Book Review: Ideas for the Animated Short

I picked up Ideas for the Animated Short because my brother went to school for animation and I figured I could find out a little bit more about what he does by checking out the book.  I didn’t realize that as a wannabe writer, it might have actually helped me out more than I actually thought – since obviously behind every animated short is some sort of story.  The first chapter talks a bit about why a lot of stories seem the same, structure to stories, different characters, etc.  There are also interviews and other tid bits throughout the book that I found to be quite valuable – from people from Pixar, etc that really know their way around an animated short.

Ultimately I thought I would go in to this book with some good stuff to tell my brother – and while that is true (and I’m going to have to get him a copy of the book to check out) there are a lot of great tips and tricks for non animators as well – anyone who is creative at all would benefit from checking out the book whether it be crafting, writing, or anything else that you need inspiration for.

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

From demo reel creation to festival shorts, students and professionals alike are creating animated shorts that are dynamic and eye catching but the time constraints of these shorts are challenging in their own right. The unique format of the animated short of two to five minutes in length presents a practical and aesthetic challenge that is rarely addressed in the classroom. Ideas for the Animated Short is a comprehensive and practical blueprint for creative and unique animated short creation with a focus on the strength of a compelling story. A comprehensive guide to the animated short, this title is an invaluable asset for aspiring animation professionals, students and independent filmmakers. Explore the process of developing a short from conception to final delivery and adapt the industry’s best practices in your own workflow. Written by four leading animators, artists and professors, Ideas for the Animated Shortis written from the unique perspective of a professional animator adapting creative stories into incredible animated shorts.

Follow from start to finish the creation of an animated short from the pre-production thought process to story development and character design. Explore the best practices and avoid the common pitfalls of creating two to five minute shorts. Watch a specially created animated short, demonstrating the core techniques and principles at the companion website! Packed with illustrated examples of idea generation, character and story development, acting, dialogue and storyboarding practice this is your conceptual toolkit proven to meet the challenges of this unique art form. The companion website includes in-depth interviews with industry insiders, short animations (many with accompanying animatics, character designs and environment designs) and an acting workshop to get your animated short off to a flying start! With all NEW content on script writing, acting, sound design and visual storytelling that further enhance your animated shorts and apply the industry best practices to your own projects.

Mixtape Festival Setlists & Photos

Hanson Acoustic VIP Set

Waiting For This
Thinking Bout Somethin
Wish That I Was There
Strong Enough to Break
Cut Right Through Me
Penny and Me
Get The Girl Back
Wheres The Love

Hanson Setlist

Fired Up
Ive Got Soul
Wheres The Love
Waiting For This
Minute Without You
Thinking Bout Somethin
Penny and Me
Get The Girl Back
In The City

Gavin DeGraw Setlist

In Love With A Girl
Make a Move
Whose Gonna Save
Mirrors / I Don’t Wanna Be
Best I Ever Had
Not Over You

The Script Setlist

Good Ol Days
We Cry
Man Who Can’t Be Moved
If You Could See Me Now
For The First Time
You Won’t Fool
Hall of Fame

Jonas Brothers Setlist

Pom Poms
That’s Just The Way We Roll
Thinking About You
Who I Am
Gotta Find You
The World
See No More
What Do I Mean To You
Last Time Around
First Time
When You Look Me In The Eyes
Love Bug
Burning Up

NKOTB Setlist

Block Party
Right Stuff
Didn’t I
Valentine Girl
If You Go Away
Please Don’t Go Girl
Step By Step
Cover Girl
I’ll Be Loving You Forever
Hangin’ Tough
We Will Rock You


Mixtape Festival Day 2

After the broomball game we hung out in the car for a bit and heard some of the Jonas Brothers soundcheck.  We then went to Chocolate World to kill time before night 2.  We knew that it was predicted to rain, so we grabbed our rain coats and headed in to the stadium.

MKTO kicked off the show.

Emblem 3 was up next.  About 2 songs into their set they told us that lightning was in the forecast and that we had to go under the stands for our safety while it passed.

