Friday, June 29, 2007


a movie review

Ratatouille opened today and I went t the first showing at noon at the Crystal River Theater. Given the sneak preview of a week or so ago and the reports and reviews coming off of that, I had little doubt that it was good- every one of them said so. What I didn't know was that parts of it are great! Absolutely magnificent came to mind during certain scenes. But in the end, good is correct.

As with all Pixar movies, it opens with a short, and by all means this one is the best by far! Heck- I would have been happy with just that! And it was a precursor to what was to come- a new unique experience, different from anything before, and a level of animation that takes us to a new height, a new standard in- beyond- computer animation.

The opening sequence in Ratatouille is simply magnificent. The drawing is scrumptious! The characters are deeply developed and realized, starting as terrifying apparitions and quickly becoming fully realized and likable individuals. The movement is impeccable as is the motion through the scenery. It isn't until the first humans appear that once again, the failings of computer animation become obvious. Why is it that humans seem such an impossible obstacle to overcome? The degree of detail and life given to the rats, and you simply will not believe it until you see it, surely a bit of that quality of movement could be given to the humans? It is as if an entirely different program, studio, crew of animators did the humans- and their backgrounds. Maybe they did. That is a shame, for it does bring one down from the exalted heights of what is manifest in the first minutes of this movie, where it is so excellently done that one no longer even considers that it as computer or any other form of animation: one is simply too involved being amazed!

But after the shock wears off, it carries on as a good movie, often surprising in its uniqueness and even offensive at times- there are scenes with the rats that are guaranteed to offend the stomachs of even the most jaded viewer! And it is beautiful at all times- especially the scenes of Paris which are the realization of all the fantasy images anyone has ever held in their head and heart for that mythical local.

The pacing is good, never a dull spot, and the story is good, solid, and well realized. The only weak point is at the end, which uses a rather overly long narration to wrap things up- a inexplicable and cheap device to be avoided in all story telling, especially the visual kind. This was extreme enough that some children were being led out of the theater as it played; and they didn't miss much, for at that point, it was pretty much over. I stayed and there is a bit more, but it is pretty much afterthought, like those rolling blurbs at the end of American Graffiti that tell the future of each of the main characters.

All in all, Pixar has another winner, a surprising achievement to have such a string; and it is worthy, it is a good movie, but parts of it are so magnificent that I mourn what could have been! I was thinking during that first scene that Walt himself would have been blown away by this! Would have been nice to have that carry on through to the end.
But in the end, visually and in movement , this is by far the best Pixar ever. This moves the field to a whole new level.
And it is a very different movie. I think Monday, I will see it again!
Especially the first scene! Simply magnificent!



Thursday, June 28, 2007


note- there are four new entries so continue on!
Tonight I attended the dress rehearsal of the newest production of the Art Center Theater, Meredith Wilson's, The Music Man. Regular readers will recall it was about a year ago I played a small part in a play there, but this time, I was strictly audience, and that was a shame, for this looked like fun from start to finish!

There are a few stand outs, notably the voice of Marion the Librarian, Stacey Griffis, and the acting and stage presence of Frank Hanshaw as Prof. Harold Hill; but what really delighted me in this production was the costuming! That would be the nomination to note for this one! Highlighted by the Greek "Urn" Dancers, but wonderful throughout and in every case!

The show opens tomorrow, June 29, and plays Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the next four weeks. The box office is (352) 746-7606 and tickets are a bargain at $18.00




Went to the Homosassa River today. A friend of a friend of a friend lives on it, and let me launch my kayak at his dock, the first house next to the Wildlife Park, so I was able to put in right where I wanted to be as opposed to paddling three miles from the public ramp.

Began by paddling under the road I had just come in on, and emerging on the other side of that, right outside the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park.

This is the bridge which marks the limit of the park waters, and is barred, lest the injured manatees get out, or the wild ones get in. A few hundred feet on the other side is the spring which feeds two million gallons a day to the river.

There are those ducks on a log that I have shot so many times from the bridge!

Looking down-river, where ten miles or so further on one enters the Gulf Of Mexico!

I spotted a pair of turtles on a log, sunning themsleves. One lept clear as I approached but the other one stayed put, though ready. I kept my distance and moved gently so as to be minimally intrusive. I wanted the shot! Scaring him away would not do either of us any good!

Across the river another sighting.

Now the bird in the picture below- that is the closest I have ever gotten in the wild. He was doing two things- hiding from me (yes, really!) and hunting a big water bug! He chickened out just after that shot and flew off. I think he suddenly realized how exposed he was to me and was a bit shocked! He had moved into that position under some twigs and bush and was watching me the whole time, apparently feeling confident in his cover. He lost sight of the fact that he had lost that cover when he emerged intent on the bug, and then suddenly remembered me and BAMM he was gone!

Then I made my way into an undisturbed side water and got some interesting shots.


Saw Live Free or Die Hard Wednesday, first showing up at the Regal Crystal River Mall theaters: wow! Great! Best of the bunch by far! Lots of good action- good subtle humor, believable stuff- well played as opposed to overly melodramatic: best Bruce has been in a long time. And the new kid is excellent in his part. There are two scenes- segments?- that are overly showy- explosive?- and the funny thing is, they are completely unnecessary- could just delete them without losing anything- but I think the producers said well, we *have* to have one of these scenes here cause it is a "Die Hard" movie... but they didn't- it would have been fine without them.



Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I have been having one heck of a time with this little gator, and recently realized one big problem that was subtly driving me crazy was that at the distance I was carving it, my eyes were totally out of agreement focus-wise. I have always been weak in one eye or the other due to strabismus (cross-eyed) and never learning to use both eyes together, something babies actually have to learn to do; but now that the eyes are older and less variable in their focus, with one good for near and one good for far, the "off" eye was sufficiently interfering with a clear view at whittling distance to make work near impossible.

And of course, my reading glasses were prescribed with matching lenses which are fine at reading distance, about arms length, but at whittling distance, about 8-10 inches, the right eye was so out of focus... so I took one of my pair of reading glasses over to the local optometrist's office and basically, it was just going to cost too much to get one lens changed to what I needed and the whole exam and prescription thing.
So I went to Wal-Mart and checked out their cheap reading glasses using one eye at a time and at the distance I needed. Turned out the left eye needed 1.25 mag, while the right eye at that distance needed 3.0 mag! So I bought a pair of each, figuring to swap out the needed lens and make my own mismatched pair. Well, the only problem was that instead of the lens frame being screwed on these, it is welded. Tonight I worked it over, and in end, I broke the right hand weak lens getting it out, and cut the frame to get the strong lens out of the other pair, then at a bit of a risk, forced the strong lens into the weaker frame. Well, I made a few nicks with the pliers around the perimeter, but managed to get it done so now have a pair of mismatched mag glasses that work at the distance I need for whittling and I tried them on and what a relief! I can see!!!



Thursday, June 07, 2007


Went to the Homosassa Springs Wild Life State Park again this morning... It is interesting to note that the manatee, along with the hippo and the alligator, has an up-turned or top-mounted set of nostrils and can and does often expose only that above the water level to grab a lung full of air. In this picture, it is further refined to the use of a single nostril. Note the other one is closed.



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