And as a side note, that professor in the trailer is Dr. Curt Connors (aka The Lizard) played by Dylan Baker. They seriously COULD NOT have cast that role better. Which means I have a feeling who the villain will be in Spider-Man 3, which is already in pre-production.
I am sorry to report the loss of Zak Serafin, Jack Russell pup and friend to Leaguer Nathan Cone. Zak was buddy to Nathan, his wife and, of course, their family. Zak passed away Tuesday after battling cancer.
We at The League send our condolences and extend our sincerest sympathy.
11:32 AM |
Sounds like Jim is humming along with the upcoming production of his script. He's involved at a producer-type level which will be a tremendous responsibility, but he gets all the perks of getting to cast people. This means people will have to stand before him, quaking in their boots, hoping to win his approval. Damn. I should have been a casting agent.
I am working on a picture for my brother. That's what he said he wants for his birthday. Unfortunately, I draw very, very slowly, and not terribly well. I will try to scan the pic and post it here when I am done.
I think Jim has finally accepted the fact that I did not send him the Dilbert cartoon. I am not sure what the implications of this will be, but I am not certain why he thought I would maintain such a ruse, either.
The President of my university will be giving an hour and half speech today in which he will be detailing major changes to the university's infrastructure. Every single warm body on campus will be affected in some way, some of us more than others. I am sure only a sentence or two out of the speech will resonate at my office, but it's good to know what's going on across campus, and to know how things shake out for us as a distance learning unit.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Holy shit. Somehow I just remembered that a week ago was the one year anniversary of The League of Melbotis. Curiously, it was in reading that Friday marks the fall of the Hussein regime that I was reminded of my own special little anniversary.
Current readers may not be aware, but The League almost didn't make it past the first week. In fact, I deleted old posts and planned to just go the way of the Dodo. However, Jim D. saved the day, and he somehow had archived all my old junk. Yeah, he's a stalker.
For those of you who wish to visit my first post which was NOT just a test, I will cut and paste below:
Greetings and welcome to the League of Melbotis weblog. For those of you NOT in the know, Melbotis is my dog. He's a good boy and he knows absolutely no tricks. Melbotis was not always my dog, he used to live with Jenny Perkins, so if I ever track her down, I have to give credit to her diligence in bringing up such a fine dog.
This weekend I was told to create a blog by Jim Tiberius Dedman of www.jdedman.com I suggest you check out the link. Usually it's a really good site, unless he doesn't update it, but he does that very regularly.
Jim's a good guy, and against my better judgement, I've known him for several years. Anyway, I think his intention was that I blog to create some sort of dialogue about political matters. That's fine. I'm not sure how many people want to hear my side, but it seems better than generating e-mail or trying to keep up with Jimbo on AIM. It turns out that Jim types faster than me.
I'm currently living in Chandler, Arizona, which is a bedroom community about 30-40 minutes from the airport, but still considered to be in the Phoenix metroplex. I'm more or less from Austin, Texas, and I miss Guero's and Rudy's like some folks might miss an arm or foot.
In order to entertain myself out here in the desert, I read a lot of Superman comics, watch Monster Garage, and try to keep the pets entertained. Lately, I've been watching the war footage and shrieking in horror. Bombs make me nervous, even bombs far, far away, so I've decided that today I will not venture into man's inhumanity to man as a topic. Thus, I will keep my comments about Scottsdale brief.
This weekend Jamie and I attended the Tempe Arts Festival.
Scottsdale is North of Tempe, but apparently not far enough away. It's a place where really hideous rich people go to freak out and buy cars bigger than mine, leaving me insanely jealous. The citizens of Scottsdale descend on things like the Tempe Arts Festival in terrible pastels and with strollers full of kids named "Austin" and "Tyler" and "Britney". Their purchasing power has created an environment where its apparently impossible to sell or show anything resembling art at the arts fair. I'm not one who believes in high or low art, but I'm pretty sure that putting sequins on a denim skirt to look like a kitty does not qualify as even the dumbest of folkart. Nothing made with a machine bought from RonCo counts as art. Patrick Nagel fans take heed.
