Daily Barks 03.05 cataroo.com
The Daily Bark: March 2005
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March 31, 2005
Tech duties. Back in April...

March 30, 2005
When I was in school, we were taught about facists leaders in Western Europe and communists in Eastern Europe and Asia. (How odd, perhaps instead of right wing and left wing, we should refer to west wing and east wing.) One of the things we were always told was that the footage we saw of these leaders was often faked. When we saw them in front of cheering crowds, prosperous businesses and happy children we were told that these were not real news, but government propaganda. We were told the truth was that these leaders did little for their people. During the last presidential campaign, it was reported how republican rallies restricted attendees to only people who supported the president. This ensured shots of cheering crowds and happy children. Propaganda? Well, it was an election and we are told politicians will do anything to be elected. However, now we find that as the president travels the country to push for his social security program, they are doing the same thing. Rooms are filled with people who support the president's plan. This IS propaganda. It makes me think two things. First, how much of my tax money and the president's time is being wasted on these fraudelent 'feel-good' meetings? I would prefer the government spend its time working on things like crime, security, deficits and such. Second, why fill a room with supporters? I would fill the room with those who are against it, in hopes of changing their minds. Again, it all sounds like a waste of my money and my government's time. It is just plain propaganda.

March 29, 2005
My Little Pony. Got the first disc to season one, thanks to Netflix. I never really watched the show when it was on, but Rachel did. For me, it was merely another mid-1980s animated toy spinoff. Like so many others from GI Joe to Strawberry Shortcake, these series all featured the blandest characters, flatest animation and pointless stories. (Though it was fun recognizing voices from Bart Simpson to Minnie Mouse to Buster Bunny.) Re-seeing them after nearly two decades, it is surprising how they were able to entrance an entire generation. It showed that kids are always willing to suspend some belief for things they really like. For every series like My Little Pony in the eighties, I sat through, and loved, Supercar and Spiderman in the sixties. I wince watching such shows now, but still want to see them once in awhile. If only to remember a time when they seemed so great.

March 28, 2005
Get Animated! 21 years ago I started Get Animated! as the first magazine dedicated to covering news of the animation industry. Over the years, Get Animated! has published magazines, books and even a calendar. Get Animated! authored numerous columns in other publications and edited books for other publishers. It has also been the name that I worked under while developing a number of animated projects. This month Cartoon Network began a campaign to convince kids to excercise. Their slogan - "get animated". It is not the first time the name has been usurped for another company. The International Animated Film Festival did it in the 1980s. An animation college did it in the 1990s. That's just two. Each time I notified the companies of my publications and business activities. When Cartoon Network announced their new campaign, I notified them. I never trademarked the phrase, so have no legal claim. However, I also don't want someone to believe they have full rights. I have gotten use to the occasional use over the years by others. The best I can hope for now is that the phrase will get lots of hits on search engines... which will lead folks to here, and to my publications still for sale. Who will use it next?

March 27, 2005
Easter. Despite still feeling under the weather, we took two kids to the lake to celebrate the holiday. One of the kids was Nikoma, an Akita and our oldest. At 10, he is still pretty spry. He really enjoyed watching the petting zoo unload. It reminded me of how much he enjoyed the animals at Santa's Village, a local amusement park that closed several years ago. They allowed pets and Nikoma often went with us. His favorite parts were riding the 'bumble bee' ride, a monorail type of attraction, and the deer in the front. But back to today. Nikoma enjoyed greeting people. Folks are often surprised to find such a socialized and gentle Akita. Nikoma had a grand time, though by the end he was showing his age with a bit of a stiff walk. Along with Nikoma, we took our youngest, Luca. She was her usual ball of energy. That's the best part of holidays, seeing the young and old enjoying time together.

March 26, 2005
Virus relapse. Though an active day, at the end, totally exhausted and unable to breath. Go straight to bed.

March 25, 2005
Good Friday. The fact that I'm feeling better makes it a good friday. Taking a day off from work and spending it in bed really helped. Bed rest is one of the best things to bring the body back to health. It was also nice to lay and watch some TV I normally miss. Saw some of BETWEEN THE LIONS, PBS puppet series with lions about reading. Only saw some because I dozed off. Also got to watch an episode of the original PERRY MASON. Still a great series. When is it going to be on DVD? Biggest thrill was the chance to catch SNOW WHITE AND THE THREE STOOGES. Though I have been Stooges fan since my youth, and even knew several of them (go to blogs and check archives), I had never seen this rare Technicolor performance. Sadly, I had missed nothing. They generally just stand around and react to the other actors. There are a few moments in which they get into some funny business, but it is not worth all the tedious storyline. Still, I'm glad I saw it. Am also glad to be feeling better. The healing power of Stooges.

