Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mack Williams, animator – formerly of Archer, Frisky Dingo, Sealab 2021


I’ve known Mack Williams for about 13 years, and I’ve always been amazed by his design skills, and though I’ve never seen a full episode of Archer, he was one of the main contributors for the first few years of that FX show. During our chat, we discussed why people love Archer so much (hint: he said it’s the writing, not the animation), why people of a certain generation still are enamored of animated shows even after they’ve become grown-ups, what exactly the first years of Archer were like, and the logistics of how an episode is made. Plus, he talks about what it was like to meet his idol, Mad magazine co-founder Jack Davis.

And then …

We morph into a conversation about actual journalism where we discuss editorial cartoonists while lamenting the decline of artists who do that on a local level. Plus, we talk about his band, Attractive Eighties Women.

And just because, here are two Attractive Eighties Women videos.

Here is some of what we talked about (and some of what we didn’t).


Moving into big-kid beds and embracing what it means

11-20-13 (1:47 p.m.): We had our first parent-teacher meeting of the year with our kids’ preschool teacher, and everything went well. The kids got glowing reviews.

Great news, obviously. But Ms. RM also mentioned that we might want to split up the twins into different classrooms next year when they start pre-K. It’ll be better for them, she said, and she nodded her head solemnly when she declared her opinion.

It might be the best move indeed, and if we follow that route, it’s just another sign that the kids are growing up, away from us as parents and away from each other toward individuality. A step toward their own sense of freedom, where they can open their arms wide to embrace all that’s ahead.

Coincidentally, today is the day the twins’ full-size beds were delivered. One white bed and dresser for Stella in her purple-walled room. One brown bed and dresser for Noah in his blue-painted dwelling.

I spent the late morning disassembling their cribs/toddler beds — a sadder activity than I might have originally thought — and the movers just left. In their wake, they’ve left behind the beds that the kids might use until they leave us for college.

The kids will leave their shared room after 3 1/2 year and finally have some semblance of privacy — something they’ve been talking about lately when they have to use the potty. But do they truly want it? During the past few months, we’ve built up Stella’s impending move from their room into what will become her room. They seem excited to think about the future.

But I worry a little about Noah and how he’ll feel when Stella is no longer there. I wonder if Stella will be bothered by the wind howling that occurs outside her window without the comfort of her brother nearby. I worry if they’ll miss each other and want to rewind to the past. Because, throughout their lives, all they’ve done is share space. A bedroom, a bath, a corner in the NICU, a womb.

Will they find their new independence a pleasure? Or will they be pained by the absence of the person to whom they’re the closest?

Sometimes in our rush to get older we forget that it means leaving behind the people who have loved us all along. Even if they’re just a few feet away, behind a closed door, in the next room.

UPDATE 7:40 p.m.: The kids just discovered their new beds. They are ultra-excited, even though Stella admonished Noah from climbing up on hers.

UPDATE 10:12 p.m.: Usually, the twins will emerge from their bed a few times a night, asking for water or for another hug or for snuggles. We’ve tried to put a stop to that for the past few months with varying degrees of success.

Tonight, Noah hopped off his bed once, trotted into the office and said he wanted to kiss me on the cheek. He did and he bounced back into his room. That’s all we heard from them.

I just checked on the two, and both are in the exact same position — on their back and with arms spread wide. No longer are they bound by the width of their toddler bed. Now, they can spread out and embrace the unknown future. They are no longer stifled by their shared space.

They are now toddlers in big-kid beds, and they are free.

Dayn Perry, baseball writer

Sports writer Dayn Perry. Photo by Andrew Collings. December 18, 2009.

Dayn Perry is one of my favorite scribes, because his writing harkens back to a time when those ink-stained wretches rode the rails and stashed their bottles of gin inside the desk drawer, screaming “COPY” and “STOP THE PRESSES” whenever it needed to be bellowed.

In our chat, we discuss why his florid-style of writing is so unique, how he got to be a special consultant with the San Diego Padres, and why baseball is such a beautiful sport to write — and to have written — about. Plus, we chat about how perhaps the Roger Maris/Mickey Mantle home run chase in 1961 led to a shift in the way scribes covered baseball (and the way readers think about it) and why author Robert A. Caro is a five-tool writer.

When talking about Perry’s style of writing, here are a few of my favorite examples:

Look at these baseball cards that I just bought; just look at them

Hey look, a bullpen phone

Drinking with Boileryard Clarke

T.J. Simers, longtime L.A. Times/current Orange County Register columnist


Longtime Southern California columnist T.J. Simers has been acerbic and acidic throughout much of his career, but that’s not how he sees himself. He sees himself as a humor columnist. That’s actually his first goal when he wakes up in the morning — to make people laugh.

In our chat, we talk about how and why he made the transition from the L.A. Times to the Orange County Register, how he built the T.J. Simers world for his readers complete with recurring characters and inside jokes, and why he feels comfortable being completely (and oftentimes uncomfortably) honest with his subjects in the newspaper and in real life.

Plus, he explains why a columnist’s best attribute is survival, and we reminisce about Mike Royko, Jim Murray, and Red Smith.

My favorite Simers quote from our chat:

“Do I cringe at myself sometimes? Absolutely.”

Here are some of the subjects we talked about (and some we didn’t).


Becky Friedman — story editor, head writer of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood


Becky Friedman has been one of my most favorite podcast guests so far. No. 1, she’s not a sports writer. No. 2, my kids love her work. Friedman, you see, is the story editor and head writer for the animated PBS kids show, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood — which serves as sort of a sequel for the characters who resided in the Neighborhood of Make Believe in the old Mr. Rogers Neighborhood show. If you haven’t seen the show, head over here to introduce yourself to Daniel and friends. If you have children of a certain age, you might know exactly what I’m talking about.

In our discussion, Friedman and I talk about why all those damn children’s songs gets stuck in our heads, why the writers don’t aim the show’s material at adults, and how everybody thinks they could write a children’s book or TV script. Plus, she runs us through how an episode gets made and why Fred Rogers’ comforting words and legacy continue to impact us today.

My favorite quote from Friedman: “Preschoolers don’t give pity laughs. if they don’t like something, they’ll get up and walk away.”

Here’s some of what we talked about (and some of what we didn’t).