Daily Barks 01.05 cataroo.com
The Daily Bark: January 2005
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January 31, 2005
"60 summers young. 60 winters old. Brr!" A great quote from Charlie Chan. Though I have only hit the half century mark, I am beginning to feel those winters. For years I have been told that I don't look my age. Rachel's friends were often shocked to hear how long I have been on the Earth. Part of that is because she is quite a bit younger than me. I remember when I was dating her, a business associate saw a picture of her. His response was, "she's young and pretty... and she's interested in YOU?" However this year has been one of my years of aging. I tend to find that many folks, my parents included, don't age gradually. Like a kid going through growing spurts, I tend to see folks go through aging spurts. They look the same for years and years. Then suddenly, *wham*! They look older. I see it in my face, my hands, my hair. As Rose says in TITANIC, "the reflection has changed". At least I don't always feel that I'm aging. My surroundings from home to office keep me bouncing back and forth, from feeling my age to still feeling like a teenager. Again I quote from the great detective when told he wasn't that old. "Heart feels young, but joints sometimes argue same".

January 30, 2005
Show day. After another harrowing drive down the icy mountain roads, we got to the show at the bottom of the mountain. Eagle, our first born won his class and then came in reserve. (For non-show folks, it basically means he was the 2nd best non-Champion Great Dane male at the show.) Before the show, he even got a nice review from a different judge. The judge was walking by and seemed compelled to stop and give us comments. Very nice. It was at this very show, last year, that Eagle got his first show points, a major. Obviously we are all proud of our little boy, all 150 pounds of him. I just wish shows were a bit more fun. Once again, I had some fun 'goofing' on folks by saying politically 'unpopular' things about ears and professional handlers. It is just so depressing to see so many wonderful dogs and so many people who don't see them for the kids they are. At one point a dog so lame it could barely walk got removed from the ring by the judge. Spectators were upset at the judge. I helped catch a loose German Shepherd. The owners were more worried about keeping their wheeled cart on the sidewalk than whether the dog was ok. Show folks seem to care as little about each other as they do their dogs. When do people change from someone who loves animals to someone who only thinks of shows and points and breeding?

January 29, 2005
Time to write. I'm always saying I 'don't have the time' to write. To this folks will sometimes say, well, why don't you write now. Of course if I wanted to just write a letter or a list, I could probably do that. But to sit down and actually compose something for a frames, or dog show daddy, or one of the book projects I need to be mentally in the mood. One of the reasons I had trouble in journalism, is that it was difficult for me to just sit down and begin writing. I really needed to see the reason to write. I did not just want to start blabbing. Folks who excercise say they need to 'warm up' before a workout. I need to warm up before writing. I need to do some doodle writing (forum comments, a note to a friend). I need to get my fingers up and typing and my mind composing whole thoughts. Then, like a runner, I need to build a rythm where the thoughts and words begin flowing easily and quickly. I tend to write in spurts and then go back for editing. If my 'spurt' is interupted with tasks, questions, outside noise, or even drowsiness, I lose the steam and usually cannot get re-started. Hence I need to have some time set aside, or planned for writing, and it needs to be a good sized block. Giving me 30 minutes to write is like telling a musician they have 10 seconds to play a tune. Some notes will pop out, but there will be no real tune. And, for me, no real writing.

January 28, 2005
Home movies. Saw a batch of old 8mm movies on eBay. You know, the ones that were silent clips from Hollywood movies and cartoons? It made me think of how the world of home entertainment has changed in just 25 years. In the 1970s I collected films. When I wanted to watch an old movie, I would pull out the film projector (16mm or Super8) and show a favorite Laurel and Hardy or one of the few films studios would allow. For film parties we would rent a major movie like Abbott and Costello or Bogart or even Peter Sellers. It was a special occasion. In the late 1970s I got my first betamax. I began to tape shows on TV. Neighbors were confused that I was watching a show that they thought was on 'last night'. By the early 1980s lots of folks had vcrs and film parties were not quite so special. Of course betamax died. And by the end of the 90s vhs was on its way out as dvd came into play. Now we have an entire generation that can not imagine NOT watching a movie when they want. No waiting for it to be re-issued to theaters. No waiting for it to show up on a tv channel. Now we just slap in a movie and let it play like we would have a record (oops, cd). Movies at home are no longer special. Kind of sad. Of course I also remember when color tv was special. When cable was special. When movie channels were special. Of course my folks remember when tv was special... a little over 50 years ago.