March 22-24, 2005
no entry... still sick...

March 21, 2005
Spam, ie junk email. I think everyone gets some. One of my email accounts gets over 2500 junk emails a day! I keep trying ways to avoid it, but so far the spammers are faster than the programmers. I get everything from offers to porno, to stock tips to religous messages. In fact, I get a couple of emails a day from Jesus. (Though I wonder why he keeps wanting me to buy stock. I thought the old gag was "Jesus saves. Moses invests.") Of course most of these are not really from the "sender", rather someone has borrowed their name to send from. The newest downside to the whole spam issue is what it is doing to my email addresses. I recently found that my emails were being rejected by a friend's account. Seems my address is now seen by some spam blockers as a major spammer. Pretty amazing for a guy who maybe sends one email a day. Perhaps I should email Jesus and tell him instead of sending me stock tips, to send me a good spam blocker. Oh wait... I already get a couple hundred of those offers a day already.

March 20, 2005
no entry... too sick...

March 19, 2005
Jim Varney. Most folks remember him as the comedian who co-created the character Ernest, who was always talking to his pal, Verne. He did hundreds of commercials as Ernest. He starred in around a dozen feature films as Ernest. Varney had a keen sense of comic timing and a rubbery face reminiscent of silent comedians. It can be seen clearly in the wide cast of characters he portrayed in his (sadly short-lived) Saturday morning series - "Hey Verne, It's me, Ernest." He also appeared in a number of feature film roles including Jed Clampett in the BEVERLY HILLBILLYS and Slinky Dog in the TOY STORY films. Sadly, Varney died several years ago. So imagine my surprise to hear one of his radio commercials resurrected, word for word, with a very poor soundalike. I guess I should not be surprised, there is an entire industry built around imitating celebrities. It just doesn't seem that Varney falls into the superstar category most imitators pick from. No debating the original commercials were amusing. But it is painfully obvious such amusement was due to the skill of Varney. Once again commercialism tramples over the image of a classic icon. Know what I mean, Verne?

March 18, 2005
Tax time is just around the corner. Trying to keep ahead of the game, I have already had my taxes done. And it seems as if the President's tax plans are working. This is the first time since having to fill out tax forms that I OWE money! I figure if I owe money, the likes of Bill Gates and Steven Spielberg must really owe a lot of money! I was hoping to get some money back so I could replace a window or two. But those two guys. I bet they'll have to not buy a house or two, or a company. Boy... I feel sorry for them.

March 17, 2005
"Sometimes the things you most wish for are not to be touched" - Into the Woods. Along with recently seeing a High School production of this fine show, a chance encounter with an old business associate brought this song lyric to mind. The fellow is a well respected background painter and color stylist. He got one of his first animation jobs when I hired him at Film Roman. Prior to that he used his paining skills to paint coins. Yes, paint coins. I discovered that many rare coin collectors have coins so valuable, they keep them locked in bank vaults. However, since they wish for others to see their collection, they hire painters to paint replicas of the coins so they can hang them on their walls. At the time it reminded me of comic collectors who bought comics in plastic bags and never looked through them for fear of lowering the condition, and thus the value. I still know folks who have comics, toys, and other "collectibles" that have never been out of their package. It seems odd that something so desired would not be taken out and enjoyed. But, as the song says, perhaps there are things wished for that are not to be touched.

March 16, 2005
Spongebob is gay. At least that is what some groups are attempting to show. Somewhat old news. But it sparked a conversation at the studio today about the aspect of cartoon and comic characters being 'outed' by groups who claim a desire to protect our children... but mostly want to set their own agenda. Someone wondered if there had been any study of such claims. I know of at least one book, I believe it is called "The Celluloid Closet" which discusses gay characters in films. I think Chip and Dale, as well as Gus Gus and Jacque are mentioned. I explained how the Garfield comic strip had been changed due to fears of action by anti-gay groups. Garfield's owner originally had a male room mate who owned Odie. When the syndicate began getting letters asking if Jon was gay, the room mate suddenly disappeared. Odie became Jon's dog and Jon began hitting on a female vet. Perhaps the earliest such concern comes from the 1940s and 50s when it was proposed that Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Dick Grayson were gay. One author mentioned how the two males spent so much time lounging around the mansion in robes and called it a perfect example of a homosexual fantasy. In my mind, groups that see such imagery everywhere are the ones with the 'fantasies'.

