Thursday, April 30, 2009

Craig Crumpton Gives Voice to the Vocal

For those following voice actors, try this blog: Voiceroy. Spot familiar names such as Frank Welker and catch up on what's doing in the world behind the mike.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TNT News

This weekend, several Team in Training pals tackle the Wildflower Triathlon. Jay and Melissa, plus current San Gabriel Valley marathon coach Karla will race the Olympic course (1.5 kilometer swim, 40k bike, and 10k run.) Current assistant marathon coach Alfredo manfully goes after the half-ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run.) Good luck to all.

On Friday evening, TNTers Tiffany and Jason will be wed. Great folk. I'm buying them a toaster.

And in other news, the South Koreans have cloned dogs that glow in the dark. And they're all named "Ruppy." And it's not a game show.

Yet.

Knights Who Say "Knee"

Ha, well, there! I've begun the process to have my arthroscopic knee surgery. Because I have an HMO with a large deductible, it's possible I won't be co-paid into poverty. My doctor's paperwork chicks are checking on that.

I'm believing it will all end in a marathon sometime in 2010.

Onward into medical land!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Paul Dini Day

At today's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, former Warner co-worker Paul Dini will be appearing on a panel discussing his various projects, such as what it's like to work with a wee tiny man like George Lucas. Good for Paul.

A Running Machine

That's Emil, ladies and gentlemen. He just finished the hilly La Jolla half-marathon (13.1 miles) in 1 hour and 56 minutes. A Team in Training alum, I used to bump into Emil at various races, the last being 2008 San Diego Marathon. He has seriously upped his game this year, competing every month in distance events. I run vicariously through Emil and wish him well for the both of us.

Via Emil: Palos Verdes is next week. This week's endurance event was La Jolla. Please stop bombarding me with corrections. -:)

Web of Drugs

My cousin Jim McCann sent me this on the perils of substance abuse.

Story Prompt: The Subcon Dump

Here's a tool I've used in the past to help generate story ideas. I fill a sheet of paper with whatever thoughts arise, using different colored pencils, starting at various spots on the page and not censoring anything. This prompts my subconscious to cough up helpful story facets. There is, however, a tendency to fill the page with "redrum," but therapy and an ankle bracelet help keep that in check.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Freakazoid on Tumbir

The Freaks of Others. Takineko has rounded up an assortment of Freakazoid fan art for your Saturday viewing pleasure. (Note: But her link expired some years ago. However, though not fan art, here's a great wealth of Freakazoid up on Tumbir.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Scooby Doo Script

Work? Perhaps. And a half-hour script at that. I've got to peruse some material, come up with ideas, and meet the story editor next week. Paid work. What a novelty!

And while nothing is certain until after the check has cleared, this has a positive feel.

I'd like to chat longer, but, you see, I must work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Orthopedic News

Had a nice talk this morning with my HMO-supplied orthopedist. While only giving me a fifty-percent chance of ever running marathons again, he gave me a 100-percent chance of knee deterioration if I do nothing.

So it looks like I'll be opting for arthroscopic surgery on the knee. They'll "bleed" the knee above the "pothole,"  filling it with what-will-become fibrocartliage. While not as strong as organic cartilage, there's a chance it could close said pothole nicely, allowing me to race into my dotage. (Not far.)

There's physical therapy and months of EZ walking and light running. But by then, I should know if the pothole can withstand marathon pounding. 

Ahh, well, there. No more moping about. A direction. A risk. Life. Procrastination. Just a little. I'll call 'em Monday and set it up. 

Big Voice, Big Heart

Joe Leahy's blogging these days. Check out the thoughts of the voice of Freakazoid.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Final Boston Marathon Thoughts


Big props to Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall for finishing third in their respective divisions. Goucher led 800 meters from the finish, but couldn't hold against world class competition. Hall faded when the front runners surged, but fought his way back, picking off runners to close behind the second man in what was a very deep field. This is the best finish for Americans since 1985, when the top three female and second-and-third male slots were won by the U.S.

Goucher wept in disappointment, but this was only her second marathon. She should be proud. Nothing but upside for USA distance running. 

