Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rollin' with Zach Premieres Dec. 12th!

Remember how great Zach Anner is? He's back! Ok, he never left, but he did have to go shoot his TV series "Rollin' with Zach" the OWN show that he won. Good news, though - the shoots are over and edited and "Rollin' with Zach" is set to premiere on OWN on Dec. 12th. A promo here.

Let's hope they put the show online so we all can watch Zach being his awesome, funny self!

Paul Newman: Awesome Dude

The Hairpin has neat series on classic Hollywood actors and their personal lives versus outer images called "Scandals of Classic Hollywood." While most in the series have been interesting, my favorite so far is their piece "Paul Newman: Decency Manifest." Not only did I learn a ton about Paul Newman and add a few new movies to my Netflix queue, but I just love that the author Anne Helen Petersen, wrote about a Hollywood actor who was also a great person with a huge heart. You so rarely read about those people in almost any field, especially Hollywood, so it was a nice twist.

Plus, it contains tons (tons!) of super sexy pictures of Paul Newman. What could be better than that?

Hunger Games Sequel News!

I don't know about you guys, but I'm super pumped for the 'Hunger Games' movie. It's going to be (or it better be!) awesome, especially since the first book is the best in the series.

However, just because the first book is the best does not mean the movies can't get progressively better. That's why I'm stoked that the '127 Hours' and 'Slumdog Millionaire' writer Simon Beaufoy may write the sequel 'Catching Fire.' That's some major cred right there. Although it's annoying that a guy's directing and a guy's writing, that doesn't mean they won't preserve the great female lead that Susan Collins wrote in Katniss Everdeen. Collins will likely have approval on the script, so that should help, as well.

Also, this is just another excuse to repost the trailer. Remember how awesome it is? No? Then watch it again below!

[via /Film]

Horse and Dog are Friends

Not only is that the title for my soon-to-be-pitched kids' show, but also the reality of this delightful video about a real horse and a real dog actually being best friends. I love it so much!!!!

Also, be sure to check out the description of the video on YouTube. The owner of these two buddies, Whisky Brown the horse and Lucy the dog, seems like a really nice person who loves animals.

Doesn't it just make your heart want to burst with happiness? Also, doesn't it make you want to buy some land, a horse, and a dog? I feel ya!

[via (as always, am I right? I promise I like other blogs!) Neatorama]

Christmas Goat: Now Available in Giant Straw

Christmas present, please!

You've got to love the Swedish and their giant straw goats. What a fun tradition!

What's not so fun is that people bet on whether it will stay up through the Christmas season or get burned down before it's over - more times than not it gets burned down. I don't know what that says about the Christmas spirit, but it can't be good. Besides, who would want to burn up that little enormous goaty?

[via Neatorama]

Dreaming in Paint

I'm a sucker for art, so I actually really enjoyed this animation, despite the poor quality of animation (unless this was his first Maya class, in which it's not pretty good, at least in terms of layering), the not-fantastic direction, and the super low tech music. Ok, I'm razzing on it, but it's really a clever idea and the paintings he uses are a lot of fun. Enjoy!

[via Neatorama]

Should there be an Academy Award for Best Comedy?

Well, I'd love to win an Academy Award someday, so part of me says "Yes!" and all of Judd Apatow says "Yeah, duh, I just said I did and that's why you're talking about it now." Oh, yeah.

There's another part of me, though, that, while I understand that the Academy is never going to respect comedy in the same way it respects drama, doesn't want to give up altogether and say, "Fine, let's make us special." It's the same part of me that wishes "WALL-E" had won best pictures. It was undeniably the best movie of the year, but because it was animated, it only won the "Best Animated Feature" category. Yes, it's good that animation is recognized, but it's also recognized in a compromised way. Like "Oh yeah, you're so great in comparison with everything that's the same as you" instead of "Yeah, you're a badass compared to literally everything else. Boom!" That part of me will never want to compromise and say "Ok, let's just go for Best Comedy." Then again, that part of me also thinks I'm going to work out every day - or even once a week - so it's not really the brightest light in my ever-lit lightbulb storage room.