We were underneath for about an hour and it was ridiculous because there was no room for people to move yet everyone was trying to get somewhere else.  I was also told I was too young to know Boyz II Men songs. LOL, I’ll take it. (Turns out I was older than the people who said that to me.)

Emblem 3 continued their set at 7:15 and the show just went on from there – but it was still raining. We were all SOAKED.

Boyz II Men came out next and I think they did a bit of a modified set compared to what they did on The Package Tour (we figured if everyone cut a song or two from their sets, everything could kind of stay on schedule)  We spotted Zac Hanson checking them out on the side of the stage in the beginning of the set too and then he went into the gold VIP side stage area to take some pics.

Jonas Brothers played what seemed to be the longest set ever – and I’m a fan. I don’t know, they seemed to just never end and I was soggy and pruney and just wanted to get the show moving.  They sang Thats Just The Way We Roll – Joe didn’t change the lyric from Hanson and I thought for sure they’d come out, but Kevin just pointed off in the back of the stage where I assume at least one of them was watching the set.

TLC’s reunion was next.  They started off with some technical issues with TBoz’s mic but then they seemed to get everything worked out. Before Waterfalls they said that it was a song that meant a lot to Lisa Left Eye Lopes and had us all hold up lighters, cell phones, etc in honor of Lisa.  The stadium lit up and it looked so beautiful!  Most people held them up for the whole song.  They had all of Left Eye’s raps on a track.  It was a bittersweet set because I loved TLC growing up, but never had the chance to see them until now.  They said that they will never replace her but that they wanted to move on and continue to make music and share with everyone.

NKOTB was up next and they also did a more modified set from The Package Tour. It was a ton of fun and during Tonight, Danny and Joe walked right by the ADA seating and we got to shake Joe’s hand!

We were hoping that all the bands would come out on stage again, but that didn’t happen.  And by that point we were freezing and soggy so we just decided to leave.

All in all it was a fun weekend and I hope that Hanson goes back again next year!


Mixtape Festival Broomball

Saturday morning was the Rock N Jock Broomball match with NKOTB, Hanson and Jonas Brothers playing.  Hanson opened the game with singing the national anthem.

Game 1, Jonas beat Hanson by a score of 2-1.   I can’t remember who scored for the Jonas team but Zac scored the goal for team Hanson.

Since NKOTB were defending champs, they played the winner and NKOTB beat Jonas 2-1.  Jordan scored both of the goals for NKOTB and Kevin scored the Jonas goal.

The games were a lot of fun and I have a TON of pictures so expect them soon!

Mixtape Festival Day 1

For Day 1 of Mixtape Festival we did Silver VIP because it was HANSON day.  At 1pm we were treated to a “meet and mingle” BBQ where we were told some of the artists might show up.  In hopes that Hanson would be there, we were ready to go at 1.  We got our food, which was really good and ate it and then just kind of hung out because Hanson’s acoustic performance wasn’t until 3:00.

One of the photographers came by and said that One Republic, Hanson and Gavin DeGraw would be coming out before 3 to see us.  We heard the photographers talking and they were going to do candid shots and shots of us as a table w/ the artists.  The first to arrive were One Republic and The Script. They had them start on opposite sides of the picnic tables so we got The Script s the 2nd table. They all came around and shook everyone’s hand and were super nice.  It was REALLY hot and they all had on long pants and were just not dressed for the temps and they said that they were told it was going to be inside and Danny said “I’m melting like a snowman in hell!” (which he later said on stage too lol)

Then Hanson came and I kind of waved and Zac came over so they started with our table.  It seriously felt like we talked to them FOR-EV-ER.  I had the chance to get my CD cover signed (and a “fight” with Zac over using his black pen to sign the inside white pages or use my silver pen to sign the cover!) by all 3 of them, chatted with them about BBQ, Rollercoasters and tour which led into a chat about setlist databases which is actually what I’ve been coding for my hanson fan site ( for the past year or so, so I got to tell Isaac about that!  Then we did our table photo (really can’t wait to see the 2 photos!!) and they made their way around.

