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The Daily Bark: December 2004
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December 31, 2004
2004 is ending. I don't think I'll be staying up until midnight. I haven't done that for many years. I didn't even do it for y2k. Part of that is because I usually spend the night at home. I don't wish to become a statistic for all the wild drivers. The other factor is that I take it for granted that the new year will arrive. When I gave this reason to a friend, he asked, "but what if the new year doesn't arrive?" I told him that is something I do not think I would want to see. So hopefully there will be a 2005. And hopefully folks will drop by to take a look at my next batch of photos.

December 30, 2004
Put up a frame in the blogs section regarding the Old Toll Pack. Hope to use some of the holiday weekend to do some more updates, and maybe even add some new pages. Looks like little chance of slowing down as we race towards 2005. Huh. Remember when y2k was a big issue? Then it was reaching 2001. Now the years are slipping by as effortlessly as any in the past century. Time doesn't 'march' along... it charges!

December 29, 2004
Nobility in politics. Last November, the race for president was very close. When the election was declared 'over', the Republican was declared the winner. A number of folks thought the Democrats should fight the decision in court. However, the Democrat stated that he did not want to put the country through such a battle and opted to concede. Politicians of all manner cheered the decision. Democrats and Republicans alike called the Democrat's decision truely noble. Now, a similarly close race has ended in the state of Washington. However, this time the official winner is the Democrat. The Republicans are showing their nobility by threatening to fight the decision in the courts. The Republican has even stated the election should be held again! There is a lesson here. Democrats are noble. Republicans are not. Another lesson: Next time the Democrats should fight tooth and nail as they had promised to do in the first place. Politics. Bleh!

December 28, 2004
It's been a wet day and a wetter night. The storm brought a ton of rain... of which I had to walk to from the train station this morning. Streets had as much as three inches of water running in them. The afternoon showed some let up. But as this is being typed near midnight, the wind is howling (and knocking around the trash cans) and water is falling in huge drops. So much for the drought we were told about.

December 27, 2004
Another frame has been added to the 'frames of time' in the blog section. My original goal for 2004 was to do a frame every day. I hoped to create a daily photo album talking about images from my life. With today's entry I reached 91 entries. Topics have ranged from my times with the Three Stooges, to work at Disneyland, to appearing in costumes, to my creative endeavors, to life in the animation business, to events large and small in my home life. I have 92 already done, and will put it up later this week. That's only around one every four days. Guess it's better than once a week. Constant lack of writing time seemed to doom the project early. So I switched to these barks. (Even though smaller in size, it can be still be tough to find the time and topic each day.) I moved the frames over to the blogs section where I will continue to add to them as time permits. After all, I have hundreds of photos featuring friends, jobs, family, travels, celebrities and history. Drop in when you have time.

December 26, 2004
Christmas comes... and Christmas goes. I have seen many. Most have been very fine for the obvious reasons - time with family, friends and presents. There were years when it seemed the gifts were most important. Then there were years, like when I worked them at Disneyland, when having friends around was so important. Later there were the special ones when our family, much seperated by distance, got together. Of course there were also lonely ones. Sometimes it helped when friends included me in their family events. Sometimes it did not. Since Rachel bought her first Christmas gift for me, the day has grown special anew. I proposed to her on Christmas, and she said yes. Another wonderful gift. Since then, our Christmases have been lively, quiet, joyous, worried and busy. This Christmas, she surprised me with a brass carousel ring. From the studio I recieved a four day weekend. The combination has made for a very pleasant time of shopping, Disneyland, games, play with the kids and just being together. It is nice to know that Christmas can be a wonderful time no matter how many one has experienced.

December 25, 2004
ho ho ho...
A new frames of time and animation chat in the blog section. Cheers!

December 24, 2004
Christmas eve. Do I hear reindeer? One of the things about the holidays is that all the channels start pulling out their holiday specials, movies and TV episodes. Watching the original Grinch, Charlie Brown, Magoo and Rudolph still bring a lump to my throat. Watching some of the new ones brings a groan. (Just saw one that was 'rappin' animated special which left me wondering HOW did anyone sell that idea!) Most of all, I am left with the question of how can kids still believe in Santa Claus? So many movies and TV episodes seem to make jokes about when they 'found out' that there was no Santa Claus. The punchline is usually the discovery that a friend still believes there is one. How can a kid not come to the conclusion that there is no Santa Claus. That's sad. I guess one reason I enjoyed the early Harry Potter books and films is that it seemed to instill in kids that there is the possibility that magic can exist. I think that is good. Without some belief in magic life can be very cold and sad. I just wonder why so many adults feel it is necessary to make fun of such beliefs.

