December 18, 2010

Friday Random Ten

...because I haven't done one of these in a are the first ten songs, randomly selected by iTunes to load on my iPod.

1) When I Die, by Motherlode
2) Siberian Khatru, by Yes
3) Runaway, by Leahy
4) Torn and Tattered, by Joss Stone
5) Anything For You, by Gloria Estefan
6) The Ribbon Dancers, by Michael Occhipinti
7) You're Everywhere, by The Tragically Hip
8) Sick & Tired, by Default
9) Rinse, by Vanessa Carlton
10) Own True Way, by Great Big Sea

plus, one bonus song, because I really like this rendition:

11) Ode To Billy Joe, by Molly Johnson

December 16, 2010

Animation fan? Prove it!

Complements of Byzantium's Shores, here is a quiz similar to the books and music ones I've found before at Kelly's blog. This one's about animated movies. I've modified the rules he quoted a bit. I removed the words "loved" and "hated" from the descriptions, as I think that someone who hates a movie has difficulty judging the importance of things in life (not you, Kelly - I know you were just copying and pasting). I've also removed the "seen part of/haven't finished" category. Really, why would anyone be interested in hearing about movies of which I've seen only bits and pieces?

Also: commentary...

The Rules:

- X what you have seen
- Bold what you liked
- Italicize what you disliked
- Leave unchanged if neutral

[X] 101 Dalmatians (1961)
[X] Alice in Wonderland (1951)
[X] Bambi (1942) Even as a little kid, I found the depictions of the various animals to be too cutsie. Never turned my crank. Also, I never got that Bambi's mother died.
[X] Cinderella (1950)
[X] Dumbo (1941) This one was alright, I guess. I always found the Pink Elephants on Parade number to be overlong, and practically incomprehensible.
[X] Fantasia (1940) Saw this one in the theater with my parents when it was rereleased in the seventies and was frankly bored silly by it. Watched it years later on video and loved it, although I have always found the Fantasia 2000 version to be a more enjoyable film.
[X] Lady and the Tramp (1955) We are Siame-ese if you ple-ease.
[X] Mary Poppins (1964)
[X] Peter Pan (1953)
[X] Pinocchio (1940)
[X] Sleeping Beauty (1959) Although I know I've seen this one multiple times, I can't really remember much about it. It clearly did not make much of an impression on me.
[X] Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Fun.
[ ] Song of the South (1946)

[X] The Aristocats (1970) Everybody wants to be a cat!
[X] The Black Cauldron (1985)
[X] The Fox and the Hound (1981)
[X] The Great Mouse Detective (1986) This marked an interesting departure from Disney's former offerings based on traditional children's literature. The Great Mouse Detective was their first feature film adapted from adult literature.
[X] The Jungle Book (1967)
[X] The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
[X] Oliver and Company (1986)
[ ] Pete's Dragon (1977)
[X] The Rescuers (1977)
[X] Robin Hood (1973) When I was a kid, I had this movie in the form of a book and LP record combination. I used to listen to the album over and over again, until I could recite the dialogue from the entire movie from memory.
[X] The Sword In The Stone (1963)

[X] Aladdin (1992) A huge coup for Disney, this film marked the return to glory for the company.
[X] Beauty and the Beast (1991)
[X] A Goofy Movie (1995) Huyuck!
[X] Hercules (1997) This was an interesting experiment in a more stylized from of animation, based upon traditional Greek artwork. They would continue to play with this idea in films like The Lion King, Mulan, and The Emperor's New Groove.
[X] The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) This was one of the less popular Disney movies, but I enjoyed it.
[X] The Lion King (1994) The pinnacle of Disney's second golden age.
[X] The Little Mermaid (1989)
[X] Mulan (1998) The last good thing Eddie Murphy ever did.
[X] Pocahontas (1995)
[X] The Rescuers Down Under (1990) This one's a ton of fun. The cinematography of the opening scene is brilliant.
[X] Tarzan (1999)

