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Art Carney (1918 - 2003)

Growing up and living most of one's life in Southern California makes having a number of so-called "Brushes with Greatness" inevitable.

Sunday, I saw Tony Shaloub in Larchmont Village, but since I had recently seen him at Los Angeles International Airport AND spoken with him at Logan International Airport, I refrained from accosting him again, lest he think I was stalking him or something.

And just yesterday, I rode up an elevator with Florence Henderson, who looks great, by the way.

So the fact that I once met Art Carney is, in and of itself, not particularly remarkable. But his passing seems an appropriate time to relate this story.

In the mid-seventies, I was in Junior High. I read a LOT. I had somewhat eclectic, and geek-leaning tastes, but most of what I read were mystery novels, especially mystery novels that were part of on-going series. One such series was Harry Kemelman's Rabbi David Small mysteries. (This is a series that I highly recommend. The more recent books aren't quite as strong, but the original seven are terrific.) Each book's title began with the day of the week. And the first mystery was called, "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late."

One day, I came home from school and found that my street was, as they say, "bustling with activity". An army of humans and trailers and equipment had descended on Queen Florence Lane. In the seventies, in the San Fernando Valley, this was still something of a rarity. But in any event, I was fascinated. They were filming a movie in and around the house directly across the street from ours.

Soon, I discovered that the movie was a telefilm called, "Lanigan's Rabbi". It was an adaptation of "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late." I'm not sure how I managed this, other than persistance and the chutzpah that comes with not knowing anything at all, but I kept telling people that I had read the book that the movie was based on. At some point someone grabbed me and introduced me to the director. I have no idea if he was humoring me or truly interested, but he asked me a number of questions about the original novel, claiming that he -- and that in fact NO ONE on the set -- had actually read the thing. There were, I was told, certain things in the script that weren't tracking for him. So I answered his questions and told him how the mystery played out in the book. He took it all in and seemed grateful for the insight.

In any case, he then did something fairly astounding. He let me hang out. That's it. But I was allowed to watch filming. I was allowed to get food from the catering truck. I was allowed to sit with the actors and talk with them. Now, this couldn't have gone on for very long. It's not like I was employed by the movie company or anything. I didn't follow the shoot to its next location. But they spent at least three or four days in the cul-de-sac where I lived. They gave me a copy of the shooting script, which I then had autographed by the movie's two leads.

One of those leads was Stuart Margolin, who's probably most famous for playing "Angel" on THE ROCKFORD FILES. "Lanigan's Rabbi" wound up spinning off into an on-going series, and for some reason Margolin didn't end up playing Rabbi Small in the series. But he was terrific in the movie. And he was an extremely nice guy, who didn't seem to mind chatting with a thirteen-year-old, who was hanging around the set.

But the part of Police Chief Lanigan was played by Art Carney. Now Art Carney is a certified genius. Emmy winner. Oscar winner. Of course his performance as "Ed Norton" in THE HONEYMOONERS is nothing short of brilliant. His on-screen teaming with Jackie Gleason, a match-made in sitcom heaven. Among other things, Ed Norton was the clear inspiration for any number of cartoon characters, ESPECIALLY "Barney Rubble". People often forget, however, what a wonderful dramatic actor Carney was. How he brought a touch of humanity to every role he played. Rod Serling knew this. Art is unforgettable as a drunken department store Santa in "The Night of the Meek" episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. A part that Serling wrote especially for Carney. He is also truly wonderful in a number of movies: "Harry & Tonto" and "The Late Show", among others.

I knew almost none of this at the time. I didn't even know Ed Norton. In New York, the Honeymooners has probably NEVER been off the air, but Los Angeles was and is an I LOVE LUCY town. It would be nearly a decade before I would move to New York and learn to appreciate Ralph and Ed and Alice and Trixie.

What I knew at the time, all I knew at the time, was that this was a big time star -- in the middle of shooting a movie -- who spent time with me. Time by the catering truck. Time on the set. He explained how things worked. He explained why things were done the way they were done. He was just so damn nice -- nice enough that as ignorant as I was -- I didn't take it for granted. It impressed me even then.

A few days later, they were gone. Stuart, Art, all of them. The movie finished shooting in my neighborhood and moved on. Some time later, the movie went on the air. We didn't have a VCR back in those days, so I don't have a copy. I followed along on my shooting script and took note of all the little changes in it. It seemed to me (though I might have been seriously kidding myself) that the final version of the film leaned a bit closer to the original novel than the shooting script in my hand. I was certainly kidding myself when I took credit for that somewhat dubious conclusion. And without a doubt the coolest moment was watching Rabbi Small and Chief Lanigan (Stuart and Art, as I called them) walking down the hill of my street and turning a corner and suddenly being at the Rabbi's Temple. There was no temple around the corner from Queen Florence Lane, but the transition was so seamless, it seemed miraculous. A true bit of movie magic before I understood movie magic. Before I was even vaguely jaded.

I just now spent a half hour looking for that shooting script. I couldn't find it. I hope it turns up eventually. I'm sure I wouldn't have thrown it out, but there's a good chance it was in one of my boxes that was in my parents' basement, part of my past which was destroyed by a flood caused by the Northridge Earthquake. I hope not. I haven't thought about any of this in years, but now it's something I'd like to revisit in more detail.

I wrote about Bob Hope a couple of months ago, when he passed, and I suppose this is a very similar kind of tribute. Others will, I'm sure, write more important, more personal and more informed things about Art Carney in the next few days. But I wanted to add my bit.

Not just for the incredibly talented performer, a loss we should all feel, though not too intensely as he has achieved a meta-Xanatosian immortality through the many great performances we will always have to rewatch time and again. And not for the friend and/or family member, because he was none of these things to me, and I was none of these things to him.

But oddly, I wanted to write a tribute to the stranger. To the nice man, who was patient with a dopey know-it-all kid. He was warm and funny and made me feel welcome.

And for that I am truly grateful. Thanks, Chief.


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THE TOP FIVE REASONS YOU WERE DRAWN TO GARGOYLES

Yesterday, I made the following request at Station 8's Gargoyles Comment Room:

Hey everybody,

I really need some help. Without going into details about the why, I'd love to get the answer to the following question:

"WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE REASONS THAT YOU ARE DRAWN TO THE GARGOYLES SERIES?"

We don't need fancy answers -- and of course there's no right or wrong answers -- so don't feel like you need to compose elegant
responses. Just RESPOND, please.

