The Daily Bark: August 2004
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August 25, 2004
Will be spending the next several days up North visiting family. Back September 1st.
August 24, 2004
We are only weeks away from the 25th anniversary of Don Bluth's famed walkout from the Disney studio. It was September 1979, when Don, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy decided to revolt against the management of Disney animation. Over the next few weeks, another dozen top Disney artists followed Bluth. It could be argued this event was the beginning of the animation boom which brought such markers as Spielberg-Bluth's AN AMERICAN TAIL. The film became the highest grossing animated film, toppling Disney's record. Spielberg and Disney became rivals in the world of features and TV. Less than a decade later, THE LION KING became the first animated feature to crack the 10 highest grossing films in history. Less than a decade after that, Pixar's FINDING NEMO topped LION KING, and less than a year later Dreamworks' SHREK 2 topped NEMO. When Bluth exited Disney, it was debated if Bluth could compete with Disney, and if Disney could survive with the loss of so many key talents. Oddly, Disney is once again being challenged with an exodus. This time it is Pixar who is leaving. Again, the debate is who will survive. Happy anniversary, Don.
August 23, 2004
In the 1970s, Smuckers' jelly had an ad campaign that stated, "With a name like 'Smuckers', it has to taste good." The ad agency felt keeping an odd name on a product showed the product's quality. It seems John Kricfalusi follows a similar concept. Kricfalusi is credited (or blamed) with bringing grotesque humor to main stream animation. I will admit to never having been a big fan of the original REN AND STIMPY. I admired John K's ability to bring back a comic anarchy to cartoon characters unseen since Bob Clampett. At its best, the original series had the inspired lunacy of the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges. At its worse, which was more common, the series had the juvenile pointlessness of the Bowery Boys. John's new episodes of REN AND STIMPY denote a creator who, like Smuckers' ad agency, thinks "with a drawing or gag this gross, it has to be funny." He is wrong. Some things are just gross. It may get a laugh for shock value, but in time others will become more shocking. By selling out for such a cheap laugh, John K has actually reduced the life of his characters. They will not be fondly remembered classics. They will join the lame comedies that were funny "when they came out".
August 22, 2004
Have finally gotten around to putting up some of the "new" historical pictures. Today it is a new "frame" about Bob Richardson and our work on the SPIDER-MAN animated series. You'll find it in the blog section. Also, Rachel is back from the dog show. Our "first born", Eagle, won Best of Breed. His dad, Roku helped me pick both of them up. To our pleasure, Roku was "mistaken" for Eagle's brother. Quite a compliment as dad is over twice Eagle's age... and quite a feat for a Great Dane.
August 21, 2004
Tonight is one of the nights I am alone. Rachel is away at a Dog Show. Oddly, it comes on a day I get an email asking if I was really married in costume. Yes, we were. I have just recently put together a page about the event and, if interested, you can see it here. It was a unique wedding in many ways. I was the guy "who was never going to get married." Rachel was over a decade younger than I was and she had a number of suitors closer to her age. Many a folk thought we would never stay together. Well, we will be coming up to our 8th anniversary this year. A number of those who thought we would never last, have since been married and divorced themselves.
August 20, 2004
August 19, 2004
It was 20 years ago that I launced Get Animated! as a magazine to cover the animation industry. Up to that point, animation magazines were mostly discussions of classic cartoons, reviews and interviews. Get Animated! focused on the news of the business, announcing projects, talent moves, and even the beginning home video market. It gained some notoriety for breaking a number of key stories including Disney's decision to send some of THE BLACK CAULDRON's ink and paint overseas. At the time of its debut, Jerry Beck claimed "Get Animated!" was one of the best phrases he had ever heard. He even had buttons of it produced and gave me a generous supply to hand out with the publication. Obviously the phrase was good as it caught on quickly. Less than two years later, Terry Thoren "borrowed" the phrase for his animation festival. Next a home video company utilized it for a promotion. As each company "borrowed" the title, I wrote a letter notifying them. Some wrote back and apologized. Others did not. What reminded me was seeing the phrase used by the Disney studio in some recent ads. The last Get Animated! publication came out over a decade ago, but I still utilize the name in my business. Even though the publications have been forgotten by many, and copied by several, I guess I can take solace with creating one of the most popular animation catch phrases since "Disney's Nine Old Men".
August 18, 2004
Over the weekend sat through Adam Sandler in LITTLE NICKY. It's an okay film. Watched it because Rachel said I'd like the opening, which featured a bird costume. She knows I'm a sucker for costume characters in film. I often think of devoting some webspace to listing movies with animal suits in them, just as we do with Dane appearances on Hollywood Danes. I know such a list could be gigantic beyond belief. Animal suits have been in films almost as long as there have been films. From the earliest gorilla suits in jungle movies, to Nana (the Saint Bernard) in the Silent PETER PAN, to GODZILLA to HOWARD THE DUCK to Disney's COUNTRY BEARS. There was even TALES OF BEATRIX POTTER which feature costume versions of Potter's characters dancing to ballet music! Of course today, more and more of such character needs are being handled by cgi, like SCOOBY DOO. Still, a list would show folks the versatility of those in the fur.
