Archive for the 'friends' Category

12
Jan
11

Grant McCune, saying good bye to a dear friend

Grant and r2-d2

So Sorry for this very late post, but we lost our internet for the last three weeks and only just got it back up and working.  With that said, the last post of the year was to be about Grant McCune and all the modelers at his shop, but sadly, before it was finished news of Grant’s untimely passing changed the story from one of great fun to one of horrible sadness.

2010 has been a hard year full of many sorrows and tragedies.  We have lost a lot of  Hollywood legends and dear friends, and as the year comes to a close there is one more final goodbye to a dear, dear friend.  If you’re a regular reader here, the name Grant McCune is not a new one to you, and with great sadness, Grant passed away on Monday December the 27th of Pancreatic Cancer which he was only diagnosed with 4 weeks prior to his passing.  For those of you who don’t know of Grant from a friend’s point of view, he was the chief model maker on a little film that came out in 1977 called “Star Wars” and his masterful craft won him an Oscar.  Grant was always a little embarrassed about that because it was really his first film in many ways, and being the humble man that he was, always felt funny about it.

Grant started in the business working with his good friend Bill Shourt on the Mechanical Shark from Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws”.  Bill and Grant went from working under water to outer space when George Lucas was putting together a team of specialists to create the undiscovered country of major motion control VFX for his space epic “Star Wars”.  The Original Industrial Light and Magic VFX studio was a rented warehouse in Van Nuys, California, right next to the Van Nuys Airport.  Star Wars was a landmark film and opened the door to  a new world of VFX laden films incorporating Motion Control camera systems and technologies designed and created for Star Wars.  Lucas was signed on to do a sequel and he wanted to move his operation up to the Bay area which was George’s stomping grounds.  A call was made to see who wanted to follow to a new ILM to be situated in Marin County just north of San Francisco, and who was going to stay in Los Angelas.  John Dykstra and six others of the main group decided to stay in southern CA while the others moved on. John Dykstra, Bill Shourt, Grant McCune, Richard Alexander, Roger Dorney, Doug Smith and Bob Sheperd got their money together and formed a new company called “Apogee”.  Apogee retained the original building plus one directly next door to house all the new cameras, machine shop, creature shop, optical and animation department, model shop, and lots of stage and office space.  Their first project was the television pilot and series called “Battlestar Galactica”. Grant would head up the model shop, and crews of modelers would come and go as the projects came in.  Following Galactica came Star Trek (The Motion Picture), Caddyshack, Firefox and a host of other films and commercials.

I knew of Grant from the credits in Star Wars and from all the publications about the films VFX sequences.  After years of research I found an add for Apogee in a trade magazine for film and gave him a call.  We met in early 1984 and for the next year and a half I would frequently make the drive from Arizona to visit.  One hot summer Wednesday in July I stopped by again to say hi.  I was staying at my uncle’s house in Fullerton and doing some side work for him while I was on vacation from my job at the grocery store in Phoenix.  I told Grant in a joking way that I lived here now, and he said; you live in CALIFORNIA!!!  Why yes I do,,,,,  he then said, how do you like working outside….. in the heat???  I had just come from 120 degree Arizona heat to California which was barely 100 degrees so hot outside was NOT California, HAAA!  I said I love to work outside why?  What came next was the big phrase that I thought I would never hear….. Good! would you like start working here tomorrow, your job will be  brushing latex into a giant Dinosaur mold and he pointed outside to two half molds of a full sized T-Rex ! WOOOOOOOOOOO  Oh yes I would love to, and he said; OK then see ya tomorrow at 7:00, and how does $7.00 an hour sound… That sounds Awesome Grant, Thanks and I will see you tomorrow I said and off I went to get ready for the big day!!!!  What an unbelievable time! So on Thursday August 1st 1985 Grant McCune brought me into the world of VFX and one  young boy’s dreams came true.  I called my boss at Bayless markets and gave my two week notice over then phone and the sound of cheers rang out from everyone standing by the phone on the Arizona side of the line.