Also, please, spread the word around and have as many fans as possible stop by THIS WEEK and give their answer right here at the S8 Comment Room. It would be much appreciated. Very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Greg Weisman

The responses so far have been very gratifying. I'm particularly impressed with how many people have stopped by the Comment Room that usually don't.

But (with good reason) I'm greedy. I'd like to get even more people to stop by. So please SPREAD THE WORD. E-mail/telephone/snail mail anyone you know who was EVER a GARGOYLES fan and ask them to stop by the Comment room and post their own personal top fives. We really, really, really need something akin to 100% participation.

Here's the address:

http://s8.org/gargoyles/comment2.php

Thanks again,

Greg


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CHAT

I'll stop by the Station 8 CHAT ROOM this Friday, November 7th, 2003 at 4pm PST. (That's 7pm on the East Coast. The rest of you figure
out your own time zone.)

Please spread the word. (Nothing's more depressing than when the so-called "pro" stops by and there are no fans who want to chat.)
Maybe we can get a big crowd and hang for a bit.

Hope to see you there,

Greg


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Chapter XLIV: "GRIEF"

Time to ramble...

I watched "Grief" the other night with my wife Beth, my nine-year-old daughter Erin and my six-year-old son Benny.

This episode was directed by Kazuo Terada & Takamitsu Kawamura, story edited by Michael Reaves based on his story. The teleplay is by Michael and Brynne Chandler Reaves.

Though Brynne co-wrote the teleplay, this strikes me as a VERY Michael episode. I remember how excited he was to be using the Tanna Leaves and the Avatar, plus all those other references to Thoth, Osiris, Isis and Set. I think it was something he had wanted to do on a Batman episode, but it hadn't survived someone's interference (my memory is hazy). But these MUMMY trappings suited our purposes perfectly. The Tanna leaves even gave Hyena hay fever.

The one word title, as usual, was one of mine. I liked it because it had that double meaning, covering the Emir's grief over his son, and all the grief (trouble) that this was causing. I have a vague memory that Michael wasn't thrilled by the title, but, hey, I gave him his Tanna Leaves...

One of us had Wolf speak to the second meaning in the episode when he says he's tired of the Gargoyles giving the Pack grief. Just to give things a bit of clarity.

THE PACK

The new Coyote 3.0 surfaces, complete with a slightly new design and that now iconic Xanatos robot head (smashed in his last appearance) displayed on a video screen. (Goliath mentions seeing it, although in the ONLY scene where Goliath could have seen it, it's not visible. Arggh...)

The new Coyote design obeys Frank Paur's general rule of robots, which states that if you're not trying to fool anyone into thinking that the robot is actually a human being, then the design should clearly be inhuman enough so that you'd never think it could be a guy wearing an armored suit.

Coyote's an odd bird in many ways. So like Xanatos, but without his drive and with more of a vengeful nature. Programmed in, I believe, so that he doesn't let anyone or anything stand in the way of X's missions. He's got some fun lines ("Shoot first and ask questions later."), in particular his exchanges about the chain of command...

Coyote: "I'm not programmed to kill without orders.
Wolf: "I'm giving the order!"
Coyote: "You don't qualify."

or

Coyote: "Is that an order?"
Emir: "YES! Get rid of them!"
Coyote: "Cheerfully."

Hyena continues to be attracted to a Coyote that doesn't seem interested but also never closes the door on the possibility of hooking up with the cyborg. ("Wanna make sparks fly?" "Later, perhaps.") It's sick and twisted and hard to get your head around, but it sure is fun, culminating with her wonderful complaint to her brother after Jackal destroys Coyote: "Every time I meet a guy I like..." (I also like those buzzsaws on her arms.)

It's important to note that Dingo is already missing from the group. Clearly, during and after "Upgrade" he was rethinking his association with the other members. This doesn't bode well for the Pack as a unit. They're already talking about going their separate ways after the Emir's work is through and are only still together because they owe Xanatos for busting them out of jail. After this, Wolf will head to Scotland, answering the call of his ancestor Hakon. Jackal & Hyena will take a job with Cyberbiotics and head for Guatemala. Dingo will go to work for Fox in his native Australia. Coyote 4.0 will be rebuilt and head for Arizona with Xanatos.

So "Grief" is the Pack's swan song -- that is until a new Coyote forms the Ultra-Pack with Wolf, Jackal & Hyena and a new member... someday...

THE EMIR

To be perfectly honest, the Emir entered the Gargoyles Universe as a throwaway line of dialogue to indicate how powerful Xanatos was in "The Edge". If he could keep an Emir waiting, X must be a real bigshot. But Michael and I remembered the line, and used the Emir again as a semi-throwaway in "Double Jeopardy". But by that time, I think we might have already known we'd be seeing him on the World Tour. It's just an example of how the Tapestry seemed to be working for us. Creating opportunities that were so right, it almost seemed as if we were truly tapping into the Gargoyles Universe. How many of you were surprised to see the Emir actually appear?

The Emir was a very successful and poignant character (at least in my opinion). I give most of the credit for that to actor Tony Shaloub and Voice Director Jamie Thomason. Not to knock our wonderful designers and animators who brought that voice to life. But let's face it, he's just a guy in a robe. Now over the course of the ENTIRE production of Gargoyles, I would say that I only missed two voice sessions EVER. But one of them was this pick-up session with Tony. NOW, of course, everyone knows that Tony is an Emmy-winning brilliant actor of movies and television. I just love MONK. But back then, the only thing that Tony was really known for was the Italian immigrant cab driver on WINGS. Pretty cool in and of itself, of course. But having missed the session, I was unprepared for just how wonderful he was as the Emir. Everything from the grief-stricken sighs to the bursts of anger are just wonderful.

And while we're on the subject of voice, how about that other Tony, Tony Jay, as Anubis. He's delicious in three different personae -- as the neutral and imperious Anubis, as the crazed Jackal/Anubis and as the exhausted Emir/Anubis. That vocal effect we did of having both actors (Tony & Tony or Tony & Matt Frewer) read the Avatar lines and blending them together was a bit of accidental brilliance, in my opinion. I'm also glad that they do NOT quite synch up. It's better. The lines basically fit, but they ebb and flow around each other like the magical melding it's supposed to be. It was a bit of a bitch to mix, but I love it.

But I digress. The Emir's heartbroken love for his son is, I think, one of the cleanest and most purest emotions (unencumbered by too much fantasy) that we ever presented. Something very real. When the Emir first pulled out the photo of his son, Erin said "Who is that? Is that his son?" She immediately knew the photo had meaning. (Again, Tony's big sigh really helped.)

