Daily Barks 03.07 cataroo.com
Barking at the Moon: March 2007

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March 31, 2007
Watched the first disc of the first season for SABRINA: THE TEENAGE WITCH this weekend. (Thanks, Netflix) Rewatching the first few episodes was a pleasant surprise. The early episodes hold up very well. At that point, the series pretty much revolved around Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart), her two aunts (Beth Broderick, Carolina Rhea) and their cat, Salem (voiced by series writer Nick Bakay). Obviously, with Sabrina being the focus of the series, as she aged, the series needed to evolve. She would eventually leave high school for college, live various places, have several relationships, and a few jobs. These changes would alter the foursome's relationships and closeness. And that was too bad. In fact, as the two aunts, Zelda and Hilda, Broderick and Rhea showed a real timing and teamwork reminiscent of comedy teams of the 30s and 40s. Even some of the forced or 'cute' humor in the series seemed fresh in their hands. It made me wonder why the pair never did anything else together. In earlier days, such an obvious chemistry would have led to other stories. It was the chemistry between Rogers and Astaire that led them into several films. Similarly William Powell and Myrna Loy worked so well together in a picture, MGM decided to team them in the successful Thin Man series. Though such teamwork is not always recognized. I always thought that Jack Lemon and Peter Falk were sheer genius together in THE GREAT RACE. The movie was not a big hit, but someone should have noticed how funny Lemon and Falk were. And I think someone should have grabbed Broderick and Rhea for a series that needed two well seasoned, well timed, funny ladies. That is a pretty rare commodity.

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"The show is meaningful to kids and I think it does have a great message. I mean, I wish when I was a kid that I'd been watching a show where women were so clever and so forthright and powerful. I love the way that Sabrina deals with boys. I love the equality in their relationships. We didn't have that when I was a kid."
Beth Broderick

March 30, 2007
What are the odds? The other day was viewing THE WOLF MAN. This 1941 Universal horror film is probably the best of the classic Universal horrors. The early films, like FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA are a bit creaky. Not their fault since they are products of early sound production. THE WOLF MAN also still has a fairly serious approach to the material, without all the hoopla and lameness found in the multiple monster spin-offs later like FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN or HOUSE OF DRACULA. THE WOLF MAN crackles with great dialogue, intriguing set-ups and good (for the time) effects. However, what prompted this bark was how great the old studio system was where you would find some of the best character actors showing up in the same scene. Take for example early in the film, after Lon Chaney Jr. (in probably his best film) has killed "a wolf". His character's father, a doctor and the groundskeeper are discussing the event. While watching it, I kept thinking, I know all of these actors from someplace. Thanks to IMDB, I found all three had portrayed famous police or detective charcters. The father was Claude Rains, who I already knew played the great head of police in CASABLANCA. The doctor was Warren William, who portrayed Philo Vance once and Perry Mason several times. The groundskeeper was Ralph Bellamy who played Ellery Queen in several films. (And who shines so well in HIS GIRL FRIDAY.) Anyway, no real point to any of this except the fun that pops up when watching films from the old studio days.
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"Everyone carries around his own monsters."
Richard Pryor

