Saturday, January 13, 2007
With the recent deaths of Joe Barbera, Ed Benedict and Iwao Takamoto, Hanna-Barbera has been all over the news, and many who knew them or worked with them have posted their memories on various blogs and websites all over internet town. Now, I'd like to share some of my own memories, which my lawyers and doctors tell me may not be true/ probably are not true /are most certainly not true. Okay, just plain not true, but let me tell them anyway.
Even though I was only 11 at the time I started, I worked as head of program development at HB in the 70's, contributing much of the "magic" in the creation of beloved evergreen programs such as Goober and the Ghost Chasers, Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home, Where's Huddles?, Pete and Wee Pete, Sugar Shock, Grabass & Sons, MacMillan and Wife in Space, Dirty Bird, The Crawdaddy Gumbo Mountain Bear Variety Half Hour & Funky Phantom.
I've noticed that not much has been said of Joe's and Bill's almost continuous drug use throughout the Seventies. Bill once told me that the only thing that kept him from killing all of us in the studio and himself was his morning speedball and his Everclear chaser. Joe's coke nosebleeds were so frequent that one Christmas he received 3 dozen blood red and maroon shirts from his staff and family (he had no friends) to hide the bloodstains. The next year, either his nosebleeds stopped or he had them all the time, but at least we were all freed from having to care about it.
Both Bill and Joe insisted that making cartoons was not a job to be taken lightly, and they would often slap a writer or artist in the face with no provocation, as Joe put it, "To keep them sharp". I myself was slapped often enough to build a mighty, thick callous on the right side of my cheek that lasted nearly a year after my time at HB.
Bill had quite a temper, and bragged that he had the worst impulse control in North America. I was present once in 1977 during one of Bill's legendary physical assaults- this one sadly an attack on an 8 year old girl with the misfortune to be standing on the sidewalk blocking Bill's way into a Long's drugstore (he loved Q Tips). Bill plucked the girl from the ground, held her high over his head and threw her onto the hood and windshield of a nearby parked car. A lawyer whose job it was to walk behind Bill during business hours and smooth over potentially explosive situations immediately gave the girl's mother $75,000.00 in exchange for her signature on a pre-printed form ensuring she would waive her right to sue. At the time, $75,000.00 was a lot of money. For his part, Bill never even broke his stride. Years later that girl grew up to be a very famous White House intern.
Joe was no picnic either, and he had to be watched 24 hours a day. He liked to start fires in the studio, and what with the explosive and flammable chemicals stored throughout the facility, it was decided that two men, both firefighters, would chaperone Joe and keep all matches and such away from him. One day Joe realized that he could focus sunlight through his reading glasses and build fires out of invoices left on his desk. The result was nearly 40 thousand dollars damage and Joe suffering burns to both arms and his scalp. The firemen were replaced the very next day.I was working on a spin-off of a popular program called "Inch Long Private Dick" when I was told that I was being let go. Joe had decided to listen to the counsel of the voices in his head, and had become convinced that I was putting subliminal messages into my scripts for "Inspector Skunk, P.U." I was informed of my dismissal through a pink slip message keyed into the side of my car. I was able to convince one of Joe's other personalities to help me sue for harassment and wrongful termination. Eventually, they came to their senses, informing me of their decision to settle by keying it into the other side of my car. What a pair!
Still, after all of that, I consider my time at HB to be some of the happiest days of my life. As Typhoon T. Turtle used to say on The Typhoon Turtle and Terrific Tom Tapir Show, "It was a more than satisfactory arrangement for all parties involved."
/continued in the livelier-than-usual comments section.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
I pledge allegiance and plead the fifth,
From the halls of Montezuma,
Through the rain, snow, sleet and hail,
From the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters,
Rolling along with the tumbling tumbleweeds,
For better or worse, for richer for poorer,
To protect and to serve,
Kid tested, mother approved,
Where the rubber meets the road,
One nation, under God,
Each sold separately,
Welcome to flavor country,
Original image was found here.
Today feels weird and I think that something's up. You can feel it- it's all around us. For example, these are just some of the signs I've noticed that things are weirding up. Look for some more in your own life and let me know. We'll add them to the list for the time capsule.
Have you noticed the lights are no longer on in the top floors of office buildings?
All of the clocks everywhere are exactly ten minutes behind- exactly ten!