And at the end, we (along with Goliath) really hope that after gaining true understanding upon becoming Anubis' Avatar, he is now at rest with his son.

JACKAL

Jackal also truly comes into his own in this episode. I love how he flat out has a thing for jackals. How he admires the Anubis hieroglyph and Anubis himself, calling him "The original model". It's cool and creepy. We also truly get to see Jackal as a sociopath here. I think I've mentioned before that I view Hyena as a psychopath and Jackal as a sociopath, i.e. someone with enough sense to know he's got to do his evil within a schema that allows him to get away with it. But what happens when you free the sociopath from all restrictions. What happens when you give him (Matt & Tony, remember) the powers of Death itself? Well, you see what happens. People die. Lots of them, in theory.

Getting away with that was interesting. I think maybe in Adrienne Bello's mind, everything was set right. Or the fact that we see that Egyptian town age into a ruin didn't count because we weren't seeing ANY human beings die. But we had much more trouble getting those two skeletonized crocs past her than the implied death of an entire town. Misdirection. Or she was just being cool. Or both, i.e. she thought the misdirection was sufficient that she COULD be cool.

I love when Jackal/Anubis says: "Life and Death at my command. I LIKE it!" I also like that he's smart enough and sociopathic enough to co-opt the most dangerous guy in the room: The Emir. The Emir? you ask. Well, yes, it's the Emir who does in fact end up defeating him by rereading the scroll. And Jackal keeps the Emir in his place by holding out the hope to him that he will restore his son.

SPHINX

Seriously, how could we not go to Egypt on the World Tour. How could we skip visiting what Angela refers to as the World's Biggest Gargoyle. So we stuck a fictional temple inside it -- and then trashed it. I think dedicated archaeologists must hate our show, because we're constantly trashing these amazing hidden chambers of antiquity. Maybe I'm getting older or something, but I find myself wincing everytime Goliath and Wolf bust a sacarphogus during a fight, everytime a pillar cracks or the roof falls in. I'm just glad we didn't destroy the Sphinx itself.

Goliath's entrance into the temple isn't one of our most brilliant animated moments. For starters, when Coyote is touching the hieroglyphs, he seems to miss every one. Goliath than claims to be repeating the sequence, but it looks nothing like what Coyote did. Yet it works for both of them. Maybe getting into that temple isn't as hard as it looks.

I love how the power of death flows from Jackal/Anubis and then through the Sphinx's own eyes before striking out at Egypt at large. Almost makes the Sphinx seem to come to life in those shots.

And I do love that shot at the end where the gargs are in stone in front of the stone Sphinx.

ANUBIS

Love Wolf's reaction: "Shave my head and call me baldy." (Or something like that, all ramble quotations are approximate.)

The animation effects on this episode are all fantastic, particularly the lighting during tranformations (very reminiscent of "Shadows of the Past"). Gorgeous. Another reason for me to be bummed that Disney closed its Tokyo studio.

I like how Anubis has no real mouth. Certainly no synch to his dialogue. My kids both commented on it. It fascinated them. But I also think it puts him on another level. His speech is that of a god. He requires nothing as mundane as a mouth movement to get his meaning across. (That's why it's so disconcerting in "THE GATHERING, PART ONE" when his mouth opens to laugh. He seems above something as petty as laughter, non?)

And how about Tony Jay and those great lines of godlike neutrality: "I grant but one boon." "Death is always pointless. That is the point." "All are equal in death." "You would not like to see the Jackal God play favorites." Etc.

ACTION

All right, once again, let me acknowledge my screw up. I should have let Coyote shoot Elisa, Goliath, Bronx and Angela dead. And have nothing happen. At that moment in the ep, no one can die. Emir and Anubis are just covering that in dialogue. Instead, Elisa pulls off a fairly elegant move that allows them to escape. But how much cooler if the distraction were the mere fact that they survived the Pack's barage unscathed? I blew it.

Otherwise, there is some pretty cool action.

Coyote advises Elisa to take her best shot. She does and it's kinda cool. But less cool because she then comments on it.

Coyote's limp afterwards is a nice touch, I think.

RANDOM FLOTSAM

When Elisa and the gargs wake up in chains, Erin says: "They all wake up at the same time suddenly." Leave it to a nine-year-old to point out an obvious cheat.

Erin said, "Yuck, disgusting." when Jackal first transformed.

Benny: "He wants to be the strongest, I'm guessing."

Benny didn't quite get why the Gargs were turning old. (Designing a demonstably old Bronx was NOT easy, by the way.) Or for that matter why Hyena and Wolf turned into Cyber-baby and wolf-cub. (Though both kids thought they were cute.) So the exchanging of energies lacked a bit of clarity for our younger audience, perhaps. Still any excuse to give Keith David an opportunity to do a variation on a theme is fun. Like hearing Keith play Thailog, it was also cool to hear him play a very old Goliath. The guy's a maestro of his own voice.

I do remember arguing with Reaves about the Baby and puppy moment. I thought (a) that it was funny and (b) that it was necessary to illustrate Jackal/Anubis' power. Michael simply thought it was too silly in tone. Now, I'm very glad I held firm. I think it's a great moment. And a little in-context humor really helps any episode. (I also love Jackal's "Baby sister" line that prefaces the change.)

I think in hindsight, Goliath's explanation that the gargs aged at half-speed and Jackal didn't know it, is a cheat. They are visibly very old. Internally, they'd be no less old. It's not like Jackal was thinking, "Hmmm, if I age them fifty years that should be enough." He just kept aging them until they were old and feeble. It's also not like biologically a gargoyle's exterior ages faster than his or her interior.

Ironically, commenting on that was not necessary for the purpose of explaining the action. If there had been no explanation and Goliath had used sheer will power to drag himself up for one last feeble attack, I don't think anyone in the audience would have balked. Rather, I think that dialogue was put in by me to definitively establish the fact that Gargs age at half speed. Oh, well...

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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Chapter XLIII: "M.I.A"

Time to ramble...

Haven't done this in a while (over a year, actually), and I definitely feel rusty. Anyway, I watched "M.I.A." last night with my wife Beth, my nine-year-old daughter Erin and my six-year-old son Benny.

This episode was directed by Kazuo Terada, story edited by Gary Sperling and written by Robert Cohen.

The (semi) one word title, as usual, was one of mine. (As was the springboard, but more on that later.) It's appropriate both because of Griff's disappearance and because of the wartime setting. Although I don't know if they actually used the M.I.A. acronym as far back as WWII. I associate it with Vietnam. Does anyone else know?

