Friday, December 28, 2007

Canyon Riding

I have a couple of months (and about 1,300 miles) behind me on my motorcycle now. It's been a vast education to say the least, but I have had some great experiences. (The pic above is overlooking the Bouquet Reservoir)

I'd have to say that my favorite times so far have all happened on my canyon joy-rides. There's such a good feeling that accompanies winding around the twisting roads through the mountains and around the lakes, etc. It is definitely giving me more appreciation for California, as these roads are plentiful, very well maintained, and usually uncrowded.

Today I rode a new one (to me anyway). Little Tujunga Canyon Road was built in the 30's, and may be the perfect canyon road. Clicking on the link will take you to's page on this paradise of a moto-ride. The author of the article said it best; "If God had a motorcycle, He'd be here." I believe it after riding this road today. Maybe by viewing the photos, you can imagine why.

I don't know how I lucked out so well today, but I went several minutes at a time without seeing another soul on the road, in either direction. During my entire time on the canyon road, I maybe encountered a dozen vehicles. The road is almost 20 miles long.

In Southern California, that has to be a miracle. I just decided to savor it, because such a miracle may never happen again. (Little Tujunga pics stolen from

This canyon riding thing is becoming a true passion.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dallas - Season 7 - The Chana Episodes

Dallas season 7 was finally released on DVD this past summer. Chana played the character "Dee" (a girl interested in Christopher Atkins' character "Peter") for three episodes.

Chana always downplays her role on the show, but sometimes I think she's forgotten what a big deal the show was back then. It was much bigger than "Heroes" or "Lost" are today, and I still remember her in the show, even though her role was small. (yes, I watched Dallas - I had to, I lived in "Big D" at the time - they had pop quizzes in school the next day)

Here's a short scene I posted to YouTube. If only all 'soap opera' type shows could be this short. (I think you'll notice that men's swimsuit fashion has come a long way since then.)

Her credit is as "Chana Vowell", so it's before I came along and took her away from all that inevitable fame and fortune. (Obviously, I tinkered with the end credits; she didn't really make the whole show by herself.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Drumming For A Lifetime pt.9

Here's a video of the Dallas-based band I occasionally play with. We used to be known as 'The Calling', but that was 20 years ago, then we broke up. In the late 80's, we had a pretty decent following in the Texas and Oklahoma region.

A year or so ago, we started playing together again, but the name 'The Calling' had been used by a flash-in-the-pan group a few years ago, so we couldn't use it again. The never-ending struggle to rename the band has plagued us for a year, so we just ignore people when they ask, and turn up the amps. One day, we'll agree on a new moniker.

This is a song called "Time Passes", and I think it's not a bad rendition of it, considering what you're hearing is a dry feed from the mixing console.

We had four cameras shooting that night, but they had no game-plan. It took a while to sort out the footage and come up with a good edit of the song. Oh, fyi, Micah (my oldest) ran lights for us that night, but unfortunately the available lighting he had to work with was a disaster.

Here it is, enjoy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Time To Catch Up

Wow, it's been a long time away from blogging, and if you're still coming by, thanks!

A lot has been happening over the last 6 weeks or so, so let's get to it.

I am now a motorcycle rider. I have been researching this world for several months now, and I finally took my Motorcycle Safety Course and got my license. A month ago I bought a bike. After much hemming and hawing, I went with the Suzuki DL650. It's a great bike for commuting and can go on dirt roads too.

You know you want one.

Speaking of biking, thanks to my friend Jason, I was able to take Micah out dirt biking for his 15th birthday. We were both smitten, and we've vowed to go back soon.

We also took the kids to the El Capitan to see the recently refurbished "Jungle Book", set up by our friend Brenda. On the way to the theater, we met up with The Batman and Super Girl. (I love how McKenna is in her Super Girl pose.)

I took this at a nearby park we frequent. It might have to go on an album cover sometime. Or... not, but it's cool.

Oh, and it rained once. Weird.

