November, 2011 Archives

My Metro Bus Stops map shows all of Metro’s 11,485 bus stops. The file is 5.2 MB, so be patient while it loads.

The goal of the project was to demonstrate using WMATA‘s data and the Google Maps API.

The map lets you pan and zoom. You can hover over a pin to see the name of the stop and the zone, or click on the pin to zoom to that location. There is also an input field where you can enter any valid location, as understood by the Google Maps API. You can enter addresses, zip codes (20007, 20009), or place names (Arlington, DC, Dupont Circle, etc). » Continue Reading…

Night shots are no fun without a good source of light. The monthly Raw party at Cobalt gave me a fun experiment: a red-and-green laser light with a fog machine beside it. Normally I hate fog machines; if it’s between me and my subject, my flash will illuminate the white mist, ruining the subject. The only way fog can enhance a shot is if it’s behind the subject.

Angel at the Disco

» Continue Reading…

Another film where a small idea grew into a long production. This one was inspired by a video game I wrote back in college, also called Flies. The player controlled a tank in the backyard, trying to shoot down flies which would try to land to pick up dog poop, which they would use to nourish a new batch of baby flies. Ah, college. I also borrowed from a children’s story I wrote a few years back (“Bonjour, D.C.”), where a swarm of giant flies carries off the Washington Monument. When I was young, I often read the story of the man who becomes a hero by killing seven flies with a single swat. I was in awe of that feat. Here, it takes a little longer, but if you count, you’ll see he does get his seven flies. Note too that a different set of seven carries off his head at the end.

I like how the clean white background accumulates debris, and the horrific ballet of the swarm. I hope no one minds that my flies flap like seagulls, splat like mosquitos, and attack like pirannahs. After the quiet terror of “The Vampire,” it’s nice to allow both the stick figure and its nemesis let loose with violent abandon.


All angles < 90°
One angle = 90°
One angle > 90°
Each side of different length
Two sides of equal length
All sides of equal length

I love categorizing things; it helps me to understand. So here’s a breakdown of two ways of categorizing triangles, based on their sides and angles.

Acute, right, and obtuse describe the angles, while scalene, isosoles, and equilateral describe the sides.

The two blank spaces for equilateral spaces are a fun mind game. What shape has equal sides and with every angle equal to 90°? What shape has equal sides and with (at least) one angle greater than 90°? (Answers: a square, and a rhombus.)


I was taking photos at DCSRC‘s annual Stonewall Regatta. There are only so many photos you can take of people in boats before you go crazy. Plus, regattas are hard to photograph because the courses are very long, so you have to carefully position yourself in a good spot and just wait for them to pass you. To the rescue came this group of friends, who had come to the Anacostia Community Boathouse to support a friend who was racing. To make an occasion of it, they dressed up in their best boating clothes.

The Launching of the Boating Party

» Continue Reading…

These cartoons were made in 1999, and posted on a now-defunct web site I had made called Le Théâtre du Bâton Figure. I had tried to research what the French call stick figure but never got a definitive answer, and wondered if – zut alors! – they hadn’t yet discovered the wonders of this simple animation style. So, bâton is French for stick, but it’s not clear that bâton figure is the best translation for stick figure.

In that September, I jiggered the web site to switch from using frames to using tables. (Frames are considered a bad web standard for several reasons, but tables hadn’t yet become a bête noire, this being before CSS made a splash.) During the renovation, I also decided I wanted to add a little public message while the audience waits for the main attraction. “Défence de fumer” (No Smoking) seemed to fit the bill. I should add that the first cartoon had been made during my father’s doomed battle with lung cancer. So, this cartoon is for him.

S’il vous plaît, défence de fumer = Please, no smoking.

Défence de Fumer

In March 2011, a mysterious sculpture appeared in the Dupont Circle park, a set of four giant letters spelling LOVE. But the sculpture’s affair with the park was not to last: The National Park Service determined that the permit application failed to disclose that the true purpose was commercial, not artistic. The sculpture had been commissioned by a guerrilla marketing company hired to promote Virginia tourism. After only a few days, the sculpture was removed.

Big Blue Love

» Continue Reading…

I decided I wanted another flying stick figure, and thus the vampire was born. The original plot included the victim fighting back with a baseball bat (duh), and I also toyed with the idea of having the robot from my previous film come along and attack the vampire. Simplicity won, though with 127 frames this unexpectedly became the most complex film so far. Drawing the cape was easy and fun – it reminded me of the giant octopus from “Singin’ in the Rain” – same concept, really. I also was going to show blood (and lots of it) when the vampire quenches his thirst, but I preferred the intimacy of just seeing their two round heads so close together. I also wanted to have the silouette of a medieval town in the night sky, but the plain dark background had a much stronger effect.

The Vampire

Six months after “Lights Out” had passed, and I had been wanting to add another film to the collection but didn’t have time for an epic. I started fiddling with truck sketches, and the truck became a school bus, and the bus had a crash. I find the bright yellow appealing, though it lessons the impact of the red blood. I liked how much of the action took place in a tiny window just nine pixels high. Is the guy at the rear suffering a double tragedy of an epilectic seizure at the moment of the crash, or is the invisible hand of the author flicking him over for a cheap visual florish?

The School Bus

After “Singin’ in the Rain,” I began and aborted two new animations – my first outright failures. (One was about a revenge after a mugging, and the other about a garden.) They just didn’t work. I can tell because if the still images suck, the whole thing will suck. So, I had one vestigal idea from the project’s genesis, revolving around eyes in the dark. This turned into an unusually long project – 121 frames, whereas “Singin'” had 99, and “the Hat” only 45. As always, the ending was problematic. I wanted each monster to come back and bite off a different appendage (legs, arms, and head); thus, the five monsters. But by the time the stick figure threw off the spider monster, I was exhausted, and figured the gist of the story was over anyway.

Lights Out