Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Treasure! Dig!, The Book - part one

Yesterday's post by Michael Sporn reminded me of a book I found a few years ago.

In 1973 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich published "Dig! A Journey under the Earth's Crust" written and illustrated by John and Faith Hubley as a companion to the film.

This copy is a discard from Letcher County Public Library in Whitesburg, KY. There are a scant 20 return dates stamped, the earliest May 9, 1974 then no more until August 29, 1977 and the last being July 22, 1993.

Click on the images to enlarge.

It looks like some art was specially created for the book.

But most are frames from the film.

Still the layout is interesting.

And the new art utilizes the book form's strengths.
Even the reused work showcases Hubley's graphic smarts.
A full page typically follows a page with several panels.

Although this changes up as the book progresses, creating a cinematic pace for the reader.

The limited tones also resonate with Hubley's economics -both financial and graphic.

There are narrative jumps in a book that you won't find in his films.

The book has a familiarity to it. I wonder if this was in the library at St. Dominic's Elementary school. Probably not, but the style is quintessential "mysterious grade school" to me. It feels like those forgotten books that were magically mine in the corner of our tiny library.

This title may not have been that for me, but it must have been for someone. A pre-teen bookworm completely unaware of the artists' place in the Pantheon of American Film.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Almost Forget Today's Post

Partly due to Michael Jackson, mainly because work on a piece for the upcoming Ottawa International Animation Festival guidebook.

"Leave Me Alone" directed by Jim Blashfield who will be the subject of a retrospective this year
-and hopefully a good write up in Festival Reader.

This will be maybe the fourth piece I've written for the Festival and the first profile subject I don't know personally.

Festival essays have tricky requirements. They need to be informative and factual but they should give you insight into the personality of the filmmaker's work. The essays have to be enlightening without being critical -that's the tricky thing. An artist's flaws are often the keystone their work. You have to find another way to get to their core.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lord's Day

I trust you're checking the weather reports and brief news bits before Mass this Sunday, and that's how you've wound up here.

After service ask your preacher if it would count towards your attendance record if you skipped next week to watch "The Light of the World", the feature film epic from Jack T. Chick (best known for his comic book style tracts).

"The Light of the World" is referred to as an "80 minute film without live action."

It's 80 minutes of pan and scan, fire and brimstone. While the theology behind the script is ill-read and possibly dangerous, the artwork is great. Great in the way superhero comics are "great", or Frazzetta. But "better" than Marvel action men, in my opinion.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Been spending a lot of time with scheduling lately.

Most of the time you've got to create a schedule before you know exactly what the work entails, more often still you're given a deadline and have to make the production fit.

In the latter case, time can help dictate production methodology, but the day to day schedule might not meet your prediction.

For example, in our recent motion graphics for Apartment Finder we predicted we'd storyboard everything in three days (which we did) and follow that up with color models proceeded by motion tests. Turned out we went right into animating the first segment. It was just more sensible.

That could have been a disaster if the client hated the work. We were sure they'd like it and that this would be simplest presentation. This method allowed us to produce the work over a week ahead of schedule although the daily workload bore no resemblance to the initial schedule.

The rule of thumb for drawn animation is that it will take on animator one week to produce 15 seconds of footage. You can usually take that same amount of time for art production.

These days drawn animation mixes so much with digital animation that scheduling gets hazy. Things that would be done in as pencil tests or through complex art production procedures (photocopied zooms, multi-layered pans, flipped or reused drawings) are done in conjunction with the animation stage usually with final art.

Then if you get into Flash or utilizing the keyframe elements of AfterEffects scheduling becomes even more nebulous. Once you're into to production its predictable, but before the work starts only experience can give you a general idea of how long it will take.

We like to use good ol' Microsoft Excel to build our schedules. It's brutish, but infinitely expandable. Thirteen segments of a film can line up in order and you can match that up with the pipeline of a thirty second commercial, some web shorts, and some kids' interstitials to make certain the proper staff can be predicted and your artists can flow from one production to the next.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm The One Who Loves You

Today we have "Yo Gabba Gabba" and the They Might Be Giants DVDs.

OK enough. Decent design, competent animation. Solid music.

But the music isn't this good.

