Daily Barks 12.05 cataroo.com
The Daily Bark: December 2005

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December 31, 2005
2005 comes to an end... 2006 begins. Whatever happened to 'big' years like 1976, 1984, 2000 and 2001? Now the years just pass by with little real fanfare. If the numbers didn't change, who would notice? Oh well. Happy 2006.

December 30, 2005
Tomorrow ends 2005. Quite a year. One can never really predict the future. In fact, I have recently been re-watching the first season of THE JETSONS and noticed some oddities of their future. Of course the biggest is the absence of the world wide web. In fact, I don't think any major sci-fi story pre 1970 expected such a contraption. Similarly the world of audio. Though far into the future, Judy still listens to records. My favorite oddity featured a story point about a letter. The Jetsons have flying cars, tubes to get you around the house, and tv phones (which, along with flying cars, are something always predicted but still not in general use). Yet when George needs to send a message he has to walk 'down the block' to a mail box! I guess the good side to that is the Jetsons don't have to deal with spam. Luckily, their future still contains the love of a dog, Astro. And it is amazing how Astro is such a 'typical' Great Dane in personality. His devotion to George seems a breed standard!

December 29, 2005
Added a pair of comments to the Disneyland Tail Wags & Tail Tucks. Had hoped to do a lot of revisions to the site over the holiday. But with well over half my time gone, it appears most of my ideas and plans won't be completed.
Tonight caught a few minutes of ZIXX a new series on Cartoon Network. One of the series that will bring live-action programming to the network. A network created to be the first to focus on animation. It began with the airing of live action movies, some with animated characters, like WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and others totally live, like THE GOONIES. Sadly, the powers-that-be fear the only way to catch up with the ratings that Nickelodeon gets is to broaden the programming to include live action, as Nickelodeon does. Of course the execs have said the only live-action programming they will show is live-action that "fits" on Cartoon Network. What is amusing is that while it is true that Nickelodeon has stronger ratings than Cartoon Network, the top rated shows on Nickelodeon are SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS and FAIRLY ODDPARENTS. Two animated shows. Perhaps if Cartoon Network considered more free-wheeling, well written cartoon shows like SPONGEBOB and ODDPARENTS it would be able to generate the ratings they desire. By chasing other children's networks, Cartoon Network risks losing its identity and its uniqueness. That would be very sad.

December 28, 2005
Three views from the world of film, tv and paperback. The film: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. Saw it this afternoon and was certainly impressed with the effects. And that is about it. The story is okay. I was familiar with it from earlier adaptations. (Have never been able to get through the book.) Problem is the film feels very cold. For a book filled with passions, the film has few, and in the end, has no heart at all. I would probably blame the director (formerly an animation director) for not finding a way to fill the various actors with personality, not just characteristics. The only one who rings true is Jim Broadbent as the professor. The film has been successful enough that sequels may arrive. Hopefully they will be done by directors who can bring more heart to the material. The TV: MY GYM PARTNER IS A MONKEY. Saw a 'preview' on Cartoon Network and was disappointed. I have seen several clips from the show - and they were all quite funny. However the episode used as preview was plain laughless. The stories were pretty basic, and the dialogue and timing lifeless. Hopefully they will use a stronger episode for the premiere. The book: THE ANIMATED MOVIE GUIDE. Being a reference book, it is one to browse and not read. Sadly, it failed a key test of mine. I randomly opened the book to read an entry. And it contained no less than two factual errors. One was a 'copycat error', what I call an error copied from another source. (The correct information is easily found on the internet.) This always frustrates me, because it puts entries on films I am not familiar with in doubt. The set-up is also pretty flat. Each film is given a story synposis, comments and credits. Having been written by a group of writers, the comments range from interesting to scholastic to pompous. It also has a "consumer tip". I would think a consumer tip might be if the film has been available for purchase, or if special items (a 'making of' book, etc) were at one time available. Instead, the tip for consumers is the rating of the film! I might call such info a 'parental guide' tip or even a 'content' tip, but I doubt anyone buys movies based on the ratings. Not to say I won't look at the book, but will probably find the internet faster, and at least on (now) two entries more accurate.