We decided we’d rather get a spot in the VIP tent for the acoustic Hanson performance than hang around for One Republic or Gavin (who I think did eventually make his way out there) and got a spot on the barricade (it was separated for Gold and Silver VIP) and they did 6 or 7 songs.

We hung out in the VIP tent for a while and headed over when Serena Ryder had already taken the stage.  I liked how she mentioned who she was after almost every song because she knew that people were still filing in to the stadium.  It always makes me crazy when people NEVER say who they are!  She has a new album coming out soon and had a lot of really fun songs!

Then it was time for Hanson! Taylor seemed to be running around the stage a bit more than usual – which was a plus.  They had a pretty solid setlist too.  The only downside was where our seats were, Taylor was blocking Zac for most of the show.  I got super excited when Zac came over to the keys to play Juliet… but a photographer decided that she REALLY, REALLY wanted to get my photo and was taking pics of me nearly the whole song which was super awkward. I don’t even remember what outlet she was with so if you see me out there somewhere… let me know lol

Gavin DeGraw was up next and he always puts on a great show. He has such great stage presence.  I did snap a photo of his setlist before he started but it’s been such a hectic (but fun!) weekend, I didnt have time to upload any photos yet so that info is still-to-come.  He had Ryan from One Republic come out and sing a song with him too.

Next up was The Script who I was excited to see because they were the only act from the day that I had not yet saw!  Danny was absolutely nuts going in the crowd, running all over the stage, climbing over all sorts of things and I loved it. He tried to make everyone feel closer by going in the stands which was awesome. (Gavin went in the crowd as well.) I also snapped a pic of their setlist so that is coming at some point as well!

Then it was time for One Republic. It is crazy how many freaking hits they have and how they can make nearly an entire setlist out of them (and probably then some!) Ryan said that he, Danny and Gavin (who are all on tour together) have all been having throat issues and 2 days ago he had no voice at all so he’d be drinking tea throughout the show.  He teased that they all hired the guy who worked with Milli Vinilli for their recorded tracks and then made it sound like his track was skipping!

Then it was time for the headliners, Train, who I was least excited to see.  We made a deal to stay for 3 songs and then head into the VIP Tent for the afterparty that Hanson was hosting.  The VIP tent had a feed piped in of the show so we did get to see most of it and I was not too happy with our decision to leave when Train brought up EVERYONE from the day to sing “The Weight” and Zac was right by where our seats were! Oh well, live and learn – we’d not be leaving early night 2 !

The after party was interesting.  Zac came out and danced around which really got everyone going nuts.  Then Taylor came out to do a guest DJ set and unfortunately it seemed to really fall flat.  Everyone stopped dancing, no one knew what he was playing and in order to try and redeem him, Zac came back and then actually went dancing through the crowd and seriously had to have danced with everyone there (yes, even us!)  It was great!  Ryan Tedder came in for a while and then one of the guys from MKTO (i think?) came in and when it seemed like Hanson was done for the night we decided we were too since we had to be back early for broom ball!

More posts about the weekend coming soon – hopefully with some photos but we’ll see what i have time to do 🙂


Product Review: E&J XO Brandy

The history of E&J Gallo brandy dates back to 1938, when Ernest and Julio Gallo used a grape surplus in California’s wine country to make their Cream of California Brandy. More than seven decades later, E&J makes its brandy in three tiers, and at the top is XO Brandy. Aged at least two years and carefully blended by hand in toasted oak barrels, E&J XO Brandy has a lusciously smooth mouthfeel and refined flavors worthy of its top-shelf label. Its unique notes of flavors make it perfect for mixing into a range of cocktails. Enjoy E&J XO Brandy in the company of friends, mixing up some killer cocktails from the recipe library on

