Saturday, January 30, 2010

Comics: Hark, a Vagrant

(Click for Full Size Gorey covers)

Hark, a Vagrant is a relatively new addition to my list of webcomics, and it's definitely one of the more unique ones that I read. While most of the strips are pretty amusing, today's strip, where the author imagines scenarios based on the covers of several books illustrated by Edward Gorey, just made me laugh out loud. The actual strip has five different books, but the one above made me laugh the hardest, and kept me smiling whenever I thought of it today.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Comics: January blues

(Click for fullsized bonus Shortpacked)

This one actually went up a few weeks ago, and I meant to blog it then, because I had just been to my closest Walmart (not the greatest one, but they've been working on it lately), and they were in the process of moving all the toys in the toy section around, so I definitely knew the feeling here. This was the same trip where I first found the SSC dolls that had the Berryfest Princess description on the back, but I didn't buy any because I was actually on the trail of something else, and since it wasn't at Walmart, I didn't want to get anything else. This was mostly because I was also visiting Target that day, and I figured they would have the dolls there, too, and I wasn't one hundred percent sure I wanted to get dolls anyway. I'm not a huge merchandise collector, really, although I love to go around to stores and just see what's available. Anyway, long story short, Target didn't have the dolls, later on I decided I wanted to get them anyway so I could scan the image on the back and post here, and so it was back to Walmart I went, though not that same day. By the time I got back there, the rearranging was mostly done, though it took me four times around the toy section to find where the SSC dolls were. Like I said, that Walmart is working on being a better store than they have been, but they're not quite there yet.

Friday, January 22, 2010

CWaCoM - Scissors: A Love Story

Here's a little something I put together, mostly for the joke at the very end.

"I'll be using these bad boys to help save the town," Brent said, pulling out a pair of golden scissors. Brent loved those scissors very much, but he loved showing them off even more.

As Brent flaunted the scissors, Flint's heart ached. For though he longed for the scissors, he knew that they could never be his, so long as Brent was number one in town.

And so Brent and his scissors went off to cut some ribbons, unaware of the fate that was about to befall them.

Change was in the air. It was not long before Flint also began to garner a bit of fame in the town...

...and soon he had eclipsed Brent completely.

"At least I still have my scissors," Brent said, holding them tight.

But even those would be taken away from him. As the mayor demanded Brent hand the scissors over, Flint could hardly contain his excitement. Soon the scissors he had desired for so long would be in his hands!

Brent couldn't believe it. His scissors, used by someone else? By Flint, of all people? He couldn't let that happen!

"No, I'm never gonna give them up!" Brent cried, holding onto the scissors as tightly as he could. "I'll never let go!"

Yet despite Brent's best efforts, the scissors were forcefully ripped from his grasp, and handed to Flint.

Using the scissors to cut the ribbon as Brent so often had, Flint felt a wave of joy wash over him.

At last the scissors were his!

Brent could not believe his scissors would betray him. "Scissors.... I thought what we had was special!" he cried out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Charlemagne the Musical?

I heard it from RevolutionSF first, but apparently Christopher Lee is going to be playing the Ghost of Charlemagne in a concept album for a "symphonic metal" musical called "Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross." It seems that Christopher Lee is related to Charlemagne, although I don't know if that's why he's doing this CD. You can hear samples from the CD, which is set to come out on March 15 (although it isn't listed on Amazon), on its youtube page. Frankly, the music sounds pretty Transiberian Orchestra-ish to me, but that's probably because I have a limited reference pool when it comes to metal, even symphonic metal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Redbox Saga: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Where I work, I'm fairly close to a pair of Redboxes, and so I've noticed a general trend in how the week's new movies are handled. Generally, The Redbox Guy (RBG) will show up anytime between Friday and Monday to put in the new discs, take out old ones, and shuffle the little movie posters around (is there a word for that?) so that the newest DVDS are right above the Redbox kiosk itself and the others are in some kind of random order on a display case next to it.
Naturally, when it was getting close to the release date for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, I kept an eye out to see when the RBG would show up. It turned out to be one of those weeks when he didn't come until Monday evening, so he was still at work when I was leaving. I kind of wanted to ask him if I could see the Cloudy DVD, but I figured there are probably rules against that. When I went into work the next day, though, I was very surprised to see that he hadn't changed any of the little posters (or the upcoming movies sheet), which worried me a little bit, since most people make their decisions on what to rent based on the displayed posters, even though there are many more movies inside the kiosk. Especially kids. But I was happy to see that despite no notice of it being inside, people were renting Cloudy. (I, meanwhile, attempted to buy the 2-disc w/mystery exclusive DVD at Walmart, but had no luck, so I settled for getting it at Target, where it came with a teeny tiny version of "The Tasty Tale of Chewandswallow." The mystery exclusive turned out to be an umbrella that reveals food when it rains.)
The following week, RBG didn't come until Monday again, and yet again he didn't put up new posters (or even the old ones from the previous week), but he did put a poster for Cloudy in the Featured Movie slot, which made me happy, anyway. Finally, for this week, the guy came on Friday and put up all the new posters that hadn't been put up before, including one for Cloudy down in a prime location in the kids' section (the two rows closest to the ground). Of course, now there's the problem of there not being enough copies of the movie to go around. I check every now and then during my shift, and it makes me feel good to see that it isn't there, since that means all the copies are checked out, but at the same time I feel bad for whoever might be coming next to try and rent it.

