Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Last night we had a long drawn out fairly quiet lightning event for several hours. At one point, most of the lightning was running across from one side of the sky to the other- very interesting. After sitting on my back porch watching it for a while I decided once again to try to photograph it. Out of 143 shots (I love digital!!!), only this one single image had anything on it. I cannot hold the shutter open on my digicam and other than that, I have no idea how to shoot lightning...

In other news, a friend of mine, Binnie Betten has just had a story published on the net. [NOTE: as of August 19, 2006, the owner of that site has put it up for sale and is not maintaining it anymore, so clicking on that link will let you e-mail the author : put in subject line and she will send it to you- thanks! It is worth it!] This is a fabulous story that really captures a moment in a young girls life and reveals those great mysterious realities that make girls so different. If I were a movie producer I would buy the rights to this story but I would need a young John Travolta for the male lead...


Sunday, August 06, 2006

As I was writing the blogs below today, I had the door open- it was hot, but the humidity was low and I like hot... and then the rain came. Not as regular as it used to be, but this was a good ol' Florida torrential downpour. My van was sitting outside the door and I watched as the rain smashed down upon and over it, and the wind blew it up over its sides.

In the picture above, note the raindrop exploding on the left side hinge at the roofline. Also note that the trees only 100 feet away are noticably faded in the density of the wind driven rain.

In this picture, the effects of the wind are seen driving a wash of mist up over the side of the van and across the roof!
I love a good rain!

see photos at

I spent the night in my van, slept pretty good, and then hit Target for a new DVD player for my mother that would play jpegs, then headed over to UNI IOA. First stop was to check Lost & Found for my hat: no hat- never recovered. I then called Tony West, the former Disney animator I had met a few months before, and got his answering machine. I left a message that I would try again later, and did Marvel Super Hero Island, everything except HULK which is starting to bother my neck, then over to Bluto’s Bilge Rat white water raft ride for a good soaking down! I did 5 runs, then sat and watched the scenery, shot some pictures, found Plymouth Rock, then headed over to Seuss Landing.

They have completely repainted Seuss Landing in new vibrant colors, and it looks really good! I again called Tony and much to my surprise, (I have talked to his machine many times!) he answered! His office is on the other side of Circus McGirkus so he just came on over. We talked a bit, until I interrupted him to get a shot of the Trolley running through Circus McGirkus. He asked in surprise, “What is that?”. Though he is right there, he very seldom gets the chance to do the parks and had no idea of this new ride. I asked him if he wanted to give it a shot, so we went over and rode each run. Then we agreed to meet for dinner later, deciding on Mythos, another thing he had never tried or heard anything about, and parted.
I went to my van and napped, then back to Seuss, plugged in my depleted batteries and walked over to the Trolley for another go round- beautiful views! Coming off, I saw Tony waiting at McGirkus. We headed straight over to Mythos and after a few minutes were seated and we ate and talked and talked and talked... Dinner was good, but I paid little attention to it- talking to Tony was so fascinating! I mean this guy was there! Is still there! [see Dream On Silly Dreamer] We just yakked on endlessly. You know, you start to answer a question and mention something and off you go on a tangent and then another and another... I gave him one of the CD's I had burned for the list meet and it had my shots of the 75 Mickey’s on it and he was thrilled: he had wanted, but never gotten the chance to see them. We took our drinks out onto the veranda overlooking the lagoon and the other side of the park on this warm evening and continued talking.
Then it was approaching 9 and I realized it was too late to make it over to the Universal side for the new 360 Show I had wanted to see, but I had so enjoyed our conversation that it was worth it. So, instead, we rode the trolley to see what it was like at night, and then parted: Tony had to make some calls to the West Coast concerning a new project. He also said he is going to send me a DVD of his “reel”, a portfolio of his animation work, which includes a couple of scenes cut from Lilo and Stitch!!! Wow!
I did One Fish Two Fish, then checked out the newly discovered sub pulled up to the edge of the lagoon, stopped to do Cat in the Hat but there was breakdown and I didn’t wait for the test run to make sure it was okay to go again, instead cruising about a bit and got a nice shot of Marvel Island through the spars of Hulk. Headed out and came home.
I had brought the print copy of my new book on the Passholder Preview of the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride with me to IOA and showed a couple of the crew at the ride and they were all excited: they have no pictures of themselves. I gave one my e-mail addy and told her I would send her the e-version. (Applies to anyone.) I had the girl who demonstrated the dance for me sign my copy. I had also showed the latest Adventures of Jud to Dawn, the whale trainer at SeaWorld featured in the shots on the preview show there, and had her sign it- she was thrilled, as was I: that show is outstanding!