Benny read the title and thought it said Mia. He has a friend named Mia, whose birthday party he had gone to earlier in the day. So the title required a bit of explaining.

INTO THE MYSTIC

This was one of my ideas that I really fell in love with. The idea that a magic shop never goes out of style. The idea that these gargoyles have been running this shop right in the midst of London's teeming humanity for a millenium. I just love the idea that you could stop by there in 1940 or 1996 or 1809 or 1776 or 1595 or whenever. Different gargoyles manning the store, of course. But the store itself largely remains the same. It's a place where Lennox Macduff and Will Shakespeare might have ended up after a night of carousing together.

My notion, which I've stated here before, is that the London Clan has an estate in the burbs, and that the shop helps fund them.

Responding to the guys line about the shopkeepers having "incredible" masks, Benny takes a good look at Una and says: "That's a unicorn. A real one."

And Erin: "Those aren't masks."

Of course, these kids have both seen the episode before. But it was so long ago and they were so young it's like they're seeing it for the first time.

LONDON

We get some gorgeous shots of London. So gorgeous that when the animation on PENDRAGON came back weeks later looking not so good, we reused some of the "M.I.A." footage for that ep.

[Of course the animation here was done by Walt Disney Television Animation Japan, GARG's Best studio. It still kills me that Disney has shut down that unit. They did SUCH great stuff.]

Elisa talks to the Cabbie. In my mind, this Cabbie appears during the 1940 sequence as a little boy, running downstairs and into a bomb shelter with his sister. It's not important, but that's how I saw it.

And we explain (include) another legend. That of Gremlins. Not Gremlins from the Spielbergian movie. But gremlins that caused damage to airplanes during the war. This was/is a very famous legend among pilots. Roald Dahl (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame) wrote a book about them, which Walt Disney himself optioned. Eisner once had us develop a tv series based on the idea. I handed it off to a couple of producers who COMPLETELY redeveloped the idea. They came up with a good show, but it was unrecognizable to Eisner. (It also had a toupee joke, which probably didn't go over well.) Anyway, he didn't buy it.

SOHO

Actual racists thugs. We didn't do much of that. We usually went with anti-gargoyle types, who were metaphors for racists. But here we actually go with the real thing.

Their attack is very reminiscent of Awakening 3.

I love Brigitte's work here. Angela sounds like a tough warrior one minute, like a naive innocent the next. All within her character.

And that shot of Bronx leaping down from the roof is just gorgeous.

Leo and Una come out and confront Goliath, whose confusion is a lot of fun.

They're all in conflict, but everyone can agree with Elisa to take the argument inside...

We go inside and see the portrait of Griff.

Benny makes a connection: "There's a statue of him on the airplane."

UNA

I love Una's line: "I know my merchandise."

Throughout this episode, I think she comes across a bit like a junior Demona. I don't know if I felt that way at the time. But we have a female garg with sorcerous powers in denial about her own feelings of guilt and rewriting history to blame Goliath for things that were really not his fault.

Una was in love with Griff. And still is. But in the interrum, in my mind, she mated with Leo. She LOVES Leo. But she never got over being IN LOVE WITH Griff.

AWKWARD MOMENTS

Two of them.

One is having Goliath black out and instead of using it as our act break, we just go to black, wait a beat and then come back. We had a much better act break coming up, so I guess I don't regret it, but I also don't like it much.

The other awkward moment is giving Goliath that voice over of his interior thoughts, where he states his plan to use the Gate to figure out what the hell happened in 1940. I'm sure I resisted doing that VO. But we just didn't have a better solution.

I do love Goliath's frustrated: "I don't know any Griff!" line.

G uses the gate and Benny asks "What did he just do?" Beth explains it to him, but it illustrates my point that it has been so long since the kids last saw an ep, that their memories of the show are very vague.

WWII

We meet Clive and Douglas Bader. I've stated this before, but Douglas Bader was a real person. A true war hero. Douglas Bader lost both his legs in a plane crash, and became a war hero and fighter ace AFTER he recovered and learned to walk on two artificial pins. He was a hero during the Battle of Britain. Later, he was shot down over enemy territory and put in a POW camp. He escaped twice but was recaptured both times. Years later, he was knighted.

I met him once. My father, Wally Weisman, is a real Spitfire afficionado, and Bader was one of his heroes. My dad eventually met Sir Douglas in London and at the RAF Museum outside London. When I was a kid, Sir Douglas and his wife came to Los Angeles and we all went to Disneyland together. He never used a wheelchair. Always just moved along with his hip-swinging walk. An amazing man.

So there was no way I wasn't going to pay tribute to him here (and indirectly to my father as well -- in my mind, this ep is dedicated to my dad). I gave Gary Sperling the Bader biography, "REACH FOR THE SKIES," knowing that it would be tough for him to incorporate much into the episode. But we tried to base the design of Bader on one of his photographs. And we made sure that his first and last name were both used in dialogue so that he could be indentified by those paying attention.

And most of all, we tried to show that these pilots were the true heroes. Sure, Goliath and Griff save them. But Bader saves the gargoyles too, and he's the one who takes out the most dangerous of the Nazi fighter pilots.

This was important to me. Influenced by both Dahl's Gremlins book and my father and Bader, I'd wanted to do a Battle of Britain story pretty much since the series' inception. It's even listed in the bible. This came out of the notion we once had that (while the other gargoyles may have been asleep for a thousand years) Goliath had been awake and alone for 1000 years.

Imagine, if you will, that scene in Awakening-2, when Goliath comes back and finds Hudson, Bronx and the Trio asleep. Instead of joining them, he watches over them for a millenium. (This was back when we had a more magical view of Garg biology.) I thought Goliath would have largely spent a thousand years brooding. But that during WWII he might have ventured forth to fight the Nazis, if for no other reason than to prevent the bombing of Wyvern.

We, obviously, didn't end up going that way, but the visual of Gargoyles fighting in the Battle of Britain stuck with me. (And man, is that visual brought to life here beautifully.)

But having decided to do that, I didn't want to give the gargs all the credit. Real men and women gave their lives during the Battle of Britain. I didn't want to undercut their contribution in order to make my fictional gargs look good. That just seemed like it would be both irresponsible and disrespectful. A betrayal of the very reasons why we were doing the ep in the first place.