December 23, 2004
Character Counts. The Incredibles. The first phrase is a syndicated radio series of comments about how important character is. The second phrase is the title of the latest film from Pixar. The cgi superhero film has received rave reviews and a strong box office. However, it does not seem destined to outperform Pixar's previous FINDING NEMO and Dreamwork's blockbuster SHREK 2. I think the reason is because, as the first phrase says, character counts. Though I have heard lots of comments about The Incredibles movie, I have not heard many of the characters discussed seperately. With NEMO, SHREK and even TOY STORY there was lots of discussion about the characters in the film - Nemo, Dorie, Shrek, Donkey, Puss, Buzz, Woody, etc. I remember while working on AN AMERICAN TAIL, Don Bluth worried that the name Feivel was too difficult for kids and convinced Spielberg to give the mouse a nickname, "Phillie". To everyone's surprise, after the film was released kids ran around calling "Feivel". Most didn't even remember the nickname. It was because the film brought a character to life that became bigger than just the story. The Incredibles is probably a great movie... but without great characters it won't raise any higher than admiration from film makers. That of course isn't bad... but it isn't blockbuster.
Oh. Added a new 'frames' in the blog section.

December 22, 2004
Three days until Christmas, and I am fortunate to have the rest of the week off. Four whole days. Of course one day will be filled with chores. One will be a fun day at Disneyland. That still leaves two to kick around the house and relax. Only sour 'note' is that there is now a prediction of wet weather (and possibly white weather) on Sunday. Oh well. Will be a good excuse to stay inside and fiddle around. Probably look through some boxes, do some writing and just play games. I think it is key that people take time to 'fiddle'. Too many folks book their days off like they book a day at the office. Plans, trips, events, etc. simply make the time fly without the fun.

December 21, 2004
The shortest day of the year, in what seems to have been one of the longest years in politics. Here it is only days from Christmas and votes are still being counted and 'discounted'. The governor's race in Washington (AC, not DC), has now come down to less than a dozen votes. Both sides are watching closely with lawyers waiting. A mayor's race in San Diego is seperated by only a few hundred, and again lawyers are watching. The presidential race was won by only a few thousand votes. But this race, the biggest of them all, was left to stand on some fairly shaky numbers. 2004 will certainly go down as the year that proved every vote counts, when counted. It will also go down as the year private organizations had more influence than the political parties thanks to their ability to run scandalous ads. At least we don't have to worry about it until 2007... I hope.

December 20, 2004
Sometimes I wonder if instead of "christmas" this time of year should be called 'kiss-ass'. Every year folks race around buying gifts for people they think they SHOULD buy gifts for. Office associates. Distant relatives. Mates of friends. It is all done in the tradition of appearing generous and friendly. And many of those who receive these gifts will actually think little of them. If anything, you can expect the equally obligated 'thank you'. I will admit to having been as guilty as others in years past. While I gladly join into a few limited 'gift exchanges' (groups) and 'adopted families' (needy), I often felt coerced into other gifts and thus spent time and money seeking out things for people I knew little about in an effort to 'look good'. Not this year. I did not spend hours looking for trinkets for everyone I come into contact with on a daily basis. Instead, I have gotten gifts for folks when I saw something I thought they would like. Just as I got few 'thank yous' last year, I doubt many will wonder where their 'prize' is this year. I have gone back to the adage, 'it is the thought that counts'. And I want my thoughts to count. Let me say, I wish everyone a joyous and happy holiday season. Just don't expect me to support the 'season's greedings' atmosphere.