Spent the next two days writing this and preparing photos, so I hope you enjoyed this!

see photos at
I headed back in and noted with the park closing at 10 this evening, there was another Shamu show at 9. I went to that and it was even better than before. There are several special little touches at night that add to what is already one very awe inspiring show, in addition to the simple fact of spotlights being used on the whales! And the screens were fully functional again! I am very happy to report that though the screens and their movement are a wonderful addition to this show, it does stand up without them, as I had seen in the afternoon show when they didn’t work. So this is not a matter of some special effects making the show, only adding to what is quite fantastic already.

I also want to note another new touch in this show, which now that it is there seems so long over due! As anyone who has ever attended the Shamu show knows, one of the big events is when the whales come out and, ah… “greet” the audience, at least the first 14 rows or so, with a flick of their tail sending hundreds of gallons of icy salt water in a grand plume instantly inundating anyone in the way. Well, that special effect remains, and is now presented as a distinct element in the presentation. The first part of the show concludes, then a trainer comes out and talks a bit and then starts a fairly simple “hand dance” followed by a shout. You put your right hand out, you put your left hand out, you bring them both together wave them up and down and shout, “Shamu!” This is repeated several times and then suddenly Shamu rises out of the water and belly flops near the glass wall sending a plume of ocean into the crowd! This is repeated until everyone has had a fair shot at getting soaked! I will note this part of the show is much more enjoyable in the summer months…
After the first part of the evening’s presentation, there seemed to be a bit of a stop. As we waited, one of the very large whales was steadily swimming the perimeter of the tank, around and around and around. After a moment, one of the trainers came out and started speaking. He explained that whales are social creatures and sometimes there may be something going on between them that is more important than paying attention to the trainers. He then pointed out that the very large whale in the tank right now had refused to go to the back stage tank, and basically, they were going to have to wait him out while he worked out whatever was going on. After a few passes, the trainers slapped the deck, a signal for the whale to come over to them, so they could then signal him to go to the back stage pool. He ignored them. Then they sent his mother into the pool to swim with him and hopefully calm him down. A few more go rounds, the slaps, the signal, and ignored again. A repeat, and both whales this time headed out through the gate. But just as it was closing, the big whale came pushing back in and resumed his solitary circling of the big tank! The whole process was repeated with two additional whales now joining the original and eventually, they did all go to the backstage pool. I noted that during all this none of the trainers had joined the whales in the water, and I thought to myself, “Where does a 600-pound Gorilla sit?”
After the show was over, I wiped the tears from my eyes (it really is a moving show) and went down to talk to one of the trainers about a couple of points I had noted in the now three presentations of the show I had witnessed. He explained that what happens in any given show is to some degree dependant on the “mood” of the whales, as well as the particular trainer and whale combination. For instance, in the afternoon show, there was one “trick” in which Shamu shot way up out of the water at one side of the pool, trainer on his nose, and literally tossed him all the way across the pool in a grand dive: truly impressive! That didn’t happen in the evening show because that was only done by that trainer and that whale. Other behaviors were similarly particular to certain whales.
After the show was the nightly presentation of Mistify, a water light and fireworks presentation and I headed down to the edge of the lake to watch that. Only after it started and I felt I was missing something did I learn that it is only completely viewable from the other side of the lake, in front of the Seaport Restaurant. Movie images are projected onto a mist wall in the lake that tell the story and that is not viewable from the backside. So I just enjoyed the audio and the later fireworks. But, as I sat there, I suddenly was hit with some liquid splashing across my arms and hands. I looked back, thinking someone had carelessly tossed the remaining contents of a milkshake but saw no one. I rinsed off my hands in the lake and continued watching. A while later I again felt a large splash and a big sploot on my back and discovered that it was indeed the dreaded bird dropping attack! I was sitting under a tree, and there are some very large birds in Florida and at SeaWorld and I had been blessed by one of the biggest. I spent 20 minutes in the men’s room after the show washing it off the entire right side of my vest! Apparently elephants do fly!