March 29, 2007
The DNA of memory? Recently heard an interview with one of the scientists who helped decode DNA. They discussed how elements of it cause a number of differences in people. It made me wonder if there are different DNAs for different types of memories. For example, my dad's memory always amazed me. When I was young, he was the perfect example "never forgetting a face". His ability to remember names and faces over the decades was almost scary. While at a restaurant, or on a vacation he would recognize someone. They might have been a neighbor years ago. They might have been a client from decades before. Perhaps they were part of the scout troop he mastered. He recognized the face, and instantly knew their name and where he knew them from. Me, I can't seem to remember names and faces at all. (Recently read that it might be a syndrome known as "face blindness".) But for all of dad's memory of people, his memory was not 100% when it came to things. He would ask for Big Mac, when he meant a quarterpounder. He would say how his favorite Disney character was King Louie in ROBIN HOOD - which was really Prince John. Again, me, I remembered all that kind of stuff. I remember the year a movie was released, the names of characters, the names of directors and such. I even remember bits of songs and lyrics after one listen. Course, Rachel is even better. She can hear a song once and be able to repeat it almost word for word. And her ear is uncanny. She can recognize a voice in a second and tie it to another character. She is seldom wrong. She can also remember every one of kid's lineage, full names, nicknames and "new" names (given by their knew owners). Why do some folks remember faces and names so well? Why do some folks have the ability to store facts and figures with no effort? Why do others never forget a voice or relative? I have heard it explained that you remember things that interest you. Yet, I seem to remember all sorts of stuff that I do not care about at all. Maybe there is a code in the DNA that programs one to certain memory skills.
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"I have a memory like an elephant. In fact, elephants often consult me."
Noel Coward

March 28, 2007
Three little kittens that have lost more than their mittens. Seems we have some orphans to handle. Rachel has taken in a family of three kittens that were about to be put down at a local shelter. The folks finding them called her and she said yes. They are only about a week old, with no mother (which is why the shelter was going put them down). So they were dropped off and now Rachel is bottle feeding the group. They are mostly grey fluff balls at the moment. In fact, if the little girl did not have a crooked tail, you could not really tell her from her two brothers. We will keep them until they are (hopefully) healthy enough to find homes. If nothing else, hopefully the local humane society will be able to take them once they are self sufficient. As for the other kids, it seems Eagle, Rooster and Jet enjoy their company... and seem concerned. Not too surprised, since Roku (Eagle's dad, Rooster's grandad) was always worried when he heard kittens crying. Once there was a family with a box of them at a swapmeet. Roku was quite concerned when they were crying... and even more so when they got silent, as if now worried where they went. The kitties? Well, Tember seems fine with them. Dante is suspicious and Pryde is well, spacey as always. No doubt nights will be a little less settled due to mewing and needs. Just hope they continue well and find homes that will appreciate them.
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"No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens."
Abraham Lincoln

March 27, 2007
Last week Rachel and I went to taping of THE MIND OF MENCIA show. It was the first taping I have been to since I watched "Jack Benny's 2nd Farewell Special" in 1973, when Carlos Mencia was around 6 years old, and Rachel was only three. The difference in taping was more than just years... it was cultural and productional (if that's a word). First, on the Benny special, we were there for the second day of taping. For nearly 8 hours we watched a variety of skits with Benny and his guest stars. They would tape them scattered, and explained that later they would edit them into the hour. There was sometimes as much as an hour between skits. Sometimes, body doubles would come out, perform the entire skit (giving away all jokes, actions, etc) and then the stars would come out and perform. The audience was supposed to laugh at the second time as if they had never seen it. During the breaks, Jack Benny came and sat in the audience and chatted with the folks. It was quite an experience. The Mencia show took around 2 hours to create the half hour... and it was taped in order, with the titles, commercial breaks and such visible on the screens. Prior to the start of the taping, a secondary comedian (who we had seen perform with Carlos at the casino) came out and did the chatter with the audience, even having prizes for various things. Rachel won a t-shirt for showing she could "play music" with her nose. (It was a talent I never knew she had.) There was no rehearsals prior to performance, but there were times things needed to be redone. Again, we were to laugh as if we had not seen it before. Of course the biggest difference was in the entrance. For Benny, we simply parked and went into the studio and found a seat on the bleacher style seating. For Mencia, we had to empty pockets and go through a metal detector that was more sensitive than any airport I have gone through. They then sat you in benches outside the studio while you waited. And even though the time for the record was much less than Benny, Mencia's tickets indicated you were required to stay the entire taping. In the end, I enjoyed both. It is fun to see things "backstage" so to speak. Though with today's more intimate studio audiences, the Mencia set was identical to what you see on TV. In contrast, the Benny set was a major studio floor that was constantly re-set for each skit. Seeing it on TV, it looked very different than the taping. Mencia's will look about the same on TV. Still want to do some research on the studio used. It was a generic studio in Hollywood that looked to have been around at least since the 50s. Probably a lot of history there.
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"Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage."
Charlie Chaplin

