Sunday, July 31, 2011

Late Night Video: a musical review

Oancitizen is quickly becoming one of my favorite reviewers over at That Guy With The Glasses, but his review of The Man Who Fell To Earth departs from his usual style.  Seeing as it stars David Bowie as the title character, the entire review is done in song.  And it is amazing.  I seriously did not expect him to keep it up the entire time, but he did.
Still, as cool as the musical review is, I kind of would have liked him to do it in his usual style.  But only because this is one of the few films he's reviewed that I've actually seen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SDCC Exclusive MLPFiM Poster

Click for full-size awesome
For this year's Comic Con, Hasbro has an exclusive My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic poster that is an absolute smorgasbord of characters, major and minor alike.  I mean, even Pinkie Pie's inanimate "guests" are in there!  And there are lots of little nods to the popular fanon, such as Bon Bon and Lyra eyeing each other, the flower sisters freaking out over the cockatrice, and Dr. Whooves being in a position to show off his cutie mark.  Though bronies may complain that Hasbro doesn't care about them, this poster definitely proves otherwise.

Monday, July 18, 2011

SSC - Puttin' On The Glitz

With another DVD coming up at the end of next month, it's about time I covered Puttin' on the Glitz, the first DVD release of Berry Bitty Adventures that doesn't try to pretend it's actually a movie.  As par for the course, there are three episodes here, starting with...

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Strawberry Shortcake shows up for her usual appointment at Lemon Meringue's salon, but finds the other girls in town are all still there.  As Lemon juggles her clients, all wanting to look their best for the grand opening of Mr. Longface Caterpillar's croquet court, her equipment suddenly turns on her.  The other girls, completely missing Lemon's look of horrified distress, just laugh, until they get a look at what her treacherous equipment has wrought.  But even the sight of their disastrous hair-dos isn't enough to keep them from laughing it up, completely ignoring Lemon's attempts to fix things.  Seriously, it's kind of frightening how their laughter never, ever lets up.
Eventually the girls calm down enough for Lemon to get them looking normal again, and they head over to the croquet court.  The door, however, is locked, and Lemon worries it's because she made them all late.  But Strawberry suspects otherwise and has the others give her a boost so she can see what's what.  Beyond the gates, she spies Mr. Longface obsessing over the length of the grass in the court, which is why he's delayed the court's opening.  The girls see nothing wrong with the grass length, and come in anyway, but Mr. Longface stops their game so that the clipper berrykins can cut the grass to his satisfaction.  With their plans cancelled, Strawberry proposes a picnic instead, and the girls go to get ready.  All except Lemon, who begs off so she can work on fixing her salon.
Working late into the night, Lemon spruces up her salon, and notices an ad in a magazine that seems to be just what she's looking for.  Sometime later, she invites the girls over to check out her newly arrived Salon-o-Matic!  Despite Lemon's enthusiasm, her friends are a little more apprehensive about the strange looking chair, and it's up to Strawberry to act as test subject.  With just the touch of a button, Strawberry's hair is washed, dried, and styled, and her nails are given a perfect manicure.  As the other girls line up to try it out, Strawberry checks out the magazine Lemon saw the ad in, and soon makes a purchase of her own: the Wonder Waffler, which spits out perfect waffles, completely with butter and syrup, every time.  Even Blueberry Muffin gets in on things, picking up a spiffy Clean-O-Matic that has all the girls asking to borrow it.
But all is not as rosy as it might seem.  With the Salon-O-Matic getting all her work done in the blink of an eye, Lemon finds herself with more free time than she knows what to do with.  To fill the time, she tries helping out at Strawberry's cafe, and though she does a fine job busing tables and making smoothies, her heart just isn't into it.  Her attempt at being a dance teacher at Plum Pudding's studio is both dreadful and superfluous, and helping out at Orange Blossom's store just isn't enough to make her feel useful.  Orange encourages her to come up with a new business, and thus Lemon Meringue's Ferry Boat Service is born.
In order to support their friend, the girls visit Lemon's new ferry every day, but soon Lemon grows suspicious.  She's realized that a ferry isn't needed as often as she had hoped, and doesn't want her friends to go out of their way day after day.  So, just like that, Lemon Meringue's Ferry Boat Service is closed for the season.   Fearing the worst, Blueberry and Orange head to Lemon's and find her packing her things.  Seeing no real way to contribute to the town, she's heading for Berry Big City, hoping to find her way in the world, though she promises to visit.
In a last ditch effort to keep Lemon from leaving, Orange convinces the other girls (minus Strawberry) to sabotage their hairstyles and claim it was the work of the Salon-O-Matic.  When Lemon sees their crazy 'dos, she rushes back to the salon to try and salvage what she can of their styles.  Only Blueberry sees the ending of this episode coming, as she wonders what Strawberry would think of their plan.    Soon Lemon's salon is once again humming the way it was before, which is when Lemon finds a handful of screws haphazardly hidden under a magazine.  She recognizes them as coming from the Salon-O-Matic, and soon the truth is out: her friends removed the screws so Lemon would think she was needed agan.
Strawberry, meanwhile, is busy trying to convince Mr. Longface to give up on getting the perfect lawn and come rejoin society.  After listening to Mr. Longface spout out about needing a level field, she finally has enough and grabs the clippers right out of his hands.  Unaware of everything going on with Lemon that day, she entices the caterpillar with the promise of a picnic and boatride, reminding him that she and the other residents of Berry Bitty City care more about him than any old lawn.  Hearing herself say this, she realizes what Lemon needs to hear, and postpones their outing.
Strawberry arrives at Lemon's salon just as Lemon's about to leave again, and the other girls call upon her to stop the blonde.  Strawberry is shocked to hear that Lemon is leaving town, and so Lemon reiterates that she wants to feel useful.  So Strawberry tells her that they need her there to handle the complaints about the Salon-O-Matic, namely, that it isn't her.  Strawberry even adds that she sent back her Wonder Waffler for making waffles that were too perfect, making Blueberry worry that, since the moral seems to be Ludd Was Right, this means she also has to send back her Clean-O-Matic, which Plum points out she hasn't had a chance to borrow.  So Strawberry clarifies her point: they like Lemon for who she is, not for what she does for them, and asks her to stay.
Lemon agrees, and just then, Mr. Longface shows up, apologizing for not visiting her ferry.  He asks how he can make it up to her, so she asks for his help in getting the Salon-O-Matic back to the post office.  But as he pushes it out the door, the machine suddenly takes off of its own accord and winds up in the croquet court.  The top comes off, and the girls chase it across the lawn until Lemon finally manages to push the off switch.  She apologizes for the trouble, but it turns out the half-o-matic finally got the lawn trimmed to the proper length.  Lemon bestows the half-o-matic to Mr. Longface, and the croquet court is officially open for business!  In honor of her gift, Lemon gets to hit the first ball, which she the wrong direction.