December 19, 2004
Texas Tradition. When we first moved to Texas, back in the 1960s, we found many a new tradition amongst the Texans. One was the tradition of eating black-eyed peas at New Years. It was to bring good luck in the upcoming year. Since then, I have found many a family around the country that follows this tradition. The most unusual Texas tradition was the drinking of hot Dr. Pepper during the holidays. As the many ads reminded us, Dr. Pepper tasted great 'hot'. The ads showed families sitting around a fire with mugs of hot Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper was produced in Texas, so it was natural that the firm would want to increase sales amongst the locals. After a few years of seeing the ads, we finally tried it. The fruity nature gave it an apple cider-ish flavor. While shopping today, those ads flashed back into my head. I picked up a six pack of Dr. Pepper. Tonight, I fixed some hot Dr. Pepper for Rachel and I. At first she was doubtful, but after a few sips, she found she liked it. I do not know if they still advertise the concept in Texas, but in the San Bernardino Mountains folks are 'warming up' to hot Dr. Pepper.

December 18, 2004
Shooting stars. Seems that lately I have been seeing more and more. Almost every night for the last few weeks, while driving up the mountain, I have seen one. At least one looked large enough to possibly 'land' with some force. But have not heard of any doing so. Supposedly, this weekend we are in for a big meteor shower. Wonder if I'll see any. As mentioned earlier, living in the mountains we see a lot more stars and moon at night. Guess it is because we are closer to them. Or perhaps they just like us.

December 17, 2004
Animation has many venues these days. Key is the direct-to-video market. So much product, so little time. And sometimes, so little quality. Recently saw the direct-to-video animated sequel KANGAROO JACK: G'DAY USA. It was breezy and silly... but also nicely designed and directed. Next saw MICKEY'S TWICE UPON A CHRISTMAS with the cgi Mickey, Donald and company. Flat stories, though the last one with Pluto and the reindeer was cute, but the cgi makes Mickey and gang look really creepy. Equally creepy was the new Popeye special (POPEYE'S VOYAGE: THE QUEST FOR PAPPY) that aired tonight on TV. Originally a direct-to-video project, it managed to make the lame King Features shorts look classy. Guess one out of three isn't bad.

December 16, 2004
Attempted to read "People of the Wolf", an early entry in a book series by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear. The series, ala Jean Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear", follows the adventures of early cultures. Auel's books are too long and slow for me. However, Rachel loves them. The Gear's tales are not only equally slow and wordy, but excessively bloody. After several chapters I gave up. I have switched over to Jack London's "Call of the Wild". At the second chapter, the story is brisk and intense. No wonder this book is called a classic and has survived almost a century. There are times one I like to curl up with a book overflowing with descriptions of every character, location and item. Just as I can be in the mood to watch a long, epic movie. But for the most part, I enjoy books that are lively. No wonder I often prefer the 65-minute b-movies of old to the 3-plus hour 'blockbusters' of today.

December 15, 2004
I bumped into animation personality Jerry Beck at the studio today. Jerry and I go back over two decades. He mentioned he read this site every so often because, "somebody should." Jerry was joking (he's a historian, not a humorist), but it made me think about why folks do websites. Some use sites to promote themselves. Some use sites to make money. Some sites are journals or opinion pieces or lists of links to other sites. All these sites work hard to get 'traffic'. Unlike those sites, this one is really just 'for me'. I see it as a digital scrapbook, or photo album. It is here for me to record points in my life, and to share them. This site is not promoted nor intended as promotion. I was actually surprised when this site recently reached over 10,000 hits. I hope those who drop by enjoy what they see and read. As long as my life continues, I'll keep making this digital documentary. Hope to see you again.

December 14, 2004
Gad. Ten days to Christmas. Have got to get the holiday packages shipped tomorrow. Will use priority mail and probably fedex to make sure everything gets there in time. Once that is done, all the 'duties' are done and we can relax. One thing that will keep the holidays from being totally normal is our girls going into heat. Means we'll have to be more wary of the boys and not be making any major trips. Not that we were planning much this year. Hopefully we'll still be able to do Disneyland on Christmas Day. Haven't done that in quite a while. Not even sure we have done it since I proposed to Rachel on the Carousel.

December 13, 2004
Ho! Ho! Ho-hum. Tonight was the annual studio pot luck and tree trimming party. In years past the lobby was full of folks enjoying the food, placing ornaments, music playing and a general feel of goodwill as our president, dressed as Santa, handed out the studio gift. This year, sign-ups for the pot luck were sparse. As the event started only a few folks were milling about the lobby. As the hour rolled on, the crowd never increased. It was only recycled with an occasional new face as an old one, filled with food and with gift left. I made an appearance as the party pony. I danced, shook hands, took pictures with Santa and more. I also found the crowd to be un-merry. A few found Santa and the Pony amusing, but the majority just wanted to get the gift and get home. All folks could discuss was things they had to get done before the 25th. It seems this year, for some reason, Christmas seems to be something to put up with. Not me. I still had a good time. I always do when in the pony. As Charlie Brown might say, "I won't let them spoil my Christmas."