[X] Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) I always thought this one was a great idea that was never really fully fleshed out. At 95 minutes, it isn't really all that short, but it feels like it is. The whole thing seemed rushed to me.
[X] Bolt (2008) Another ton of fun.
[ ] Brother Bear (2003)
[X] Chicken Little (2005)
[ ] Dinosaur (2000)
[X] The Emperor's New Groove (2000) I like David Spade. He and John Goodman really clicked on this film.
[X] Fantasia 2000 (2000) Excellent.
[ ] Home on the Range (2004)
[X] Lilo & Stitch (2002)
[ ] Meet the Robinsons (2007)
[X] Treasure Planet (2002)

[X] A Bug's Life (1998)
[X] Cars (2006)
[X] Finding Nemo (2003)
[X] The Incredibles (2004)
[X] Monsters Inc. (2001)
[ ] Ratatouille (2007) Need to see this one.
[X] Toy Story (1995)
[X] Toy Story 2 (1999)
[ ] Toy Story 3 (2010) And this one
[X] Wall-E (2008)
[X] Up (2009) Meh.

[X] All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
[X] An American Tail (1986)
[ ] An American Tail: Fieval Goes West (1991)
[X] Anastasia (1997)
[X] The Land Before Time (1988)
[X] The Pebble and the Penguin (1995)
[ ] Rock-a-Doodle (1991)
[X] The Secret of NIMH (1982)
[ ] Thumbelina (1994)
[X] Titan AE (2000)
[ ] A Troll in Central Park (1994)

[ ] The Adventures of Mark Twain (1986)
[X] Chicken Run (2000)
[X] Corpse Bride (2005)
[X] James and the Giant Peach (1996)
[X] The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) I thought this was considerably better than the aforementioned Corpse Bride.
[X] Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
[X] Coraline (2009) I can't understand why everyone raved about this. It wasn't any better than just so-so, and I couldn't really discern a plot, a climax, or a resolution. Did not like.

[X] Antz (1998)
[ ] Bee Movie (2007)
[ ] Happy Feet (2006)
[X] Ice Age (2002)
[X] Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
[ ] Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
[X] Kung Fu Panda (2008)
[ ] Madagascar (2005)
[X] Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008) Bad, just bad.
[X] Monster House (2006)
[X] Over the Hedge (2006)
[ ] The Polar Express (2004)
[X] Robots (2005)
[ ] A Shark's Tale (2004)
[X] Shrek (2001)
[X] Shrek 2 (2004)
[ ] Shrek The Third (2007)
[ ] Shrek Forever After (2010)
[ ] Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

[ ] Arabian Knight (aka The Thief and the Cobbler) (1995)
[ ] The Last Unicorn (1982)
[ ] Light Years (1988)
[ ] The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
[ ] Persepolis (2007)
[ ] Waltz With Bashir (2008)
[ ] Watership Down (1978)
[ ] When the Wind Blows (1988)
[ ] Wonderful Days (2003)
[X] Yellow Submarine (1968) How can you not like the cartoon Beatles?

[ ] The Cat Returns (2002)
[ ] Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
[X] Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
[ ] Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
[ ] Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
[ ] Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
[ ] My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999)
[ ] My Neighbor Totoro (1993)
[ ] Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
[ ] Only Yesterday (1991)
[ ] Pom Poko (Tanuki War) (1994)
[ ] Porco Rosso (1992)
[ ] Princess Mononoke (1999)
[X] Spirited Away (2002)
[ ] Whisper of the Heart (1995)
[ ] Ponyo (2009)

[ ] Millennium Actress (2001)
[ ] Paprika (2006)
[ ] Perfect Blue (1999)
[ ] Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

[ ] She and Her Cat (1999)
[ ] Voices of a Distant Star (2001)
[ ] The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004)
[ ] 5 Centimeters per Second (2007)

