Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm Moving

Well, I've been blogging here at Blogger for a few years, sometimes with more frequency than others. Lately I haven't been so good, sorry.

Anyhow, I've started a blog for work through Wordpress, and since I'm enjoying working with it better, I've decided to switch my personal blog over to Wordpress.

You can now find me at

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Oscars Live Blog

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cartoon a Day: Hockey Homicide

Hockey Homicide
Directed by Jack Kinney
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - The Complete Goofy

Well folks, life got crazy, so "Cartoon a Day" didn't happen for quite a while. But with the Winter Olympics going on, I just couldn't resist doing a review of a great cartoon that celebrates a great winter sport...the Goofy short, "Hockey Homicide." In my opinion, this may be the best of Goofy's staring vehicles.

Like many of the other Goofy sports cartoons, every character in this short is a variation on Goofy. This time it's presented as coverage of a hockey match with Doodles Weaver (of Spike Jones' City Slickers) as the voice of the play by play announcer. His fast-paced commentary alone makes this funnier than your average Disney short, but there's so much more to love here.

As usual, the animation is masterfully done. The artistry is really where the Disney animation studio set itself apart from the others, but here you also have a level of comedy not often seen from the mouse house. The comic pacing is more like a Warner Brothers short.

Through it all you can see that while the makers of this short poked fun at some of the odd aspects of the sport (the fights and such), that they also had a true appreciation for the sport. That kind of appreciation is often what makes for the best kind of comedy. So during a break in the games from Vancouver, be sure to check out this animated winter sports classic!

Our Olympics - Snowboard Cross

The next round of our Mario & Sonic Winter Olympics continued tonight with our chosen sport matching up with what was on TV...Snowboard Cross.

In this event, the players shake the Wii-mote to begin and then turn it move their snowboarder around the curves. On the jumps, you need to move the Wii-mote up and then try to do tricks while in the air. This gives and extra speed burst when landing.

Once again we each raced twice. This time around the gold went to...Luigi with a time of 1:11.740. Mom's Mii grabbed the silver with a time of 1:16.444. Shadow got the Bronze with a score of 1:17.062.

So far on the medal count...Shadow (Timothy) has one of each. Daisy (Samantha) has three bronze medals. Mom's Mii (Mom) has two silvers. And Luigi (Dad) has two Golds.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Our Olympics with Mario & Sonic

My family has been having a lot of fun with the Olympics. One thing that really helped my kids to be excited about the games was the fact that we got the video game "Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games" for Christmas. This is an "official" video game for the Vancouver games, so it uses the official logos and the actual names of the venues for the events. So going into the games, my kids already new about Cypress Mountain and such. Not to mention the fact that they have more of a knowledge of the events. So bravo to the Olympic committee and Nintendo for working together on this! If they goal was to raise the level of excitement about the certainly worked in my household.

We decided that our family would have our own games by way of the Wii. Each member of the family has chosen a character and we will be competing in the various events. We are going to try and update the world through the blog and by the end will see who the Olympic champ of this house is. Timothy is playing as Shadow, Samantha is playing as Daisy, Mom is playing as her Mii character, and Dad (me) is playing as Luigi. Yesterday we began by competing in two events. First was the Skeleton.

The players shake the Wii-mote to start, push a button to hop onto the sled and then turn the Wii-mote side to side, trying to stay in the center yellow arrows to get the best speed. We did two runs each and used each persons best score to determine the rankings. In the end, Luigi had the best time, 1:10.287, to get the Gold. Shadow nabbed the Silver with a time of 1:13.557, and Daisy grabbed the Bronze with a time of 1:15.792.

Event 2 was figure skating. This is the part of this game that amazes me. I mean when I was a kid we were playing Space Invaders, now we actually have video game figure skating! We all did our routines to "Swan Lake" for this round (we may do more figure skating to other songs later). For figure skating you need to watch the prompts on the screen and move the Wii-mote up, down or spin it at just the right moment. Additional points are awarded for extra turns that you do throughout the routine. Sounds weird? Just check out Timothy's technique...he's a bit extreme but you get the idea.

The results were very different this time around. The top score was an amazing 98.900, giving the Gold to...Shadow! After a rough first round score, Mom's Mii came in a close second with a score of 98.200. Daisy grabbed the Bronze with a score of 89.400.

