Tag Archives: entertainment

Sunday Afternoon Rainy Day Matinee’

Simon's Cat copyright Simon Tolfield UK

Simon’s Cat copyright Simon Tolfield UK

It’s a rainy September Sunday afternoon in Vancouver. The skies are a weird colour combination of lead grey and dull white clouds. The breeze is noticeably chilly, and the rain is hissing down loudly. There was even some thunder earlier today. We don’t get too many thunderstorms in southwestern BC; it’s a bit of a spectacle when they actually happen here.ย  I debated with myself about what kind of post I should write today. God knows there’s plenty of serious stuff I could comment about, but I’m always thinking about the balance I try to keep between serious topics and humourous ones. I don’t want to ignore the things that I think might matter to people. On the other hand, I want the blog to be enjoyable for my readers (Hi Mum!)

Today I’m going to keep things light. I was mucking about on Youtube recently, when I discovered an animated cat video.

Don’t run away! It’s not THAT kind of Youtube cat video!

There’s a British cartoonist named Simon Tolfield who has created some wonderfully clever animated videos called Simon’s Cat. How have I missed this guy? His videos are hilarious and spot-on. He absolutely nails the attitude and behaviours of cats I’m sure we all have known in our lives.

Our next feature for today’s rainy day matinee’ is a delightfully whimsical cartoon created in France by students from the Gobelins School of Graphic Arts. It’s called Pandore, and it’s based on the famous Greek myth of Pandora’s box.

The next feature is Disney’s beautifully poignant telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale The Little Match Girl that he wrote in 1845. It’s such a sad, yet sweet story that I sort of remember from my childhood. It strikes a strong chord in me today because the message in Andersen’s story is still very relevant to all of us in the 21st century. It reminds us all that ‘there but for the Grace of God go I‘. We must all do what we can for those who are desperately in need.

Speaking of the 21st century, our final feature for today’s matinee’ is a very clever cartoon called ‘Glued‘, created in 2012 by Israeli animation students from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. I think this piece speaks volumes about our obsession with technology.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Sunday afternoon matinee’. I thought it might be appropriate on a rainy September weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

The Grumpy Ferret (Hey! Who ate all the popcorn?)

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People I Really Wish I Could Share a Cup of Coffee

The other day I thought to myself, if you could have a cup of coffee with anyone, who would you want to meet?‘ I’m not big on celebrities or insanely famous people, but there are some folks who have influenced my life and I genuinely wish I could just sit down with them over a cup of coffee for a half hour and just have a chat.

In no particular order:

Douglas Coupland

The man who coined the term Generation X and wrote all those books like Microserfs and JPod about modern day technology that kind of mirror my own life. He’s an author, a designer, and an all around interesting guy I wish I could talk to. I’d probably ask him if he had any useful advice for how to discipline oneself when it comes to writing a book, since that’s something I want to do but I’m not sure I have the will to see it through. Any advice he might be able to share would be very much appreciated.

John Lasseter

This man founded Pixar back in the 1980’s. I remember watching one of his first computer generated films in 1987 at a conference in Vancouver and being blown away at how imaginative it was. John is now chief Creative Officer for Walt Disney Animation and a god to all those who worship at the altar of computer animation. What I particularly admire about him is his commitment to story development. Pixar spends alot of time fleshing out the story for its movies before they begin production. I would love to have coffee with him, if it were in any way possible.

Andrew Weaver

Andrew is a professor of climate science at the University of Victoria and the first elected MLA for the Green Party in British Columbia. He’s also a Nobel Laureate who was part of the United Nations InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I admire what he’s accomplished in his life – I would so very much like to talk with him about where he thinks humanity is heading as global climatic conditions continue accelerating ahead of what was originally estimated. In fact, the IPCC stated in its original 2007 report that its findings might be considered as ‘conservative’. Did anyone remember that?