January 27, 2005
A hospital day. All good news. Tomorrow is a day of recovering.

January 26, 2005
No entry. Prepped for hospital visit. Meds made me tired, dizzy, naseaus.

January 25, 2005
The nominations for the Academy Awards are out. Best Animated Feature nominees are SHREK 2, SHARK TALE and THE INCREDIBLES. Obviously the key race is between Dreamworks' SHREK 2 and Pixar's INCREDIBLES. It is not the classic set-up of a popular favorite versus a critical favorite. Both films did strong box office, but SHREK 2 did around $100 million more than INCREDIBLES. Both films received good reviews, but INCREDIBLES got the most praise and was on numerous 'ten best' lists. The battle also has some historical interest. The original SHREK was the first film to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar, beating out MONSTERS INC. If SHREK 2 wins, it will be one of only two times a film and its sequel both won Best Feature. The other is THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER II in the 1970s. In my mind, I would like to see SHREK 2 get it. However, I think THE INCREDIBLES has the advantage. The Disney-Pixar war has been hotly followed by people in the business. Giving it to Pixar would be another slap at Disney. But, since Disney has no other film, that may not be as strong a condition. Also, many think Brad Bird deserves an award just on merit. It is a shame neither got the chance to go into Best Feature. But with the competition, and the Academy's traditional leaning away from humor, perhaps it is better this way.

Hey. Only 11 months 'til Christmas!

January 24, 2005
Tomorrow, the 25th, is the 13th anniversary of meeting my wife, Rachel. You can read all about it here. It was one of those 'life changing' moments. Up to that time, it was well believed I was to be a permanent bachelor. Rachel stirred feelings in me that surprised not only me, but most of my friends. So much has happened in those years. Performing in costumes. A courtship full of twists and turns. Carousels. A ranch wedding in costume. Horse rides. Road trips. Starting a family. Our first litter. Seeing INTO THE WOODS on stage. Getting tattoos. Visits to Florida, Nevada, Washington, Canada, Arizona, and Tijuana. Appearing together in magazines, documentaries and TV series. Collector conventions and trade shows. Showing our kids, and winning. Carriage rides. Video game challenges. Disneyland, Great America, Disney World and Santa's Village. Sharing good times and not-so-good times. After all these years, she still makes my life an adventure and a joy. Happy anniversary, hon.

January 23, 2005
My recent talk of ghost stories inspired me to discuss my visit to a ghost amusement park. You can read about it in the blogs section. Sadly it has taken me almost three weeks to add a frame since my first of the year. At this rate I don't think I'll even meet last year's number, which was lower than I wanted. Sigh. Have plenty of urge to write, and plenty of material. Just need the time. The proper time. Writing is not something easily turned on and off. At least with me. I know full time writers need to be able to sit down and start producing. I need to be in the right mood, with the proper surroundings. Mood is best for me early morning. I am basically a morning person, and tend to have the most energy before noon. Surroundings are best when I can focus. I like background noise, but generally need either music or extremely familiar tv. Circumtances later this week might allow me a bit more opportunity. But only time will tell.

January 22, 2005
A bit of something different today. Having to go down the mountain for some financial business, decided to take the opportunity to visit a local ranch that raises miniature horses. The ranch is quite nice. There was a good selection of minis, Arabians, a donkey, sheep, a goose, an alpaca and other farmland animals. The owners, who breed champions in several of their species, graciously showed us around. Rachel had made sure we had gotten permission to bring a large bushel of carrots. Brought back memories of Diamond, our wonderful, warm hearted appaloosa that we lost several years ago. There is something calming about horses, even the minis. A quiet strength that easily passes to those around them. As much as the horses were pleasant, my favorite was their young donkey. He was simply full of personality and charm. He bounced around his enclosure, which he shared with two Arabians. He raced to the fence anytime someone approached. He did all he could to grab one's attention and then bask in it. I know Rachel and I dream of a day when we can have the land to have a few horses and even some minis. I think I would now like to add a donkey. They are more my size. Also, when it comes to horsemanship, I think a donkey is more my speed. I would easily fall into the 'comic relief' to Rachel's grand skill on horseback. heehaw.

