Daily Barks 02.05 cataroo.com
The Daily Bark: February 2005
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February 28, 2005
Well, the Oscars are over for another year. The animated feature Oscar went to the film whose clip got the least response, THE INCREDIBLES. I am still not sure I like the idea of an Oscar for animated features. Most of the awards are given a serious presentation with the stars talking of how important costumes, sound, music, etc. are to a film before announcing the recipient. For the animated feature award they get some comedian to come out and do a bunch of jokes before announcing the recipient. The fact that Brad Bird (director/writer of INCREDIBLES) won for best script shows that animation can compete with live action. In fact, when one looks at the Best Feature nominations this year, there was probably a good chance that INCREDIBLES could have joined Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST as an animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture. And this year animation might have won.

February 27, 2005
Decided it was time to let the house work on itself for a day and take a moment or two to work on a few new frames. The first one is about how artists caricature folks in the animation business and put them into animated films and tv shows. Then there is one about my first car. I also wax a bit on Japanese animation before it was anime. A new one is up now, and should have another up by week's end. They can be caught by clicking the 'blogs' link.

February 26, 2005
Retired. In the collecting world, I'll often hear about a toy or model getting 'retired'. Retired. That is something I am not so sure I will ever experience. Admittedly, I have not done the best planning for my "twilight", "golden", whatever years. I will probably have to end up working up to the end. I may even need to work part time at my funeral. Of course there is always social security. Maybe. I can look forward to, depending on who is talking, either no money or little money. On top of that, they keep mentioning about raising the age at which one can retire. The government says that since folks live and work longer, they should not start collecting until later. The only flaw in that ointment is "age discrimination". More and more it is getting difficult for experienced workers to keep employed. Whenever elder workers attempt to make it an issue in the courts or legislature they are quickly brushed aside as unsubstantiated. I currently know a studio manager stated he would never hire someone over 40. His rationale - the person might die before they finish the job! So the government will not let me retire, and the business world will not let me work. Guess I will have more like the "twilight zone" years.

February 25, 2005
Silent night. Commuter combat.

February 24, 2005
The Academy Awards are this weekend. In an attempt to make them more 'hip', they've picked Chris Rock to host. Already he has livened the proceedings by stating no straight men outside of the industry ever watch the Oscars. And these days, he could be right. After all, the ceremony is really an industry event in which a bunch of people get up and just give speeches. Pretty dull. When I was young, though, the whole family would watch the show. Back then it was usually hosted by Bob Hope. You knew most of the stars and had seen or heard of all the films. You would see your favorite stars banter back and forth, make mistakes and generally have fun. It was like a Hollywood party. But as the years progressed, the movies were less familiar. The stars not always major. And more key, there were more and more places to see celebrities. They showed up on talk shows, news shows, interview shows and entertainment news shows. Not to mention there are now lots of show that 'honor' films. Seeing a star wander on stage to read a list of nominees or thank 'god' for winning is not that special. Perhaps it is time to send the awards back to the private ballrooms it sprung from. Where folks in the business, gay or straight, can honor their co-workers.

February 23, 2005
Had lunch today with my generation of old timers. When I started in the animation biz, 'old timers' were the folks who created the classic cartoons generations have grown up with. They were the artists behind everyone from Bugs Bunny to Pluto to Tom and Jerry. We would hear them discuss how 'new kids' did not know anything about posing, timing, and color. Don Bluth once stated that when he worked at Disney he discovered many of the old timers only knew their skill. Few knew how the whole process worked. As one of the new breed, we found speed, clarity and multi-tasking were the key skills. With shrinking budgets and schedules, painters learned to read track, animators learned sheet timing, and storyboard artists learned character design. Production folks needed to know every aspect of how shows were produced. In a day I might do everything from checking a budget to checking exposure sheets, from painting cels to finishing storyboards. Now we are the old timers. When we discuss the new breed, we note their simularity to the original old timers. Most can do a single task, whether it be storyboarding, accounting or digital color. But few, from management to creators really understand the entire process. A key task for us at our studios is to teach the newer folks how production is done, ways to work smarter and such. But unlike my generation, who eagerly listened to the old timers for tips, knowledge and entertainment, the newer breed often has little interest in what we have to say. Their loss. And, sadly, it is history's loss too.

February 22, 2005
Silent night. Commuter combat.