March 25, 2007
This weekend watched Disney's THE FOX AND HOUND 2. It is one of rare (but increasing) Disney sequel that takes place in the "middle" of the movie, as did BAMBI 2 and somewhat CINDERELLA III. However, unlike BAMBI 2 which fit naturally into a transition in the original film, F&H2 is more like a "further adventure" of the kit and the pup. And in so doing seems a bit awkward at times. Knowing how the film ends, makes some of the adventures in the film seem forced, and even out of place. As rushed as some of the character points in the original were, this "midquel" shuffles those points even further. For example, Widow Tweed and the hunter get friendly in the midquel, but we know that they don't get chummy until the critters have grown up. And even though they try to make it look like the couple become at odds again, it adds another layer of falseness to the original film. (The first is Copper's reaction to Chief's injury. Copper's reaction is truer to the original decision to have Chief killed.) Oddly missing is the film's original narrator, Big Mama and the annoying humor relief bird duo. Though in some ways it is nice not to see the annoying humor, it again gives the film additional distance from the original. In fact, in some ways, this looks more like a film "based on" the Disney feature. Kind of like the stories one finds in comic books based on popular series. This is one of the first Disney direct to videos where it did not seem very important to have seen the original film. I certainly give the creative team credit for a willingness to create such a new universe around established characters. I just wonder if the work could have been better served as a totally new project. And I was surprised to see the work was done at the Australian studio, which I thought had been closed prior to the start of this film. Course I was equally surprised to see sections had been farmed out to the artist responsible for animating the Genie in ALADDIN. The biggest surprise was seeing the name of Linda Miller in the credits. Linda actually worked on the original Disney feature. Not many of Disney's animated sequels can make that statement.
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"Now I have new stories and I feel refreshed. There is talk of Bobby's World eventually coming back. I would be happy to do that."
Howie Mandel

March 21, 2007
There seems to be more and more discussion about distractions for drivers. Reports indicate that a large number of accidents occur because the driver is talking on a cel phone. The eating of food while driving is another source of distraction that can lead to accidents. I can add another - radio sound effects. Since much of my driving is commuting to and from work, I listen to radio in hopes of hearing about traffic problems. To liven up the traffic reports, stations put in sound effects. I am sure they think it is clever... but it is really dangerous. One station always throws in the sound of a car screeching to a stop. Another has someone honking their horn. Then there is the one that always starts with the screeching sound ending with a crash. I cannot count the number of times the effects have caught me off guard. A song or news story ends. Suddenly, I hear the sounds of screeching tires. I stop looking ahead and begin looking around and behind to see if an accident is occuring near to me that needs evasive action. It is only the radio. Or suddenly someone is honking at me. Are my lights out? Have I drifted into another lane? Did I accidentally cut someone off? No. It is only the radio. I wonder how many folks, upon hearing the screeching sounds of cars and crunching metal react by slamming on their brakes? Of course, it is not just the traffic report. Lately the ads for car insurance enjoy throwing in the sounds of an accident. Again, when you least expect it, you hear that horrible sound of squealing tires and metal crunching. And if you have ever been in an accident, you know how gut wrenching that is. I wonder if the surveys that count folks eating or talking also ask about what was on the radio right before the crash.
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"The buffalo isn't as dangerous as everyone makes him out to be. Statistics prove that in the United States more Americans are killed in automobile accidents than are killed by buffalo."
Art Buchwald