Wendy's Vanilla Frosties serve only to remind one of how Vanilla the Chocolate ones always were.
You ordered the decaf- and you never order the decaf!
In your car, the radio station presets have all been changed, but the doors are still locked (Honda owners only).
The ingredient listings are being redacted from all the pet food cans.
More city streets are one way now than there have been since pilgrim times.
Even people with really short names are signing things with an "X".
Sports teams no longer release rap records.
Not as many things are "cool ranch" flavored as there were only a short time ago.
Grown men dress like toddlers in the warm weather, and kids wear shorts even when it's 10 degrees outside.
No one makes fun of Bush for having been a cheerleader.
After over 50 years, ants are still the only insects sold in toy farms.
No one wonders where the rest of the person went after they find a finger in their chili.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
from the article:
"Witnesses said at least four civilians were killed Monday 30 miles east of Afmadow, including a small boy. The claims could not be independently verified.
"My 4-year-old boy was killed in the strike," Mohamed Mahmud Burale told the AP by telephone. "We also heard 14 massive explosions."
Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said it was not known how many people were killed, "but we understand there were a lot of casualties. Most were Islamic fighters."
Witnesses said that in Tuesday's attack, the helicopters opened fire on the road that leads to the Kenyan border. They said they could not clearly make out the markings on the aircraft.
Daqane said two newlyweds were among the dead Tuesday."
These "surgical strikes" sound suspiciously like good ol' Vietnam era carpet bombings to me. With no further information than this article, I can tell you that they killed not one Al Qaeda member today*. Just a bunch of Somalians going about their daily business of doing things like playing ball and getting hitched.
It will take decades to undo the damage Bush and his crime cartel have done to this world and to this country.
Monday, January 08, 2007
I can't seem to get the slug-a-bed cat to stay awake for more than an hour. He's like a computer; when you're not actively doing something with him he just goes to sleep. It's not his sleeping that bugs me, it's my all-consuming jealousy over it.
I believe that Mickey Mouse is dead. Years ago, he was a little hell-raiser, like Chaplin's tramp, or Buster's Keaton. Now, he's a tame, toothless little logo, with no discernible personality at all, and that's just how Disney wants him. You can't like or dislike Mickey now, since he doesn't do anything you can have an opinion about these days. Now he's just a mouse on the computer screen, just a face on a mug. A mickey-mouse Mickey. Something the cat might drag in.
Did you know he used to occasionally carry a gun? No kidding. He fought pirates, busted ghosts, exhibited something of a mean streak and had no time for fools. He was a barnstormer pilot, a lawman and a gold prospector out west. It doesn't even sound like the same guy from your creamsicle wrapper, does it?
I still have a big love for Donald Duck because he refuses to sell out. He's always outranked Mickey in my eyes and has been the subject of the best books, comics, and cartoon shorts to come out of Disney. And his unstable personality, uncontrolled anger and thin skin makes for funnier, better looking toys than his mousey stablemate, too.
RIP Mickey: we hardly know you.
That skull image came from this guy, although you wouldn't know it from the link.
People who know me have probably had to endure my recounting of at least one of the spectacular nightmares I've had over the years. I almost always have nightmares, never pleasant dreams, and although the imagery and situations are always awful, they're seldom frightening to me, since I've become pretty much immune to their toxicity over time.
The other night, for example, I dreamt that I was driving on 25th Avenue in my town of Ballard, WA. I'm familiar, of course, with that part of Ballard, but in the context of this dream it wasn't the collection of brick homes and minivans I see on my paper route, but rather a flat, cold, desolate plain with only a few buildings standing in hard frozen mud. I drove up to a hotel there- once obviously a beautiful "European" palace (dream phrase) but now a burned ruin. It was large, standing 8 stories tall and sprawling over the entire block. A man told me that the hotel had burned months before, and that 100 people had died there. There were mounds of fat from their bodies that had poured down the sides of the building and the stairways, and it had collected in huge soap-like deposits near the entrances and windows. It had congealed into a spongey, snow-white styrofoam substance, soft and damp to the touch. In an effort to make money from this tragedy, gift shops and cafes had been carved into this fat-soap like little, greasy caves, and were enjoying brisk tourist business. People were free to scoop out handfuls of soap and take it home.
How was your night's sleep?
Image above: The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli 1781