[via /Film]

Animation Be Weird

Here's a super short animated film that's just plain weird - aren't all stories kids tell super weird, though? Then again, super weird kid's stories don't always justified being animated, that's for sure. However, I'm posting this because it's just so darn well animated I couldn't not post it!

Buildings & Vampires from Nico Casavecchia on Vimeo.

I love the way the film and animation mix and mingle and how subtle it all is. Totally makes up for this kid's lack of storytelling ability (although it did have a beginning, middle-ish, and end, and the protagonist changed by the end, which is better than a lot of the stuff Hollywood puts out).

[via Go Into the Story]

Nerd Alert! Six Famous Thought Experiments

Six fun thought experiments from Open University, created by David Mitchell.

There were a couple in there I'd either forgotten or hadn't thought about for a while, so I thought it was a well worth a watch. Plus, cartoons are generally funny, and cartoons+science=delightful.

[via Neatorama]

Big Cat Thanksgiving!

You guys remember Big Cat Halloween?

The Big Cat Rescue is back with Big Cat Thanksgiving! I love how the trainers put the turkeys in various hidey-holes in the trees to ensure the cats get a mental and physical workout with their food. Enrichment is always good for those smarty cats!

[via Neatorama]

The Muppets - What Did I Think?

'The Muppets' was a funny, adorable movie with a lot of the heart of the old Muppet movies and the comedy of the present, but there were a few misfires and missed opportunities that keep it from going on the classics shelf at my apartment.

It embraced nostalgia largely for nostalgia's sake, without cloaking it in irony or trying to justify it. One of the most interesting things about having videos from the 60s, 70s, and 80s available to us with the click of the mouse (or the track pad for those on laptops, or the flick of a finger for those on tablets) is that we can appreciate and enjoy the TV shows and films of our childhood as they really were, instead of just through the lens of memory. We can analyze and appreciate them as kids and as adults. For those who loved the Muppets, now we can understand them on a whole new level. So it fully makes sense to go back and grab the Muppets and say, "Theses guys were great! Let's do this again!" without questioning, "Wait, what Muppets do you remember? I think you might get this wrong..." I know that people make fun of my generation for our love of nostalgia, but I think it's mainly because those in previous generations couldn't look back, couldn't reanalyze and reassess. We can, and we really have a great time doing it. This movie is definite proof of that. (Of course, I'm definitely NOT saying we should be remaking everything we loved as kids - I don't think anyone my age agrees with the big studio's decisions to make a rubik's cube or Candyland movie)

I thought the songs were fun and charming. They combined the Muppet optimism with the "Flight of the Concords  sensibility well. I thought the story was overly simple, but in generally fun. The characters, of course, were the best part. Just having the 'old gang' back together was really enough for me. That and the dance numbers. I'm a sucker for dance numbers!

I missed the serious weirdness that the Muppets have, though. There wasn't a lot of strange things in this movie. There were a ton of clever jokes and innocent humor (traveling by map was excellent), but part of what made the Muppets so great and revolutionary, in terms of comedy, was that they weren't afraid to push the boundaries of what's funny and what's just plain old strange - especially in regards to how to bend and play with the rules of puppetry itself (Walter, the new "muppet" was a white dude. Really? Seriously? At least make him blue or green with red spots or give him a mullet or something! And all he does is whistle!? Seriously!?!). Now, knowing Disney, they probably wanted to launch a franchise of Muppet movies and plan on having many more down the line. In order to do this, this first movie would have to hook all the mainstream viewers. Maybe that means that future movies would have the flexibility to go strange, but who knows?

I think the direction was strong for the most part, but there were a few quibbles I had. After the delightful opening montage of home videos, the jump to song - and more importantly song directed to camera - felt jarring. I was like, "Why are you looking at me?" I also felt like the dance numbers could have been bigger and more complex.  Plus, the classic "throw away props in the middle of song" jokes never had any punchlines - they disappeared and came back. That's not how you write a joke! The luggage flies away mysteriously - cut to it hitting someone in the head or falling down a manhole or riding on an escalator and then you watch it make its way back to the singers (who had been unaware of its disappearance the whole time) just before the song ends. It's like they went from set up to post-punchline without any joke. Very strange.