March 20, 2007
Despite the long drive from my home to the animation industry, and the somewhat smaller than desired livable footage, being in the mountains offers quite a few pleasures. One is the wildlife. The bird seed we put on the stump attracts a wide variety of feathered friends, as well as squirrels and chipmunks (which do not look much like Chip or Dale). A large branch near by is the hangout for a pair of ravens. Over the last few months we have witnessed a large number of hawks and even eagles soaring above the roads. Of course the ground is frequented with coyotes of all ages. They come for the scraps we toss of the deck, for which they frequently sing to us. When we first moved in, we had a raccoon as a regular visitor on the deck. And at one point, had a family of young ones hanging around in a tree. We also catch glimpses of a variety of lizards. The least desired are the (too) numerous bugs ranging from (ick) spiders to pesky ants to all matter of flying "things". Then there was the night two bear cubs began walking down the steps to our door. Luckily their mom called them back to the street. This all came to mind this morning on my commute. Around midway down the mountain from our level is a construction area at which various plows, trucks and such park. Once, I was certain I saw a deer there. Today, I saw two. And I know I saw them for they just stood there. One looked to have a small rack, and the other just two very big ears. I am betting they are a couple. I spotted them as I came around the corner and could not take my eyes off them (except to keep jerking the wheel so as to not go off the mountain). Now I know it is a spot deer hang at. Makes sense. It is large and flat, and offers a great view down the mountain. And though I have never seen one in person, my parents caught glimpse of a cougar early one morning while driving near our house. (I have seen the tracks of one on our street.) It is really exciting to realize that our wildlife consists of some larger species. More than the trees, grass and general 'woodsy-ness' of the area, it is the wildlife that makes me realize how close to nature I get to come when I am home. It is nice.
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"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."
Albert Einstein

March 19, 2007
I am constantly surprised at how the internet and computer can work. For example, I have begun to save some cds on the computer so I can listen to them while working. Amazingly, most of the time when I put a cd in and transfer it over, Windows Media Player "knows" the cd. I see an image of the cover art and see a list of the song titles. And most of the time it is right. Sometimes it uses a later edition cover art, or it might show a foreign cover. Sometimes it gets the song titles in the wrong order. And sometimes when it plays them back it lists the wrong song playing. Similarly, if I put a dvd in the dvd player, it often shows me a picture of the dvd cover. And while the dvd plays, it shows chapter by chapter what is on. It even gives the titles of the chapters. And again, it is usually right. Today, while watching the Marx Brothers double sided GO WEST and THE BIG STORE, I noticed it gave the chapter titles for GO WEST during playback of THE BIG STORE. And during GO WEST, it had no titles. And it is more than just computers. While having the van serviced, I got a shuttle to work. Their van's radio was quite amazing. On the led readout, of which on my van shows the time and or channel, it showed the name of the song playing. But only on some stations. Still it was a neat feature. Made me wonder why all stations didn't offer the info. As Jon Stewart might say, I'm not going anywhere with this. I just think it is pretty nifty.
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"There is no such thing as an impartial jury because there are no impartial people. There are people that argue on the web for hours about who their favorite character on "Friends" is."
Jon Stewart

March 17, 2007
For St. Patrick's day, we headed to Disneyland. Rachel, still in cast, rented an electric wheelchair to get around. It turned her entire day into one long "autopia" attraction as she drove her way around the parks. Of interest was how the parks have changed towards wheelchair and other handicap status on rides. Up through the 90s, a wheelchair would give one an edge at getting on attractions. The wheelchair sitter and their group would simply go to the front of the line and get on. Just before our wedding, Rachel had injured her ankle. We spent a day at Disneyland and discovered it was a real help. Well, except Indiana Jones which was built wide enough and I had to push her through the entire cues. *whew* Today, things are quite different. Many of the newer and 'hotter' attractions have seperate cues for wheelchairs. At some we waited almost half an hour to get on. Obviously, this makes it more fair for everyone. But it does make having to be in a wheelchair a little less fun. Sort of. On some day, when the park is not too crowded, it would be fun to both have electric wheelchairs and spend the day in the park driving around as if Disneyland, itself, was an attraction.
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"Pity? You don't want to be pitied because you're a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!"
Jerry Lewis