December 27, 2005
Our first day without Roku. Started it with a playtime amongst grandma Star, papa Eagle and his two kids, Rooster and Kele. The foursome had a grand time playing, grooming and just cuddling. It helped remind all that the family remains. I also found the day to be somewhat relieving. True, Roku's departure left a large hole in our home. However, also gone was the stress and tears of his later days. There was no worry about waking up and wondering if he had made the night. There was no wondering if he would eat. There was no wondering if he would be able to stand up. The good was gone... but so was the bad. We spent some time looking at the final pictures taken. His face was often flat, tired. He perked up for some whipped cream, but that was all. It was his time. He knew it. And I knew it. Now he is up taking care of the others who have left us. In fact, it struck me he will see some we never got to know - his kids who died too young to even open their eyes. (There were two.) I miss him very much. But I do not miss him suffering. That gives me a calm I have not always had with our kids who left.

December 26, 2005
Roku left us today. He was a most remarkable fellow. I want to talk about him... but there is too much to say. The most important thing to say is that he loved Rachel. In my half a century I have seldom seen a couple so in tune. They would think and act as one. Of course I will remember so many things about him. His 'woo-woo'. His leaning. His love of beef. His desire to hug. His love of ice cream. His howl. His love of cottage cheese. His scolding us when we stayed out too long. His love of whipped cream. His smooth movement in the ring. His 'big head'. His gentleman manners. His cottage cheese nose. His game of 'eat' my face. And much, much more. But key was his love of his wife (Star). His love of his children. His love of his grand children. Of all the folks I have ever met, he was the most family man I ever knew. And it rubbed off. Tonight it is obvious that Star and Eagle (first born son) miss him. They have a saddness, and a frustration, almost anger at his being gone - like a child whose parent is suddenly taken. All of our kids are unique in their own ways. But Roku was a true one-of-a-kind. A personality that will never be seen again, but always remembered. Tonight I opened the refrigerator and came face to face with a large, fresh cut of beef. I cried. He loved beef, and would ask for it specifically if offered. I then wondered what we'll do with the cottage cheese. Then I heard one of his catch phrases, "I love you, dad" and felt a little better for he did love me. But it was nothing like his love for Rachel. Again, the most important thing was that he loved Rachel. And, she loved him. You can see some photos and art of him at Rachel's page, www dot 6stardanes dot com.

December 25, 2005
This has certainly been, as the song says, "a hard candy christmas". Today it became evident that Roku will be leaving us. If he does not succumb tonight, he will be assisted in the morning. The tumor on his shoulder has grown and grown. He put up a good fight and attempted to keep us from seeing how much trouble and pain he was in. We call it 'pulling a Diamond' after our wonderful horse. But today, his true condition could no longer hide - trouble walking, shortness of breath, vacant eyes, dropping temperature and more. But amongst all these signs came other signs. His perking up to see his grandkids. His sudden desire for an ice cream cone. Perhaps the most amazing was tonight before dinner. Our small Christmas tree had gone 'kaput' several days ago when the lights stopped working. Checking circuits, wires and bulbs showed no reason for the darkness. We chalked it up to "cheap lights". (I think they cost $1.99.) The tree stood above one of the eating crates. Tonight, as Roku lay in this spot awaiting dinner, Rachel once again, as she had each night for days, plugged in the lights. Tonight, they came on. Even though it is now late, I have kept them burning. His love turned them back on. Perhaps he used it as a sign to tell his family, already gone, that he is on his way. Among others, he will get to see his sister Jordi, his son Keitaro and companion Baron, who also left this year. Several times during the day he has looked skyward. Roku, "mr. woo" as we often called him, has been such a major, and important, part of our lives. It will be hard going on without him. But I know it is his time. And I know that when it is my time, he will be there for me. A 'hard candy christmas' indeed. Yet even with my tears it is an oddly merry christmas, for Roku will find peace.

December 24, 2005
The night before Christmas, and all through our house... Well, actually most of us are stirring. The puppies are a bit restless, they seem to have decided "lights out" means playtime. The elders are uneasy due to Rachel being under the weather... and the rapidly decreasing health of our beloved Roku. The kitties... well, night time brings out their nocturnal needs and they race up and down the stairs bothering each other. Hmmm... wonder if that's were the pups learned their play clock. Me, well, I am working on ideas of freshening up the web page for the new year... while fighting an odd sense of dread. As mentioned previously, the health of our two oldest kids weighs heavy. This will not be our merriest Christmas. But I will work hard to keep focused on even the smallest positive aspects. I promised.