see photos at

August 4, 2006- Had a “list meet” for lunch at Downtown Disney today. So I did my best to get there early, yet despite my best efforts, still arrived a few minutes late. Had to make a couple of stops on the way, and they stretched out a bit, then got stuck behind a funeral moving very slowly down the main highway, so ended up at DTD about ten minutes late.
Headed over to the “planter between Earl Of Sandwich and the Toy Store” as instructed, and was looking around trying to figure out which thing was “the planter” when I heard my name called out. I looked up to see Stefanie, from Boston, whom I had spent an afternoon with the previous meet- along with her husband and daughter and son.
Amy was with her and we intro’d and then Stef pulled out a present for me, a pair of Red Sox pencils and erasers! You know the guys who beat the tar out of those damn Yankees and won the World Series a couple of years ago? We chatted a bit then headed into Earl Of Sandwich, where Barbara had staked out a couple of tables.
While everyone went up to get their food orders, I raced over to the store to get some postcards I wanted to have everyone sign for some special list friends. When I got back, quick introductions were made all around and, cheating here now, it was Melanie, her kid's, one of whom was Victoria, Kay and her husband, Harry, who are members of a different net group, and Barbara’s husband, Tony, a Disney Cast member.
I chatted with Kay for a while, as she has a Pride Go-Go scooter like mine; and then with Barbara’s husband, Tony about his work operating, loading, and running several rides in FantasyLand; then I moved over to talk to Melanie, and look at her hat, covered with pins, and they are all of the evil women of the Disney films… hmmm… Beccy arrived with two of her three boys, Christopher and Jason. I called out greetings as Beccy claimed my abandoned ECV for a seat. I then gave Melanie’s young beautiful redheaded daughter Victoria a quick drawing lesson, Mickey’s head. [Melanie writes, “Thanks for teaching Victoria how to draw Mickey. She has now shared her newfound knowledge with her brothers, sister, and Dad. I have Mickey heads all over the house now. It is wonderful.”] And then suddenly people were leaving! Barbara reports that, “We all had a very nice lunch and learned a lot of good pointers thanks to my CM hubby.” But alas, I missed that! Must have been during the drawing lesson!
Those of us remaining, Barbara, Tony, Beccy and the boys, and me, headed over to Ghirardelli’s for ice cream, even though the boys didn’t want any (what’s with that???) but this was the bribe which had brought Tony to the meet. We placed our orders and got a table, and after way too much time had elapsed, I gathered together our three order number stands and started waving them like one of those guys guiding a plane to the ramp. Someone noticed and laughed and got going on our order, which appeared very shortly thereafter. The kids had gotten a kids grab bag, which included hats, so Christopher and I donned them for a picture.
Eventually that ended with the decision for the next meet to be at Beaches And Cream over near Epcot, and after much back and forth with Beccy and the boys, it was decided Christopher would go with me to SeaWorld for the afternoon and Beccy would pick him up there after the Shamu show. But before we left, I had to race back over to that store where you get the special Tinkerbell postmark to get the four postcards mailed, with one being held for a later date by a co-operative Cast member! As I came back, I noticed a new corner on the World Of Disney Store, as a crowd had gathered to get spit on by a giant Stitch as Pirate! Argggg!!!
Then Christopher and me were off to the World of Sea, with Jason’s cell phone in my pocket so Beccy could stay in touch. We entered and headed straight over to Journey to Atlantis, and apparently I am a disappointing wimp, cause I made it “boring” by sitting in the back (and thus avoiding getting soaked), but Christopher decided against doing it again. We headed over to the other side of the park stopping at the arcade on the way for a couple of games of skee-ball, then into Shamu’s newly refurbished play area where I discovered the newly opened Shamu kiddie coaster! Then Christopher climbed aboard the new water-cannon equipped pirate ship and then into the unique fabric mountain climbing area, then headed up to the giant rope and tunnel climbing construction. Noting that there were several exits on this giant attraction, I headed up to join him. We hauled ourselves up three stories of netting, not at all as simple as it looks, and made it to the top, just as the announcement came that it was being closed due to nearby lightning, so off that and we headed over to take our seat s for the Shamu show. Wasn’t long to wait for that, and it was great, but the screens weren’t moving, some technical problem, but the show was still so impressive!! After the show I called Beccy and she was on her way, so we did Wild Artic to cover her travel time and then headed out to the front gate and thus ended my time with Christopher.