December 12, 2004
A very busy weekend. Picked up the 'barf' order for the kids. Did final wrapping and packing for the holidays. Worked upstairs doing my switch. Tended the kids, who are in various stages of 'kennel cough'. Helped Rachel, who has a touch of a bug. Loaded up the van early with packages to hopefully ship Monday. *whew* Even found time to watch a few videos including the animated sequel to KANGAROO JACK. (Okay story, nice character designs and posing.) Also fired up our new Nintendo 64 (a replacement) and got back into Pokemon Puzzle. One of the most fun games ever. Will now do some studio catch-up work. A computer crash last week put me behind... and I'm facing a week full of 'celebration' around the studio that will mostly eat up time. Sunny weather kept the holiday sunny. "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown."

December 11, 2004
While walking across an industrial area parking lot, I did a quick jog to get out of the way of a lady making a u-turn. She said I didn't need to rush, as she was not in a hurry. "But it's the holidays," I replied, "everyone is in a hurry." She stated she was not because she had finished all he shopping months ago. I told her she was lucky. "No," she answered, "just smart." She laughed and then added, "I wouldn't want to go to any of those malls. All the women are so aggressive. Don't believe anything you've heard. At this time of year, women are the most dangerous creatures on the planet!" She then laughed heartily and drove slowly away. I am not sure such a statement is true... but 'shoppers' are definitely a species to be wary of.
Oh... and added a new frame tonight in the blogs section.

December 10, 2004
How full the moon. Living in the mountains, we are far from 'light pollution'. Even after over 10 years of having the house, I am still amazed at the amount of light the sky provides. When the moon is full, it casts shadows. When the moon is only a quarter, there is enough light to still see the entire moon. The constellations literally beam. It makes me realize how early man could have still travelled and worked in the night. It also makes me realize how lucky it is to be so far out from the crowds and lights of 'civilization'.

December 9, 2004
Had a booth at this year's studio craft fair. People bought cigar boxes decorated with stickers. People bought potpourri bags designed like feces. People bought home made buttons. People bought home made cookies. No one bought a copy of Floyd Norman's FASTER! CHEAPER! But you can! Click a here and purchase your copy today. Orders received before December 12th can still be delivered in time for Christmas!

December 8, 2004
Must be holiday time. While walking to the train tonight I was almost hit in a crosswalk by a police car. They weren't rushing to a crime, simply in a hurry. The car screeched to a stop and the two policemen waved and smiled at me. A block later, I was almost hit when a postal vehicle came racing out the post office parking lot. Meanwhile, as I continued to walk, I could hear the squeel of tires, the screeching of brakes, and the honkings of horns. If Gershwin were still alive, he could compose a new concert piece based on the sounds on the road at this time of year - "An American in Panic". And panic is the right word. Even I am starting to get that nervous sensation as I see days melt away and me needing to finish up shopping, wrapping, shipping so my friends and loved ones can get a thought from me before Christmas. However, I won't be doing any rushing in my car.

December 7, 2004
Fear. Recently chatted with someone online. Found they could not receive mail from friends on the internet. Their parents are sure that anyone met through the internet is most likely a sexual predator. My stepdaughter had been so trained in school to fear strangers she did not want to ride in the car with my parents the first time they visited. I know that the world today has many dangers. I believe that being aware and careful is wise. However, I think using headlines of crime as a basis to teach our youngsters to fear others is wrong. When we train our children to fear people who are different, to fear people they don't know, a dangerous side effect is the teaching of bigotry. In SOUTH PACIFIC, when a character wonders why Americans are born to distrust other races, lyricist Oscar Hammerstein has the character reply that people are not born to hate, but that "They have to be carefully taught." I wish parents, schools and social groups spent as much time teaching children about love, respect and freedom as they do about fearing people and things they do not know or understand.

