Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Just a quick update! Life is finally getting into a routine here after moving into my new home. I am enjoying the freedom and Independence and looking forward to lots of fun challenges!

One of my favourite Halloween movies is a short Disney cartoon from years ago, Its the telling of "Sleepy Hollow" called the "adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" and I have to say it is creep-tastic! I think it is one of the best renditions of the headless horsemen. Back when I was little the Disney channel in here Canada (called the Family Channel) used to always show this and bunch of little Halloween cartoons all in a two hour special and I always looked forward to it! Check it out here on YouTube but you don't get the creepy horsemen until part 3, I have to admit too, that it is so awesome that it's Bing Crosby singing!

I am all set for my Halloween at work tomorrow with a fun Steampunk Costume. Obviously, being a plus size gal, i need to make my own costumes a lot of the time, so I re purposed an old black skirt and shirt into a victorian-ish ensemble, and I bought some fun steam punk accessories to complete the look, Aviator goggles are a must! plus some gear earrings, lacy gloves, top hat, revolver! And I made myself a "gear" inspired belt out of tinfoil, cardboard and ribbon! Add some jewellery and you're all set! I love the look, I know its a basic costume, but it looks great, and since I have to be able to work in it I am completely happy with it as it is comfortable!

Here is my finished look!

I hope you all have a spooky holiday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


So I'm just writing this little entry here to explain that I will not be updating for about a month or so. I'm moving out and life is just really busy at the moment with work, moving, and attempting to complete a math course. So I will be doing another entry probably by the end of August/ beginning of September. Hope to have you all back then with some classic cartoon conversations!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Some of the Best and Darkest Stories Ever are in this Book!


So I know I mostly talk about television and movies here, but I was just thinking about one of my favourite books of all time... Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales so that’s what I’ve decided to write about today.
I received this book in a rather roundabout way. Growing up my grandparents lived in a housing complex and sometimes when I went to visit they would find me someone my age to play with. I often played with one girl (but don’t ask me for her name now!) and unfortunately her house had had a fire in it and with their insurance claim they had to throw out a lot of books that were perfectly fine, but smelt slightly of smoke. So among a couple other books I grabbed this one.
To be honest with you, I don’t even remember how old I was when I got this book. I’m guessing it was probably in the 10-12years old range. In any case; I read a couple stories and grew incredibly frustrated at the fact they had nothing to do with my favourite Disney movies. I sort of leafed through the book and I remember even then being astonished at how gruesome and grotesque some of the stories really were.
For instance, in the tale “The Princess in Disguise” the princess is forced to flee her home when her FATHER the king wants to marry her. In “the Maiden without Hands” a father mutilates his daughter. Animals want to marry people, mutilation, people are killed in unusual ways, but as I got older.... I liked them more and more. It became less about the magic and more about what was happening, and why. I could enjoy the macabre elements because I was able to understand the morals that the stories ultimately were expressing. Some of the morals were fairly obvious, such as in “The Frog Prince” were honouring your promises will give you happiness in the end. However some morals seem outdated, such as when I read “The Old Witch” I was told that being curious and wilful wasn’t really a good thing, and I think in some cases it is a good thing! But it was more about obeying your parents.... but growing up I think I was more concerned on making sure that curiosity *not wilfulness* was a good thing!
I mean, I guess the macabre is part of all of us and when these tales were told, life was hard, violent, and filled with a lot of death, so it’s natural that stories would have those elements in them. Even if there is a happy ending, you had to crawl through a lot of crap to get that little bit of happiness, if you got any. In “The Sleeping Beauty” many princes (I quote) “died a lamentable death” being “caught and pierced by the thorns”. The Prince, who finally does get through, only does because the 100 year sleep of the princess was ending anyways. The castle literally comes to life, and his kiss is not necessary to wake the princess, though it is still bestowed.
I find it fascinating that these stories have stayed with us through the ages, and find it even stranger that these are the stories we tell kids today. The darker elements of some of these tales are so creepy and effective that I like the idea of them being there. In truth, these were not meant to be children’s tales, they were told by adults to other adults. I know that a lot of filmmakers are returning to that truth. Several fairytale inspired movies have come out and several are coming up in the future that are a lot darker in tone: Sleepy Hollow 1999, Stardust 2007, The Neverending Story 1984, Pan’s Labyrinth 2006,  and there are a bunch of Snow White movies slated for the next couple of years. Movies that aren’t afraid of going into darker themes and grotesque filmmaking techniques (I’m looking at you Sleepy Hollow.... all that blood! But I still love you)
So all in all, I’m glad I dumpster dove for this book. I love these slightly dark and endearing stories, and I think you would too. If you ever get a chance to pick up a copy, or read the original stories somewhere online... Do it!
Best Random Parts of the Book:
            Names like Rinkrank, Katrinelje, Hulda and Rumplestilskin. Hardcover. 211 stories in all, probably about 150 that you’ve never heard of before.
*****/5 J