The only thing I really didn't like at all, though, besides Walter's design (if he's adopted, he doesn't need to look like a human! And yes, I realize "Man or Muppet" suggested he had to look vaguely human, but he could have at least been non-white), was Miss Piggy's and Amy Adam's stories. They were both "My guy doesn't love me, and I'm sad about it." Why would Miss Piggy give up her job at Vogue in PARIS to go live with Kermit? He doesn't even have a job! He could easily go and live with her, especially since she'd be the primary breadwinner. Frankly, she probably had $10 million in the bank in the first place. And Amy Adams barely had a character at all! Her one solo was so charming, but in the end she just mopes around for her boyfriend. She deserves better. Also, Kermit was such a mope the whole time. I didn't really know why Piggy went back to him. Even in his final speech, he kept admitting defeat. That's not Kermit!

Segel and his writing partner clearly need to learn a thing or two about writing female characters. That being said, I'm fantastic at writing female characters, so if you'd like some pointers, guys, give me a call (please!)!

So overall, I really did enjoy the movie. I thought it was a lot of fun. But it's the Muppets for goodness sake. I had high expectations. I also had high expectations for all of the talent involved. For the most part, they were met, but there were a few crucial missteps that make me want to shoot a Muppet movie of my own. Disney, call me!

Muppet Mania Links Round-Up

If you've got Muppet mania - here are a few links to fun videos and articles on those wacky characters and the recently released film:

13 Classic Moments from The Muppet Show

Unscripted AOL Interview with Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Kermit, and Miss Piggy

A Short Look at the Muppets Long History (with videos!)

Wired's Lab-Tested, Muppet-Vetted Formulas for Smartifying Your Life

The Muppets - What Did You Think? (join the discussion!)

/Film's The Muppets Review

Written Interview: Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller ("The Muppets")

Bulldogs: Should We Stop the Suffering?

This NY Times Magazine article poses the question, "Can the Bulldog Be Saved?"

It's a fascinating read, even for someone like me who already knows a decent amount about genetics and dog breeding (at least for someone who hasn't actively studied either). As many dog lovers know, there are certain breeds that have more genetic defects and are more susceptible to diseases than others. With certain breeds, if you get a reliable breeder, you can avoid most of those issues. However, there are a few breeds that are simply designed to have shorter lifespans and have health issues their entire lives. This is one of many reasons why many animal advocates suggest that prospective dog owners get a mutt from the shelter - not only are you saving a dog's life, but that life might end up being longer and healthier than a purebred's anyway.

I think the most tragic point that the article makes is that the worst offenders in the dog breeding industry - besides puppy mill owners, of course - are the most "reliable" breeders of all, the leaders of the Bulldog Club of America. These people refuse to see a problem with bulldogs as a breed despite the fact that they literally cannot breed with one another or have puppies without human assistance. Plus, their lifespans are so short - as little as two years but almost no longer than nine. The entire time they are alive they suffer from respiratory problems, finding difficult to breathe in even the most benign circumstances. And why? All because these people think that bulldogs have to look a certain way (the author of the article suggests more "human-like") to be bulldogs - they say this even though the original bulldogs look nothing like the ones of today.

So what's the answer? The British Kennel Club adopted new standards for the bulldog breed that doesn't include quite so horrific of qualifications. Others suggest outbreeding and mixing with other breeds or discontinuing the breed entirely.

As for me, I've always thought breeding bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds, plus breeds with crazy pop-eyes like Cavalier King Charles spaniels, shouldn't be bred at all. Why would you want a sick dog? Why would want animals to suffer?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pigs in Space: Why Not?

Just 'cause. Also, it's getting late and I'm tired and I still have so many more posts to go! Oh, well. You can expect 13 more tomorrow!