These shows were produced by Rankin Bass and Animated at Halas and Batchelor in London.

The great Jack Davis did the character designs. Rankin Bass regularly called on the Mad Magazine artist as well as his colleague Paul Coker, Jr.

Maybe it's my American chauvinism, but this music speaks with a clarity and vitality that Merseybeat skiffle only hopes to match.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Repeat Business

Getting a job is difficult. Even if you've got a great reel, competitive pricing, and a good creative strategy there are a slew of things that can prevent you from landing the client.

Sometimes the job just disappears, sometimes someone else is just as good, sometimes (and this happened to Brian while at The Ink Tank) the ultimate decision-maker is an anti-Semite and won't go to New York because its "full of Jews".

Sometimes the prospective client already has a relationship with a vendor they trust. This happens frequently.

That's why it's important to become that trusted vendor.

Last year we had 20 contracts (that's four shorter than quota, but some were multi-film deals). 10 were people who had contracted Asterisk previously, an additional two were with clients Brian has known for over 20 years, four were on recommendation from Gail Levin. Add it up, that's 80% of our work that comes from personal relationships.

Showing right now in Las Vegas are some graphics we did for TMG Communications, old friends we haven't heard from in 4 years. We like them a lot and we're proud of this simple little motion graphics pieces we did.

Natella Kataev is largely responsible for these. Above is one of five clips we created for a trade show. If you like it, it's Natella's doing. If not, that's probably my fault.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa

A few years back I got a call from the British Consulate, they were doing a survey on something or other.

I invited him over and we talked for about twenty minutes. Ever since I've gotten invitations to select events from the Consulate.

Most people, it turns out, immediately hang up when asked to help about such things. The fruit of politeness.

Last night was preview show of John Lennon: The New York City Years hosted by Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

It's interesting that pop flotsam gets not just a Hall of Fame, but a SoHo Annex to boot. The permanent installation at the museum consists of video displays by decades and genres followed by paraphernalia, mostly broken discards from drunken teenyboopers. The kinds of things you'd find on the walls of a really good TGI Fridays.

The Lennon gallery is a large white room. It contains notes and drawings from his time in New York, 45s, articles of clothing, sundry discards from the basement of the Dakota.

Lennon used his celebrity to an end. Although his philosophy was fairly shallow -its strength was its simplicity. His celebrity, gained as a teenaged heartthrob, was parried to something else. Something beyond him. That's interesting. T-Shirts and photographs of T-Shirts only address the cult of celebrity which brought about his assassination.

Mayor John Lindsay's letter fighting for Lennon and Yoko Ono's deportation is the most moving part of the show. It spells out why Lennon was a great representative of New York (and by extension America) and eloquently takes the government to task.

Second in strength is one of Yoko Ono's "Telephone Pieces". A white phone with a sign to answer when it rings. If it did ring, the artist would be on the other end. A clever use of celebrity -without Yoko Ono's fame, the effect is minimal. Just as she and Lennon used their popularity in the late 1960s for fight for their beliefs, she trades on that celebrity today to supply meaning to the work.

The final wall of the exhibit is a sheet of paper that will be "delivered to President Barack Obama" upon the close of the show. The signees want "stricter gun control laws" -there is the problem with T-Shirt politics but what else would you expect from a museum for Top 40 skiffle music.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Judging A Tape By Its Cover

It's the longest day of summer and it's barely broken 80 degrees in New York.

Several summers yore, when I still had the stamina to flip through boxes of rubbish looking for treasure (a skill developed as a teenaged record buyer), I found this VHS tape in the cut out bin of Tower Discount.

You may know Tower Discount (or Tower Records Discount Annex to use its fully Christian name) from the Will Smith vehicle "I Am Legend". The film's title refers to the great CD/Video store on Lafayette Street which went out of business years before the sci-fi film's release.

I picked up the tape to sneer at it. What awful artwork. What a shameless attempt to "Disney-up" the package.

Somewhere in the back of my head I remembered that Tissa David had made a film based on Mendelsson's music (What would it be called? Incidental music? Suite?). Lo! That's what this tape contained.

I always say people who don't judge books by their covers are doomed to a life of bad reading.