December 6, 2004
At Disneyland over the weekend, we got to see some real 'pinheads' as pin collectors rushed to pick up the latest releases. These releases included a "12 Days of Christmas" set with Disney characters illustrating the lyrics. They also included a Star Wars one - "Silent Night, Jedi Knight" with a lame illo of Yoda. Once again, Disney has created a collectible that draws enormous crowds and speculators. They even have 'pen events' which can cost up to $800 per person. For that money you get to spend the night at a Disney hotel, chat with other collectors, and get the chance to purchase special release pins for the event. These special pins can run from $20-50 each! A whole lot of fuss for such a small item. Still... some are pretty neat looking. Loved the new Kwanzaa pin with Chip and Dale in native African attire.

December 5, 2004
As I type this, Rachel sleeps. I am recording a TV movie she wants to watch tomorrow. It is called FIVE PEOPLE WE MEET IN HEAVEN. The story reminds me of an old TWILIGHT ZONE episode in which a poetry professor wonders if his life has been of value when he is visited by ghosts of students past. Both tales deal with the concept of the worth of a life. Oddly, a few days ago a friend wrote about how so many great entertainers have been forgotten by today's audience. He said it reminded him of the great rules of the world, like Pharoahs and Kings who built monuments to be remembered. The pyramids and castles are still around, while those who built them are largely forgotten. There are even folks who don't realize Disneyland is named after a real person. George Pal's THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO also tackled the subject. His was bit less uplifting at times, but no less accurate. What will we remember about what we did yesterday? What will others remember about what we did?

December 4, 2004
Saw two things today. First, walked down to 'downtown' Blue Jay for the annual Christmas parade. The parade is usually 2-3 times longer than the length of the street that IS Blue Jay. It mostly consists of cars with local dignitaries and marching bands. Not quite the Rose Parade, but it is local and it is fun. Sadly, the weather began turning dark and cold midway through. The next new thing was finally sitting and watching THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Have had the film on tape for years, but never cracked the seal. Discovered it while searching for holiday gifts. After watching it, I can see where all the stuff in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Christmas comes from. I cannot see why the film has acheived such popularity. It is a funny idea. It has fantastic character designs. It also has a pace slower than the Blue Jay parade, which is not helped by the long, operatic-style songs. Its one Christmas film I won't be making an annual event.

December 3, 2004
Last night they showed RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, Rankin-Bass's classic 1964 animated special. It is still one of the best. I remember watching it when it debuted 40 years ago. In fact the 1960s was the golden era of animated Christmas specials. You have A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, with its fresh approach that the holiday could be depressing to some and an honest attempt to remind folks of the "real meaning" of Christmas. MR. MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL is simply one of the best telling of Dicken's oft-told tale and a topnotch musical to boot! Finally there is HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS the best Seuss adaptation ever, with Boris Karloff's great narration. Each of these specials can still bring a tear to my eye. They have a clarity, an honesty, a sincerity that comes from their being made to entertain, to charm and to bring joy to the season. Later specials from Alvin to Ziggy tried to copy the sentiment but are tied more to commercialism and are about as far from the "real meaning" of Christmas as one can get. "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown."

December 2, 2004
Heard the FBI and local police are increasing their terror watch by keeping an eye on such possible dangers as liberal political groups, animal rights groups and environmentalists. Great. Now we won't have to worry about those animal rights groups releasing lab animals. That will keep us safe from those WMDs (weapons of mice destruction). Also the police will know when and where those tree-sitters will strike next. Can't imagine anything more frightening than my neighborhood full of folks sitting in trees. Finally, by keeping an eye on liberal political groups the right wing groups can operate with less interference. Those responsible for things from the Oklahoma bombing to the Waco incident might even qualify as 'faith based' organizations. The land of the free now has a duty to keep an eye on all those blue states. Kind of ironic. In the 1950s and 1960s the cry of the right was "better dead than red". I think red fits today's right pretty well.

December 1, 2004
December is here. Christmas is now very close. Less time to get gifts, see friends and prep for the holidays. Had a nice lunch with a friend today and chatted over the times between our last lunch, sadly almost four months. We were both glad to find each other still employed. We are both fortunate to be working on very successful series, though on competing networks. We also discussed where various associates had landed, and wondered about many who we had lost contact with. Back at work, my computer was finally up and operating, though in a limited mode. My first thoughts were sending out some emails to folks I hadn't heard from in awhile. Despite all the ways to communicate, at times it seems we do it less.

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