  They point out that if the government was really opposed and not just paying lip service to the problem then they would make the laws even slightly enforceable which they are not.  That may be true, but I do not think that it is a valid moral position.

4. Should we have a homeless shelter for computer animation pioneers ?    I know five pioneers of computer animation who are unemployed and two of them who are on food stamps, and very close to being homeless. Now that I think of it, I know three such people.   Does SIGGRAPH care about these people?   Do the people who put on SIGGRAPH understand that this is going on?   IEEE has a conference rate for the unemployed, should ACM or SIGGRAPH have such a rate, at the very least?

5. The Computer Graphics Achievement Awards seem to be completely academically oriented.  All well and good, we are a part of ACM after all.  But given the multidisciplinary nature of the people who helped to create computer animation, should there also be an award to acknowledge the contributions of these non-academic people to the field?

6. Is the Electronic Theatre at all relevant or necessary?  Attending the Electronic Theatre used to be an intellectual exercise, in which the ideas behind the visuals were as important as the visuals, and understanding that was the key to understanding the film show (to use an anachronistic term).  The Electronic Theatre used to be where important new work in computer animation was first premiered.   The Electronic Theatre used to be a  place that new ideas done by individuals or small groups and tiny budgets could participate because their ideas were good.   Now it is none of those things and hasn't been so for a long, long time.  Sure its nice to have, but these events are expensive and I might like to have a more affordable price for the main technical program instead, for example.

7. This issue used to be how does one volunteer to help put on the annual conference.  I am still curious, but its a minor issue relative to the others here, so it is deleted.

8. Is Scientific Visualization and mechanical CAD/CAM still a part of SIGGRAPH?  It used to be.  If it is a part of our field today, I can not see much evidence of it on the technical program.  I am more interested in the Scientific Visualization part of this question personally, although arguably CAD/CAM is one of the most important applications enabled by computer graphics technology and a driving force behind the economic impact that computer graphics has had on our economy.  I realize these fields also have their own conferences, and it might just be that these fields have split off and are on their own.

9. What is the purpose of the Keynote Speech ?  I see rampant unemployment and people's lives being damaged because they chose to work in computer animation.   Should that be discussed now that the depression / recession is in its, how many years has it been 7 or 8 ?   I have no problem with the current keynote speaker, she is from the game industry and the game industry is certainly a part of SIGGRAPH. But there is a lot of misery in this field and it would be nice if someone was discussing it.  Maybe we should have several keynote speeches ?

I admit that many of these issues are much bigger than any of us or SIGGRAPH can address on its own.  Ageism and unemployment are not problems that we are likely to solve.  But we can acknowledge them and perhaps take an active moral position.   Maybe we are already doing so and I am out of touch.   That is certainly possible.

I understand that I have only superficially mentioned some of the issues involved.   I hope you have not been offended.  But to repeat: there is a lot of misery in this field, and I think it is reasonable that these issues should be discussed at SIGGRAPH.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Milestones of the "Budget Challenged" Cinema: De Duva (1968)

Although we can all agree that the best and most important films in the history of the cinema generally involve giant robots beating the shit out of each other, although this may vary by cultural context as I will argue in a future post, e.g. a different culture might use a synoptic variant, for example "the car chase" as a structural equivalent of the giant robot fight. Even so, we must grudingly acknowledge that there is a minor role to be played by low-budget films and the occasional short film, which may not contain the otherwise all-critical fight between giant robots and at least $10-20 million in gratuitous visual effects.

I wish to showcase such a film here: the 1968 film De Duva by Coe and Lover.

In this short film, shot in grainy black & white, told entirely as a flashback, the protagonist is being driven to give a lecture at a university and being in the twilight of his life he decides spontaneously to visit his childhood home, which is on the way to the University.  There, in the outhouse, he remembers a time in his childhood when he and his sister, Inge, were visited by a cloaked figure who has come to take Inge away.  This figure is of course Death.  Our protagonist challenges Death to a game of badminton for the life of Inge, if he wins Inge may live, but if he loses, Death will take both of them.   In a transcendent moment, he wins the game against Death through the intervention of nature in the form of a bird who drops birdshit on Death at a critical moment, causing Death to miss his shot.  The play on the bird causing Death to miss the "birdie" is just one aspect of this many layered and important film.   The characters speak in an original faux-swedish dialect with English subtitles, for example the pen used to sign the contract with Death is memorably spoken as "phallic-symbol-ska?" with the subtitle "Pen ?"

