Monday, August 31, 2009

Fire Photos

My friend Julie up in La Canada snapped these over the last few days. Her home is intact, but the neighborhood is now under mandatory evacuation. Julie and her family are safe.

The fire has quadrupled, feeding on 50 years of brush. Cell phone and media towers atop Mt. Wilson will probably be lost, affecting area communications. (Apparantly police and fire comm towers are elsewhere.) Two firemen have died. The smoke this morning was fog-like. More as matters unfold.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Smoke plus Animalia Emmy

Whitish smokey haze everywhere as the wind shifts, pushing the fire down toward the foothill communities. Mt. Wilson and its many communication towers are threatened as the fire widens to the east and west. I heard from my former TNT coach who just moved out of town before the fire hit. Her old home is fine, but threatened as the flames are a half-mile away.

Local news here.

On a less combustible note, Animalia was a CGI show I worked on in 2006 - 07 with Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, and Deanna Oliver. Now airing on PBS, the show's composer Chris Elves won an Emmy last night. Congratulations to Chris and his designated driver, who are probably just getting home now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fire Forces Home Evacuations

No word on my friend, but as of 7:00 PM Pacific, no homes had been lost yet in La Canada. Seven-hundred and fifty houses have been evacuated and shelters established at most of the surrounding area high schools. The fire is only 5% contained and spreading as reported here.

Fire Update

Checked on another La Canada friend. They have fire two doors down from their home. Luckily, a fire truck just arrived. Meanwhile, they're hosing down the roof and helping the neighbors do the same. Keep 'em in your prayers.

August Fire Photo

Had breakfast with my friend Ernesto at a coffee shop affording a good view of the mountains. Fire flared and helicopters stuttered back and forth, water dropping the blazing brush. Within sight of towering smoke clouds, life went on pretty much as usual while fire engines zoomed past, sirens wailing, heading off to work.

Evacuations have taken place in some neighborhoods. One of my old TNT coaches, Katie, lives up closer to the advancing fire. Hopefully, she and her family are doing Okay as temperatures locally remain in triple digits. (Photo shows fires burning above the Jet Propulsion Laboratories. Possibly they can computer model the heat before running.)

Meanwhile, I'm burning up the calculator, adding up a dozen years worth of home repairs to avoid capital gains tax. I'm glad we sold when we did.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hot and Smokey

This refers to the air and not lunch, as I had a Chinese chicken salad with Troy over in Burbank. We discussed graphic novels, the state of TV animation - lousy - and the old National Lampoon, respository of some of the sharpest satire around (Onion notwithstanding). Then it was back out into the 100 degree, ash-filed air for some after-lunch coughing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remembrance of Checks Past

Twin fires burning in the Angeles National Forest gave this end of town an Icelandic look as smoke billowed over the mountains. I spent a hot afternoon in a storage facility, digging through twelve years of taxes, trying to find major repairs on our old house for us to deduct. (We always do taxes six months later. There's an important reason, but I can't recall)

In any case, it was fun and depressing to see how much money I once made. In 1999, I made a ton. In 2000, the year my contract lapsed at Warner Bros., I made another ton. In 2001, I made a half-ton, but had massive amounts saved. In '02 to '03, I was into ounces and burning through savings. Back in tonnage for '04 and early '05. From there through '06, a few pounds, growing a bit heavier in the first half of '07, then down to grams where it dwindles still. (Though my wife has worked consistently part-time for almost a year.)

An upside would be spending my mutual funds before the market crashed, thus getting full value. There were many things I enjoyed about our old home, but the constant siphoning off of cash wasn't one of them. (And the rats, rabbits, and deer. Bees have been discussed.)

Time to earn more dough, I think.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Running News

Emil battles a 50k as he continues Running Fever '09.

Kiley and I are exchanging aqua running recipes. My turn this week to jack up the pool cardio. I see the doctor in three weeks. Hopefully, he'll cut me loose to run meagerly.