And last but definitely not least, Micah made this for his youth pastor Steve for Christmas. Micah has a couple snakes and a lizard. Steve has a problem with reptiles, so Micah gave him this thoughtful gift. Kinda creepy, but I also think it's brilliant.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Inspiration For Pushing The Human Race Forward

About 7-8 years ago, Apple came out with the ad campaign "Think Different". You may remember it. I didn't think much of it (positive or negative) when I saw it at first.

But, in the summer of 2001, we were preparing to move from Tulsa, OK to Los Angeles - a risky move with a full-sized family.

I needed inspiration; I needed motivation. During that summer before moving, I again saw this ad, and the words grabbed me in a new way.

At that time, I needed to hear that doing something out of the ordinary was OK; that doing something risky was not just acceptable, but necessary for me to reach into the depths of my potential. Some people can reach their potential living in one place for their whole lives, but I needed a new environment.

I was fortunate to have a wife in Chana, that was right there with me, dreaming, scheming, praying and planning. If we weren't aligned, I don't think I could've or would've base-jumped into the unknown that is LA.

Here's the text of the ad:

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some see them as the crazy ones,
We see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world,
Are the ones who do.

Click here to see the ad on YouTube.

Click here to see an alternate (and creative) version of the ad.

Sometimes it's easy to forget all of the little links in the chain that helped take you from point A to B, and I had forgotten about this one. I'm glad to revisit it now, 'cause it still inspires me.

Think different my friends.

And think big.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

California is a Great Place to Live

I really do think that California is a great place to live, but for every wonderful thing about it, there are a few hazards too. Earthquakes, mudslides and the fires, and those are just some of the natural ones.

Thank God for the thousands of great firefighters that have worked tirelessly so save what they can. I know that they saved our home on Monday for a start.

According to the reports on TV Sunday evening, one of the fires several miles away had hopped many ridges among the hills and canyons because of the crazy winds, and the reports started mentioning evacuations and roads I knew to be in our neighborhood.

The "Agua Dulce" fire (which started very close to my sister Terri's place Sunday) - moved several miles and became the "Canyon Country", aka the "Buckweed" fire. The "Buckweed" fire now bordered on Saugus (our community) and came within about 1/4 mile of our house, as the crow flies.

We have a mountain (okay, it's a really big hill) right behind our house, and I was getting curious about how close the danger was getting to us.

So Sunday evening, I decided to climb to the top just before dark to check it out for myself.
WARNING: If you ever decide to climb anything during 70mph gusts of wind, you're stupid.
I'm stupid.

After almost getting blown off the hill several times as if I had the mass of a sheet of paper, I finally made it to the top and had a terrific view of the flames, that were at this point within a half mile from us. I tried to get some phone-camera pictures, but they don't do it justice.

Here's the fire just two ridges away:

This is the view from the opposite direction at the same time. This is of the "Castaic" or "Ranch" fire about 6 miles away, and on Monday, the fire crews feared these two merging. We were one block from being evacuated. (many of our friends were evacuated though)

By late Monday - early Tuesday, it was looking much better in our immediate area, thanks to the fire crews. This is a picture I took a couple days later. It's hard to tell, but the dot between the trees is the sun, and because of the stuff in the air, it was glowing a nice apocalyptic RED.

I have decided that if we are to remain California residents, we will buy one of these converted DC-10's and keep it in our garage in case the winds bring fire with them again next time.

Please keep in prayer, the 1500+ families who have lost lives, homes and businesses this week, and pray for the safety of all those fighting the fires. It's still not over.

Here is an extremely detailed map of each fire including the amount of
firefighters used, containment, acres burned and date and time. Click on the "Buckweed" fire if you want to see what went on in our immediate area.

Go to Google Maps

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Looney Tunes Volume 5 Releasing Soon...

Another great Looney Tunes DVD collection is coming out October 30th.

It took about 7 months for me to wrangle the audio restoration of this volume. We had some tough issues with some of the old film elements, and that kept putting us off course. But eventually we managed to get 'em all together for this release.

