Article written by Tristian Goik.
Fridays are my busiest day at work, something that always seemed backwards to me. And this last weekend I had the opportunity to spend by myself without any obligations. I figured that as long as I kept to animation related activities I should stay out of trouble. My friend Jaime G-chatted me earlier in the week and asked if I was going to Midsummer Night Toons. I said yes, even though I had not given any prior thought to the idea.
As I uploaded the last video of the day, I had time to think. I had just undergone a root-canal and was not allowed to drink any alcohol for a while. Unfortunately, the screening was being held at Slate bar, with 2 hours of free drinks before the films started at 9. Pre-gaming was not an option.
I decided to see “Brave” right after work. You can kind of get drunk off of 3D stereoscopy. I was suspect of the new Pixar film because I thought it might rip off “Secret of Kells” but I was interested in its feminist aspects. But there was a problem. There was a cigarette sized hole in the middle of the screen that was mighty distracting in any light colored scene. I had to use drishti from yoga to phase out the dot, but I can’t pretend it didn’t change my perception of the film. All I can say is that it was warm, family friendly, and I can stare into Merida’s hair forever. Also, I feel like the whip-poor-wills are rip offs of Celebi from “Pokémon 4Ever”.
Anyway, I was able to walk right from the movie theatre to Slate bar. The sidewalk in front of it was under construction, and there were a bunch of people milling around smoking or getting wrist-bands from a bouncer. I was confused. Was this the right place? The last MSNToons I had been to was at a bar and there had only been about 20 people I thought. Why all the commotion? (See, I wasn’t drunk, so I forgot about the FREE ALCOHOL that must have brought in a sexy hipster crowd). I called my friend Caresse to make sure I was at the right bar, but that turned out to be a futile “I’m in a really loud bar!” conversation. I talked to the bouncer and went in. It was long, dark, and candle filled. People churned between the bar and the couches. I could see pristine digital flat screens lining the wall all the way to the back. There was a large projector screen at the end, which you could see through lines of candles. I got a Coca-Cola at the bar, from a terrible bartender. There was a glass box full of shot glasses. I cruised the crowd looking for animators I knew. I found one, but it turned out to be their identical twin brother. I said hello here and there, but pretty soon the films started.
What’s nice about MSNToons is that it’s short and attention grabbing. Otzi by Evan Borja is a film about time travel, in soft pastels and Adventure Time style. Borja is a great comedian with the ability to tell jokes without dialogue. Vicious Circle by Jae Il Son is a gritty slapstick. I am impressed with the level of production planning, which he documents on his blog. Life By a Thread by James Sugrue reminded me of Ren & Stimpy even thought I’ve never watched that show. I tried to explain to someone afterwards my general thoughts of the show, but all I could do was flap my hand around in a rather effeminate way. As my companion slowly raised an eyebrow I tried to explain that I was trying to talk about squash and stretch and the floppiness of Sugrue’s animation. Finally, Breadwinners by Gary Doodles (was he destined to be a animator with that name?) was a booty-popping romp of fun and color as two ducks deliver bread across the land. It has excellent music, which in combination with an excellent sound system, really lit up the place with a zero-g dance party.
Around noon on Saturday I was getting myself ready for ASIFA’s trip to the Bronx Botantical garden to sketch flowers or something. I was mildly excited to take the Metronorth, which led me through Grand Central station, which is a great place to sketch in and of itself. There was a poignant Native American playing a guitar, and a silly bulldog snuffling on the bench next to me. As I boarded the train, I settled down with dried pineapples and Kafka, and tried to recuperate from a long night of Beatles Rockband in Crown Heights and a cigarette I should not have had. When I got to the garden, I was already late, and I thought I should at least go see the water lilies, which was the point of the whole exhibition.
Plant life is exceptional. It is immensely satisfying to immerse yourself in greenery after working in skyscrapers all week. Dayna texted me that the rest of the group were off gallivanting amongst the roses on the other side of the park. I took a tram to meet them. It was a fun small group of people, and we strolled along in the heat, looking at ornamental conifers and tiny rabbits. There was some confusion as to what to draw. Finally we settled at an herb garden. Many people opted for colorful smeary mediums, such as crayons, pastels, cray-pas, and Ipads. It seemed the best for the bunches of colored flowers heaped together along the paths.