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sherlock TV Series

So I love Sherlock Holmes. I find the stories fun, intelligent, and always baffling in a good way. So I was ecstatic when I saw a promo on PBS (Yes, I love the Antiques Roadshow) for their Masterpiece Mystery program of an updated Sherlock show from BBC a couple of months ago. It was created by Steven Moffet and Mark Gatiss who also work on another of my favourite shows Doctor Who. Moffet and Gatiss very cleverly realized that the original works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are incredibly relevant to today’s world. It’s funny too, because there are several plot things that don’t have to been changed in the least in order to work. For instance, in the original work Watson has returned with an injury from Afghanistan, and that (well unfortunately) mirrors today’s world.
I was able to watch the show when it aired on PBS and I fell in love with Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Watson, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock. Each actor brings a great vitality to their respective roles and the dynamic between the two actors is brilliant. After watching “A Study in Pink” I was already hooked, but disappointed when I learned there were only 3 episodes in the series. Luckily each episode is 1 ½ hours long, which is nice when you find out how short the season is. I was recently given the first season on DVD and I have already rewatched them a couple of times.
I really enjoy how the filmmakers have brought a gritty realism to the show, the characters are not stuffy, discussing the plots in a parlour over a couple of pipes of tobacco, but they employ cell phones, computers, and talk with each other like normal people. I don’t know if this production was influenced at all by the Guy Richie film, but that grittiness is what I think works in both projects (Side note here, I enjoyed the Richie film as well with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as well, for different reasons. I love Robert Downey Jr.’s sort of crazy portrayal of the character).
I know the show isn’t on television right now, but if you have means to find it online, at the library, or through Itunes, or even buy the season on dvd. I really recommend it. It is great fun, and you will not regret at least watching the first episode.
Best Random Parts of the Show:
Una Stubbs as “Mrs Hudson” and her refrain of “I’m not your housekeeper”. The use of technology in the show; specifically the “wrong” text message in the first episode. Watson being more of a partner and less of a biographer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Disney Villains

Sorry for such a long break in my posts. I went on vacation, and then I didn't really go to any movies, and I was busy, and I'm SORRY! So here is a new post, and a promise to post more often!