New NBC Puppet Sitcom on the Way!

One of the many pieces of happy news to come out of the huge success of "The Muppets" is that NBC is developing a script called "The New Nabors" about a family of puppets and the human who lives next to them. Yay, puppets! The best part about this is that these puppets are being created and executive produced by Lisa Henson, Jim Henson's daughter, which means they're being created out of Henson Studios, not Disney (also why it's NBC and not ABC). While I thought Disney did a good job, I've always been saddened by the loss of the Muppets from the Henson Studios, and I'm glad that the studio is getting back into primetime. Plus, the writing team is being headed up by a "30 Rock" veteran, John Riggi, so expectations are high on this one!

Now we just have to hope that NBC orders a pilot from them - and then a season order!

[via AOL TV]

Federal Judges Says Publics Needs a Trial for Citigroup

It's a rare day that there's a moral victory in the arena of politics, especially financial sector politics, but today we had one.

From Think Progress:

Federal judge Jed Rakoff just rejected “a $285 million settlement that Citigroup reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission, citing a need for truth about the financial markets,” choosing instead to force the case to be taken to public trial. The “judge wrote that there is an overriding public interest in knowing the truth about the financial markets. He set a July 16 trial date for the case.”
Baddass. This is not only baddass because the $285 settlement that Citigroup agreed to is a paltry sum not anywhere near in accordance with their crimes, but also for a federal judge to acknowlege that settling, skirting the outer limits of the law, just plain isn't enough justice for these huge corporations that have so many more rights than the people who work for them and the people just trying to get by. So great call, Judge Rakoff. This was a small victory (who knows what will happen in court), but an important one.

Ruff Day? Shake It Off!

I honestly didn't even read this NPR story about animals getting dry via the "shake enough off you to make everyone else so wet you don't really feel all that wet yourself" technique. I just looked at the wonderful photos of dogs shaking their heads. Yes, we've seen these Carli Davidson images before (I think I posted them on this blog!), but that's no reason not to delight in them. You just have to love that face.

Plus, the hummingbird video is just plain neat.

[via Mental Floss]

Bert + Ernie = Bernie the Poodle Mix!

Ok, this is one of the few upcoming posts that isn't Muppet-related (believe me, there are a lot of Muppet-related posts coming up), but I couldn't not use that title. The only other Bernie I can think of is Bernie Madoff, and he really shouldn't be compared to an adorable poodle puppy.

Anyway, how cute is Bernie the Poodle Mix? I love the patch over his ears and eye. That's like the quintessential classic cartoon puppy look. Somehow, though, he looks so old and wise. I almost can't believe he's a puppy and not a fifty year old shaman!

Great find, Daily Puppy!

Owl Patting

I don't know about you guys, but I need this right about now.

[via Neatorama]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Emma Stone on 'Sesame Street'

Emma Stone is funny and adorable in pretty much everything, so combine that with 'Sesame Street' and you've got a pretty great mix. Here she is demonstrating how to (and how not to) balance objects on your head!

Also, here's that great sketch she was in a few weeks ago on SNL. I can't embed it, but it's at the 52 min mark here.

Sometimes you really do just need a good cry.

History of the World (as told by paper)

I totally love this short history of the world animation by Kalle Mattson, Kevin Parry, and others. It took them six months, but that was clearly worth it (and still a lot shorter than it takes to animate a Pixar film!). They really did a great job, keeping a consistent look throughout the "history" and keeping the tone lively and upbeat without making the pace too fast.

Great work!

[via Neatorama]

Porcupines Can Talk, and They Sound like the Seagulls from "Finding Nemo"

Never invite a porcupine to Thanksgiving dinner. They're very possessive, and their tiny voices will drive you insane, as my transcript from the following video shows you:

"Mine! My corn! Mine! My corn! Stay away! Bleck!"

Seriously, doesn't it sound like words? And don't you think you'll be hearing that tiny, tinny almost-human voice in your nightmares tonight?

Puppy Made of Sprinkles!

