“Tails” of a Frequent Flyer

Dogs to the left of me/ Dogs to the right me/ and I’m stuck in the middle with a turkey… and when I say turkey, that means you!

After several plane trips and thousands of miles, I survived the hectic Christmas and New Year’s travel season. Whew! I miss the days of half-filled planes and having plenty of elbow and leg room to stretch out.

Now we’re crammed in like cattle. To further complicate the not-so-friendly skies is the ridiculous amount of dogs and cats traveling in the main cabin, both in carriers and as “service” animals.

On my last trip, I counted at least ten dogs boarding my flight, which included two service pooches. Are you kidding me? What’s wrong with people and how do we stop this?

If you own a dog, sorry, it’s inconvenient and costly. Suck it up and put your dog in puppy camp while your away instead of smuggling it onto the plane.

If you need a dog for emotional support, sorry, take a bus or train instead of polluting the plane with doggy dandruff.

Perhaps I’m overreacting to this unpleasant trend. At least people are not traveling with turkeys as service animals. Oh wait, someone recently did that already thanks to a doctor’s note. Thanks, doc, for being a quack… or is it a gobble?… or maybe it’s a ruff ruff?…

And don’t get me started on “pet relief” designated areas in airports. It’s tough enough to find a unpolluted restroom in the terminals. I can only imagine what these facilities are like inside. Pepé Le Pew would probably be right at home me thinks.

Cheers!

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Yale University Bans the Bulldog

November 2015 — New Haven, Connecticut. The student organization representing the crybabies and scaredy-cats at Yale University voted unanimously to ban its iconic mascot — the bulldog.

Yale Bulldogs Logo

“We find it very offensive,” said Kristin Kreere, spokesperson for Yale’s Center For Humane Social Propaganda Studies. “We find the word ‘bull’ threatening since it refers to ‘bully’ which we don’t like since we don’t like people wiser than us telling us what’s right or wrong. Furthermore, the word ‘dog’ can mean ‘bitch’ if the dog is a female. I mean, if the dog is GLBTQA. Personally since I’m a bitch, I find this very offensive.”

In response to this recent development, Yale University has determined this list of new mascot considerations which will be submitted to the student union for vote later this year.

YALE UNIVSERTY’S REPLACEMENT MASCOT CONSIDERATIONS:
1. Dandelions
2. Rainbows
3. (left intentionally blank so it doesn’t offend anyone)
4. Berkeleys
5. Geronimos
6. Lefties
7. Entitlements
8. Wussies
9. Skirts
10. Dachshunds (Oh, sorry, scratch that since it refers to “wiener” dogs which may offend some bitches.)

Friends, do not confuse the freedom of speech to be the same thing as freedom from speech. After all, you do NOT have the right to NOT to be offended.

Be good and do good.

Cheers!

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My Favorite STUDIO GHIBLI’s Animated Movies

As I wrote my movie recommendation for WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE — Studio Ghibli’s most recent release — I was thinking about all of its movies I’ve seen and how I would rank them.

Studio Ghibli Logo

As you might know, Hayao Miyazaki, the master animator behind Studio Ghibli’s thirty years of success, retired in 2013 after releasing his final film, THE WIND RISES. (I hope he was bluffing about his retirement.)

In any event, WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (WMWT) is first production from Studio Ghibli where Miyazaki was not involved in any capacity. The helms have been turned over to Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Miyazaki’s protege) who directed the wonderful WMWT movie which I highly recommend.

Please note, remarkably there is not one Studio Ghibli a movie which I did not enjoy watching. Do not misconstrue the lower rankings to mean I did not like them. Instead, the higher rankings mean I’ll never get tired of watching these movies over and over, like WMWT which I’ve watched three times already. (Conversely, my comic book movie rankings include ones which I absolutely despise.)

WMWT is a tour de force like many of Studio Ghibli’s films. It’s a resumé of work which will never be repeated nor can ever be matched. (Sorry Pixar.) The degree of creativity, imagination and execution will be truly be a once-in-a-century happening.

Thank you Studio Ghibli for sharing your talents and producing movies which will inspire generations to come.

As of November 2015, here are my rankings:

1. SPIRITED AWAY (2001)
2. PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997)
3. HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004)
4. WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (2014)
5. FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (2011)
6. WHISPER OF THE HEART (1995)
7. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1988)
8. GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (1988)
9. ONLY YESTERDAY (1991)
10. PONYO (2008)
11. THE WIND RISES (2013)
12. NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984)
13. THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (2010)
14. PORCO ROSSO (1992)
15. CASTLE IN THE SKY (1989)
16. OCEAN WAVES (1993)

Next up for me to watch:
THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA (2013)
KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE (1989)
THE CAT RETURNS (2002)
POM POKO (1994)

Cheers!