JK Rowling

If there’s an author I really respect for sheer perseverance and not giving up on an idea for a fantasy novel, it’s JK Rowling. I watched a documentary on CBC News about her long journey on how she came up with the idea for Harry Potter, and what it took for her to create such a brilliantly fanciful series that re-ignited people’s imaginations. There are one or two people who feel I ought to be writing fantasy like JK Rowling. I’d love to just get some pointers from her about how to start the process and go from there, although I suspect she’d tell me that it all boils down to just getting on with it (I know, I know – it’s so blindingly obvious, but so hard to do).

Annie Lennox

I will never forget the first time I saw Annie Lennox. It was in the old Colony Motor Inn Tavern in Victoria, a known biker hangout. Me and my fresh-faced Uvic buddies arrived late on a Saturday night in 1983. I saw her performing in the music video Sweet Dreams are Made of These. I was smitten not only by her looks (oh God, those eyes), but her voice was incredible. I never saw her perform live (damn it!), but I’ve always loved her music, especially when she sang the haunting Into the West for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. I saw Annie’s performance at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics. She was still fiery and original. I would go anywhere, do anything, just to have a cup of coffee with my favourite diva.

Brian Greene

Brian Greene is a professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University. He produced a PBS special called The Fabric of the Cosmos, a brilliant layman’s introduction to the world of quantum mechanics and quantum physics. The series was absolutely mind-blowing – it changed my perspective about life, the universe, and everything. For example, when you look around, you see what your eyes tell you is empty space. But that space isn’t empty at all – it’s filled with particles that at the smallest levels of existence are popping in and out of what we perceive to be reality. Not wild enough for you? How about the concept of multiple universes existing right now? I really wish I could sit down and have a chat with Brian Greene.

Robin Williams

I wish I could be as funny as Robin Williams. His rapid-fire improvisation and satire have given me so many needed laughs over the years. There are still some times when I think I ought to give stand-up improvisational comedy a try (but I’m afraid I couldn’t be as profane and vulgar as what most audiences seem to prefer). Sure, Robin has had numerous ups and downs in his life with alcohol and drugs, but he’s a comedic force of nature that I really enjoy. I think one of his best stand-out performances was when he did voice-over for the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin. Sigh. I would so very much like to have coffee with this man, caffeine be damned ๐Ÿ™‚

So there we go. I would truly like to share a cup of coffee with any one of these fine folks. Who knows? Maybe it might happen ๐Ÿ™‚

The Grumpy Ferret (Hey! A ferret can dream, can’t I?)

Hey Man! You’re Not in High School Anymore

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From South Park ‘World of Warcraft’ Episode

Do you want to know something? There are times when I’m embarrassed to be a man in Vancouver. I really am. This town is positively tribal when it comes to the appearance and behaviours of men. What is it with my fellow adult males dressing down so they look like tenth grade gym class rejects? You know what I’m talking about. The prevalent Vancouver man style consists of variations on hoodies, pullovers, t-shirts, sports t-shirts, the whole sports jock look, the juvenile wearing of baseball caps backwards, and the wearing your shirts over your pants thing. Jeans, torn jeans, faded jeans, faded dirty jeans, dirty torn jeans. The same variations apply to corduroys, or slacks, or even the absurdly expensive brand stuff bought on Robon Street. And the colour choices. God save us. Do you want grey, black, grey, brown, grey, faded black, blue, blue with faded black and grey, blue-grey with black. Underwear sticking out of your pants, butt crack smiling brightly when you bend over.

There is an old phrase attributed to ancient Greece, but most often quoted from William Shakespeare: ‘Clothes maketh the man‘. Frankly, they ‘maketh the men’ here in Vancouver look drab, slovenly, and bland.

Then there’s the whole facial hair thing. Three day old stubble, scraggly beards and moustaches. Unkempt beards. Unkempt hair. Men who haven’t been near a barbershop in months. Shaved heads that look like a throwback to 17th century England and Oliver Cromwell’s roundhead brigades. You know what a man with a shaved head looks like? UGLY! BUTT UGLY! HIDEOUSLY BUTT UGLY. What is it with the aggressive facial expressions that make you look like you’re angry because you haven’t eviscerated a small animal yet? It’s crass, it’s crude, and it makes you look like some form of mutated ape. Then there are the guys who use loud colours and streak their hair. Oh geez. Come on. You’re not impressing anyone. Frankly, I’ve seen better hair colouring from native tribes in the Amazon who perfected the art. They look impressive and noble. City boys like you just look – stupid.