In this case, that would have been a mistake.

Tissa animated the entire film in Holland. There's a live action intro which is standard orchestra photography -the kind of visuals that make you switch off "Great Performances" or "Live from Lincoln Center".

It's interesting to see Tissa's "solo" work. She always takes the lead even when working with a director. She takes command of her scenes and brings more to a film than animation skills alone.

The characters here are rare examples of her own hand on film.

Here's a brief clip from the 39 minute piece.

The art production in the film is also extraordinary. It goes a long way to boost the expressiveness of the animation and, in the cases where drawings are on 4s and 6s, make it more fluid.

Some of this is in camera, panning foregrounds on floating peg bars or running multiple exposures of panning backgrounds. Some is simple artistry in production. It looks like the drawings were photocopied onto cel, but there are some instances of dry brush and a lot of color pencil and "watercolor" work.

Additional credits include;

Backgrounds and Background Animation.....Richard Fehsl
Color Stylist............................Ida Kozelka-Mocsary
Cel Painters.............................Deanna Herst, Lily Jong

There are two other notable "Midsummer Night's Dream" animated films.

Jiri Trnka's (clip below)

And John Canemaker's "Bottom's Dream"

Available on DVD.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Friday we encountered "Fantasia" made flesh in the form of Nicholas Cage, yesterday another Disney classic in real world fashion.

Alice in Central Park.

You don't have to be crazy to talk to cats

Sure, it's Lewis Carroll's "Alice". But isn't Mary Blair's graphic vision equally influential -if not moreso.

Lewis Carroll predicting waiting for the F Train 100 years later

Beyond the popular bronzes, a stone tribute in a playground;

by Frederick G. R. Roth


The Disney cult aren't the only ones putting up statues around town. (I know the Central Park sculptures were commissioned independent of the Disney film, it's just a clever line)

The Hare Krishna center on 2nd Avenue and 1st Street has this in the window.

shooting through glass at night with a flash

The circle of life becomes a crime scene.

click to enlarge

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nicholas Cage Eats Just Like Everybody Else

Remember this?

This is where I met "Spyro Gyro". Enlarge and look closely at the parking meter, you'll see one of these.

New York City Film Permit

A few weeks back "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" trashed Times Square, last night they brought the wrecking crew to my neighborhood.

Nicholas Cage Eats Just Like Everybody Else.

Several blocks were closed off. It looks like they were shooting on the JMZ platform at Marcy Avenue.

Filming happened at night, so they had to make their own sun.

One of several banks of lights on cranes

The shoot even took over the church for a holding room/cafeteria.

Friday, June 19, 2009

You Have Nothing To Lose...

There's been a recent hubbub about free work stemming from a New York Times article.

Drawger, the illustrators' blog, has been very vocal lately and is largely responsible for the Times running the story.

In case your "click" button is broken, Google (which is a really big company -you may have even used them to get to this site, which incidentally is hosted by Google, for free) contacted several professional illustrators and asked them to do work for free.

We're often asked to do work for free. Just as frequently we're asked to work for substantially lower than we would like to charge. Very rarely can we do free work. In fact, as Helena Usack told me when I was a terrified novice producer - "Nobody needs animation, no one's life depends on animation." Animation is a luxury. Illustration is a luxury.

Maybe Oprah Winfrey can afford to give away 100 cars to her studio audience, providing them we a free luxury. Maybe there's a billionaire animation studio that can do a pro bono commercial or make a ten minute film from a novice's script. To quote Brian, "Artists shouldn't be asked to do work for free, they're the ones who need money from their work."


While scanning Drawger for the first time in a month or so, I noticed our friend Steve Brodner has learned how to make a moving gif.

Day by day I feel more obsolete.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Packaging

Haven't re-cut the sample reel in some time, but we're thinking of new packaging.

Here's where it's heading.

This approach is pulled from one of our graphic bumpers within the DVD;

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Instant Rope Ladder

While trying to find "The Hat" yesterday, I found this instead:

It's the first instance of R. O. Blechman's work being animated, predating Gene Deitch's "Juggler of Our Lady".