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Movie Recommendation: WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (2014)

Starring (English cast): Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, John C. Reilly, Geena Davis, Kathy Bates
Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Written by: Keiko Niwa, Masashi Ando and Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Novel by: Joan G. Robinson
Genre(s): Animation, Drama, Family

When Marnie Was There

No spoilers here!

Studio Ghibli’s latest animated movie, WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (WMWT), is an extraordinary 2D animated piece of work; a masterpiece of visual storytelling with amazing and beautiful drawn/painted scenes. While I was watching it, it made my head dizzy to think about the thousands of hours of work it took to produce this movie. Director HIROMASA YONEBAYASHI spent over four years to complete the screenplay, storyboards and 80,000 frames of animation.

WMWT was one of the most emotional and heart-felt films I’ve seen this past decade and possibly, one of the most emotional movies I’ve ever seen. (I’m not going to admit I cried though.) I was totally blind-sided on what to expect with this movie.

Unlike American animators, Studio Ghibli knows how to make compelling animated family movies involving humans instead of monsters, robots and talking planes… not that there’s anything wrong with that. If you read my other blog postings, you know I love sci-fi. However, I’ve grown tired of seeing over two decades worth of 3D CGI animated movies being produced in the states. For me a good story takes precedent over visual effects and the meaningless eye candy jam packed into these types of animated movies. Quite frankly, I don’t take care how “real” an explosion looks in these 3D CGI animations.

I appreciate the effort, but it adds nothing in creating a captivating story. Additionally, these American animated movies suffer from ADD, and even ADHD — way too many edits and way too much excitement. The barrage of gimmicks flashed on the screen to keep our attention is quite appalling. A solid story, coupled with an emotional center you can root for, is what makes a great movie great.

As for WMWT, it is the farthest away from sci-fi, monsters or talking planes you can get. It’s about a girl named ANNA who’s a loner and suffers from asthma. One summer she visits relatives living a seaside town where the air is crisp and clean. During her stay, she befriends a mysterious blond-haired girl named MARNIE living in a vacant marsh house. Both are lonely souls.

And that’s all I am going to write to make sure no spoilers are revealed.

Before I sign off, I would like to acknowledge WMWT’s lovely musical score composed by TAKATSUGU MURAMATSU. Amazingly, at the time he wrote Anna’s theme and the rest of these musical cues, there was no artwork available; Only words on paper and script notes from director TAKATSUGU MURAMATSU. If you collect soundtracks like I do, I highly recommend adding this to your collection.

Also to note, there’s a song featured in the movie called “FINE ON THE OUTSIDE” written and performed by PRISCILLA AHN. Her smooth voice is near perfection and this song is a perfect compliment with WMWT’s emotional experience. Furthermore, there’s a companion album produced by her called “JUST KNOW I LOVE YOU”
which has tracks inspired by the movie. I highly recommend acguiring this album too.

With the retirement of master animator Hayao Miyazaki (announced in 2013), Studio Ghibli’s future is uncertain. If WMWT ends up being the last feature film produced by this studio, what a grand and beautiful way to end thirty years of producing masterpieces.

Thank you!

“When Marnie Was There” Trailer

Priscilla Ahn – “Fine On The Outside”
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How to Offend People (and Horses) 101

Sorry folks, you do not have the right of freedom from speech nor do you have the right not to be offended.

As an artist and writer, I am guided by these principles:

  • I do not believe in being politically correct, especially during casual conversations;
  • I do believe dirty jokes still have a valuable place in social interactions;
  • I do believe if you are offended by microaggressions, you should shampoo my crotch;*
  • I do believe in walruses and the Beatles.

While I write this blog posting, I recalled these following phrases which were recently deemed “offensive” by some academic nut job.

  • “I’m hungry as a horse.” — Offensive to horse owners and/or horse riders and equinophobes.
  • “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” — Offensive to pacifists.
  • “It’s raining cats and dogs.” — Offensive to pet owners (but not offensive to the Chinese or Koreans who love mystery meats.)
  • “It takes two to tango.” — Offensive to those who are left out of the reindeer games.
  • “I have a case of blue balls.” — Offensive to people who use colloidal silver on a daily basis.
  • “Stop and smell the roses.” — Offensive to begonia growers and olfactophobes.
  • “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” — Offensive to fat ladies (no duh!), fatty chasers and nudophobes.
  • “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” — Offensive to men named “Charles” and dendrophobes.

In celebration of dirty jokes and not being politically correct, here’s one of my favorite comedians of all time, RED FOXX:

 

*Respectfully borrowed from the movie AS GOOD AS IT GETS.

Cheers!

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