Saturday, September 30, 2006


I just bought an old Goldberger Danny O'Day on Ebay. I've only worked with Charlie McCarthys, but I've always wanted to rework a Danny O'Day. I'll get my chance soon.

I've started prep work on Charlies 4 and 5. Charlie3 is nearing completion of the initial face-painting phase. His eyes have been outlined, his upper and lower lips and teeth have been painted, and his flesh-tone paint job is completed. Next step is mechanics installation.

I'm studying the eyebrow animation instructions in Mike Brose's "Figure Making Can Be Fun" book. I don't have the concept down yet, but I'm getting closer. I really want to add that to Charlie3. Keep ya posted!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The body

I continue to make slight improvements on my vent figures. Inspired by Clinton Detweiler's methods, I've added fleece lining to the inside of the body cavity. I think this will make the hand more comfortable as it moves and manipulates the little fella's controls.

I use wood torsos by Braylu. The 30-inch variety has no dowels or semi-hard covering on the chest portion of the torso. So I use a sheet of white styrene plastic secured with staples to cover the chest area. This seems to work pretty well.

I'm also creating more templates. While each character is very different, there are still common techniques and measurements. I'm getting a little smarter about this vent-building.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The work resumes

Now that I'm home, I've resumed work on Charlie3. I sanded down some laugh lines, smoothed a few bumps and tried something new. I molded eyelids in the eye sockets. I plan to add eye lashes.

I also went shopping for supplies. I needed more disposable latex gloves, some bolts, nuts, washers and miscellaneous doodads. I'm going to definitely make Charlie3's eyes self-centering. I am also still considering tackling moving eyebrows, too.

While in France, we visited the Montmartre rag district. I bought a half-meter of reddish brown fake fur which I plan to use as wig material.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Burglary

Joyce and I went to dinner the evening of Day 6. We had decided to go to the cafe at the corner for the second night in a row. As we were sitting there at dinner, I saw a rat run across the floor a few tables behind us. It must have been an omen. Because there was a rat in our room at the same moment burglarizing our stuff. We lost the laptop computer with which I was blogging and emailing my travelogue home. The thief also took our digital camera that already had over 300 Paris photos. The only pictures we have are the ones on this blog and a few others that were emailed to friends and family. The burglar also swiped a bag of souvenirs we'd purchased for friends, family and work colleagues.

My first reaction to the robbery was "I wanna go home... now!" But we were booked the next day to travel on the TGV, France's bullet train. Our destination was La Tortiniere, a small chateau hotel in the Loire Valley. It's right out of a fairytale. It overlooks the most amazing vista of hayfields, a lovely French village with an ancient church. We reserved a room for the night.

We arrived early that day and took a walk on the wooded estate. The ground was covered in wild hyacinth. We had wine on the terrace overlooking the valley. They serve a sumptious 5-course gourmet dinner in their dining room. The next morning they bring you breakfast in bed. It was truly a four-star experience. By the time we left to go back to Paris, we were back in the spirit of the vacation.

We're home now. We saw more Paris sights including museums, churches and Versailles. We walked a lot! It was an amazing trip with a little bit of everything. It's good to be home, but Paris was truly wonderful. The photos of La Tortinere are from their website. I'm sure they won't mind me sharing them with you.

Paris-Day 7

Well, just when we were feeling so comfortable... we were robbed. That's why no blogging 'til now. My laptop computer was stolen from our hotel room. More later.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Paris-Day 6

The Luxembourg Palace was the highpoint of the day. The palace dining room was certainly ornate. Makes ya want ta invite a few folks over for supper. Currently it houses the French Senate. The President of France apparantly lives there, too. Perhaps he wasn't home because he didn't answer the door.

We also shopped for souvenirs and crossed a few names off the list. We stopped for a hot dog French style. Basically it's two weiners in a giant baguette smothered in melted cheese (good cheese-good weiner). That with an Orangina and you got one happy tourist (actually two... my wife had one, too).

Oh yeah... and we thwarted a pickpocket on the Metro. He tried to "help" Joyce with a malfunctioning Metro gate. However, I think he was actually keeping the gate from working. He came up behind Joyce and wrapped his arms around her as she tried to push through. I had already gone through a gate and I turned to see his hand reach into her purse. I yelled at him to get away and he backed off. Fortunately, Joyce's purse was well-zipped so he couldn't filch anything. Joyce made her way through the gate and the pickpocket took off down another passageway. Close call.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Paris-Day 5

While we try to speak French as often as possible, the French instantly know we are Americans, so they switch to English. It seems nearly everyone is bi-lingual. Communication is no problem. Also, the Parisians are polite, helpful and generally against all negative stereotypes. Like any big city, they are on the go, but quite cordial.

We have mastered the Metro and get around the city very easily. Except last night. We went on an elegant dinner cruise down the Seine. By the time dinner was over and the boat docked, it started to pour. Joyce and I walked briskly through the rain next to the Eiffel Tower. The 990-foot tower was lit up and the sky flashed with lightening and thunder. Quite an experience. By the time we made it to the Metro, we were soaked (and "likkered up" from the wine at dinner). A couple from Long Beach asked us for help with the Metro. Since they were headed our way, we suggested they tag along. Well, we got on the Metro going the wrong direction. Fortunately, the couple took our mistake in stride. (It's actually easy to get turned back around).