My Top Ten Disney Villains
          Growing up in the late 80s and 90s I have seen my fair share of Disney movies. I grew up on them and consequently know them very well indeed. I loved all the princesses, the heroes and the funny sidekicks, but something has to be said for the baddies. The villains, those characters who you love to hate. Thus, I have created my own personal list of the baddies I love.  My criteria is: lasting scariness, bad and funny, and pure evil. So in last place at number ten:
10. Prince John and Sir Hiss from Robin Hood 1973
          These two were menacing, but Prince John sucked his thumb..... not scary scary, they were definitely bad and funny. I loved seeing Prince John being doped over and over again, while Sir Hiss was unable to stop him!
9.  Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland 1951
          Now she was one scary woman! What made her so scary was her swift mood changes. She could be so nice one moment and “Off With Your Head” the next. She was also voiced by Verna Felton, who was also the voice of the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. She was able to just put the right amount of tenor into her voice that made her sweet, but menacing. She was evil, and you know that she would never change, but she also had great lines, including this one (my fave) “Curtsy while you’re thinking. It saves time.”
8.  Evil Queen from Snow White 1937
          Just evil. No redeeming qualities. How did Snow White’s father fall in love and marry this woman? I mean sure she was probably hot for awhile, but EVIL. I recently re-watched this movie with my nieces and the whole scene where she ages and creates the apple, gives me the willies still! She is pure evil and scary still.
7. Stromboli from Pinocchio 1940
          He was just mean. Talk about a child-snatching/exploiting/con artist! Each of those counts puts him on this list, but I think his scariest quality, was the fact you could completely see him chopping and burning little Pinocchio up! Also when he does his little belly dance..... scary.
6. Gaston from Beauty and the Beast 1991
          As a young girl I guess I didn’t realize how misogynistic he was, but as an adult I really see that, and yeah, I hate him now! Of course, he was creepy growing up too. I mean obsessed with Belle and not right for her at all. He was scary/creepy because he was believable. You can meet guys who are still like this, controlling, possessive, mean, and just jerks. He wasn’t really funny though.... his sidekick is what brought him his funny moments, but he was just villainous!
5. Jafar from Aladdin 1992
          The man turns into a snake! Scary/Evil/Creepy, and similarly with Gaston, not funny at all. Iago is funny, and in fact he becomes a “good guy” in the cartoon series that followed. (total sidebar here, do you remember the Aladdin cartoon? Classic! That one and The Little Mermaid.... those were awesome). But Jafar, he’s evil, he’s manipulative, and he’s a great villain. I think his best moment is when he tries to wish for Jasmine’s love and she fakes it so well that he is taken in for just a moment, and then when he finds out.... his evilness goes up another 3 notches.
4. Ursula from The Little Mermaid 1989
          Another evil woman, but she does it so well. She also uses her great powers of manipulation to achieve her goals, but she does it with such flair and theatricality that you love to hate her for it. She is also able to be funny. I think to be truly evil you have to have that glimmer of funniness coming through, but it’s always a twisted humour. She finds it funny that Ariel loves Eric because she doesn’t believe that love can overcome obstacles. So she is able to poke find humour in the fact that Ariel is a mermaid, and Eric is human. She is evilest when she thinks everything is getting out of her control. She is also the reason why I hated the name Vanessa for many years.
3. Yzma from Emperor’s New Groove 2000
          She’s just funny evil. She has the best lines in the movie, and she has the best attitude. Yeah she wants to kill Kuzco, but I don’t really like Kuzco at the beginning of the movie anyways. She and her sidekick Kronk really make the movie, I mean sure Kuzco and Pacha are the heart of the film, but I love Yzma and the irony that is her dependence on Kronk. Just hilarious, but slightly evil. She could maybe do it, Kill Kuzco, but you can sorta see that she likes playing the game of evilness more.
2. Scar from The Lion King 1994
          Ah yes, the evil uncle! Shakespearean villain, who uses deception and guile to achieve his goals. He almost succeeds, I mean, if Simba never came back he would have died a winner. He gets my runner up spot because of that. He was so close and he was responsible for killing Simba’s dad. You don’t get that a ton in Disney movies, I mean any meaningful death, but he killed Simba’s dad! Killed him dead! And he was so cold when he did it.... “Long Live the King” still gives me shivers. Evil and Scary, and only a smidgeon of funny, yeah, he’s a pretty evil dude.
1. Chernabog from Fantasia 1940
          He’s my number one for one reason. He gave me nightmares. I mean he’s the devil! And he likes summons evil spirits to him and distorts them into disgusting, prostrating pigs! He can’t be funny because he can’t talk, but he is the essence of all evil and fear! Scary stuff. When he unfolds from the mountain and those yellow eyes! Have I mentioned he gave me nightmares as a child? Cuz he did..... bad! But I have to love him as well because I love fantasia and I love the music they have with him. It’s the perfect matching of imagery and sound. Evil!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Musical Mac & Cheese

So surfing for a radio station this evening I swung my dial to cbc radio 2 where two guys were talking about those songs that we all love.... but are so incredibly cheesy that they called them Mac and Cheese songs. Which I think is brilliant. I mean we all have to songs that we love that are cheesy....

So, this is my Cheesy Top Ten Song list:

1. "Just the Way You Are" Billy Joel - 1977
How is this not cheesy.... first.... it’s from the 70's and a full 7 years before I was born, secondly..... the cheesy sax! Can't scream cheese without that sax playing... and lastly.... every time the song comes on my work iPod.... I can't help it.... I totally sing along! I can describe how it makes me feel... but cheesy is a good describer.

2. “No Diggity” Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen – 1996
For the life of me I have no clue what this song is really about, because I just sing the chorus lol. But I totally groove out to it in the car. It’s one of my favourite driving songs, and it reminds me of driving with my sisters, because I was only 12 when the song came out, so they were driving and this was the music they loved.

3. “Killing Me Softly” The Fugees – 1996
I mean, the original would be considered mac and cheese but doing a cover of a cheesy song.... totally makes it a three cheese macaroni! Don’t get me wrong. I love this cover! I think it’s awesome. This is not about songs not being good, but the fact that they have been reduced to cheesy levels!

