It's Not Easy Being Green

“Soon after the death of Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog turned to a life full of drugs, alcohol and sex. His fall to rock bottom was quick and unrelenting.” This is the opening on the site, which documents our favourite frog’s downward spiral. What led me there was Kermie’s gut wrenching cover of Hurt, which is almost too painful to watch. Is it a cover of the original Nine Inch Nails song or of Johnny Cash’s brilliant version? I think Kermit draws from both and makes the song his own. If this is what’s happened to our little felt friend, he has gone to a very dark place.

After emerging from the depths of Kermit’s pain I needed to get the image of what he was doing to Rowlf out of my mind and decided to go looking for some more Muppet mashups. After taking the red pill I came across the Muppet Matrix, a computer animated version of the Matrix trailer, using an all-Muppet cast. Kermit is Neo, Rowlf is Morpheus, Miss Piggy is Trinity and Gonzo is Smith. Great stuff and it’s well worth waiting for the ending.

With Great Power Comes Great Bunnies

Yay, just before the Spider-Man 3 hype machine kicks into high gear comes Spider-Man 1 & 2 in 30 Seconds (and Re-Entacted By Bunnies). Great stuff as always and I love that all of Doc Oc's tentacles have bunny ears.

Dancing With Scissors

I like musicals. That is to say I don’t think they are the most annoying form of entertainment created by humans. No, wait, I’m equivocating again. I’ve actually seen more singing and dancing than I’ve ever acknowledged and I’ve been known to enjoy it.

In high school I saw both Cats and the Phantom of the Opera caterwaul. While in New York a couple of years ago we did the whole Broadway experience at Avenue Q (20-something, foul-mouthed, underemployed puppets, what’s not to love?) Here in Toronto we’ve completed the circle of life at The Lion King; we could not resist Mamma Mia; Wicked was, well, wicked; and most recently we saw The Lord of the Rings before it met a fiery death in the reviews of Mordor. If anyone else told me that list I’d say they like musicals, so there it is.

So when I got an email about a musical production of Edward Scissorhands coming to Toronto I was intrigued. The classic tale of a misunderstood loner trying to fit into a candy-coated version of ‘50s suburbia is one of director Tim Burton’s best. In the film Johnny Depp was superb as the terrified yet curious boy with scissors for hands and Winona Ryder was still in that cute stage before everyone realized she couldn’t act. Many of Burton’s films appear ideal for adaptation to the stage – The Corpse Bride was essentially a musical and both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Beetle Juice would also make for colourful show.

But I get ahead of myself. This version is based on Burton’s film but leaves the dialogue behind, choosing instead to interpret the work with dancing topiary, Christian Goths and a cast of 30 dancers. It’s just weird enough to work.

Interested? It’s playing for just three nights - Wednesday, April 4 through Friday, April 6 at 8 PM at the Hummingbird Centre. Login to with the promotional code EDBLOG to receive a $15 discount off any seat or price range – online sales only. Or check out the official site.

Run Faster - Uncle Franks Coming

Another trailer mashup for your amusment - this time it is Little Miss Sunshine recut as a horror.

Speaking of last year's critical darling, Best Week Ever had a great, related take on one of Lost's lesser revelations. Thanks to Bulletproof Bracelets for the heads up.

Call Me Call Me Any Anytime

Eat your heart out, Captain Kirk. Watching an episode of Star Trek the other day I realized that my cell phone far surpasses the communicators the original Enterprise crew used. While I may not be able to contact ships in orbit yet, I assume that is more a factor of there not being enough of them to make it a worthwhile feature. Rest assured that once Richard Branson has a fleet of interstellar rockets zipping about subspace your cell will be able to place that call.

We often take the pace of technological improvements for granted but every once and awhile I look back and am amazed. The first cell I used had the weight and aesthetic design of a large brick. I used to carry a camera bag, video cameras were best lugged on you shoulder and my Walkman hung from my side like a gunslinger. I now carry all three in my pocket – and it makes calls too.

The shiny toy I speak of is the Motorola KRZR, the latest version of the must-have gadget. Full disclosure, I received the phone as part of a Motorola and Hill & Knowlton promotional campaign. A group of Canadian bloggers were offered the phone with the only obligation being that you offer feedback on it. There was no requirement to post about it, but if you did they asked that reveal your participation in the program. Blogs are now being regularly tapped for their capacity to increase brand awareness and drive product word of mouth. Does it work? Not my concern. Am I now a shill? Perhaps. I’ve rarely had a job that hasn’t been supported by advertising, so why should my blog be any different?

