Friday, February 27, 2009

Attention, Hollywood!

You must immediately STOP casting voice over actors for their looks. I mean now.

I just finished watching Madagascar 2. Like Madagascar 1, there were not enough penguins in this movie. It ended up being a slog through my memory banks, trying to figure out who the voice of the pompadour lion was (Alec Baldwin, though for a while I was half sure it was William Shatner), punctuated by some well-voiced Penguin scenes. The penguins are the highest-billed characters in there voiced by actual voice actors. There were a couple of scenes in there where I actually found myself thinking, "You know, I bet this is really funny for people who know who is doing the voice of that hippo/giraffe/lion and are fans of their live action work."

You must start hiring real legitimate voice actors for animated movies. Starting now. Scratch that. Fire any face stars who are currently voicing animated movies and re-record their parts with voice actors. It's not enough to get a face actor who can do funny voices. The lemurs are the second funniest part of the Madagascar franchise, in no small part because of Sascha Baron Cohen. He did some funny stuff in Madagascar 1 that almost made me want to make an exception to my plea for face actors who can do funny impressions and voices, too. Then Madagascar became a franchise and not just a one-off movie. Even voiced by Sascha Baron Cohen both times, King Julien sounded different in the second installment, to the point that Emp. Peng. and I both thought that the directors must not have been able to get him back and hired a bad sound-alike. Now that animated movies are almost de facto franchises from the start, you need to hire people to voice them who can do a character consistently even if there are years between installments. Professional voice over actors can do that. Movie stars cannot.

While we're on that subject, since it is pretty much a given now that an animated movie is going to be a franchise with several direct-to-DVD installments that won't have the budgets for the big name actors from the first movie, why do you even start the roles off with the huge names? It just makes the direct-to-DVD movie sequels seem that much more cheaply done when all the major voices change between Part 1 and Part 2. Which is a shame, because you are probably hiring real voice actors for part 2, who are probably doing a much better voice acting job than the movie stars from part 1. If we weren't spending the whole movie noticing that someone didn't quite get the celebrity voice spot on, we would probably like the sequels better than the original.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thank Goodness for the Generator

The Rookery has been on generator power for a couple of hours now. Fortunately for me, the first improvement we made to the Rookery was having a 15kw standby generator installed. Less fortunate for Emp. Peng., who is migratory tonight and roosting in a location that has neither standby generator nor power. Mine is the only house I can see with lights. Matter of fact, the only other light I can see is the glow from the Ohio Edison service facility out on the highway. I'm taking that as a good sign.

So I am cozy and still internet-enabled. We are having a doozy of a storm, with high winds on the heels of two feet of melting snow and a day's worth of thunderstorms. I expect to wake up to a lot of downed trees.

And, as I write this, we're back on grid power. For now. With the storm expected to rage until morning, I don't expect this to be the last of the power outages.

And there is the call from the electric company to verify that my power has been restored. Gotta give them credit for including the current time with the message, since odds are there are two dozen or so clocks that need reset. Ohio Edison now has a nifty service whereby you can report power outages via the internet. Which is great if you still have power to your computer and modem during the outage. Lucky for me, I do.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Gardenholics Anonymous

My name is Janet and I need to stop even looking at seed catalogs.

I was being really good this year. I glanced at the seed catalogs and threw them away without so much as being interested in the new cultivars. I inventoried my seeds, made a list of the stuff I wanted to plant, compared to my list and actually made a shopping list of the seeds I need for the garden this year. I went to three different garden centers and bought only what was on my list (well, except for the celosia, but I meant to put it on my list, really I did)(and the violas...those were in the plans, but I forgot to include the flowers when I made the list since those were the only flowers I was going to plant).

No one had yellow or orange bell peppers.

Emp. Peng. said I should just order the pepper seeds from Burpee.

I relapsed.

I dutifully only looked at the sweet peppers. Burpee's prices and shipping seemed a little excessive (as in, given my history with Burpee pepper seeds, it would be just as cost-effective and more efficient use of my time to buy the peppers), so I checked out Park Seeds, one of my other favorite dealers. Big mistake. They had yellow peppers, and a nifty type of orange pepper that supposedly does great in hanging baskets. That brought my order up to $4, including shipping.