Tom and Annie Ruegger returned safely from the Emerald Isle. (That's Ireland, not a Vegas casino.) Back to vulturing for Tom.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Tough guy Charles Bronson in a 1970 Japanese commercial for the above product. Guys, check eBay for a complete line of Mandom products. Girls, sit back and wait. (Or not. As noticed by a commenter, count the babes in this commercial. Hmmm.)

h/t: swempire via Ace of Spades

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bridal Barbecue

SGV Team in Training threw a bridal barbecue for team captain Rouman and his great-with-child wife. I paid my respects and visited with the old team. Apparently, the recession is effecting the winter season as TNT participants are choosing half-marathons over full. (Less money to raise.) Gordie dropped in, his health improving, cancer receding. He offered to run a sprint triathalon with me, once I could again run. That was sporting, as I won't be doing any of that competitively for awhile. In any case, I had a fun day, which I used as an excuse not to work on any of the stories awaiting my attention.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


This'll be different.

Happy Birthday HPL

"P.S. Shoot Dr. Allen on sight and dissolve his body in acid. Don't burn it."Such an oh-by-the-way appeared in "The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward" by H.P. Lovecraft. (The author, not the band.) Howard Phillips would be celebrating his 109th birthday today, the candles on his cake, no doubt, human fingers cut from the hand of a poet gone mad dreaming of great Cthulhu. For those unacquainted with his horror stories, "The Call of Cthulhu" might be a good starting - or ending - point. Lovecraft's bleak, hopeless cosmos fascinated me once. He certainly was an original. No lovestruck teenage vampires for this guy.
h/t: Moe Lane

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Run Down

One year ago I commenced training for the 2008 California International Marathon, a race run on a net downhill course (which usually translates into fast times) CIM was intended to be my ticket to Boston. Training lasted three weeks. Then my knee introduced other plans.

Looking back in my training log, I see that Sunday, August 17 was hot and humid. I ran a very hilly 16.8 mile course with a 7x1 run/walk ratio and no run/walk for the last two miles. I finished up in 2:42:45 which is around 9:41 a mile - a bit fast for a long training run. My last two miles were 8:25 and 8:45.

At physical therapy yesterday, my therapist offered to write up an evaluation of my progress before I go see the doctor again in mid-September. If all goes well, I might begin modest running in October. CIM is still on the list, but maybe for 2010 - bearing in mind that anything could happen during that time, even good things.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thanks from Keeper

As expressed in a video where he poster models. Keeper (and takineko) received autographed Freakazoid posters from Paul Rugg, Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver and myself (obtained whilst we were vulture recording). A token of appreciation for "keeping" alive the memory of animation past.

Hospice for Two

Two friends await the Reaper: Eileen in a nursing facility and Dale at home. Eileen turned 80 this year and has gone downhill fast, deep in dementia, rapidly nearing the end with orders not to revive. She was my landlady when I lived in a Glendale apartment many years ago, a real fireball with a great sense of humor. But at this point, I believe death will be a blessing.

Dale, who I've mentioned before, is a family man in his late 40s. Since January 2007, he's battled cancer and its complications. Doctors have finally announced his system can't handle any more "cure." Treatment has ceased and Dale's been sent home to wait for the end. I saw him yesterday and he's taking this a lot better than I would. There's anger at the unfairness, but he seems to be accepting the impending arrival of the big sleep. I remember times when Dale would bitch and complain about his job and the customers and the economy. (He was a salesman.) Now he's revealing a courage and grace I admire and hope to one day emulate - though not too soon.

May God welcome them both.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Congrats to 50K Finishers

A fine cool day with a heavy marine layer that muffles the street noise so that I can barely hear horns honking and the deafening thump of over-bassed auto music.

Congratulations to the indomitable Coach Kiley for completing a 50K run last week. That's around 31 miles, undulating across San Gabriel Mountain trails. Also congrats to Jimmy and Kate Freeman for finishing the same race only faster. More importantly, they've completed a year of marriage which is the longest ultramarathon anyone will ever attempt.

Friday, August 14, 2009

First Natural Rave

Another milestone from two generations ago involves the first natural rave. Held at a farm in upstate New York, the event featured dancing but no laser light or glow sticks. The music was a hash, lacking any techno or house bands. Typical of the groups present were The Who and Jefferson Airplane, none of whom could deliver the punch and rhythmic base lines of Infected Mushrooms or Nightcore. Nevertheless, the Rave used rain and mud to play up the "naturalness" and compensate for the lack of a decent fog machine.