January 21, 2005
Ghost stories. Someone was mentioning it recently. Like UFOs, folks either believe they exist or they don't. Can actually state I have had a few 'spiritual' encounters. My first was actually in a home that was considered haunted. It was in the form of a mysterious light. However my most common experiences concern the kids. These events are usually in the form of sensation. That is I get the feeling of them suddenly being there. Starting with a night in a which a cat that I was forced to give away 'returned' to her regular spot in my bed. (I have always felt she died that night and made a final return to say 'goodbye'.) More often than I can count I have 'seen' one of our kids who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge out of the corner of my eye. Even more startling was the mysterious appearance of an almost duplicate that showed up briefly after the loss of a kid. The most physical was the appearance of a piece of fruit on a virtually dead tree that was growing over a grave. Though my cat's return actually 'spooked' me. The later ones give me a feeling of calm. As if, though physically gone, their spirits are still with us, and keeping an eye on the rest of the family.

January 20, 2005
Everyone keeps asking if we have snow. The answer is no. No snow. The rain washed it all away. It also washed away the roads. We are still operating on reduced travel conditions. At least one road is open 24-7. All the others have a variety of restrictions, mostly limited hours. We have been told that some of the roads won't be fully operational for months. Makes it tough on commuters. Sadly, it also makes it tough for businesses up here. First the fires of 2003 close us off for weeks. Then things pick up in the summer of 2004. The winter starts, and it looks like a good holiday season. Suddenly we get the storms of 2005. Amazingly, the folks here continue on in good spirit. The troubles are not as large as other 'disasters'. The difficulties are not as well publicized. As Bogart says in THE MALTESE FALCON, some of them may not be important, but look at the number of them. Despite the repeated problems, the folks up here keep on trying. That is pretty impressive. I am proud our family is part of this community.

January 19, 2005
Video players in cars. I know these are getting hotter and hotter, but I have to say I do not think they are good ideas. Perhaps it is just me, but I find it really distracting to see a TV playing in a car in front of me. This is particularly true at night. the flickering image is like a flashlight shining in your face, only more hypnotic because it has movement. The screens are always set so folks in the back can see. Don't the folks making these realize that not only is it visible to the folks in the backseat, but to anyone driving behind the car. I see others "notice" the TV. They start to stare, as if trying to follow the show, or perhaps identify it. With so much activity on a freeway, the last thing we need are mobil drive-in theaters. Then there was the case where a mother tried to sue another car for showing a porno movie. It seems the mother had her children in the car and was not pleased at her kids seeing 'flesh' through the window of the car in front of them. Makes one wonder what the folks in the back seat were doing while the movie was on.

January 18, 2005
Flat tires. Gronk. I continue to drive into work, rather than taking the train, due to the problems with the roads. While driving home last night, just before getting to the mountain bottom, a car came up honking and pointing. I pulled off into a parking lot and found my left rear tire going flat. Sigh. Got to Costco where they discovered the tire had no leaks and no stem problem. After some talking, it seemed a good chance the air had been let out by pranksters where I park. Since I am usually a commuter, I do not park in the studio parking lot. I park two block's down in the police department's parking lot. Last night I had noticed a lot of folks just milling around the lot. Good news was that the van's tires are so strong, I did not know it was flat, and the sidewall was not damaged. However, driving so long on it flat shredded the interior. Also good news was that Costco was very nice. Even though the tire had not been purchased there, they thoroughly checked it and then put on the spare. (One of those space savers you are supposed to drive only 10 miles. Keep meaning to buy a full size.) Other good news, got up the mountain safely. Only bad news is that it means one more thing to get done, and probably a new tire since the damage is technically 'my fault' for driving so long on it. Will have to remember, when the car seems sluggish it may be due to tire trouble. But it's good to know Costco folks can be so nice.

