Saturday, May 31, 2008

Film Collecting Artifact

Being a cartoon-nut from earliest memory, it was inevitable that I morphed into a film collector at some point.

The first major Revelation came in 1965 when I discovered that there was a discount store in far-off downtown Buffalo that sold 8mm home movie versions of cartoons. There they were in the window! boxes and boxes of movie reels. And best of all, there were POPEYE cartoons!

My mania was such that "Santa" brought me a battery-powered projector and a 50' Popeye cartoon ("Free Lunch") that Christmas. I immediately ruined the drive belt (it was a spring that I stretched out too far) so the projector never really ran properly. I made it my business to watch the cartoon a frame at a time buy advancing the projector manually!

For my ninth birthday, my folks gave me an Argus Showmaster 500 projector, straight from the Brand Names catalog! A pretty heady gift for a third grader. I managed to acquire a shoebox full of those little cartoons over the next few years. And there were two camera stores that actually rented home movies! This was decades before Blockbuster and NetFlix, folks.

In 1979, I bought out an older fellow's 16mm gear. For a lump sum I ended up with a few projectors, a screen, some rewinds and a few reels of film. Then the cartoon collecting started in earnest.

I made it a point to buy a dozen cartoons a month from various film dealers. I attended film conventions and ransacked the dealers' room. I was unstoppable.

For a while.

Then the time came when I decided to "thin the heard." I put several ads in THE BIG REEL (a film collector's monthly buy-n-sell publication).

Amazingly, my father-in-law (also a film collector) came across a copy of one of my old film lists! This this has to be about 15 years old. What a blast from the past for me.

Home video eventually usurped my film collecting passion. Oh, I still have many shelves full of film cans, the screen and the projectors. I do run stuff for my daughter when she asks for it. But, gee, I can buy a whole BOX SET of cartoons for what one cartoon use to cost me "back in tha day!" (And these were 1980s dollars, folks!)

I still am a cartoon nerd, though...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Being in middle management is like kryptonite to me.

That's all I'm saying.

Doodle by Lee. The code for this doodle and other doodles you can use on your blog can be found at Doodles.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

Here are some of the things I did this past Memorial Day Weekend.

1. I transferred 20 Scrappy cartoons from a VHS tape to a DVD+R. Scrappy was a "star" character for the Columbia-distributed Screen Gems studio back in the 1930s. There is a weird undercurrent in practically all of these cartoons. I'm willing to bet there will not be a big SCRAPPY resurgence anytime soon, so check out SCRAPPYLAND for more information.

2. My shed, out back, was floor-to-ceiling full of cardboard boxes. This was because we thought need them because we thought we'd be moving "back North" a couple years ago. None of those job interviews panned out, so we ended up stuck in Fayetteville, NC with a shed-load of boxes. I used my trusty razor knife to cut up and flatten out most of these boxes. I plan to take them to the recycling collection center.

3. I moved the new computer off of the card table and onto my computer hutch. I also installed the new scanner/printer. This drove home the point of how fragile the eco-system in my family room is. I now have an extra, old computer with no place to put it. My solution? Yep, its sitting on a folding table. I'll have to piece it back together and pull off all the old stuff I want to keep, e.g. resumes, pictures, programs, et cetera. How do you people who buy new computers every stinkin' year do it?!?!?

4. Michelle, Mariel and I got together with some friends from church and went out for pizza last night. Afterwards, we went to a Sonic Drive-In where Mariel and her friend, Hunter, happily romped in the playground area. This was a welcome, low-keyed antidote to the previous evening's Holiday Inn fiasco.

5. Daddy went to bed by 8:30 and slept until 6:30 the following morning. Ah, sweet, sweet slumber! It will be back to the work-a-day world Wednesday morning. June promises to be a very rough month with some nettlesome projects coming due (actually over-due) so I am grateful for this brief respite.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Post Mortem

The plan was to spend a night at a local Holiday Inn so we could partake of the indoor swimming pool, go out for dinner, watch some cable TV and then go out for breakfast.

Michelle, Mariel and I arrived at the Holiday Inn at 3:00 PM to claim our room. The young 'un was bubbling over with excitement as she had been rarin' to get into the pool all week.