March 15, 2005
There have been a number of TV series that have made important contributions to the history of entertainment. I LOVE LUCY's filmed series allowing the creation of re-runs. THE FLINTSTONES which showed TV audiences would watch a half-hour animated sitcom. ALL IN THE FAMILY which broke numerous taboos on subject matter. To that list I would add ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. Critics, especially both Siskel and Ebert, have long lamented that the show created the hype around weekend box office with its regular listing of the top ten movies. It created a society that decided their films not so much by what critics said, but who was going to see it. The result being a lemming-like frenzy for films that do well at the box office. But more importantly, it showed that reporting events occuring in films and TV attracted audiences. The result has been the increasing amount of show business news popping up in "real" news product. Most newspapers have always had an "entertainment" section to list movie ads, give reviews and show the TV schedule. However nowadays one is as likely to see entertainment news on the front page of newspapers or as a story on network news broadcasts. It is not unusual to see front page coverage about who is or isn't staying on AMERICAN IDOL or SURVIVOR. These headlines are right next to major crimes, government matters and war news. I, for one, have trouble taking any newspaper seriously that gives game show contestants equal weight with the President. Even if the President might not be able to win on Jeopardy... or even Hollywood Squares.

March 14, 2005
At the studio today, someone mentioned a cd would not play on their laptop and then stated that sometimes discs from one machine might not play in another. It made me think how technology is actually dividing our society, not unifying it. This is not the economic argument about a society of haves and have-nots. This is about a society of haves and haves-something-else. For example: games. Old technology featured board games. I could take my game of Monopoly, Clue or Checkers anywhere. They worked on any "platform" whether it be a table, a chest or even the floor. And if some of the pieces got bent, dirty or even torn, they still worked. Old technology of audio was the vinyl record. Again, I could take my records any place. I never found a single record player that could not play my records. Old technology information included books, pads of paper, pens and such. No matter where I took them, they worked. And this was true for anyone with these technologies. But new technology divides gamers into Playstations, X-boxes, Gameboys and others. Audio folks are divided amongs cds, mp3s, Ipods and such. And information? Depends on whether you use Mac or PC, windows or linux. As human language barriers are finally starting to subside, we can look forward to the language of technology keeping us apart. For example, by the end of this year there will be two different high-definition dvd formats released. Each one cannot play dvds meant for the other one. A repeat of the beta-vhs wars is on the horizon. Which side will you end up on? And will my dvds play on your side?

March 13, 2005
Children will listen. This afternoon went to the local high school to see a production of INTO THE WOODS. It is a great musical from Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. It is also a very complex and difficult musical to pull off. Some of the cast's voices were not up to the challenge. And there were the typical moments when it was obvious it was a school production due to the missed lines, tech problems and such. However, Rachel and I really enjoyed the production. Kudos must be given to the actors who portrayed the Baker's Wife, Cinderella and the Baker's father. Praise must also be mentioned for the inventiveness of the set. And, because of professional interest, a round of applause goes to the duo who brought the cow to life. Though it was a simple costume, the pair showed that even suits that are limited can be brought to life when worn by folks who grasp the true skills of suit wearing. The show was a reminder that one does not need to travel far to find a spark of fun and theater.

March 12, 2005
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Yes, it is my mom's birthday today. Quite a coincidence that my mom and dad were born only a few days apart, making them both pisces. Like my dad, my mom always kept family as a key aspect of her life. Living in a time when it was neither expected nor necessary to be a bread-winner, my mother did not have an outside job. She focused on the full time job of running a house. This meant the typical things like grocery shopping, taking us kids to school, cleaning the house and fixing meals. An industrious and artistic lady she also got involved with a variety of creative endeavors with friends. At different times she painted statues, did goldleaf, worked with decopage and more. She has one of the greatest color senses I have ever seen. Only Rachel comes close. Later mom got into shell collecting and created amazing mirrors, lamps and more from her many boxes of shells. She also was an avid reader and could finish the thickest books in a matter of days. But as I said, family was key. She made sure to find time to do things with me. When I was not in school, we would sit and watch 'crummy Charlie Chan' films and other nonsense found in the early days of TV. We did lots of things from playing golf, to playing tennis to sometimes just putting together a jigsaw puzzle. For awhile, we became the 'mother son construction company' and spent days and weeks building shelves and other additions to various houses we were in. She also helped dad when he went into business for himself, becoming his 'office manager'. One thing my mother has never accepted is boredom. She has always enjoyed life. She taught me through deeds that no matter the limits of time, money or location, one can have fun. And thanks to her, I usually can. Love you, mom.

