Friday, July 10, 2015

The Constant Moon

Yesterday afternoon, after my girlfriend got to her mother’s house to help her for a few days, I got a call from her asking what could be wrong with her television or her remote.  Her mother is somewhat house-ridden because she has C.O.P.D, and the television is her primary means of entertainment.  So, having long ago anticipated that something like this might happen, given how my own similar HD cable set up does that wackiest things now and then, I had on my phone photos I had taken of both of her remote control devices for the television and the cable, and I used them to start to trouble shoot with her. 

It doesn’t take an elderly person to hit a couple wrong buttons in sequence to find themselves neck deep in a menagerie of error line input messages and a black screen.  I’ve done it myself too many times.  So speaking with my girlfriend, I walked her through a few of the options of what might be wrong and how to correct the possible problem(s).  In the past, this has worked, but as the evening went on, I couldn’t seem to untangle whatever the problem was over the phone. 

So I told my girlfriend to call their cable company’s tech support, which happened to still be open.  This was about 9:00pm in the evening.  I thought that there was possibly some system problem that the cable company might know about, and which I didn’t.  But after about forty-five minutes, I texted my girlfriend and asked her if she had solved the problem.  She called back.  “Nope!”  The lady on the tech line had tried to have her use the television remote (as opposed to the cable remote) and had told her to make sure the line in was on HDMI 1.  But nothing had happened.  She also reported back to me that the first time that someone from the cable company could go out there would be Monday. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Mark Kausler - Animator


This is probably not my story to tell, but it affected me so deeply on the day that it happened that I want to share it. 

During my production management time at the Walt Disney Company, a veteran animator named Mark Kausler showed up as usual to work one morning on the production we were working on, which was a segment of “Fantasia 2000,” called, “Pomp and Circumstance.”  This was the story of Noah’s Arc, starring, Donald Duck (I love Donald Duck!).

Mark was a slender, maybe fifty-five year old man at the time, who was lean, had sandy-gray hair, and fair skin with mature facial lines.  He spoke with a plain, almost country way about him, and the first time I laid eyes on him, both his speech and his look made me think of an 1849 California gold prospector.  I liked him right away.  He was fun and humorous in social settings, but eventually he always wanted to get to the business of animating. 

Mark slipped into the Royce Building (our production building) with his seemingly consistently wind-swept hair, wearing his heavy dark blue windbreaker, and choaking the neck of his brown paper bagged lunch the way one might tote a rope that one is dragging behind.  Mark quietly settled into his cubicle with his animation light board to start his work for the day. 

A little later, I was doing my morning rounds, checking to make sure that each of my animators and clean up artists had a nice stack of scenes to work on, and as I neared Mark’s cubicle, I heard him moaning as if in pain.  As I walked into his space, I found him very upset, crying and wiping his glasses, while he was concurrently still animating on his drawing board.