I’m bald because I inherited my great-grandfather’s genes. I started losing my hair at 17.ย  I saw a picture of him from the early 1920’s. My mother says I’m almost the spitting image of him. Naturally bald guys are a hell of lot more better looking than the guys who butcher their scalps with a razor.

Here we are in the 21st century, with all these amazing cultural, social, and technical advancements, yet North American men of all ages act and look like they’re perpetually trapped in some form of high-school time warp. They don’t want to grow up and be – men. They want to be jocular little fanboys who dress in drab colours. It’s like the proletarian fashions of George Orwell’s 1984 blended with the selfish consumerism and drug taking of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to createย  a pleasure seeking society of monochromatic male drones.

Once upon a time, the thought of turning 50 made me turn cold with fear. When it happened, I spent a week ruminating on crossing that numeric threshold. My mother, who is so very wise, told me that the number of years doesn’t mean anything. She’s 80, but she doesn’t feel 80. I think I understand. Sure, I just turned 53, but I don’t feel ’53’ in the slightest. I’m active, engaged, healthy, and interested in what’s going on around me. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that I’ve gained wisdom from my life experiences. I’m comfortable with who I am. I know myself – my strengths and my limitations. Hell, I’ll never be a business executive, a senior manager, or major political figure. I’m not interested in competing against other people – life is not some kind of race where the objective is to keep score. I’m a creative individual – I like the arts, music, theatre, writing. I come from a family of creatives. I like ideas and looking at the big picture. I try to cultivate some sense of style so I don’t look like a stuffy, boring middle-aged man. I try to dress in a way that reflects my own creative sense.

Men need to grow up. Seriously. They need to put away their high-school fashions and mentality. They need to turn off the arrogant attitude. They need to get on with their lives and look forward, not backward. Put away the childish things and accept the responsibility of being an adult. There are quite a few men I know who are successful husbands, fathers, and have made significant contributions to the world. They’re cultured, experienced, sophisticated, and mature. They are busy living their lives, not ‘chillaxing’ and trying to recapture their high school days.

The Grumpy Ferret (Who actually knows his personal measurements!)

Despicable Me 2 – The Gru is Back in Town

Come on, admit it. Don’t you look forward to the summer movie season? For a few short months, Hollywood delivers a visual buffet of motion pictures that range from stunningly entertaining, to the ones where you’re fighting the urge to stand up in the middle of a crowded movie theatre and scream:

‘THIS FILM IS COMPLETE CRAP!

ARE YOU ALL OUT OF YOUR MINDS?

ย  GET YOUR DAMN FEET OFF THE SEATS!”

Go on – you know you want to stand up and show the world you’re not some sheeplike moviegoer who blithely sits through two hours of pre-packaged movie formula in the darkness.

I think the summer of 2013 is a bumper crop of some great movies. My viewing list this year includes Star Trek – Into Darkness, Man of Steel, Monsters University, and I’m actually planning to see Guillermo Del Toro’s mecha masterpiece Pacific Rim. Of course, what I think is an entertaining movie may be quite different from what you like. Last summer I loved Pixar’s movie Brave. I really liked the story, the Scottish setting, and of course, the characters. There’s Scottish ancestry in my blood – clan Mackenzie to be exact – so I was thoroughly entertained by it.

The film I’m most looking forward to is Despicable Me 2. What I really liked about the original when it debuted in 2010 was how it blended every James Bond stereotype about super-villains, spy gadgets, taking over the world, and made it utterly comical with a colourful, whimsical storyline that was just too ridiculous for words. That was the charm of the movie. A good story, great voice over acting by the likes of Julie Andrews, Steve Carell, Jason Siegel, Russell Brand – and a charming style of computer graphics animation. The icing on the cake were those clever, erratic, and utterly hilarious minions.