And nothing but congratulations to Kiley Akers and Kate Freeman for finishing their first 50-mile race. (I thanked them at the retired blog, now I'm thanking them where people will see.) Kiley coaches the fall and spring San Gabriel Valley, Team in Training marathon squads. Kate was my coach for two TNT marathons. Nice to see them set big, scary goals and reel them in.  

Richard Stone Remembered

Paul Rugg blogs about Freakazoid scoring sessions and the magic of Richard Stone aka "Stonini."

The scoring room was on the Warner lot and had been used in such famous films as "Casablanca." They were going to tear it down at one point, but Clint Eastwood really liked scoring his films there. So the studio renovated it, putting in nifty, futuristic technical stuff and a big comfy couch.

For a time in Freakazoid Season Two, we were scoring nomads, traveling to sound stages at Paramount and Fox. But there's was nothing like the huge stage at Warners back in the day.

Director Recalls Filming Freak Season Two DVD


DVD director Troy shares his Freakazoid Season Two memories.

And remember: "Troy" spelled backwards is "Yort."

Freakazoid Season II DVD

Now available at fine DVD emporiums.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Next Deadline

Thursday afternoon, April 30. I turn a completed short story in to my agent. That means I need to line up readers now, get them pages by this Saturday, back to me by Tuesday, corrections done by Wednesday, polish Thursday morning. I think we're looking at 20-odd pages.

It can and will be done!

Boston Marathon

Version number 113 on a chilly, windy day. Dramatic finish, spent runner, good-showing by the U.S. The video is around ten minutes and captures the top three men and women finishers.

Ditching a Blog and Knee Surgery

I've shut down the running blog and will update here in one place as I've done for the last four years. Starting another blog is a perfect example of pain-avoidance. I have barrels of unfinished projects, yet I begin something new because it's always easier than completing something old.

Be warned. The mind is powerful, the mind is weak, the mind will wake you, when it's time to leak. I'm not sure what that means, but it contains elements of truth here and there.

In any case, I'm calling my orthopedic doc today to inquire about arthroscopic knee surgery. As I understand the recovery process, there's about six weeks immobile, twelve weeks limited use, then twelve weeks mildly busy use before I could think about training again.

Right now, blogging about running has a certain Lives of Others feel, but it'll do until I get going again.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Poem-A-Day

Speaking of writing deadlines (which I do often), over in the sidebar my sister is slogging away on a 30-day poetry challenge. That's one poem each day based on a simple prompt.

Keep cranking, MP!

Animaniacs Salute


Keeper links to an Animaniacs salute on the piano roll, performing for a familiar audience. Apparently, these player pianos are powered by a bellows of some sort. See what you think.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Unfinished Book Projects

Couldn't quite get out of my inertia today. But there's still a few hours left. Since 2005, I've outlined three books: two adult horror stories and one, sci-fi young adult novel. The outlines are detailed and I'm wondering if there's a way I could "Rod Serling" all three. (Show creator and writer of many Twilight Zones, Serling was said to use multiple typewriters, with different stories in each carriage. He would migrate from one to the next, cranking out tales by the gross - most of them pretty good. But, alas, I don't even have one typewriter, let alone several.)

One at a time, I think.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Project Completed

Sit-com out to my agent today. What a great feeling to get off the canvas and finish something I was about to chuck. In any case, I'll relax today, then start tomorrow on the next item.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paul Rugg Farewell Party Photos

Paul's wife uncovered photos from his 1997 Warner Bros. farewell party. He left at the right time. I stayed another two and a half years. By the time my farewell party rolled around there was no one left. (Even Greg got a better job.) We held the event in Jean's office. There were two security guards and a man there to fix the air conditioning. But the cake was good and Jean let me keep a pen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TJ's War in the Central Highlands

I just learned a dear friend died back in Cleveland. TJ's heart, trashed by several massive attacks, finally gave out. His funereal was tonight.

TJ served in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division. In 1967 and '68, he fought North Vietnamese in the Central Highlands, moving through jungle so thick that daylight barely dented the gloom. I'd interviewed TJ for a book I was writing on the war. Here's an excerpt from his story. God bless and keep him.