I had seen this Jazz film once before. Several years ago Bob telephoned Faith Hubley to see if she had a copy. I never met Faith- partly from social anxiety, partly because I don't care much for her work so I never sought her advice -she very kindly had a VHS copy of this dropped off.

I'm going to guess this was in 1999. It was the old editing room, before the remodeling in 2000/2001. Bob was mortified. It was worse than he remembered. He had to be convinced not to destroy the tape. That how he was, a perfectionist aesthete decades after the fact.

When this was made he was working at Hubley's Storyboard, Inc. drawing up boards for commercials. His tentative line was deemed unsuitable for animation, but Hubley liked his work and hired him. They'd take his drawings and make them "presentable". When this film came around, Bob said, they chose his illustration for the "dumbest product they could imagine" precisely because they felt it was so ill-suited to animation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Be Bop Til You Drop

Lots of energy expended yesterday.

1) delivering a motion graphics project
2) getting started on drawn animation for documentary
3) illustration project with lots of seesawing
4) starting up video editing/website stuff for Jon Faddis

Faddis helped us out on the last of the Naked Campaigns for Sundance and "The New Yorker", his track makes the film.

He's a hard bopper and was a protege of Dizzy Gillespie (best known as a vocal contributor to John Hubley).

Here's a Faddis clip from several years back.

So I haven't had the time to put together a proper post for today, but it throwing this together I found a great one for tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mail Call (#2)

Who amongst us doesn't the lament the slow demise of the postal system?

Casting aside the hourly mail calls of Stoker's "Dracula" which birthed a whole new genre of the undead, taking the GPO's sponsorship of Len Lye out of consideration -the removal of tactile communication from human relationships is great loss.

Yes, LOLcats are nice. "Poking" is a fine form of saying "hello".

The letter, stroke for stroke, offers unparalleled potential
Norman McLaren to a friend

"The Drawings of Norman McLaren" (Tundra Books: Montreal, 1975) publishes several of the filmmaker's letters.

Letters like these open the culture of an artist, the community they are part of and the way they relate to their peers.

I now want to know more about Wija Waworuntu. What did he do at the NFB? Did he keep up with McLaren while pioneering Indonesian tourism?

trains, boats, horses and more

These are reminiscent of Steinberg, for sure.


Like Steinberg, only as much as they are part of an era.

These remind me of a story R. O. Blechman told me. In the 1950s he was friendly with Andy Warhol. They were both successful commercial illustrators and had similar circles.

Every couple of weeks Warhol would send out hand painted postcards to his peers. Bob would get one, read the back, and toss it into the trash.

Around the time he told me about this, a friend of his who had kept all the of the postcards (and gave Warhol his first polaroid camera) put his lot up for auction. I don't recall exactly how many zeros were in the sales figure, but it infinitely tops the value of even the most cherished email attachment.

This is all I could find for Warhol postcards:

I look through "Andy Warhol: Drawings 1942-1987" and couldn't find anything that definitely a postcard. I highly recommend this book for students of design and illustration.

Warhol represents many things, his cipher nature becoming the seminal figure of post-modernism, but one thing he clearly was: a clever and sensitive illustrator.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Baseball with Bugs Bunny

Stopped by Economy Candy yesterday for some studio treats.

Found a few packages of Warner Bros. Baseball Cards from 1990.

I think the art is very nice. It's loose pencil work, very expressive. It completely disregards "model" in favor of capturing the spirit. The backgrounds are crude water colors, but beautiful and effective.

There's a card that says this series was drawn and created by Chuck Jones. None of the drawings are signed, from the looks of the Bugs Bunny the Jones attribution seems accurate.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Old Experiments

I'm greatly enjoying "Animation in the Cinema" by Ralph Stevenson.

It's like a snapshot of world animation taken from a British perspective in 1967.

Each chapter gives a cursory review of a nation or region's history and "scene." Although there are some academic deficiencies -claiming "Krazy Kat", for instance, as derivative of "Felix the Cat" when Herrimans' character pre-dates Sullivan's by several years -there are more than enough "I didn't know that" gems to make this a very valuable little book.

He lists four unproduced feature films developed by UPA: "The White Deer" based on James Thurber, "Don Quixote", Ben Jonson's "Volpone" (spelled with an "h"), and "Helen of Troy". This short list conjures the greatest "What if?" imaginable for animation history.