I think it's a strong collection. It includes a couple of my 'Bugs' favorites, like "A Star is Bored" and "Buccaneer Bunny".

The new rumor is that we'll be starting on Volume 6 very soon. Little did I know when I watched these great cartoons as a kid, that I'd have the opportunity to work on them one day. I'm thankful for that!

Check it out HERE.

Okay, all time favorite Looney Tune... easy, "Rabbit of Seville".
Tell me what your favorite Looney Tune is...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Scottish Highland Games

We went to the Highland Games Saturday in Ventura. Anyway, it's a crazy sub-culture-thing that I never knew existed until 4-5 years ago, when our friend Brenda invited us for the first time.

Chana and I like to go because of the interesting folks you meet, plus she and Brenda went to Scotland about 4 years ago. I really like to watch the strongman competitions too. I'd participate, but I don't want to embarrass anyone (myself), plus I'm not Scottish, you know.

The kids like to go, 'cause they usually get to pick out some kind of toy weapon. (we're such good parents) Also, the kids love haggis! Not really, but there is a band that plays there every year called Bad Haggis. Think 'funk with bagpipes'. It actually works and they're great players.

The above picture was taken when we went in May this year - my camera was full this trip. In the Ravenswood Leather booth they had all sorts of leather garments for warriors and ladies from medieval times. This girl helped Chana pour herself into that leather dress. Too bad it was about $1,000, or I would've gladly got her about three of them... woo!

Monday, October 15, 2007

There's No Business Like Snow Business

This past week, crews were prepping the WB Ranch backlot for a Walmart commercial. My guess is the ad has something to do with snow and cold things and holidays and wintery stuff like that.

First, they laid drift foundations with ordinary Christmas bedding.

Then they sprayed over it with a white pasty texture, kinda like old ceiling texture.

They even flocked the trees. Great detail!

I thought this car in the "Bewitched" house's driveway was nicely covered too.

Me in front of the "Griswold's" ( was used in the "Vacation" movie series).

The truck responsible. Snow Business

This shot below was taken on July 23rd, on the WB main lot. Here they actually were spraying real ice on this street. It was about 100 degrees outside, so they were laying it on pretty thick. (again, forgive the phone-camera quality)

I guess that's about as close as I will be getting to a blizzard in LA anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Remember Me

This video was created by 16-year-old Lizzie Palmer. I'd say she gets it. Not only does she do honor to the subject, but she has a real talent. Check it out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Two Great Loves Come Together

I love drums.

I love computers. (er, better just say I love Macs)

I never dreamed of combining them in such a creative way.

Like a beautifully formed Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on acid, Spotswood Custom Computers will build you a computer out of a wooden cylinder, and attach hardware from bass drums (various styles), bringing together two of my favorite things - yes, these two things would definitely go in my version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things".

I don't know who thought of this, furthermore, I don't know who's buying these.

All I can say is God Bless 'Em!

Check out their gallery.

What two things would you like to see blended together?

Friday, September 07, 2007

New Responsibilities at WB

I just started back at WB Animation for another season of "The Batman", and another restoration project of the classic "Looney Tunes" shorts. It's good to be back, seeing as they don't pay you when you stay at home and don't work for them. It's been 6 weeks, I hope I can remember what all these knobs are for.

Another exciting duty I've been given this time though, is to keep our new patch-bay connected properly. This is a photo of me reading the diagram, trying to keep straight all those insert possibilities. I'm honestly flummoxed, because it's too darn technical.

What do they expect? I'm an editor, not a rocket scientist! Do I plug it into the one with the glowing light, or just try 'em all? I have to hurry, 'cause Mel Blanc's waiting to start his voice session.

Obviously, I will not last long here unless I get my act together. If you know anything about these new patch-bays, please let me know.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Secret Handshake

About three years ago, our 9 yr old daughter McKenna told me she wanted to create a "secret handshake" with me. At first, I was like "whatever", but then I realized it was a chance to have a special thing with her that we could carry on for years and years.