March 11, 2005
Going to a graduation. Tomorrow, one of our pups, Fortune, will be graduating. He will become a full-fledged service dog. The most well known service dogs are usually those who assist blind folks. But, through our kids, we have seen that service dogs provide many a gift to their owners. Along with sight, some offer hearing. They tell their deaf owners when the phone might be ringing or the door knocking. There are ones who assist in other things from getting keys to carrying books to alerting for possible epileptic seizures. As I see some of the other pups and their owners it makes me a bit in awe of how much we can depend on our four-legged friends. And how important our love is to them. Congratulations to Fortune, and his older sister Lass (who graduated last year). You make me proud.

March 10, 2005
The rich get rich, and the poor get... What a news day. Forbes announces there are more billionaires than last year. The government announces unemployment is up. Congress passes a law that will make it harder for folks in financial trouble to declare bankruptcy. Businesses will still be able to do it whenever they need to. Of course those running the businesses will continue to collect their mega salaries during such times. The government accounting office, a non-partisan government agency, states that social security is not in trouble. Hey, and gas went up 10-cents a gallon from when I bought it a few days ago. It now costs me as much for gas to drive up and down the mountain (the commute to the train station) as it used to cost for me to fill-up my car when I was in college! Looks like a good night to play videogames and watch dvds.

March 9, 2005
Parking defensively. Most folks know the term 'driving defensively'. But there are times when I have to park defensively. It happens whenever gas prices start going above $2 a gallon. I live up in the mountains. When gas hits around $2 a gallon in the city, it reaches nearly $2.30 around here. At that point the gas syphoners come out. Like fuel vampires, they search the streets for cheaper octane. So now I have to park with my gas cap towards the house. At least it makes the job harder. Predictions are now that gas could reach over $2.25 a gallon by end of spring. That should make it over $2.50 up here. Might need to look into a locking gas cap.

Oh, and added a new frame in the blogs section about anime and puppies.

March 8, 2005
Happy Birthday, Dad!
Yes, it is my dad's birthday today. Suffice to say, he is older than I. There are so many things I could say about my dad. He was an aerial photographer during World War II. In fact, he was in one of the first planes to fly over Japan to photograph the damage from the atomic bombs. Photography has remained a hobby of his. He was a pioneer in the practice of selling appliances to major retailers so they could put their name on the products. Like the way Sears purchases things to put the "Kenmore" brand on. He was a master scout leader. He had the uncanny ability to remember people he had met years earlier. (Sadly, a trait I did not inherit.) But most of all, he was a dad who always put family first. When he had to go on business trips, he would often take us with him. He would work in the day while we visited tourist attractions, joining us at night to see the city. It was how I got to see such sights as the Alamo and New Orleans. He made sure to spend nights playing games, doing puzzles or just watching TV with us. He took an interest in all our hobbies and activities, even when he could not really understand them - like my comic book collection. The best compliment I can give him is that so many of my friends have often said they wished they had a dad like mine. Even Rachel commented that she knew I would remain handsome in my later years, because my dad had. Thanks, dad.

March 7, 2005
Family values. Where are they? And when I say 'family values', I am not talking about whether or not someone practices a religion. I am not talking about some sort of sex on tv. (Oddly, there is no concern about seeing people make death. But let them make love and everyone panics. If I had a choice about a society that made death or made love, I would pick love.) I am not talking about something that advocates homosexual relationships or even inter-racial relationships. (Has there been one since THE JEFFERSONS in the '70s?) I am talking about teaching our kids to respect others. It is bad enough that no one seems to teach their kids to cover their mouths while sneezing or coughing. Obviously most parents cannot be bothered to teach youngsters how to behave in public. I constantly see kids screaming, yelling, running around, bumping into things and people everywhere I go. When my sister and I were young, our parents could take us anyplace. We even went to an opera when I was 8. For hours I sat and watched, as I put it "people screaming songs". But I did not express my boredom by bothering those around me. I sat there and took it; like a trip to the dentist. Today's kids can't seem to sit still for five minutes. Of course, what do kids have for role models? We have a vice president who uses the 'f' word in the very house of law that is supposed to be 'protecting' us against such outbursts. We have a president who jokes about giving the finger, a 'one finger salute' as he called it. Maybe instead of worrying about what kids are watching, reading or playing, people should be more worried about setting good examples. I wish today's parents took a moment to think about MY FAIR LADY's Henry Higgins begging for people to 'set a good example' or INTO THE WOODS' baker's wife who states 'children will listen'. Family values are only a positive thing if the whole family is positive.

