Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Don't Try This At Home

I think the following passage from TV Party's tribute to the late early TV comic Pinky Lee bears repeating (emphasis mine):
In August of 1955, NBC agreed to tone down the gratuitous crudeness of 'The Pinky Lee Show' and 'Howdy Doody' by limiting the destruction of property, bad grammar, squirting seltzer water, throwing things, name-calling and other antisocial behavior that would be forbidden in people's homes but was gleefully exhibited by the network's kid show hosts on a daily basis. "Playing a trombone with a mouth full of watermelon is more messy than funny" was one comment from NBC about the changes.

The next time I have watermelon, I am going to try that. I'll use the large bore horn because it's easier to spit the seeds out.

Sarah Hughes Update

See below for an update to my little story yesterday about Sarah Hughes. How fitting her first endorsement (if you can call it that, this seems more like an honor) is for the "Breakfast Of Champions."

Monday, February 25, 2002

Sarah Hughes, America's Skating Sweetheart

There's been too much death and disappointment on this blog lately. So today I want to talk about someone who has brightened this nation's spirits since, oh, about 11 p.m. on Thursday night.

That's right. Sarah Hughes. The third-stringer on the three-woman U.S. figure skating team. The youngest of the US competitors.

The young lady who proved everyone wrong. The girl who proved that anything is possible, if all the cards fall right.

At approximately 11:00 p.m. Thursday I arrived home from band practice to see the top skaters. When I arrived home, Sarah was first to go on, the fourth-place skater, with the top three at the time - Michelle Kwan, Irina Slutskaya, and Sasha Cohen - yet to skate. Resplendent in a new lavender skating dress, Sarah Hughes took the ice. She first landed an easy double axel and then proceeded to land four triples in the first minute and a half of her routine, including a triple-triple. No problems. All the jumps were landed beautifully. Sarah seemed to feed off the crowd's reaction and continued towards a close-to-perfect program. The TV commentators, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic, couldn't find any fault. Neither could the judges, but you had to figure they were giving Sarah lower marks to make room for the others should their programs, God forbid, be better than Sarah Hughes' masterpiece.

The top three ladies' programs were not up to what Hughes had accomplished, with Kwan and Cohen falling and Slutskaya's only slightly better, and by dint of the way placement is dictated by the rules of judging (yes, they do still exist, in spite of the Sale-Pelletier debacle of the week earlier), a higher placement in one category by one judge (from Finland) gave the thinnest of edges to Sarah Hughes.

And it did not stop there. At the Champions' Exhibition the following evening, Sarah (dressed in a beautiful black sequined pants outfit with elbow-length gloves) wowed the crowd with two routines, the first of which showed the 16-year-old skater showing insouciance and flirtatiousness belying her years as she did another flawless performance to the tune of "Bye Bye Blackbird". The second special performance (with Hughes back in the now-famous dress she won the Gold in) included a recorded introduction by Hughes declaring herself a New Yorker affected greatly by the events of September 11, 2001.

If you didn't absolutely fall for Sarah during these past two nights, you have no heart at all.

The 16-year-old from Long Island has suddenly become the Olympic Sweetheart. And as they like to say on one of the pro skating tours, "Winning is just the beginning". In spite of her having no agent at this time, expect to see Sarah making the rounds of the talk circuit (with her first stop possibly being the New York-based Rosie O'Donnell show, since Rosie is also from L.I.), getting some nice endorsement deals [update: her first is Wheaties, she unveiled the box with her image on it in Salt Lake City on Monday --D.M.], and skating in as many exhibitions as her school schedule will permit. There will be a parade at a future date [now confirmed for Sunday, March 3 starting at 11:00 am --D.M.] through her home town of Great Neck. What is so nice about Sarah is she is still devoted to her friends and family, and manages the time for a social life outside skating.

It could not have happened to a nicer person. And the real kicker is I could have told you all this before the Olympics even began. I said to my wife, "You know that Sarah Hughes is going to win the Gold Medal. Forget about Michelle's destiny. Youth will be served."

Congrats, Sarah... we will be watching you in the future.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Hela Young Dies, Lottery Hostess in NJ



A while ago we were noting the absence of NJ Lottery television hostess Hela Young, speculating on one of the other hosts being groomed as her eventual replacement. During tonight's 7:56 p.m. drawing, one of the other hosts, Renai Ellison, had the sad duty of announcing that Ms. Young passed away today after what was termed "a long illness".

I have been trying to track down some more information, but Hela was the lottery's TV hostess for almost 25 years before having to cede her position sometime last fall. To the end, Hela performed her duties with glamor and aplomb. She will be missed by anyone who ever put a dollar on the Pick-3.

PSCT Update

We made a minor change to a picture file on the Public Service bus site. A bus now in repose at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine was misidentified.