I’ve tried out most of the functions and while I’ve been pleased I’m also aware that the only device it’s going to replace is my previous phone. Being able to snap pics on the fly is great, but it’s not going to beat out my digital camera. (See the original graffiti pic here) With no flash interior pics are a little dark and grainy, though some of the outside snaps have been great. I’m sure I could improve my technique, but how much time am I going to take perfecting the look of a quickie camera phone photo? It’s for spur-of-the-moment pictures and for that it works just fine.

Same goes for video – the shots are grainy and blurry, especially when blown up to YouTube – but I’m sure I could do better if I tried. I tested the camera the way I figured I’d use it – quickly and without much concern for quality and for that it worked just fine. I was able to download both pictures and video to my computer using the wireless Bluetooth connection, which was a bonus. Plus it makes calls and looks snazzy. Works for me.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Numbers

I am a math phobe. For as long as I can remember numbers have often left me baffled and people who understood them might as well have been speaking another language. I did manage to graduate high school, university and find a career without much in the way of mathematics, despite some hellfire and brimstone speeches from a couple of exuberant guidance counselors.

Over the years I have learnt to, if not love numbers, at least stop avoiding them entirely. But engage them in my free time? I don’t think so. That, though, has become easier said than done. With the emergence of geek culture has come a rise in numerics in pop culture. Earlier this week I happened across Clive Thompson’s assertion that math proves that the Buffy universe harbors no more than 512 vampires. His geek calculations were a refutation of a paper that claimed that vampires don’t exist:

If a single vampire fed on a single human in the first month, this would create two vampires -- and decrease the human population by one. In the second month, those two vampires would each feed, transforming two people into vampires. The vampire population is increasing in a geometric progression, and the population of humans is similarly decreasing -- and at that rate, the authors calculate, the entire human population would be transformed into vampires.

Seeing as we aren’t all vampires – as cool as that might be – they therefore must not exist. The problem with that argument, says Thompson, is that it ignores the existence of vampire slayers. Of course I think both math and the undead are equally unlikely occurrences.

Another lucky find was Jessica Hagy’s site Indexed. She takes apart politics, human foibles and pop culture with cool little mathematical charts that even I get Very funny stuff and well worth checking out.

Of course there’s the numbers on Lost, though nobody has talked much about those much lately.

Confession of The Collector

It all started so innocently. It was a little picture in a magazine of a miniature Homer Simpson wearing a radioactive suit, standing in Section 7-G of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. “Cool,” I thought, figuring it would be fun to have a member of the Simpson clan on my desk – cubicles can be so dull.

I didn’t give it much more thought until I unwrapped a tiny piece of Springfield that Christmas. There he was in all of his yellow, diminutive glory, with his three-hair combover, the bulging eyes, the permanent five o’clock shadow and a hearty “D’oh!” when he was placed into the perfect replica of his nuclear plant environment. I was in Simpsons’ fan bliss.

Little did I know that this was but the first in what would become an ever-expanding series. It was my first introduction to the world of action figures since I was a kid with visions of stormtroopers battling in my head. Now I was an adult with what is correctly referred to as “disposable” income. The next one I bought was the living room of 742 Evergreen Terrace, followed by Apu and the Kwik-E-Mart. The obsession had begun.

The series were released in waves, usually with six separate figures and a new miniature environment every couple of months. I began dropping into the Sliver Snail – a comic geek Mecca in Toronto – every couple of weeks, to see if they had anything new and my collection began to grow. The characters weren’t that pricey, but the environments weren’t cheap, but it didn’t matter. I was hooked.

Soon I was haunting comic book stores across the city, not only looking for new series but for the exclusives that only certain stories were carrying. The first one I truly hunted down was the second Treehouse of Horror with Kang and Kordos. It was a great looking set and I tracked it down in the bowels of a store where I swear I met the physical embodiment of the Comic Book Guy. When I told him that I took them out of the box he was both appalled and curious. “What are the like?” he asked breathlessly, never having seen them out of the package. I’ll never be that kind of collector – toys are for playing. Ask my friend’s two year old, she loves the hard plastic characters.

But the collection was beginning to get out of hand and soon new shelving had to be bought to house it. Then we advertised our summer parties with entreaties to see the Wall of Simpsons, where inebriated people would amuse themselves trying to make conversations happen between the denizens of Springfield, endlessly pressing the buttons that made the characters belt out their lines from the show. My obsession became well know and I began receiving more and more Simpsons paraphernalia and I knew I had to rein it in. We were running out of space.

Luckily this came at a time when the minor characters like Wendell, Gil and Mr. Largo and one episode characters like Larry Burns and Don Vittorio were being released, all the others having already hit the stores. There was also a growing number of repeats – Homer in a suit, as Mr. Plow, as a Stonecutter. But I still had one more set to track down, my white whale, the huge Interactive Main Street. It was triple the size of the others and was only being sold by Toys ‘R’ Us in the U.S. It sent me on to eBay and to auction after auction.

