Daily Barks 11.04
The Daily Bark: November 2004
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November 30, 2004
Death of computer. My computer crashed at work today. After four hours, with the help of our top notch computer folks, we were able to save all my data. However, it has put me at least a day behind. It reminded me how dependent we are on computers. While the computer folks worked, I spent around an hour filing. When done, I discovered I could do very little without my computer. Could not look up facts and dates. Could not update reports. Could not read or respond to emails. It was almost as if I wasn't even in the office.
November 29, 2004
The holidays are among us. The temperature is verrrry cold, below 20 degrees. But I'm feeling pretty warm inside. Have already been gathering things to share with others. Rachel has helped with her cafe press store making some nifty items featuring our kids. Am hoping to be complete early enough the make shipping items easy. However, once Thanksgiving passes, the post offices are continually crowded. But again, I seem to be very much in the holiday mode. It's a nice feeling. Hope it lasts at least through the new year.
November 28, 2004
Took some time, thanks to Netflix, to watch some episodes of the original OUTER LIMITS. As the episodes played , I could actually remember seeing them as they debuted the first time on TV. A classic in sci-fi TV, I was dissappointed how the series did not hold up well. The episodes worked best as story ideas. The actual execution was slow and talky. Still got a few 'chills' remembering the sensation when they were new. The monster breaking through the tv screen. The cloud that killed people. The transformation from human to alien. Yep, all neat ideas. But unlike the TWILIGHT ZONE, the hour length and focus on true science fiction made the episodes slow and dated. I know that as we mature, we can see the flaws in things that surprised us in our youth. Yes, a lot of the movies, tv shows and comics I loved as a kid now seem lame. That makes it even more amazing when I see a movie or show from that time that still holds up so well. Or at least as well as I'm holding up.
November 27, 2004
A quiet day allows me to catch up a bit here. Have added several items to the "one of a kind" sales area from Chuck Jones and Walt Disney to SOUTH PARK and FRANKENSTEIN JR. Also was able to get some new frames together. They can be gotten to from the blog section. Should be a new one every couple of days for a while. Also did more sorting in the upstairs, a virtual tomb of materials which would help folks better understand me and even Rachel. Now the weather is shifting, and we are told there may be more snow tonight. Ugh. For a winter that was supposed to be drier (as per weather folks back in Summer), and with little snow (as per weather folks back in September), it seems to have been a bad a year for predicting weather. In THE MUSIC MAN, when the local weather man explains the difficulty in predicting weather the local newspaper editor says (not an exact quote) "I wouldn't be in the newspaper business long being right 50% of the time". Buy some of my new stuff and we'll both have a brighter holiday!
November 26, 2004
Barnarby Bucks Bottom Out! At the recent Halloween costume contest, Rachel won $25 worth of "Barnaby Bucks". Barnaby Bear is a mascot creation of the Lake Arrowhead Village Resort. They had a costume made and multiple wood sculptures. I thought it always odd that Lake Arrowhead would chose a bear as a mascot, when they are always trying to distance themselves from the resort up the mountain, Big Bear Lake. But a bear it was. The "Barnarby Bucks" were announced to be good anywhere in the Village. Today I tried to redeem the 'bucks' and found few takes. Most of the folks working in the shops were not familiar with them. I finally found one store that would let my bucks stop there. The shopkeeper explained that she thought "Barnaby Bucks" were no longer in use. She also wondered what had happened to the bear as a promotion tool. (She joked that merchants and security wondered if he the bear had drowned in the lake.) While it was frustrating to find a place to spend my bucks, it was a sad that Barnaby has joined the list of forgotten characters. Not that he was much to remember in the first place.
November 25, 2004
Another day of pin trading at Disneyland. More characters and more surprises. Then topped the day off with watching LOONEY TUNES BACK IN ACTION. ugh. Did not expect much. Also did not expect such a carbon copy of entertainment. Most of the film kept aping WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. The industry jokes seemed to come from an episode of TINY TOON ADVENTURES. It was one of those frustrating films that I kept expecting to get so bad that I would turn it off without finishing it, yet never getting good enough to 'surprise' me. One surprise was how much better the original ending was (seen in the special features section) than the one that they used. Also, Brendan Fraser once again showed he can rise above lame humor. He can't always save it, but he canmake it better than it deserves. Also enjoyed Wile E Coyote. Came off true to his origins. Still, what a dud! However, Rachel and I agreed it was 'better' than GARFIELD or THE GRINCH. Not high praise... but at least not a total damnation. Ironically the film was produced to help re-popularize the Warner characters, but instead helped bury them.