No, I haven't just made your wildest dream come true, People Who Want to Eat their Dogs, but I love that flickr user jbrochu chose this image to use when creating a 4' by 1.5' mosaic made out of 221,184 sprinkles.

A closer look:

Amazing, adorable, and appetizing.

[via Neatorama]

Idiot Oil Company Renames Itself "Pixar"

Wow, this is low even by evil oil company standards.

A Canadian tar sands (one of the absolute worst ways to obtain oil - and none of them are very good in the first place) oil corporation has named a new subsidiary the "Pixar Petroleum Corp." - "Pixar" for short.

I wonder where they got that name from? Hmmm....

Seriously, I can't imagine how they think this will work. Do they think people will be like "What a funny coincidence? That's also the name of my favorite animation studio! Now I'm strangely drawn into purchasing their environment-eradicating product... Fascinating!"

Big Screen Animation helpfully pointed out that Leslie Iwerks, the director of 'The Pixar Story' and 'A Day in the Life of John Lasseter' has even made a documentary series denouncing the practice of extracting oil from the tar sands in Alberta. He links to one of them, 'Downstream' here.

Well, at least this should bring to light some of the issues about tar sands, so maybe it'll end up being a good thing? Unlikely, but, like any Pixar protagonist, we can hope!

[via Big Screen Animation, formerly The Pixar Blog]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Hunger Games' Trailer!

Woah, I just realized I didn't post the "Hunger Games" trailer that was released on Monday. Silly me!

Here it is, in all of its glory:

What do you think? I love the music, and the overall feel. I'm somewhat concerned about the costumes. For some reason I was expecting even more outrageous outfits in the Capitol. I also expected more color in the Capitol, and less color in District 12, but those are minor notes. It looks like Josh Hutcherson just might be able to pull of Peeta (which I was not expecting), but I'm really not expecting much from the guy playing Gale. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss is, of course, totally awesome, but we all knew that going in.

Overall, I'd say I'm still super excited about it, with only mild concerns. May the odds be ever in your favor!

New 'Brave' Trailer!

I'm a regular trailer blog here lately, but this is huge! The new "Brave" trailer was released today and there's a ton of new footage. I assume it also explains the plot, but, to be honest, I've only been able to watch it on my computer at work with the sound off so far...

What do you think? Exciting? Amazing? Again, I can't form my complete opinion until I watch it with sound, but this could be pretty awesome.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Snow White and the Huntsman Trailer

Who else is super excited about "Snow White and the Huntsman"?

Apparently, everyone at The Hairpin is, and for good reason! It really does look like a fantasy version of Lord of the Rings, and they did a great job of keeping Kristen Stewart the F out of this trailer, since she's bound to be the weakest link in this, dare I say, baddass fairytale revamp.

I can only hope that "Mirror, Mirror" can be equally delightful, albeit in the opposite direction (since it's supposed to be more lighthearted, youth-oriented, etc).

Life as a Dog Toy

Looks like fun to me!

My favorite part about this video is watching the dog's eye roll around and his skin stretch and scrunch as a he runs around the yard. My second favorite part is how his grip on the dog toy barely ever changes - pretty incredible considering how it's totally lopsided with the camera on one end.

[via Neatorama]

Muppet Trailer Round-Up

Despite saying they were done with all parodying, the Muppets released yet another parody trailer!

Plus a parody TV spot (it's playing off of the ABC Family show, "Pretty Little Liars" about a group of mean girls who get texted by a mysterious person named "A")

And a satirical (/Film exclusive) look at behind-the-scenes footage!

They're on a roll and they're not quitting while they're ahead! Fortunately, I don't think anyone's asking them to.

[via TV Squad, /Film]

Skating with a Dino

It's getting to be that time of year...

Ok, so it's just a cute promo for the Denver Museum of Science & Nature, but it would be pretty awesome to see a dino skating in Central Park, am I right?

Also, I really hope that's not a brontosaurus in that video, seeing as they never existed! THAT would make this video truly implausible;.

[via Neatorama]