Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Deadline Deluge

No "fond memories" tonight. Deadlines all over the place for this animated script and that short story. Plus I've got a small flu or "flulet." And, of course, training continues for the marathon next weekend.

However, I did take time to read the blog of a depressed college girl from Canada.

Now I'm depressed, too.

Monday, November 28, 2005

"The Infested Outside" and Other Fond Memories II

Frank Frazetta drew evocative "Creepy"/"Eerie" covers. There were dark ancient temples, sea serpents rising from storm-tossed waves, mighty warriors battling winged demons, ill-clad, voluptuous women — with and without leopards. He sure knew what appealed to 11- year-old me. Frazetta also illustrated covers for the paperback reissue of Robert E. Howard's Conan series. My friends and I were big Conan fans and traded around the books like baseball cards.

I'll be back.

James Bama and Other Fond Memories

Web surfing recently, I came across some James Bama artwork. Bama drew paperback covers for the reissue of the Doc Savage series. Doc was a pulp character from the 1930s: scientist, genius, strong man, all-around fighter of evil. As a kid in the mid-1960s when Doc reappeared, I was drawn to the books through Bama's art. My favorite illustration was the cover of "The Mystic Mullah." The light source is spooky green as Doc winds up to chuck a hand grenade at a huge, looming, Fu Manchu face. As for the story itself, I don’t recall much. No grenades or oversized mullahs, though I vaguely remember a mystic one.

This got me thinking on other books and artists from that time. While Bantam was putting out Doc Savage, Warren publications issued two separate black and white horror comics titled, "Creepy" and "Eerie."

I clearly recall C/E stories. Many featured “Twilight Zone” twists: a sinister character messing around with magic, sorcery, the Federal tax code and getting caught in his own schemes. And of course there were plenty of vampire/werewolf/mummy variations plus dinosaurs, not to mention a few sword and sorcery chop-‘em-ups.

More soon.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Clive Barker Remakes Laurel and Hardy Films

Nothing is coming easy today. A lot of work to get ready for Monday and it's all taking way too long.

They ran Laurel and Hardy movies on TV when I was young. I liked their fussy bumbling and always wanted them to succeed. In fact, I liked them so much I stopped watching altogether. This was after several films ended with L&H engulfed by horrible, undeserved fates.

In one, Laurel and Hardy were tortured so that skinny Stan was compressed into a stumpy midget and fat Ollie was stretched out on a rack until he was basketball player tall. It was unsettling. In another film they were flat out skinned alive. (Snort, chortle.) In yet a third, Laurel is magically shrunk inside an egg. When released, he is tiny and very upset. Hardy roars with mocking laughter. FADE TO BLACK.

These weren't Clive Barker films: "Hellraiser VI: Stan and Ollie." or "Hellbound with a Derby Hat." These were comedies with a beloved team. I used to blame it on World War II. In fact, I did that right here in this post. But I was wrong.

Somebody at the studio signed off on those scripts. ("So we take two lovable losers and skin them alive? I like it! No one will see it coming!")

Ah, well.

Maybe Clive Barker can direct the remake of "Gigli."

Friday, November 25, 2005

Me and My Big Ideas

Eating left-over turkey all day and working on an animated feature pitch and two animated series concepts. I promised my agent I'd have them by Monday. This is the writing equivalent of "trash talking" as I must now back up what I said.

The thing I like about blogging is the immediacy.

No pitch meetings, cross-town traffic, rejections.

Just write and post.

It's not all gold, but it is all mine.

Plus I'm already parked.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turkey Trot

This morning I met some chums from Team in Training. We ran a 5K (3.1 mile) race in La CaƱada, a northern LA suburb. I'd driven through there several times. The little hills sloped gradually, so it appeared. I predicted EZ running.

Oh, they were sly, unpleasant hills. Steeper than they looked. Finish-time eaters. If it were possible, I'd cuff them sharply.

This was very much a neighborhood race: families, parents with strollers, teenage girls running five across, and people running with leashed dogs — which I don't get. Walk the dog or run the race.

Later, Ronald MacDonald — clown, spokesman, bon vivant — led youngsters in a warm up prior to a children's race. After that, a child warmed up Ronald MacDonald prior to a fast food spokesman's race.

In any event, Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Small Wonder

Went to track practice last night. We ran half-mile repeats with an eye on maintaining a brisk, but consistent, pace. Afterwards, we descended on an Italian restaurant where almost everyone ate a big pasta meal. (I didn't because I sit at my computer and eat all day like a tree shrew. Another guy just had a couple of beers.)

Talk was far-ranging, covering topics such as the need to monitor what kids watch on TV, to the Death Penalty, to getting in a fight and throwing a midget to gain the edge needed for victory. I'm not sure who made the last comment. All I know is it didn't come from me or the guy drinking beer.

There are deep-rooted desires that even running endorphins can't paper over.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Katie Kierkegaard

Had lunch today with Harold, an old chum who still works at Warner Bros. TV Animation. Harold spoke of lay offs, and upcoming "Animaniacs" and "Pinky and The Brain" DVDs. (Along with the politics surrounding who would be interviewed in the "making of" sections.)