March 15, 2007
The ides of March. Been too long since I've had time to get here. Work has been a lot of late nights. Got a batch of projects all going full bore now. Sadly, they still all end by early May. Reminds me of the folks at Hanna-Barbera in the 80s who used to laugh at the artist rushing through work. One laugher was an old-timer who'd say, "better hurry up so they can lay you off faster." Rachel's still in a cast, so is mostly immobile. Dad is home, and also pretty immobile. Even the news is pretty immobile, seeming stuck in a loop. Of course the one big thing announced by our administration, the "confession" of a terrorist, is generally dismissed. The guy confessed he was behind 911, the original Twin Towers bombing and all sorts of plots that did and did not succeed (an attempt to kill the Pope, for example). Of course his confession has no details about any of the crimes. About the only thing he hasn't confessed to is the Chicago fire and the asassination of JFK. On the good side, I seem to be getting more awake. Guess the hormone shot is helping somewhat. The other night I was able to stay awake for a Nancy Drew mystery on Turner Classic Movies. No great film... but interesting. Like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew was one of the precursors of Scooby Doo. That is, teens who solve crimes committed by criminals who are scary... but not really dangerous. The upcoming weekend will no doubt be busy. Along with handling usual chores, will try to get Rachel out, try to see my folks, and try to finish that article for AWN.
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"A show is exhausting when it stinks. It's exhausting when you have to work overtime to make something work."
Patti LuPone

March 12, 2007
While listening to the radio, I heard a number of commercials that wanted you to contact them by the web or phone. And oddly, many of the phone numbers were not "1-800" or "1-888" etc. Instead they gave the actual area code and number. It then struck me that, unlike past generations, this generation has always had cheap long distance. Most phone plans offer an "unlimited long distance". Or, perhaps they use one of those pre-paid phone calls where you only pay $1 a minute or such. I remember the 60s and 70s when long distance calls were charged by minutes and distance. A call from Los Angeles to New York might cost $3 a minute at offtimes, like after midnite or before 6am. I recall a friend back then who did interviews discussing how, if planned right, you could get an interview, coast to coast, done in ten minutes or less, thus only spending around $30 for the phone time. A call overseas could cost as much as $10 a minute! Course, that was the days of the phone monopoly. One company owned all the phone lines. Period. You did not own a phone, you rented one from the phone company. A black dial phone was the cheapest. For more money you could get a color phone. For even more money you could get push buttons instead of dial. I even remember when the "princess" phone debuted, the first phone I remembered marketed to a specific audience - teenage girls. Then came the government enforced break-up of the phone company into smaller companies that needed to compete. It's a lesson our current government could take in regards to the massive media monopolies being built these days.
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"Apparently we love our own cell phones but we hate everyone else's."
Joe Bob Briggs

March 11, 2007
Sometimes I really feel like, "I just don't get it" (as an animation exec used to tell me everytime he could not explain a decision). After seeing a flood of commercials for a new Barbie cgi "movie" called BARBIE FAIRYTOPIA: MAGIC OF THE RAINBOW, I noticed it was also debuting on cable TV. So, due to a lack of anything else of interest, we sat and watched it. And it was really a mystery. There is no character apparently called Barbie. It begins with a re-cap of the two previous cgi features. The story, culled from 1980s animated series, was wafer thin enough to have easily fit into a half hour special. Almost all the supporting characters are purposefully annoying (vain, rude, etc.) until the final sequence where we learn to work together. The opening is nothing but talk, talk, talk. The pacing is as leaden as the TV Felix the Cat cartoons, "It's (pause) the (pause) pro-(pause)-fess-(pause)-or". In fact, while watching it, all I could think about is if this script had been submitted to any of the last few studios I worked at, it would have been rejected outright. Yet, here it was. Fully produced. On TV. On dvd. And here I was. Watching it. Commenting on its faults. I've walked out of films like SNOWBALL EXPRESS and ANNIE. I turned off the dvd for HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (live action) and BACKSTAIRS AT THE WHITE HOUSE. Yet I sat through this cgi BARBIE... with commercials. Maybe it was due to me being a bit tired and under the weather. Maybe it was because I wanted to see if it ever got better. Maybe it was because nothing else of interest was on TV and I didn't feel the passiod to put on a disc or tape. If not, I just don't get it. And why is it Barbie's Fairytopia if Barbie isn't in it?
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"I think they should have a Barbie with a buzz cut."
Ellen DeGeneres

