Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Aliens would be better if they were CATS - OSD

Oh Disney. You used to know what real entertainment was all about. And it included cats. Where's the feline entertainment factor these days? You don't see Miley Cyrus solving a mystery with a dashing tabby tomcat in todays films. Probably would improve her image, too. ANYWAY, I digress. The topic of today's post is The Cat From Outer Space (1978). It goes without saying that I love this movie. It is just excellent. To break it down for you, a flying saucer crashes on planet earth and is confiscated by the government. Its pilot, a cat named Jake, wears a special collar that makes him able to telepathically communicate with humans. Jake enlists a scientist named Frank and his lady friend, Liz (Sandy Duncan, she of the Glass Eye that everyone who grew up when I did talked about on the playground, i.e. "Guess what? That Wheat Thins lady has a GLASS EYE! She can take it out and roll it around and put it back in!") to help him repair his ship and return to his planet. Hijinks ensue, especially when they figure out that what's needed to fix Jake's ship is GOLD! What is hilarious is, since it's 1978, the cat just wears this collar and speaks in the characters' heads. The collar lights up when he's talking, so you know what's going on, and he looks vaguely in the direction of the person he's talking to, but not always. I'm sure if it was modern times they would make some sort of cheesy CGI mouth for him, but I like it better the old way. He's a real cat! (Actually two cats acted in the film, a brother and sister named Rumpler and Amber. Rumpler is a good name!) And real cats don't always like to be held, as you can see from the switching tail and general irritated demeanor he has whenever Frank picks him up. Also, Jake claims without that collar that he'd be an ordinary cat, but if that's true, how did his "people" invent the collar in the first place? Perplexing indeed. Nevertheless, a diverting tale with a cat as its main character is never to be missed. Including the scene where there's a little alien cat assisted pool table betting. And Roddy McDowall. And a mouse named Drexel. So watch it and absorb all that felis domesticus has to offer the silver screen.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Photo fun + porcupettes = hilarious

Working at the library gives you the opportunity to find out about all kinds of awesome things. I am a huge proponent of the Juvenile Nonfiction section. In a book meant for kids, probably no longer than 30 pages (with glossy photos) you can get the salient facts about any number of subjects, such as the GNP, flag, song, population, main exports, and currency of any country in the world, and the habits of all sorts of animals, and anything else you can dream of (that would be appropriate for juveniles, so no true crime or sex tips...of course). This has given me the edge on a million trivia games over the years, let me tell you. So, a few months back, I was looking at a kid's book from a series called "Nature's Children" that I particularly enjoy. This one was about porcupines, and the best thing I found out from giving it a glance (because I was of course diligently attending my duties) was that a baby porcupine is called a porcupette. This is incredibly cute, and I was immediately inspired to write a poem regarding the cuteness. Unfortunately, it got lost in a deleted email. It was genius, of course. Anyway, what this all boils down to is that the final lesson in my Web 2.0 training concerned fun things to do with photos. I chose to alter this photo of a baby hedgehog that my pal Sommer sent to me (as close a facsimile of a baby porcupine she could find) after I let her read my poem. Naturally, he's a bibliophile. I have uploaded dozens of photos, and even altered them with my pc's paint program, but the links in the lesson module gave me access to a whole world of fun things you can do to photos. Which don't necessarily have to be goofy, if you were trying to come up with a neat piece of visual appeal for a library program, it could be more understated for adults, but I find goofy always works. Yet another thing to thank my job for; goofy photo mash-up lessons! How cool!
P.S. The hedgehog had the sombrero on before I altered the pic. Go figure.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

IKEA here I come!

My beloved bestest-friend-ever roommate who is like a sister to me is moving out in the next few weeks to move in with her fiance. That's okay, and the natural order of things, and I'll miss watching a movie with her and her fluffy cat who has bad litterbox habits and playing seek-and-find games on the pc and all the million other things we did together, but one way I get to deal with it is by buying NEW FURNITURE to replace the things that are leaving with her. I am thrilled by this. I will be going to IKEA, that bastion of cheap and sturdy Swedish minimalist stuff, this weekend. Not only going there, but going there with mom, which means she might just foot the bill for a rug called SJARGSKA or something. Or a bookshelf called JIBTRUN with the two little dots I don't know how to make with the keyboard. Anyway, I am clearly ignoring my emotional distress at loss of roommate by the use of retail therapy, but who doesn't do that stuff? And really, once I'm done making my apt a fabulous new space (that will include just the right environment to turn my treadmill from a laundry holder to a fantastic new weight loss machine) there will be no reason to lament the fact that my BFF is living with somebody else who doesn't probably understand that Kits isn't really mean, you just shouldn't approach her from the rear. Or any direction. Or touch her, unless you are my roommate, or me. So good luck with that, fiance.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

