So y’all keep blowing up my notes with the various Family Lore stories I’ve been telling, so I guess I should tell one on my parents now.
My Mother’s Father was part of the United Auto Worker’s Union, and during the 50′s and 60′s, was on strike a lot. My point is, grandpa got himself an entirely deserved reputation for being a sucker who loved animals, so people would dump thier pets on him. Hence, my mother grew up in a house with pets such as Picket the one-eyed tomcat, Tweety the Bald canary, Dummy the cat, Stupid Son of Dummy, Spooky Garbage Dog and Chiquita the Tarantula. Eventually Grandma put her foot down when Grandpa brought home Gerta the Saint Bernard.
I say all this because it provides some context for how the following occured.
Mom and Dad had just moved in together (my parents dated for six years and were engaged for 13 days, driving everyone on both sides insane), and unfortunately, My mother’s German Shepherd, Cops, has just passed away due to bone cancer. After mourning for a bit, Mom and Dad decided to get a dog together, as a couple.
For context, my father had never owned a dog in his life. His mother had ‘Pretty Bird” the budgie as a child but parrots are alien life forms, not pets.
So they go to the Palo Alto Animal shelter to adopt. The year was 1987, and at the time, Palo Alto was… not a great place. Lots of drugs, gangs and poor civic managment. Mom told me that she learned to identify different types of gunfire while living there. They get there, and mom explains that she’s always had a preference for Big Dogs, and the guy’s face lights up. Oh Yes, he says, We have a Big Dog. For expirienced owners, yep, adoptable today, here we’ll give you a discount even-
Somehow my parents were not suspicious about this.
They were shown to the Animal in question, a Gorgeous blue-sable beastie with pretty golden eyes who immediately pressed herself against the fence and gave them the best PUH-LEEEEEEASE TAKE ME HOME puppy eyes 100lbs of canine can do. Mom and Dad fall in love instantly. They sign all the paperwork and take her home for $10, and name her “Mazel” as in “Mazel Tov.”
Within the hour, it becomes clear that something is amiss.
Cops had lived with his kibble stored in a plastic garbage can in the garage for six years without incident. Mazel figured out how to open doors and got the locking lid off the can in six minutes, horking down about four pounds of the stuff before my mother notices that it’s been weirdly quiet. Most dogs bark at or chase squirrels. Mazel stalked and caught one the second day, presenting it to my mother like an offering. Mazel knew all her commands but would clearly stop to consider before obeying, and trained my dad to give her good treats within a week. The locks on the side-yard gate were undone, and she took a stroll around the neighborhood, but always retuned home for dinner.
After a week of gradually realizing that Mazel was smarter than most of the professors my mom worked with, they took her to the Vet for a routine checkup.
Dr. Hamada walked into the exam room, dropped the clip-board and said “Where the HELL did you get a Wolf?”
After a bit of prodding and a very-angry-dr.hamada-calling-the-pound, they determined Mazel was a high-content hybrid, probably with a husky, but was going to be a lil shit her entire life. OK, said Hamada, I don’t like destroying animals and you’ve got a lot of expirience with dogs, so I’m okay with letting you keep her, but you should keep her away from small children because her Prey Drive could kick in.
Two years later, mom got pregnant with me.
Mazel noticed instantly, and reacted by digging a large hole in the yard and catching even more squirrels for mom, because she needed the protein or something. That what you do when the Alpha Bitch is preggers, right? Dig a den and ply her with food? On the advice of my grandmother, my mom stayed overnight at the hospital once I was delivered, and dad went home with a shirt that had moms and my scent on it. Mazel spent the whole night puzzling over it.
The next morning, when mom came home with me, there was the sudden and instantaneous recognition of PUPPY!!!!!! :D:D:D!!!!! PUUUUUUUPPY!!!!!! and Mazel turned into the most aggressively maternal being I’ve ever met. Playing with me on the blanket, sitting under my chair at meals (I was a messy eater), sleeping under my crib, teaching me to walk by letting me hang onto her fur and shuffle around.
Dr. Hamada thought mom was a madwoman, until he saw me holding Mazel’s mouth open and sticking my face in so i could look at her teeth. He gave up when my mom announced she was pregnant with my sister.
I’m making living with a Wolfdog sound awesome, but it did come with some drawbacks:
Mazel did have to be muzzled at the vets, because she had Opinions about having things stuck up her butt.
HAIR. One of my chores growing up was to brush her out every week and I’d frequently end up with more hair than animal.
the only way we could reliably get her to stay in the yard was with an overhead tether with a STEEL cable, which she chewed through anyway.
Do you like waking up by being hit in the face with half a dead animal? No? Wolfdogs may not be for you.
More than capable of opening the fridge and eating everything if you’re not watching
Will get into everything if not otherwise occupied. Including eating your tax forms.
Howls along with sirens at 4 AM.