December 23, 2005
Decided to hit Disneyland a few days before Christmas. The park was super crowded, as expected. However, even the kennel was busy! As usual, our stop at California Adventure found it less crowded. Found some very keen pins, at least one that Rachel had been seeking for a long time. Biggest surprise was the test opening of the new MONSTERS, INC. attraction at California Adventure. It is a cute ride, and it was great being able to see it with only a 15 minute wait. (Only those who wandered by the entrance knew it was open.) Once it officially opens, I am sure the lines will be much longer. Biggest laugh of the day came during lunch. We were once again enjoying a sourdough bread bowl of soup in California Adventure. We were impressed by a trio of large ravens that were walking around looking for scraps. They flew off as some kids chased them. Then a pigeon came truckin' by. The bird was followed by a little girl chasing it. The pigeon finally took flight and flew off, to which the girl pouted, "Stupid chicken!" We both laughed. Not only was the wrong identity funny, but so was the tone of the girl's voice. Oh should mention, it was Rooster and Kele's first time to the park. They were well behaved kids. We were both proud. For dinner, everyone had 'stupid chicken'... but at our house they were real chickens.

December 22, 2005
The holiday countdown continues. The studio was almost empty. The train was packed. The roads were busy and crazy. The stores were crowded (but still got out fast). Home was still the same... mostly. The kids were waiting for me. Rachel had her new camera (8 megapixels for work on her cafepress materials). The adult kids were glad to see me, mostly because my homecoming means dinner is soon. When I come home early, it really confuses them. The little ones are getting more rambunctious... hope it means they are good and healthy. Roku was less interested in food tonight. *sigh* Well, the holidays are getting closer. Tomorrow is doing some last minute running around for groceries, meds and such. Don't really have any official plans until Christmas... which will hopefully be Disneyland. Joy is still mixed with concern... but I am making sure joy is the one on my face... and my heart.

December 21, 2005
Wow. Almost Christmas. This year will be especially nice. Not because of some gift, well not exactly. The studio has given everyone the week between Christmas and New Years off. It is the first time in decades that I have a week off that is not pre-planned to a convention, trip or show. There are things to do. There will be shopping. There will be some auto business. There will be house chores. There will be at least one trip to Disneyland. And the time will go quickly. But for once, it will just go without a lot of pre-planned order. Almost like when I was in school. It is nice. I hope we have a good time.

December 20, 2005
The new KING KONG debuted and was not quite the '8th Wonder of the World' as hoped. Already the execs are debating the opening box-office. Since it did not open with the blockbuster numbers hoped for, some are stating it will not be a mega-hit like Harry Potter films, Lord of the Rings trio, or even NARNIA. Others are stating that Kong is not like those films, which are franchises. They say Kong is more like TITANIC, a film that opened modestly, but kept on going until finally becoming the top grossing film in history. I think the less than desired numbers are due to the age of movie goers. I have talked with a number of folks at the studio and online. Most of folks are in their twenties or below. Almost all of them admitted to having never seen a movie with King Kong! Most knew of the film as the one "where the giant ape climbs the Empire State building." I think too often execs forget their audience. They think of old classic films (like MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, GODZILLA, FRANKENSTEIN and such) and envision them as modern hits. The trouble is, for most of the current movie audience, those films don't mean anything. Today's moviegoer would probably be more interested in a remake of GHOSTBUSTERS or JAWS. Those are films they have grown up with in theaters and TV. That is where the geek directors (from Lucas to Spielberg to Jackson) have to be careful. Classic ideas, such as monsters, action films and aliens still ring true with today's audiences. However, that does not mean the actual monsters and aliens of decades ago will ring that bell. That is why the big grossing horror films of the 70s and 80s were not the monsters of old (mummies, werewolves and vampires), but of new creations like Jason, Freddie, Alien, and Predator.

December 19, 2005
no bark...