March 6, 2005
A Disneyland day. But how do folks afford it? Attended the park today to celebrate our first sun in several weeks. Rode the new Buzz Lightyear ride. It was fun. The whole idea is pretty clever. Re-saw the Muppet 3D film. Had forgotten how funny it is. This is one of the best Disney theater presentations. As much fun as it was, I kept wondering how average folks can afford to attend the parks. It is now over $60 per person to get in. Plus $10 for parking. Add a drink or snack and you hit almost $150 for a couple. It could cost a small family almost $500! We have annual passes, which allows us free parking and unlimited visits. Anyone interested in visiting the parks more than twice a year should think about it. However, the cost of a family having to do this is frightening. Though I guess I should not be worrying about the price. As is often the case, the park was jammed. Folks were filling up on $8 hot dogs and $3 ice cream. How bad can the economy be?

March 5, 2005
Well all of this rain may mean March is coming in like a Lion. Hopefully the lamb end will be dryer. It is odd how such comments can become popular and then forgotten. On the train this week, someone was discussing this idea. Several on the train had no idea what was being discussed. Even after explaining the whole 'in like a lion out like a lamb' scenario. Again, it shows how much times and references are changing. I often catch myself having to explain things like vinyl records, reel to reel audiotape, movie film. If such technology can be forgotten in a matter of years, how many old sayings will follow along?

March 4, 2005
Milk Duds. One of nature's most perfect foods. And one of my favorite candies. Lately I am having some every night to help settle my stomach after the scary trip through fog-filled roads. Other favorite candies include Good And Plenty. Remember when "Choo Choo Charlie" would use a box to imitate a train. Then there was Three Musketeers. It was advertised as big enough for you and two other friends! And whatever happened to the Chocolate Milk Shake candy bar? Haven't seen that since the 1960s. A friend recently said the Mars bar had disappeared, or been replaced by Snickers with Almonds. One favorite I thought was lost forever, candy cigarettes, have turned up at a local candy store. Rachel says they not only taste good, but are also good for digestion. Noticed the ingredients seemed to be mostly sugar and beef tallow. *urp* Think I'll open another box of Mild Duds.

March 3, 2005
The 10 Commandments in government offices. Right or wrong? Our constitution states we should keep government and church seperate. And that is a good idea. It is interesting that whenever someone in government begins to look like it might be accepting of an idea like gay marriage, there is a huge outcry that the government should not be advocating a lifestyle. Yet if someone in the government wants to advocate a religous idea folks claim that is what the U.S. is all about. I wonder if there would be equal support if someone wanted to place ideas from the Koran in a courtroom? How about a selection from the teachings of Buddha? Maybe something from the Satanic Bible? The point is, for the government to truely protect religious freedom, it cannot show favoritism towards any one. Is it a bad idea to put up words of wisdom? No. How about something from Confucius? Or better yet, how about some straight talk from Charlie Chan - "Truth win more friendship than lies" or "Ignorance, always loud in argument" or "Justice must be blind to friendship". Then of course there is the classic - "So much, for so much".

March 2, 2005
Driving blind. Tonight was another evening of blinding fog on the road. Recent weather conditions have just about erased all lines from the mountain roads. When the heavy fog rolls in, there are no clues as to where the pavement ends and the mountain ends. You can find yourself totally surrounded by white. As you slowly creep forward you strain to find any sign of where the road might be. With the lack of road repairs we also have to worry about potholes and receding shoulders. In the fog you can suddenly find yourself bouncing out of potholes, or dropping off the side of the road. When the fog clears a bit you might find yourself driving on the wrong side of the road, or heading towards an embankment. You can't see where intersections connect or where you need to turn. I actually turned into a driveway without realizing I had left the road! Fortunately I got home safely tonight. I hope I am as lucky tomorrow night.

March 1, 2005
The hero or the goat. Charlie Brown pondered this statement everytime he made a decision, knowing the result would make him one or the other. I always laughed at the absurdity. As the years have gone by, I have discovered this is yet another key insight from the mind of Charles Schulz. Studios are full of people who devote long hours to create and manage shows that will make the studio and network millions of dollars. For their long hours and dedication, the studio often thanks "all the folks" who make it possible. Should one of those "folks" pick the wrong color, mis-label a package or confuse wording, they can receive a swift "warning" and told if it happens again they will be terminated. It is the same with those around us. You can be a best friend, partner or lover. Forget to return a call, misplace an object or mispeak a thought and you are suddenly someone who doesn't care. These concepts are foreign to me. I was brought up with "everyone makes mistakes". This is not to say there are no workers who shirk and no companions who are cold. However, such negative thoughts should be supported by repeated crimes. Today it seems it takes dozens of positives to make a hero, but only one slip to make a goat. To err is human. To forgive seems impossible. Baa!

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