Too Cool For Rules
A group of berrykins head to the pond, all ready to go on a picnic on the other side, but find the ferry, no longer run by Lemon, but still available for anyone who needs it, has floated away from the dock.  They try pulling it back in, but whoever used the boat last didn't tie the rope, and they come up empty.  So they put together a raft from the items in their lunch, and send two of them out on it to get the boat.  This works about as well as you'd think, and as the two berrykins head back to the dock, they get stuck in the muck at the bottom of the pond.  And the others, rather than use the rope to pull them out, go in after them and all get stuck, too.  Luckily for them, Strawberry had forgotten to pack their dessert, and arrives with it just in time to help them all out.  She also helps them get the boat back to the dock and sends them on their way.  Just before the boat pulls away, one of the berrykins tosses her a purple cellphone someone left behind.
Later that day, Strawberry literally bumps into Orange Blossom and Plum Pudding on her way to Blueberry's book club meeting.  Strawberry hands Plum the cellphone and mentions how the boat floated away.  Plum is certain she tied it up, though she may have only used one knot.  Strawberry reminds her that using two knots is "the rule", but Plum is just dismissive.  After all, she's too busy practicing for her upcoming recital to worry about any silly rules.
Speaking of her recital, Plum has more than just practicing to take care of.  She heads over to Orange's store (where the post office is) to mail out handmade invitations for everyone in Berry Bitty City and every last berrykin.  Jadeybug, who finally gets a speaking part, is impressed not only by the number of invitations, but that Plum wants to send them Extra Special Super Urgent Ultra Fast Delivery, which means she actually gets to use the special stamp.  Everyone is pleased to get an invitation, except for Strawberry and Blueberry, since Plum's holding the recital at Strawberry's cafe, and Blueberry already signed up for that night.  Strawberry reassures Blueberry that since she signed up, it's still her night, and steels herself to go break the bad news to Plum.  Hearing that the date she picked is already taken, Plum tries to bargain with Strawberry, to see if Blueberry will switch, but Strawberry insists that it's not about the date, it's about upholding the rules.  Strawberry offers to help Plum make new invitations, but Plum just sends her away.
Over at Lemon's salon, Orange gossips with Raspberry about Plum's new joke invitations, though Strawberry overhears and tells them that Plum is actually serious.  It seems that in a fit of pique, she made new rules for her dance studio: No admittance without a yellow hat, knocking three times, and guessing the password.  Despite Strawberry's warning, Lemon, Raspberry, and Mr. Longface arrive for a dance lesson, and are forced to knock three times and guess the password, but are turned away for not having yellow hats.  "Rules are rules," Plum tells them.
The next day, Strawberry goes over to talk to Plum and try to convince her to let go of her grudge, but to her surprise and dismay, she learns that Raspberry, Lemon, and Mr. Longface have been instituting their own silly rules to get back at Plum.  So she calls them all over to her cafe to tell them they're just making things worse, and it isn't fair to have silly rules for just Plum (calling Mr. Longface "Sir Highness Longface" for example).  Of course, the message they all take away from this is not "stop enforcing silly rules," but "make everyone follow the silly rules."  But as this just leads to everyone avoiding them, the three of them soon put a stop to it.  Strawberry's glad to hear it, but she won't be fully satisfied until Plum gets the message, too.
Which may be happening sooner than she thinks.  Almost everyone turned down the invitation to her postponed recital, due to her new rules, so she decides to waive all her rules, just for the recital.  Her ploy succeeds, and her recital is well attended.  As the guests head outside for refreshments, Plum notices little puncture marks in her dance floor that weren't there a minute ago.  The culprit: Jadeybug's high heels!  Plum is aghast, as everyone knows her rule about no heels in the studio, but Jadeybug reminds her that she waived all the rules, even the shoe rule.  Now that she sees the reason for the rule, she's terribly sorry, and offers to help refinish the floor, as does Strawberry.  Plum is surprised to hear this, since she's been acting so stupid this whole time, but unlike Plum, Strawberry isn't the type to hold a grudge, so long as people learn their lessons.
And Plum has indeed learned her lesson about respecting the rules, even if she doesn't understand them, as evidenced by her reminding the others to use two knots when tying up the boat, bringing the episode full circle.