March 9, 2007
Rachel recently watched STRANGER THAN FICTION, the Will Ferrel "comedy" about a guy who begins hearing someone narate his life and discovers he may only be a character in someone's book. It made me think about the sources for today's films. In college I remember hearing that all the plots were used by Shakespeare, so all stories were based on plays by Shakespeare. Then there was the "there are only four or five plots" theory. Yet few read Shakespeare today, and fewer would know what the "four or five" plots were. However, the more I see films today, the more I believe the basis of all modern films is... (drum roll)... Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. Well, perhaps just the sci-fi/fantasy films. At least two Twilight Zones examine the idea of people who discover they are creations of others. One finds they exist because of a writer's imagination, another discovers his life is actually a tv show. Well, that's STRANGER THAN FICTION and THE TRUMAN SHOW. Then the episode of a girl who falls into a wall in her bedroom, and a family member has to go in to pull her out becomes POLTERGEIST. (It was so close, that legal action was considered.) A woman discovers a little girl outside her apartment and realizes it is actually the woman as a child. That's Bruce Willis' THE KID. Time travel variations (from how one can change the present, to ending up in a future that is terribly wrong), end of the world scenarios, alien invasions (evil and friendly), futuristic totalitarian governments, robots gone wild, and even dolls that come to life are just a few of the many plots that were episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and later premises of feature films. The series ran from 1959 through 1964, and has been in repeats ever since. Almost anyone watching television while growing up has seen it. Thus it would be hard to deny that many of today's creators are familiar with the stories. Of course, the show always ended with a bit of a twist... and so does this bark. While checking the years of broadcast, I found a note about the first sci-fi script written by Serling. It is about a man in current times who falls asleep in a hotel and wakes up in Hawaii just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. A man, laying in a hotel, traveling back in time. That 1957 script pretty much sums up the premise for 1980's SOMEWHERE IN TIME.
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"One week I'd be a scary mutant in The Twilight Zone and another I'd be a nice little kid in a Disney movie."
Bill Mumy

March 6, 2007
So it now seems the administrations' cries to "support our troops" stops dead once the troops come home. The scandal at the veteran's hospital should be of no surprise if one has ever talked to someone who needs one. My brother-in-law was injured over 20 years ago. He has had multiple operations and takes multiple medications. Various veteran doctors have stated the same prognosis. And all have been ignored by the veteran's administration. At times he has tried to get local politicians to help, major donors and such. The results are almost always the same - "denied". Of course all the publicity is making the veterans' administration take note. Thanks to their being a democrat controlled congress, hearings are actually being held, and the investigation is spreading. (Compare this to the republican investigation of prisons in Iraq that said it was just an isolated incident of a few men. Right.) In some ways, I am glad that this is getting attention. As mentioned, I have known for years of the problems in the veteran's administration. I often bring it up when folks talk about "supporting our troops". My thought is, supporting troops does not just mean giving them weapons. I think support should mean more pay, more benefits, and more follow through. Course there is always a downside. Yesterday, an exec at the veteran's administration admitted they would hire 100 folks to arbitrate the cases. The also admitted to having over 400,000 cases pending. When asked how they would be able to handle all those cases with just 100 managers. The exec stated that they were going to immediately move all the cases for the Iraq returnees to the top of the pile. Great. So my brother-in-law, and thousands of others who served their country in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and anywhere else before 2003 will have to just keep waiting. Some support.
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"We're... letting them starve and thirst to death in-in hospitals. The Germans did that in the concentration camps."
Jack Kevorkian

