Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Simpsons Movie

It’s ironic but the future of hand-drawn animation may have just been saved by the ugliest cartoon family in history. Consider that The Simpsons’ Movie opening gross of $74,000,000 is the largest opening of any hand-drawn animated film in history, and is a larger opening than any digitally animated film by Pixar (Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Ratatouille etc.). Only two of the digitally animated Shrek films have grossed more than Homer and his family.
On the other hand, The Simpsons has been a cultural touchstone for a generation and, as the tv-show enters its 19th season this fall, it’s hard to imagine that a big-screen version wouldn’t be a huge hit. As such, the movie plays it safe and doesn’t stray much from the formula that makes it work so well on television. Maybe a few of the joke are a little cruder, but they’re still tame compared to what passes as humour in the theatres these days.
And sticking to the formula ain’t necessarily a bad thing. It was the winning formula of balancing family sentimentality and dead-on self-aware satire that has made The Simpsons quite possibly the best tv-comedy show ever. While the later seasons of the show have often veered away from this formula, The Movie returns to the tried and true Simpsons story style of its glory years of the early and mid-1990s.
The first half of The Movie is classic Simpsons’ craziness, and is pitch perfect as it assails the audience with laugh after laugh. Itchy skewers Scratchy, Homer complains that The Bible has no answers, Lisa fruitlessly tries to encourage Springfield’s citizens to save the a lake, and Bart skateboards through town naked (which leads to the film’s biggest laugh as Bart is briefly glimpsed in all his glory). Eventually a plot develops and the laughs become a little less frequent. Homer falls in love wit a pig which leads to an environmental disaster for Springfield. The town is quarantined but Homer and family escape and move to Alaska. The family want to return to help their former town folks, but Homer has settled in to the Arctic lifestyle and wants to remain. (There a bar in Alaska called Eski-Moe’s.) They leave Homer to return to Springfield, and Homer must not only save his town, but he must also rescue the relationship with his wife and children.
This has always been the key to the success of The Simpsons, a balance between zany physical comedy, smart satire, and not being afraid to be sentimental and allow the family moments to play without undercutting them with a zinger. The oft-expressed belief the The Simpsons is “anti-family” is belied by the fact that no matter how dysfunctional this family is, it’s clear that they love each other and their relationship with each other is the driving force in their lives. Even “under-achiever” Bart has demonstrated again and again his deep ties to his family. (And how can conservatives complain about a tv family that is seen going to church regularly? Heck, the whole damn town goes to church every Sunday! And the first scene of The Movie is set in a church at Sunday Service! But I digress.)
This is by no means a ground-breaking film, but it is a witty reminder of why we’ve loved The Simpsons all these years. It delivers big laughs in abundance.
Plus we get to see Bart’s doodle.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Theremin

Props to Bernie for finding this cool theremin clip.

Friday, July 27, 2007

At the Movies

My new best friend and I are heading to a movie today. Some family comedy I think.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's Official: The Weather Sucks - Addendum

As noted in a previous blog entry, the weather sucks.
After our record-setting all-time day warm day on July 11 (36.3 Celius), yesterday we set another dubious record. We had some rain yesterday. Not much rain, but enough to make it the first July ever when Victoria has recorded rain for seven straight days.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Time Really Flies....

And it was 38 years ago today....

Time Flies....

It was 31 years ago today...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's Official: The Weather Sucks

The members of our unofficial kayaking group and I have found ourselves thinking that the weather this year has been worse for kayaking than last year. We all recall a great spring for paddling in 2006, with nary a cloudy day.
We have had some great weather this year. A week ago today was the warmest day ever recorded in Victoria, but on the other hand our planned paddle only three days previous to that was cancelled due to rainy weather. And on the gripping hand, most of the good days have seemed to have come during the week, while the weekend weather has turned bad. And weekday paddles don't work for all of us -- some of us have to work for a living.
So with our planned trip to Discovery Island this Saturday possibly threatened because of a forecast of heavy rain, I decided to check the facts. I consulted our past kayak blog entries to see if our memories are valid. In terms of weather, was last year a better paddling year?