December 18, 2005
The award season has begun, and I am noticing few animated films getting into the mix. There was a time (like back in the 60s, 70s and such) that animated films were nominated in only one category - "best song". But in recent years, we have seen them popping up in all sorts of categories. The biggest being Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST getting a "Best Picture" nod by the Academy Awards folks. Since then, you often see animated films getting on the 'best picture' lists of several other awards - critics, golden globes, etc. Some have even gotten mentioned in the 'best writing' category. However, like the 'old days' I've seen some mentioned on 'best song' lists, but not much else attention. A bit surprising since films like WALLACE & GROMIT and CORPSE BRIDE got so much positive critical reaction. Guess since more and more lists are coming up with 'best animated film' categories, they can ignore 'the cartoons' in other big categories.

December 17, 2005
The importance of being number two. Avis used to have a big campaign that being 'number two' meant they tried harder. However, I have found in some studios, being 'number two' means you do not have to try at all. Some studios that are overseen by generally nice folks can have a second-in-command that is tough to work with. At one studio, the head stated they were only involved with creative decisions, and the second handled business decisions. The business person was generally harsh to the talent and crews, making impossible demands and threatening to fire the crew. The creative always wondered why so many of the employees grumbled about the studio. At another, a friendly head is constantly talking up their second in command as holding the studio together. Meanwhile, this second ignores the crews questions, spending almost all their time in their office. The only time the second is seen is when they come out to complain about one production or another. Again, morale suffers and number one wonders why. It makes me wonder if the topper is blind, or simply utilizing the classic 'good cop-bad cop' scenario. The number one can look nice, and simply make the number two a 'hatchet man' as some would say. Either way, it is sad to see studios suffer due to the workings of a single person... whether they are a one or a two.

December 16, 2005
It seems this time of year is always mixing holidays. From Halloween to New Year's Day, there seem to be dozens of holidays that get mushed together. Well, today we can add another holiday mutt - Fourth of July and Christmas. I say we can mix them with the classic phrase, "Land of the free? Bah. Humbug!" Congress has decided to not extend the patriot act, which among other things allows the government to see what books you check out of the library, because it tramples the rights of all, law-abiding Americans. The white house has stated there is no need to worry, as it has shown that since the patriot act was established shortly after 9-11, it has not been abused. Of course, we have found that is far from the truth. Last month, we find the IRS is threatening churches who made anti-war or anti-Bush comments. Evidence mounts that the government is flying prisoners around the globe to keep them hidden, and possibly tortured. A few weeks ago it was discovered the pentagon has been compiling a list of people who oppose the war in Iraq. And today it was announced that the President had bypassed the law to eavesdrop on over 500 Americans by tapping phones, reading mail and checking their computers. It was over 20 years ago when we hit 1984, the year made notorious by a book that claimed by that year the government would have become 'big brother' watching all we say and do. Well, it may be decades late, but it seems we have arrived. If anyone needed an argument to re-think the patriot act, it is all these recent events. A land of free people in which the government tries to censor churches, tortures prisoners, maintains secret lists and spies on its citizens? Isn't that what we are trying to stop in Iraq? Bah. Humbug!

December 15, 2005
no bark...

December 14, 2005
At a screening today, got to see two of our newest holiday specials. First was BILLY AND MANDY SAVE CHRISTMAS. This hour special has Billy, Mandy and the Grim Reaper battle Santa Claus when he becomes a vampire! Funny stuff, and proof that THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF BILLY AND MANDY is one of the funniest shows on TV. It is also one of the highest rated on Cartoon Network. Wonder why more folks don't talk about it? Second was FOSTERS HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS - "A Lost Claus". In an attempt to get as many presents as possible, Bloo has to prove that Santa does exist. It was one of those good 'old-fashioned' specials like A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS that tries to mix humor with holiday warmth. It mostly succeeds. However, being such a standard holiday plot, it lacked the freshness of Billy & Mandy's adventure. Still, FOSTERS is a clever show that deserves the ratings and attention it receives. In fact both of these series deserve dvd season sets. Sadly, that is too much to wish for this (and probably any) Christmas. The video execs still feel that the "real interest" is for the Adult Swim shows. Maybe they should have come to the screening.