Grant was a great boss, and you couldn’t really call him that because he was more a friend than a boss.  Always quick with a joke and a laugh, he loved his job and he so gracefully shared all of what he knew with you.  Everybody loved Grant and also working at Apogee; it was a place that felt more like a house full of your favorite relatives than a job. There was really no division between the high end and the low end of the crew, and everyone there was incredibly talented and a joy to be around.  Grant was a music lover and was ever so fond of the Gypsy Kings, Linda Rondstant, Leon Redbone, Patsy Cline, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  Every morning when he would get in, we would all be blessed by a shout from the door, DOES EVERYONE LOVE THEIR JOB, followed by one of his tunes.  Frech fries and breakfest burritos were next in a day of usual favorites.  “Invaders from Mars”, “Top Gun”, and “Spaceballs” were my first movies working with Grant and and through him I met some of my very best friends, Cory and Allen Faucher, Pete Gerrard, Glen Campbell, Bill and John Shourt,  Robert Beilmere, James Spencer, Pat Denver, David Dryer, Lisa Wise, Debbie Nicoles, Carolyn Diltz, Mike Yost, Greg Jein, Monty Shook, and way too many others to mention here.  As Hollywood goes, there would be times where the modelshop crew would float from Apogee to Boss Films, DreamQuest Images, Fantasy II, LA Effects group, and up north to ILM for other jobs, but we would all gladly come back to Grant and Apogee.

The CGI world started to become the way of the future in the early 90’s and by about 1994 (it was provide it or die), which made up the new Hollywood attitude and about this time all the major model shops where coming to an end.  Apogee’s final days were in 1995, and as the major VFX company closed it’s doors (literally over night), Grant retained his side of the company and formed his own VFX house under the new name of Grant McCune designs. Fifteen years later his company still stands and does various jobs for films and also in the capacity for specialty props and collectables.  Grant was a master photographer as well and he had a darkroom set up at work which he was turning into his daughter Lilly’s new darkroom over the last month or so.  Grant also had  a full shop at his house and he would commute back and forth between the two with goods and parts created for whatever the current project was.  There was nothing that he couldn’t do with his hands and imagination, and he so loved what he did!!!  Grant’s wife Kathy was the subject of many of his photo themes and she was always quick with a tip on nutrition.  Their children, son Cole and daughter Lilly were always around, and it was always a pleasure to see the McCune family in the shop.  Grant was an extremely generous, kind, and grateful man and was always there to talk to and lend some advice no matter what the subject was.  He was like a second father to me; he was my friend, my buddy, and a man I loved dearly.  He will be missed deeply and his passing came way to quickly and the reality of this is not setting in easily with all of us who knew him.  Life is oh so fragile so be sure to tell those around you that you love them often.  Kathy McCune and all the gang at GMD want to carry on with what Grant had started and happily his shop will be staying open. It will always be a landmark of where the true magic of working in the movies began for all of those that worked and visited there.

God bless you dear friend Grant, and love to Kathy, Cole, and Lilly.

Here are some pictures of Grant at work and, as soon as I can find all of mine, I’ll be sure to do an update.

Grant came to Scottsdale Arizona to do a talk on VFX and this was the cover story from our local paper. This still hangs in my office today.

on the set of Firefox, second in from left to right, Clint Eastwood, at the other end of the camera boom is John Dykstra and next to the firefox model is Grant

Grant dropping the blockade runner's escape pod thru the launch tube, from Star Wars

from Star Wars Grant works on the Imperial Star Destroyer

Star Wars, Grant assembling the blockade runner

Grant goofing around with an X-wing

this is from the 10th anniversary of Star Wars and a big reunion of all the VFX folks showed up at Apogee to celebrate, Grant's in the middle bottom row

23
Dec
10

Alicia’s new horse, thanks to everyone who helped her so generously with the fundraiser.

say hello to Sidetrack

Howdy everyone this is Alicia Eaves. I wanted to say thank you so much to all those who participated in the fundraiser for my new horse that my dad put together for me. I really appreciate it so much. Well, it paid off and on early Wednesday morning at 1 am my new horse Sidetrack arrived to her new home with me 🙂 I was so excited I could hardly wait to see her and meet her! The minute she jumped out of the trailer and looked at me with her big beautiful eyes I knew she was the one for me to start another journey with and a new friend. My mom, Tara,  found her on the internet. I know I couldn’t have found a better horse if she didn’t help me with everything. Sidetrack traveled all the way from Texas to get here in California 🙂

Because of our rainy weather, I had to wait a day before I got to ride her and I wasn’t disappointed. She has energy and spirit which I love so much! After spending some time on her, I found that she knows how to spin and sidepass. I have never had a horse that knew how to do that so I am so excited! She loves barrels and it’s a real blast doing the course on her back. She just has the need for speed and shows it when she turns the barrels 🙂 I couldn’t be happier with Sidetrack. She’s loving and comes right up to me and she loves to have her back and neck rubbed and scratched. Its so cute 🙂

After loosing Kiowa, I didn’t think any horse would make me as happy as Kiowa did. She was my baby and I will never forget her because she is in my heart always and is running beside me when I race. She made me the cowgirl I am today. Having Sidetrack home and knowing she is mine is just so mind blowing. Riding her has given me that happiness back that I never thought I would have with another horse. She’s somethin’ special and I couldn’t have done any of this without the help from the fundraiser. Thank you so much for helping me find my new horse who will bring me to a whole new level of competition. She brings me to a new chapter in my life that I am so excited to begin.