I have to admit, I was kind of amused by the whole "taking the wrong thing from Strawberry's talk" portion, and hearing Mr. Longface refer to himself as Sir Highness Longface made me laugh.  Probably the only time that'll happen.

Nice as Nails
Lemon bursts out of her salon, exclaiming "I did it!" and proceeds to run all the way through town, telling her friends to come to her salon to see her newest creation.  With all her friends gathered, she shows off her sparkly, bejeweled, musical manicure, dubbed a "glamicure."  Her friends, naturally, all want one, and so Lemon delivers, pleased that her glamicures are going over so well.  And at first, they're a big hit, bringing music and joy to each of her friends' daily routines.  But all too soon, the inherent problems of having music wherever you go begin to appear.  Strawberry accidentally ruins Mr. Longface's oboe concert, and then adds too much vanilla to a recipe by following the beat.
The other girls are having problems of their own with the glamicures.  They're too noisy, too bright, and worst of all, waterproof.  Blueberry proposes they just tell Lemon that they don't like the glamicures, but since she's been going around town with an absolutely euphoric look on her face every time she sees someone with a glamicure, they worry that hearing nobody actually likes them anymore might break the poor girl's spirit and send her packing, as in the first episode on this disc.  They even point out that Strawberry, who isn't there, would never do anything so inconsiderate.  Thus, to preserve Lemon's feelings, they vow to just put up with their glamicures.  Easier said than done, especially for Plum, who more often than not ends up dancing to two, or even three, different beats.
As the days roll by, Lemon starts to worry that the other girls are avoiding her, even when she has a picnic planned with some them.  She runs into Strawberry, doing a little pruning by the gazebo, and she advises her to ask the other girls what's up, even if she's afraid of the answer.  Better to know the truth than imagine the worst, right?  Lemon agrees, but can't quite bring herself to do it right away, so Strawberry goes on the picnic in Orange and Raspberry's stead.  The two girls are unaware that Orange and Raspberry are actually not that far off, hiding in the unpruned grass.  They praise Strawberry for being brave enough to endure her glamicure with Lemon, and reinforce their vow to endure their own.
After the picnic, Lemon decides to visit all her friends, with Strawberry along for moral support.  First stop, Orange Blossom's store.  Orange apologizes for missing the picnic, blaming business picking up at the store, and insists everything, especially her glamicure, is fine.  Lemon gets the same story from each of the other girls, and is satisfied, though she can't help feeling that something still isn't quite right. Strawberry seems to have caught on to what is really going on, but keeps quiet for her own amusement (she's also been going around with her hands behind her back this whole time).
Having secretly observed each girl hastily covering their glamicure after Lemon's departure, Strawberry calls them all together at her cafe.  The other girls are shocked, shocked! to see that Strawberry is glamicure-free, and wonder how she got rid of hers.  No big mystery here, Strawberry simply told Lemon the glamicure wasn't working out, and she took it off.  The other girls are amazed that Lemon's heart didn't break at this revelation, but Strawberry points out that part of being a good friend is being able to give and take constructive criticism.  The others realize that by trying to keep from hurting Lemon's feelings because of the glamicures, they inadvertently hurt her feelings by avoiding her.  Strawberry tells them to set the record straight with Lemon, and the girls agree to go right away.
Of course, it takes courage to hand out bad news, and so the girls end up hiding outside Lemon's door, daring each other to go first, until Strawberry makes the first move, and the rest of the girls follow.  With Strawberry's prompting, they admit that the glamicures are not for them, which Lemon fully understands when she hears all four of them playing at once.  The others are astounded that she understands, but Lemon just wishes they would have told her sooner.  This gives her an idea for new, improved glamicures, based completely on input from her friends. The most popular suggestion: an off switch.
Another batch of fun episodes, though not my favorites.  I'm a little surprised that they didn't include A Stitch in Time, since the theme of this disc seems to be fashion and style, instead opting for Too Cool For Rules.  I guess it's because of the continuity of Lemon's boat, but really, I don't think that's a particularly good reason for including it.  If anything, they should have included another Lemon-focused episode, and saved Too Cool For Rules for a disc focused on Plum (i.e. Different Waltz for Different Faults).
As with the last disc, the only special feature is printable pages.