In investigating the tents set up along the way, I discovered that all you need to do to participate in the Tempe Arts fest is to have $400 to rent out a space, get a tent, and procure some crappy faux-Native American art, like a clay bowl or something. There are other objects'd'arte (sp?), like cuh-razy pictures of dogs and cats, and Henna art for mommies who are trying to remember when they were crazy, pissed-off undergrads. Anyway, it was a bit of a letdown. And too many pan flutes. Far too many pan flutes.
The art fair made me wonder what all the millions of art majors are doing once they graduate from college. Are they all at these fairs hawking rusted copper yard ornaments in the shapes of kitties? I don't know where the art majors go, but I suspect they end up doing tech support at Dell. That's what I think us failed film majors are up to.
In the end, I did get a bag of cinammon roasted almonds, which made the trip actually not seem completely wasted.
Jamie (the little lady) and I took Melbotis to the park on Saturday. It was a fine time and we flew the Justice League kite I bought at the gas station for $2.50. Given the price I paid to see XXX, I think the $2,50 was a much better investment. Typical of Chandler, Tumbleweed Park is a sprawling grass something or other watered by sewage, an investment of millions of dollars, and completely devoid of any actual patrons. Well, this week there was a children's birthday party going down, but instead of using the acres and acres of grass and park, the parents had rented a moonbounce. All the kids out here rent moonbounces on their birthdays. Every Saturday there's one of these atrocities sticking up over somebody's cinder-block fence, accompanied by the shrill partying of seven year olds.
I do occasionally enjoy the punch drunk feeling of thirty minutes in the Arizona sunshine. I miss Central Texas sunshine more, but Arizona does have a few good things. Anyway, the park is a good thing, and I secretly hope nobody ever finds it. Melbotis and I like it a lot. We hope to spend many more Saturdays there before people come in and ruin our public park. My goal now is to teach Mel to carry the ball all the way back to the car by himself.
No political commentary here, per se. Maybe next time. Anyway, I hope this is okay.
My, how far we have come. Okay, maybe not. But it's fun to look back and realize the past year of my life has been a stale, boring mess.
Lucasfilm announced the release date for the final Star Wars movie. It is to be May 19th, 2005. 6 years from the release date for Episode 1, Episode 3 will complete the 6 film cycle, wrapping up a narrative which has implications well beyond the confines fo the screen.
Whether Lucas will continue with another trilogy seems unlikely, but it could happen. I am certain he has planned out the fates of Chewbacca and Salacious Crumb in minute detail.
After a lifetime of fanhood, I officially gave up on Star Wars with Episode II, so maybe May of 2002 was really when it all went downhill (which also corresponded with my move to Arizona, btw...). I will certainly go see Episode III so I can get some closure, but the likelihood of me attending the midnight show, waking up and returning for the 9:00am show seems fairly low. Yes, I did this for Episode II. No, it was not a good idea. Yes, the afternoon at work passed with no small amount of hilarity as I was working on 3 hours of sleep.
Things I will not do:
1) I will not buy the DVD set of Star Wars until it contains the original movies, and not the remade, goofier versions 2) I will not dress up, nor coerce my wife to dress up for the film's premier. 3) I will not buy any toys of vehicles from Star Wars III, no matter how sorely I am tempted. 4) I will never put the word Jar twice in a row again.
Anyway, we have a countdown to disappointment.
1:34 PM |
Things of note:
1) Jim is still under the impression I sent him the Dilbert cartoon. I do not know why. I guess it's like most conspiracy theories... I can't prove I DIDN'T send him the cartoon, so he is fairly certain that i must have purchased and sent the cartoon. If only Mystery, Incorporated would resolve the situation.