Cowgirl Up

~ Alicia~

Howdy all and I wanted to also say thanks for all of the generous offers to Alicia’s fundraiser. Because of everyone’s donations Alicia collected a little over two thousand dollars and my wife Tara helped her to secure the rest of the money needed. All of this has made for a wonderful Christmas for her and especially so because of all these gifts from the heart. All the notes and prayers where so kind throughout all off these hard times and they came from people from all over the globe. what a rich a nd wonderful world we live in and it goes to show that no matter where you are from or live, love and kindness shine as an international virtue. Thanks again to all,  Merry Christmas and have a blessed holiday and new years.

God Bless

John, Tara, Alicia, Olivia, carlene, and Alyna

Alicia and Sidetrack

Sidetrack arrived Wednesday morning at about 1 AM, and here is the first time that we got to see her in the daylight. She so loves to have her neck rubbed.

rounding the arena - Sidetrack came with a lot of training in all the events that Alicia competes in making it an extra special horse that she can get right on and ride and not have to spend years training her from scratch.

After much begging Alicia finally let her sister Olivia ride her new horse. HAAA!

09
Dec
10

Douglas E. Graves, deg3D, artist extraordinair, and welcome to the blogroll

It was brought to my attention that somehow my buddy Deg was not in the blogroll anymore… Something mysterious happened and his listing was gone… (most likely it was old-man memory failure on my part and I didn’t load it correctly in the beginning). So in announcement of Deg entering the blogroll today we celebrate with a little history and some artwork by the master Douglas E. Graves, or better known to us as DEG!  Way back in March of ’09 the Eavesdropping blog started up and one of the first friends I met was a guy named Deg. Within a month we had become good friends and were working together on “myouterspace.com” In May we met in person at Wonderfest in Kentucky, which is now our annual get-n together place. If you have never seen Deg’s work, get ready to be blown away!!! He is one awesome talent and his fingers and imagination weave unbelievable tapestries of fantastic scenes and spacecraft galore!

Born and raised with his brother Greg in a small rural town in Illinois, Deg and his bro were poor farm children who had no cash and no toys to play with. With grand imaginations the two invented things to do like using heads of cabbage as a ball to play with, or laying in the fields and rolling out of the way (Indiana Jones style) as the ripper blades of the tractors would get dangerously close. Deg lost an eye in a BB-gun accident and Greg donated one of his so Deg could see again in 3D. They are close brothers and rarely ever part except when Deg goes home to be with his wife and yard-squirrels. Deg lost two fingers in Nam and with bionic replacements he can calculate, model, and tickle the ivorys of his keypad at 60MPH. Love and a secret passion for Country ‘n’ Western music landed him a duo with Patsy Kline at one of her last performances in Nashville. Deg also served as personal liaison and coffee-boy to Chuck Yeager when he was stationed in Dayton, Ohio.

Deg’s father hit oil one sunny afternoon in the early 70′s and with his fortune he bought his boy his first computer. It was a Radioshack TRS 80 with cassette memory, and from that day forward Deg’s future was set. One of his first jobs was to create the animated Col. Sanders for the new KFC commercials, as well as the lead designer of the Snuggle Bear from Snuggles fabric softener. Athletically inclined, Deg did a short stint at playing professional soccer, but a run-in with the world famous Pelé snapped his left leg backwards at the knee that resulted in amputation and leg replacement. Ever full of spirit, this event didn’t get Deg down and in the following winter, brothers Greg and Deg went hiking in the Rocky Mountains. The two left the trail and got lost in a blizzard and were considered dead after two weeks of intensive searching by state and local sheriff’s officers. The two emerged miraculously from the mountains in the spring and in good shape, both physically and mentally. When interviewed, the two told their story and shared that the secret to their survival was with great thanks from watching Nanook of the North as children.  They learned to make an igloo from ice and snow, and for food they had to resort to cannibalism so they would both eat off of Greg’s frozen haunch and thigh, but ever so sparingly. From there, with his parent’s fortune and the personal fame from the mountain adventure, the world was wide open, so Deg started working as a stock-boy at a local grocery store, while Greg got plastic surgery for his half-eaten leg.

