Month: January 2014

RACCOONS IN THE MOVIES: That’s Just Nutty

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Is he going to punch me with a flower?

The movie The Nut Job, from ToonBox Entertainment, came out last week.  I didn’t see it, despite the antagonist being a raccoon named Raccoon (how much more raccoon can you get?) voiced by Liam Neeson, the man who just sounds awesome saying he will kill you. Because it really is just another ill-conceived children’s film riddled with puns, pop culture references, and the mistaken impression that you can only cast big names for voice work. Reviews for it were unsurprisingly scathing, and despite opening in third place (coming in after a movie that released a week before) the marketers have been crowing about how it performed better than Frozen (which came out a month and a half before, was much better reviewed, and actually stands a chance of being remembered in six months.)

Well, I guess people might recall that The Nut Job existed a couple of years from now when the already announced sequel is released.

I’m just grumpy because there’s no talking Raccoon the raccoon doll with Liam Neeson’s voice.

Nobody Asked

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I have roommates.  One of them can be pretty annoying.  He seems be under the impression that any thought that crosses his mind must be stated aloud (I am not unaware of the irony of complaining about this on a blog.)  Some examples:

  1. Most recently I was caught between him and another roommate talking.  My hands were full between some papers and a freshly made sandwich which I needed to get to my bedroom, which had a locked door. I mumbled “my hands are full” and put down the sandwich to unlock the door, drop off the papers, and halfway back to the kitchen he yells out “hey, do you still want this sandwich?” Of course, you fucking imbecile, do you really think it completely slipped my mind in the twenty seconds that had passed?  Did you think I was walking back to the kitchen for some unrelated reason? I’m sure the moron thinks he did me a favor, rather than just annoy me.
  2. I parked my car down the street because, with the recent snow, I was having trouble getting uphill towards the house.  He runs into me in the morning and proceeds to barrage me with “I didn’t see your car out front!  Where’s your car? How’d you get here without your car?”  Sorry, I wasn’t aware I was supposed to get your approval to not park immediately within your view.
  3. The house, and kitchen especially, is rather infested with ants (it’s also fairly cramped.)  I prefer not to cook here.  I had inherited some uncooked spaghetti and marinara sauce from a former roommate who’d left them.  As I was talking to a roommate and told him he was welcome to use those leftovers, this annoying roommate happened by and felt the need to chime in: “Afraid of doing a little cooking?  You really should give it a try.  It will save you money.”  Yes, thank you for cracking the code jackass that it’s cheaper to cook for yourself.  I never would’ve figured that out in the five years I was living in my own (clean) place and cooking plenty.

Maybe I’m overly irritable.  But it’s hit a point where I dread running into this fool because it’s such a certainty he’ll say something that I’m sure he thinks is insightful and valuable, but is in truth utterly banal to anyone capable of thinking.  I doubt he intends to be an obnoxious shit; he just naturally is.

Dolphins Ain’t so Great

Not Willie!
Piercing a human torso is child’s play for the average land dolphin.

Another interesting combination of articles in close proximity (temporally speaking).  First was this article last Wednesday from Discovery News that lauded the strength of dolphins.  It’s purportedly ten times that of your average human, and presumably stronger than even five gorillas. All that strength was for naught, however, as today came news that the Japanese were starting up their annual dolphin hunt in a place called Taiji.  This was done by rounding up around five hundred dolphins in a cove to make them ready for harvesting, although supposedly only one hundred or so would actually be killed.  The international community, especially conservationists, are unsurprisingly upset and demanding a stop, leading to the usual bickering about hypocrisy and respecting others’ cultures and traditions.  If dolphins are so strong and so smart, how do they keep falling for this year after year?  Checkmate, cetaceans!

RACCOONS IN THE NEWS: They Get CUTER?!

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Little things are always cuter than their bigger versions.  So imagine my surprise to find out that there’s a “pygmy” subset of raccoons populating a small island by the Gulf of Mexico!  Although, to be honest, they don’t look that much cuter than a regular raccoon, but it’s hard to improve perfection.  Sadly, this species is on the verge of extinction because they’re confined to one small place that’s succumbing to human encroachment (from both tourists and development.)  One conservationist, Kevin Schafer, is striving to protect the species, and I hope he has a lot of luck with it.

Source: Mother Nature Network

Poetry is the Strongest Encryption

I had a weird experience recently.  

I read Homer’s The Odyssey (sequel to The Iliad) as translated by Alexander Pope.  This isn’t the sort of thing one normally reads unless it’s been assigned to them for class (which never happened to me.) I felt compelled to experience this classic work of fiction because every time I’ve complained about the use (and abuse) of in media res openings in many TV shows and movies these days there would invariably be some pseudo-intellectual who would bring up the fact that the classic, The Odyssey, employed this convention.  I never understood their reason for pointing out such a fact; because they were unwilling (or unable) to expand on their argument–and it was always made in argument to my complaint–I’m forced to conclude they were insisting that because it was used in The Odyssey, a classic, all uses of it must be a classic. Or they were so eager to interject a factoid they knew that was related that they didn’t care if it actually affected the discussion.

After reading this massive poem (and I was surprised to find it was a poem; I’d always known it was described as an epic poem but I thought it was a poem along the lines of Shakespeare’s poetry which didn’t rhyme most of the time but was based on rhythm) I am forced to conclude that I have no idea what I read.  Really.  Hundred’s of pages and I couldn’t begin to tell you what happened.  The only reason I had any semblance of an understanding of the plot was because at the beginning of each section there was a paragraph synopsis of what was about to happen.  Otherwise the whole thing was just a meaningless jumble of words.  Something about the poetic structure prevented me from grasping who the characters were (barely referred to by name) or what they were doing.  The last time this happened was when I read The Shapes of Their Hearts by Melissa Scott, which ended up being so engaging that I read it quickly, but could barely remember any of the characters or cared about what they were doing.

Maybe I just didn’t care about The Odyssey? That can’t be possible: it’s a classic!