November 24, 2004
Dropped by Walmart to pick up the new Harry Potter dvd. Was surprised to find it already full of folks getting ready for Christmas. Aisles were overstocked with boxes and merchandise for their big 'after Thanksgiving' sale. People were pushing through the aisles trying to fill their carts. One of the Walmart employees was telling a group of employees about last year's after Thanksgiving sale, and how various shoppers got into fights with other shoppers over sale items. Thanksgiving. I guess we should be thankful the sales (and madness) doesn't start tomorrow.
November 23, 2004
Spent some time tonight watching a dvd of old Tom and Jerry cartoons. Not the cat and mouse, but the two humans done in the early 1930s. I wrote an article on the films back in the 1970s. It was possibly the first piece to discuss the pair. I hadn't seen one of their cartoons in probably 20 years, but found a dvd of their films at the 99-cent Store. What fun! Unlike modern animation, there are no story arcs or character studies found here. These cartoons are from an era when funny things just happened for no real reason except that they were funny. I actually laughed out loud at several shorts and gags. I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud at a modern cartoon. Whether they were piano tuners have trouble with a 'bad' note, firemen saving a pretty lady, cowboys fighting out West, running a diner, or hiding out in Africa, these goofy shorts may not be great animation, but they never fall short of fresh, funny, wild ideas and gags.
November 22, 2004
Another day of shoveling snow. With the help of the plows, who love to pile snow onto vehicles, I had to stay home to dig out my van. The white stuff kept coming down, but at a slower pace than Sunday. Made a quick run for groceries and found the roads super dangerous. Vehicles were strewn on the sides everywhere. Even though the road looked smooth, it was actually coated by almost 10 inches of packed snow. You discovered this when you found tire ruts or 'pot holes' in the snow. The five-minute trip took almost 20 minutes. Once I got home, I read on the web where Caltrans and the Highway Patrol were recommending not to drive on the roads! Well, at least I got home safe. By the end of the day, I am sore from finger to toe from the constant shoveling. Hope the roads are better tomorrow... and safer.
November 21, 2004
Gronk. Midnight a winter storm hit that was not on any weather systems forecasts. What was to have been a sunny, cool day turned into one in which around 3 feet of snow dropped... and is still dropping. My day has been spent shoveling snow. Taking a break. Shoveling snow. Taking a break. Repeat. The snow is coming down so constant, that within two hours, I need to re-shovel all the areas I had already done. Then I can move on to new areas. By 5pm I finally dug out the van. Though there is around 2 feet of snow on top of it. Got my chains on and called it a day. Tomorrow I will need to re-dig out around the vehicle. If the county plows don't bury it, I will probably get out around 10am. The weather systems are saying we will have two weeks of sunny weather. I hope they are right this time. Am now achy and very sleepy. Did manage to get a new Frames written. It's in the blog section.
November 20, 2004
Another day at Disneyland. Another amazing number of costume characters. Saw over 30 different suits including some first sightings for me. The new ones included Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Stitch and Wendy. Actually noticed that several characters have new costumes including Captain Hook and Gideon. Also noted a growing number of face costumes (Peter Pan, Wendy, Mary Poppins, Belle, etc.). Also noted that it seemed every costume had its own handler to watch the crowd and character. And the crowds were back. Seemed very busy. Except at California Adventure. You could shoot off a canno down some of those streets and not hit anything. Did discover the Mission tortilla factory tour. Kind of interesting - especially how the invasion of Mexico by Europe is brushed over like a visit from Grandma. At the end of the tour you get a sample tortilla. It was fresh and delicious! Oddly went on only three rides: the carousels and the Mark Twain. Spent the time wandering around trading and talking pins. A nice day.
November 19, 2004
Every so often there is talk of the day when humans are micro-chipped. This chip would contain all your information. I do not look forward to such an Orwellian future (which seems much closer with our current administration). However, I would not mind a card that had all my info. Especially certain info. For example, I had to take my van in for its regular scheduled service. I might have had the service done when the van's fuel pump went out a few weeks ago. Sadly I could not. The fuel pump was done at my local Chevy dealer. They had no records of my van's service, which is usually done by the Chevy dealer near work. Because my local had no records, they thought I might need every single thing done, running thousands of dollars. Ended up going to my work dealer. The service will be around $200. Still, my work dealer was worried that they had 'no record' of my new fuel pump. Why can't Chevy have a service database for the entire country. They could use my 'vin' number to track my vehicle and see when and where things were done and fixed. Now THAT would be a boon to mankind! It would even help car dealers know the history of a vehicle's service when it came time to trade it in.