GRIFF

Casting... we had used Neil Dickson to tremendous evil effect as Duncan and Canmore in City of Stone. Here he gets to play Errol Flynn. Neil is a Brit. As is Charles Shaugnessy who played Bader and Sara Douglas who played Una. (Leo/Gregg Berger, on the other hand, is a Yank.) And they all really brought life to their respective roles. I have to admit I was worried about whether Neil would be right for the role. I should no better, but Duncan especially was so memorable, I really had that fixed in my head. But Neil's voice just worked perfectly for Griff. I'm still sorry we didn't get to see more of Griff with King Arthur in the Pendragon spin-off.

Griff was conceived as a real swashbuckling hero. A Robin Hood of the 1940s. As opposed to our rough-hewn "Scottish stock", this was a good-old-fashioned patriotic English Hero to put up against the Nazis. His costume was influenced, I think by the Blackhawks. And his look was inspired by British Heraldry. He was the Griffin to Una's unicorn and Leo's lion, three of the most striking heraldic beasts. Again, going back to my earliest development of the series, I thought that adaptations of heraldic beasts might be the English version of gargoyles. So Griff has Eagle and Lion qualities. Feathered wings. A mohawk-like main. An eagle-like beak, but lionesque limbs.

I know that Greg Guler, Frank Paur and I went over and over Griff's model. We were never 100% satisfied with it. But it must work, as I've never any complaints from the fan. And I think Neil (and Jamie Thomason's voice direction) deserve much of the credit for that. Because even with the great Japanese animation, he still looks a bit too Foghorn Leghorn for my tastes.

TIMELOOPINESS

Goliath (after Griff saves his life): "It was supposed to work the other way."
Erin: "I think this is how it started in the first place."

So, hey, she got it!!

Benny even jumped ahead, figuring out: "So he can take Griff back forward in time."

So he got it too. Did you guys get it right from the beginning? That Goliath would take Griff "back forward" to the present to reunite him with Leo and Una?

I love the scene between Griff, Leo, Una and Goliath over tea in the shop. Everyone's motivations are so clear that I often use this scene when I do voice seminars.

Griff wants to sell everyone on going on the offensive.
Leo wants to sell everyone on sticking with defense.
Una is more subtle. She'll use any argument that will promote Griff's safety.
Goliath is trying to stay out of trouble.

But I love his line: "In my experience, human problems become Gargoyle problems." How true... (witness the cancellation of the show...)

And then later, Goliath AGAIN realizes a lesson that he and the audience would have to relearn again and again. Fate cannot be cheated. History cannot be changed.

And once again, we show our lack of imagination and/or our desire to stick with something once we find it works by using the line "Not where, when."

We can say "1940" but we were discouraged from referring to the present by an actual year -- so that reruns would still sound current. I'm surprised that Goliath got to use the phrase "the 1990s". How short-sighted of Disney to not think we'd still be airing these reruns in the 21st Century. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Griff almost gets hit by a car in the present and Goliath says "Let's not start that again." A mini-tribute to the English Vultures in "A Jungle Book".

At the very end, Elisa's confusion is fun: "Just explain it one more time." That probably came out of my fear that the audience might not get it. If Elisa didn't get it either, the audience wouldn't have to feel so bad about it.

DOGFIGHTS

Everything I could have asked for.

I have a VERY vague memory that we were discouraged from using Swastikas. I can't remember why or even if this is true.

But the skull-like pilot with the skull & crossbones on his plane certainly looks like a bad guy, doesn't he?

The planes themselves just look great. I found out later that Bader didn't fly Spitfires during the Battle of Britain. He flew Spitfires later, but flew Hurricanes during the Blitz. This fact drives me crazy.

But I love his line about the Gargoyles (which in my mind, he viewed as Gremlins): "They're real, and they're on our side!"

Benny noticed that they shot a hole through Goliath's wing. I had to reassure him that he'd be okay after getting some stone sleep.

Parachutes. No one dies in this episode. At least not in theory. Of course, we KNOW people died during the Blitz. But we couldn't show or even imply that.

THE WORLD TOUR

We end of course by creating new heroes out of old. Griff has returned. And Leo and Una have been reinvigorated. They take back their neighborhood.

Leo: "Or we'll make it our business." Leo's spent years worried only about business. Now he remembers what his business is supposed to be. The nation of shopkeepers is once again ready to defend the realm. So to speak.

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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As requested...

Todd sent the following to me in response to my request for a quick info fix...

Dear Greg,

I hope that you don't mind me e-mailing you directly about Roger Lancelyn Green, but I thought that this was the quickest way
of getting the information to you (given the length of the queue and the fact that I know that you don't dare read much of the
comment room because many of the people there post "creativity demons" there).

At any rate, you're correct about the spelling: it is Roger Lancelyn Green. The title of the book is "King Arthur and his Knights
of the Round Table".

Todd Jensen


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Proofreading/Apologia...

I just received the following e-mail from my brother:

Subject: proofreading
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 13:56:49 -0700
From: "Weisman, Jon"

Just my two cents, but I do feel you're a little strident about the proofreading. I'm completely sympathetic to the annoyance/frustration, but your discussion of your own errors undermines your argument. You misspelled a word in the very sentence about proofreading being good training. Then you say there's no point in identifying errors that you make, because you're dyslexic and because you make an effort. Who's to say that your reader isn't dyslexic or doesn't make an effort, either? All "Dan" did in his first sentence was leave out the word "have."

Personally, I think it's fine to ask your readers to proofread better, but I simply think you could be nicer about it. Since your replies do contain errors, good intentions or not, it just doesn't make sense to me to cop an attitude.

- Jon

Jon is, of course, correct. And so I apologize for my rant. In particular, I apologize to "dan" for taking my frustrations out on him.

My only defense is that all the lousy proofreading -- and there really is a lot of it -- creates a kind of cumulative frustration. I really do ignore it most of the time. I make fun of it (I hope in a good-hearted way with a smart-ass response) occassionally, and I only rarely blow a gasket. But that's not much of an excuse.

So let's all try to proofread a bit more, including me -- hell, especially me -- and I'll try to keep my temper.

Again, dan, sorry.


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 7th, 2003

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was spending his last night in Scotland at the Edinburgh Airport Hilton Hotel. This is his story:

I maybe got two hours sleep. I had called downstairs for a wake-up call, and they told me they didn't do wake-up calls and that I'd have to set the alarm in my room. I looked around and told them the only clock was the digital readout on the t.v. They said that the alarm was one of the television's functions. (This is progress, I suppose.) So I attempted to set the t.v. to wake me up. But I had little confidence in it or me, so I barely slept.

