Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pixar Animation Studios: Part 3: Toy Story 2

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 3 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Toy Story 2
Release: November 24, 1999 (Only one year after Bugs Life)
Running Time: 92 minutes
Estimated Cost: $90 million
Estimated Revenue: $485.015 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary
Andy is still in love with his toys and furiously plays with them, so much so that right before leaving for cowboy camp, he rips Woody’s arm. Through a series of unfortunate events Woody winds up in the clutches of a toy collector instead of the loving arms of Andy.

The toys: Buzz, Rex, Hamm, Slinky Dog and Mr. Potato Head figure out where to find Woody. As they are heading to save him, Woody meets his fellow cast mates from his old TV show: Jessie, Prospector and Bullseye.

The collector fixes Woody and sells him and his mates to a toy museum in Japan. Jessie and Prospector are excited to be in use again after years in storage. Woody goes back and forth between wanting to go with them or return to Andy. Whenever he tries to leave, he finds something [one] stopping him.

Buzz and the toys enter a toy store and get separated, and the rest of the toys find a new Buzz toy (and it takes them a long time to realize that he is not their Buzz). They meet back up in the apartment building where Woody is. And just as they are going to leave with Woody, the Prospector reveals that he is not Mint in Box and has been trying to keep Woody there.

Woody and his mates get separated once again from Buzz and crew on the way to the airport. Woody, Jessie and Bullseye escape from the Prospector and return to Andy’s room with Buzz and the crew just in time for Andy to see the new toys and thank his mom.

Plot Rating: 5 stars out of 5

PIXAR has once again, hit it out of the park. The toys are back for another adventure and it was great. What makes a PIXAR film great is not the animation it is the story.

Animation Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The only thing that looked weird in the movie was the dog, Buster. Andy’s dog just looked odd. PIXAR hasn’t yet mastered the look of fur. While Andy’s hair remains as one unit (or several large units), the dog’s fur is short and in many different strands. Buster’s discourse with his surroundings reminded me of Tarzan’s parents during the tempest; beautiful animation against CG that’s not as great. Hopefully when I return to the toy in TS3, PIXAR will have advanced enough.

The Test of Time:
One more sequel 10 years later… I don’t think I even need to further talk about the Toy Story series’ Test of Time

Final Thoughts
TS2 was a great follow up, and a wonderful sequel. I surely hope other PIXAR sequels are just as wonderful.

Next Up:
Monsters, Inc.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy 100th Post: Top 10: Rejected Ideas

Celebrating 100 Posts
Top Ten List #10 (Items 91- 100)
Top Ten Rejected Ideas for the 100's List

10. Top Ten Video Games - I only play like 5 or 6 games.
9. Top Ten Vacation Spots - I could only put Disney World on it once.
8. Top Ten Graduate Classes - They were all a bit too similar to distinguish a favorite.
7. Top Ten Super Heroes - They change too often.
6. Top Ten Over Used Words On My Facebook - Don't know why.
5. Top Ten iTunes Apps - My favs are just website apps.
4. Top Ten Websites - They are probably your favorite ones too.
3. Top Ten Characters in Harry Potter - Very viable, possible future list.
2. Top Ten Favorite Movies - After the top 3, it gets hard to figure out given the sheer number of movies there are.
1. Top Ten Disney Movies/Princesses - I feel that I need to hold off on this until my WDAS series is complete.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy 100th Post: Top 10: Harry Potter Books

Celebrating 100 Posts
Top Ten List #9 (Items 81- 90)
Top Ten Harry Potter Books

10. Quidditch Through The Ages - A book mentioned in HP that didn’t translate well to the muggle world.

9. Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them - Slightly better “text” book.

8. Tales of Beetle the Bard - The best of the text books. Uses by Hermione to solve the mysteries of Book 7.

7. Chamber of Secretes - A poor excuse to start the horocrux story line.

6. Order of the Phoenix - Harry whines a lot.

5. Sorcerers’ Stone - Middle of the list blahs.

4. Prisoner of Azkaban - A great break from Voldy; introducing a fan favorite character: Sirius.

3. Goblet of Fire - A fun, solve the puzzle. It was nice to see the other schools.
2. Deathly Hallows - wonderful ending of the series. What kept it from number 1? I wish there was more Hogwarts.