November 18, 2004
Have been using my train commute of late to go through the entertaining two volume set "Keep Watching the Skies" by Bill Warren. The books are Bill's description and comments on scifi films of the fifties and early sixties. Though a majority of the films sound lame, each seems to have at least one intriguing moment or idea. Most of these films haven't been easily available in years due to their lack of color and major studio behind them. There are a few in public domain video piles, but most are almost impossible to see. It reminds me of the thousands of black and white films rotting in studio vaults because they lack a big star or "classic" status. Though some small firms market these films, I really don't want to buy them. I just want to see them again. Sure wish there was a rental firm or cable channel dedicated to black and white b-movies.
November 17, 2004
My latest series debuts this Friday. I am pretty proud of the series. The show has been getting good 'buzz' in the press. Test groups really liked it. I think the show is visually unique and stylish. Though not laugh-out loud funny, it is amusing and clever. I hope it succeeds. I know all to well that quality does not always translate into ratings. I have been less involved with the actual production on this series than on most of my productions. However, my duties on the series have grown almost daily. I know if the show succeeds, many folks will be congratulated. If the show faulters, I will be one of the few that fingers will be pointed towards. It is part of the job. At least when the show is good, as this one is, I am willing to accept that chance... and even take the lumps. Almost all shows of quality eventually find their audience. When they find this show, I will be proud my name is on it.
November 16, 2004
Nothing too new to report. Did some tweeking on this page. Think it looks a bit snappier. Hope to put together some new "frames of time" soon. I have some really great pictures. I would also like to add a links page and one or two others based on my interests. Problem is always lack of free time and access. Currently much of my time is being absorbed by a writing project. It is keeping me from thinking too creative. Also, my desire to put together new pages is often hampered by the inability to do lots of scanning. Oh well. Will just keep tinkering and building slowly. Hope I last... and hope folks keep dropping in.
November 15, 2004
Finally got around to reading the Joe Besser autobio, "Not Just A Stooge." I knew Joe Besser for a number of years, and visited with him frequently. Sadly, Joe's lively storytelling style did not seem to transfer well to the typed page. The tone matched my recollections of Joe - satisfied with life in general but tinged with a bitterness about how his career faded in later years. Most disappointing was the lack of "show biz stories". The book just seems to be a "and then I worked with..." tally of his stage film and TV appearances. In fact, a number or his remembrances about specific performances come from ones that I and two friends, Greg and Jeff Lenburg, supplied Joe via film or tape. Greg & Jeff co-authored the book with Joe. The only mention of me in the book is as "a friend" who drove Greg & Jeff to their first meeting with Joe. As Mike Wazowski might say, "I don't believe it... I'm in a book!"
November 14, 2004
Every so often, a so-so tv show or movie can be lifted into the "bearable" range by a single character. That is the case with Comedy Central's DRAWN TOGETHER. This animated reality show features cartoon characters from various, uh... "lands"? There is a Betty Boop-type, a Disney princess-type, an action hero-type, a videogame-tape, etc. The characters and situations are probably about as real as most reality shows. However, the show tries way too hard to be funny. It strains any humor out of the concept. Almost. Ling Ling is a little, orange Pokemon Picachu-type critter. He is angry. He speaks almost totally in Japanese. He is stuck doing dishes. He is forced into cheap labor. And along with all that, he is REALLY funny. His tiny, tirades are about the only thing that makes me keep catching the show. Just heard that the series was picked up for a second season. Good for Ling Ling.
November 13, 2004
Spent some time today looking through my development files. Had totally forgotten I'd done some story pitches for CHIP AND DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS and CAMP CANDY. I knew I had done several for TAIL SPIN and DUCK TALES. In fact, the story editors for DUCK TALES called me to state how they loved my story. They stated they had thought every possible storyline had been done "to death" on the series, but that mine was fresh and funny. Sadly, they had already finished their final script for the series. Oh well. Though I've sold some stories to such series as MIGHTY MAX and DEXTER'S LAB, I do wish I could get more of my stories on the air. I remember how at two different studios I was hired for writing only to become overburdened with production duties. (That caused me to leave one studio for a writing job at another.) However, as Don Bluth once told me, there are lots of folks who can write, and they can be taught to work in animation... but there are very few who truly know how to produce animation. Seems to be somewhat true as at least have of my productions and job offers have come about because of my rep as being someone who can handle even the most difficult production. But like the comedian who wants "to act", I am still a producer who wishes to write.