* * * *

Life was a series of brutal routines.
Starting at 5:00 AM every day, TJ and the soldiers of Bravo Company hoisted eighty-pound packs and humped through the jungle for fifteen hours. These broiling, exhausting treks wound through virgin forest. Often Bravo passed beneath dank, triple-canopy jungle, trees squashed so thickly together that a flashless photo would be underexposed.
Had he ever been student council president? A star gymnast? In love with a girl at Ohio State? TJ sloughed off his old life slogging through a fantastic landscape. The Vietnamese Central Highlands were as alien to North Royalton, Ohio as alien could be. Fantastic bugs fell from trees as TJ moved through clouds of coin-sized mosquitoes, awash in malaria. Elephant grass towered over him with razor-sharp blades that sliced open skin, leaving wounds that quickly infected in the tropical air. Once TJ saw a cobra rise out of the elephant grass. As it flared its hood, he hurried off.
Occasionally, he stumbled onto scenes of quiet beauty. TJ was up near the point man one afternoon when Bravo Company entered a clearing. Tall rock formations surrounded a glittering waterfall, plunging past orchids and vines into a small pool. It looked so peaceful. Disneyesque. A moment later, TJ was joined by 19 and 20-year olds, staggering out of the forest, gasping for breath from heat and exhaustion. Wonder had been leeched out of them. They wanted only to rest.
At night, Bravo Company set up a perimeter, cut down trees and made a landing zone for helicopters to evacuate wounded. Ambushes and listening posts crept out into the lightless forest to detect any enemy heading toward the position. Once TJ and two men crouched in terror, stalked by a tiger that circled their listening post, breathing out a thick, raspy “haaaaaaahhh.” They were forbidden to fire rifles because it would reveal their position. (TJ was prepared to riddle the beast and take his chances later with authority.)
Most nights he slept four hours. Sometimes less.
Bravo Company walked in rags, uniforms rotting for wont of resupply. Over time, TJ, who’d once thought of running for congress, lost faith in a government that had seemed to have forgotten him.
And slowly, the war shifted gears.
At first, there was sniper fire, rounds making a high-pitched zeeeeeee as they passed overhead. Then several North Vietnamese would ambush Bravo Company, then dozens. TJ saw men killed and wounded, learning not all wounds were visible. TJ’s platoon medic had once survived a massacre. After his unit had been overrun, the man played dead while the NVA executed his wounded friends. The experience bent the medic in strange ways. A huge man, he would scour the jungle, picking up turtles on the march and stuffing them in his rucksack. At night, TJ and the others watched as the medic sat alone with a bayonet, stabbing turtles.
Once the enemy probed Bravo Company. A wounded North Vietnamese soldier cried out all night. In the morning TJ and several men brought in the NVA. The enemy soldier was wounded in the head, brain exposed. Prisoners were rare, highly valued for intelligence. The Bravo Company commander ordered the turtle-killing medic to treat the prisoner.
“I ain’t helping that gook.”
“I’m giving you a direct order.”
With a shrug, the big man crossed to his medical bag, took out a bottle of iodine, and poured it directly into the prisoner’s brain. The NVA leaped into the air, flopped in disturbing ways like a mad swordfish, then collapsed dead. The medic stared at the Captain.
“Sir, I did what I could.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Light Dusting

Polishing up the sit-com for a Thursday send-in. My agent may have a coronary. I'll certainly have to remind her it's something we've discussed over the years.

After that, two short stories to send out, then the oft-written, never polished, five chapters from a young adult novel that stopped suddenly during our move last year and has supported cobwebs ever since.

Out with it all! Fie! Begone! Scat, annoying unfinished things! "I spit in your general direction."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Strange Iceland Video

Whaz'sup in Iceland? Just another day of giant puppets and helicopters.

Taxing Thoughts

Due to my knee flaring up, I'll miss a fine tax protest today. MDW will represent the family. Taxes are particularly unfair in Hollywood. You may hardly work for years - ahem! - then sell something for a big score. The government taxes you at the highest rate, as if you'd been sweeping in the long green the whole time.

Considering that you're taxed pretty much on every transaction plus state, local and federal taxes, in addition to tax on interest, property, phone/Internet and capital gains taxes, I can only assert we're gagging in taxes. Having worked for the federal government, I can assure you its not being spent wisely. Just spent.

Less, I think, is more. Someone once proposed a simple, understandable, flat tax. And while there's a thicket of special interests determined to keep the tax code byzantine and dense, enough angry Americans, making enough noise, could once again reclaim their hard-earned money.