What was the name of this inaugural bash?

Right you are: No-Frigging-Glow-Stick-Rave.

Man of Steal

Another victory in the fight over who owns what portion of Superman's life. I believe the original creators sold him to D.C. Comics for fifteen dollars and some soup. For many years now, Warners, D.C. and the family of co-creator Jerry Siegel have tussled over sundry legal aspects. I would guess we haven't seen the end.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Famous London Photo Explained

Forty years ago this month, the first non-solid, pedestrian crosswalk appeared in London. As you can see, there are white, unconnected bars for people to cross the street on instead of a solid rectangle as was customary at the time. This was originally proposed by the London City Council as a paint-saving measure, but met tremendous opposition from safety advocates. They argued that pedestrians who stepped off a white bar onto an exposed section of street would then be jaywalking and subject to fine, or else risk being struck by a vehicle as they were no longer "safe."

Calmer minds prevailed and the non-connecting bars were painted on a single road. In swinging 1969 London, they soon became a hit and were copied by street maintenance departments worldwide.

That road is now famous. Can you guess its name?

Correct. White Bar Road.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Area 51 Marathon

Out in the Nevada desert somewhere near cryptic Area 51 sits the start-line for a midnight marathon, pitting runners against the dark, flying saucers and black helicopters. Running machine Emil gave it a go and returned unprobed with this race report.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Shadow Over Santa Susana the name of a new book on the Manson family. MDW and I visited a trendy LA art gallery yesterday to hear the author speak.
Part of the attraction involved a high-school author chum of MDW's who wrote the forward to 'Shadow' and was present to read it to the assembled crowd. (Mike is seen here wearing a bull shirt.) As for the book, it sprinkles the CIA's MK ULTRA mind-control experiments using LSD atop the 1960s sex-and-drug drenched LA celebrity scene with a healthy garnish of Charles Manson. Quite the mix, but it sounds like fun reading. (Author Adam Gorightly pictured here, awash in note cards.)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Events on August 9th

Forty years ago tomorrow tonight, Chuck Manson's kids killed Sharon Tate and six others up in Bel Air. Earlier that evening, Tate dined at El Coyote on Beverly Blvd. - still there - before returning home to a grisly fate.

In 1945, the plutonium bomb code-named "Fat Man" exploded over Nagasaki, killing 39,000 Japanese outright.

My friend Ken's birthday is tomorrow. He is five months older than me and I always count on his reports on how a year is playing out. I'll join him age-wise in December.

UPDATE: Almost forgot, in 1974 President Nixon resigned.

Friday, August 07, 2009

'Lessen You're a Hog or a Cattle'

So long, John Hughes. My wife and I still watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles around Thanksgiving. (A friend used to work for John Candy and recalled he kept the trunk in his office.) Rest well and remember...we'll always have Stubbsville.

h/t: snowmoch

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

This Isn't Nice...

...but I'm posting it nonetheless. Here are 40 time-wasting websites. I barely got through the first nine without clicking on something.

h/t: PC World via American Digest

Monday, August 03, 2009

Vultures and Therapy

On the vulture front, Tom has assembled vocal tracks and continues with the artwork. Perhaps something early in 2010.

At physical therapy today, the therapist emphasized the importance of strengthening the pelvis - hips and glutes - for future running. For years, conventional wisdom promoted a strong core and stretched legs. Pelvic exercises were only mentioned in relation to Hula Hoops or Paris Hilton. So for the next two weeks, I'll do physical therapy homework until the therapist returns from vacation. Then more evaluating. But progress is being made.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Hear Hear

High drama at the neighbor's place this morning. The young daughter screamed and wailed for mother, far beyond normal screaming and wailing. As it turned out, the mother had dashed off to the store. The father explained that mom had gone to "the market." The daughter misheard and thought mom had gone to "Mars." Fortunately, Mars sells groceries as mom returned with several bags and all was well.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Lebowski Note and Freakalink

The bowling alley in "Lebowski" was located in Hollywood. My friend was there for a farewell party in 2003 (?) just before they tore it down. He said the bartender was getting pissed at hearing, "Another Caucasian, Gary."

H/T to MetaFilter and their link-rich article on Freakazoid.