Harold went on to say that for a show to be greenlit nowadays it must have big toy potential. Hence, marketing decides what airs. This is a shame and could explain why my "Katie Kierkegaard" project is gathering dust.

Katie is a teen descendent of the Danish philosopher. But she lives in a mall near La Jolla with her crazy Aunt Helga and a pet chimp named Dusty. Each episode would feature Katie wrestling with different facets of the infinite transcendence of faith while shopping for fun tops. I felt the toy tie-in could be a box with nothing in it or fun tops.

So far no response.

Monday, November 21, 2005

No Place Like Nursing Home For The Holidays

Finished my animated script this morning and sent it off. I'd prefer not to get notes over the Thanksgiving weekend. But often things happen that I would not prefer. For instance, a rat has gone 10-7 Earth inside one of my heating vents.
The smell is most noticeable downstairs near the big screen TV. Powerful scented candles barely dent the odor. I would prefer this happened in, say, the offices of the California Franchise Tax Board. But instead it has happened here.

My friend and former landlord, Adele, fell and broke her rotator cuff. At 76, her vision is decreasing and this last tumble has landed her in a Glendale nursing home. There are no phones in the rooms. If you want to call someone, you dial a pay phone number and wait until a passerby with substandard English picks up. They may take a message that will be left at the nursing station. If you are old with broken bones, you can haul your lazy butt out of bed and go check for calls. Adele's sister is working on getting her a plain, ordinary cell phone. Adele says with a smile that then she can then call everyone at all hours and complain about the nursing home.

In any case, she will be in there over Thanksgiving. I am grateful that I will be home with my darling wife.

I am also grateful that I have a big screen TV. However, I am not grateful for the dead rat in the vent. Just to watch football on Thursday, I'll have to light more candles than a New Age wedding.

Hopefully, we'll avoid a fire.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

First 20 Mile Run

Ran 20 miles yesterday. That's the last long endurance training. From here on we do short runs and rest for the marathon on Dec. 11.

My wife bought ice yesterday. Our coaches had recommended that after a long run we sit in a tub of cold water, add ice, than hang out like seals for fifteen minutes. The cold facilitates recovery. When I first heard this I thought they were crazy, or, at least, malicious. But today I feel pretty good. No soreness. Good old ice.

I wanted to watch college football all afternoon, but I had to finish that animated script. As I mentioned, its heavy with characters and plot. The process ended up resembling packing — you open the suitcase, toss in everything, and see if you can close it without the top bulging too much. I should finish today and meet my Monday deadline.

My Peter Pan-like pitch from an earlier post was passed on by Cartoon Network. (And Disney. And Nickelodeon.) However, the Cartoon Network folks were pleasant and invited me back with more ideas. As nice a 'no' as could be had.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Plugging away on this animated script. The show's producer gave me an outline that was tubby with plot points and action. Translating that into a script is taking a bit of time. I've written twelve pages today and my mind feels like old stew.

Tomorrow, I run 20 miles. This is the dress rehearsal for my upcoming marathon. I'm very excited. An interesting point: the Honolulu Marathon doesn't offer runners Gatorade or any other conventional sports fluid. Instead, the course features a unique Japanese beverage called Amino-Value. I've been told it combines dreadful taste with a very small amount of sodium and zero potassium. Our coaches recommend we bring our own Gatorade in plastic baggies. This is based on the assumption that Honolulu will have water available for the runners and not some Japanese water substitute filled with deceased koi.

Always something interesting out there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My First Spam Attack

Mostly I write scripts for TV animation. ("Animaniacs," "Pinky and the Brain," "Jimmy Neutron," "Dave the Barbarian," etc.) This year has been exceptionally slow. I had six weeks of work at Disney back in February and March. Myself and others were asked to retool a show that was still in production, taking it in new and fun directions. We tried. Later the show was cancelled without ever airing, cast into cartoon Tartarus. But our checks had cleared, so it was Okay.

Right now I have one paying and a number of non-paying "jobs." The paying job is writing a half-hour script for an animated show. It's being made by a nice English company. The non-paying work consists of a pitch and a presentation.

The pitch is for a feature idea. Its a story about those giant heads they have on Easter Island and how much fun they have when ecotourists and Discovery Channel film crews leave. Of course a rogue archeologistst steals one and the others have to get him back. It's very much like "Kidnapped" only with giant stone heads.

The presentation is for an animated TV series based on "Peter Pan." This time there's a female adventuress and a fairy named "Tinker Bob," a fat slob who can barely fly and eats a lot of "Hungry Fairy" frozen dinners.

More as events unfold.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Big Run

I'm preparing to run a marathon with a group called Team in Training. In return for fundraising to fight leukemia and lymphoma, they will build you up to complete endurance events such as a 26.2 mile marathon, or a hundred mile bike ride, or listening to an Amway presentation. My event is the Honolulu Marathon, scheduled for Dec. 11. If you have nothing pressing, visit my Team in Training site.

And Away We Go!

This is my first post. I'm trembling. Not from excitement, but from malaria. I knew I should have drained that standing water in the back yard.

Featured Post

John P. McCann Sizzle Page

'Twas suggested I post a few episodes of my work in a pleasant spot. I've chosen here. Sadly, not everything I've written has y...