March 5, 2007
Along with Anna Nichol, another name that is currently popping up in the news is John Lasseter. When Disney took over Pixar (or vise versa) there was a lot coming out of Pixar's Lasseter. Then things got quiet. With Disney's newest animated film arriving (MEET THE ROBINSONS) it appears that Lasseter is once again a newsworthy person. What I find fun is the attitude various websites take towards Mr. Lasseter. it appears he is the current heir apparant for "god of animation". Though much of the public doesn't recognize a name outside of Walt Disney, animation folk have a variety of names that they would easily put on a pedestal. Lasseter joins a list that includes Don Bluth, Chuck Jones, John Krisfalusi, Richard Williams, Ralph Bakshi and Brad Bird to name a few. These creators have each inspired an almost cult like following. Their followers will grovel and toss praise at anything said by the god, defend the god to the death when faced with nay-sayers, and will excuse the god for any mispercieved mistakes or problem productions. I have dealt with several on that list and almost always found they were like anyone else - that is, they could be a positive force and a negative one. But the true followers would only see the positive. For example, a recent NY Times article finds John Lasseter talking about some changes he is making. He has altered over half the upcoming feature MEET THE ROBINSONS. If these changes had come from a producer, executive or newbie director, they would be cursed by webfans as interference. But since John is making those changes, they say John is really "correcting" the errors of executives and producers. Lasseter also announced he would be moving the animation staff to Glendale. Or, more correctly, moving them "back" to Glendale. I remember when the studio first put the animators in Glendale back in the 80s. At that time, the artists were outraged at being kicked of the lot. They felt that animation built that studio (and it did), and they should be the ones to inherit it. Many an old timer (like Frank and Ollie) and new old timer (like Glen Keane and Andreas Deja) argued that it should be the executives and producers who get moved off the lot. All were pleased at getting back to Burbank. But this move back to Glendale is being praised by folks as a "good" sign because it will get the artists away from executives. Everytime I read such blogging I think of the farm animals in George Orwell's Animal Farm that accept every demand of the pigs as necessary for the good of the farm. Or maybe it is more like the classic Twilight Zone episode with Billy Mumy as the telekinetic boy who sends folks to the cornfield if he doesn't like them. To avoid such a fate, the people always state that whatever the boy does (stopping electricity, blocking TV broadcasts, creating snow in summer thus killing crops) is "a good thing". But it is more than just websites thinking all is positive. After Chris Sanders got sent to the cornfield, I bet the folks at Disney think everything John does is "a good thing" too.
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"Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."
Mark Twain

March 4, 2007
Once again teachers are in the spotlight. There is a move to tie teacher salary to quality of student performance. While I am all for getting the best teachers possible, I do not believe the performance of students is a good guage for teacher quality. While a good teacher can certainly help inspire students, and a poor teacher can turn them off, there are so many factors involved with a student's performance that putting the honor or blame solely on teachers is wrong. When I was in school, I had my share of good and bad teachers. And while it definitely affected how the information was presented, I found problem students could be bad with any teacher. Family, friends, peers and more affect how kids perform in school. It is not hard to look around and find examples of excellent folks who came from bad schools and dregs of society that came from highly rated schools. Placing the full blame on teachers is simply a backdoor way to keep teacher salaries low, and good teachers out of our schools. However, such an idea is not new. Look at sports. If a team loses a lot of games, they don't say the players are the problem. They fire the coach. What if this concept was spread evenly. Should the head of a studio be paid or fired based on how his actors perform on the set? Or at awards? Should the manager of a grocery store be paid or fired based on how well their checkers and box persons perform? Should elected officials be paid or firedbased on how efficient their staff is? Or how well their constituents behave? Should a president be fired if those around him commit crimes? A teacher, manager, leader can only do the best they can and hope to be able to inspire those around them. If someone chooses not to be inspired, one cannot place all the blame on the leader. Some of the best teachers I ever had still had a group in class who were more interested in cutting up than learning. I would hate to think good teachers could be punished because they have been cursed with hooligans in the classroom. Such actions will only cause good teachers to seek out better schools. And this, as usual, will cause the students to suffer.
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"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."
Dan Quayle

