Saturday, December 20, 2014

"At Least the Things We're Seein' are a Dream Come True!" - "Rocky Mountain Holiday"



Last year, I watched "John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together" for the first time ever and... well, it was something. "Rocky Mountain Holiday" is several orders of magnitude more enjoyable. This is mostly because it feels more like a Muppets special, and the crew is at the top of their game.

It also doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. Ah well. At times it feels like the middle chapter of a trilogy that doesn't exist, or like that one awesome time you had last summer. Except better, because Muppets!

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Sketch of the Day!

We need more dogs!

12.1.14 - National Dog Show Sketches

Friday, December 19, 2014

On Geometry, Pontitudinal Abundance of Cleverosity, and Unfortunate Reality Subtext - "Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree"

This December, I'm filling in the few gaps in my Muppet Christmas special knowledge. And what better, merrier place to start than with an oddity made soon after Jim Henson's death and very soon before Robert Downey Jr.'s meltdown.



Yeah, knowing all that while watching "Mr. Willowby" casts a huge pall over everything. And this is a special that didn't need any strikes against it because it is, and it pains me to say this about anything involving Muppets, not very good. It really does look like it was made during a very rough time for everyone involved, and there are effects in it that seem uncharacteristically cheap for the Muppets. Eh, at least this is the debut of Bobo the bear, if you like him. Other than that, there's not much here. The plot is literally about how, if you have a cone, you can slice ever-smaller conical pieces off the top. You've got better options for a Muppet Christmas special and boy do you ever have better options for a Robert Downey Jr. Christmas movie.

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Sketch of the Day! Dog Show doodles!

12.1.14 - National Dog Show Sketches

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In Which I Feel The Readers Are Due An Apology

So...

Clearly, at this point, Ghibli-thon has turned out to be a bust.  I will eventually write something.  It will probably not be as elaborate as originally planned because, and it's time to admit it, I honestly do not know what I can bring to the table regarding these movies that's entirely new; I feel like it's going to be me gushing "OMG so awesome!" over and over.  In any case, I'll have something Ghibli-related here early in the new year.  You are welcome to yell at me on Twitter if it doesn't show up by March.

Moving on, what of Christmas?  It'd be wrong not to have anything for Christmas here on the blog!  So this year, somewhat inspired by this pair of features at ToughPigs, I am going to be filling in the gaps in my Muppet Christmas special knowledge.  There are five major specials I've never seen and all accounts suggest I should tackle them in reverse-chronological order so as not to be depressed.  The most upsetting of them ("A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie") is only available On-Demand for not-free, so I might go ahead and skip it.  See you then!

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Sketch of the Day!

Then there was that time Sue the T. rex used one of my drawings as her profile picture for a few days.

11.4.14 - Sue's Campaign

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sweet like potatoes and molasses - Thoughts on "Over the Garden Wall"

On Saturday night I dropped ten bucks on iTunes for a series I have never seen and that hasn't even technically aired yet.  I watched the first episode, briefly thought of saving the rest for the next morning to enjoy over a cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee, and by Midnight I'd already ditched that plan and watched the whole thing.  And wanted to watch it again immediately.  And write this review telling everyone I know (and whoever I don't know who stumbles upon this here blog of mine; welcome, please stand clear of the doors and enjoy the ride) about how awesome the series is and how they should watch it, even though I was rendered pretty speechless and had to sleep on it, with the incredible songs and dreamy Jack Jones narration running through my brain all night.

Quick tangent, but it's an important one: We live in an incredible time for fans of animation.  Thus far in 2014, three of the best television series I've been watching are all animated ("Adventure Time", "Steven Universe", and "Gravity Falls".)  Lest we forget, "Legend of Korra" makes a fourth television series - if it were on TV but let's not even go there.  So far "South Park" has been very good, and there has been a host of great shows from previous years I missed out on but have been able to catch up with on Netflix instant ("Young Justice"!!!)  And so now we live in a world where Cartoon Network can air a five-night animated miniseries.

If Patrick McHale's animated miniseries (and again, how awesome is it that I live in a world where I can type that!) "Over the Garden Wall" isn't the best animated series I'll see in 2014, it will at least have been one of the most fascinating.  And if you don't want to read me gush about how wonderful the series is and what it *feels* like, just know that "Over the Garden Wall" is awesome, and you need to DVR it immediately.

It's rare that we get to see anything that feels so much like a glimpse into it's creators' brains in live-action, never mind a well-promoted animated miniseries on a popular cable network directed primarily at young folks.  And yet here's a weird, slightly spooky fable about what it is to be lost children in an overwhelming world that looks like it was dug right out of Maurice Sendak and Max Fleischer's long lost files.  It's a strange, forgotten, but lavishly illustrated turn of the century storybook set to fantastic music.  I can see how this story could have been told as a feature film, but the miniseries format helps it tremendously.  It allows the writers the freedom to follow the rambling, surreal tangents of traditional folktales.  The characters really only have one goal: finding their way back home, so why not get lost in the weird corners of imagination along the way?