This time around, the plot is a bit different. Gru is out of the super-villain business and being a father to those three little sweethearts Agnes, Edith, and Margo. Wouldn’t you know it – just when it seems he’s actually adjusting to the domestic life (sort of), opportunity comes knocking in the form a wigged out super spy played by none other than the talented comedienne Kirsten Whig . Gru is recruited by a secret organization known as the Anti-Villain League to save the world from a diabolical new supervillian known as ‘El Macho”.

What’s going to happen with the minions this time? I always suspected they had a Jekyll and Hyde personality lurking underneath their banana exteriors. Of course, maybe it would be more fun just being an out-and-out evil minion so you can let your true colours show – in purple!

Forgive me, but the evil purple minions deserve one more mention. I think they speak for how we’re all really feeling about the current state of modern North American life in the 21st century.

The Grumpy Ferret (BA-NA-NA!)

It’s OK You Can ‘Dare to be Stupid’!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think there are far too many serious, uptight, unfunny people out there in the big, wide world. One of the hazards of being an adult is losing your sense of humour – to appreciate the funny and just plain wacky. Of course, what’s funny to one person might be considered as lame to another. For example, I never understood the comedy of Jerry Seinfeld. I was living in Japan when his television show appeared in North America. By the time I arrived back in Vancouver several years later, irony was all the rage. But I didn’t get it. On the flip side, I’m still a huge fan of Monty Python, which puts me squarely at odds with alot of people who don’t get English style humour.

One of my comedy touchstones is the parody music of Weird Al Yankovic. His ability to take popular songs and twist them into satire is really comic genius. I think it’s time to shake up this blog and deviate from some of the serious stuff I’ve posted during the month of May. Let’s all ‘Dare to be Stupid‘ !

Canadians work too hard. We really do. I think we need a new national holiday. Luckily, Weird Al has the perfect suggestion:

Alright, by this point you’re probably getting an idea of where my sense of humour lies. I admire Weird Al’s ability to craft satirical parody with popular music. It’s an art form that’s definitely an acquired taste, which is why I wash down copious amounts of my favourite alcoholic beverages when watching his videos. I’m going to warn you that from this point onwards, the content is going to start getting more graphic. Beam yourself out of cyberspace while you can!

I’m going to share some of my favourite animated Weird Al videos They’re politically incorrect, so if you get easily offended, this is your last warning.

You have been warned!

Another great video Weird Al did was in collaboration with the folks over at the JibJab website. Jibjab is famous for their interactive animations, so Al did a parody called ‘CNR’, which are the initials of the late TV actor Charles Nelson Reilly. I remember watching him as a child on shows like ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir‘, ‘Lidsville‘, and of course, the famous TV game shows ‘Hollywood Squares‘ and ‘Match Game‘.

When Lady Gaga released her album ‘Born This Way‘ in 2011, Weird Al produced a parody called ‘Perform This Way’. There was initial confusion about whether or not Lady Gaga’s managers granted permission for the parody, but Mother Monster gave Al her blessing. The parody was a major hit – I think it’s one of his most original works.

This final video is NOT by Weird Al, but I think it’s a terribly clever parody of the famous AC/DC song ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap‘. I’ll let ‘ewe’ be the judge ๐Ÿ™‚

If any of these videos made you laugh, then my mission was accomplished!

As for me, I feel much better now ๐Ÿ™‚

The Grumpy Ferret (So very very close, but no cigar!)

Oh My Goodness! Shirley Temple Black is 85!

Shirley Temple in a kimono given by the Japanese Envoy to the USA in 1937

Shirley Temple in a kimono given by the Japanese Envoy to the USA in 1937

I have a secret to confess. I like watching Shirley Temple movies. There, Internet – I said it. Alert Perez Hilton! Call in TMZ! Me, the guy who watches movies like Avatar, Prometheus, Lincoln, The Lord of the Rings, Lawrence of Arabia, Quiz Show, Skyfall, Thirteen Days, and The Tree of Life. I become a big, mushy lump when that curly haired moppet appears on screen, showing off her brave determination, irrepressible optimism, and those bright, sparkling eyes that made her such a global box office sensation during the 1930’s. I often find myself asking, ‘Why am I watching this? These films are really saccharine!’ I know why I watch her movies. Because they’re not cynical, dark, depressing, profane, overly realistic, overly suggestive, do not feature massive weapons arsenals, face sucking aliens, computer generated graphics up the wazoo, or pouty vampires and depressed, 20 something male werewolves!