Stevenson has a cynical stance on American cartoon animation. He decries the violence of Tex Avery as cliché and the evolution of the Disney product as hackneyed. For my interests, this is fine. There's more than enough history dedicated to the Warner Bros. and Disney output. His treatment of independents, especially internationally, more than makes up for his distaste of the mainstream.

Here's an excerpt:

Chuck Jones in one of his films "Now Here This", instead of the usual sound effects shows a notice: GIGANTIC EXPLOSION. This is fine. But in the long run the violence palls, the formula becomes stereotyped, we tire of the endless repetition of virtually the same situation, the absence of any plot, any subtlety, and relief from the bang-bang-bang of two characters chasing and bashing each other.

He spends several pages on the American avant garde.

Oskar Fischinger: "Allegretto", "Composition in Blue", "Optical Poem", "An American March" as well as collaboration with the Disney Corporation on a sequence in "Fantasia".

Mary Ellen Bute: "Sychronization", "Anitra's Dance", "Evening Star", "Parabola", "Toccata And Fugue", "Tarantella", "Spook Sport".

John and James Whitney: only listing five short "Exercises" and "Yantra".


Douglas Crockett (a name I didn't know): "Fantasmagoria", "The Chase", "Glenn Falls", "Sequence". These are oil paint on glass. Google is no help.

Joseph Vogel: "House of Cards"

Chester Kessler: "Plague Summer"

Hy Hirsh: "Divertissement Rococo", "Gyromorphosis"

Carmen D'Avino: "A Finnish Fable" and "Pianissimo" (following)

D'Avino went on to make several films for "The Electric Company".

Morton and Mildred Goldscholl: "Envelope Jive" and "Intergalactic Zoo". The Goldscholls had a commercial production company out of the MidWest.

Robert Breer (who is still active today): "Frame by Frame", "Four Phases", "The Miracle", "A Man and Dog out for Air", "Horse Over Tea Kettle", "Jamestown Baloos", "Blazes".

A Man and his Dog out for Air

Eliot Noyes: "Clay"

Teru (Jimmy) Murakami: "The Insects", "The Top".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Science Fair

In case you've been missing it -like me. Because you've been working to "make ends meet"-like me. New York City has been hosting The World Science Festival 2009.

Last night I got to one event, Nothing: The Subtle Science of Emptiness. The festival also plays to the cheap seats with "Wall-E's World: Design for an Invisible Footprint" which mixes the pop science of carbon emission control with the feel-good theatrics of the Pixar film. Although no one involved with the film was scheduled to be at the forum.

Nothing. At the Tishman Auditorium. John Hockenberry did a great job moderating.

Most panels are poorly run, ones in the animation industry are no exception. Often it's one guy pontificating on his own work while the other panels look at their shoes, often it's silences and awkward pauses. Sometimes the moderator is over his head, sometimes he overpowers the guests.

Mr. Hockenberry showed a fluency with the difficult ideas with belittling them. He asked clear, provocative questions and kept all four scientists involved. He also did one thing that's rarely done (to my eternal frustation) he repeated audience members' questions, distilling their essence so everyone understood them.
So much for the wrapping. The content, the content was -nothing. A Nobel Laureate and three other really smart guys trying to pinpoint the content of nothing.

Even in a vaccuum there are pairs of particles and particles within particles.

I'm not much of an artist, so animation doesn't come easy to me. But I like to think about it. And animation is scientific. Things move in waves, everything moves in waves. And the most powerfully charged spaces, as in nature, are "empty".

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Yoke of the Horde

Some works are beyond criticism.

It's not necessarily significant of "greatness" -although it can be. And most great films have plenty of room for criticism.

In animation, I can only think of a handful of works that fit this category.

Priit Parn's "1895" is one:

Martha Colburn's "Evil of Dracula":

Of course, Hubley's "Moonbird":

Perhaps the "gesamkunstwerk" nature of animation allows for even greatness to have it flaws. J. J. Villard's "Son of Satan", for instance, amongst the most powerful films of the decade, still has a thing or two that stick out -the dad's voice, for instance. His "Chestnuts Icelolly" may be more refined, may still be great, but doesn't have near the impact of "Son of Satan".