2) Randy has sent me a disk of Teen Titan episodes ripped from his TIVO. I have notyet watched the cartoons, but given it's American Idol Results show tonight, I may well get my chance.
3) I suppose as a bizarre thank-you for the cartoon I did not send him, Jim located and sent me a copy of the 1989 album by They Eat Their Own, a short-lived college rock act I once enjoyed in high school. Thanks to Jim for locating and sending this rare item of college-rock's crippled past.
4) My parents actually sent a present this year for my birthday. It's not that they don't usually send a present... it's that they usually send a shirt and pants which I then exchange. This year my parents sent the Season 3 box-set of Futurama and the new David Byrne album. I am in no small way shocked. Also, I now have seasons 1 and 3 of Futurama, but I do not have Season 2. My life is now a meaningless void.
5) Daylight savings time is for suckers. Viva la Arizona! We don't need no stinking Daylight Savings Time.
6) I mentioned to my co-workers yesterday over a causal lunch that I was a little down on myself because I used to work to live, not live to work, and I feel like that's no longer true. For some reason this seemed to anger one of my co-workers. Which is weird in a state job. Anyway, it's not that I don't try to do a good job, but it's that this isn't exactly my life's passion, you know?
7) People continue to believe Jamie is 18 or 19. I must look liek a dirty old man, because people here think I'm somewhere in my mid to late 30's. I personally think that's awesome.
8) I am in a campaign to convince my pregnant pal that she should name her kid "Ryan 2". I think I am slowly wearing her down. it's a good name, though, isn't it?
9) I am thinking, once again, of a new dog. I have been campaigning for a thoroughbred, possibly a Great Dane. I do not know if that will happen. I am also fond of dogs intended for hunting, like labradors. Mel needs a buddy.
9:11 AM |
I spent yesterday at home. I woke up at 6:00 feeling a bit as if zombies had, in fact, eaten my brain. I suspect I am developing an allergy to something out here in the desert, but I don't know if that was what caused me to feel so abysmal. At any rate, I fell asleep again with a pair of socks in my hand and didn't bother going into work (since I think I've only taken one or two previous sick days since I arrived).
Last night I caught the second half of a Justice League episode I had somehow missed before. It ws entitled "The Secret Society", and was really pretty darn good. I can't believe I had missed it before. Anyway, if you see this episode running on TV, it's worth tuning in for (of course, if you are a luddite without digital cable, I can only pity you... for you shall probably not know that epsiode is coming on).
Jerry Seinfeld took the couch on The Daily Show discussing his webisodes on the Amex site. How cool is it that Jerry is still popular enough he gets invited on talk shows to discuss commericals he's made. During the Superman related discussion, I was impressed that John Stewart did drop a mention of the nefarious General Zod (a villain we at League HQ boo and hiss quite frequently).
Anyway, today I feel fine and I'm back in the saddle. Up, up and away.
I couldn't sleep last night and was watching the Leonard Maltin show, Hot Ticket (sort of a poor man's Ebert and Roper).
I actually stopped to watch because the co-host, Joyce Kulhawik, was screeching about Hellboy (and was kind of a cow about Maltin giving it a "Hot" rating). Anyway, I've long believed Joyce was an idiot, and Maltin isn't much better. Nonetheless, due to Joyce's cow-bearing, I stopped to watch her meltdown.
So I shouldn't have been too shocked when Joyce practically wet herself when given an opportunity to discuss "Home on the Range". What surprised me was that Maltin, who is a recognized authority on the history of animation, was just as bubbly about the movie. Apparently, none of what bothered me registered with these two. So, apparently, Leaguers... Jamie and I are alone in our disdain for "Home on the Range."
Sunday, April 04, 2004
So I did nothing I planned to do this weekend. I did a lot of stuff I wasn't really interested in, and took care of some household chores. This is all peachy. The brother comes to town next weekend. That should be a virtual festival of fun.