February 21, 2005
President's day. A holiday created for convenience by joining two different holidays - George Washington's birthday and Abraham Lincoln's birthday. When I was growing up, there was no 'presidents day'. It seemed as if schools could choose which birthday to celebrate, or to celebrate both. When I lived up North, they always seemed to celebrate Lincoln. When I lived in Texas, it seemed they only celebrated Washington. The fact that the birthdays floated during the week, always made it a tough one to schedule around, much like the Fourth of July. Often the schools would pick the birthday that fell on a Monday or Friday. No doubt this indecision and confusion is one of the reasons a 'presidents day' was created. Bringing order to holiday chaos. It also kept us from getting more and more holidays as groups argued to celebrate this or that President of the 20th century. For some of us, though, it did mean the loss of a school holiday in February.

February 20, 2005
Silent night. Technical troubles.

February 19, 2005
One of the first things Rachel and I found we had in common was a fondness of musicals. Our first major date was seeing INTO THE WOODS live on stage. We have watched many a musical together thanks to home video. As mentioned earlier, one of my first memories of a movie was the movie version of LI'L ABNER. The first time I 'fell in love' with a musical was when SINGIN' IN THE RAIN was broadcast on network TV. Back then, pre-cable/home video, the networks each had a night when they showed a major movie. I remember changing the channel and discovering Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor beginning the "Moses Supposes" number. It was a lively song with funny lyrics. The dancing was energetci and fun. Suddenly, musicals seemed fun. Unlike other musicals that featured a man and a woman staring at each other singing, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN had a great story, great characters and a great score. I still love it today... and seeing it never fails to make me smile. I think modern films like CHICAGO and MOULIN ROUGE are great. But when I think of film musicals, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN is still the one that comes to mind first.

February 18, 2005
Another major storm is on its way to Southern California. Hopefully we won't lose any more of our roads. Locals have already been re-acting to our situation with a combination of humor, outrage and resolve. One has created a 'hilltop hostage' t-shirt. Some have posted numbers and addresses of government agents to contact. While still others are saying it is a grand time to support the businesses on the mountain. All are good ideas. I am just hopeful that once the rainy season comes to an end, CalTrans will be able to fully fix the roads and things will get a bit back to normal. Actually, once Spring and Summer arrive, the mountains should be truly beautiful. After the devasting fire and beetle infestation, things were looking pretty grim. However, with all the water things are looking greener and greener. It should be a beautiful summer. We just need to hold on till then.

February 17, 2005
American Dud. I am fan of the FAMILY GUY animated series. When it was first on FOX, I thought it was bright and funny in a way SIMPSONS hasn't been since the 90s. I was so glad when Cartoon Network picked it up. Try to catch it every night, and even familiar episodes can give me a laugh. Wish I could say the same about AMERICAN DAD, the new series by Seth McFarlane (creator of FAMILY GUY). The show has so many similarities in characters that it comes off as a poorly done copy. It is as if a rival network wanted to make just enough changes in the cast to keep from being sued. AMERICAN DAD tries at the same lunacy of FAMILY GUY, but the characters just do not work. A psycho-right-wing dad, nerdy son, alien and such don't have the appeal of a stupid dad, infantile son and talking dog. It really just boils down to characters. FAMILY GUY has outrageously silly characters you can get to know and like. AMERICAN DAD is just a bunch of extremists... and no one ever really likes extremists. I hope the upcoming new episodes of FAMILY GUY are closer to GUY than DAD.

February 16, 2005
Every so often I am reminded how a few years can affect the memories of entertainment. Today, I was discussing movies with an associate at work. They were baffled by names like Jonathan Winters, Malcolm McDowell, Tim Curry and Christopher Lee. Similarly, they had not heard of TV shows like FANTASY ISLAND and MORK AND MINDY. They then began talking about the movie SILKWOOD (1983). I said I had not seen the film. They were shocked. "But that's an old movie, John. Like the type you watch." Sigh. I have trouble thinking of a movie from the 1980s as 'old'. When I think of 'old movies' I think of Marx Brothers, GONE WITH THE WIND, Hitchcock, etc. Come to think of it, my associate probably doesn't know who they are either.