December 13, 2005
Finally returned to Disneyland for a day on Sunday. Quite a few changes since our last visit with my folks in early October. First, Disney has dropped their pintrade sessions for a variety of excuses mostly linked to crowds. The crowds on Sunday, in which at times it was almost impossible to walk, seem to justify some of it. Luckily, we still found plenty of lanyards on Park employees, and some pretty rare pins. We actually did quite a few trades with other guests. (My pin hat tends to give folks the impression I work at the park. Luckily, my years of working there do allow me to answer many of the questions I get.) Anyway, we did several trades with children, who are always thrilled to get a pin. Even had a lady stop me for one I had gotten in a trade. Most guests are surprised to find other 'guests' willing to trade. Also new was the ranch between Frontierland and Fantasyland. It has probably seen more change than any other area of the park. The petting zoo was gone, replaced with reindeer on view. Even the back wall was gone, re-opening the section to more guest access. The former barbercue restuarant now hosted crafts, stage shows and characters. A nice change. Even nicer was the altering of the house to a photo op with Santa Claus. We were surprised to see the huge line for photos with Santa, until we spotted some of the finished photos. Along side Santa are various costume characters! Who could resist a photo with Santa and Chip! California Adventure seemed pretty consistent with our last visit. It is still a nice break from the mass crowds of Disneyland. Overall a good day, with good weather.

December 12, 2005
The big news again is a death penalty case. The world seems to wait, minute by minute for decision after decision to come. The sides are always the same. The pro-capital punishment claim it deters other killers. The anti-captial punishment claim it is unfair in one way or another. While the 'anti' folks point to all sorts of evidence from income and race to new DNA evidence, the 'pro' folks don't have much ammunition. In fact, the constant claims that violent crime is down, while the number of those being put to death is also down, seems to counter their 'pro' claim. My thoughts are either you believe in 'an eye for an eye' or you don't. If killing someone means you are put to death, then anyone who kills should be put to death. By eliminating all the 'special circumstances' you level the playing/killing field. And if you are going the eye-for-eye theory, why not make it key to all punishment. Those who are convicted of robbery should be forced to repay those who suffered. After all, if you can garnish the wages of 'delinquent dads' (as the media loves to call them), why not tap all future wages of those who have stolen. Bet a percentage of some of the big time swindlers could be a bit boost to those they stole from. As can probably be seen, I tend to fall on the 'anti' side. Not that I am against punishing wrong-doers, it is just that death is such a final punishment. Should new evidence, issues, 'special circumstances' come up, it can be too late. But, as I also said, if you just make it work like "use a gun go to jail" (kind of a "kill a person go to the chair"), then I could support it. After all, it still may not be fair... but at least it will be equally unfair to all.

December 11, 2005
No bark...

December 10, 2005
No bark...

December 9, 2005
The animation union had their party tonight. I spent a little over an hour, and as in years past it was a time of mixed emotions. It was nice chatting with folks I'd worked with in the past. But it was a bit sad. Many folks who were in the business when I started took time to come up and chat with me. (It is still a nice ego boost to be chatting with someone and have an 'animation legend' step up, remember me and want to talk with me.) Almost every one these talented folks stated they were now retired. Quite a few had retired due to the lack of drawing being done. Those who had started around the same time I had, were mostly talking about how tough it was at the moment to find and keep work. The newer crew... well, they mostly came in, got their free gift and then left. As one put it, they had "better things to do than sit around with a bunch of old folks". One of my co-workers joked that the young ones would spend more time at future parties, "after they've been laid off from several studios." One thing I particularly noticed this year was the fewer number of studio jackets promoting one show or another. Perhaps it is because folks feel a bit less supportive of their studios. A friend of many years walked in wearing his studio jacket. I told him he 'won' the award for most obscure jacket. It was for GOD, BOB AND THE DEVIL. As Stan Lee would say, "nuff said". Even though the room was filled with a variety of 'clicks', there was still a general feeling of camraderie. That was nice.