At any rate, I had planned to go to the Phoenix Comic Convention which was being held in Glendale this weekend. Friday night, I realized teh convention only ran on Sunday, and on Saturday night I found out the convention only ran from 9-3, and it would take at least an hour to get there. That, and the web-site was pretty spotty as to what one could expect. So I just didn't go. I remember the comic conventions Austin had when I was a kid, where they rented a ballroom at the Holiday Inn and Comic Book John gave away comics and the Star Trek geeks showed up in full regalia... which is fine... but I just didn't have the energy for it today. I think one day I'll try the San Diego ComicCon, but until that time...
With little else to do (except for homework, which I am continuing to avoid), and realizing I had only left the house in search of burritos this weekend, I decided I wanted to see a movie. And there's a lot out. I could have seen the movie which has all the film geeks salivating (Spotless Mind), or the new horror/ thriller (Dawn of the Dead), or even a white-trash remake of a white-trash classic (Walking Tall). No, not me. I decided I was going to see Disney's final 2-D animated film "Home on the Range", starring the voices of Rosanne Barr and Judi Dench.
Whatever the trailers would leave you to believe, Disney's final foray into traditionally animated splendor was a formulaic, nigh-unwatchable reminder of why Roy Disney would like to see Eisner's head on a pike. In a scene which just SHOULD NOT happen after a Disney movie, while walking out of the theater, Jamie mentioned that about five to ten minutes into the movie, she had an overwhelming desire to leave. She said she just couldn't take it anymore. And I knew EXACLTY what she was talking about. (Keep in mind, Jamie usually forgives a lot in an animated feature).
I think it does say something for the rest of the movie that follows the initial, horrendous opening sequence, that we stuck it out, and actually laughed a bit in the last half of the movie.
Home on the Range follows the adventure of three cows who might lose their supposedly vegan farm due to unpaid loans, and so the cows go off to catch a cattle rustler for the posted bounty (the sum of which is exactly what is owed to the bank). After many challenges, they catch the rustler and the farm is saved. Hurray.
Now, no one is complaining that the children's cartoon had a happy ending. Being cynical about happy endings in a Disney movie is more than a little redundant, and a little disingenuous. The problems go beyond the typically harmless script, and resonate more from the weird Modern Quirks of Disney films.
Since Aladdin, Disney has tried to do two things: 1) cast voice talent who can be recognized as stars 2) quick cut to match the "wacky" name voice talent. Now, this worked in Aladdin because 1) the star was Robin Williams, and not, say... Roseanne Barr, who was top of the A-List when he recorded Aladdin, and 2) William's rapid-fire delivery REQUIRED the quick cutting in order to match his reportedly unscripted comedic freestyling. Now the quick cutting ALSO worked because it went against the grain of the rest of the movie and was very much a magical genie breaking the fourth wall.
Ever since Aladdin, the Modern Quirks of Disney Films have assailed audiences. We've all suffered through name actor after name actor hamming it up. Which... come on... was never necessary for a successful Disney film. Nobody wondered why Mickey Rooney didn't voice Bambi when that film was released.
The insertion, post-Genie, of non-stop wisecracks voiced by big name talent (the Eddie-Murphy dragon in Mulan, anyone?)has also led to the continuation of the Genie's fourth-wall breaking talent. Today, we are left with cows in 19th century America referring to other barn-yard animals as "the frozen food section." Yeah, nobody laughed in the theater, either.
The animation on this film was good, if not exceptional, and I would even say the music was passable, sung by some big-name country stars. The tunes were very much by Alan Menken. The film's songs were extraneous, and, frankly, didn't move the story too much (except for one cute Yodel, which made me miss Don Walser). Also, the songs didn't quite screech the movie to a halt the way they did when Pocahontas shook the rafters with her Broadway ready voice, or, even the half-assed songs from Mulan (although those movies look to be twice as expensive and certainly were both much more visually impressive).