The film was regularly shown as a short feature along with genuine Ingmar Bergman films in what were known as repertory theatres, usually near college campuses.  Many in the audience would, supposedly, think this was a real Bergman short until several minutes into the film when the bad, fake Swedish with inappropriate subtitles was too blatant to ignore.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1968 in the short film category.

The film does not seem to be available on the Internet, but you can read more about it here.

Breakthrough Announced in the Development of Machine Consciousness: Robotic Dance Competition

My friend Steve Speer pointed out this important development on the long road to intelligent machines which will replace humans as the dominant intelligent life form on this planet.

Although I do not believe that those of us who are alive today will see the emergence of a  truly intelligent and conscious machine, or singularity as it is sometimes called, we are likely to see important milestones on that path.    Some of those milestones will be recognized when they happen, and some will only be recognized after a passage of time has revealed their significance.

In this case, we have a milestone, perhaps even a breakthrough, in the evolution of these intelligent machines:   the Chinese have held a successful robotic dance competition in which dancing biped robots compete in pairs for the prize of best dance routine.   I think that this development will prove to be a surprise to most of the scientists and countries working in this field.   I am sure that they will be eager to repeat the experiment, and possibly to develop even more sophisticated and compelling robotic dance competitors.

See the video below.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Admin Notes on Writing This Blog 08/02/2012

This blog will have an occasional "note to myself" about writing the blog every once in a while.  The idea is to document thoughts about where this is going so I can review what I thought I was doing when it is all done, if it is ever done.

We plan for the blog to cover about 10-20 major topics, and at least another 20 or so minor topics, as well as a few posts that are not on one of the larger or smaller themes.

With 40 posts currently in place, I estimate that it will take at least 500 posts to develop the arguments and to develop any depth.   At the rate of 30 posts a month, this would take about 18 months to do.

So far posts are of two general types: simple and involved.  Simple have one idea or one joke and straightforward commentary.  This takes about an hour to do.  Involved, as the name suggests, requires one to write an essay and explain something.  These may take much longer to get into a publishable form, 4 hours is not untypical and more is possible.

I have found it a useful methodology to get the post in nearly final form, publish, and then revise.  This avoids a lot of problems I have had with formatting issues in the blog editor.  The revision process takes place over the next few hours or possibly the next day after the post is published.  Most of the revisions are fixing spelling and minor grammatical errors.

I have found the implicit deadline of needing to publish something every day a useful technique for forcing me to get my thoughts organized on a topic.

For every post that is published, there is generally at least one other post that I am having difficulty with, and which has been shelved until later.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Accidental Haiku

Rodney King passed away on June 17, 2012. Most people know the first part of the story, only some people know the second part. Rodney was the accidental spark of the Los Angeles Riots that began after the police officers who were photographed beating him were acquited. The second part of the story is one that is well known to some of the people in Los Angeles although many other people in Los Angeles deny that the situation is real.

That story is that the Los Angeles Police have a long history of illegal violence against blacks in this city, which has always been condoned and covered up. So much so, that there was a joke that they could catch a black man being beaten by police on video, put that video on television, and still nothing would be done to stop the violence. When that exact thing happened, a beating was captured on video, and the police were of course released, that is when the riots began.

A Haiku is a form of formal japanese poetry that various Westerners love to write and read, and which really can not be translated into English, even though we pretend not to know that. There are a variety of formal structures, but the major ones are three line poems with 5, 7 and 5 syllables for each line. But there are variations on this theme, including the variation used below of 7, 9, 5 syllables. There are many other characteristics of a Haiku, again with variations, which include such things as a single syllable at the end of one of the three lines which is what is called "a cutting word", it may divide the Haiku into two distinct emotions, or it may give the Haiku a distinguished ending.

The biggest problem about writing a Haiku in English, and why it really doesn't work, is because in Japanese a syllable generally has less information than in English. So 17 (or 21) syllables can express one set of idea or ideas in Japanese, but a different set in English.

The following was written by accident in four emails with a friend, Bob Lambert, when he was Sr. VP of New Technology at Disney. When the email exchange was over, I happened to notice that it fit the 7 - 9 - 5 structure, and I think it works pretty well as a Haiku so here it is.

          Can't we all just get along?
          Where is that Rodney fellow these days?
          In jail, I think. Oh.