As for the actual DVD, it both brings me great joy and vexes me at the same time, though not for the same reasons. I'm very happy to actually have the movie on DVD, so I can go through it frame by frame if I so desire, and easily get screenshots of the exact shot I want (you'll be seeing the fruits of that soon), and the supplemental features on the second disc are very good, too, especially the "Recipe for Success" featurette and the voice actor spotlight.
What vexes me, though, is not what's on the DVD, but rather, what isn't. When the DVD was announced, the special features were, too, and the things I was looking forward to the most were the Extended Scenes and the Early Development Scenes. Especially the extended scenes, since the Junior Novelization is full of such scenes, but from what I've seen in the Art and Making of book, there's plenty of good material available for the Early Development scenes. But the actual DVD has only two of each. On the Extended side, there's a short bit that was cut out of Flint, Sam, and Manny's trip in the elevator, which I could have done without, really, and a longer section of the Spaghetti Twister that includes a foodfight between Flint and the Mayor (which was pretty much a given to be included). But I really would have preferred to see more, especially if it was something that wasn't in the junior novelization or the various animation reels on youtube (most of which have been collected here).
On the Early Development side, there's a nice scene of Flint writing to Vance LaFleur, cataloging some of both of their achievements, and a different version of the spaghetti twister. Now, since I have the Art and Making of Book, I didn't need any explanations, but it might have been nice for there to be some kind of introduction to the scenes for those who don't have/can't afford the book. In lieu of that, here's a bit of explanation: In one version of the story, Flint was trying to get into the Science League, run by Vance LaFleur, who (among other things) saved the world from giant ants. Toward the end of the movie, Flint would realize that he was meant to stay in Swallow Falls, and that his hero had actually created the giant ants in the first place (and had a rather cavalier attitude about it). The second clip doesn't need that much explanation, except that Sam is there reporting on the opening of a hotel, which was a dropped element (it looked like an inverted pyramid with a million rooms, and from what I can tell, it was going to serve the same purpose as the dam). Both are fine scenes, but as I said, I was hoping for more than just two. I kind of would have liked to see the scene described in the Art and Making of Book with the jukebox guy, but that's probably just me.
I was also sort of hoping that the DVD would explain just what was planned for Brent in the Ice Cream Snow Day scene. The Art and Making of Book includes a shot of him in a sequence of color keys for that scene.
Upon further inspection, Brent is actually in that scene in the finished movie, but only at the very end, when the camera starts to pull out. I've circled him to make it easier to find him.
So yeah, it makes me wonder whether or not there was going to be more to his appearance in that scene, or what. I didn't really think that I'd get an answer, but one can always hope.
The commentary (the director/writers and Bill Hader) really didn't shed as much light on the story development as I would have liked, but it was still fun and informative. For instance, I never noticed that when Flint goes to replace the fuse near the beginning of the film, he's singing the music that was playing in the background of the previous scene. And when Brent becomes Chicken Brent, the music that plays is an orchestral version of the Baby Brent Sardines jingle. But there's also a lot of Bill saying "I voiced this with Anna in the same room." So yeah.
Anyway, the movie itself is very awesome, and even if the special features don't always live up to my (admittedly rather high) expectations, I still think it's worth getting the 2-disc DVD. The Blu-ray version also has the option of throwing food at the screen while watching the movie, although only on certain players, or so I've heard.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Preview: SSC Berryfest Princess

According to Amazon (and a number of other sites), the next Strawberry Shortcake DVD, The Berryfest Princess Movie, is set to come out on March 2nd. While Amazon has the DVD cover up, no plot information has been posted there or anywhere else yet. But the latest dolls in the toyline include a brief synopsis on the back (and an image of the DVD cover that is different from Amazon's), which I've included below. To wit:
Join Strawberry Shortcake and all the girls in Berry Bitty City as they get ready for the Spring Festival! When the Grand Marshal is suddenly called away, Strawberry Shortcake learns how to be a leader with help from her friends!
Which is a little different than what I had been thinking the plot would be (i.e. the girls would compete to be the titular princess, learning lessons about not being ultra-competitive along the way). So, is the Grand Marshal the Princess, or does the Grand Marshal pick the Princess? In that case, my thoughts on the plot could still stand. Sounds like it'll be another lesson in delegation, though. And just who will this mysterious Grand Marshal that gets called away be, anyway? A reimagined old character, or a completely new character? Or perhaps they won't even be seen, just mentioned. We'll have to wait until March to find out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Katy Caterpillar