4. “My Heart Will Go On” Celine Dion – 1997
The ultimate cheesy theme song! I mean, once again, when the movie first came out, this song was brilliant. It captured the feeling of the movie perfectly, but then.... everywhere you turned there it was, every radio station seemed to be playing it. Even talk radio! Its overexposure ultimately doomed it to its current cheesy status.

5. “It’s Not Unusual” Tom Jones – 1965
Tom Jones.... what more can I say. It was cheesy to begin with, but now.... every time I hear it, I think of the Carlton dance on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”. I think I could even do the Carlton dance due to the many reruns I have watched lol!

6. “Barbie Girl” Aqua – 1997 and “All She Wants” Ace of Base – 1993
I put these two together, because of the fact they are two songs from bands that were both Danish/Norwegian and Swedish and that is sorta cheesy in itself. Not that there are no good bands from those countries, but there was this weird influx of these sort of groups in the 90s that all offered good dance songs that had really catchy hooks. But they are none the less.... Cheesy.

7. “Backstreet’s Back” Backstreet Boys – 1997 and “Wanna Be” Spice Girls - 1996
Well it certainly isn’t thriller, but the halloweeny video clinches it as a cheesy song. The Boy Bands of the 80s and 90s all have their share of cheesy songs, but good grief! This one tops the list.  As for Spice Girls.... need I say more really???? Despite that... both of these songs... get me all nostalgic for grade 8!

8. “You’re So Vain” Carly Simon – 1972
Another great song, but somehow it makes me think of cheesiness. I guess it’s the fact that it’s sort of a break up anthem. Conceitedness is cheesy as well. This song always gets me singing along especially in the car. This makes it qualify for a cheese factor.

9. “Safety Dance” Men Without Hats – 1982
Ah the 80s! I mean really we could put the whole decade in this countdown if we wanted, really. But this particular song sums up the 80s in many ways.... one hit wonder (check)...... band with weird name (check)...... danceable tune (check) and song about goodness knows what? (check!) Ah, cheesy!

10. “Hollaback Girl” Gwen Stefani – 2005
What the heck is a hollaback girl? And why did I know all the words to this song???? And what is with all the bananas anyways! Cheese on toast! I mean.... good tune, but this song is cheesy C-H-E-E-S-Y!

I could continue this list, and I'm sure I've missed really obvious options but this is a list that I stand by! Maybe in the future I'll add to it. Feel free to comment and tell me the songs I missed!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Secret Garden

directed by Agnieszka Holland (1993)
             This is one of my all time favourite films. Ever since I was a child the movie has enchanted me. It happened to be on tv the other night so I thought I would review it instead of a current movie.
            The movie is based upon the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett and it follows the plot pretty faithfully. It changes several things, but it does not detract from the original work much. The story centers itself on Mary Lennox, a sour, dispirited child, who was born and raised in India. She was mostly raised by her servants as her parents had little time or inclination towards her. Due to this she is unable to cry or really understand the concepts of love and friendship.
 Recently orphaned she is sent to live at her uncle’s home Misselthwaite Manor, where there too she is left mostly on her own. To amuse herself she is sent daily outside where she finds a locked garden and is able to get inside. Through the course of the movie she discovers another secret within her home, her bedridden cousin Colin who is similar in temperament to herself.
            The story is essentially about healing, family, and learning to love. The garden is a metaphor for the growth of the characters themselves as they progress in the narrative. The cast of this film is excellent and while oftentimes young actors can come off as stilted and unconvincing, child actors Kate Maberly, Heydon Prowse, and Andrew Knott are not only convincing but emotionally engaging in their respective roles. The supporting cast lead by Maggie Smith strengthens their portrayals by adding a depth and gravity into roles that otherwise could be very flat. Maggie Smith’s character is the most “villainous” in the film, but she brings sensitivity to the role that makes it impossible to completely hate her by the end of the film.
            To round off the excellent acting, the locations, buildings, and cinematography is all excellent.  Much care was given to each of these areas giving the film a life of its own; And as an adult watching this film, it’s hard to believe that so much effort went into a “children’s” film. This film is timeless and is one of the best movie adaptations I have ever seen. I know from experience the movie still captures young children (my nieces) and has the potential to become a children’s classic, much like the novel.
Best Random Parts of the Movie:
            The music is just fantastic that it has to be mentioned somewhere on here, Maggie Smith as the villainous Medlock, elephants as a motif for mothers, Time lapse photography for garden’s spring.
*****out of 5, a classic and a favourite that I couldn’t rate any less!
Here is a clip of the film I found on Youtube