August 17, 2004
Highway 18 opened mid-day on Monday. It was closed due to "Old Fire" of last Fall. The fire destroyed a large amount of the forest in the San Bernardino Mountains around the famed areas of Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear. Luckily those communities, and our home were spared. However, we were in a forced evacuation period of nearly three weeks. Through the good graces of a special lady and friends we were able to find temporary shelter for all our family. Having lived in the mountains for nearly a decade, I had seen many a fire come and go. It made us feel that such blazes would always be stopped while still far from home. The "Old Fire" changed that. Though we were spared, structures less than a city block from our home were burned to the ground. The experience reminded me of how uncontrollable life can be. You can plan and worry about bills, the future, health, family and such. Then, suddenly, with no warning your daily routine and even your life can be changed forever.
August 16, 2004
Been squeezing in some time at night to inch through "The Best of Bud Abbott & Lou Costello" dvd set. From the Franchise Collection, the two dvd set features the first 8 movies the comedy duo made from ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS to WHO DONE IT. Decidedly low budget with frequently pointless or preposterous storylines, the films also boast some of the funniest verbal routines ever including their classic "Who's On First" and "$1 A Day". Abbott and Costello are still unmatched for rapid fire manic dialog. Even more amazing is how easy they make it look. Of course they had years of vaudeville and radio to hone their rhythm. The films all have a breezy style and include plenty of silly slapstick and business with such entertainment icons as the Andrew Sisters and Shemp Howard. Considering the set sells for under $20 at discount houses, and runs over 10 hours, it is harder find more laughs per dollar than this collection.
August 15, 2004
While doing some late spring cleaning, came across a box of forgotten photos. They included images of Rachel in Dane in Las Vegas, our kids in costumes (imagine a Great Dane dressed as a mummy), shots from conventions past, photos of the various celebs I've chatted with, wild places I've been and more. Really made me wish I could get back to my "frames of time" installments. Am almost ashamed that the last entry was about the fourth of July. So many great photos. I really want to share them. Guess I'll just have to start making the time. If nothing else, perhaps I'll just put up photos with captions. That might be enough to jump start more thoughtful entries. Will give it a try this week...
August 14, 2004
Heard the Disney World Tigger, who had been accused of molestation and then acquited by the jury, has gone back to work. Also that Disney World has created new guidelines for character interaction with the guests. When I was a character at Disneyland, most of the rules had to do with safety for the character and guest. Many were similar to ones learned in school - no running and rough housing; don't pick up small children, etc. By the 1980s, hygiene entered the picture and we were asked not to touch children's hair due to lice. Then came concern that touching a guest's face could spread germs. No doubt new rules added to protect from future molestation worries will include limited hugging and holding. Soon, the only interaction allowed with guests will be standing next to them for photos. Very safe. Very sanitary. Very proper. And, quite frankly, very dull for both guest and character.
August 13, 2004
A busy week here and several additions. Under blogs, I added another edition of "You Just Don't Understand" full of opinions and comments on the world of animation. Also, under Author, more interviews are being added to the "How to Create Animation" online edition. In fact, former writing partner Jim Korkis recently mentioned I could start putting up some of our joint writings from various publications. Will begin looking into that. Also purchased the newest Harry Potter book in paperback and have begun slogging my way through its 800+ pages. *whew*
August 12, 2004
So a governor comes forward to state he has always been gay, but lived a life that society deemed more suitable. It made me think of the statement where companies state they don't base policy on race, religion or sexual preference. It also made me realize the statement is an error in fact. Of the three, race, religion and sexual attraction, only religion is actually a preference. One is born the race they are, and they cannot change it. Michael Jackson is proof of that. One is born with an attraction to one sex or another, or even both. The previously mentioned governor is proof of that. However, despite how strongly one may feel about their religious belief, it is not uncommon for one to change religions and do it successfully. There are religions that have come and gone, like the many ancient gods. Some folks have even decided to do without religion. So in the end, race and sexual attraction are facts of life one is born to. Both have been around since the beginning of mankind. Religion is truely a preference, a lifestyle, a choice that can be changed as time and experience dictates.
August 11, 2004
As the presidential election crawls to an end (still months away), I am already tired of the ads that are so negative and ugly. I wonder. Ad agencies can make toilet paper appealing. They show us everything from bears in the woods dancing with toilet paper to friendly little old ladies knitting toilet paper. They can make a problem like constipation funny. It makes me wish those agencies were making the political commercials. It also makes me wish the November election was a choice between toilet paper or constipation.