So after the first two events: Shadow has 1 Gold, 1 silver...Daisy has 2 Bronze...Mom's Mii has 1 Silver...and Luigi has 1 Gold. Stay tuned for more...not on the networks of NBC.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Costumes by Austin Powers

Opening Ceremony

My family enjoyed watching the opening ceremony for the Olympics last night. My wife made a unique observation as the athletes marched in. Maybe she's the only one, but she thought the ladies carrying the country signs (in English and French, yay Canada) looked like they had gotten their outfits from the set of an Austin Powers movie. Groovy!

I Love You Canada!

Opening Ceremony - Vancouver Olympics 2010

I love my country. I'm a proud American, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But...watching the opening ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics last night, I was reminded of the great appreciation I have for our friendly neighbors to the north. I have many Canadian friends and they are wonderful ambassadors of their great land. There are so many similarities between our countries, but so many things that make them unique as well. Here are a few things I love about Canada!

- O Canada

I'm not Canadian, I've never been Canadian, but darn their national anthem makes you want to be Canadian. I love "The Star Spangled Banner," but this song just oozes with national pride. "God keep our land glorious and free, O Canada we stand on guard for thee." Shivers!

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Shania Twain

- Canadian Music

There's an awful lot of great musical talent that comes from Canada! Rush, Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morisette, Diana Krall, and Shania Twain, just to name a few.

- Z (Zed)

Oh come on, am I the only one who thinks it cute when talking to an Canadian and they call the letter Z "Zed?"

- Tim Horton's

If Canada has a plot for world domination, I guarantee it somehow involves Tim Horton's. From what my Canadian friends tell me, Horton was a hockey player who's become much better known for his chain of donut and coffee shops. They are all over the place! Like how Starbucks is in the US. Slowly, "Timmy's" are popping up stateside and I can't wait until they make it to Colorado. They're donuts are goooooood!

2008 Canada's Walk of Fame

- Canadian Comedy

Somewhere between American sketch comedy and British sketch comedy are a bunch of really funny Canadians. SCTV, The Kids in the Hall, The Frantics, and The Red Green Show are just a few examples of the unique Canadian sense of humour (look I used the "U" in humor)

- Gravy on French Fries

When I visited Winnipeg last summer I was caught off guard when ordering a burger and fries. "Do you want gravy," I was asked. "Gravy for what," I replied. "Your fries," was the answer. Hmm, well why not? I gave it a try. It was yummy. Now, Poutine on the other hand (french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds) doesn't sound that tasty to me...but I'll dip my fries in gravy any day.

- Ketchup Flavored Potato Chips

Do you really need an explanation on this one?


- Canadians really are nice people!

I always say one of my favorite places to visit here in the US is Lafayette, Louisiana. The reason is that everyone is so nice. They all call me sir! Well those folks (Cajuns) are descended from Canadians. It has been my experience that Canadians really are very polite and pleasant folks be around.

So here's to the world's longest peaceful border! Yay Canada...Eh!

We are the World...Again

Last night as were gearing up for the start of the olympics, NBC aired a portion of a music video for a new version of the 80's stars feeling good about themselves song "We are the World." This one is to help with the relief effort in Haiti. I guess I had heard about it a week or so ago but hadn't paid real close attention to the story. Just like how 20+ years ago when stars like Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, Kenny Rogers, and so on got together to sing on one single...this time we have the likes of Miley Cyrus, The Black Eyed Peas and Celine Dion. And once again, they are all under the direction of Quincy Jones. Both versions of the song represent interesting moments in pop culture history and no matter what you think of the celebrities involved, it is a good thing they're doing.

I remember the album cover of the original "We are the World" which featured a group photo of the stars involved and an alphabetical listing of their names beneath. What always stuck out in my mind is that the first name on that alphabetical list was someone we don't think of as a singer...Dan Aykroyd!?!? Now Aykroyd had done some singing as a part of the Blues Brothers, but I always kind of wondered how Aykroyd ended up among all the chart toppers who gathered to record that song.