Shirley’s movies are fairly straightforward stories about hope in the face of adversity, and finding the good in others, even if they don’t see it in themselves. Her films provided comfort and escapism for tens of millions of filmgoers around the world during the dark times of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said “…as long as America has Shirley Temple, we’ll be alright…” Madame Chiang Kai Shek couldn’t get enough of her movies. J. Edgar Hoover adored her. Amelia Earhart was a great fan. Eight decades later, the world is suffering through great economic, environmental, political, and social turmoil. There’s a widening social gap between the wealthy and the rest of us. We’re bombarded relentlessly with information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to the point where it can really drag down your spirits. When I’m watching a Shirley Temple movie, I forget about the troubles outside my door for a little while. It’s just me and Shirley, sharing another of her adventures. When it’s over, I feel a bit of that cheerful optimism has rubbed off on me so I can face the rigours of whatever comes my way.

Amid all the smartphone robots and ipod zombie commuters, sometimes I’ll hum a Shirley Temple tune on my way to work, and get another small jolt of optimism to keep my spirits up. I think it actually helps me to stay in a good mood!

Shirley Temple was born on April 23rd, 1928, in Santa Monica, California. One tidbit I learned about her was that Fox Studios changed her birth certificate in 1934 so she was one year younger! Another fact that once again proves how strangely Karma works – revenues from Shirley Temple’s movies saved Fox Studios from bankruptcy in 1935. In otherwords folks, without Shirley Temple, there would never have been a 20th Century Fox Studios. A little girl singlehandedly saves Hollywood! Now there’s a story. You’ll find that a mountain of information is available online about the life of Shirley Temple. The Shirley Temple Dolls website contains a trove of articles and stories from 1930’s Hollywood about her. The Miss Shirley Temple Tumblr website contains a wealth of anecdotes and photographs that spans her entire life. I actually made the effort to track down a copy of her 1988 autiobiography. Child Star: Shirley Temple Black – An Autobiography is a revealing look at Shirley’s life and the Hollywood film industry of the 1930’s. It’s a fascinating book, and a very substantial read.

Shirley Temple Black is 85. Wow. What an astounding journey her life has been. Actress, mother, diplomat. Well, let me add my own belated many happy returns of the day to you, Shirley! You continue to provide inspiration to everyone around the world across the generations. For that, we thank you very much!

And there you are – happy landings on a chocolate bar!

The Grumpy Ferret

Jim Carrey Hits the Social Satire Bullseye With ‘Cold Dead Hand’

I swear that if the famous satirist Jonathan Swift were alive today, he would have a field day with the American addiction to guns. In all of recorded human history, I don’t think there has ever been any civilization that rivals the United States and its absurd lust for firearms, with the possible exception of Yemen, which leads the world in per capita gun ownership. The United States ranks second. A dubious badge of honour, indeed.

I’m not going to recite the litany of evidence based facts and figures about how many hundreds of millions of guns the Yanks have, or how many tens of thousands of innocent lives in their country are slaughtered or wounded every year in the perverse name of freedom to protect oneself from black UN helicopters and Barack Obama. Or how Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association must be the illegitimate totalitarian love child of Josef Stalin. It’s just too depressing for words.

I am glad to report that biting social satire against the lunatic American gun lobby is alive and well in the USA, and being led by a CANADIAN no less. Jim Carrey just released a music video on the Funny or Die website that makes a mockery of the late Charlton Heston (former president of the NRA). The song is called ‘Cold Dead Hand‘ and it’s a cutting rebuke.

In a clever reference. note that the band members are Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon, and Mahatma Ghandi, all of whom were assassinated by gunmen.

“The angels wouldn’t take him up to heaven like he planned, cuz’ they couldn’t pry that gun from his cold dead hand.”

The Grumpy Ferret