3:45am
Sure enough, the t.v. went off as scheduled. I showered (probably the best shower of the trip, if you're keeping track). Dressed and ate my last Loch Torridon apple and Hilton cookie.

4:45am
My dad and I took a shuttle to the airport. There we waited in line with a bunch of Rugby fans in kilts, all headed to Germany.

I went through security and was stopped. They had spotted the two hand-painted rocks in my duffle, which I had purchased on Skye. The lady was very nice as I unpacked them for her. I told her what they were before she saw them. She pointed out that rocks could be used as weapons and that I might have to put them in my checked luggage. I told her that I hadn't checked any luggage. She told me that I might have to check my duffle then. But when she saw the cute little cottages painted on the rocks, I could tell she felt that I was hardly likely to use them as a weapon. Still I would have obviously done whatever they felt was necessary. She showed the rocks to her superior, who waved them off. I put them back and wondered whether I'd have as much luck in Germany.

6am
Boarded the plane to Frankfurt. Biz class aisle seat. Tomato Juice, Eggs, "Bacon", mushroom, spinach, cheese, apple, grapefruit and mango slices. A croissant.

9:30am
Arrived in Frankfurt (having picked up another hour).

I said goodbye to my dad, who was going into Frankfurt for his day of meetings (which had been the financial justification for the whole trip). I don't think I've talked much about my dad here, but Scotland aside, I really just enjoyed spending all this time with him. We talked for hours and didn't come close to running out of topics until somewhere around day five or six, and even then we managed. It's nice when even the silences aren't awkward. We took pictures, which largely came out great despite the fact that on the first day in LAX he put all his film through the X-ray machine. (A tech genius he ain't.) We drove for hours and hours and hours and enjoyed every minute. We saw some gorgeous scenery and a few other interesting tidbits. We followed a couple of my obsesssions, had a bunch of great meals, listened to a terrific murder mystery and talked about that. Truly, though I'll try, I can't thank him enough for the trip and the camradery.

Anyway, after he had gone, I took a long walk to a different terminal. There I changed my remaining pounds to Euros and bought some snacks for later: Pringles, a Snickers, an Evian and some Peanut M&M's.

Then I went to McDonalds. I bought a Quarter-Pounder, which they called a "Hamburger Royal", fries and a FRIED apple pie. (In the States, they only have baked pies now. I hadn't had one of McDonald's fried pies in years and years.) Now on this trip I had eaten McDonalds three times in three different countries. Once at LAX, once in Edinburgh and now once in Frankfurt. I love McDonalds.

I then went through another security check (putting my burger and fries and pie through the x-ray machine). I was sure they were going to make me take out my rocks again, and it seemed to me like the guy on the machine studied the screen with extra attention. But they let the bag go through. Me on the other hand... They didn't have a metal detector for me to walk through. So I got thoroughly searched. Shoes off. Belt. Wallet. Watch. Tube of blistex. Coins of course. It was very touchy-feely too. I don't begrudge it of course, but that doesn't make it fun.

Grabbed up my stuff and went to the Biz Class Lounge, where I ate my Mickey D's with a free coke that they had there. Also ate a free cookie and my snickers.

I left the lounge to wait for my plane and finished Faulkner's "Sanctuary", which I had been nursing the entire trip.

Boarded the plane. I was in Biz Class near the very front (3H). (First class was upstairs.) Boy, that landing gear makes a lot of noise when you're right on top of it.

I started reading "Shakespeare's Kings", a non-fiction book which compares Shakespeare's treatment of the monarchs (from Edward III through Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI to Richard III) to the actual history. I got through Henry V on the flight. It was fascinating.

I also watched "Bruce Almighty", which was considerably less fascinating. (Largely shallow and annoying, but it killed some time.) There were other movies too, but I decided my book was much more interesting.

I think I slept for about an hour.

Ate Venison & Cheese, Tortelline, a chocolate bar, Berry Pudding, cake, tomato juice and a concotion called "Multi-Fruit Juice" which at first taste I hated and then decided I liked it so much I had glass after glass after glass. Water too, sparkling and still. (I like to keep hydrated). A couple of ham & cheese sandwiches and another apple. (Not all this at once.)

4pm (Los Angeles time)
We landed. Went through the long lines at Immigration and customs.

A car was waiting for me and took me home.

Reunited with Beth, Erin and Benny. Which was great. I gave Beth her sweater, which she loved -- and which she felt was the exact right size. So I was vindicated there. I'm not sure the kids new what to make of the two rocks with the cottages on them. But they like getting stuff, so they were happy too.

I ate my German-bought Pringles and M&Ms that night.

And so ends my Odyssey.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 6th, 2003

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was spending his last night at the posh Loch Torridon Country House Hotel and had gone to bed at 11:30pm. This is his story:

4am
Woke up. Went back to sleep.

Just before 7am, I woke again.

8am
We loaded up the car and had breakfast: Apple, Tomato AND Orange Juice. Corn AND Bran Flakes. Croissants w/Apricot Puree AND Strawberry Jam. A big AND morning.

We hit the road for the final leg of our trip, largely making good time, listening to Tup's mix tape again.

From the hotel and Annat we headed northeast on the A896 to Kinlochewe. There we turned southeast on the A832 through Achnasheen. Somewhere along here (I think overlooking Loch Luichart) we stopped at a "Passing Place" to take photos of one of the ubiquitous "Passing Place" signs. We maintained our south-easterly heading past Garve on the A835 and made our way past Tore and onto the A9.

We crossed the bridge that separated the Beauly Firth from the MORAY FIRTH. Seeing the word Moray was the first sign that we were in Macbeth territory. And generally, in Gargoyle territory.

We headed into Inverness. I ate one of the apples I had copped from the Loch Torridon hotel room. Someday, I'd like to spend some time there, but this wasn't going to be the day. We took a few minutes to walk down to a bridge across the River Ness (which leads eventually to Loch Ness). We walked up to Inverness Castle, but we didn't really have the time to do much more than take a quick glance around.

We soon were back on the road. We got caught here and there behind some slow drivers (who didn't pull over as the signs instructed), but generally we made good time. We passed a town called Killiecrankie. And I thought, "I know a lot of people who get Killiecrankie sometimes."

We passed BIRNAM WOOD too. And signs for Glamis Castle. Someday I want to come back for the full-on Macbeth tour of Scotland.