December 8, 2005
Narnia opens tonight around midnight. Almost everyone is talking about it. We might see it this weekend. We tried reading the book a few years back, and found it a bit too juvenile to get through. Rachel has seen the animated version. I saw the BBC live action version. The movie looks to expand the film into a much bigger, epic. Am sure that will help make it an event movie. But I have to wonder how the original story will survive. Too often, making a film an 'epic' will cause the story to get a bit lost. Oh, and since the books are very relious based, Disney has been marketing the film to churches. I had known about the religous connection for years. However, Rachel brought up a good point. How could the church be so behind a story so filled with magic and witches. I had one friend whose church would not allow kids to see Disney's SNOW WHITE ro PINOCCHIO because they had 'magic' in them. Oh well. The church is known for picking and choosing what it advocates. Of course, next week King Kong arrives.

December 7, 2005
ABC Family is running a month long of holiday specials. Some are classic, some are whacky, and some are just horrible. One thing I noticed while watching a batch over the recent weekend is how complicated they are! The old holiday specials were pretty simple. Rudolph has a red nose, gets teased, runs away, matures, and then accepts himself and his responsibility. Charlie Brown can't get into the holiday spirit until someone reminds him the origin of Christmas. The Grinch steals Christmas and learns it is more than just presents. All pretty simple and basic. But later specials seemed to have felt more story was needed. They are so over-written that many feature endless narration (often from a celebrity voice) to convey the convoluted plot. Now, not only does a character have to 'mature' or 'learn the true meaning', they must travel the world, meet dozens of characters (of whom each must have their own song), solve a mystery, save another character, get back home in time to stop/start something, and on and on and on. There were times I would start getting lost as to who was the main character and precisely what the task/journey/whatever was being done. Man! The early specials tried to show that Christmas was not a complex time of worry, but a time to enjoy simple pleasures. Later specials seemed to be working in reverse - taking a simple pleasure and turning it into a complex problem. In some, sad way, these new complex specials reflect the more complex times we live in. "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!"

December 6, 2005
We just learned that Jordi passed away in October at the age of 9. Jordi was our first bitch. We got her in 1996. She was a maternal aunt and paternal half-sister to Roku. In fact, when we went to pick her up, the new litter in the Arctic Rose home contained Roku. Though we tried several times to breed her, Jordi was not meant to give us puppies. However, she did bring us joy, and the game "where's Jordi?" (where we held up a towel between her and us causing her leap up and knock the towel down). Jordi had many qualities found in a Southern Belle, a shyness when needed, and a firm paw when desired. In 2001 we learned that Jordi's sister had, sadly, died young. Her family, while looking at our website discovered striking similarities in the siblings. Rachel and I decided our home had more than enough love and decided to share Jordi. The husband flew out from Florida and drove her to her new home. Just as she did not look back leaving her Arctic Rose home with us, she never really looked back as she left our home. Once again, she knew she was going the right direction. We used to joke that she had "retired" to Florida. There she lived a royal life of pampering and running on the beach. She loved to run, as the picture below (from a family outing) shows. Jordi is the one in front with ears held high.

Cancer took her, but she was basically hearty to the end. Now she can run free with members from all three of her families. And she will probably always win.

December 5, 2005
I know I 'bark' about the internet a lot, but it came up again via a website I visit. They were reviewing the new dvd set of CHIP 'N' DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS. At one point, they wondered why the movie that introduced the series was not included. The reviewer then remarked that he had checked the internet to see when the movie debuted. He said he found differing info from differing sites. Fact is, the movie aired *before* the series debuted. It was the pattern for most of the Disney series of the 90s. The fact that he could not find a source he trusted enough for the info is sad. It reminded me of a scene in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. The scene features several characters discussing why books were banned and now burned. The reason fiction books were banned was that they just contained fantasies that made average people resentful of their real life. The reason non-fiction books were burned was because they were just a bunch of people arguing topics and calling each other liars. Back to the internet. While it is a wonderful opportunity for those who need to research, one should always be aware that you cannot believe everything you read here. Of course there are a lot of sites that offer good solid information. Sadly, though, there are far too many sites where 'experts' spout whatever they have heard from other sites or sources with no regard on how accurate such information might be. Like the news media, they want to be the first or most complete. That desire leads them to print things before they have done any real checking.