Then I clicked on "shade-tolerant groundcovers." You see, I've been meaning to put some paths in around the house, and the flower beds out front really need some groundcover to choke out the weeds, and it was only $1.45 for a seed packet and didn't even up the shipping.

So I'm getting Mother of Thyme and Sagina. I was sooooo close to not having any impulse garden purchases. Soooooo close.

Forget blocking porn. I need a filter that blocks the seed websites.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Public Service Announcement

We here at Penguin Perspectives would like to take this Groundhog's Day to remind everyone--especially those who cringed at 8 years of fearing "nukular" weapons--that we are now two days into a month that contains 2 R's (thus, I suppose, making it safe to eat twice as many oysters) and no double-o combination.

"Feb-you-air-ee" is going on my list of Things That Get People's Larynx Privileges Revoked.

And for our UK reader(s), yes we have looked up element #13 on the periodic table, with pronunciation guide, and yes we are astounded.

More Marmota-y Goodness

Here's an interview with Staten Island Chuck's handler, discussing the nature of groundhogs and how to cope with a wife and a groundhog under the same roof. I'll link to Chuck's prognostication when I can find it online.

UPDATE: Staten Island Chuck, like the rest of us, is ready for winter to be over and has prognosticated accordingly. Looking at the news footage, I think I prefer Chuck's forecast method to Phil's. Chuck gets lured out by the mayor of New York City wielding peanuts and half a cob of corn (note to Mayor Bloomberg: try pears. Woodrow loves pears). Phil gets yanked out by a guy wearing the height of 1862 fashion and hoisted, one-handed, overhead by his little marmota abdomen, flailing paws all over the place looking for the ground. Chuck also gets to sleep in, making his prediction a half hour later than Phil.

This Just In

Punxsutawney Phil predicts winter will continue until the Vernal equinox. Safe bet, there. If anyone is wondering, here at the Rookery, Woodrow has more sense than to come out of hibernation when he would have to tunnel his way out of his den, only to have to tunnel down to food. Juding by the official pictures, Punxsutawney seems to feel the same way.

I am at the point in winter when I don't care when the marmota says it will end. I just want to know that the snow and meat-locker-cold temperatures to stop. I'm guessing that is why the Germans and the pagans they appropriated the tradition from slapped the rodential weather prognistication in early February. We are a good month and a half past the darkest days, but it is just when things start to get a little better that the sense of hopelessness sets in. We warmed up yesterday, and are down to somewhere around a foot and a half of snow on the ground. Down to. We topped out somewhere over 2 feet.

I try not to complain about the weather. It's hard when you have to bundle up in three layers just to take the trash out without getting frostbite, and by the way I'm not exaggerating there, but I try nonetheless. As my body aches from shoveling snow too deep and heavy for the snowblower, and my arms feel like gelatinous blobs because I have to heave each shovelful of snow above waist level to clear the ridges of accumulated prior snows on either side of the driveway, I keep my mind on perfectly ripe pears, warm blackberries, succulent fresh tomato salads and roasted yellow pear tomatoes (really, they are absolutely delicious, and just TRY finding yellow pear tomatoes for a price that makes you willing to fill a cake pan with them and bake them until they burst forth caramelized tomatoey goodness). The meat locker winters are why I can have apple cider on demand, or the sun-warmed peach that doesn't even make it to the house.

Back in the day, I took music appreciation from an orchestral conductor who personifies what one thinks of when one thinks of a conductor. He once lowered a refrigerator on stage to make a musical point. Oh, and he has the Conductor Hair that Emp. Peng., in spite of having a master's degree in conducting, never could quite pull off (not that he tried). It was intro-level music appreciation, meaning we went over things like Beethoven's Ninth. Maestro Sidlin observed that there must be something really great about the fourth movement that makes people willing to sit through the first three. That also applies to Ohio's climate.

As Emp. Peng. mentioned, a little more rant-ish than I prefer to go, there are those who think we must hate the winter weather here, and (and I will never understand this) people who say they could never move somewhere like here because of the climate. These people don't seem to think Ohio is such a bad place when they get Rookery-fresh produce or jam from home-grown fruit. So, no, I don't like the winters. You know what I do like: black raspberry ice cream. Being able to get that, fresh from the brambles, makes me willing to sit through the rest of Ohio's weather.