[ ] Akira (1989)
[ ] Angel's Egg (1985)
[ ] Appleseed (2004)
[ ] Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007)
[ ] Arcadia of My Youth (U.S. Title - Vengeance of the Space Pirate) (1982)
[ ] Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2003)
[ ] The Dagger of Kamui (U.S. Title - Revenge of the Ninja Warrior) (1985)
[ ] Dirty Pair: Project Eden (1987)
[ ] End of Evangelion (1997)
[ ] Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (2007)
[ ] Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance (2009)
[ ] Fist of the North Star (1986)
[ ] Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
[ ] Ghost in the Shell (1996)
[ ] Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
[ ] The Girl Who Lept Through Time (2006)
[ ] Lensman (1984)
[ ] Macross: Do You Remember Love (U.S. Title - Clash of the Bionoids) (1984)
[ ] Memories (1995)
[ ] Metropolis (2001)
[ ] Neo-Tokyo (1986)
[ ] Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)
[ ] Ninja Scroll (1993)
[ ] Patlabor the Movie (1989)
[ ] The Professional: Golgo 13 (1983)
[ ] Project A-ko (1986)
[ ] Robot Carnival (1987)
[ ] Robotech: The Shadow Chronicle (2006)
[ ] Silent Möbius (1991)
[ ] The Sky Crawlers (2008)
[ ] Space Adventure Cobra (1982)
[ ] Steamboy (2004)
[ ] Sword of the Stranger (2007)
[ ] Unico and the Island of Magic (1983)
[ ] Urotsukidoji: The Movie (1987)
[ ] Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
[ ] Urusei Yatsura: Only You (1982)
[ ] Vampire Hunter D (1985)
[ ] Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust (2000)
[ ] Wings of Honneamise: Royal Space Force (1987)

Not being a fan of animation per-se, I haven't gone out of my way to watch any Japanese animated fare. I'm not a fan of the Japanese Anime style animation at all - I particularly find thier depictions of women distasteful. People seem to rave about Miyazaki, but I found the two of his films I saw to be merely so-so.

[ ] American Pop (1981)
[X] The Animatrix (2003)
[ ] Beavis & Butthead Do America (1996)
[X] Cool World (1992)
[X] Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
[ ] Final Fantasy: Advent Children (2005)
[ ] Fire & Ice (1983)
[ ] Fritz the Cat (1972)
[ ] Halo Legends (2009)
[X] Heavy Metal (1981)
[ ] Heavy Metal 2000 (2000)
[ ] Hey Good Lookin' (1982)
[ ] Lady Death (2004)
[ ] A Scanner Darkly (2006)
[ ] Sita Sings the Blues (2008)
[X] South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
[ ] Street Fight (Coonskin) (1975)
[ ] Waking Life (2001)

[ ] The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
[ ] Animal Farm (1954)
[ ] Animalympics (1980)
[ ] Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon The Movie (2007)
[ ] Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
[ ] Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
[ ] Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
[ ] The Brave Little Toaster (1988)
[ ] Bravestarr: The Movie (1988)
[ ] Cats Don't Dance (1997)
[ ] Care Bears: The Movie (1985)
[X] Charlotte's Web (1973)
[X] Fern Gully (1992)
[ ] G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)
[ ] Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords (1986)
[ ] Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
[ ] He-Man & She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword (1985)
[X] The Hobbit (1977)
[X] The Iron Giant (1999) I Superman! Great film!
[ ] Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
[ ] Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
[X] Lord of the Rings (1978) I saw this one in the theater somehow. In 1978, I wasn't old enough to be interested in Tolkein, that I can remember, so it must have been rereleased at some point. It was pretty bad.
[ ] Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1992)
[ ] My Little Pony: The Movie (1986)
[X] Pink Floyd's The Wall (1982) Used to go downtown and see this with a group of buddies regularly. I own it on DVD, but the in-home viewing experience simply cannot match the big-screen, big-sound, in-theater experience.
[X] The Prince of Egypt (1998)
[ ] Powerpuff Girls: The Movie (2002)
[ ] Quest For Camelot (1999)
[ ] Ringing Bell (1978)
[X] The Road to El Dorado (2000)
[ ] Shinbone Alley (1971)
[X] Space Jam (1996) What? I liked it.
[ ] Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985)
[ ] Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)
[ ] Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
[ ] Superman: Doomsday (2007)
[ ] The Swan Princess (1994)
[ ] Transformers: The Movie (1986)
[ ] Wizards (1977)
[X] Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
[ ] Wonder Woman (2009)
[ ] Balto (1995)
[ ] Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

