Sunday, February 22, 2009

Congratulations Wall-e!

OK, so I just got back today from Intervarsity Spring Leadership Conference, and I plan on blogging about that sometime soon. But tonight I just want to make a quick note about the Oscars. I don't see a lot of new movies each year and see even fewer that get nominated for awards, but the Best Animated Feature award tends to be an exception. In that spirit I want to congratulate to director Andrew Stanton and the rest of the crew at Pixar for winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature for my personal favorite film from last year, Wall-e. In honor of the occasion, here are a few short gag clips staring Wall-e. Enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Muppets Take Orlando

Well, this past Valentines Day turned out to be one of the best I’ve had in recent memory. It wasn’t what I would imagine a typical Valentines to be as I had no date, no candy, and nothing else remotely romantic happen to me (maybe some other year). However, it did have something that made it really special: the Muppets! Specifically “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World,” a recently opened traveling exhibit of rare artwork and sketches by Jim Henson accompanied by movie props, rarely seen video, and (of course) about a dozen puppets including my favorite Muppet, Kermit the Frog! Now, I am of course a big fan of Henson and the Muppets so ever since I heard this Smithsonian exhibit was coming to Orlando I’ve wanted to see it, but I never expected the kind of good fortune that would smile on me. You see, it turned out that the museum the exhibit is visiting in Orlando was having a special promotion that allowed visitors to get in free on a handful of dates this month including February 14th  to promote art and culture in the Orlando area or something like that. My brother and I were afraid there would be some sort of catch but amazingly there wasn’t. In what has to be the best deal in Orlando history, we got to see actual Muppets and artwork created by Jim Henson (plus a tiny but interesting exhibit about Abraham Lincoln including a couple of handwritten letters by the 16th President himself!) for no charge at all! They even validated my parking! Can’t beat that! The only thing that would have made it better was if the allowed photography inside the exhibit but, alas, you can’t win ‘em all.

As for the Jim Henson exhibit itself, it was really neat to see the puppets up close and personal (albeit behind glass). As someone who has built a puppet or two in his time, it was really cool to see firsthand how the people who essentially created that particular style of puppetry put their puppets together. It was also interesting to see the evolution of Henson's artistic ideas from the creation of initial design sketches to storyboards to the puppets themselves to a finished film all on display in one place. However, it would be more than a little dishonest for me to say that my interest in the Muppets on display was purely from a technical or artistic perspective. After all, it’s hard not to be a little star struck when you turn a corner and there is Kermit, or Bert and Ernie, or Rowlf the Dog right in front of you after years of watching them on TV. However, after the initial shock, the experience felt (no pun intended) more like revisiting a piece of my own childhood in a whole new way than standing in the presence of a movie star. As corny as that sounds, I think that ability (in terms of puppet design, writing,  and performance) to create characters that elicits such warm, silly, and unpretentious responses was part of what set Jim Henson's creations apart in the world of pop culture in the first place. Finally, the art on display, which made up the majority of the exhibit, was really fascinating to see as well. Most of it was in the form of fairly rough sketches and doodles, but as a fellow art student who grew up doodling it was cool and even a little inspirational to see someone whose work I admire going through some of the stages that I have artistically (including, apparently, the packrat stage).

However, the day wasn’t over yet when we left the museum. It was time for a late lunch so on the way home my brother and I stopped at one of our favorite places to visit: Disney World! Downtown Disney to be exact, where we enjoyed more free parking, had  some hot sandwiches, and soaked up that Disney atmosphere (a process which included lots of photography). All in all, it was a great (if perhaps unconventional) way to spend Valentines Day. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Photo Album: Mickey and Minnie

Well, Valentines Day is just around the corner. While I can't say I've been all that lucky in the love department this year, here's a picture of one of the greatest couples of the silver screen, Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  Seen here performing together in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, these two have been together for over 80 years and are still going strong. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Advice for the Sick and Tired

So I've been dealing with a pretty annoying cold for most of the week, and I'm glad to say I'm pretty much over it now. However, if there's anyone out there who's still not feeling well and could use a little bit of advice on the subject,  here's a short list that I hope helps. As for everyone else, file this information away too. It could come in handy some day.

  • Never trust that if you take non-drowsy medicine that you won't get tired. If you are sick, you'll feel tired all the time anyway.

  • Know that school will make things inconvenient when your sick, especially when it schedules tests and projects while your sick so instead of just taking a day off to get better you have to run around in abnormally cold weather and study which only makes you feel worse.

  • You'll yearn for a time when food doesn't have an aftertaste of mucus and cold medicine. Accept it.

  • You would think that if you have a fever and chills that one would cancel out  the other but this is unfortunatly not the case.

  • Tissues feel much better than paper towels or paper napkins but any of these can work in a pinch.

  • Two words: Chicken Soup. I don't understand why it helps so much, but it does.

  • Nap whenever you have some spare time. Your body needs plenty of sleep and has no problem telling you that when your sick. Take advantage of it.

  • If you're starting to feel better, avoid catching another cold and starting the whole cycle over again.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Day 2009 with Chuck

So, today is Groundhog Day and apparently Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow which means six more weeks of winter (although judging by the pictures I see of the event every years I think he really just wants six more weeks of sleep). However, my puppet Chuck felt the need to speak out about this holiday and has created a new video on the subject for the blog. (By the way, don't look for multiple self-produced puppet videos appearing on this blog within one week's time to become anywhere near a normal occurrence, but Groundhog Day was too good of a topic for me to ignore).  Enjoy!