A few years later Deg met his future wife at a lumberjack festival where his bride-to-be won the blue ribbon in the 50 yard axe toss. They were soon wed and now live quietly in the outskirts of Chicago. Deg’s 3D work really took off, enabling him to work from home while his wife brought in the $$$ working as a nurse and part-time at the lumber mill. Greg went on and created a restaurant chain called Steak ‘n’ Shake that is popular in the mid-states and is now branching out to Las Vegas. Today life is good for both men and the sun does set with whistling cowboy tunes each and everyday. On a personal note; Deg’s a family man, a patriot, a man of faith, and a good friend. It is with great honor to put Deg on the blogroll today, so everyone be sure to go and see his name and website address smack dab in the middle of the roll. Below are some fav pieces from the Degster, so have a look and enjoy!!!

the USS Probert

from TOS, the F-104 in the E shuttlebay

Deg's modified TOS Enterprise

and my all time fav piece in the world, the F-104 and the Enterprise

08
Nov
10

Alicia Eaves, cowgirl up! and the Star trek art fundraiser auction.

Alicia and Kiowa

Well, friends thanks again for all the kind words and prayers for my daughter, Alicia, and the tragedy with her losing her horse, Kiowa. The accident happened on 10-10 and on 10-16 the girls had a rodeo on their 2010/2011 competition schedule. One of the other wonderful rodeo families (The Jaspers) heard about Alicia’s loss and brought over one of theirs for her to ride.  She had less than an hour to try her out and then we were off to the main events. Alicia and Olivia both carried a lock of Kiowa’s mane in their pockets and the rodeo began to Alicia riding tall and fast all day long. It was an extremely difficult day filled with tears, but both Alicia and Olivia are true cowgirls and stayed “cowgirl tuff”!

She carries Kiowa in her heart, as well as, her love for rodeo. Rising from where she has fallen she can’t be kept down and she is ready to move forward and ride again. Alicia has started to look for a new horse and with doing so we needed to find away to get her some funds to do so. Work has been fast furious and far between, so we came up with the idea of a fundraising auction featuring Star Trek art prints. We do so many fundraisers for all the different groups the girls participate in, so we thought it would be a perfect way to help her make some cash for getting that new horse.  I am going to put prints up on ebay starting tomorrow, but for all my friends here on the blog you can have a print of anything you have seen here on the blog(That is something that I have drawn, and also almost all the the pin up gals have so graciously given permission to sell copies of their pictures as well!) at a fixed price special!!!! For a $15 donation plus shipping you can get an 8’5 x11 print…. For $20 plus shipping you can size up to an 11×17 print… Or for those of you with a lot of wall space you can really move up to the massive 13×19 for $25 plus shipping. All pictures will be printed on high gloss paper and hand personalized to you or to friends for that fun little Christmas gift. Feel free to drop me a line at johneaves227@gmail.com anytime in regards to what you would like. and I can send a pay thru paypal or info for checks thru private email, If you would like to add on a little extra, you are more than welcome to do so and all donations to our horse fundraising is most appreciated!

Thanks so much for helping out with Alicia’s fundraising efforts. Below is a note of thanks from Alicia that she wanted me to share with everyone here.

“Howdy, I wanted to thank you all for all your caring responses on my dad’s blog. It means so much to me. Thank you for your support during this rough time. Even though Kiowa can’t be with me now I know she would want me to continue with rodeo and my dad and I have come up with the idea of a fundraiser because I will be needing a new rodeo horse. It would mean a lot if you would consider contributing to my fundraiser. Thank you so much for all the support and comments” 🙂

~Alicia
Below are some print examples that have been posted here over the last year and a half or so and there are countless others available upon request.
 

print 1

print 2

print 3

print 4

print 5

print 6

print 7

29
Jun
10

Happy Birthday Deanne

all of you fellow bloggers know here and love her, It’s the ever lovely Desertdea’s Birthday!!! I’ve known Deanne since high school and we saw the not so classic movie “Scavenger Hunt” together with our Church group and have been great friends ever since!!!  Happy B-day my special buddy!!! hope you have an awesome day!




May 2017
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