Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Saved Disney?

(Bumped from September 12. Note correction in green and new update at bottom):

The ever-astute Matt from over at Defying Gravity points out that a new website is seeking to fill the void in the wake of the July's closing of Roy Disney's Save Disney website. Saved Disney has been created by Tom Hignite, a Minneapolis Wisconsin (sorry, Tom) home builder with a passion for Disney and 2-D animation. A passion so strong that, after a year of research, led Hignite to start his own animation studio. This summer, Hignite started Miracle Studios, a Wisconsin-based 2-D animation house. Thus far, the studio has created commercials, brochures, and ads for Hignite's home building business, but it appears that they have far loftier goals. The studio has an animated feature in the works, slated for release in 4 or 5 years hopefully to the big screen, but otherwise to the DVD shelves.

Sounds like a flash in the pan, right? Oh, and did I mention that he hired several Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida vets? Hignite has employed nine animators so far, mostly from WDFAF, with a few having experience at other major shops (Hanna-Barbara, DisneyToon, WB, etc.). It appears that he's serious about this thing. My interest is definitely peaked, especially seeing names like Troy Gustafson, Kathy Schoeppner, Grant Hiestand and Dan Daly on the list, who have worked on the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Rescuers Down Under, Aladdin, Hercules, Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, Atlantis, and Treasure Planet . Heck, Michael Lowery and Greg Peters worked on my all-time favorite, Pinky and the Brain, so they're all right in my book as well!

The only concern I see here is that Disney is looking into whether to sue over the look of the main character in their proposed movie, and the star of the commercials, Miracle Mouse. I've gotta say that I can't blame them at first glance, as the character bears a passing resemblance to our favorite rodent. Sure, the ears are at a different angle, but Disney may have cause here.

As for the SavedDisney website, it will certainly fill a void for me. Even when frustrated by the sudden change of heart by Roy, I found that I really missed the concise Disney news summary that SaveDisney provided. This site mimicks the format to a T. In fact, you would almost fear that they would get sued by Shamrock as well, since the site layout, design, and look-and-feel imitates the SaveDisney site almost exactly.

Oh, well. I'm interested and will monitor these ventures. I hope for success for the site and the studio, but time will surely tell...

Update (9/20/05 11:20CT): I recently received a kind note from the aforementioned Mr. Tom Hignite related to this article. He pointed out the correction in green above (Wisconsin... Minnesota... they're pretty much interchangable, aren't they?!? ;) ) and also passed along the following:

If you are interested in an exclusive "news-flash" we will be traveling with-in the next 2 months to the soon-to-be-closed last true Disney animation studio in Austrailia. We intend to interview potential candidates to bring to our studio.

Best of luck to Tom and the Miracle Studios on this venture. The Australian studio put out some nice product in the last several years and should provide some great talent for this new studio to mine. I hope for success for them and will look forward to monitoring their progress, but even if they ultimitely don't succeed, maybe they will serve to shake the Disney studio up a touch and get them back on track, much like Bluth did in the 80's IMHO.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Back from MS...

Got back from my trip yesterday evening. Hope to post a detailed log of what I saw and experienced in the next day or so. To summarize, though... devastating and heartbreaking. Pictures and newsvideo just don't capture it...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Off the face of the earth, part deux

I will be out and off-line until Monday (9/19). I'm off to Picayune, MS on a relief trip...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Town to turn stinking hog manure into power

Indiana State Ag Department's Deborah Abbott: "The goal is to create a new use for the manure that's surrounding the town -- as a biofuel."

Reynolds, Indiana Town President Charlie Van Voorst: "The hog farms are all around us. We're used to that smell -- something we live with. And they're talking about using our own (human) waste as a renewable resource."

So, on one hand, they are exploring alternative fuel sources. Kudos to them. But on the other hand, they're using MANURE. That's just plain nasty...

Party of Fiscal Restraint?!?

GOPBloggers correctly makes the case that I have on many occasions... The GOP is looking to lose their fiscal conservative base with their out of control spending habits. If the Dems had ANY candidate who looked solid, presidential, and was even a fiscal moderate, they would win the White House. Same goes for many Senate/House seats. Lucky for us, they are just as bungling as the GOP at this point...

The cited post quotes a John Fund article that details things such as:
  • $24.2 billion towards 6,373 "earmarks" (i.e. pork projects) "stuffed like a turkey" into the highway bill
  • White House Budget Director Josh Bolten stating he "didn't have time" to worry about budget restrictions in the wake of Katrina spending
  • "The president could exercise leadership by insisting that we set priorities and offset the cost of Katrina relief by making changes elsewhere," says [Sen. Tom] Coburn. "Sadly, we don't have that leadership."

The biggest disappointment I have with the national GOP is not the war, handling of natural disasters, or anything in that realm. It is simply that they talk conservative, but when the budget hits the books, they spend every bit as much as the Dems.