1. Half Blood Prince - Just surprised me that it was number one!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy 100th Post: Top 10: Courses in Undergrad

Celebrating 100 Posts
Top Ten List #8 (Items 71- 80)
Top Ten Courses I took at American University

Title Semester Description Final Project Final Grade
10. EDU-371 Foundations of Reading Instruction S04 Beginning foundations of how to teach reading to young children. Group Project: Author Study of Roald Dahl A-
9. PERF-115G Theatre: Principles, Plays and Performances F02 Introduction to theatre history and play criticism. My computer crashed after my first term and I don’t have any records from this class. A
8. LIT-125G Great Books That Shaped The Western World F03 Introduction to the 3’x3’ shelf of great Western fiction (from The Bible through Shakespeare). Final Paper: What Shakespeare thought of Women: A Comparison of Enlightenment Ideologies and Women in Shakespearean Tragedies B
7. EDU-519 Uses of Technology In Education F04 The uses Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Power Point, iMovie and Inspiration as tools for teaching. Final Project: Create a unit connecting tech to curriculum and “student samples.” Students will use Dreamweaver to make a title, Power Point to show story board and iMovie to edit an acted piece of Shakespearean text. A
6. ANTH-235G Early America: The Buried Past S05 A look at Colonial America through houses, privies and family lineage. Final Paper/Project: Family History/Tree and research model A-
5. EDU-212 Methodology of Sign Language S05 Sign Language level 1 Final Paper: Double Pleasure: An Inside Look At The Deaf/Gay Community

Final Project: Sign a Song: Boys and Girls by Good Charlotte
4. ENVS-396 Selected Topics: Non-Recurring

Natual History Of The Florida Keys
S05 (seems like a good semester) We went snorkeling in the Florida Keys… that’s about it. Final Project (while still in the field): A Power Point presentation of some of the fish we saw and details of their natural habitats. A
3. EDU-319 Children’s Lit: The Multicultural and International Approach S04 A guide to evaluating Children’s Lit for cultural bias and relevancy to modern education. Final Project: Create a children’s book: I wrote Cinder Elmo a gay retelling of Cindrella. A
2. PERF-252 Fundamentals of Acting II S03 Shakespeare monologues, contemporary monologues, contemporary scenes. Final Presentation: Serenading Louie with write up B+
1. EDU-552 Teaching Methods: Teaching Mathematics In Elementary Education F05 Math skills and their pedagogy. Final Project: Practical application of a Math lesson plan. A
0 EDU-499 Student Teaching S06 Full time internship in 3rd grade. This “class” had to be included because it was the best semester of undergrad, but wasn’t quite a class. Final Project: ePortfolio and evaluations. A

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy 100th Post: Top 10: Buffy Characters

Celebrating 100 Posts
Top Ten List #7 (Items 61- 70)
Top Ten Buffy Characters

10. Giles – Watcher/Father Figure – He served as a great figurehead, until we learned that he was just a pawn. Then he became to look like a pawn and act like one. Then when Buffy left high school, even though she still needed him far after then, he left her to flounder. His yo-yoing between the states and the UK in the later seasons made him more reminiscent of Buffy’s actual dad (dead beat starting in middle seasons) than the positive role model he was supposed to be.

Best Episode: A New Man.

9. Joyce – Mom. Jocye was a great character. She served a wonderful purpose as an oblivious adult. Once she discovered Buffy’s secrete she seemed like a new ally, until Buffy all but cut Joyce out of her life.

Best episode while alive: Band Candy; while dead: The Body.

8. Cordelia – Cheerleader/Bane. Coridelia started off as a minor character, she was just there to annoy Buffy and remind Buffy what life was like before being the Chosen One. Then she found out about vampires and such and grew into a great character. After grad, on Angel, Cory really began to show why her life was worth saving.

Best Episode on Buffy: Homecoming; On Angel: Birthday.