We made our way to the room and changed into our respective swim suits. A quick trek across the courtyard brought us to the pool area. Mommy, Daddy and Daughter spent the next ninety minutes frolicking in the three foot shallow end. Mariel was particularly delighted that a young man made it his duty to do multiple prat-falls into the deep end for her entertainment.

We went back to the room, dried off and hit the Cracker Barrel for dinner. The swimming session put a keen edge on our appetites and we eagerly tucked into our dinners.

Once back at the hotel room, we put on our soggy suits and went for another hour in the pool.

We returned to the room, dried off and decided to mellow out by watching some fine cable TV programming.

Then it started.

"I wanna go home!" Mariel wailed tearfully.

"But, Honey, we're going to stay here for the night. That way we can go out for breakfast and swim some more before we have to go home tomorrow."

"No-o-o-o!" came the reply. " I wan' go home!"

"Mariel, you've stayed in hotels before. Remember when you, Mommy and Aunt Denise stayed at the hotel?"

"I.. sob... wanna... sob... go... sob... sob... sob... home!"

Sometimes, when Mariel gets over-tired and over-stimulated she can get very cranky at bedtime. This is nothing new. We decided to ride out the wave.

Sure, enough, after an hour of this drama, she fell asleep and so did Mommy and Daddy.

And hour later a wee voice was heard to say, "I wanna go home. No stay here."

It started up again, folks.

More sobbing. More thrashing. More "I wanna go home."

So at 10:45 pm that's just what we did. We packed up, got in the van and drove straight home. It is only a fifteen minute drive, by the way.

Once home and in her own bed, Mariel seemed to be back in her element.

For about a minute.

"I want a story from the big book," she started to sob.

I reached for her My Little Pony Omnibus and turned on the light.

"One day in Ponyville," I stared.

This was her cue to sit bolt upright in bed and start wailing.

"Mariel," I stated flatly. "Daddy is staring to lose his patience."

"Wahhhh!" came the response.

Mommy took over and Daddy went down to the family room for an hour's worth of "stomach cramps."

Some holiday weekend.

Is this a preview of our proposed trip to Buffalo this Summer? It is a two day drive, each way, punctuated by stopovers at motels.

Egads, take me now, Lord!

Sorry to be so grumpy, but it is after 1:00 AM and here I am blogging in the family room instead of sleeping...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

So, How's That 4 Day Weekend Going?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Four Day Weekend

Here in the USA, we have a nice federal holiday called "Memorial Day." I think it used to be called Armistice Day. We should all remember the service people who fought on behalf of our country.

Usually, I'd have Monday off. Whoo Hoo!

This week, I will have Monday and Tuesday off. Whoo Whoo Hoo Hoo!

This is a result of a major customer's plant schedule. The rationale seems to be, "Why run product when you can't ship it?"

That's fine with me.

To celebrate, this weekend the Davison family is booking a night at a local Holiday Inn. We will luxuriate by using the indoor pool (Mariel is really excited about that) and watching cable TV. We will go out for dinner in the evening (Cracker Barrel?) and out for breakfast in the morning.

No big whoop.

Just a modest diversion from the daily grind.

The rest of the weekend will be devoted to catching up on various at-home projects. The lawnmower needs to be put into action, for instance. I'd like to move my new computer off of the card table and onto the computer desk. You know, stuff like that.

Who knows, maybe I'll even write a blog entry..?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Monkey Cartoons

Hello, boys and girls! Welcome to Uncle Craig's Cartoon Corner.

Today we are going to talk about monkeys and how, despite many attempts by many different people, there were never any successful monkey cartoon characters. This sad fact was brought into focus by the recent release of the new THUNDERBEAN DVD, "Cultoons Volume 3: Monkeys, Monsters & More!"

THUNDERBEAN head honcho, Steve Stanchfield, has been putting together these wonderful cartoon compilations for twenty years, now. His specialty is dredging up long-lost, forgotten or never seen (!) cartoons and arranging them into entertaining home videos. Isn't that nice of him, boys and girls?

Let's take a look at some of these weird monkey cartoons Uncle Craigeroo mentioned, shall we? Go and ask your Mother if it is OK for you to look at cartoon monkeys, first. Be sure to say, "please" and "thank you."