Misc. Screenshots
Longface playing against Custard
Plum's recital costume
Strawberry air-quotes
Raspberry's a little tied up right now

Friday, July 15, 2011

Midmorning Video - Another PMV

If I'd been thinking about it, I would have held off uploading this on youtube until today, being as it's Brony Appreciation Day, apparently.

This one is pure nostalgia for me, since the second Care Bear movie was the one I saw the most as a kid, and I still love all the songs from it. I was actually trying to find a Fruits Basket AMV that was in my favorites on my old account, but no dice.  Anyway, in listening to the song, I could easily fit it to the mane six from FiM, although I had to fudge it a little bit.  I mean, Pinkie Pie fits both Funshine and Cheer (as described in the song, I mean), and Twilight Sparkle could be either Bright Heart Raccoon or Grumpy Bear.  But on the whole, I'm pleased with how this video came out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Late Night Video: Equestrian Knights

Combining two of my favorite things, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and That Guy With The Glasses:

I assume that most of you guys check out Equestria Daily, which is why I don't post too many PMVs here. Most of the ones I would bother posting are either already there, or that's where I first saw them. Otherwise, I would be posting tons of Pony-related videos. I don't think I've seen so many good AMVs since I first discovered

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wild West VBS Tropes

Once again, I spent the time during rehearsals for this year's VBS skits making a list of the various tropes I noticed playing out, but since the theme this year is the Gold Rush, I had a little help coming up with some.  And while the VBS itself was set in the gold rush, the skit is actually set in 1860, in a boom town called Discovery City that's seen better days.  Each day followed the lives of its inhabitants: incompetent lawmen Sheriff Theodore Tweedle and Deputy Otis Henry, Sadie Brown, who runs the Hard Time Cafe (later Good News Cafe), Caleb Foster, a prospector who spends more time spreading the gospel than searching for gold, Petunia Periwinkle, a starlet hopeful who got off at the wrong stop, and Dr. Marvel, a snake oil salesman.