As Kelly pointed out, this is hardly a comprehensive list. There are many sequels to listed films that do not appear here, and I can think of at least a few stand-alone films I have seen that have been missed here. Still, for what it is (an interenet quiz), it's an interesting look at people's animation viewing experiences.

December 09, 2010

Sally Anne Hates Harry Potter

Are you donating toys to The Salvation Army this year? Maybe you should rethink that.

Recent news items have brought to light the fact that many donated toys never make it the children for whom they were intended. Because the Salvation Army is a Christian organisation, any toys that are deemed "not in line with Christian principles," are rejected by the charity. This includes the most popular items for young teens this year: Harry Potter and Twilight themed merchandise.

Are these items rejected at the donation sites? No. Your donations are taken to a warehouse where they are sorted, and the $40 Harry Potter Lego game you gave, and other toys like it are separated out, and discarded. Why? According to a representative of the Sally Ann, it's because they promote the occult and black magic.

So, you decided to donate a gift this year. You chose something you thought a child might like. The charity is second guessing you, and your choice of toy might be labelled inappropriate. If you thought it was inappropriate, you wouldn't have donated it.

The Salvation Army claims that the rejected toys are sent to a third party, where they might end up being distributed to children in a different manner, but they did not deign to identify that third party, so, really, who knows?

My charitable donations will certainly be aimed somewhere else this year. Yes, I think so.

hat tip: The Friendly Atheist

December 01, 2010

Beer Reviews #1

A couple of years ago I frequented a website where the community could post online ratings of beers they had tried, including detailed descriptions of their impressions of said ales and lagers. I don't spend much time there anymore, but the interest in and taste for fine beer the site engendered in me continues today. I thought I might, from time to time, post a review or two here of beers I have tried.

Vacation Fall 2010 091In late September the wife and I took a short road trip to the Washington, D.C.-Richmond, Virginia region, where I tried a few new beers in area bars and restaurants. In addition, I brought several bottles of beer home with me to enjoy (see photo at left).

Herewith, then, please find attached the first of the aforementioned beer reviews for your reading, and drinking enjoyment.

Middle Ages Brewing Company - Wailing Wench Ale

The Middle Ages Brewing Company is in Syracuse, New York, which could be considered local to the Buffalo store Premier Gourmet, where I bought the beer. Middle Ages bills this beer as a "full bodied ale screaming with hops," which fit in with the profile of several other beers I had been wanting to try, for example Stone Arrogant Bastard, so I put it in my basket. Who am I kidding, it also has a picture of a woman with big boobs on the label. It comes in a full pint bottle, which is a little more than I'm used to consuming in one sitting - especially since it's 8% alcohol by volume. Kinda like drinking four Coors Lights at once...except with flavour. If you're interested, they also make a Double Wench, at 12% ABV, with a girl with even bigger boobs on the label.

At 8% alcohol, I expected some kick out of this beer, but the alcohol is not intrusive in the taste at all. The hops, on the other hand... The "screaming with hops" subtitle on the label indicates that this was an attempt at a 'hop bomb' by the brewery, and they certainly succeeded in that. A bit too much so for my tastes. Now, don't get me wrong, I like hops as much as the next beer snob, but this beer was just trying too hard. The malt was definitely there, but the hops simply overwhelmed it on my palate.

There wasn't much in the way of complexity here either. The brewer's website doesn't indicate how many or what varieties of hops were used in this beer, but I couldn't really distinguish between the start and the finish here. It was just bitter hops all the way through. I didn't dislike this beer, but in the American strong ale/IPA category, there are many that I like better.

What? I need a rating system? OK, let's call this one 3/5.