If you just want to dive straight into animation as a hobby, I would recommend Eric Goldberg’s book on animation. (I’d actually recommend this to all animators.) It’s a really enjoyable and short read on the basics of character animation. It also dives into a couple of the technical aspects that other “beginner” animation books usually skip over, such as lip syncing. And it comes with a DVD of the example animations he refers to in the text, so you can see the stuff in motion.
After that, the best way to learn is to just start animating. Mess around in Photoshop or on paper, see what works. Just have fun with it.
I mostly post pop-culture crap on there. Every now and then I post some of my art. I’m still very much a student, so don’t expect anything professional (yet).
Well you’re already in California, which is a great place to be for this. CalArts is the best of the best. (Co-founded by Walt Disney, their Animation Dept specializes in traditional techniques.) If you can get in, you’re basically set. If I can get a good portfolio together myself (and the money), that’s where I’m setting my sights.
Here’s an extensive list I found of other assorted schools. CG animation courses are much more common these days than traditional classes. Also, do lots of research before you pick a school. Figure out who your favorite artists are and where they went to school.