see photos at

July 28, 2006- Got a phone call from one of my fellow thespians, “Doc Jeff”, about 6 and ended up over at his place for the evening. He lives in Old Homosassa, on a canal, and after some stir-fry veggies, which were surprisingly tasty, we took his small boat out into the river. Of course, river is a misleading term in this area, as it is more like an island-infested delta... but it was glassy calm, and a nice, though quick, spin as it was just after sunset and no running lights. After our return, we chatted and I gave him a lesson on using his puter better. I also noticed a woodcarving on one of his walls that struck me, and I shot it, and then asked him about it. It is a piece he did, unfinished, long ago, back in his college years. Looks like it was done with a carpenter’s chisel- square edged cuts: very basic, raw, interesting.


see photos at

July 22, 2006- Back from the theater, waiting for the water heater to do its thing so I can take a shower to get all remnants of this nasty makeup off my face. One more show to go. Tonight’s audience was the quietest bunch of people I have ever not heard! I wish they were that quiet in the library! Tomorrow, we already have the biggest ticket sales ever (for this show) due to a small mention in the paper today- finally. It resulted in 60 additional ticket sales today! Before this, there has been no mention! Whoever had PR for this thing totally dropped the ball. Opening night/weekend wasn't even mentioned, or listed in the “what's happening” section of the local paper! Now with just this tiny mention we get 60 ticket sales the same day!

It is interesting how many people, some of whom have done this for many years, tend to react to actually doing on stage the very thing they have done off stage or in rehearsal with good results, and they go on stage, with audience, and start swallowing lines, or losing all umph! And vice versa- showing nothing in rehearsal and doing great on stage live: a strange phenomenon, live theater.

July 23 2006- Just home from the cast wrap party after the final performance this afternoon. Thanks to yesterday’s mention in the St Petersburg Times, we had a sold out +12 house! They were literally standing in the back! And reactive! Wow! They were on top of everything! And we did the best show yet, so we ended on a great note! The wrap party was great! The leading man, David E, had it at his home, a beautiful Florida ranch, full of his collection of “pop” memorabilia, including three huge old time gas pumps, lots of Coca Cola merchandise, and other stuff... and lots of good food!

July 24, 2006- I have finally received a printed version of the new version of my woodcarving book with the cover as I want it. The specs have changed so it took a few tries to get it laid out right. And this morning, I found an order for a copy in my PO box; and this afternoon, I got a call from the Campbell Folk Art School in NC ordering half a dozen B&W editions, and upon advisement, one color edition as a demo for special orders of that version (which is not available wholesale).

And, with utter surprise, my order from Lulu, which I placed last Monday, arrived today! Way early!!! And all fine! The new comic book format that I used to print my blog for a couple of non-net friends worked great and looks great! I am thrilled with those! I also got three copies of the B&W Pursuing Art In American Woodcarving for the Library of Congress- for copyright and cataloging; and the three copies of the new editions of Haltia and the Third Planet, same thing. The changes in that are minor, the movement of about 12 pages to the beginning to make it easier to get into, and addition of a couple of end notes. All look great! And finally, the printed version of the Passholder Preview report on the new Seuss ride, mainly a photo-book, which I laid out at 11 x 8 ½ and that came out great too!Meanwhile, the grass is taking over... I await word from my snowbird neighbor’s brother re his tractor which he also borrowed from him, and which he said he would bring over last week as the one I borrowed died and I am supposed to do both lawns... having trouble finding my van in the tall grass…


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