Monday, September 12, 2005

"The volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented"

Post-Gazette.com had an enlightening article up this weekend. To sum:

  • "The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne."
  • "[Journalists] libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history."
  • "We do not yet have teleporter or replicator technology like you saw on 'Star Trek' in college between hookah hits and waiting to pick up your worthless communications degree while the grown-ups actually engaged in the recovery effort were studying engineering." Ouch...
  • "The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network."
  • "The levee broke Tuesday morning. Buses had to be rounded up and driven from Houston to New Orleans across debris-strewn roads. The first ones arrived Wednesday evening. That seems pretty fast to me."
I could go on, but read the article for yourself. Very interesting take on things. Again, I'm sure there are things that could have gone better on the local, state, and federal level. Letting Brown go from FEMA was a good political move and probably needed to be done with all of the bad press. But, as stated in the article, the relief effort has been "unprecedented."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Rathergate: a year later...

Back in the good ol' days before devastating natural disasters, we were dealing with a network trying to sway an election with clearly fabricated documents. Charles over at Little Green Footballs re-posts the damning document for the one year anniversary in all of it's seizure-inducing glory. Fellow newsbreaker PowerLine joins in the fun. Here's the infamous Free Republic post #47 and the PowerLine thread that started it all.

Kudos to these sites. I hoist a cool, frosty Yazoo Dos Perros in your honor. I wonder what Dan Rather is doing to celebrate?!?

(sorry to say that I don't know the original origin of ol' Clippy here. If anyone knows, I'll be glad to source it)

Scenes from New Orleans

Great photo essay of the New Orleans damage and relief efforts on Bill Hobbs' site...

Also, Google Maps has added stunning new satellite images of New Orleans from last week.

On with the finger pointing

Today's "Day-by-Day" speaks volumes for me...

I've really tried to stay out of this mix of finger pointing and blame game silliness. IMHO, there will be a time after the relief efforts are complete to assess what went right and what went wrong. But it appears that the libs and the media don't see it that way. They have built this perception that the evil racist Bush cut funding for levy building in an evil plot to fund the war, ordered the army to blow the levy, and then held out federal troops and FEMA for several days and is solely and completely responsible for the conditions, the looting, the deaths, and the damage of Hurricane Katrina. He may even control the weather. It's gotten to a point of silliness.

I started debating the points on my former universities newspages (here and here). Debating simple things with the columnists (and sadly, a university professor in one case) about the proper chain of command in these efforts. Here's from the actual first-responder's Emergency Preparedness webpage:

Multiple sites shall be identified and geographically positioned to serve the impacted populations without placing burdens upon those who may have lost their private transportation resources as a result of the disaster. Regional Transit Authority may be called upon to provide free transit to recovery centers located along existing bus routes.

Hmmm... the NOLA government is responsible for bussing people out? Every criticism I'm reading says Bush should have personally coordinated that... Funny how the NOLA government thought differently, yet they left all of those busses to flood...

How about this...

Following a disaster of such magnitude that far exceeds the City's and State's ability to meet the needs of the community and results in the requesting and granting of a Presidential Disaster Declaration, the Office of Emergency Preparedness shall, as previously described, at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness, establish Disaster Relief Centers for individuals seeking recovery assistance.

Wait... you mean that the city and/or state has to request the federal government's assistance? I thought the feds were supposed to just swoop in and take over the moment the hurricane hit?!?

Let's see what the Red Cross has to say...

Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

  • Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
  • The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

Well... the Guard (under the governor's command) and the local authorities. Buuuttt.... I thought that the evil Bush held everyone out?!? How can this be?!?

On to the funding issue. There are many sources for data related to this, but I think the Washington Post sums it up nicely...

  • "Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large."
  • "the Bush administration's funding requests for the key New Orleans flood-control projects for the past five years were slightly higher than the Clinton administration's for its past five years."
  • "Louisiana not only leads the nation in overall Corps funding, it places second in new construction"
  • "Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the chief of the Corps, has said that in any event, more money would not have prevented the drowning of the city, since its levees were designed to protect against a Category 3 storm, and the levees that failed were already completed projects."
  • "The Corps had been studying the possibility of upgrading the New Orleans levees for a higher level of protection before Katrina hit, but Woodley said that study would not have been finished for years."
  • "hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending"
  • For example, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to dredge waterways and building a new canal lock (instead of fixing the existing one) for barge traffic that has rapidly diminished over the years.
  • "more than any other federal agency, the Corps is controlled by Congress; its $4.7 billion civil works budget consists almost entirely of "earmarks" inserted by individual legislators."