Eventually, I managed to win one and I paid through the nose for it. When it arrived in the mail, it was too big for the display shelves and had to be relegated to the top of a big china cabinet, but I had it and though I didn’t know it, I was done. After a mental calculation of the all the money spent and the time expended, I had to call it quits. Until my next obsession comes along, of course.

Reel Mythology

Blood splashing across the screen like a Jackson Pollock painting; waves of soldiers falling upon razor-sharp blades, stoic musclemen staring their inevitable death in the face – 300 has style and bravado to spare.

The cinematic retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartan warriors held off a massive Persian army is a visual triumph. The source, being a graphic novel by comic book artist Frank Miller and not Herodotus The Histories or Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian Wars, emphasizes passion over historical accuracy. That being said, the film did capture how the Spartans molded their children through adversity to become the hardened fighting machines we see on screen and it highlighted their army’s prowess in battle. At least as far as I can recall – the memories of my lectures are fading quickly. Anyone looking for more detail can borrow my copies of those ancient texts.

But hey, who’d want to do that? This is a comic book come to spectacular life, with all the depth that implies. Multiple scenes appear to be frames pulled directly from pen and ink, much like the last adaptation of Miller’s work, Sin City. This was all clear in the trailer, so I have to question those who complain for getting exactly what was promised.

The film has been labelled racist for its portrayal of Persian (Iranians) as barbaric hordes. It’s been called both homophobic over the androgynous, fey King Xerxes and homoerotic due to the mostly naked, hard-bodied Spartans. Critics have said Xerxes and the Spartan King Leonidas both represent George W. Bush and they both can, depending on where you stand politically. Are the Spartans defenders of freedom, fighting off the forces of terror threatening to destroy a way of life? Or are they defending their nation, willing to die for their land in the face of a vast imperial army bent on conquering the world?

It is the simplicity of the film that critics have complained about that has allowed so many to overlay their own ideas and themes. So, if it’s so simple then why are so many up in arms about it? It’s a comic book where you get to fill in the voice bubbles.

You'll Always Sound Precocious

Now this is some graffiti I can get behind, as seen along the embankment of the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto.

Teacher, Mother, Secret Lover

So many lessons from my hours in front of the TV this evening:

The Winner
The laugh track is still in use. The canned laughter on Rob Corddry’s new show about a 32-year-old virgin who lives with his parents was so overwhelming that it was almost hard to hear the sucking. Do directors believe that the sound of faux merriment will be so contagious that people will laugh along? Not if this show remains so painfully unfunny. Every joke fell flat, the premise was strained and the acting was stiff. I like Corddry’s work on The Daily Show, but this was just terrible. “There's no way I could live with myself if I missed that,” says a character at the end of the episode. Can’t say I agree. Watch it now if you so desire – it’s not long for primetime.

The Amazing Race
Lying and cheating doesn’t always pay off. This comes as a complete surprise to me as it is usually a prerequisite for reality TV success. Tonight professional reality TV contestants Rob and Amber Mariano were eliminated despite doing every little thing they could to get ahead of Charla and Mirna, including stealing their cab. The scheming pair, who won the first three legs of the race, blew it all by misspelling Philippines. Easy come easy go, I suppose. Many Amazing Race fans considered them interlopers but I liked their there-to-win-not-to-make-friends style. I’d guess this will be the final chapter of their TV run, but you never can tell.

The Apprentice
My PVR doesn’t’ like The Apprentice. For the past couple of weeks it has dropped Trump from my record schedule – perhaps I should take the hint. Actually I (no longer secretly) enjoy the bizknobs infomercial battle, though producer Mark Burnett has become too heavy handed in giving away the results with overly telegraphed music cues.

Turns out the Heroes parody was created by NBC - it did seem too good for a fan video. It was funny, I don't see why they needed to hide the source.

In A Land Far, Far, Away...

Wow, how of the moment can you get? A movie that comes out today - 300 - and another that isn't released until May - Shrek 3 mashed into one cool looking trailer.

Puritan Idol

Racist or hypocritical – these are the two charges being laid against the producers of American Idol for not tossing contestant Antonella Barba from the wildly popular reality show. Her offence? The appearance of semi-nude photos all over the web, many of which came from a calendar she reportedly made for a boyfriend.

The photos themselves, while racy, are neither pornographic nor graphic and the few that are explicit are being dismissed as fakes. But even if they are of Antonella, what’s the harm? She’s of age and not doing anything illegal or harmful. It’s not like there were little animals or dead bodies involved, just a little skin.