February 15, 2005
I am most definitely a day person who likes to get up and get going. As the day wears on, I can wear out. Unless there is a social reason for staying up (party, conversation, etc.) I will konk out by 10pm. When growing up, my folks never had to worry about my staying up late. Of course school nights had a firm bed time. But if I wanted to stay up late on the weekend to play a game, watch TV or such, they would say "sure". They knew I'd be out like a light in no time. Remember a specific Saturday night when the late night 'fright flick' was going to show the original Frankenstein at midnight. I wanted to see it so bad. My folks said yes. As the night wore on, I had more and more trouble staying awake. Finally, in desperation, I put ice cubes in my pockets, hoping the cold would keep me awake. My folks found me around 10:30, in front of the TV, asleep. My pockets were soaked with cold water. I wouldn't see the original Frankenstein for several years.

February 14, 2005
Valentine's Day. A day of romance. We actually spent our "day" yesterday, at the Disneyland Resort, as they now call it. Went to the Princess Breakfast. Good food, but poor set-up and service. Wore my paper crown the rest of the day to the puzzlement and amusement of various employees and guests. We roamed both parks, trading pins, watching characters and just having fun. What better way to spend time than with someone you love. Today, the official day was spent as almost every Monday. Me at work. She watching the kids. Another good way to spend a day... taking care of each other. Perhaps not as romantic. Perhaps not as fun. But a day of caring for those we love is also good. Happy Valentine's day, my love.

February 13, 2005
TV on DVD is considered one of the fastest growing home video markets around. Thanks to Netflix, we have been able to view a variety of these classic TV gems. Currently, we have the first disc of the first season of LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY. I never watched the show much when it was on. In fact, I never watched most of the series of that ilk, HAPPY DAYS, MORK, etc. But via the dvd, I am finding the show to have some funny lines that actually make me laugh out loud. Seeing all these releases makes me hungry for some of the TV series I did watch when they were first on. For comedy, there was LOVE THAT BOB, THE JACK BENNY SHOW, TOPPER and GIDGET. Then there were the great detective shows 77 SUNSET STRIP and CHECKMATE. Action came with THE MAN FROM UNCLE and BATMAN. And other faves include IRONSIDE, THAT'S LIFE (a weekly musical!), HE & SHE, BEN CASEY, and ROOM 222. Come to think of it, when will Disney start releasing their (must be thousands) of hours of programming from their WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY?

February 12, 2005
Bank takeovers. Today we spent over two hours at our bank. We have been at that bank building for almost 10 years. But this year, for the second time, it has changed its name due to a bank take-over. As I told Rachel, the sad thing is that, even though we have been constant customers to the building for nearly a decade, and even though many of the same tellers still work there and recognize us, to the actual bank we are 'new customers' with no real history. In order to keep 'free checking' we had to cancel our old account and start a new one. We sat all that time waiting for the folks to figure out the new software, fill out computerized forms, and try to determine what we did and did not have to sign. Living in the mountains, we try to utilize local businesses. It is good for the economy (especially needed as almost all the roads up and down the mountain are closed again). It is good for the community. It also reminds me how much of a struggle it is for any small business. We got through the bank okay. Hope our local businesses can do the same.

February 11, 2005
Rachel recently said that lately, many of my barks have been political. I guess that is because it seems something happens every day in politics, and politics are something we should all have opinions about. Whether the topic is global like sending troops to foreign lands, national like freedom of speech, or local like banning of surgical procedures on dogs, almost everyone has an opinion. From Martin Luther King to Michael Moore speakers have told us to 'speak up' and get involved. Just as newspapers use the "scream factor" to judge readership of comics (papers will drop a comic with no notice to see how many readers 'scream' about the drop to finalize a decision) our government usually doesn't act unless it has heard a scream. Sometimes that scream comes from the people in the forms of riots, civil disobedience, and sometimes even write in campaigns. Politicians try to create that force by deeming a specific cause "a crisis" or "a war". Nixon, while commenting on some anti-(Vietnam)war demonstrators referred to the "silent majority" that supported the war. Whether in the majority, or minority, being silent should not be an option in the world of politics.