August 10, 2004
Watched the movie HIDALGO over the weekend. It was okay. However it reminded me of the broo-ha-ha when it opened. Originally advertised as based on a true story, critics instantly pounced and offered evidence that the main character had never done what he claimed and had simply made up the whole story. The end result was that the film sank at the box office. A similar thing happened with Disney's POCAHONTAS. Critics complained it wasn't factually accurate. Again, box office was hurt by the debate. I am always surprised when people get upset over a movie's representation of history. While some films have done a great amount of work to be totally accurate, the majority of Hollywood biographies and "based on actual events" movies are largely entertainment. While neither HIDALGO nor POCAHONTAS are great movies, neither deserve to be chastised for taking artistic liberties. They're entertainment, not history lessons.
August 9, 2004
We attended a dog show over the weekend. If you want to see a gathering of dogs with the saddest, most bored expressions, visit a dog show. The breeders, judges, and professional handlers with each other as dogs sit in pens longing for some personal attention. Of course, this is a group of folks who, when one of the dogs get loose, are asked to check their "livestock". And why not? The breeders cut ears and dock tails as casually as a rancher brands a cow. Since our kids are, well our "kids", it makes me sad to see so many furry faces wanting a friendly hand. Luckily, there are the happy exceptions. At Saturday's show, after one group of Danes had been in the ring, one Dane and its owner sat together in the shade enjoying each others' company. The Dane smiled and rubbed its head into the chest of the owner. The owner was petting the Dane and rubbing its ears. In the midst of a dog show there was a moment when the love of a dog was on display instead of its breeding.
August 8, 2004
In the days before the internet, the way fans conversed over great differences were "apa"s - short for Amateur Press Association. Folks of similar interest would publish their own zines and send the copies to a central editor. The editor would collate all the individual zines and mail a copy of the final "apa" to each member. The earliest apas dealt with science fiction. I belonged to several different apas whose topics ranged from animation to anthropomorphics. Hmmm... Alphabetically that doesn't look like a large range. I guess I have been in around a half dozen. One of my longest runs was in Apatoons, an apa dedicated to animation. I dropped out many years ago due to time... but recently rejoined. I have begun adding my sections to the blog section of this page. If you want "fair and unbalanced" animation coverage look elsewhere... but if you want "another opinion," it might be worth a looksee.
August 7, 2004
Have been enjoying the dvd release of the early episodes of GARFIELD AND FRIENDS. The most fun is in watching the end credits go by and being reminded of the remarkable talent we had on the series. Today I added my interview with WB great Bob Givens to the "How To Create Animation" book section. Bob helped create the style for the U.S. Acres segments. Two points about the dvd set. First, it uses the original song, "Friends are There." The song and main title sequence were replaced by around the fourth season, and older syndicated prints had the newer opening spliced on. Second, the U.S. Acres segments are labeled "Orson's Farm". This identifies the masters as coming from the international prints, which may be the only ones that still have the original main titles.
August 6, 2004
A recent article in a trade magazine had a major studio head bragging about how profitable their network had become. It was good news for those who work at the studio. Sadly, the exec then went on to say one reason for the profit was that they were able to make their shows for less money. It was like at a recent Dreamworks party to celebrate the incredible box office of SHREK 2. At the same event they mentioned that layoffs would soon be happening. No wonder studio morale continues to lower when execs brag about profits and immediately plead poverty to their staff.
August 5, 2004
When talking with a friend about the next (and last) STAR WARS film, I joked how excited the fans got when they announced the title. I thought it was funny since most of the fans complain about the actual films. He stated that the problem was the fans were too fussy. "True, the movies are not very good", but they're still STAR WARS. I doubt most animation followers would share that concept and support animated films that "are not very good" just because they're animated.
August 4, 2004
The person accused of molesting a child while performing as Tigger at Walt Disney World was acquited today by a jury in Florida. The jury took around an hour to come to their verdict. The performer, a native of England, stated it was a sign that the justice system in the U.S. worked. Disney, who treats their star animators so callously, has not commented if the performer will be allowed to work in the Park, or in costume again. I guess some justice is better than none.
August 3, 2004
Have added some new animation goodies to the sales page. Thanks to recent house-cleaining, I hope to put a whole bunch of stuff on in during the month of August.
August 2, 2004
After several requests, I have decided to add my apa writings to the blog section. You can now check out my animated comments previously found only in Apatoons.
August 1, 2004
Another attempt to get into a more regular rhythm. No time to do regular additions to Frames of Time, but at least I can try to add a small comment each day. I will continue to add to Frames, interviews in How To Create animation, sale items and other sections. Just a bit more slowly.
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