Sometime in my childhood, I saw an animated film called "Katy Caterpillar" (probably on the Disney Channel, they showed a lot of really random stuff back then), but I never saw it again, though I wanted to, mostly because of the Just For Kids video previews that showed the sequel movie, "Katy and the Katerpillar Kids." Most of what I remembered was just the ending, where Katy escapes her mean sisters by knitting herself a cocoon and transforming into a butterfly, with her sisters trying to squeeze themselves into the cocoon as she flew away.
Well, like most things these days, someone put it up on youtube, so I was finally able to see it again. But in this case, I think it might have been better left as a memory. The movie follows Katy, who leaves the safety of her cherry tree because she finds it boring, but is almost instantly set upon by a pair of crows and has to be saved by The Spirit of Nature (not anthropomorphized, though, just a glowing ball of light). The Spirit of Nature sends Katy off on a quest to find her true self and be transformed, and thus Katy has a series of adventures highlighting the jerks of the forest. A busty spider teaches her to knit, though she gets out of there quickly when she learns the spider eats bugs (whether the spider intended to eat Katy is not made clear), then she is snubbed by chameleons, conscripted to work as a bee (though she did kinda walk into it), swindled by a frog, and saved by those crows again, who are prevented from eating her by the intervention of a cat chasing a mouse. She convinces the mouse to follow his dreams and visit the city, where they visit a mouse disco and save the crows from being canned in a tomato factory, and in gratitude they fly Katy and the mouse back to the forest. There, she encounters The Spirit of Nature again, and though she still doesn't know what she wants to be, she knows what she wants to do, which is fly without being a bee. That's good enough for The Spirit of Nature, so it gives Katy a book on how to become a butterfly, which she carries back to the cherry tree and reads, then knits her cocoon. I mostly remembered the ending correctly, except only one of the sisters was mean, and Katy wasn't really escaping them. But she does go back and visit the friends she made along her journey.
So yeah, it wasn't that fantastic, and I really only made it through the film to see the end, since part of my memory of it involved her learning what she needed to do from the mouse (which didn't happen) and using the button the frog sold her (which also didn't happen, as she abandons it soon after she gets it). So it ends up being a bit of a shaggy dog story, as the only thing she really uses on her journey to become a butterfly is the knitting from the spider, and that might have been written in the book. I just can't get over that, you know. A caterpillar has to learn how to become a butterfly from a book. The Spirit of Nature has a book to give her. That's one of the weirdest cop-out endings I've ever seen.
The voice acting is not the best here, nor are the songs that great, besides Katy's theme, but I'm mostly blaming this on the fact that the movie is actually from Mexico, and rewriting songs is always hit or miss.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Save Castle!

This one is a request from my husband, who asked me to help spread the word. Apparently, Castle is not doing too well with its target demographic, and is on the 'might be renewed, might not' list. So fans are taking it upon themselves to make ABC know how they feel. Frankly, I've enjoyed Castle since the beginning, and I think that it deserves to get a third season. You can find out more about the Save Castle Campaign at the livejournal community castle_tv.
If you've never heard of Castle, then let me fill you in. Basically, it follows Richard Castle, played to perfection by Nathan Fillion, a mystery writer who has found his muse in no-nonsense police officer Kate Beckett (also played to perfection by Stana Katic), and thus follows her around as she solves crimes (usually with help from him). New episodes start up next week, but the first season is available on DVD, and episodes from both seasons are available for download on iTunes.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Just a few little things that have been on my mind:
  • One thing I don't really get in the Schoolhouse Rock! song, "Little Twelve Toes": part of the song purports that if man had six fingers, we'd be counting using a base-12 system, not base-10. However, what I don't get is that the song's narrator says that we'd end up with three new numbers, dec, el, and doe, with doe being the new ten. But why wouldn't ten stay ten? Even if it's really twelve (dec, el, ten)? I mean, why come up with new terms when you don't have to?
  • Going back to the Strawberry Shortcake episode, "A Princess Called Rap," I find it interesting that Rap's song of existential quandary mostly lists her physical abilities as the unprincesslike behavior, but what convinced her professor to lighten up was Rap displaying the knowledge she possessed (although I guess the physical side enters, too, considering she had to steer the raft).
  • Whenever I listen to "The Wizard and I" from Wicked, I always want the line "This weird quirk I've tried to suppress or hide" to end with "is a talent that could work..." instead of "is a talent that could help me meet the wizard." I think it's the emphasis that Idina puts on "quirk."

Friday, January 1, 2010

What I'm Looking Forward to in 2010

Whether or not it's a new decade or not, here's what I'm looking forward to in the coming months:
  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs coming out on DVD!
  • Finally seeing The Princess and the Frog (my older sister is coming to visit next week, and we agreed to see it together)
  • The next 2009 SSC movie, "The Berryfest Princess"
  • Rapunzel
  • My older sister's wedding, which will hopefully also branch into a trip to Disneyland