Addendum: A quick look around the Internet reveals a minor controversy about "Over the Garden Wall": is it "too scary"?  My feeling is, if your kid freaks out at the monsters in "My Little Pony", this is definitely a no-go.  If your kid coasted through the Lich episodes of "Adventure Time", they should be fine.  Honestly, the creepiest thing about "Over the Garden Wall" is (spoilertime) this is the one animated series I'm aware of where the crazy "Ash is in a coma!" "Finn is dying and dreaming this whole thing!" people are right!

So yeah, "Over the Garden Wall".  It's outstanding.  You should watch it.  Then download the soundtrack and join me in a rousing rendition of the Highwayman's Song.

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Sketch of the Day!

It's a small throw-away joke, but you have to love Greg's unique theory, RE: dinosaur soft tissue. (With apologies to Brian Engh.)

11.2.14 - "That's a Rock Fact!"

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November is Draw Dinovember!

11.1.14 - Albertonykus' Skull

I may have missed Inktober, but I'll be darned if I miss Dinovember; a plan that I just made up to draw a dinosaur every day in November (unrelated to this Dinovember).

Here's Skull from Albertonykus' "Raptormaniacs" as a sugar skull for Day of the Dead, rendered in ink, marker, and glitter pens.

Addendum: At the suggestion of the always-awesome Brynn Metheney, this will now be known as Draw Dinovember to relieve confusion with the original Dinovember. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tentative Studio Ghibli Marathon Schedule!

I say "hopefully" because of the following things:

1) It has been an incredibly busy year for me.  I'm trying to get back in the regular blogging saddle and I secretly hope that getting behind the wheel of a movie marathon will get me back in the habit.

2) It looks like every other Studio Ghibli fan has the same idea.  I'm acquiring the films I do not own via Netflix and they almost across the board have long waits.  The order of reviews may be based on when they arrive more than chronological order.

So with that in mind, let's make a list/tentative schedule!

* - "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" - 1984 (Technically from Topcraft, but I'd be remiss if I didn't revisit it here.)

* - "Laputa, Castle in the Sky" - 1986

* - "Grave of the Fireflies" and "My Neighbor Totoro" - 1988 (I plan on doing these as a double-feature. Oh boy...)

* - "Kiki's Delivery Service" - 1989

* - "Only Yesterday" - 1991 (Does not appear to be available but I have seen it and could do a short summary from memory if it comes to that.)

* - "Porco Rosso" - 1992

* - "Ocean Waves" - 1993 (Does not appear to be available in America.)

* - "Pom Poko!" - 1994

* - "Whisper of the Heart" - 1995

* - "Princess Mononoke" - 1997

* - "My Neighbors the Yamadas" - 1999

* - "Spirited Away" - 2001

* - "The Cat Returns" - 2002

* - "Howl's Moving Castle" - 2004

* - "Tales from Earthsea" - 2006

* - "Ponyo On a Cliff By The Sea" - 2008

* - "The Borrower Arrietty" - 2010

* - "Ni no Kuni, Wrath of the White Witch" - 2011 (Review will be based on a Let's Play as we never got the Nintendo version in America.)

* - "From Up on Poppy Hill" - 2011

* -  "The Wind Rises" - 2013 (I confidently expect this to be released on DVD in America any decade now.)

* - "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" - 2013

* - "When Marnie Was There" - 2014

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More Animation Marathons

* - The Chronological Disney Animated Canon

* - Don Bluth Month

* - Dreamworks' "Tradigitals"

* - The Short Animation Blogathon

* - My Summer of Sequels

* - Random 90's Animation

* - The Princess Project

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Moderately-Sized Year

It was New Year's Day when it occurred to me, looking at my friend's bird feeder and the birds visiting it, that I'd never maintained a list of all the birds I've seen in one year.

And that, simply enough, is how I started what I came to half-jokingly refer to as my Moderately-Sized (as opposed to Big) Year.  I happened to have an App on my phone that allowed me to make a checklist of birds and I just started right there, over breakfast.  First bird of the year was a Song Sparrow.  I just recently hit bird number 151, an Eastern Wood-Peewee, so I feel like I ought to write something about all this.

First, here are my rules:

1) The bird must be listed in the Peterson Birds Pocket Edition iPhone App.

2) The bird must be alive. 

Corollary to Rule 2: If I check off the name of a stuffed specimen, it best be an extinct/nearly extinct species (some of which are listed in the PBPE because why not?  If you're wondering, this hasn't come up yet.)

3) I must either see the bird or hear it. 

Corollary to Rule 3:  The "Red-Eyed Vireo Corollary".  I am allowed to check an unseen-but-heard bird off my list as long as I or a companion can I.D. the call with reasonable accuracy.

I picked a heck of a year to start doing this.  I've been traveling quite a lot, mostly for family events.  This has, as you may have noticed, kept me off the Internet but has kept me in nature.  The world is more alive when you pay especial attention to the birds.

Now, a few thoughts on the Peterson Birds Pocket Edition App: It's... okay.  At this point I'm using it as a checklist mostly.  It's convenient more than anything else, and is not at all a replacement for a good dead tree edition field guide, especially if you're a beginner.  Being able to listen to recordings of the birds is kind of nice, but the Audubon Nature Guide apps are far better, as they have a wider variety of sounds.

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Sketch of the Unspecific Length of Time! I'm going to go ahead and say that this Bald Eagle was a highlight.

6.17.14 - Eagle!!!

6.17.14 - Eagle!!!