As I'm watching the video for the new song last night, I noticed a few more famous faces carrying on the "huh?" tradition of Dan Aykroyd singing on the original. I was surprised to see "the dude" himself, Jeff Bridges, among the crowd. Even more surprising was seeing that musical hit-machine Vince Vaughn (that's sarcasm campers). No disrespect to these two, I mean bravo for helping...but it's still a bit of a "huh" moment.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Early Oscar Predictions

Anne Hathaway and Tom Sherak announce nominations for 82nd Academy Awards in Beverly Hills

The Oscar nominees were announced yesterday. Once again I'm having a bit of a contest at my office to see who can pick the most winners. Things are a bit different this year with ten nominees in the Best Picture category, so it'll be a bit harder to pick the winner. Still, here are my early predictions, still subject to change as we see how the wind blows over the next few weeks.

Jeff Bridges nominated for best actor for 82nd Academy Awards in Beverly Hills

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
George Clooney - Up in the Air
Colin Firth - A Single Man
Morgan Freeman - Invictus
Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker

There's no huge stand-out here. I think Freeman having won in the supporting actor category in the past makes him a long shot, Firth's movie isn't as well known, and Clooney...well, I don't know. I'm sure the performance is great but remember back when it seemed like every other movie out had Gene Hackman in it? Clooney has taken over in that department, some folks are a bit tired of him. I think it comes down to Bridges and Renner. Since Bridges has been nominated four times in the past and never won, I think the little gold man is his this year. Having just won a Golden Globe doesn't hurt either.

Sandra Bullock nominated for best actress for 82nd Academy Awards in Beverly Hills

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
Helen Mirren - The Last Station
Carey Mulligan - An Education
Gabourey Sidibe - Precious
Meryl Streep - Julie and Julia

Sidibe has an outside chance since the Academy often awards great performances by actresses in their first movie (Marlee Matlin, Jennifer Hudson). However, I think the battle is between Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock. Streep can never be counted out, but I think the award goes to Bullock.

Christopher Plummer nominated for best supporting actor for 82nd Academy Awards in Beverly Hills

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon - Invictus
Woody Harrelson - The Messenger
Christopher Plummer - The Last Station
Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz - Inglorious Basterds

Here you have another two man battle. This one between the person many think SHOULD win, and the one who probably WILL win. Who should win? I think most would say Waltz as the main baddie of Quentin Tarrantino's latest. However, in Plummer you have a 50-year veteran of the film industry who has never been nominated before. The Academy would be honoring his whole career with a win this year. My pick would be Plummer.

Mo'Nique nominated for best supporting actress for 82nd Academy Awards in Beverly Hills

Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz - Nine
Vera Farminga - Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air
Mo'Nique - Precious

Nothing's for sure, but this may be the easiest one to pick. It's never good to have two actresses nominated in the same category for the same movie. So Farminga and Kendrick cancel each other out. Gyllenhaal doesn't seem to have the buzz the others do so she's a long shot. Cruz has won this award recently, and besides, "Nine" has not exactly been greeted with rave reviews. Mo'Nique gets it not just by process of elimination, but from what I understand, her performance is truly one of the best of the year.

James Cameron nominated for best director for 82nd Academy Awards in Beverly Hills

Best Director

James Cameron - Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino - Inglorious Basterds
Lee Daniels - Precious
Jason Reitman - Up in the Air

Did you know Cameron and Bigelow were once husband and wife? Well they'll be battling it out again, as it would appear they are the front runners. This award is so closely tied to the Best Picture award (get there in a minute), right now it's hard to say how things will go. But I think, even if another film goes away with the top prize, Cameron's innovation on "Avatar" will lead him to his 2nd directing Oscar.

Avatar nominated for best picture for 82nd Academy Awards in Beverly Hills

Best Picture

The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglorious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

No lie, with 10 films instead of 5 it's harder to pick...and could lead to an upset. I think there are 3 films that have the best chance. "Avatar" dominated the technical categories and is a true movie milestone..."The Hurt Locker" has had almost unanimous critical praise and since it's about the Iraq war some voter may feel they are making a statement by placing their vote with it...and the safe choice for voters "Up in the Air." Anything could happen, but I think enough voters are still amazed enough with "Avatar" to lead it to the win.

I'll probably change my mind on some of this...the awards are March 7.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Groundhog Day!

Happy Groundhog day woodchuck-chuckers! I've always loved this strange little holiday and it always bring back special memories of when I was first dating my future wife. See, many people love the movie "Groundhog Day," but a lot of folks don't realize it wasn't filmed in Punxatwaney, Pennsylvania. It was filmed in Woodstock, wife's hometown. The first time I traveled to Woodstock to meet her parents was during the production of the movie. The town had images of groundhogs everywhere. My future in-laws even got their picture taken with Bill Murray and later realized there was no film in the camera. Ahh, the days of film.