February 10, 2005
Drive-ins! Almost forgotten today, the drive-in theater was a popular spot to see movies from around the 1940s through the 1960s. The attraction was mostly to families and the date crowd. Families liked them as many offered 'per car' admission, making movies more affordable to those with kids. And the kids could sleep in the back saving on babysitters! Teens liked it because it gave, um, privacy when watching movies. I remember that drive-ins were one of the last theaters that seemed to show cartoons with movies, usually the lamest Woody Woodpeckers. They also had those great pre-show and intermission shorts telling you to buy popcorn. And then there was the ever present "snack bar closes in five minutes" blasting over the speaker in the middle of the movie. My folks saw PSYCHO at a drive-in. I remember seeing bits and pieces of the movie while I dozed in the back. The most memorable sequence was when Anthony Perkins tries to hide a car by pushing it into a swamp. The car just floats! Perkins picks up a small rock, tosses it at the car and the car sinks. I doubt most folks would say that is first scene they remember about that film. The last film I saw in a drive-in was BARBARELLA. At the time I was in the comic collecting world. One of my friends was on the large size. As he put it, he only went to drive-ins because movie seats were not comfortable for 'most people'. In some respects he was right, most movie theater seats are not really comfortable. But at least you don't have to go outside in the cold to get some popcorn.

February 9, 2005
Just heard that Kansas is going to vote to see if they should teach "intelligent design" (ie creationism) along with evolution. Seems conservative groups feel evolution is just a theory. Forget the fact that actual proof of evolution is available. At a time with shrinking budgets for schools, it seems pretty silly to demand such strapped schools put money and energy into such a debate. But perhaps I should be more open minded about what others believe. Okay. I say let them teach creationism along with evolution... as long as they also teach that water can be turned into wine, people can walk on water, and that the dead can rise again. While we're at it, let's not forget some other key beliefs. Children should learn that Coyote created the world. They should learn the Earth rides on the back of a turtle. Don't forget to include Gods on Mount Olympus are looking down on mortals controlling our fate. And be sure they learn that humans can come back as cows. I'd also add lycanthropy (werewolves), but that might be silly. Actually, considering the arguments, I would say I am leaning towards evolution. I certainly see no signs of "intelligent design" in those conservative groups.

February 8, 2005
Going to the movies. When I was young, movies were still somewhat special. You could only see modern films in movie theaters. My first memories of movies come from 1959. My sister and I went to a matinee to see LI'L ABNER. All I can remember is in the beginning of the first song Li'l Abner stands up and he is really tall. That same year, my folks and neighbors took me to Chicago to see Walt Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY. We took the train. As we got on my neighbor said we would take the train underground to see where trolls grew mushrooms. All I remembered of the movie was there was a dragon. When we got home, my folks asked what I thought of the movie and my response was, I never saw where the trolls grew their mushrooms. Another early memory is Disney's LADY AND THE TRAMP. (It was a re-issue.) What I remembered from that is that Trusty get's killed in the end. Years later, I discovered he didn't die. That was a better ending.

February 7, 2005
"I am 50 years old and like to dress up like a horse and dance." That was to be the opening statement of a project I had hoped to do. Thought about it as a book, or even a self made video documentary. It was to be a simple collection of memories and thoughts. My working title was 'five minutes', because I had planned each section (written or video) to last 5 minutes. I figured such small time requirements would keep the topics short and interesting. It should have also helped in getting me through the project. However, as I frequently state, I really never have the time to any major personal projects. I had tried to convert some of the ideas into my 'frames of time', but even that seems beyond my time limits. (I've only done two this year.)However, I still want to ramble through memories, people, places and other things that have intersected my life. Nothing fancy or poetic. Just flashes of my past. So I'll start tossing them here into the barks. Hope you will enjoy them.

February 6, 2005
Feast or famine. Yesterday was so much fun, it seems only 'fair' that today was such a bust. A change in the weather brought cold rain, hail and snow to the area. Next, I tried to solve a 'simple' problem on my computer via the chat help provided by the server. After four hours, and several different experts, none could answer a simple question. Did at least take time out sit with Rachel and watch a movie - the original REBECCA. Reminded me that there are generally two ways movies adapt books. One is to condense the book and show every key plot point. REBECCA and the first two Harry Potter films are like this. The other is to pick only key points and expand on them. ROBIN AND MARIAN and the third Harry Potter film use that method. Snow was so light, have opted to not put on the chains. Hopefully tomorrow's drive won't be too difficult. Will all depend on the weather.