November 12, 2004
Saw GARFIELD the movie thanks to Netflix. The movie managed to surprise me. After seeing lame trailers, dull tv spots and numerous pans from the critics, the movie was STILL worse than I thought. A so-so storyline is totally sabotaged by flat writing, poor casting and wrong direction. Why call it "Garfield"? Jon was not the lovable idiot from the strips. Liz was not the smart-aleck seen in the strips. Odie was not totally dumb. Even Garfield was not "Garfield". Oh sure, he spouted cliche's from Davis comic strip like a 2nd rate imposter thinks he imitates Groucho Marx by repeating lines from movies. This cast of characters is so uninteresting, so unconnected with each other that, as Rachel commented, if a serial killer had suddenly appeared at the end and shot one of them, no one would have cared. It is hard to imagine a duller movie based on a comic strip so successfully adapted to other media (animation, books, etc.). Even the 2nd rate GOOD BOY managed to get a few laughs in!
November 11, 2004
During our recent visit to Disneyland, we rode the Jungle Cruise. It means a bit more to me than some since I was once a "cruiser". Our driver was fun, but I noticed there was less pre-trip banter. Also noticed the boats no longer have the seat cushions! No more, "Please slide along the seat covers. It's how we clean them." Or "Now if you will all just sit down on your big, fat, overstuffed... seat cushions." Or "Make sure don't sit on a (whatever color the cushions were) cushion... that color attract gorillas."
November 10, 2004
Too sleepy to do much. Tomorrow, Veteran's Day, is also Roku's birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. Woo!
November 9, 2004
The time is around 4:15am. I am driving down the mountain road. It is foggy. It is cold, around 40 degrees. Suddenly, the engine dies. I try to coast a bit, but find very little control in the steering or braking. I finally come to rest in one of the turn offs. My cel phone is not able to get a signal. Luckily, the turn off has a call box. I stand out in the pitch black and call for AAA. Then I sit in the van for over half an hour. The mountain road is totally dark. The clouds block the moon and stars. The emergency flashers are going, displaying a rhythmic pulse of orange. I sit there as all sorts of scenarios race through my mind. What if the tow truck doesn't come. What if something... "happens". I have heard more of my share of tales about people who simply disappear on dark roads. Occasionally a car drives down or up the road. I sometimes wonder if the car coming up might be the same one that just went down. Perhaps checking to see if the van is abandoned. The tow truck does finally come. An hour later I'm at the dealership. Luckily there are blankets for the kids. They keep me warm while I wait some more. Hours later at work I hear it is a broken fuel pump. Repairs and rental car cost a lot. But I am safe. I am also reminded of many current life situations. Work makes things no easier. At least the van will be ready tomorrow morning. Another day of driving into the studio and back on Wednesday.
November 8, 2004
Many things on my mind tonight. Finally locating "Finding Nemo" cereal... And Puss in Boots on "Shrek" cereal. Pictures of party to parents. Making doctor's appointment. Monday disasters at work. Winter weather worries. Joe Besser's autobiography. Needs of house. Contemplation of mortality. False statements in internet interview by ex-co-worker. Big box office of The Incredibles. Eagle's show win. Kitty litter. Charlie Chan. Marx Brothers. Further Confusion. Abbott and Costello. Christmas gifts. Time to sleep...
November 7, 2004
A party and another weekend done. Today the day was spent celebrating three birthdays. Baron turns 6, Roku turns 8, and Nikoma turns 10. Grand ages all. Even though weather was not always sunny, the birthday boys and a variety of guests all had a grand time running around, eating cake, and playing. Though it brought me joy seeing the kids having such fun, the end result is another weekend offering me little time, and even more key, little opportunity, to work on personal writing and projects. Also little time to enjoy videos or videogames. We get home, settle the kids and such. Rachel works on the computer while I catch up on household chores. By the time all is done, it is too late for me to do much more than a bark. Maybe next weekend... though already Saturday is booked with the co-op for our kids. As Gershwin would say "Maybe Sunday, maybe not."