Today Woodstock even has their own Groundhog Day celebration and is gradually memorializing different locations where filming happened around the town square. You can visit "The Bum's Alley," "Ned's Corner," and even see a plaque on the sidewalk where the puddle was that says "Bill Murray Stepped Here."

My favorite character in "Groundhog Day" is Ned Ryerson played by the one and only Stephen Tobolowsky. This gives me a perfect chance to mention my new favorite podcast, "The Tobolowsky Files." It's pretty much just Stephen Tobolowsky telling stories, and he's a great storyteller.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Guilty Pleasure 10: Young Einstein

The summer of 1989 was an incredible year for the movies. Among the films out that year were "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "Ghostbusters II," "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," and "When Harry Met Sally." But one studio in particular had a plan for how to rule the summer. That was Warner Brothers. They would dominate the first half of the summer with a little film called "Batman," and that they did. As for the second half of the summer, they looked to an Australian known as Yahoo Serious.

Well, "Young Einstein" didn't exactly set the sort of records the caped crusader did, though it was a moderate success. It is certainly one of the oddest offerings from a major studio during that historic summer.

Yahoo Serious, who was apparently possessed by the same demon of hair care that has long tormented the poor soul known as Carrot Top, plays a fictionalized (to say the least) version of Albert Einstein. Through the course of the film Einstein invents a formula for splitting beer atoms, creates rock n roll and designs the first surf board.

There's nothing really laugh-out-loud funny about the movie, but it's hard not to like. In many ways, the exaggerated behavior of most of the cast, not to mention the physical humor, points to some influence from the days of silent comedies. The level of humor is nowhere near what Chaplin or Keaton could pull off, but it brings a certain innocence that just brings a smile to my face.

I guess the world wasn't completely ready for Yahoo Serious. He's only made a few other films to date and none have had as big a release as this one did. In the years that have passed he's tried some other activities, though, like suing Yahoo for stealing his name. I'll give you one guess how that one turned out.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Guilty Pleasure 9: The Legend of Billie Jean

Summer 1986 was when cable TV first came to Wheaton, IL. So the movies that we watched endlessly on cable that summer were the films out in theaters the previous summer...including one of 1985's big bombs, "The Legend of Billie Jean." It's a movie that many people seem to want to forget. According to Wikipedia, it's original VHS video release shortly after the film's brief theatrical run is the only home video release the film has ever had. It has yet to appear on DVD. However, through the magic of Netflix and their "view instantly" feature, Billie Jean can be experienced via the internet. It is definitely one of my guilty pleasures.

It stars Helen Slater (who has already made an appearance in my list of "guilty pleasures" thanks to her role as Supergirl) as a girl who ends up accidentally becoming the most wanted criminal in Corpus Christi, TX. It all starts when her brother, played by Christian Slater (no relation to Helen), gets in a fight with some local jerks which results in his prized scooter being trashed. When Billie Jean tries to collect the money for the repairs from the boy's father...well, he has other things on his mind when it comes to Bille Jean. Long story short, he gets accidentally shot and Billie Jean, her brother, and some friends take it on the lam. Eventually, Billie Jean ends up becoming a sort of celebrity criminal with the public gladly cheering her on.

The story is really pretty silly. These "criminals" hang out in a distinct looking vehicle, in wide open spaces, yet nobody seems to be able to find them. The movie is just plain unbelievable, right down to both Slater's overdoing the Texas twang. The worst part of the movie is the character played by Yeardley Smith, the future voice of Lisa Simpson. She was 21 years old at the time of the film's release, but is playing a part that seems to have been written for an 11 year old.

So what makes the film likable? Well, for one, just like with "Supergirl," Ms. Slater is just irresistible to watch...especially for a 15 year old boy, as I was when I first saw the film. Adolescent hormones aside, and despite the accent issues, she really can draw you into a film. And of course, when you're a teenager, a film about a bunch of your peers taking matters into their own hands has a certain appeal. It's the same reason why a movie like "Home Alone" or the Our Gang shorts have such an appeal with younger kids. It's that built in desire to stick it to the man.

So Billie Jean, it's good to see you pop up on Netflix, it's about time. After all..."fair is fair." (That's a famous quote from the movie...see how I worked that in there...because...see it's...never mind).