Month: February 2014

RACCOONS IN THE NEWS: The Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer

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The big news in the world of raccoons this week was that the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy finally premiered.  Of course, I feel it could have benefitted from featuring the real star of the movie a little more but I’m sure some corporate egghead wanted to avoid making things seem too silly.  I mean, it’s already upping the silliness by featuring John C. Reilly and using Blue Swede’s cover of “Hooked on a Feeling.”  However a little weirdness is to be expected from the director of such off-kilter superhero movies as Super and The Specials. Fortunately, the big question of how Bradley Cooper would be voicing Rocket Raccoon (who had a cockney accent in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3) was answered in a brief feature on the character released a couple of days after the trailer.  Although I can’t say I’m too psyched by his name inexplicably being shortened to just “Rocket.”

Source: Jimmy Kimmel Live (I’m sure many people would say the big deal in the entertainment world on the 18th was his taking over the long-running Tonight Show, but we know better)

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RACCOONS IN THE NEWS: We’re In Your Stadiums, Watching You Practice

Raccoon in the Stands

The New York Yankees are currently preparing for the 2014 season at their spring-training facilities in Tampa, FL.  Really, why do they go all the way out there just to practice? I guess it is warmer than New York currently is.  Anyway, it looks like more than just sports reporters and the die hard fans are watching their preparations, as a New York Post photographer found out!

Source: New York Post

Through the Looking Glass … of Sound

Faith+1
All you really need to know about Christian music can be found here.

I’ve been spending the past week working in Colorado Springs, which is known as a terribly conservative town (let’s put it this way: I once applied to an internal audit job in that city which wanted a spiritual reference and listed “testifying to the glory of Jesus Christ as a key job duty.”) Signs of this were in abundance, such as my favorite radio frequency in Denver being replaced by a Christian rock station. Me being me, I was too lazy to just tune to something else or pop in a CD and so I kept listening out of morbid curiosity.

This music sucks!

I mean, radio is notorious for replaying the same stuff over and over, but I got the feeling they only had about 20 minutes of programming on this station.  Repetitiveness aside, what struck me as particularly offensive was how on the nose all (and I’m not exaggerating, I mean all) of the songs were. I suppose it sounds idiotic to criticize something designed to praise the Lord for, you know, praising the lord but I can’t help but feel there’s room for a little variety.  Rap music does address things other than bitches and money.  Rock music is all over the place.  Heck, even pop music occasionally veers away from puppy love to address female empowerment.

Also, when they veer away, they at least try to weave some artistry (as little as can be attributed to Katy Perry) into the product: “Firework” and “Roar” are at least slightly metaphorical.  It’s not just a few minutes of them saying “I am a woman and I am empowered.”  Christian music apparently doesn’t dare broach such subtlety.  Every (and again, I wish I was exaggerating)  song was straight up “God, God, God.”  He created the universe and is great, he walks with me and is great, he fills me with love and is great … and in every case here’s the song to prove it.  I’m not a religious person, but even I can imagine there are other things to sing about.  Just off the top of my head:

  1. How about abstinence?  I know that’s big with the Christians.  Just take the usual puppy-love song and turn it on its head with how the kids don’t indulge in pleasures of the flesh and instead seek other, more “fulfilling” pursuits.
  2. How about a ballad about helping people? For all the Christianity on this station (including a commercial for a Christian dating website) I never heard a thing about volunteer work.  Didn’t Jesus endorse helping others?  I bet you could make a great song about going to some place devastated place and working to make others’ lives better.  A more personal We Are the World.   Heck, I’d settle for Man in the Mirror.
  3. Really, this seems like a genre just made for more storytelling songs.  Think Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto” or Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.” Songs about people struggling and how their faith saw them through.  Every song I heard was simply about the fact that it was great to worship.  They all violated the storytelling edict of “show, don’t tell” because they never how that was the case.

I suppose it’s possible that this one radio station for a half hour twice a day wasn’t a fair representation of the genre, but I get the feeling that wasn’t the case.

 

RACCOONS IN THE NEWS: Sly Cooper Movie

I don't know. Three dudes riding around in a van.  People might talk.
I don’t know. Three dudes riding around in a van. People might talk.

It’ll be a busy few years for raccoons in the movies.  Between The Nut JobGuardians of the Galaxy this year and the recently announced Sly Cooper movie adaptation to be released to theaters in 2016, this is most big screen raccoons I’ve seen since, well, ever.  I mean what came before? There was Furry Vengeance in 2010 (which starred Brendan Fraser, who also voiced a character in the Nut Job) and before that, Over the Hedge in 2006. So three movies in a two year span sounds pretty awesome for raccoon aficionados.  Some people voiced outrage at the change in art style presented in the movie.  I’m fine with it.  A benefit of the cel shading style used in the games is that it’s easier and cheaper to produce (due to a lower emphasis on the textures and detail in character modeling.)  For a big-budget movie it would look kind of, well, cheap. Although I’m really looking forward to the ouroboros-like, and inevitable, game based on the movie based on the game.

Source: Sly Cooper Animated Film Revealed @ PlayStation Blog

Forward Unto Future

Sexy Digital Librarian
Sexy Digital Librarian … of the future!

Now that I’ve got a new job and a new home (although something of a transient one) I decided to solidify my residency (besides the usual vehicle registration/driver’s license/voting things) by getting that oft-neglected of public privileges: a library card!  I promptly borrowed a book, but not in the traditional manner.  No no, I  stepped into the future (of today) and borrowed a book digitally.  The process was surprisingly seamless, thanks to Amazon’s partnership and the fact that I own a Kindle.  I felt so high tech and stuff, and it’s always good to cut down on handling big old, smelly books.  Actually, libraries make a lot of sense since I never re-read a book anyway and have gone through tons of effort to discard the tons of books I’ve accumulated over the years.  There were just a couple of hiccups with the process:

  1. The list of books available to borrow is embarrassingly lousy.  It’s kind of like looking through the list of discounted (and free) non-public domain titles available through Amazon; tons of stuff from fly-by-night publishers and authors you’ve never heard of and probably suck.
  2. In the olden days, you had to keep track of when the books were due or else incur the late return fee (a staggering 25¢/day at the New York Public Library!)  Now I get a nifty reminder from Amazon that the book will be automatically withdrawn from my Kindle in a couple of days.  This had the added benefit of stressing me out just enough to finish reading the damn thing.  So, nice that I’ll avoid any fees but lousy to have my e-mail nagging me.

Overall, it’s been a pleasant experience.