Then we drove into Perth, looking longily at the fast food places. But by this time, I was on a mission: STONEQUEST. Last time I was in Britain the Stone of Destiny was still in Westminster Abbey. I've been to the Abbey at least a half-dozen times over the years, but I didn't (back then) know the Stone's significance. I certainly didn't know it could talk like Frank Welker. So I never took any notice of it. Now, I really wanted to see it.

For those of you who don't know or don't remember, the Stone is theoretically "Jacob's Pillow". The stone that Jacob rested his head on the night he saw the ladder leading up to heaven for the angels to climb. The stone found it's way to Ireland and thence to Scotland, where Kenneth MacAlpin was crowned upon it as the first King of Scotland. After that, all the Scottish Kings, including Kenneth, Constantine, Maol Chalvim, Duncan, Macbeth, Luach and Canmore, were crowned upon the Stone of Destiny on Moot Hill in Scone. Later, the stone was taken to London by the English. And used to crown English/British monarchs. It was briefly stolen in the fifties, but returned to Westminster Abbey in time for Elizabeth II's coronation. (Although some believe that the real stone is still in hiding.) GARGOYLES, of course, posited that this was also the famous "Sword in the Stone" from which Arthur drew Excalibur. In the episode "Pendragon", we showed Arthur and Griff communicating with the Stone at Westminster. But in 1997, the English returned the Stone to Scotland. But not to Scone. Rather it was taken to Edinburgh, so that it could be kept with the Honors of Scotland and the Crown Jewels in Edinburgh Castle. So today, I was determined to drag my dad to Scone Palace to see Moot Hill and the replica Stone they kept there and then later to Edinburgh Castle to see the real thing.

So anyway, we got a little bit lost in Perth. But got directions to Scone Palace from a very nice tourist info lady on West Mill Street. We made our way to Old High Street, Atholl Street and Charlotte Street to the Perth Bridge. We crossed the River Tay and then headed north on A93 to the Palace.

Now Scone Palacce was definitely a place I would love to spend a half day exploring in and out. The Grounds were just lovely, and the Palace itself looked very cool with some cool things inside. And there's a maze! But we really didn't have time if we were going to get to Edinburgh Castle before it closed. So a few minutes later, I was standing on Moot Hill leaning over the faux Stone of Destiny in my Gargoyles sweatshirt (half-hoping someone would come up and make the connection). It was cool. We took some pictures and left.

Back on the A93 (south now) to the A90 to the M90. Down to exit 4, where we pulled off in Kelty. Now most of this trip was planned by my father's assistant Anita Kelty Nitta. So in tribute to her, we stopped at her ancestral home and took pictures near the "Welcome to Kelty/Drive safely" sign. Then it was back on the road until we took the Forth Bridge across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh. We found, with amazingly little trouble, the Edinburgh Airport Hilton and checked in. Compared to the Classy, Cozy and Posh places we had been staying, the room at the Hilton seemed quite the unpleasant little box. But it did offer a pre-packaged shortbread cookie, which I was happy to eat. It was servicable. It would do.

We drove across the street and returned the Beetle. We walked back to the hotel and called a cab to take us to Edinburgh Castle.

This cab ride took a ridiculously long time and a very circuitous route only to run smack into a huge crowd emerging from the Rugby finals. Hundreds of people wearing shirts celebrating "The Famous Grouse" blocked our path. Our cab driver then explained that he had intentionally taken a circuitous route in order to avoid this very traffic... and that if the game had gotten out five minutes later, we'd have thought he was brilliant. As it is, we were stuck. It took forever to finally get us to the Castle.

Now, I've been to Edinburgh Castle twice before, so I've seen the sights. And yet I still wish we had more time, because it's truly worth exploring over and over. But we had arrived close to closing, and we still hadn't eaten anything since breakfast (cookies and apples aside), so time was short. We took a few pictures. Another couple shots by a cannon (a running photographic theme on the trip), a picture of me in my Garg Sweatshirt by a lion gargoyle that definitely reminded me of Leo. Then we headed in to see the actual Stone of Destiny. It was cool to see it. But no pictures allowed in there. And I waited to hear if it would talk to me, but I guess there were too many people around. No one commented on my sweatshirt either, but I was still very glad to have seen it.

We started walking down the Royal Mile, but we were sorta past sight-seeing and so we headed down to Princes Street to look for a nice non-touristy place to eat dinner. We passed the Train Station (with it's killer staircase) and Scott's Monument. But nothing presented itself dinner-wise. So we decided to eat dinner back at the hotel and had a VERY late lunch at McDonalds (1/4-Pounder, fries & coke).

We had passed a taxi stand earlier with literally a dozen taxis waiting in line. After McDonald's there were NONE there. But we found one a few minutes later and took it back to the Airport Hilton.

6:15pm
Dinner was Tortelline, Steak (which barely compared favorably to a Sizzler), fries, Mushrooms and an Apple/Blackberry Crumble, all of which might have been better if we hadn't just had McDonalds about a half hour earlier.

We were back in our rooms by 8pm. I talked briefly to Beth. I was tired, but I just couldn't go to sleep until after midnight.

TUNE IN TOMMOROW (or possibly Wednesday) for the conclusion of our adventure. *Here's a preview: "We don't do wake up calls" "The Trouble with Rocks" "Frankfurt, Germany" "McDonalds in three countries" "Shakespeare's Kings"*


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 5th, 2003

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was staying in the posh Loch Torridon Country House Hotel and had gone to bed after a dinner of Sea Trout at 10:30pm. This is his story:

3am
Woke up. Just flat out couldn't sleep.

3:30am
Called Beth, Erin & Benny. It was 7:30pm (the previous day) their time, so I finally got a chance to talk to the kids, who had just finished their first day back at school. (Erin in 4th grade, Benny in 1st.) After that, I tried the TV and reading. Finally slept again, on and off.

7:30am
Woke up, very tired. Showered. This shower was okay, but still not great. The nozzle was difficult to adjust.

8am
Breakfast at the Hotel. Orange & Tomato Juice. Toast, Cornflakes, Oatmeal Porridge with Brown Sugar & Cream.

9:15am
After taking a few pictures around the gorgeous and gorgeously situated hotel -- and once again putting up with the car alarm -- we were back on the road. This was the first day we weren't simultaneously en route to our next hotel. We were staying a second night in Annat at the Loch Torridon.