Greedy? I think not.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sci-Fi Bait

I'm completing a tale about a whale-watching tour that gets far more than it bargained for. I'll finish a draft this week, let it set through next Wed., then second draft, polish and send it to my agent. We'd talked about submitting this short story awhile ago to a director who does Sci-Fi channel creature d'jour movies. If Sci-Fi can do "Kracken: Terror of the Deep," they can do mine.

The animation job from Monday turned out be a game show development gig - minus any money for my time. So I politely passed. After all, I'm already working for free on something I like. Tough to beat.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Armored Vehicles I Have Known

As a kid we lived behind an American Legion Post that had a for-real tank out front. From my G.I. Combat comic book collection, I was able to identify it as a M3A1 Stuart Light Tank. The neighborhood kids loved that hunk of metal. It lent a sense of realism to our war games and provided a handy meeting place since everyone knew where it was.

Having just returned from Chicago last month, I gave my sister Mary Pat a report on the old homestead and the many changes that had occurred. She put her memories in verse:

The Tank

My good brother just told me the tank was gone
They carted it off when they tore down the American Legion
The land now holds luxury condos
That don’t know the richness of the ground they sit atop

Every summer the Legion parking lot would fill with the Ox Roast Carnival
Portable rides and games of chance would go up in a matter of days
Stay up for a matter of weeks
Across the alley from our house and in the center of the fair was that big lawn ornament

I got my first job picking up money at the game where you
Throw dimes at glassware until it goes into the glass and you kept it
People would spend 5 whole dollars
To win a glass that cost thirty cents at the Ben Franklin store

Years later I figured out why my parents refused to
Let me take the early morning job polishing the horses
On the carousel
Just me and the 7 fingered boss early every day didn’t sit well with my folks

In winter the parking lot would have all the snow plowed
Back to the alley so there was a tall mountain range of snow
Outside our back gate
We marched a path across the ridge line to the biggest pile on the corner

We would sled off into the street and start full contact snow ball fights
Some little general would form us into a fighting unit
We trained and drilled
Of course this always involved the tank

If it was our tank we would have to scramble under it to escape enemy fire
If it was an enemy tank that day we had to sabotage it
Lodge grenades in the treads
Scramble out from beneath it at top speed and seek cover behind the snow bunker

One cold winter day I came home for dinner frozen solid and full of stories
Wearing my brand new royal blue ski pants with stirrups that were the rage
There were two little holes in the knee
I cringed at the ruin to my fashion fortune and pulled up the pant leg

Bully brother sat on my left and was quite put out that I was fussing my leg
I was too heartbroken to be cowed by him and I kept up my search
My leg was a bloody mess
Bully blanched and I felt a whole lot better with that small victory

As my leg warmed up the cut started to hurt and the questions came raining
It had to be when we were crawling on our bellies under the tank
Mom said it’ll scar
It did and I stroke that place as I write this poem and wonder what they did with

The Tank

Post-Crash Action

A 30-day moratorium on big rigs driving the Angeles Crest Highway. One of my favorite coffee shops sits adjacent to the gutted bookstore, flush in the bulls eye. Let's hope the problem's fixed before a Peterbilt cab crashes into the middle of my BLT.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sad News

In La Cañada last week, a huge car carrier lost its brakes and crashed through an intersection, squashing cars and passengers, finally halting inside a charming little book store that my wife and I used to frequent. Vehicles crumpled like pop cans, two dead, a dozen injured and three shops destroyed or damaged. 

Alas, something similar happened last September as a truck descending the Angeles Crest Highway lost its brakes, barreling into a coffee shop parking lot next to the doomed bookstore, mangling seven vehicles. No causalities then, but Cal Trans was notified by La Cañada authorities that these big rigs need slowing. Cal Trans jumped right on it and will, no doubt, cook up something within the next geological epoch. 

Our prayers go out to the victims and survivors.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sit-Com Completed

With the heavy lifting over on the sit-com, I await reader notes over the coming week. Then off it shall go to my agent. In fact, my agent's office left a message for me on my cell phone last Friday. I haven't heard from them in so long, I thought it was a prank call. I'll have to check in Monday, just to be sure. They may actually have work for me, thus throwing off my busy schedule.