GRAN'POP MONKEY appears in three cartoons that were produced by Ub Iwerks' "Cartoon Films Inc." studio in 1939. Based on these three titles, it looks like the gist of the series was that Gran' Pop and his nephews attempt some sort of enterprise and somehow can't pull it off. These are nice looking cartoons, and if I hadn't been tipped off that they were from Iwerks' studio, I have never guessed it as they look nothing like his earlier cartoons. Apparently they were released by MONOGRAM PICTURES here in the United States. Ub re-joined the Disney Studio shortly after and stayed there the rest of his career. Yes, boys and girls, Gran' Pop was a Gran' Flop!

MARTY THE MONK appeared in 2-1/2 cartoons produced by Boyd La Vera. Who? What? Mr. La Vera comes off as a Max Fleischer Wanna-Be as he appears in live action at the beginning of two of the cartoons included here doing the "out of the inkwell" bit sans inkwell. His first cartoon, simply entitled "Marty The Monk" is recycled as "Mere Maids" a year later.

I'm really impressed by the third cartoon, "Mexically Lilly." Not only because is it the best of the three, but Mr. Stanchfield assembled it from bits of 8mm and 16mm home movie versions and then added a completely creditable new soundtrack! Bonus points to this cartoon for the steamy bedroom scene between Marty and Lilly, the fan dancer!

Now, children, the next monkey is a stop-motion pipe cleaner monkey! It is a short bit of experimental footage created by Len Lye in 1935. Many people find this the scariest monkey ever committed to film (take that, King Kong!) My daughter and I find him cute and engaging, though.

In this fragment, the monkey sings the "Peanut Vendor" song, removes his tail to do the rumba and a palm tree dances. Now, really, boys and girls, does that sound so scary?

Uncle Craigenstein would be remiss if he didn't mention two other monkey cartoons before we go today.

One cartoon actually has three monkeys in it! Their names are Meany, Miney and Moe. They were a creation of the Walter (Woody Woodpecker) Lantz studio and starred in a series of cartoons in the second half of the 1930s. The title included on THUNDERBEAN'S "Return of the 30's Characters" DVD is "House of Magic" from 1937. The cartoons shows what happens when three monkeys take refuge in a Magic Shop during a rain storm. Doesn't that sound exciting?

Uncle VonCraigenhooper has saved the best monkey cartoon for last! It is from the CULTOONS V.1 disc and it is "Monkey Doodle" (1931) by Les Elton. Yes, boys and girls, Uncle McCreggy remembers watching this confusing cartoon as a very young child on WGR in Buffalo, NY. The passage of time has not revealed what, exactly, this short is "about." Simon the Monk and his friend (slave?) Winthrop the dog wake up in the morning and do stuff all day long until the sun goes down. Things happen, but nothing really seems to make sense. Bonus points, again, to Mr. Stanchfield for "restoring" missing scenes from various home movie prints. And once again, there is a hot monkey bedroom scene!

Well that's it, for today, boys and girls. Dry your tears. These were only cartoon monkeys. They can't hurt you. Except in your feverish monkey nightmares that you all are sure to be plagued with for the rest of your lives.

And remember; today is another "Be Kind To Mothers Day!"

Ta ta!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Improper Equipment

At 7:15 AM I left the house. The court date was set for 8:00, but I didn't want to be late. I stopped at the ATM and took out enough cash to pay my ticket plus a little extra for contingencies like parking,panhandlers, contempt of court charges, etc.

By 7:30 I was downtown at city hall. I entered via the parking lot door and worked my way up to the front lobby. I saw a directional sign for "Parking Tickets Department" but, I needed to find courtroom 2C.

A helpful janitor in the lobby explained to me I was in the wrong building. I needed to be at the county courthouse! Luckily, it was a quarter-mile down the street and easy to find.

I got to the courthouse at 7:45 and joined the queue waiting to go through the metal detector. I had the foresight to not wear my steel-toed shoes. In fact, I even took my car key off the key ring so as to minimize the amount of metal on my person.

My precautions paid off and I breezed past the security check point.

By 7:50 I was in the courtroom. We traffic infractioneers were seated on long, hard church pews while a woman went from person to person checking tickets and taking names.

About ten people were milling around the judge's bench. They were shuffling papers, drinking coffee and joking with each other. A couple of heavily-armed bailiffs were included in the mix and I couldn't help but notice there was some sort of high-tech taser/paddle/billy club thingy lying on a chair in the front.