February 5, 2005
Horsin' around. Today dropped by the Equine Affair. It's a show that features various breeds, seminars and vendors. As mentioned previously, there is something calming about equines and today was no exception. Saw some sweet horses including an Appaloosa and an Arabian. Also saw the world's biggest donkey! At least as far as I am concerned. It was bigger than some of the horses and was known as a 'mammoth donkey'. *whew* As we wandered around the show, I couldn't help think how much nicer it was than the 'pet expo' we attend with some of our kids. Unlike the expo, the affair was fully devoted to equine interests. The breeders seemed more friendly than some of the dog folks. There were none of the wonder mops or food blender dealers amongst the vendors. Really made me long for the day when we might be able to add an equine to our family. After that we even made a mad dash trip to Disneyland and checked in on the pin stuff. For several days now I have been in a bit of a funk... but the combination of happy horses and Disney characters pulled me back into a positive mode. Thanks.

February 4, 2005
Liberals. Conservatives. Democrats. Republicans. It is amazing how 'liberal' and 'democrat' seem to be conjure such negative images. Liberal is from the same base as 'liberty', and isn't that something we all want? Liberty is a word that stands for freedom, something all can enjoy and share. Conservative is from the same base 'conserve', which brings to mind saving, and saving is something that many folks consider selfish. And Democrat vs Republican? Well, Democrat is from the same base as democracy. Republican comes from republic. Notice even the Republicans state they want to bring more democracies to the world. You never hear folks say they want to create more Republics. Come to think of it, you also hear folks wanting to spread liberty, not conservatives.

February 3, 2005
Dollar DVDs. I have been having tons of fun catching the oddball stuff that is appearing at a variety of discount stores. MY GIRL FRIDAY is a hilarious comedy with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russel. Episodes of SGT PRESTON OF THE YUKON and his faithful sled dog King. Hunky and Spunky cartoons, a mule duo from the Fleischers (who did Betty Boop). Early Casper cartoons that find a friend of his being killed and joining Casper in the ghost world! ANIMAL FARM, a classy feature from the 50s based on Orwells' animal fable far more interesting than the live action Babe-esque version done a few years ago. The human Tom and Jerry cartoons from the early thirties with some of the wackiest sight gags ever. MR WONDERBIRD, a poetic French feature from the 1950s (which in some versions has Peter Ustinov providing the voice) with a robot that reminds me of THE IRON GIANT. Even some of those (sadly) awful Three Stooges cartoons that have the Stooges in live action wrap-arounds. These buck bonzanzas remind me of the days when comics were 10-cents. For ten pennies you got hours of wild, weird, wacky, and wonderful fun. And considering comics are now over two dollars each, I'll go with the dvds.

February 2, 2005
Groundhog day. He saw his shadow, so six more weeks of winter. Normally, I might not put a lot of faith in a rodent and his shadow, but with the luck our local weather folks have had in predicting weather, he probably has as much a chance of being right as they have. After all, it was the weathermen who predicted a sunny weekend which actually featured one of the biggest rain storms to hit Southern California in decades. When one thinks about it, weather forecasters have one of the best jobs around: guessing. Predicting weather is like predicting earthquakes or any natural phenomenom. You can look at past trends and plug them into present conditions. This gives you some good odds, but like with any gamble, no guarantee. In THE MUSIC MAN, the town council gets into an argument when a question is brought up about a prediction. The weatherman states his predictions are right most of the time. Another retorts he wouldn't be in the banking business for long if his books were right only most of the time. Meteorology is definitely a science that does not get a lot of respect. Actually, considering comments from some groups about evolution, greenhouse effects, environmental issues, dietary needs and such, it seems many a science doesn't get respect anymore. Forget about the possibilities of another ice age. Maybe we're really heading for another dark age.

February 1, 2005
Who's responsible? It certainly seems harder to tell these days. The President says part time soldiers are responsible for prison abuse, not their commanders who at the least seemed to have done nothing to stop it. However, he says that doctors who make mistakes should not be held responsible via expensive lawsuits. I wonder if I get in a car accident if the President will say I am responsible like a soldier or not responsible like a doctor? He says that I should be responsible for my own retirement by putting money into coporations on the stock exchange. However, the owners of such corporations seem not responsible when the companies collapse due to 'questionable' accounting. I wonder if I overcharge on my charge cards and can't pay if I will be responsible like an investor whose retirement fund disappears, or not responsible like the head of a company who disappears with my retirement funds? If the current administration gives faulty or misleading information, they are not responsible. If a news reporter passes on information that is faulty or misleading, they are responsible. Huh. Well, if you like this website, I am glad to take responsibility for its quality. If you do not like it, well, I will be glad to pass the responsibility to you for having come here in the first place. I may be getting the hang of this...

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