The Handshake: A Brief History

Most people think that the handshake
has always been a cordial greeting,
but the some sources say the truth is the opposite.
The handshake supposedly originated when
opposing enemies came together for talks.

The second they would set aside their weapons,

they would grasp the other's arm to keep them
from picking up their weapons again.

This later evolved into a sign of trust and has passed on from
culture to culture, generation to generation,
to become the casual greeting it is today.

(My theory is that the warrior on the left still had significant leverage
and threw the other man into the nearby well, but I have no proof.)

(images stolen from the classic film short, "We Do It Because")

Anyway, now I have separate secret handshakes I do nightly with McKenna and our seven yr old son Sky. Maddie, our 5 yr old, likes to play pat-a-cake and call that our "secret handshake", but I know sometime soon, we'll come up with our own "real" shake.

I'm still working on our 14 yr old. No interest there yet. Maybe if I put on a viking helmet, he'll be into it?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Okay, so while we're at it...

Here's a slideshow I put together for Chana's birthday a couple of years ago for her birthday. Obviously I'm biased, but I love this slideshow, and I could watch it over and again. The combo of song ("Comfortable", by Fleming and John) and images is perfect. Hope you enjoy it!

(BTW - I promise not to make you watch all of our family movies.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sleeping Cutie

We made this in 2003, and I just recently dug it out. We were playing around, and it kinda turned into a video shoot. I love it because it took no coaxing to get the kids to participate. These days, they're much more self-aware.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sending Out an S.O.S.

Since I have never blogged about The Police (your eyes may now roll), I thought I'd treat you to a short film my wife Chana put together with our kids and some of our friend's kids. She has always wanted to ask some of these questions to the band (the questions start about halfway through), and since she couldn't get to the band when they came through town, she thought this might one day produce some answers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Miscellaneous Creativity - Blogging 101

This is post #101 for Miscellaneous Creativity,
not a class on blogging.
Not that you couldn't use a class. I'm sure you have a lot to learn about blogging, or you wouldn't be here reading my posts and trying to glean what wisdom you can from them. I resent it not, as I feel it is my calling to pass along as much temporal glee to your lives as possible. To quote Lina Lamont from "Singing in the Rain",
"If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'. Bless you all."
To celebrate the momentous occasion of reaching 101 posts, I have decided to revisit my three favorite posts I've produced since starting this work of art.

Timpani roll please...

#3 Drumming For A Lifetime, pt.4

#2 My Trip To Outer Space

And the #1 post:

#1 I've Got A Fever

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Film & Hollywood History Blog

Hollywood Lost and Found is a site I have referred you to a few times as a good source of accurate film sound and history facts.

They also have a BLOG, and Steve Lee, the head of Hollywood Lost and Found and seasoned film sound historian, has asked yours truly to be a contributor to it. That's an honor, so I jumped at it.

The pressure's on, because I've never "written" for someone else. Well, here goes. Please stop by and check it out.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Miscellanious WB Photos

Here are some pictures from the WB main lot. This is the theater. I have always enjoyed walking by this beautiful place. The WB water tower stands in the background, which is now a historical landmark.

These vehicles arrived yesterday to be used in some unmentionable iconic film. I can't say the name, but the title has something to do with a state in the upper midwest, and it's the fourth film in the series. You're on your own.

This is an old diner they brought onto the Ranch lot. It sat about 100 feet from my door, so it was interesting watching them dress it for a shoot. (i have no idea what production this was for)

Finally, this is a mural WB Animation had painted. It literally sits just outside my office. My phone camera doesn't do it justice, but the renditions are impeccable. The men are (L-R) Iwao Takamoto, Joseph Barbera, and Bill Hanna. So, obviously this is a Hanna/Barbera tribute. We have other murals with the Warner characters on them, etc, but this one is cool, 'cause it's brand new.