Saturday, February 23, 2002

CHUCK JONES 1912-2002

The passing yesterday of Chuck Jones, age 89, of congestive heart failure, has lit up animation message boards all around the Internet. Jones was the next-to-last suriving Warner Bros. director of the classic era. (Only Norm McCabe, now in his early 90s, remains.)

Jones started as a cel washer at the Ub Iwerks studio, then gravitated to the Warner Bros. studio in the mid-1930's. Starting as an animator on the picture "The Miller's Daughter", his first shot at the director's chair eluded him in 1937 when, after a joint sojourn making two Porky Pig subcontract jobs with Ub Iwerks, Bob Clampett was promoted to director over Jones. Eventually, with the departures of Friz Freleng and Frank Tashlin the next year, Jones did receive his director appointment and began making slow, cute, Silly Symphony-esque pictures, mostly featuring his first creation, Sniffles, a gentle-natured little mouse.

But in the 1940's, Jones had an epiphany. He found that by using a newer, quicker style of animation, he could put humor across in his cartoons, and Jones started making some very funny pictures. "The Dover Boys" was one such early masterwork. By the middle of the decade, Jones found his style and even began recasting Sniffles as a more humorous character. He created a format for the studio's biggest star, Bugs Bunny, in which he and Daffy Duck engaged in three spirited battles against hunter Elmer Fudd. He also developed characters no other director would touch, following the lead of Friz Freleng's "exclusive" characters... these were Pepe LePew and the Road Runner and Coyote.

It was in the 1950's that Jones truly hit pay dirt with a string of extremely creative cartoons. "One Froggy Evening" was perhaps the most talked-about one-shot cartoon ever made, with its parable of the frog who will only sing for the man who unearths him. Then Jones produced "What's Opera, Doc?" setting the Bugs vs. Elmer battle to the music of Wagner on elaborate sets by the great art designer Maurice Noble.

When WB shut its doors in 1963, Jones moved to MGM and made a series of Tom And Jerry cartoons (while lesser hands pretty much trashed the Road Runner), and an Oscar-winning adaptation of Norton Juster's "The Dot And The Line". Jones also produced half-hour TV specials including the much beloved "How The Grinch Stole Christmas".

Jones got his chance with the WB characters again in the 70's through a series of TV specials (the first of which was "Bugs And Daffy's Carnival Of The Animals", adapting the music of Camille Saint-Saens) and a theatrical feature ("The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Movie"), and pretty much acted as WB's elder statesman for the rest of his life, producing the odd cartoon project with the Looney Tunes gang as recently as the late 1990's as well as marketing a line of original art prints, for sale through authorized dealers as well as his Chuck Jones Showroom in Newport Beach, CA. At the time of his death he was supervising a new series of animations for the Internet.

Jones authored several books including his autobiography, "Chuck Amuck" (1990), and its sequel, "Chuck Reducks" (1996). Jones was married twice, first in 1935 to Dorothy Webster, who died in 1978, and Marian Dern. He leaves a brother, Richard Jones, one daughter, Linda Jones Clough, three grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.

Friday, February 22, 2002

CHUCK JONES DEAD

Sad news for anyone who has ever laughed at the adventures of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, etc. Chuck Jones, perhaps the most creative and literate mind in the world of animation, passed away at about 3 p.m. PST today, at the age of 89. More to follow.

Dave Found A Job!

Sometime today, information about my new gig on the Music Page. I am excited about this newest opportunity yet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Bus Gallery Now On Comcast Account

The Bus Gallery has been moved to my Comcast Hi-Speed Internet account. We are freeing up some space on the main davemackey.com servers for many more NJ Transit pictures.

Coach USA Update

On the Coach USA page, we have corrected the files we added back in December. You haven't seen these files yet due to a little quirk in Front Page that kept them from being published properly. Take a look at Arrow Line 26396, Leisure Line 2004, and Short Line 70958.

We are also opening an annex for file overspill in the Mackey Family of websites. You won't be able to access this site directly, but if you see some weird file names, that will be why. This will eventually affect my sites and Robair's.

Monday, February 18, 2002

Title Cards from Larry T

Go to the WB Animation section and see more new title cards, this time thanks to Larry Tremblay. You gotta like a guy who gives you all the weird titles you don't see on TV any more like "Uncle Tom's Bungalow".

Eleanor Mackey

May 5, 1923-February 18, 2000

Friday, February 08, 2002

New Title Cards

John Lund has given us about 45 new title cards for the WB Title Card gallery. A main page shout out to him!

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Site Updates

Hi all! We have done some minor hyperlink fixing to some pages that have been sitting a little stagnant. A few little glitches on the NJT pages, but we've gotten them fixed by now.

Incidentally, those of you who have and use my work telephone number, please do not call me at that number after February 8. I will no longer be working in the Comcast Eatontown office.