Simply put, the movie has an almost jarring uneven-ness to it, exemplified by a patch toward the end which almost seemed to indicate that we had lost some vital character development points on the cutting room floor (you know, those little quirks and lessons we learn about characters which seem so extraneous at the time...). One cannot shake the feeling the executives at Disney were in this movie up their eyeballs. Further examples of Modern Quirks for a Disney Movie:
1) When Roseanne Barr cow makes an entrance... the wailing metal guitar to show she not only will not fit in, she's BRASSY
2) Baby animals that say "awesome" in a stretched out way kids never really do... like "awwwwesome!"
3) Lots of Kung-Fu. I'm not sure why the farm animal movie had so much Kung-Fu, but it did. The horse was constantly (and some might say, annoyingly) breaking out into karate stances intended to be cute. Ultimately and incongruously, one of the cows pulls a sort of Matrix at the end.
4) Farm animals saying things like "this town rocks!" while sort of shoving their fist in the air.
Kids, it's the effect we call Poochie-ization. And I think you know what I'm talking about. Just imagine Cinderella with EXTREME mice skateboarding all over the castle, or Snow White with the EXTREME dwarf. Something is up at Disney, and I think it's called Lowest-Common Denominator.
That said, one of the great things about modern Disney movies is that writers, artists and sound technicians get bored. I spoke with one Disney artist who spent 6 months on a 12 second sequence in Mulan that I had to admit to him I didn't remember. 6 months of looking at the same 12 seconds of footage will drive you insane, and this has led to some great moments, from a panti-less Jessica Rabbit, to the Little Mermaid's Priest getting excited to see her, to Aladdin suggesting Jasmine take off her clothes (I can confirm having seen and/ or heard all of these).
This movie had at least two key moments, and a few more I wish I could now remember, in which inspired genius was allowed to shine ever so briefly. 1) in a barnyard scene where the animals are kind of dancing, the duck is reportedly doing "the Elaine dance". I will admit, the duck's dance only pinged on my radar as "what is the duck doing?" Jamie was the one who was able to identify the actual dance. 2) One of the characters, Rico, is able to spout the line "Is this how Rico ends?" just before getting his comeuppance. I was rolling. Nobody else even chuckled. (I just remembered one more... there's a new age cow, see... and, anyway, the pig mentions how she is going to make all of them "winners". I thought it was really funny in a Tony Robbins sort of way).
All in all, "Home on the Range" is an indication of the strife going on within the studio gates at Disney. It is not often a company abandons that which made them great to begin with, and this movie leaves little mystery as to why Roy Disney is heartbroken to see his family legacy being gutted. I can only imagine what it must be like to know Uncle Walt left you with the company, and then seeing the company turning to countless hours of "The Bachelor" and neglecting the animated tradition, while whoring the past in dozens of straight-to-video knock-offs of the movies which the company once held dear. When Disney decided a new feature would be released each summer, and cheap video sequels were acceptable, one could tell that it had gone beyond a profit model and had moved into plundering (Disney once had strict rules and regulations protecting each film as a property, which the video market and "sequel" franchise has fairly much followed the letter of the law while stomping on the spirit.).
All the more painful for Roy, after suffering through the doldrums of the post-60's animation era, Disney re-conquered family entertainment with The Little Mermaid and set a new mark for what was possible in an animated feature, going well beyond just the technical (do not forget Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture). As a last gasp of the traditional animation department, Home on the Range feels less like a movie, and more like a series of safe business decisions strung together in order to pick up rentals and video sales.
At some point Eisner will either retire, be let go, or drop dead in the Disney offices. At this point, new leadership will take over. And one has a hard time imagining new leadership who can't remember why Disney was special to them as a child. Not because they grossed the most, or were fastest at turning out straight-to-video sequels... but because Disney films used to be an event. Since November alone we've witnessed the release of two Disney animated features. I bet dollars to doughnuts, you're hard-pressed to name the non-cow related film.