Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kiwi: Three years later and I still sob!

I don't cry a lot. I mean, I'm not one of those people who often finds herself getting misty in the Hallmark aisle, or gets that lower lip trembling at Tim Horton's commercials. (Okay, yeah, maybe one or two of those cell phone ads a few years back, but...cut me some slack, here. I'm trying to make a point.) And as much as I loathe all things Seinfeld (yes! I SAID IT ALOUD! ...surely enough for another entry on its own), I must say, as far as people who tear up easily go: "Not that there's anything wrong with that..." Some of my oldest and best friends get all soppy over the strangest things. I judge not, lest I be judged on the one day someone happens across me as I'm watching "Kiwi". Because that day? That day you'll find me face down in a pile of Kleenex.

Oh, would you look at that? TODAY IS THAT DAY. Again. I'm narrowing my puffy eyes at a certain friend from elementary school who posted a link on Facebook, but how was she to know that Kiwi and I have had a troubled history that goes back several years? It's okay, Tammy. I forgive you.

A small group of you are privy to my off-site locked blog (est. 2001!), and may remember the day I posted about an animation I'd come across that had surely caused a spike in tissue stock for the quarter. It'll take some doing to find that entry, but I'll transcribe it here when I do. I vividly recall several of my friends saying they weren't able to watch "Kiwi" and had no idea why I was weeping all over my keyboard; I guess the link I'd posted had gone down from traffic before most could see what the fuss was all about. I also remember, however, that several good friends posted countless comments containing their most adorable YouTube finds to cheer me up, even without having seen the sad little video about which I was blubbering. Now, see, I really need to find that entry, 'cos you're gonna need those happy, fluffy distractions after you watch "Kiwi."

Notice I didn't say, "if you watch" it. Because you know you're gonna. And you won't feel bad about yourself afterward, since it's nothing like rubber-necking or Train Wreck Syndrome. It's a cartoon, at its base, and how can you be a bad person for watching a cartoon? No, the only reason you're gonna feel bad is because POOR KIWI AUGH.

From the maker of this short and, clearly, utterly unforgettable masterpiece: My Master's Thesis Animation, which I completed while I was at The School of Visual Arts, MFA Computer Art, in New York City. Created using Maya, After Effects, and rigged using The Setup Machine by Anzovin studios. If you would like to download there is a small version at my website: Damn. I'd have given this student his/her degree on the spot.

So shut up already! you're all saying. Let me see what has you sobbing like a three year old, when not even those brutal infomercials make you blink! Yes, yes, fine. A few words of advice, though: Don't read the comments left at the YouTube page before watching the clip. Go in blind and completely unprepared, as I was when I first saw this in 2006. I've already given you an enormous advantage by telling you that it made me cry; had I not said such a thing, you, too, would be staring at the incredibly cute little bird on your screen in mere moments and thinking, "Awwwww! This is adorable!" And then, just like mine did, your face would slowly contort into an expression that would be the offline equivalent of "WTF?!?" and then "OMG" and...well. You'll see.

All right. Secure a handkerchief. Join the club. Take the plunge. Watch "Kiwi." it over yet? Can I stop hiding my eyes?

If you're among the people who don't understand what the hell you just saw, there is, apparently, a helpful site with some sort of FAQ here: I for one had no problem absorbing its message - although "absorbing" makes it sound as though it was a slow and gentle recognition, rather than the slap across the face to which I'd rather liken it - but I've seen a lot of puzzled comments elsewhere, so if you're looking for insight, you know where to go.

I really ought to leave a note for the person who created this animation. Something that would convey how oddly and unexpectedly powerful s/he managed to make an under-three-minute-long MFA project. Because, really...I'd long forgotten about little Kiwi, three years later and having only ever watched it once; yet all I had to do was glimpse the freeze-frame on my Facebook news feed and it all came rushing back. That is the mark of something pure. Yes, it's something that made me cry, but not in the way that a commercial for the Humane Society or the Hospital For Sick Children does. It's...different. It's...just different. And it makes you think, in a very introspective way. It doesn't surprise me to see that "Kiwi" now has its own IMDb page. I haven't looked at the Discussion Boards yet, but I'm guessing, by the millions of views on YouTube, that there are a lot of people marvelling at this beautiful little wonder as much as I have.

By the by, if the original didn't quite accomplish the feat of wrenching a tear from your eye, DO YOU EVEN HAVE A SOUL??? you now have the option of having Gary Jules hurt your heart EVEN MORE at no extra cost. Just sayin'.

Quoting The Beatles is much more my style than referring back to Seinfeld, so I'll just leave you with the video, your tissues, and whatever you take from seeing that precious little bird, and will simply state: I can say no more.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

For those who've written to me about Martin Streek...

I realize it's been a while since my last post, about Martin. I've received a significant amount of email in response, asking me questions that I either cannot or will not answer (which isn't meant to sound as harsh as it does; I simply don't feel as though I'm someone who ought to comment on certain things, nor do I feel that some subjects warrant discussion). I do realize that the reason I'm still getting these notes - mainly from strangers who were fans of Mr. Streek - is that, even seven weeks after we and the rest of the world lost a good man, a lot of people are still in shock, or are trying to understand, or are simply still mourning, as many of us will do for the rest of our lives.

It's been surprising to me just how many people who never had the good fortune of meeting Martin, but who felt connected to him over the airwaves nonetheless, have sent messages my way. I hope so very much that Martin knew how far and wide his influence reached. This post is for them, the people who have said time and again on various message boards and memorial groups (like that on Facebook) that they are shocked at how big a void they feel, having lost someone they'd never even seen face to face.

Instead of relying on my own words this time, then, I thought it would be best to make available to all who've asked (and even those who haven't) a small selection of other people's touching tributes to Martin. Because he meant something different to everyone whose lives he touched, it is only right that his fans - who may not have caught some of the blog posts and such in the confusing and heart-wrenching days that followed Martin's passing - should have access to the missives posted by a few of his old friends. In so many ways, they each said it better than I ever could.

There are countless news articles and posts floating around in cyberspace about our Martin. Some contain misleading or outright incorrect information. After sifting through far too many, I always come back to the same ones, those that stand head and shoulders above the others, written by people who knew and loved the man. To see him through the eyes of friends other than myself, I highly recommend reading the following:

As mentioned in my original post about Martin, the on-air tribute by Dave Marsden is an absolute must-hear as well. And if, after all of that, you still feel the need to read an "official" news report, the only one I'd suggest is posted on the website of the Toronto Star, written by Ben Rayner.

[ photo from the tribute held for Martin at the Phoenix, July 2009 ]

If there are any blog entries, articles, tributes or other such material out there that you feel ought to be included in this list (since my blog apparently comes up at some point during Google searches of Martin's name, thus leading a number of his fans to contact me with questions that I cannot answer), or if there's something you've seen that you think I might like to read, please feel free to comment here, or to reach me via email. I'd be glad to add to the list of posts that will induce a smile while reading, whether the reader is a fan, a friend, or his family. The tears haven't stopped, but I don't think I'm alone in saying that we're a little more ready now to laugh at the great memories with which we've been left.

[ photo from the tribute held for Martin at the Phoenix, July 2009 ]

Thank you, to everyone, for the kind words and wishes. And I hope the links I've provided in this post will answer whatever questions for you that I cannot.