March 3, 2007
Took some time to add a few items to the costume character page and the development page. On the costume page are new additions like the Blue Buffalo and Koda. Also added some recent pictures of the new Brer Fox costume in Disneyland. Not only is the suit a bit shaggier in the fur, it is considerably shorter. When I worked there, Brer Fox was worn by folks around 5'10" and up. The new suit seems built for those around 5'6". Perhaps the rumors of Disney looking to reduce the size range of costumes is true. On the development page, I have some star-based shows from the 1980s when Hanna-Barbera was doing a lot of series based on actual celebrities. Also is my somewhat lengthy Disney feature pitch about animals who escape from the zoo and have a wild adventure in the city. Though it may seem similar to 2005's MADAGASCAR or 2006's THE WILD, my pitch was done in 1989. At the time it was dropped because they were working on a "version of AN AMERICAN TAIL based in a zoo with monkeys" and the studio didn't want to have two animal stories at the same time. I still think it is a solid story idea.
Add another quote and make it a gallon...
"Ideas control the world."
James A. Garfield

March 2, 2007
Addiction is becoming a bigger problem as we become addicted to more things. The president claims we are addicted to oil. And that is certainly true. But we are also addicted to computers. This came home the other day when due to an internal problem, they had to shut down the network and insist folks turn their computers off. Suddenly no one in the studio could access budgets, memos, reports, scripts, and artwork. Since the shows are all digital even animation, color, editing, sound and music had to stop. Folks with hard copies, or working on paper could continue. Others simply sat around talking or taking (even more) smoke breaks. It reminded me how vulnerable we have become to the "smallest" of disasters. While the government runs around looking for massive plots with bombs and chemicals, it actually takes much less to create chaos - the goal of terrorists. A computer glitch causes the stock market number to freeze. It results in the market losing around 400 points. A distraught driver parks on a commuter rail track. Dozens are killed while commuter traffic is upset for hours. A worker cuts the wrong wire and a large section of the city loses power. The other day I heard an "expert" stating that Homeland Security should be spending more time and money on plans to re-start things after a terrorist attack. He stated that it was inevitable that terrorists or events could create chaos. What we needed were definite plans to move back to normalcy. Natural disasters like snow storms and hurricanes can shut down trasportation, kill people, destroy cities and disrupt all sorts of key support systems - fire, police, hospitals, etc. Even manmade disruptions from labor strikes to accidents can stop large portions of our country in their tracks. I recall in the late 1970s a leak aboard a tanker in the Long Beach port caused an explosion that could be felt a hundred miles away... and shut down the port for several days. Today, shutting down the Long Beach or Los Angeles port could put our gasoline supplies at risk. In fact, one report stated that if any of the major US ports receiving oil were to shut down (accident, weather, strike, terrorists), we could run out of gas in 7 days. It would be nice if government agencies spent more time planning for rapid recovery after disasters. Just look at the progress in New Orleans for an example. After a year, most of the city is still in ruins. In comparison, after the Northridge quake in California freeways that collapsed were repaired and ready for commuters in less than a year. Some complained about the way the freeway repair was being handled (such as overpaying some providers), but when the freeway opened in half the time expected, such concerns were forgotten. Results are always more impressive than promises. Especially to an addict.
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"Practically every environmental problem we have can be traced to our addiction to fossil fuels, primarily oil."
Dennis Weaver

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