Today was Louvre day. We spent 7 hours touring, which was plenty. We didn't see more than we did see, but 7 hours satisfied our Louvre curiosity. Joyce and I split up, so we both got to see our favorites. We'd rendezvous (hey, that's French) every now and then to share. Among the highlights... the Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo, Egyptian mummies, Napoleon III's Louvre apartment, Greek and Roman statues and oh so much more.

Tomorrow is undecided. Maybe Versailles. Maybe shopping for souvenirs. Tune in tomorrow and see!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Paris-Day 4

We started the day with breakfast here at home. Baguette, cafe au lait, jam, cashews and more cafe au lait.

We decided to hit the train station and buy our TVG bullet train tickets to Tortiniere. It's a cooking school in a chateau tucked away in the Loire Valley. We visit on Sunday and will stay the night in one of their Hansel and Gretel cottages.

After buying tickets and figuring out how to get on the train, we toured Sacre Coeur, a beautiful church that I thought was even more impressive than Notre Dame. It's brand new by Paris standards. Sacre Coeur was built in 1870. Notre Dame was started in 1185.

After that, we walked the street of Montmarte, now lined with souvenir shops and huge fabric stores. I bought 1/2 meter of reddish fake fur to use as wigs on vent figures. (There. Something referring to ventriloquism).

Tonight we embark on a dinner cruise down the Seine. We leave from a port next to the Eiffel Tower, which should look breathtaking by night.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Day 3

Today I just couldn't get started. Joyce and I awoke at 3:30am. We couldn't get back to sleep, so she read Paris history aloud. I fell deeply back to sleep, but she never did. She woke me up at 8:30am. She'd already gone to the French bakery for pastry and a baguette for breakfast. By the way, the Parisians have this pastry thing down pat. We ate together, drank cafe au lait, but I just couldn't wake up all the way. So she decided to go to the Medieval Museum while I slept some more. She got back at 12:30pm, and I finally got up. We toured the French War Museum and Napoleon's Tomb. VERY impressive.

We're very adept and traveling on the Metro. But touring Paris still requires beaucoup walking and my feet are aware.

Now we're back at the apartment and she's asleep. And I'll probably be up 'til midnight.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Day 2

Today we toured Musee d'Orsay. We saw lots of sculpture, which I enjoyed because I've been doing a little sculpting myself. Sort of. Y'know... vent figure facial features. (Okay... not the same thing).

We also saw many famous paintings by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas, Carrierre, Monet, Pisarro and more I can't even name. The Musee d'Orsay is housed in a beautiful 19th century train station that was saved from demolition in 1973. It's a spectacular venue for art and sculpture. And people-watching is just as entertaining.

Lunch was in the elegant Musee d'Orsay restaurant. The ornate ceiling and chandeliers were magnificent.

The Eiffel Tower adventure has been postponed for a day or so. Maybe tomorrow.


Here I am standing in front of the Arc d'Triomphe. We've been in Paris for a day. So far, we've seen the Conciergerie, a medievil prison that hosted Marie Antoinette before they lopped off her head. We toured Notre Dame and the Deportation Monument.

Somehow we thought that we'd see someone we knew in Paris. And so we did. My cousin Bob and his wife Marcy leave Paris today, but we were able to hook up for dinner last night on the Champs d'Lysee. We had a great time. I hadn't seen Bob for nearly 20 years. We grew up together in the same town, so it was fun catching up with his side of the family.

Today, we scale the Eiffel Tower. (Actually, there's an elevator). We're going to the top and I'm scared of heights.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Paris tomorrow

Eugene to San Francisco... San Francisco to London... London to Paris. Sounds cool, huh? I'm just finishing up a few work chores here at the TV station. Then it's home for gathering up the stuff... then we drive to Eugene. It takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Tonight we'll stay with some good friends. My buddy Raye has a Rockabilly band called '56 Pontiac. They're playing tonight as part of a festival called The Eugene Celebration. So we'll be up late.

Tomorrow at 4:44pm we're off. Eugene to San Francisco... San Francisco to London... London to Paris.


Monday, September 04, 2006


The first coat of paint always reveals the flaws. Bumps, holes and odd sculpting choices become more apparent. In this case, my laugh lines look like "facial features from Alien"(to quote my wife). Okay, I admit that I have occasional difficulty translating two dimensional images to three dimensional sculptures. My sculpted laugh lines around the eyes do look wierd, but can be repaired with a little grinding, sanding and "re-interpretation".

Meanwhile packing for Paris continues. New guidelines for carry-on baggage size have derailed the plans a bit. If one flies out of London, carry-on baggage can't be larger than 17.5"x13.5"x6.5". Our last leg to Paris is a short flight from London, so that means very small carry-on. My wife (who packs more to spend an hour at a friend's house than most people pack to spend a week) will be severely tested.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Next week, Paris

My vent building may be delayed a couple of weeks beginning next Saturday. My wife and I are leaving for a two-week stay in Paris. it's my first time visiting Europe. My wife lived in France as a child, so it will be a return trip for her.

I plan to bring a laptop computer, so I will probably blog from my hotel room in the evenings.

Meanwhile, my Charlie3 project moves ahead. As is my pratice, I have substantially altered the Charlie McCarthy face. His nose will be larger and more upturned. The cheeks are fuller and dimpled. The chin will be elongated and the lower lip will be much fuller. I've also put laugh lines in the corners of the eye sockets. The eye sockets are more round and cartoonish. And his ears are big and floppy. I think he'll turn out well. I'm nearly to the painting stage.