January 17, 2005
Saw a pair of films over the holiday weekend. RACING STRIPES and MEET THE FOCKERS. STRIPES was all I expected - and less. It is a 10-minute story stretche with a series of sequences, gags and plot points that never really gel. Cute idea. Poorly done. FOCKERS was cute and brought a few chuckles and a laugh. On the way out I commented it wasn't a 'laugh-out-loud' comedy. Rachel then asked, "what movies are?" That made me think. I can easily remember laughing out loud, frequently during such films as DUCK SOUP, SILENT MOVIE, THE IN-LAWS (the original) and AIRPLANE. But I have to go back to the 70s to find movies that bring such wild antics, clever writing and funny star turns to create a true 'laugh-out-loud' comedy. It can be done. It just isn't done very often.

January 16, 2005
It starts again. After almost six months of rest, I have begun putting some things up on eBay. These are things in addition to the stuff listed in the "Buy Stuff" link. For awhile, we were putting lots of stuff on eBay. As time tightened up, we slowed down. Folks don't realize how much work it is to put things up for internet auctions. You have to get an image (scan or photo), write a description (a lame one will not attract bids), fiddle with all the details eBay needs to complete the listing, check it a dozen times for errors, then post the auction. Then, if it sells you have to notify the winner, wait for the money (which doesn't always show up), pack the item and then ship it. Finally there is the waiting for the item to arrive for the buyer, and then submitting feedback. *whew* A lot of work for $5. Oh well. Every little bit helps.

January 15, 2005
At Disneyland we saw a clip from the upcoming MULAN II. It looked very 'tv-cartoonish': More like the LILO AND STITCH TV show than the LION KING 1.5 and 2. Also noted the poster art makes Khan, Mulan's horse, look younger... and more designy. Will no doubt see it via Netflix. But it does make me wonder why most of the Disney direct-to-video sequels are so poor, with the exception of the two LION KING episodes. Both of them feature decent stories and nice animation. The rest of Disney's 'cheapquels' look flat and have lame stories. It is a mystery.

January 14, 2005
Bond. James Bond. When I was growing up, one of the things I looked forward to was the release of the new 007 film. I saw GOLDFINGER in its first run. Caught up with DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE during the first re-issue. (In the days before home video, the only way you could re-see a favorite film was if it was re-issued or sold to TV.) I continued through all the Connerys, the Lazenby, the Moores, the Daltons and the first Brosnan. Sadly, Bond did not age well. What was so cool and exciting in the 60s was no longer so in the 90s. The Connery films were so fresh in their day, from amazing gadgets, to larger than life villains, to dynamic themes and opening title sequences. The series could even make a golf game exciting! Always a great mix of excitement and tongue-in-cheek moments, the series soon got too silly... then too serious. It never really found the right mix again. All this came back tonight while driving up the mountain to a cd of Bond themes. The music brought back memories of movies, times and fun. It also made me think how exciting it is to drive up a mountain, even without an ejector seat.

January 13, 2005
Mind is really blank tonight. Was a tough day. My planning for the last four months would have had me driving north today for a four day 'break' at a convention. Instead, I took a four hour drive into work with the help of the police who escorted us down a dangerous part of road. Spent over 8 hours playing catch-up. And almost did! Then a three hour drive home. Used the back route up the mountain. Reminded me of the weeks following the 'old fire' of 2003 when the main road was out. Then discovered that even more of the main route had been closed! Having cancelled my trip a few weeks ago because of weather, it looked as if this weekend might still be fun as the weather looked to 'clear'. However, the devastation of the storm has made travel difficult. Add to that the need to await some repair folks might make for a 'stay at home' weekend. I could enjoy it... but fear the rest of the family is beginning to suffer with cabin fever.

