When I left Australia in 1986 to go see the world, I didn’t bring a camera. Earlier, I’d cheaply acquired a 2nd hand SLR, shot some badly exposed photos.. but found my ‘photography’ so unsatisfying that I departed without the baffling gizmo. I soon regretted that decision upon arrival in Asia, where I wanted to capture all the new sights that tantalised my eyeballs.

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Thankfully, Asia happens to be a great place to buy cameras, and I was working with a fellow who understood them and helped me buy one in Hong Kong. …


July 15, 1986, I left Australia for what I thought would be a 6 month or one year trip at most, but it ended up being an overseas jaunt that lasted the rest of my life.

View From the Tower Restaurant, 1986

I’d worked in Sydney animation studios since 1982, saving money for a trip to Japan. By mid 1986, I’d got my passport, bought a Japan rail pass, and after years of dilly-dallying was preparing to finally go. But before I’d bought a plane ticket, Janine Dawson offered me a job in Taiwan at a big animation studio. Despite years of saving, I was still functionally broke, as my limp 1986 Aussie dollars wouldn’t last long against the booming Yen. However, this brief work detour would be a chance to top-up my meagre funds with then-robust US dollars, so I bought a plane ticket to Taiwan instead, planning to catch a ferry to Japan from there when my assignment ended. …


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Being the adventures of a small black cat and its magical television.

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Originally published on my FALLOUT blog.


The insufferably cute fictional nuns of my childhood were played by perky actresses like Sally Field or Debbie Reynolds, whereas the real nuns who taught me looked like Alec Guinness in a dress. An exception was my 4th grade teacher. She looked like a young movie nun, but her personality shifted from angelic to diabolical quicker than a twist of her rosary beads. According to that Hollywood trope whereby nuns had a shtick — the Singing Nun, or the Flying Nun — she was the Changeling Nun.

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One morning after recess, several students had to go the toilet in quick succession, and the Moody Nun became stormy at these interruptions, proclaiming that henceforth no one else could go the loo. …


2020My first forays into social media were in 2007, when my sister Victoria encouraged me to join FACEBOOK to find old pals. Having had this blog/website since 2001, I thought anyone who’d wanted to find me could already do so with a simple search on Netscape (or whatever the prevailing search engine was back then) but joined anyway.

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Almost immediately, I found old friends, and others were able to find me, just as my sister had promised. For someone who’d lived and worked all around the world when we didn’t yet have cellphones and email addresses (and consequently losing touch was commonplace) this reconnection with old friends from different phases of my life was a great joy. Fast forward past fun years of playing silly games throwing sheep, ‘pokes,’ and laughing at everyone’s high school photos.. Next, I got first hand experience in what a powerful tool for human connection social media can be, when I was a housebound shut-in recuperating from a long term medical disaster. …


It is strange to look at my last post and think how much has changed in a just few months. Back in January, I’d never even heard of the ‘coronavirus’ and wrote about enjoying casually drawing outside. Nowadays, we barely leave the apartment, and it looks as if we’ll all be homebodies for quite sometime to come. Any drawings I do for the foreseeable future will be done AT HOME.

Scribbling While Rome Burns
Scribbling While Rome Burns

A few weeks after that last post, in late February/early March, Several cities in the Bay Area got their first coronavirus infections, including San Francisco, and quick follow through by local government and the private sector meant that I was working at home full time by March 13th. However, two months later, much of the world seems to be losing its mind at being housebound. Even the survivalists, who always appeared to be gleefully preparing for just such an apocalyptic moment of societal collapse, are now taking up arms and angrily storming City Hall steps across the USA: ‘Dammit, society.. …


The Baker family has volatile brains. People on both sides of my family tree have suffered strokes, and on this day in 2012 it was my turn. The most recent victim of this family curse was my poor Dad, in mid 2018, and his stroke was much more massive than my own.

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I used to be a plucky & frequent traveller, but dread being cooped up on a plane post-stroke. Nevertheless, I’d been planning to make that long 18 hour journey to my hometown this year for Dad’s 80th birthday (a landmark that warranted me putting on my big boy pants). But Dad’s sudden stroke last year meant that I went down there ahead of schedule, in June 2018 (with my brother Jo) when all Baker siblings converged on the hometown hospital to offer support. …


I’d been to Tokyo Disneyland (in the mid 1980s) and Florida’s DisneyWorld (in the mid 2000s) but until recently I’d never been to the real deal Californian original; DISNEYLAND. Our trip was on 3 weekdays just after the Labour Day long weekend, in hopes of avoiding crowds (which I’m allergic to nowadays). The park was surprisingly busy, but thankfully the lines for rides were’t too long and Julia & I had a lovely time, despite Anaheim being hotter than Malificent’s cauldron.

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Our flight landed at 10AM and it was already 96 °F, setting the trend for a sweaty three days. At the convenient (and oh so pricey) GRAND CALIFORNIAN HOTEL, the checkin clerk initially confused me with a Greg Baker, who was staying for 9 nights, not 3 (Greg has deeper pockets than James). The clerk typed furiously on their computer for a few minutes, called someone, asked questions, frowned, hung up & stared at their screen again — doing a fine impression of someone who’d lost my (recently reconfirmed) reservation — when suddenly, we were IN! …


I’d like to write about the landmark year of 2016, when I worked on “MARY POPPINS RETURNS” and began to claw my way back into the animation career I’d loved for 30 years, after losing the use of my drawing arm in 2012, due to a STROKE.

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Immediately after my STROKE, my focus was on medical recovery; learning to think, talk, walk, and deal with the after-shocks of my condition (many of which l still deal with today). Then there were money woes; medical bills, insurance problems and massive debt. I needed to get back to WORK, but even though my drawing ability was gone I could think of no other career than animation, so I tried to draw with my LEFT hand. …


Last Christmas, Julia gave me a gift voucher for a posh massage place, and last weekend I finally got to use it, giving us the excuse for spending yet another pleasant day in The Presidio.

View from Disney Museum verandah
View from Disney Museum verandah

After having a few kinks kneaded out of my battered body, there was time to kill until a dinner reservation, so we sat on the verandah of the Disney Family Museum and both did some sketching prior to a fantastic meal at a nearby restaurant called The Commissary.

About

James S. Baker

The uppercuts keep me from falling down..

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