Deleted Toon Funeral & Police Beating Sequences From Roger Rabbit

[I apologize for the small type below, but I am having problems with formatting on blogspot, and when I enlarge the font all the other formatting goes to hell.  If you have trouble reading this, most browsers allow you to hit <control> + and that usually enlarges the type]

The following is a deleted sequence from the third draft of the script for Roger Rabbit. These sequences were filmed and animated and are available on the 15th Anniversary edition of the DVD. They were cut from the movie because it was running too long and because there are a number of very dark elements in here.

Two in particular stand out. Valiant, our hero, the detective, is dragged to the police station in Toontown by the Weasels and worked over before being released. The second is that they paint a pig head on him which makes him look half man, half toon. Then when he tries to take a Red Car home, he is made to sit in the back of the car, which I think helps to make clear the position of Toons in Los Angeles in this fictional world.   

A Red Car pulls up. Valiant climbs off. He calmly crosses the street and ducks behind the cemetery entranceway as Maroon's Packard ROARS through.
VALIANT:(impressed) Love that Red Car.
As Valiant starts to walk up the hill ... CUT TO:
A hearse, and a line of black limos are parked in the lane. Nearby, Marvin Acne's funeral is inprogress. Clustered around a gravesite are the mourners ... TOONS of every stripe. There's MICKEY MOUSE comforting MINNIE. TOM AND JERRY. HECKLE AND JECKLE. CHIP 'N DALE. Everyone from the famous to the not-so-famous is in attendance. The eulogy is being delivered in a familiar blustery Southern VOICE. It's FOGHORN LEGHORN.
FOGHORN LEGHORN:Today we commit the body of brother Acme to the cold, I say cold, cold ground. We shed no tears for we know that Marvin is going to a better place. That high, high, I say that high-larious place up in the sky.
Foghorn Leghorn dramatically points skyward.
(in unison) A-men!
is leaning up against a palm tree on the hill. We have been watching the proceedings from his POV. Now he sees Maroon's car pull up. He moves around to the other side of the tree as Maroon passes and starts wending his way through the crowd.
Foghorn Leghorn nods to the funeral DIRECTOR, a pasty-faced human in a black mourning coat. The Director starts to turn the crank lowering the coffin into the grave.
Give us a sign, brother Herman, that you've arrived ...
Much to the funeral Director's amazement, the crank starts PLINKING out the tune to "POP GOES THE WEASEL". Now the Toon mourners pick up on it and join in.
TOONS: (singing)
Round and round the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel ...
The crank and SONG start going FASTER AND FASTER.
TOONS: (continuing: singing)
The monkey said it was all in fun POP!
Goes the weasel.
Suddenly half of the lid to Acme's coffin flies open and a harlequin CLOWN BOI-YOI-YOINGS out. The funeral Director faints dead away as the Toon SOBS turn to LAUGHTER. The Toons turn and head away from the grave comforted by a funeral befitting a gag king. They climb into their cars and SCREECH off like the start of the Indy 500.
One mourner is left at the gravesite. Sitting in a chair dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief is Jessica Rabbit. Maroon walks up behind her.
So ... Trying to pull a fast one on me, huh?

Jessica turns, startled. She stands and faces Maroon.
smiles and leans in. This is the moment he's been waiting for. Now just as the conversation begins, it is drowned out by the NOISE from a LAWN MOWER. Valiant turns to see a GARDENER riding around on a small tractor cutting the grass. Valiant tries to flag him down as he watches Maroon and Jessica having an argument. There's accusatory finger pointing. In pantomime. Maroon gestures into his pocket as if describing the position of Acme's will.
Jessica tries to leave. He grabs her arm. They're screaming at each other but we don't hear a word. Valiant waves frantically for the Gardener to cut the machine. But the Gardener misconstrues it as a friendly greeting and waves back. Valiant turns in time to see Jessica kick Maroon in the groin and stomp off to a red Auburn Speedster. She jumps in and speeds away as Maroon staggers back to his car. The Gardener stops the tractor next to Valiant. He SHUTS OFF THE ENGINE. The cemetery is completely still again.

Somethin' you want, mister?
Not anymore ...
A Steinway piano truck is parked next to the stage door. TWO husky PIANO HOVERS are rolling a baby grand up the ramp to the stage door. They knock on the door. The Gorilla opens it and they muscle the piano inside. After a moment, they reemerge. We FOLLOW them back to the truck where a second baby grand stands ready to be moved.
I don't know about you, but it makes me sick to think of these beautiful pianos gettin' chopped into match sticks every night by those screwy ducks.