Tropes found in the skits include:
(Some of the tropes are spoilery, so don't read this list if your church is putting on this VBS)
  • The Wild West - Naturally.
  • Anachronism Stew - Quite a bit.  Despite being explicitly set in 1860, movies are mentioned in one skit, Home on the Range is sung (it wasn't written until ten years later), Sadie runs an outdoor cafe, and many idioms that likely didn't exist at the time are used in the dialogue.
  • All There In The Manual - The character descriptions in the Drama Guide give bits of information that are not even hinted at in the actual skits, such as Sadie opening her restaurant after her father died, and Dr. Marvel having been a con artist since he first cheated on a test in first grade.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners - Theodore and Otis.
  • The Sheriff - Theodore.
  • Clueless Deputy - Otis, though the sheriff isn't much better.
  • The Missionary and a Prospector - Caleb
  • Bird Oil Salesman - Dr. Marvel hawks an all-healing "potion" made from the oil of a pink-striped albatross.
  • The Outlaw - Jake "The Snake" Jackson, meanest outlaw in the west.
  • US Marshal - Dr. Marvel is caught and waiting for the marshal by the end.
  • The Ditz - Petunia, Otis, and Theodore.
  • Surrounded By Idiots - Sadie, though she rarely expresses this directly.  "The closest those two could get to a brainstorm is a light drizzle."
  • Offstage Crash - While trying to hang up a sign, Otis ends up crashing through the door of the Sheriff's office, with a rather excessive sound effect.
  • Your Other Left - Theodore tells Otis to raise his right hand so he can be sworn in as a deputy.  You can guess what happens.
  • Donut Mess With a Cop - Once he's sworn in, Otis suggests they go celebrate by getting some donuts.
  • Cucumber Facial - In one skit, Otis gives Theodore a fancy spa treatment, complete with mud mask and cucumbers on the eyes, which Theodore agrees to only when he hears it will help his luck with the ladies.
  • Took A Level In Kindness - After Caleb shares the gospel with her, Sadie becomes noticeably nicer, and the narrator comments that her biscuits even taste better.
  • I've Heard of That, What is it?/Global Ignorance - Hearing that Petunia is from Ohio, Sadie comments that she's originally from Kentucky.  Petunia seems to know, but then asks how far away it is.  Hearing that the two states share a border, she blames her ignorance on not being good at "biology."
  • I Know You Know I Know - After hearing about a recent bank robbing by Jake "The Snake" Jackson, Theodore is not worried about Jake showing up there, since "There's a new sheriff in town, and he knows it!  And he knows that I know it."  Otis asks, "But does he know that YOU know he knows that you know it?"  "That's the only thing we don't know," Theodore replies.
  • Giftedly Bad - Petunia.  She fancies herself as someone who just needs her big break to become world-famous, but in truth her acting is terrible and her singing even worse.  
  • Hollywood Tone Deaf - Petunia. The script mentions her voice making glass break and coyotes howl, but sadly these are not included as sound effects.
  • False Reassurance - The reason Petunia thinks so highly of herself is that no one tells her point blank that she's terrible, instead saying things like "We've never heard a voice quite like yours," and "What you did to those notes has never been done before."
  • Medicine Show - Dr. Marvel puts on a show (all in rhyme) to sell his potion.
  • Never Trust a Hair Tonic - Petunia takes some of Dr. Marvel's potion, and it turns her hair purple (in our version, anyway.  The script just says "the crazier, the better").
  • Different As Night And Day - It turns out Caleb and Dr. Marvel are twins.  As Sadie puts it, "He's a giver, and you're a taker."
  • Acting For Two - Since the two rarely show up on the same day, Caleb and Dr. Marvel are played by the same person.  Their only actual interaction is offstage.
  • Pie in the Face - Mistaking Caleb for Dr. Marvel, Petunia lets him have it with one of Sadie's pies as payback for her hair.
  • Too Dumb To Live - When Jake "The Snake" Jackson comes to town, he's able to tie up Theodore and Otis by simply asking them to put their hands together and sit back to back.  Once he's done, the two wonder how they got tied up.
  • Stuff Blowing Up - Jake plans to use dynamite on the sheriff and deputy after robbing the bank, but didn't bring any matches.
  • Completely Missing The Point - While tied up with the dynamite, Otis laments their imminent explosion, since it means he won't be able to go the square dance next week.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall - Jake has trouble opening the bank door, so Otis tells him that it's just painted on, and he has to go around the side (i.e. back stage) to get in.
  • Ten Minute Retirement - After the humiliation of being outwitted by Jake, Theodore quits being the sheriff, to Otis' dismay.  He returns to the job after Jake returns and turns himself in.
  • Heel Face Turn - After reading a bible that Sadie slipped into his money bag, Jake realizes the error of his ways and turns himself in.  Also, by the end, Petunia decides to give up on show business and learn about Jesus.
  • Get Out of Jail Free Card - Averted, as Jake does indeed go to jail.
  • Leitmotif - Anytime Jake "The Snake" Jackson shows up, a rattlesnake sound plays.  After he repents, the sound isn't heard.
And of course, it wouldn't be a VBS skit without a little bit of Fridge Logic:
Why did Petunia drink the potion, anyway?  And when did Sadie find the time to sneak a bible into Jake's bag?

Our version also had a bonus trope, Samus Is A Girl.  Since we had more female actors than male, we decided to make Jake "The Snake" Jackson a girl, and after much discussion, came to the conclusion that it would be funnier for everyone to think Jake was a guy until she actually showed up.  Technically, the Drama Guide says to use another outlaw mentioned, "Calamity Kate," in that scenario, but there's so much in the script with the rattlesnake leitmotif that it just made more sense to do what we ended up doing. 

Comics - You Should Know Why I Posted This

Even better than surprise Fred Willard in a movie: surprise Fred Willard in a comic.