Portland's calling

On CNN.com today there's a nice write-up on Portland in the Travel section. Seems like Portland is the place to be at the moment, especially when the NY Times has been singing the Rose City's praises for some time now (read this, this, this, and, oh, yeah...this).

The magnificent Hollywood Theatre on NE Sandy Blvd. Photo by Andrea.

All of it is deserving. Portland is, indeed, a "nice" city. With five quadrants (NW, N, NE, SE & SW) the city's layout is easy to understand and easy to navigate. The people are nice, especially while driving. Need convincing? Read this. A welcome change from Atlanta's heated cesspool, otherwise known as traffic. For an Atlantan, the nice drivers can be a bit "too" nice, however, especially when you're in a hurry. But I digress....

At Oaks Amusement Park. Photo by Andrea.

It's been so easy to love this new city of mine, with what seems to be TONS of things to do with kids in tow. We just recently checked out the Oaks Amusement Park this past Friday, and, even though it wasn't like good ol' Six Flags Over Georgia (Monster Plantation, anyone?), it still had the wonder and awe that only old skool rides can make for summer memories. They even had a roller rink, which I SWEAR had the exact smell of the 1970's -- they should somehow bottle it up and sell it on the street corners of America. I'd buy it. Ava and Ezra were loving the kiddie rides, all of which bordered on the "carny" side. In fact, the entire park screamed CARNY -- they just never left town. (The park's been a staple of SE Portland since 1905!) It was the perfect ending to a great summer.

So, yeah, Portland's been a great experience for us this year so far. I know that we're right in the middle of the best part of the year: summer and early autumn, where the temperature is perfect and hardly a hint of rain or humidity (which is unheard of for me, a true Southern boy). I might be singing a different tune come February, but I think that I can handle the drizzle of the NW better than the downpours of the South. (Fun fact: did you know that average rainfall for Portland is LESS than Atlanta's? Portland's 44 inches to Atlanta's 50.2.)

I'm not an outdoorsman, but I can easily slip into that role after living here for several years. There's so much to do in the city and in the surrounding area, I can't even begin to list it here. I love having the stately Mt. Hood hovering in the background, like a gentle brother overlooking you. We live two houses down from a very scenic view of the dormant volcano and I can't help but take the kids for a walk to capture a glimpse of this incredible mountain. And never does it look the same with each viewing. I love that. Northwesterners love their Cascades, and Portlanders certainly love their volcanoes. (Mt. St. Helens is right around the corner, too.)


I've been getting more and more emails and comments from people lately asking me about the job situation at Laika and whether or not if we've gotten their resumé or portfolio or demo reel that they've sent, etc. Honestly, I don't know. I'm simply a director for the /house division. More often than not, most of you who've contacted me are doing so for positions in the Entertainment division. That's the feature film and development side. /house does commercials and short films. I don't mind pointing you in the right direction, but most of it requires getting in touch with someone in recruitment. In case you didn't know, there's a (recently updated) recruitment page on the LAIKA site, with a link to the current list of job openings. They are always hiring, with two features in the works (CORALINE and JACK & BEN) and a plethora of commercials that are always being produced. They recently hit the 425 mark in total employees -- and still hiring! Just letting ya know.

So, I understand that I'm an actual face that you can identify with and it seems a lot easier to just get in touch with me, but really? I'm a busy boy and I might not be able to pass along your requests in time! And if I do end up remembering, all I'll do is pass the requests along to recruitment. They'll be of more service than I'll ever be.

Coraline Poster

CORALINE is looking fantastic. We got to check out the footage that was shown at Comic Con this year, and, boy -- I was blown away. Man, I love stop-motion animation. I love the hand crafted look to all the sets and props, to the characters and how sometimes you can make out the quirks and oddities to the puppets, etc. Something about it that snaps you into the realness of it all, very grounded and true, yet somehow you can still go along with the fantasy of it all. The scene we got to see was of Coraline first finding the secret door and then, later on, going through it and meeting her 'other' mother for the first time. Exquisite animation and nice camera angles. I've read on other blogs and sites where there were questions regarding Henry Selick's ability as a director -- MONKEYBONE is often sited as his 'slip up', but if you've had the opportunity to hear Henry's story about all that, (he spoke at PLATFORM this year) he mentions how, with each feature, there were more and more studio involvement, mostly on the creative side. It culminated with MONKEYBONE, giving the director no room to offer his opinion, creatively. Ironically, that's the movie that made Coraline's author, Neil Gaiman, want him for the movie adaptation in the first place. And after watching this early footage of the film, it looks like a perfect match. Henry seems to be enjoying his new found freedom at LAIKA, and I'm not saying that because I work here. (Although I would be remiss if I didn't mention that that was one of the many reasons LAIKA was so appealing to me: creative freedom and opportunities.)

There ya go. Some updates for you all. By the way, the anniversary weekend was a blast. We finally got the pics transferred into our Powerbook last night, so expect some pics on our Flickr accounts soon.


  1. i'm beginning to think they're keeping us apart on purpose.

  2. I'll have to travel out there to see what all the fuss is about! Portland...the new animation capital of America? Selfish moment coming up ahead: I still wish you'd moved to NY.

  3. Yeah, I think that the problem of Mirror Mask was that awful 3D animation. With stop motion the the result would be better.

  4. We made the decision to move to Portland a few months ago (we actually get there in December) and I can't believe all the fantastic things we've been hearing lately. Every time I fire up my innernet browser there's something good about Portland. Our kids are jumping up and down already (hard to keep that going for three months, but somehow I'm sure they'll manage it).

    VOLCANOES!!!! Volcanoes rock.

    I just wanna get there before it gets *too* popular, knowhatimean?

    Ward, have you been to McMenamins yet? It looks like a cool place.

  5. Ok, I'm going to be an annoyingly frequent commenter on this post. Apologies, but I couldn't resist quoting from one of the articles you linked to:

    "Truth is, Portland doesn't want to be Seattle, its highly caffeinated neighbor to the north. With less traffic, better public transportation and Mount Hood in its backyard, this self-styled City of Roses doesn't stand in anybody's shadow."

    Sounds pretty good to me.

  6. Jon -- they are.

    Justin -- I know you do, but hey, this seems to be a great fit so far.

    Amanda -- I'm sure you know this, but just thought I'd say it: MIRROR MASK was written by Gaiman, but not directed by Henry Selick. It was directed by fellow Gaiman collaborator, Dave McKean. It showed great promise, but was very disappointing. I kinda liked the 3D in it, but it looked too cold, much like the rest of the film. I agree, however, that stop-motion for that film would've been a better choice.

    Sparky -- that's very cool that you guys are moving down here! Let's definitely hook up when you get here.

    There are several different McMenamins around town -- I've eaten at the pub/restaurant one right around the corner from LAIKA on NW 23rd -- good food there. The School in the NE section is very very cool. I highly recommend going there and checking out the soaking pool. Very nice. And movies, too? Gotta go. Very fun.

  7. I can see where the studio involvement in
    Monkeybone would have been a drag and made
    it a weaker film but oddly enough I always loved
    Monkeybone. And I remember when I showed it to
    my wife when we were dating and she loved it too.
    Go figure

  8. sunset magazine has a portland with kids feature this month too. looks fun! i've only flown over. i'd love to check it out