PROS of growing up with a wolfdog, as a small child in the 90′s
I was afforded a degree of freedom normally associated with a pokemon trianer. It was no big deal for me and my sister to walk three miles through my not-really-good neighborhood to the Froyo if I took Mazel with us. People tended to leave us alone when we had 100lbs of overprotective Apex Predator following us around.
WINNING at Pet Day at school. There wasn’t actually a compettion but Billy’s hamster sucks in comparison to an animal that is perfectly willing to demonstrate how she can snap an oak branch in half on command.
PTA moms losing their shit because Mazel would walk down the block by herself to come pick ups up from school.
Grew up associating the word “Bitch” with teeth and the willingness to rip an asshole’s face off for being rude. Never changed the definition.
Learned the I-Own-This Strut and Murder-Stare from the absolute best.
When she was 17, Mom and Dad decided to add another room on to the house. They rigged up the overhead tether so she could be outside but not underfoot for the contruction guys. One morning, mom came out to notice them all milling in the side yard entrance, muttering worriedly. When mom asked what was wrong, one of them explained that Carlos forgot to bring the Hamburger. What do you need a hamburger for? Asked mom, and they pointed down the side yard to where Mazel was sitting, doing her best Viscious Alpha Bitch Stare.
Apparently they’d never realized that she was on the VERY end of her tether there and couldn’t actually get to them, and had been scamming them for a big mac a day for a month. Mom had my six-year-old sister pull her away to show she wasn’t dangerous and tired her best not to laugh but kind of failed.
Mazel ended up living to be 19 and a half, and except for some minor arthritis, remarkably hale until the day she passed away in her hole in the back yard while taking a nap. I maintain that Death had to wait until she was sleeping to get a crack at her, or she would’ve taken his scythe for a chew toy.
Question: Before you decided to make Bill the main bad guy, did you have another character in mind that would have been the villain?
Alex: Yeah, um that’s a good question. Uh, so, when we came up with the villain of the show, I knew that… I knew that Bill was involved. And I knew that Ford had disappeared due to some deal gone wrong with some villain next to the mystery of how Gravity Falls was all assembled.
Um, but, I didn’t yet decide that Bill was that character in the very beginning, y'know? I had always imagined it was some sort of evil character somewhere kinda hidden in the woods.
I wasn’t sure I could go with the Bill idea cuz I thought it would be too much like Twin Peaks, but as we got further along the series we discussed it among the repairs and we were like, ‘none of our other villain ideas were as good.’ Bill, Bill was weirder than anything else we thought of.
Um, I remember there were other ideas. Strange monsters and government officials; some kind of cthulhu– some weird crazy old man. But nothing was ever better than Bill, so it ended up sticking.
Probably somewhere around, y'know, season one– midway through season one, we started thinking we might be– might be on point.
Q: Was Grunkle Stan ever aware of McGucket’s connection to his brother?
A: Oh, oh that’s such a good question. Wait, let me think about that for a second… Uh… lemme see… I don’t think so. I don’t think Stan was ever aware of McGucket’s connection to his brother.
Because, by the time Stan traded identities with Ford, uh… McGucket had already gone off the deep end– Was already y'know, had already created the Society of the Blind Eye; had already lost his own memory. So Stan would’ve really only known McGucket as a local obnoxious fisherman.
And McGucket, probably somewhere deep in the back of his mind, was eerily just drawn to Stan in a way he just couldn’t put his finger on, because he thought maybe he knew him, but–
I don’t– I think Stan was ignorant of that. Um, I think Stan… I think Stan looking through the journals probably should’ve put two and two together, but Stan’s not the best at book-learnin’.
Uh, so… my guess is Stan wouldn’t have known despite that uh, that there’s a lot of tumblr art out there showing them as like the Scooby-Doo gang. I don’t think Stan ever really knew McGucket before.
Q: What episode do you believe came out the strongest and the most well rounded overall? And is it the same as your personal favorite episode?
A: Oh gosh. Um. That’s a great question. Hmm… I probably feel, personally, that the strongest episode is uh, “Not What He Seems” just because it’s such a dramatic episode. Like, we know– We’ve never had an episode that dramatic.
But, when we first pitched it to Disney executives… they thought it was bad. [laughs] Um, Because it didn’t have a lot of jokes in it?
Like, I remember normally when we’re pitching our episode, executives can usually gauge how good they are by how much people laugh. People didn’t really laugh for that one, because it’s really tense. So we thought, maybe we’d screwed up. But, when the animation came back we were like, 'Oh! It’s GOOD that it’s tense. Like, it worked!’
Um, So, I dunno if that’s my favorite episode, but I think– that’s the episode we should’ve won an Emmy for, and I’m still pissed we didn’t. [laughs]
In terms of favorite episode, like… I dunno. I think the first episode that I really felt that the show was really starting to feel the way I wanted it to– “Time Traveler’s Pig” in season one.