My old high school pal David Prior has just published a book which, in my opinion, is beyond criticism.

"The Yoke of the Horde"

Here's an excerpt that's off the narrative track of the book, but humorously pertinent to our profession.

'Well, heck, I know it's my logo but I wonder if that's enough. I mean, I wonder if we could somehow get the logo in that little movie with the old man and the truck.'

'You don't need a logo during that part. People are going to identify you with the old man and the truck. You just said so yourself.'

'I know that and you know that, but crazy as it sounds there are a lot of people out there that don't know the first thing about BFT&H. They're likely to see this here commercial and not make the connection between BFT&H and wholesome goodness. I don't need Bobby Beercans sitting at home saying to himself... Well heck, I don't know those kinds of people will say about all of this. He might like the truck but... oh hell. Can't we just the logo or a voice in there, something beside the spiritual music, so people know what its all about?'

'Of course people are going to know what it's all about, Mr. Susskind. That's why we add your name to the end of the commercial. Believe me, we test run commercials all of the time in order to see what the most effective ways for a company to get their point across is, and this approach always does very well. It's a tried and true performer, and if you don't mind me saying so, from your reaction just a minute ago, you thought the bit about the farmer was very engaging, and it was a very good, very effective commercial.'

'No. It needs something more. It's my company, and it's my commercial, and I say it needs a little something more.'

'Okay, fine. Look, maybe I can have some of my people at CPS&D make it so the hat the old man is wearing is a BFT&H hat. How about that?'

'No, someone might miss that. Uh-uh. I want something big, something major, so not even the damnedest fool imaginable would be able to miss it.... You know what I want, Miss Borimmer? I want the old man, when his grandchildren come running to him, that part that you described the people at the agency liking the most, I want that part to be the BFT&H moment. Pinpoint it. Right at that moment, right at that moment you get your marketing stat people to sit around with a bunch of stop watches, and you tell them to watch for the reactions on peoples' faces, you know, these test tube guinea pig people you have watching the new commercials, the...'

'The focus group.'

'Right, those people. See I want those people monitored. You got that? Strictly monitored, that's how we're going to have to do this. Now bear with me, Ms. Borimmer, because we're all on the same team now, BFT&H, CPS&D, we're all going to have to work together now. So what you guys and gals over there at CPS&D are going to do now is watch those little people and once they get to the part you said they all liked, you- no, better yet. Tape them. Yes, tape them and slow down the tape, right. And right at the millionth of a second when they first smile, weep, whatever the hell they do to show we've made them happy, that's when we have the BFT&H appear, and I don't mean I want to see on some fellow's hat. I mean appear. We're talking a crash of thunder, a bolt of lightening, whammo bammo sis boom bah, and then across the sky BFT&H.'

If you don't buy the book, you'll regret it for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Animation In The Cinema

Last week I picked up a queer little book "Animation in the Cinema" by Ralph Stephenson published by A. Zwemmer, LTD, London in 1967.

I've decided to keep a running list of the films he mentions.

Parasite - Vladimir Lehky, Czechoslavakia
The Wardrobe - George Dunning
The Insects - Fred [sic] Murakami (I guess he means Jimmy Murakami -there are several errors like this in the book)
Archangel Gabriel and Mother Goose - Jiri Trnka
Rythemetic - Norman McLaren
La Demoiselle et Violoncelliste - Laguoinie
Once Upon A Time - Jan Lenica

Neighbors - McLaren

Ondonnane - Arcady (Yugoslavia)
Justice - Ante Bajaja
City of Gold - Colin Low
Very Nice Very Nice - Arther Lipsett
House - Charles & Ray Eames
Death Day - Eames
Axe & The Lamp - Halas & Batchelor
The Duel - Janusz Majewski (live action)
Help! My Snowman's Burning Down - Carson Davidson (live action)

Unexpectedly excellent!

These are all mentioned in the opening chapter. Short films which the reader would have heard of, known about, or could access at the local library.

I've heard of maybe three or four. I've seen work from about half of the filmmakers.

Will the festival circuit films we know so well today be obscure curiosities in two generations?