We drove from Annat to (the southern) Shieldaig to take a loop from Tornapress to Applecross to Fearnmore to Kenmore and back to Shieldag. That was the plan anyway. But we wound up making a wrong turn. We were still on the loop, but we wound up going in the opposite direction from our original intent. It wound up working out well, if not better. We passed by Kenmore and Fearnmore, driving the high coastal cliffs of the peninsula overlooking the Inner Sound and the Isles of Rona and Raasay. We stopped to take some pictures, and an older couple in a mobile home (coming from the opposite direction, as we had originally planned) pulled over beside us. The man got out and took one of the few pictures we got of the two of us together. He was incredibly nice, with great stories about his distant relatives in America. But the thing that struck me the most was his voice. He had great timber, and an even greater accent. A real Scottish brogue, but perfectly understandable. Very rich. (He was, incidentally, from just outside Edinburgh.) The voice director in me wanted to get him into a recording booth immediately. He warned us that the road ahead was steep quite steep with a number of sharp turns. He said had he known, he'd have never had taken his mobile home there. It didn't have the engine to carry the weight and there were moments when the wind felt like it was going to carry him over the side. He also recommended that we stop in Applecross for fresh baked bread. It sounded really appealing, but the truth was we had just had breakfast. I would like to go back though and have lunch there sometime.

The views on route to and coming out of Applecross were just spectacular. And he hadn't been kidding about the steep winding and very windy roads of the Bealach-na-Ba which rises to 2,053 feet with many hairpin turns. Bealach-na-Ba means "Pass of the Cattle" in Gaelic, and it is an old drover's trail for taking cattle to market. It was a little intimidating even in our little round Beetle. But man... gorgeous. Generally, on the whole trip we had extremely cooperative weather. And today was no exception. We never really got rained on. But the day was a touch misty over the ocean, and from an altitude standpoint, we were pretty high up. It might have been nice to really have a clear day to see forever, but still and all, I have nothing to complain about. And there's something right about the mist and the wind, the sharp, grey day. We stopped a couple times for more pictures.

We completed our loop, again passing Tornapress without ever actually seeing Tornapress. Passed Shieldaig again, stopped for gas and then returned briefly to the hotel. I had another apple in my room. Then we drove northeast on the A896 along Glen Torridon, passing as usual the ubiquitous sheep that move with impugnity around the country. I also spotted a raptor of some sort, almost literally hovering in one place in the strong wind. My dad commented that considering how many sheep were all around, there was surprisingly little lamb on the menus. I don't like lamb, but I tried to come up with some explanation. My favorite was that all the sheep we were passing were pets.

But we also considered the possibility that lamb on the plate ONLY comes from literal lambs, i.e. baby sheep. Maybe these sheep were all too old at this point.

Anyway, we drove along the Glen to Kinlochewe (a town I could never figure out how to pronounce). There we took the A832 north. It wound around the coast of Wester Ross passing near Loch Maree, the more northerly Shieldaig and Loch Gairloch. We passed through Charlestown, Gairloch and Poolewe. Drove along Loch Ewe to Aultbea and Laide. Drove around Gruinard Bay and crossed over to Little Loch Broom, before turning south through the stunning Dundonnell Forest.

We took the A835 north, planning to stop at Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach, but we passed the pull off before we could react. And since we were coming back the same way later, we decided to press on.

We stopped at Ullapool on Loch Broom. We had lunch at the Calley Inn. Tomato Soup and Mussels (again). The food was good. It started to rain a bit, while we were inside. (It had rained some nights, both while we slept or while we dined, and we had driven few small showers here and there along our route, but we had literally never been rained on. My dad never used his umbrella the whole trip.) Walking back through Ullapool, I put on my hat due to the very light rain, but it ended soon enough.

I stopped at a local knitting store that didn't look too touristy and bought Beth a sweater. (I should say, it was really amazing of her not to balk or squalk about this trip. It was not a great time for me to be going. She's a teacher, and she had to spend the week prepping her classrom for this week's start of school. The kids, on the other hand, were off until Thursday. My mom pitched in. But it was still a lot for Beth to cover.) Anyway, I picked out a wool sweater in colors I knew Beth would like. There was no medium available, so I chose a large, knowing that Beth liked loose-fitting clothes over tight. The saleslady, however, really tried to talk me into the small, saying that she thought the large was too big. I was pretty confident I was right, but she really started to make me paranoid about my choice. I stuck to my guns, and the woman surrendered reluctantly, telling me I could come back and exchange the sweater if Beth didn't like it. I thought that would be a nice trick. Though a tad expensive.

We had had some vague thoughts of heading further north, perhaps to Achiltibuie or even Lochinver. But it was already getting late, and we didn't want to push our luck. So we headed "home".

We backtracked to the Corrieschalloch Gorge and the Measach falls. The midges were out in force. Though we had been warned about them, they hadn't been a problem before now. So although I had bug repellant, I had left it at the hotel -- along with our other rolls of film. We got one picture of the Gorge from the swaying suspension bridge that spanned it. But that was it for the day, as the roll was used up. (This hadn't been an issue before, as every other day we were driving from one hotel to another, so we always had ALL of our stuff with us in the car. But today we were returning to the same hotel, so we had brought almost nothing with us.) Anyway, as with everything, the Gorge and falls were truly beautiful. But the back of my neck was getting eaten alive, so we beat a hasty retreat back to the car.

We headed south now, staying on the A835 past the Loch Glascarnoch Dam, the Black Water River and the Strathgrave Forest. Somewhere around here we finished "The Zebra-Striped Hearse". We had both enjoyed it immensely. Ed Asner's last scene as Colonel Blackwell had really been great.

We headed west on the A832 past Lochluichart, Achnasheen and Glenn Docherty, where we ran into a bit of construction on the one-lane road that caused some extremely minor delays. We rejoined the A896 at Kinlochewe and drove back through Glen Torridon to Loch Torridon, Annat and our hotel. I had another Shortbread cookie in my room.

Dinner brought Cheese souffle appetizers, like the little cheese crumpets in "The Great Mouse Detective". Another little teacup of soup, this time Mulagawtany. I ordered Mushroom Soup and Roast Beef with potatos and broccoli. Desert was Apple Pie and berries.

Later in my room, I returned a couple of business calls and talked for awhile with Duane Capizzi (my friend and the writing producer/story editor of such shows as "Men In Black" and "Jackie Chan"). He has a new series at Warner Brothers and was offering me some freelance scripts. I said yes. I don't know whether the project is confidential or not, so I won't say anymore about it at this point.

I talked to Beth and went to bed around 11:30pm.

TUNE IN MONDAY for more adventure. *Here's a preview: "The River Ness" "StoneQuest" "Birnam Wood" "The Famous Grouse" "McDonalds"*



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