But, silly wabbit, it's all W's fault. Forget that the local government didn't follow their evacuation plan and left those infamous busses sitting, the state government didn't request aid in an appropriate and/or timely manner, the Congress over the years has wasted $$ on pork instead of important projects in the area, the Army Corps chief says that they were fully funded on the levy projects and that the projects were complete, etc., George didn't give an eloquent enough speech and he was on vacation (ignoring the fact that it was a working vacation at the ranch that the Congress made it back to Washington after Bush did, yet they criticize him...). Sure, there's probably things that didn't go right on the federal level, but everything that went wrong was by no means at the federal level, no matter what the political spinmeisters want you to think.

Be sure to read great commentaries on this topic from Tony Snow and Michelle Malkin, among many others.

I won't even get into comments by Kayne, Dean, Jackson, Brosnan, Celine, etc. I'm done with this for now.

Back to the stuff that's really important. I'm off to give some blood at the Red Cross. You should too. Then I'm leaving for Biloxi mid-next week with a relief group, so I'll be offline next weekend. I may post before then (I may find some different topics altogether -- maybe some football or something -- since I'm a little frustrated with this topic), and I will certainly post after then and try to put some photos up.

O&A Auction for Katrina relief

XMRadio's morning talk hosts Opie and Anthony stated this morning that they plan to auction some signed memoribilia, with the proceeds going to Katrina relief efforts. If you are fans of O&A or Jim Norton, one would assume that you should keep an eye on their website for further details.

Update (9/2/05 13:18CT): Here's a link to the eBay auction for these items.

Update (9/9/05 14:36CT): This auction appears to be quite a success. They are doing the auction for the entire month, but in the first week they are at $24,984.93 (and steadily rising), with the first wave of auctions closing Monday. As well as the aforementioned O&A signed merchandise, they are offering items signed by Samuel L. Jackson, Dick Cavett, George Foreman, Travis Tritt, Jay Mohr, Jennifer Tilly, various WWE wrestlers, and various comedians, as well as other movie, sports, and music memoribilia. They have stated that they will be putting up baseballs signed by Cal Ripken and Rob Dibble among other items soon.

Like 'em or hate 'em, they're doing a good thing here...

Friday, September 02, 2005

TN Valley Red Cross in need of donors

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, TN Valley Red Cross is listing a need for the following blood types: O+ (2-4 days supply left); O-, A- and B- (1 or less days left of each); and any other blood types (2-4 days supply left). Cash donations are also very much needed (link over there ---->).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Donate Directly to the Red Cross Katrina relief efforts...

Note the image link over there ----->

This is a direct link to the donation site for the American Red Cross. They need all the help that they can get during this rescue/relief effort. We've all seen the troubling images on the newscasts over the last few days. A lot of us either know people affected by this tragedy or have friends who have loved ones impacted. It's time for us to do what we can. This dontation effort as well as the Avon effort described below will be of great impact to the people of the affected efforts, much as they were during the tsunami and 9/11 events.

Please give what you can... even if it is a few dollars.

Katrina Disaster Relief Package - Avon partners with Gifts in Kind

From a friendly neighborhood Avon lady in Frankin, TN. Avon has successfully done this type of donation effort for the tsunami victims and the troops stationed in Iraq in the past as well:

Avon has teamed up with Gifts in Kind—the world's leading charity in product philanthropy—to send disaster relief kits to people across the U.S. whose lives have been disrupted by disasters, both natural and man-made. Disaster can strike at any time. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans become the victims of disasters, such as floods, hurricanes and fires.

Each disaster relief kit costs only $10. They are sent directly to the victims of the disaster. The kits include five indispensable toiletries:
  • On Duty 24 Roll-On Deodorant
  • Moisture Therapy Hand Cream
  • Moisture Therapy Lip Balm
  • Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus
  • Skin-So-Soft Shower Gel
All proceeds go to the purchase of these products and Avon will send $4 per kit sold to Gifts in Kind for continuing disaster relief.

These can be ordered from anywhere, not just by local Franklin folks. If you would like to purchase one or more kits, please e-mail me (avonbykris-at-gmail-dot-com). Payments can be made by check, credit card or PayPal.

Vanderbilt offers Visiting Student status for displaced students

Vanderbilt University in Nashville is offering middle-Tennessee students who currently attend universities affected by the hurricane the chance to apply as "Visiting Students" for the semester while their home universities are being restored. Seems like a great opportunity for students to continue their education in the midst of this tragedy. Students would have to start class by September 7, so time is of the essence. If you know someone in this circumstance, please direct them to the above link.

Nashville Blood/Money/Goods Drive today for Katrina relief

SuperTalk 99.7 WTN Teams Up With the American Red Cross to Help With Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief




Katrina Donation opportunities

Truth Laid Bear has stepped up to create a landing page for blogs covering the relief efforts. Hop on over to his main page and find a long list of blogs covering the tragedy, as well as links to many donation opportunities.

The KatrinaHelp Wiki portal is another great site for finding donation opportunities.