Struggling, they push this second piano into the club.
They roll the piano over to the wall and park it next to the first.
MOVER #2: (shakes head)
And they call it entertainment.
As they go out the stage door, MOVE IN on the baby grand.
is lying prone -- using the Steinway as his own Trojan Horse. He lifts the piano lid to climb out. but then HEARS FOOTSTEPS approaching. He lowers the lid again. Now someone starts testing the keys. We see the hammers strike the strings, RUNNING UP THE SCALES until they reach the one under Valiant's nose. The hammer whacks Valiant's nose on the backswing and strikes the string making a terrible SOUR NOTE.
DONALD DUCK (V.0.) (exasperated QUACK)
Phooey! Out of tune again!

Not to worry, Donald. We can fix that with my sledgehammer.
Never mind. Daffy. I've got an axe in my dressing room.
Valiant's eyes widen.
as the VOICES of Daffy and Donald recede. Valiant raises the lid and quickly climbs out. He eases over to Jessica's dressing roon. As he starts to open the door, he HEARS SCUFFLING from inside. Valiant puts his ear to the door. More SCUFFLING. Valiant straightens, then suddenly whips the door open and flicks on the light.
Nobody's there. Perplexed, Valiant closes the door behind him and checks behind the dressing screen. In the closet. No one. He shrugs and starts to search the room. He goes to Jessica's dressing table and rifles the drawers. In her purse he discovers a Toon revolver. He examines it.
Girl's gotta protect herself.
Valiant puts the gun back in the purse and closes the drawer. As he stands, he pauses to consider a Hurrel-like black-and-white photo of Roger Rabbit in a silver deco frame. He's dramatically posed with a cigarette like he was Tyrone Power. Valiant shakes his head and turns from the table. Something catches his eye.
Behind the dressing table, the corner of a piece of blue paper peeks out. Valiant stoops down and fishes it out. lt's a cover for a legal document. "Last Will and Testament -- Marvin Acme."
stands, pleased. He opens the blue folder. But it's empty, Valiant puts it in his inside pocket and turns to go when suddenly an unseen hand flicks the lights off.

Son of a ***...
We can't see anything in the darkness. But we hear the SOUND of A FISTFIGHT. There's the CRASHING of lamps and furniture breaking. Now the door opens for a second as the assailant escapes. Light floods in the room, illuminating Valiant on the floor with a curtain wrapped around his head. As he struggles free the door closes. The room is dark again. Valiant scrambles to the door. When he whips it open, REVEAL the Gorilla framed in the doorway. Valiant is frozen. The gorilla flicks on the light. He smiles wickedly.
And here I tought we had mice.
Valiant tries to make a break for it. WHAM! The Gorilla lays him out cold with a right cross.
As his vision comes INTO FOCUS, Valiant sees the Gorilla, Jessica Rabbit, the Weasel's and Judge Doom are standing over him.
... I caught him rummagin' around in here. Then I called you, Judge, on a counta you be da one we pay juice to.
DOOM: (clears throat)
You did the right thing, Bongo.
pull a groggy Valiant upright and plop him in a chair in front of Doom.
Being caught breaking and entering is not very good advertising for a detective. What were you looking for, Mr. Valiant?
Ask her...
Valiant nods toward Jessica, who stands coolly smoking a cigarette.
Last week some heavy breather wanted one of my nylons as a souvenir. Maybe that's what he was after.
Look, doll, if I wanted underwear, I woulda broken into Frederick's of Hollywood. I was lookin' for Marvin Acme's will.
Marvin Acme had no will. I should know, the probate is in my court.
He had a will, all right. She took it off Acme the night she and R.K. Maroon knocked him off. Then she set up her loving husband to take the fall.

You, Mr. Valiant, are either drunk or punch drunk. Probably both.

DOOM:These are bold accusations, Mr. Valiant. I hope you have some proof?

I found the cover the will came in behind the dressing table.
Valiant reaches into his pocket. But the blue envelope is gone.
VALIANT: (continuing)
They must've taken it off me


The other people who were in here lookin' for the will. I woulda caught 'em if Cheetah here hadn't interrupted me.
The Gorilla makes a move for Valiant. Doom stops him.
Take it easy, Bongo. We'll handle Mr. Valiant our own way ... downtown.
Downtown? Fine. Get ahold of Santino, I'd be more than glad to talk to him.

Oh, not that downtown. Toontown.
The mention of Toontown has a visible impact on Valiant.
VALIANT: (nervous)
You're not takin' me to downtown Toontown?
Indeed we are. We'll continue the interrogation there.
VALIANT: (very agitated)
I ain't tellin' you nothin'! Get me Santino.