7. Faith – The Chosen One/Bad Girl. Buffy dies. Kendra’s called. Kendra dies… we get Faith. Faith was an unloved Bostonian who didn’t have boundaries. She fell in with a bad crowd (The Mayor) because she didn’t quite fit in with the Scoobs.

Best Episode on Buffy This Year’s Girl (Part 1)/Who Are You (Part 2); On Angel Five by Five.

6. Angel – Vampire/Love Interest. Angel was sexy and broody for the first few seasons. He was Buffy’s first true love and I still believe the two of them are destined to be together (although I’m not too far into Season 8). He turned tale too soon and seemed to be happier without Buffy on Angel. The worst trait of Angel, David aged. Angel on Season 5 of Angel looks SOOO much older than Angel on Season 1 of Buffy.

Best Episode on Buffy: Amends; On Angel: I Will Remember You

5. Glory – Big Bad (Season 5). Glory was the Big Bad to end all Big Bads. She had the best reason to want the end of the world: it was just a side effect of her wanting to return to her home dimension. She also had the most personality of them all. The best part of her character was the duality of her and Ben.

Best Episode: Blood Ties

4. Willow – Nerd/Witch/Best Friend. Willow loved Buffy (not in the romantic kind of way). Those two are how I model all of my friendships. Willow was smart and intuitive. Her rise into magic seemed like a natural occurrence. However, it was a big shock when she came out!

Best Episode: Dobblegangland.

This marks Willow's second appearance on the meta list.

3. Buffy – The Chosen One. Buffy was an amazing character in the series (a bit too whiney in Seasons 7 and the comic Season 8). Her character arc was very organic as she went from despising her job to accepting it and then handing it off (until Season 8). Buffy showed us girl power at it’s best, when the Spice Girls were showing a different type of girl power.

Best Episode: The Body

2. Evil Willow – Big Bad (Season 6). Evil Willow is completely different from regular Willow (who is completely different from vamp Willow). Evil Willow is just a vessel for magic and rage. She showed no remorse and HAS a soul! She rocked as a Big Bad.

Best Episode: Two to Go

Willow's third appearance.

1. Xander – Comic relief/Best Friend. Xander, although useless in the later seasons, was incredible funny at the start (and sexy!). He gave the show some groundedness. He gained no magical power as the women around him moved into higher plains. He remained human. He struggled to maintain his friendships. He was normal.

Best Episode: The Zeppo

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy 100th Post: Top 10: Broadway Musicals

Celebrating 100 Posts
Top Ten List #6 (Items 51- 60)
Top Ten Broadway Musicals
10. Wizard of Oz – The musical that started my love of musicals. (I’ve seen this show live like 5 or 6 times).
9. Jesus Christ Superstar – The “true” story of Jesus and his life of sin with Mary. (Haven’t seen this live, but the music is so wonderful!)
8. Spring Awakening – Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll all in pre-war Germany.
7. Les Mis – The story of a former prisoner seeking redemption during the French Revolution.
6. A Chorus Line – A behind the scenes looks at musical theatre auditions.
5. Hairspray – The first truly campy musical on this list but with a meaningful moral; racial tensions during Civil Rights era Baltimore.
4. RENT – Second appearance on the celebration list. Dark and depressing; AIDS and gay; rock and love: all wonderful things in a musical.
3. Beauty and the Beast – The first musical I saw on Broadway. A wonderful movie made better by the Disney on Broadway folk. I love DISNEY!
2. Legally Blonde – I saw opening night of previews. I said to my friend “Screw theatre for social change, sometimes you need camp!