AT 8:00, a woman announced that they would be calling our names and that we should come to the front of the gallery to talk with an Assistant District Attorney. They would then discuss our options with us concerning our tickets. If anyone wanted to contest the ticket they would set a further court date for a hearing with a judge. Anyone 25 and under would have to also sign up for a mandatory driving safety class.

Ha! I'm two times twenty-five; no drivers' classes for me!

My name was called by 8:10. A brief chat with the Assistant D.A. revealed that she could change my ticket from driving 69 mph in a 55 mph zone to a charge of "Improper Equipment" which is a non-moving violation. The fine was $5 cheaper and there wold be no insurance-rate-damaging points on my license.


I was hearded into a jury box with a bunch of other scoff-laws. At about 8:20 the bailiff took us to the clerks' office and by 8:30 I had paid my fine and was a free man.


It is so nice to have this speeding ticket done with. It has been in the back of my mind for two months. It was also a lingering souvenir of that awful period at work where they had fired the Quality Manager (a week before a customer audit) and told me I was going to have to take over his responsibilities.

By closing out this ticket, I feel I have, symbolically, closed out that terrible chapter in my professional crisis diary.

Onward and Upward. Excelsior! Maybe next I will do a post about cartoons..?

Prayer For Judgment

Well, today is the day I go to the traffic court for that speeding ticket I got.

You know, the one day where I had left my wallet at home?

Here in North Carolina, there's a thing called "Prayer For Judgment." Apparently, if you get a speeding ticket you can go to court and request this of the judge. He may very well reduce the charge and the points won't be assigned to your driving record.

I'm going to request a prayer for judgment.

It may work, it may not. I'm hoping that the fact that I'm fifty years old, have been in NC for ten years without so much as a parking ticket and have no other previous problems will work in my favor.

We shall see.

I hope to wring a blog post out of the experience. A very boring blog post wherein I tell you all how the ticket got reduced to failure to dim headlights and I walk out of the court room greatly relieved. As I said...

We shall see.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Apocalyspe (Not) Now

I've moaned about my ten-year-old home computer so much that I've come to think that it would surely be a sign of the Apocalypse should I ever get a new one.

Evey tax refund check that was earmarked for the Davison PC Relief Fund would end up paying for a car repair, house repair or medical bill. TOBAL!

Well, my Father went out and bought a computer just a week or so shy of his eightieth birthday. He had taken some computer classes at a local community center and was red-hot to explore all the internet had to offer. So inspired was he that he went out a plopped down a few hundred bucks for one of those emachine PCs.

After a month or so, Dad decided this whole computer fad had passed him by. As much as he wanted to surf the internet, the PC he bought just wasn't "senior-friendly."

So guess what?

He gave me the new computer!

It's a "low end" model which is to say it leaves my relic in the dust. I mean, it has enough memory to actually run programs. I'm talking flat screen monitor, here, people. And best of all IT HAS A DVD BURNER.

I have been trying to get a rig set up so I could import video, edit them and burn DVDs for quite some time, now.

"Surely," I thought, "this is a sign of the end times. I finally have an up-to-date PC!"

I went out and bought a DAZZLE PLATINUM video port thingy. It connects to the USB port and allow you to hook up the three RCA cables from a video device. The software included with it then allow you to import, edit and burn video files. A hundred bucks, but I wanted only the best that Best Buy had to offer.

I finally stole some precious time out of my never-ending Work-Family-Sleep cycle to install the three CD-ROMs worth of Dazzle software.

Having accomplished this task, I hooked up the device and, with 'bated breath, clicked on the desktop icon.

Uh huh, I got an error message. I got this same message every time I tried to run the program.

I went to the Pinnacle Systems website and guess what?

The stinkin' software is absolutely incompatible with Windows Vista! WHOOT! Am I one sorry sack of something, or what?

Oh, they had a link to the software upgrade that would work with Vista. But, more guess what. THE FILE IS 1.4 GigaBytes!

People, I have a dial-up connection. It took 45 minutes to download the 6.5 Mb "patch" that didn't work. No way would I even attempt to download a 1.4 Gb. Life is too short.

I packed up the Dazzle and returned it to Best Buy.

Apocalypse averted.

I guess what I'm saying is, "You're welcome."