You're a very stubborn man, Mr. Valiant. Very pig-headed. Boys. show Mr. Valiant how we handle pig-headed men at the Toontown station ...
The Weasels drag Valiant out of the room ...
VALIANT: (screaming)
No... you bastards! Leggo of me!
The Toon Control Wagon streaks along with the cat SIREN WAILING. It flashes by then slams on the brakes at the entrance to an eerie tunnel. A sign next to the tunnel says: "Toontown".
The Weasels look over at the bound and gagged Valiant. One of them turns Valiant's head to look at the Toontown sign.
What're you shakin' for? Didn't you have a good time last time you were here?
With a wicked WHEEZE, the driver floors it.
The wagon disappears into the murky darkness. PAN UP to the night sky.
PAN DOWN to the Tunnel. We can't see into the darkness but we HEAR HOOTING and HOLLERING from within, GUNS going off, FIRECRACKERS EXPLODING, WHIPS CRACKING, all accompanied by the WHEEZING LAUGHTER of the Weasels.
WEASEL #1: (0.S.)
Soo-eey! Soo-eey!

WEASEL #2: (O.S.)
Let him go, boys. I think he's got the message.
After a beat, Valiant comes staggering out of the tunnel. He's got a burlap sack over his head tied around his waist. Behind him, the Weasels emerge holding paint cans and brushes. They watch as he trips and falls by the side of the road. The Weasels GIGGLE victoriously and head back inside.
Valiant lies there for a moment, catching his breath. Then he struggles to free his hands. Finally he rips the sack off his head and sits up.

Copyright !988 Touchstone Pictures / Amblin Productions
We see he's got a huge Toon pig with a goofy grin painted over his head. Valiant pulls and tugs on it, but this is a costume that won't come off. Valiant curses, gets to his feet and stumbles down the road.
Valiant gets in the back of the line of PASSENGERS boarding the Red Car.
steps aboard. The Trolleynan, who we recognize as Earl from the Terminal Bar, does a double-take when he sees the ridiculously silly looking man/Toon.
Here's one for the books ... a Toon wearin' human clothes.
Earl ... it's me, Valiant.
Eddie? Jesus, what happened?
Toon cops worked me over.

Boy, I'll say. They gave you a real Toon-a-roo.
VALIANT: (apprehensively)
What am I, Earl?
Earl breaks the news to Valiant soberly.
You're a pig... a happy-go-lucky pig.


No ...

Does it hurt?

Not much. lt's hard to talk.

Uh, Eddie, do me a favor. Could you sit in the back so you won't cause as much of a commotion.
Valiant tries to pull the brim of his hat down. But it's comically small on the huge head. He makes his way down the aisle past a veritable gauntlet of RAZZING, poking, tripping PASSENGERS. Finally he finds an empty seat in the back as the Red Car starts up,
wearing a baseball cap is sitting a few seats away with his MOTHER. The Kid looks back at Eddie and laughs. He leans over and whispers something to his Mom.
Can I, Mom?
Go ahead, darling.Take your bat.
The Kid takes his baseball bat and approaches Valiant innocently.
Hi, Mr. Pig. If I hit you on the head, will you make me a cuckoo bird?
The Kid starts to take a swing with the bat.
Kid, if you hit me on the head. I'm gonna throw you out this window.
The Kid's eyes widen in terror. This is not a typical Toon response.
KID: (crying)
We hear the SOUND of the SHOWER. Valiant's hand reaches out past the shower curtain and grabs for a bottle. But it's not shampoo. It's turpentine.
The water swirling down the drain is tinged with paint of different colors.
He scrubs manically until the last of the pig head is gone. He rinses off and he feels around his face. The absence of the Toon mask seems to bring him some relief. He shuts off the shower and slides the shower curtain back.
is leaning up against the door jam, dressed as usual, in a black cocktail dress with elbow length gloves and pearls.
Hello, Mr. Valiant. I rang the doorbell, but I guess you couldn't hear it.
That's because I don't have a doorbell.
Jessica, caught in her lie, flutters her eyelids nervously.
Oh... well, I ... I just had to see you ...
Okay, you've seen me. Now give me a towel.
As she hands him a towel, she stares down at his anatomy.
What's that thing?
Valiant looks down at what she's referring to.
Come on, lady, haven't you ever seen a mole before?

Toons aren't given imperfections.

No? I guess we're not counting lying, stealing and murder.