December 4, 2005
A story editor on a hit animated series recently complained the show might get picked up for a fourth season. Seems he feels all the stories have been told. It is really aggravating when I hear animation writers state how there are "no new ideas". In the last few years, no less than three popular, well-rated series were not continued due to the creators feeling the characters were played out. I remember one person working on DEXTER'S LAB stating, "all these new stories are just about Dexter trying to do something and it goes wrong." To quote many a modern character, "well, DUH!" Most sitcoms from I LOVE LUCY to WILL AND GRACE are about characters having troubles. That is where comedy comes from. There are many writers who were able to write story after story about there characters (Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple to name two). These writers knew that, though the stories were similar, it was the detail that made the difference. What would have happened to Bugs Bunny or Superman if the writers had said, "gee, every cartoon Bugs gets away", or "gee, every story Superman wins." Being a writer, I understand writer burnout. There does come a time when you feel you just don't have any more ideas on a particular topic/character. If it is a pre-existing character, as with movies, cartoons, comics, etc., I say step aside for those who can still see new details and situations. And yes, Superman will usually win, Bugs will outsmart Elmer and Lucy and Ricky will end up in each others arms. But, as the old cruise ship ad used to say, "getting there" can still be half the fun.

December 3, 2005
A nice day. Went to the Lake for some more Santa photos. This time took Roku and Star, our "grandparents". The Lake was much less crowded, and we got joined by some family and friends. It was fun having folks constantly coming up and stating how it must be a "Dane convention" or "Dane Show". In fact, before we connected up, I was having folks mention what a coincidence it was because they had just seen two other Danes! We took pictures together, shared some hot chocolate and coffee. The kids shared chicken mcnuggets and cheeseburgers. Anyway, the day was a nice reminder of what the holidays are all about... getting out and together with friends. Will hopefully have time to do more before the year ends.

December 2, 2005
In today's world I see a growing number of 'invisible bosses'. When I started working the business, it was at a small studio that allowed everyone to hang with everyone. As it grew, and my position raised, I found myself in more and more meetings. This meant less and less time to be social... or visible. It is one of the reasons I quit that job to take one that paid 50% less. That new job was at the Don Bluth studio. One of the things that impressed me about Don in those days was his connect with his crew. Here was a guy neck-deep in things to get done from checking art, to checking schedules, to meeting with 'suits'. Yet, he made sure to be seen by everyone in the studio at least once a week. He would take time to walk the halls, pop his head into cubes, stand around the kitchen and such to be sure that he at least said 'hello' to everyone. Even when we were in two buildings, he got around to everyone. That impressed me. So much that when I went to my next studio, I did the same thing. I made it part of my job to swing by every member on my crew at least once a day (when we were small) and once a week (when we got big). It was nice to see many of them smile. Sometimes I'd just say hello. Sometimes I would hear a gripe. Sometimes they would only look up and then back to their work. But I often heard the folks around state how my crew thought I was really watching out for them. Today, most bosses have gotten into the trap I was in early on. At recent studios I have been in, I can recall weeks going by and not seeing anyone from upper management. I know they are busy, as is everyone else in the studio. But how can a crew have any connect or faith in management when that management doesn't even have time to be seen. We often hear how a politician no long understands the working person. It happens in more than just politics. Working for a boss can be tough enough. Working for an invisible one is almost impossible.

December 1, 2005
Wow. December 1st. Another year is beginning to end. Of course, for most folks their minds are turning to the holidays and what they want to get and want to give for Christmas - mostly what they want to get. It is always tough when someone asks me what I 'want'. It can go in so many directions from greed (expensive items), to noble (peace on Earth), to sensible (inexpensive or practical items). I often just reply, "I don't really need anything." This is because those asking me seem to need things more than I do. I have a home with a loving wife and wonderful kids. I have a job. I have hope. I guess if I were to ask for anything it would be the selfish request that those near to me be made healthy. As the year comes to an end, I fear I am also seeing a life ending, perhaps two. I can hope for the best. But I know that the thought of a loss will hang over any celebrations this time has to offer. No matter what the future brings, even if it is an end, I will refuse to become sad. I made a promise. But I cannot promise to be of good cheer. Again... I have hope. I just hope I have enough.

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