Brandy is rich in flavor and history. The name brandy comes from the Dutch word branewijn, which means “burnt” wine, a nod to the technique of heating wine during distillation. But not all brandy is created equal E&J XO Brandy is made from the finest grapes and aged in oak barrels for at least 2 years. The time that brandy spends in those barrels is crucial, and so is the blending process – it’s what makes E&J XO Brandy so special and distiguishes it from the rest of the brandies on the market today. The result is a lusciously smooth mouthfeel with a bold, complex finish. Thou the careful blending of brandies at different ages, E&J XO Brandy is the best of the best and the finest E&J has to offer. It combines all the wonderful tastes and aromas that taosted oak barrels have to offer: sweet vanilla, creamy toffee, brown sugar and soft maple – unique notes that play perfectly in any cocktail.

Here are a few recipes – visit for a full library of recipes!

E&J and Ginger

1.5 oz E&J XO Brandy
4.5 oz Ginger Ale
Splash of lime juice
Twist of lime

Combine brandy and ginger ale in a highball glass, garnish with a twist of lime.

E&J and Cola

1.5 oz E&J XO Brandy
4.5 oz cola
Twist of lime

Mix ingredients together in a tall cooler glass, garnish with a twist of lime

E &J XO Fizz

1.5 ox E&J XO brandy
3 fresh strawberries
.5 ox maple syrup
4 oz Barefoot Moscato Spumante Champagne

Using a Champagne flute, place strawberries at the bottom of the glass and then pour the Barefoot Spumante in first, slowing adding Brandy and simple syrup until combined.



I received coupons to purchase E&J XO Brandy at a discount because I am a bzzagent in order to write this review.  Remember you must be 21 or older to drink and always drink responsibly.

Book Review: Musical Ink

Musical Ink is a really, really neat book.  It starts out with an interview with tattoo artist Kat Von D where they discuss musicians with tattoos and how many have them because it is a job that kind of lends itself to that sort of culture.  Then it goes in to the portraits – where there is 1 page that is an image of the musician and then the next page focuses on one of their tattoos close up. (Many of the artists could probably have a book of just them talking about their own tattoos they have so many!)  They talk about why they got it, what it means to them, the story around how they got it and where, etc which are all really interesting.  Some of these have really, really deep meanings and that is really interesting to read about.

Then there are bios  table of contents which talks a bit about each of the musicians and when they were photographed for the book.  And then some more on the equipment that was used to capture the photos (they are all really great photos!)

Definitely a really interesting read and something that I wouldn’t mind reading more about with other musicians (or even hearing about some of these musicians other tattoos!)

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Musical Ink is a portrait project from Toronto-based photographer Jon Blacker that spotlights 62 musicians and their tattoos. This exciting volume of imagery not only has something for every musical taste – featured artists range in genre from heavy metal to hip hop and opera – the tattoo styles include elaborate sleeves, creative one points, and traditional Japanese themes. Each portrait is photographed in black and white using a special infrared camera, which allows the tattoos to truly stand out from the skin because while infrared light largely reflects off of skin, it is absorbed by the tattoo ink, creating a great deal of contrast between the almost glowing, ethereal appearance of the skin and the deep blacks and greys of the tattoos. But Musical Ink goes more than skin deep and focuses on the personal meanings of the artists’ body art, be it a deep personal reflection or simply a great funny story. This outstanding collection of images, including artists like Dave Navarro, Chad Smith, and Sammy Hagar, is ideal for music lovers, tattoo aficionados and artists, and photographers.

Jon Blacker is a portrait and music photographer best known for his lightning-fast location and live concert work. He has been hiding behind the camera for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his girlfriend, her son, and their neurotic cat.

Jonas Brothers at Mohegan Sun

Tuesday night the Jonas Brothers brought their first tour in 3 years back to Connecticut to the Arena at Mohegan Sun.  The first opening act was a DJ, Mike Tompkins. I’m not a fan of DJs, but he seemed to get everyone pumped.  Next up was Karmin – who I used to hate but now love.  They did a much longer set than they had done when I saw them at the Christmas shows in December so that was great.  Plus, Amy and Nick had on matching orange outfits and I just love orange.  Then the DJ came back out again but this time instead of just mixing other songs he was going to perform all the music “with his voice” so he did some beat boxing and singing and only one original song.  A few people still seemed into him but at that point I was just ready for the Jonas Brothers to take the stage.