I returned to paddling on April 8 this year after recovering from my accident, so I compared the paddles from April 8 to July 18 in both years. As it turns out, in each year there were 20 paddles documented in the blog during this period.
The Results:

2006 paddles (Apr 8 - July 18)
55% - cloudy
5% - cloudy and rainy
10% - foggy
25% - sunny
5% - cancelled due to bad weather

2007 paddles (Apr 8 - July 18)
45% - cloudy
15% - cloudy and rainy
25% - sunny
15% - cancelled due to bad weather

The proportions of bad weather to sunny weather seems to be about the same; one paddle in four was under sunny skies. But even though there's been the same proportion of unsunny weather this spring, the weather would seem to be have been a little worse as we've cancelled more trips this year and gone out on more rainy days.
So the perception that this year's weather is worse seems to be accurate. Adding to this is the fact that we did have an amazing Spring last year. Out of 13 pre-April 8 trips in 2006, seven were on cloudy days and six were on sunny days, a ratio of nearly 50-50. This year is a little harder to judge as pre-April 8 trips are not as well documented in the blog. However, the three that we have photographic evidence for shows one sunny paddle, one cloudy paddle and one snowy paddle. A small sample size to be sure, but it leans towards to another checkmark in the 2007 Bad Weather column.
Further adding to the perception would be the miserable Fall last year. Prior to my accident in late November, all three of our planned November paddles were wiped out by bad weather, and November, December and January were marked by an incredible series of nearly two dozen fierce and destructive windstorms in the area, which resulted in many cancelled paddles. All this makes it seem like it has been a long time without a good run of sunny paddles.
What does this all mean, apart from the fact that I wasted an evening hunched over my keyboard with a Diet Coke figuring this out? Well not much, except that sunny paddles don't come along every day. They come along only one in every four paddling days apparently, so enjoy them when you get them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cheney v. The Daily Show

As mentioned at In These Times...
"Cheney’s long overdue need for ridicule is why we should be grateful that so many young people get their news from The Daily Show. Cheney’s office made the preposterous assertion that he didn’t have to comply with the Executive Order mandating the annual reports to the National Archives because he wasn’t part of the executive branch. Unfortunately for a dignified correspondent like ABC’s Martha Raddatz, the constraints of her job confined her to reporting, with a straight face, that Cheney has used “the opposite argument in the past, citing executive privilege when asked for information about his travel and visitors to his office.”
Jon Stewart, under no such proscriptions, can provide the level of disbelief that matches the outrageousness of this latest Cheney gambit. What The Daily Show consistently does best is juxtapose video of administration officials making their bogus pronouncements with video clips from the past, showing them saying the exact opposite. So Stewart showed Cheney on tape emphatically asserting executive privilege because he’s in the, er, executive branch. Stewart then looked into the camera to tell Americans that Cheney has always meant “to come up to us personally and say ‘go fuck ourselves.’ “"

Ancient Homer

From the BBC....

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hottest. Day. Ever.

While it should be noted that one warm day does not necessarily constitute a global warming trend, last night was the warmest night ever recorded in Victoria (19.6 degrees Celsius), and today, at 36.3 degrees Celsius, was the warmest day ever recorded in Victoria.
The warmest day ever.
Ever.
Mind you, the forecast for Sunday is cool and showers....

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?

A 7-11 in Coquitlam (1198 Landsdowne Street to be precise) was one of the dozen or so in North America chosen to be turned into a Kwik-E-Mart to tie-in with the upcoming Simpsons' Movie.
So head there right away and go crazy, Broadway style! (But don't Bogart that Squishee.)

Bush is Crazy - The Video

Give it up for Give2Shitz and their musical tribute to George W. Bush, Scooter Libby's new best friend.

Sunday, July 01, 2007