January 12, 2005
The roads are opening... Sort of. There are three key roads off the mountain from our area. One was to open today, but new damage has closed it indefinitely. One will have police escorts from 5-7am, and 5-7pm for residents only. One is now open without time restrictions for residents only. It has standing water, ice and is an up and down, winding ride deserving of a rollercoaster. Will try for the second going into the studio, the third coming home. Once again, mountain life is not what many think it is. There are times when living near the city would be simpler. I don't like the long drive. I am not fond of the winters when they are rough (which is not always a given). But, I have lived in condos. I have also lived in houses. Noise, neighbors, traffic, crime. I find the mountains to be more pleasant.

January 11, 2005
Trapped at the top of the world. Even though the rains have come to a stop, they continue to dampen our lifestyle. At the moment, ALL roads up and down the mountain are closed. The county called a few hours ago to inform us that they will also be closed tomorrow. Like some made-for-tv movie, thousands of folks are now trapped over 4000 feet in the mountains. Local forums are full of questions about whens and hows. Some are worried about getting to work. Some are worried about services. (Several gas stations have run out.) Many complain that none of the dozen or so local stations find this a story to report. (Thank you FCC.) Normally, I might find this 'forced vacation' appealing. Sadly, there are too many key projects at the studio needing oversight for me to relax. I am doing my best with email and the phone, and on some days that would be fine. Today, and tomorrow it is not. Gronk.

January 10, 2005
Dam the spam. Lately one of my email accounts is getting hammered. Sometimes over 1000 emails a day! Along with the offers for better sex, cheap programs and get rich quick schemes is a new series all about stock market tips. Man, it is a killer. I have had several folks suggest a variety of programs to help... but each one still has me 'checking' every mail to make sure I don't want it. Sigh. I know a few folks now who have ceased getting email. They now stick to message board forums or snail mail. When growing up I saw many a movie and read many a comic or book about computers in the future. Some had tales of caution about computers taking over the world, or people losing their humanity to machines. I don't think any of them predicted the end of the world through an avalanche of the equivalent of electronic junk mail. bleh.

January 9, 2005
Another solid day of rain. I think the third, now. Most of the roads up the mountain have some point at which they are closed due to mudslides, rocks or snow. We have more in the forecast for tomorrow... and the next day! As Winnie the Pooh might say, "oh the rain rain rain came down down down". Speaking of the bear with little brain, put up a new frame in the blogs section. It is about a time when Eeyore, Pooh and Dumbo ran for President.

January 8, 2005
Last night I mentioned that my parents don't have a computer. Some expressed surprise. Some thought it was due to the fact that 'older folks' can't understand them. Actually, my folks just don't want one. I can fully understand it. Even though I get plenty of use out of mine, I realize not everyone needs to be carried away by technology. Today it seems we are judged as much by what technology we use as by the brand names on our clothes. Never a slave to fashion, wearable or connectable, I still resist the use of cel phones, ipods and blackberries. I also don't feel the need to update to every new videogame system that comes along. I even refused to have lowjack put on my car. For some reason, I don't like the idea of the government, or general public, knowing where I am every moment of the day. I am saddened when I see families walking through Disneyland with dad (and sometimes mom) yammering away on a cel phone. Isn't there supposed to be a time when your focus is on the family, not technology?

January 7, 2005
This just occured to me. Having a website is very much like being a contestant on a game show, or being interviewed by the media. A site actually allows you to 'shout out' to your family and friends. Yet I seldom see anyone use their site for such a purpose. Where are the "here's a hello to my sweetheart", or "this is for my parents" type of comments? Well to correct some of that, I will take a moment to say 'hello' to some of the folks who I would like to know I am thinking of. The list starts with my wife, Rachel, and the kids - Roku, Star, Eagle, Phoenix, Luca, Baron, Niko, Tember, Dante and Pryde. Then I should say 'hey' to my sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Dave. A listing of friends would include such folks as Tim, Jim, Kay, Kaysho, Karwood, Stego, Vircoo and the Rainbow Lion. Add co-workers like Gary, Yvette, Brian, and Bob. Then there are our relations through our kids like Amanda, Lyn, Jamie, Pam, Robert and more. Of course, I need to mention my parents. However, they won't see it. They have opted not to join the computer age. Obviously I cannot list everyone... so before the camera and mike move to the next person, here's to all the rest of my family and friends!