November 6, 2004
A big day. Eagle, our first born, won BEST IN SHOW at the UKC show near Victorville. The judge went out of her way to praise what fine Dane Eagle was. Very nice. It was also an interesting location. The park was next to a closed down military based. Closed in the early 1980s, the base looked like a ghost town from the old west. Delapidated buildings with shattered windows, sunken roofs, etc. The streets were overgrown with brush and trees. Though you could drive into the base for the park, you could enter any of the streets of the former base. They were blocked off with barriers and marked with signs that the site was contaminated with toxic waste. (It had been a plant where jet fuel and other chemicals had reached the water table!) As mentioned in other posts, I am intrigued by places that have become vacated due to time, trouble or other issues. But key to the day is still Eagle's excellent showing. He and Rachel did a great job. I am proud of both.
November 5, 2004
SHREK 2 comes out on dvd. THE INCREDIBLES comes to theaters. SHREK 2 has a special satire of AMERICAN IDOL. THE INCREDIBLES has the STAR WARS trailer. Stopped at Walmart and found the SHREK 2 display almost picked clean. But still found one to purchase. Friends at the studio went to INCREDIBLES during lunch and said the theatre was packed. I'm sure SHREK 2 will break some sort of dvd sales record. I'm equally sure INCREDIBLES will break some sort of box office record. If nothing else, it will show the power, and popularity of animated features. And no matter what the reviews say, I still can't get excited about INCREDIBLES. I am sure it is well done. Guess I've outgrown superhero spoofs. I've never outgrown funny animals. Though sometimes it seems the rest of the world has. Am glad SHREK shows anthropomorphic critters can still draw a crowd. Some pun intended.
November 4, 2004
This will be my last rant about the election, or rather the media's coverage of same. The final result seems to be Bush receiving around 51% of the vote with Kerry receiving around 48%. If Kerry had been an initiative on a California ballot, the papers would probably claim Kerry was "defeated by a small margin". If Bush were a local mayor, the media might headline a "narrow victory for Bush". Three percent is a very small number. Yet today I am seeing and hearing constant reference to Bush's "decisive victory" and a new "mandate". Facts are facts. No matter what you think of Bush, the fact is that he barely won re-election. Even with the addition of millions of new voters, he held on to his job with the skin of his teeth. Far from a mandate. Very far from decisive. I would be prone to echo Mushu's comment to the cricket in MULAN - "You a lucky bug!" As for the other 48%, it will be their job to keep a close watch on that bug.
November 3, 2004
The election is finally over. For that I am glad. I am less glad about the result. The end is not a major surprise, but definitely a disappointment. Despite the current administration's disrepect of freedom, lack of judgement, ravaging of the environment, lack of economic planning, unending support for big business cronies and other shortcomings, many who still supported it. Even when confronted with actual facts, much of the public preferred the administration's controlled media output. Again, disappointment, but not surprise. After all, a majority prefers mindless "reality" shows (that are far from real), lame Hollywood blockbusters (that have neither stories nor personalities), and self-professed internet experts (whose websites do little more than spread misinformation). However, my biggest disappointment is in Kerry. Thoughout the campaign he claimed that every vote would be counted. Early this morning his running mate, John Edwards, repeated the claim. Before the noon hour, though, Kerry turned his back on some 150,000 Ohio voters that might have altered the outcome of the election. (If it had been reversed, the current administration, which had already sent a large team of lawyers to Ohio, would have demanded those votes be counted.) Some worried such a count might delay knowing the winner for two weeks. Big deal. It is ironic that Bush always claimed Kerry was a notorious "flip-flopper". In the end, Kerry was. And democracy lost.
November 2, 2004
Donde esta la ha-ha? Seems as if FATHER OF THE PRIDE is going extinct. NBC has announced it will not air the shows during November sweeps. The network also indicated the show has "not performed" as expected. Both are bad signs. On top of that, in an article about how well Dreamworks stock has been selling. Katzenburg stated that the studio would probably not do any more TV series after the unsatisfactory PRIDE. Though the show was never exciting or hilarious, it was easily as amusing as SIMPSONS. At this point only FAMILY GUY can make me laugh out loud. Guess if I want to see entire PRIDE, I'll have to wait for the dvd box set.
November 1, 2004
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