1. Wicked – Where to begin? Where to end? This musical has been life altering. “I’d sooner try, Defying Gravity!”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy 100th Post: Top 10: Christmas Things

Celebrating 100 Posts
Top Ten List #5 (Items 41- 50)
Top Ten Things I Love About Christmas

10. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus - A Rankin and Bass claymation Christmas special based on the L. Frank Baum’s Ozian story of the same name. Klaus was a babe left in the woods of the immortals. An imp adopted him and has he aged, she remained the same. Klaus sets out on his own and begins to make toys for the needy children, however the Og-wa have other ideas and kidnap him. The Great Ak and the other immortals fight the Og-was and win. Klaus is getting old and dieing so The Great Ak has called all the immortals together to decide if Klaus should receive the Mantle of Immortality. They do.
9. Love Actually - I came to it much later than I should have, but I’ve made up for it. I love this movie, it’s such a feel good movie!
8. Decorating the Christmas Tree – I love putting up the Christmas tree. I mostly love seeing how it has evolved over the years. When I first started with my own tree (probably 16 -17 years ago) it looked exactly like my mom’s. Now it’s barely resembles my mother’s (except for ONE ornament that I took from her tree.
7. Christmas Songs – They are either campy and happy or sad and depressing, never in-between. Either way, they rock.
6. Poppy (the puppy) – There is an old Christmas song about a puppy that helps Santa. I received this dog on my first Christmas, so he became Poppy based on the song. He used to have felt eyes, which have since fallen off.
5. Snow – If it snows on Christmas, it’s truly is a wonderful day.
4. The reason for the season – You know what I’m talking about, the whole reason for celebrating Christmas: presents.
3. Garfield Christmas Special - Garfield joins John and Odie at John’s family farm for Christmas. I still cry when Grandma tells about her husband and their past Christmas’ together.
2. Festivus – Back in undergad we started calling our holiday celebration Festivus (the holiday for the rest-of-us [thank you Seinfeld]). We do something holiday-like and just have a good old fashion Christmas.
1. Muppet Family Christmas - A mid 80’s Christmas special, where the Muppets, Sesame Street characters and the Fraggles all meet at Fozzy’s mom’s house for Christmas. They sing a LOT of songs and make me feel good about family. I think one of the best thing about this special, is that many of my closest friends also love this special.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy 100th Post: Top 10: iTunes Songs on Shuffle

Celebrating 100 Posts
Top Ten List #4 (Items 31- 10)
Top Ten Songs on my iPhone when I hit “Shuffle”
10. You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want When You’re Making Love – from Avenue Q
I first saw this musical with two blind friends and their dogs. We had asked for accessible seating, the theatre gave us the last row in the theatre with no leg room for the dogs!
9. Secrets – by Anastacia
I downloaded this song as part of the Freak of Nature album, that includes “One Day in Your Life.” I had forgotten about Anastacia for years, then fell back in love with her just a few months ago.
8. Love Will Turn Back the Hands of Time – from Grease 2
I love this movie. It is possibly one of my favorite movies! I know that this is supposed to be a bad movie, but I enjoy it. I enjoy the retelling of the original; and the updated rock music. This song also rocks because it’s sung by Michele Pfeiffer while wearing a Christmas Tree!
7. Be A Clown – from De-Lovely
An awkwardly placed song in an generally good movie. I wasn’t a big Cole Porter fan before watching this movie, and since, I can usually enjoy his music in revivals, not originals.
6. Straitjacket – by Alanis Morissette
Alanis rocks. No more to say.
5. Beautiful, Dirty, Rich – by Lady Gaga
I was late to the Gaga table, but once I sat down to eat, I’ve gorged myself on all things Gaga. Gaga got me in drag for the first time!
4. Let’s Light the Christmas Tree – artist unknown
I have a LOT of Christmas music (so much so that I’m surprised it only made one appearance on this list). I also have a lot of Christmas music from my mom’s 45s (the single version of a record). One Christmas I recorded these 45s into Garage Band and digitized them; so most of them remain without an artist.
3. I’ll Cover You – from Rent (Broadway)
Such an amazing song. I’ve had this soundtrack since the mid-90’s. (Over a decade before I actually got to see the show).
2. Self Inflicted – by Katy Perry
I got caught up in Perry right about the time “Hot and Cold” came out as a single. She has such great songs, but is a bit too socially conservative and Transphobie. I wish another artist would release her songs.
1. Straight To…Number One – from Queer as Folk (Season 1)
QuaF makes a third appearance on this list. I started watching QuaF with the first episode. I had just been permitted to have a cable box in my bedroom, and I would keep it really low so the man-on-man sex wouldn’t wake up my parents.