Then the lights went black and everyone was screaming and looking at the back of the arena.  I had no idea why.  Nick took the stage and then I could see Kevin and Joe coming down from the back sections of the arena (why does no one do this when I have seats way back there?)  Joe walked right by my section surrounded by a TON of security guards but girls still tried to grab at him.  Then all 3 took the stage and did their new single “First Time”.  Their new album, V (Five) is coming out in the fall so they did several songs that will be included on that album – which gave me an excuse to sit down every now and then because I didn’t know the songs.  Some of the new songs included Pom Poms (although this one has been released so I did know it), Found, The World, Let’s Go (Karmin joined them for this one! Very high energy) and What Do I Mean To You.  From what I’ve heard, the new album should be pretty great and I’m looking forward to it.

They did That’s Just The Way We Roll and dedicated it to the fans that have stuck with them – and yes, Joe did sing “Battle dance against Hanson” and didn’t change it.  I was worried he might since at Radio City he changed it to One Direction and apparently another night on tour he changed it to The Wanted.  He even came to my side of the stage when he sang it!  (Wondering if this weekend at Mixtape this battle dance will go down.  Hmm)

Each night fans can vote on a song they want to hear and for Uncasville the song of the night was Inseparable.  Of course I couldn’t remember the name of it for the life of me when they were singing it – but I was singing along. (How does that work, anyway?)

They also threw in a couple of Nick Jonas and the Administration songs – Who I Am and Last Time Around (do those count as covers? I’ve seen girls writing them down as being covers but I don’t know if I’d count them since Nick was still performing them? Though Joe did take some verses. I don’t know.) and they also did See No More which was Joe’s solo single.

Other fan favorites were also well represented with Fly With Me, A Little Bit Longer, When You Look Me In The Eyes, Burning Up (with Big Rob via Skype) and for Still In Love With You one lucky fan got to join the guys on stage to perform it via a contest on vine – and she just so happened to be sitting in the row in front of me!

The encore of the show was Love Bug and S.O.S.

After the show it was hard not to be a sweaty mess from all the dancing and jumping (well, I didn’t jump.) that was going on throughout the show.  They had less theatrics and no catwalk with this tour which I liked, it was a bit more focused on them as a band (and their backup band) than “hey look at all the cool stuff this stage can do!” which I think takes away from the show and showing off your talents.


First Time
Pom Poms
Who I Am
That’s Just The Way We Roll
Gotta Find You
The World
Fly With Me
A Little Bit Longer
Black Keys
Let’s Go
What Do I Mean To You
See No More
Still In Love With You
Last Time Around
When You Look Me In The Eyes
Burning Up

Love Bug

Book Review: Pretty Little Liars #13 Crushed

Crushed is the 13th book in the Pretty Little Liars series.  I am wondering if this series is ever going to end.  In this book it is almost time for prom and A is still tormenting our Pretty Little Liars.  Always one step ahead of the girls, they try anything they can think of to try and throw her off their tails.  They hide in panic rooms,  get untraceable phones but as always A knows all.  They make a list of who might be A and one of the people on the list is quite close to Aria.  Meanwhile they are being questioned by police about things that happened while they were vacationing in Jamaica and Iceland. (How do these girls afford all these trips?!)

Will we get any closer to figuring out who A is? Yes and no. Of course.  There always has to be a set up for the next book 😉  I generally dislike reading these books while the show is on because it is 2 different worlds – the show has taken in one direction and the books in another and some characters are dead or non existant in one version and not the other, but I had to read this one after the new season picked up because that’s just how it worked out in my schedule.  I do really love the books and they are quick and easy reads – they can easily be knocked out in less than a day but once they are over you want to read the next one right away and I’m not even sure if it’s begun being written yet!