The show itself is ignoring the pin-up pics, making no reference to the controversy and Antonella certainly isn’t talking. The only official response came from Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, who told Entertainment Weekly that he was aware of the photos. "It's sad, isn't it, that your best friends are the ones that come forward with information that will go to Smoking Gun or put your photographs on the Web?"

The big men of Idol all weighed in on the nudie shots while, ironically, attending a party at the Playboy mansion. Critic-in-chief Simon Cowell said the photos should “not affect her standing on the show, and if the public wants to keep her in, they'll keep her in.” Randy Jackson added cryptically: “Nobody's clean in the entertainment business.” Even Leslie Hunt, who was voted off last week, was nonplussed. "It doesn't excite me that she has pictures like that. I mean, who doesn't? Whatever, get over it."

So good for Idol for standing up to the moral crusaders who can’t bear to witness any evidence of sexuality, especially in a young woman. It’s American Idol, not Puritan Idol, right? Perhaps, except for the case of Frenchie Davis, who was unceremoniously turfed from the show back in Season 2, for appearing topless on an adult website. So why the double standard?

"We object to having one rule for black contestants and a different rule for white contestants who exhibit the same behavior," said Najee Ali, a community activist and founder of Project Islamic H.O.P.E., who staged a protest outside of the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Tuesday. Professional crank Rossie O'Donnell called the show "weightist and racist" and even Davis herself questioned the dichotomy, telling the New York Post: "I couldn't help but notice the difference between the manner in which she was dealt with and how I was dealt with.”

"I think it's fantastic if Idol has evolved and I think it's fantastic she won't have to go through what I went through four years ago,” she said. “But if the rules have changed, I believe there should be something to make up for the fact that I was humiliated needlessly.”

So which is it, racism, hypocrisy, or a simple rule change? I figure it’s because Idol is untouchable now. Back is Season 2 they were a hit, but now they are a cultural behemoth, with multiple Grammy winners and an Oscar winner under the belt. The show still pulls in millions of viewers each episode and won’t be pushed around. Hopefully this will help people take a more reasonable attitude about sexuality and not ruin the potential career over a few snapshots. I mean we can’t let Paris Hilton have all the fun, can we?

Seems nudie pics aren't enough to keep you on Idol, as Antonella was tossed off the show on Thursday. Now we'll really see what her intentions are and whether or not she tries to extended her 15 minutes of fame by heading to Maxim or Playboy. On a related note, Sanjaya Malakar? What the hell? And damn that show is cruel - forget the judges, how about being made to sing minutes after finding out you lost?

Welcome (Back) to the Hellmouth

In 1997 a smartass blonde high school student discovered she was the chosen one. To her dismay that meant a life of running stakes through the hearts of the undead. Ten years later Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues to influence pop culture and the tough, female power characters of Lost and Veronica Mars all owe a debt of gratitude to Josh Whedon’s characters.

Though the show was cancelled in 2003 after seven seasons, Buffy is proving as immortal as those she battled. Originating as a feature film then morphing into a TV show, season eight of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is returning again, this time in comic form – available this Tuesday. Whedon himself will be writing the first five issues and will keep watch over the whole run. My friend Nikki Stafford, who convinced me to watch the show despite the ridiculous name, has a great piece in this weekend’s Star talking about the impact of the show and what has kept it in the mind of fans and the creators of other shows. She knows of what she speaks and looks exactly like the picture on the left (as far as you know).

I’m interested enough to check out an issue, and I haven’t picked up a comic book in years. Not a graphic novel, nothing. I’ve been more of a fan of comic strips and even as a kid I was more likely to read Richie Rich than any superhero issue, caped or otherwise. What’s been interesting over the past few years is the amount of comic books that have appeared in both film and TV. The Matrix, X-Men, Hulk, Spider-Man, Sin City, Heroes and 300 – the list is considerable. Because of it I feel like I have a considerable grounding in the style and ethos of comics and even find myself opining on what the best interpretations of comics on film have been. I’ve also come to appreciate the unique artistic visions presented by comics and the on-screen adaptations so perhaps this might be the reason to give comics another try after all these years.

Bunny. James Bunny.

Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

The 30-Second Bunnies pulled out all the stops for this Bond marathon (well, marathon by bunny standards at 74 seconds), touching on almost all of the 007 oeuvre. Great stuff.

Here's what's been announced for the Bunny universe for the rest of the year:
Spiderman 1, 2 & 3
Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2 & 3
March of the Penguins
Die Hard
Napoleon Dynamite
The Grudge
Kill Bill

I'm happy to see Kill Bill there as creator Jennifer Shiman does a great job with Quentin Tarantino films and she is clearly a fan. I'd love to see her tackle a classic war movie like Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket. A boy can dream, can't he?