OSD comin' atcha, or A Cat in A Bonnet is EXCELLENT

Today I feel the need to get down to the business of this blog; that of honoring our little squishy pals (in my case, the Earl of Stripylegs, who was happy as heck to see me last night.) And what better way than to mix in another recurring blog theme; honoring Old School Disney? That brings me to my point, which is a little gem called The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964). This baby, much like Darby O'Gill, has it all. Romance, excitement, witches, aincent Egypt, vicious Gypsies, veterinarians, Scotland, and a CAT. Basically, Thomasina is a cat who has a tragic accident and is put to sleep by Dad, the widowed vet. The townsfolk think that Dad is heavy- handed when it comes to euthanasia, and he has trouble exposing them to modern medicine practices as a result. Daughter Mary's relationship with Dad is strained (after an elaborate cat funeral) until a mysterious (and attractive) witch moves into a cottage in the woods and Thomasina, the cat, returns in a new life as her pet. This witch is talented at healing animals, and romance betwixt vet and witch ensues. Thomasina even saves the Mary's life at one point. Thomasina's afterlife sequence with forty siameses and a huge golden cat idol is both impressive and downright weird. According to IMDB, it was originally released in three one hour segments on a Disney TV program and later turned into a feature, but no matter. It certainly reads as a feature film when you watch it. It also manages to capture the love of people for their cats while not being cheesy/lame about it, in addition to bringing up the issues of mercy killing, and paganism vs. modern science, strangely enough. Thomasina is pretty funny too, as evidenced by the quote "They started out by calling me Thomas, but when they, um, got to know me better, they changed it to Thomasina." And the movie was indeed filmed in Scotland, so it has pretty authentic location footage. It is a tearjerker in parts, and can be totally traumatic for little kids, or so I hear, but I didn't see it until I was in my twenties, so I can't say that I was too upset by it. I was, actually, overjoyed to have another OSD classic to add to my collection and have it be about Cats, too! And BONUS: it is as equally eerie and whimsical as my beloved Darby O'Gill. It does end on a happy note, so no worries there. It is just a good example of what I always appreciate; namely, a movie with an ORIGINAL premise in a world where the same crap is regurgitated over and over. Of course, this was 45 years ago, so people hadn't gotten around to being quite so unoriginal yet...anyway, watch it and enjoy. I've got this one in my top ten OSD favorites, so you should take my word for it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

So. Sleepy.

I got up at four thirty this morning to catch my flight at six in Detroit, arriving at 7:30 in D.C., then work at 12:30 in Richmond. My plane, of course, after I boarded, was determined to have a vague disease known as "equipment failure". We deplaned, waited a while, and found out they were commandeering a flight for us departing at 10:09 am. This made me feel guilty for the poor saps who were probably supposed to be on that plane, but facing a possible wait until 2 pm for the next scheduled flight to REAGAN national and being bussed to Dulles was even more upsetting. So, I was a couple hours late for work, but at least I got there. So now I just have to feel bad that my poor brother in law (who is a saint in many ways already) had to get up so early and drive me to the airport when I didn't even go anywhere for four hours after I got there. And I had to try and nap in an international airport. Which is not fun, let me tell you. I got sniffed by a TSA dog while snoozing on a bench with uncomfortably placed armrests that are put there specifically to keep you from lying down, even though they know perfectly well sometimes people have to wait at the airport and need to sleep. One thing that would have made the wait and attempted nap a million times better was a cat (although drug sniffing dog might have caused trouble there...) like the one in this pic. Alas, I suspect that nowadays you can't bring mammals through the security check, in case they have a bomb on them or some such. Anyway, I'll be home touching my own personal mammal in T minus 5 hours 12 minutes and counting.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

R.I.P. Captain Chaos

Alas, the world has lost a funny guy. I'd like to say it's sad, but since he lived to be 75 and starred in a whole boatload of films, plays, and tv shows, I don't know how sad it really is (of course, I don't mean his wife, three children, and many friends when I say this.) What I do know is that he played a hilarious character in Cannonball Run and Cannonball Run II, and it was compelling to see the exchange of friendship and true humor that both Dom and Burt Reynolds shared onscreen. That kind of friendship is what life is all about, and from what I read, that's how everyone who met him felt. (Also, without making this a C-Ball Run post, you can't deny the power of Jackie Chan in a Subaru, or Jamie Farr the Sheik, or Sammy Davis Jr, for that matter.) So, props to you Dom DeLuise, and I hope there's plenty of delicious food up there in heaven, much like the recipes in the cookbooks you wrote in your second career as a chef. I will enjoy watching Cannonball Run soon, in your honor.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Studying African American Art History

I have been busy these last few days studying for my art history final, which is tomorrow at 7 pm. This consists of memorizing the artist, medium, year of completion, and title of 45 works of art, and also studying up on the general history of African American Art for the 5 essay questions I'll have to answer. I'm not too worried, because I got an A on the mid-term, but I am still busy memorizing the facts. Not to mention, I have a Ceramics final project critique on Wednesday morning. Which means, since it's tiles, that I have to glue them to the board I bought, and then grout them and have them dry in the next 36 hours. While working and studying for the ARTH exam at the same time. And I wanted to go back to school why? Oh yeah, to improve my life. I personally would like to improve my time in bed, but that won't be happening soon because after my finals are over, I'm flying to Michigan for the weekend, because even though my Mom lives a couple hours from me, we have all decided to go to MI to see my sister and her family for the Mother's Day holiday. And I'm coming back on Monday morning, then driving from Dulles to Richmond to go to work at 12:30 that afternoon. So no snooze quality for me in the near future. But, on the upside, I've learned about an artist I really like (maybe even more than one, but this one in particular) that I really wish my high school art teacher would have told me about because I was making work that was very like his and thought it was weird and not really "worthy" because it was not in keeping with the Eurocentric ideals of art I was raised with. Then I get to be an adult and find out about Jeff Donaldson in an art history course, and all my artistic tendencies from 10th grade are now justified. I've given you the best example to explain why I now don't feel like all those hours I spent coloring in tiny squares that didn't look anything like French Impressionism were wasted. This painting is not only kick-ass, it's got a great title too. Feast your eyes on Jampactjellitite, by Jeff Donaldson, mixed media, 1988. And wish me luck on this exam, too.