Like, that was an episode where Dipper had an interesting story, and Mabel had an interesting story, and uh, felt nostalgic, and based around the summer, and had a big secret callback to even previous episodes, so–
I just remember when we first just got that episode back in color, I was like, 'hey I think maybe I like how I’m making this cartoon show,’ so I think that has a particularly fond place in my heart, y'know.
Q: Is Disney bringing you to SDCC or NYCC later this year to promote the journal and other books coming out?
A: Right, um, yeah, Disney– Disney… Disney-general and me, have like– we’re divorced. Like, they kept the house, and the pets. Y'know what I mean? It’s… we don’t like get dinner or anything. But, the Disney Publishing department, separate from Disney Television, they’re really cool, and enthusiastic, and energized.
And they wanna make new cool stuff. Um, so I think it’s possible I might be at D23 this year, and it’s possible I might be at Comic Con, but I don’t have anything confirmed yet.
Q: In the scene where Bill is trying to convince Ford to join him in the Fearamid, were there any other jokes or story beats that were considered?
A: Which episode specifically are you talking about? [Q: The We’ll Meet Again scene.]
Yea yea yea, We had a– Every scene that you’ve ever seen in the show has a ton of ton of stuff we’ve thought of and had to cut for time or other reasons.
Um, I remember there was definitely a version of that where Bill was a lot trickier. Like, he sort of more successfully lied to Ford about like: 'We’re actually going to make the world a better place. Though I present myself as this chaos lunatic that’s just my personality.' Like, 'here’s ways in which we’ll IMPROVE the universe.'
Um, but it felt out of character. We thought it was much more like Bill to just draw smiley faces in oceans and eat the sun and just– hope, that the force of his charisma could convince Ford that that was a good idea.
But uh, I feel like– I feel like Bill can be really really tricky when he wants to, but by the time Weirdmageddon showed up he’s so impatient, and he’s so convinced that he won, that he was no longer like, this brilliant chess master he used to be. He’s like, 'alright let’s do it! Do what I want or I’ll eat your face.’
Like, no more– No more, like– He wasn’t as smart a tactician as he used to be, y'know?
Q: Was “We’ll Meet Again” always the song you were going to use?
A: Oh yeah, it had to be that. It was like… I think I’d just seen Dr. Strangelove recently around that time and it stuck in my head. It seems to me, if Bill has a taste in music, it would be, like, old timey music that ranges from either weird to obnoxious to obscure.
Uh, Disney wanted me to cut it cuz it cost them a bunch of money to get the rights, even though it’s so old, it still cost them money to get the rights. And I just… said, please. Over and over and over again. I would send an e-mail that just said, 'please.’ And send another e-mail that said, 'please.’ And I would send another e-mail that said–
Yeah. [laughs] Eventually I wore them down that they’re like, 'alright we’ll spend thousands of dollars.’[laughs]
Q: Are real comics coming?
A: You want comics? Would you read Gravity Falls comics? [Audience screams] [Alex leans his ear forward] [AUDIENCE SCREAMS]
A: It’s a terrifying noise isn’t it, Michael? I was at a… Gravity Falls gallery, and like, they didn’t tell us how many people would show up, and it was like, THAT noise echoing from every corner. And uh like, I think I lost a year of my life. My hair started going gray, and it was like, 'oh my god, this is too much love! It’s terrifying.'
Comics. I would love to do Gravity Falls comics. Um, I have so many… One of the tough things about a half hour show like Gravity Falls is every now and then we think of an idea that we really liked, but it was too short for a half hour; 'oh that’s only five minutes of story’– Or it’s too specific and weird.
And so I have tons and tons of ideas of the show that y'know we’d like to explore this character, we’d like to show this secret, this storyline. So, I’d love to do comics. But, that’s up to Disney Publishing, and I’m trying to convince them. So, hopefully, I’ll have something exciting to announce in not too long.
Q&A with Stan and Soos
Q: Is Dipper adorable or manly?
Stan: Dipper smells like baby wipes. Even if I cut off all my shoulder hair, and taped it to him, he wouldn’t be 1/10th as manly I am.
Q: What would you do if Mabel told you she had a date to prom?
Stan: I would… invite the gentleman over, have some coffee, tie him to a chair and interrogate him for 10 hours, and maybe throw him in the pit. [shrug] Hands off my neice, kid!
Q: What would happen if Soos met Giffany again?
Soos: Oh yea, I recently downloaded this couple’s therapy sim? Uh, I think she and I would have to talk about our issues and pass around a conversation pillow, and really work out these struggles. Cuz she’s got some problems, dude.
Q: Soos, why are you so perfect?
Soos: Yeah, uh, my grandma said that a whole bunch of doves flew down and formed the shape of a perfect angel over my crib. I dunno, dude I guess I was just born that way.