January 6, 2005
Whatever happened to the idea of democracy? It seems the Republican party is attempting to stomp out the process. Governor Schwarzenegger has told the state senate they can either do things his way, or he'll fight them. The President is famous for taking a stance and ignoring or battling any who take the opposite side. Even the new Republican leader of the Senate has said if it looks like things are not going their way, they will change the rules of the chamber. Whatever happened to compromise? I thought a democracy was an open exchange of ideas. Our government has seldom been known for speedy action, but I do not think silencing dissent is the correct way to get action. No matter how often the Republicans bring up the 'mandate of the voters', the fact is, the nation is pretty evenly divided. The President only won by a small margin of votes. When I elected my representatives, I expected them to represent me and my ideas. Not to be silenced when they disagree with a slight majority. Democracy is about everyone's right... not just the extreme right.

January 5, 2005
New Year's Resolutions. It is the time when folks are supposed to make changes in their life. Experts differ as to how beneficial such resolutions are, since many folks never keep them. Some have said that by simply stating it you are striving for improvement and may eventually complete the task, though it may take several years of resolving. Others state that making resolutions is only a sure fire way to trigger depression, providing you have given up. I think it was Yoda who said something like "you either do or you do not. You do not try." Jack Sparrow had a somewhat similar line with knowing that there are only two things, "things you can do, and things you cannot." My resolutions? Finish my book. Create a family budget. Review insurance and estate issues. Those sound like all "can"s. Finish arranging the upstairs. Hmmm. Probably a can't. But I can try.

January 4, 2005
Tomorrow we get a break in the winter weather for a day. It won't be enough to melt much of the snow... but it will allow for moods to brighten a bit. Though another storm is on the way, we should be clear again on Saturday. Hopefully that will be true as we are taking or little girl Luca to a temperment test. Most of our kids have already passed the test, which proves a strong, steady temperment. Along with Luca, several of our grandkids plan to be there. A small family reunion in the eye of storms. One might say a silver lining.

January 3, 2005
As Charlie Chan said, "Can never tell end of path till reach same." Events over the last 24 hours have made me alter some future plans. That, plus the constant harsh weather (almost two feet of snow since yesterday, and maybe another foot tomorrow), makes me feel like the kid who is told he cannot go to the party. I am bummed. However, I will refocus and move forward in other directions, including doing some updates for this site. What a new years for, except to signal change. "Open a new window every day" - Jerry Herman. "The exit from one place, is the entrance to another" - Stephen Sondheim. "If you never have a dream, you'll never have a dream come true" - Oscar Hammerstein. etc.

January 2, 2005
It is only the second day of 2005, and already the year seems to be racing by. The first weekend is over. It featured a quick visit to Disneyland, a rushed grocery trip, and preparation for a big winter storm to hit tonight. (We are being told to expect over 20 inches of snow!) Next weekend we take our little girl Luca for a temperment test. The weekend after that is a convention. At the end of the month we'll be hitting the Orange Empire dog show. Then it will be February. "Got your roller skates on? Then let's get rolling" - William Powell (THE THIN MAN).

January 1, 2005
For the past several days, I have been reading to Rachel. It started when the power went out on the 30th. I located my special edition of REYNARD THE FOX. This epic poem, the only one to feature animals, is a great story. Admittedly, the famed Goethe version is a bit tough to read by today's standards due to its early poetic style. However, Rachel was instantly intrigued by the wonderful cast of characters and by the fact that Reynard is such a total villain. It is this trait that made Reynard stick in my mind. So many tales of derring-do feature shady characters who eventually turn out to be either good guys in disguise or get turned to the good side at the end. Not so Reynard. He is evil from page one to final word. The other characters are all petty, greedy, foolish or other symbols of deadly sin. For years I tried to bring this tale to the screen or comics. Sadly, no one could see an audience for characters so vile. The fact that this tale has survived around 500 years, and has been re-told time and again in books apparently is mute to today's studio execs. Pity.

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