I was not asked to write this review, I purchased the book to read on my own time and posted the review because I thought it was something that would interest my readers.

About the Book

In the thirteenth Pretty Little Liars novel, the secrets are more crushing than ever. . . .

It’s springtime in Rosewood, but while everyone else is searching for the perfect prom dress, Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria are on a different kind of hunt: They’re looking for A. . . .

Hanna puts her campaign for prom queen on the back burner to volunteer at a burn clinic, where one of A’s victims is recovering. Emily digs into Ali’s past at the mental hospital with some very crazy consequences. Spencer contacts an amateur private eye to help her stalk her stalker. But when their sessions get a little too private, they may forget to keep their eyes on A. And Aria’s worried that A is even closer than she thought. When her dark secret from Iceland comes to light, she discovers that maybe, just maybe, the one person she’s been trying to hide the truth from has known all along.

The liars are finally taking the fight to A. But no matter what they do, A’s always one step ahead, ready to crush the girls completely.

Book Review: Annette Funicello America’s Sweetheart

America’s Sweetheart is the story of Annette Funicello – one of the most famous mouseketeers. (Should I say original mouseketeers?)  I really didn’t know too much about her – I knew she was on MMC I knew that she was an actress and I knew that she had MS and passed away earlier this year.  Now that I’ve read this biography I know a lot more.  I starts with how her parents met – a really cute story – her dad told his friend that he was going to marry that girl.  Turns out that girl was his friends sister and he teased him about it.  But it turned out that her dad was right and he did marry that girl and they had Annette and then 2 boys – Joey and Michael.

Annette was shy but her teacher realized that she had rhythm so Annette started playing drums at an early age.  She also auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club and for some reason became Walt Disney himself’s favorite even though many others on set did not think she would make it from the blue team b squad to the red team a squad.  She did and then had several spin offs and other acting jobs – doing many beach movies with her dear friend Frankie Avalon.  She even had a singing career – despite constantly telling people that she could not sing.  Her records kept charting for a while though, so she continued to live out the  fantasy.

The book is really interesting and focuses a bit on how difficult her life was – especially once she had taken off as a star and was not home with her family and her mother traveled with her quite a bit as her guardian.  She was sheltered and went from her parent’s house to her husband’s house which caused added pressure – on top of always being in the spotlight.

Ultimately Annette was quite a fighter and was hopeful that there would be a cure for MS.  We can only hope that one day there will be so others won’t have to suffer like she did. (Even though she fought the disease all the way.)

If you are looking to find out more about Annette – be sure to check out Annette Funicello: America’s Sweetheart.  The back of the book also features her discography and filmography if you want to check out all that she did in her career (it’s a lot!)

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Annette Funicello was the “it girl” of a much more innocent time.

As a member of Disney’s Mouseketeers in the classic children’s television show The Mickey Mouse Club, as a pop singing star of non-threatening or controversial pop music, and helping to usher in a new era of teen-friendly movie high jinks with the Beach Party movies, Annette literally defined four decades of pop culture during her time in the spotlight.

But it was not always an easy ride.

Annette would be the first to admit that she had grown up “a sheltered child.” Consequently when reality did strike, she was not always up to the task of dealing with it.

Annette Funicello: America’s Sweetheart looks at the life and career of Annette from all angles, all sides, the ups and downs. Stories that are supported by exclusive interviews with fellow performers Carl Gardner (of the group The Coasters), Freddy ‘Boom Boom’ Cannon, Tommy Sands and songwriter Richard Sherman. Annette has told her story before. But it has never been told this way.

Marc Shapiro is the NY Times best-selling author of We Love Jenni – An Unauthorized Biography, The Secret Life of EL James, Who is Katie Holmes?, An Unauthorized Biography, Legally Bieber: Justin Bieber at 18J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter, and Justin Bieber: The Fever! and many other best-selling celebrity biographies. He has been a free-lance entertainment journalist for more than twenty-five years, covering film, television, and music for a number of national and international newspapers and magazines.

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