September 30th, 2009 by Richard
Dudes, I gotta tell you, I love — absolutely love — Netflix. It’s well worth the money we spend each month to sometimes stumble on something amazing that I didn’t even know was out there. Like The Color of Magic.
A little quick background. My absolute favorite author of all time is an English gentleman named Terry Pratchett. He’s most famously known for a series of books set on the Discworld, which is a flat piece of earth sitting on backs of four giant elephants, which, in turn stand on the back of a giant star-swimming turtle. As you might imagine, it’s a bit of a fantasy series. What you might not imagine, is that this series — clocking in at more than 30 books — is one of the sharpest satires on the modern world that has been published in the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s marvelous.
These are each a classic. I’ve been reading them for decades now. For the last couple of years, Sarcasmo, who discovered them while perusing my bookshelves, has been having a thoroughly wonderful time reading them for the first time. How I envy him those first readings. To be surprised all over again. However, I’m not talking about the books here, even though The Color of Magic is the first book in the series.
As much as I love the books, I never in a million years would have imagined that someone, somewhere would actually make a movie out of them. But they did. Oh, yes they did. And it’s marvelous. I found it when I was just flipping randomly through Netflix looking for something the little dudes and I would enjoy watching. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this.
The Color of Magic, the movie, covers the first two books in the series. It’s a production of the BBC and stars that dude who was Samwise in the Lord of the Rings movies as Twoflower, the Discworld’s first tourist. He comes to Ankh-Morpok, the Discworld’s greatest city (a remarkably similar stand in for London of the 1800s) and meets Rincewind, the Discworld’s worst “wizzard.” Hilarity ensues.
There are scenes with everyone from Death to Cohen the Barbarian, the nonagenarian stand-in for Robert Howard’s Conan. Rincewind, Twoflower and Twoflower’s sentient luggage cabinet (don’t ask. You must see to believe.) have amazing adventures both on and off the Discworld. The story follows remarkably close to that of the books, so you can’t fault it there.
Okay, so the special effects were sort of cheesy. Remember, this was the BBC and the movie first showed on UK television in 2008, so we know that the network and country of Dr. Who is not one that indulges in great special effects. Still, when you’re laughing your butt off at the story, you don’t really need much in the way of special effects.
Both Sarcasmo and Speed Racer were helpless during the entire movie. They couldn’t stop watching and laughing.
I give this my highest recommendation. Five dudes out of five.
Share on Facebook
Tags: A Dude's Guide to Life
, Color Of Magic
, English Gentleman
, Fantasy Series
, Giant Star
, little dude
, little dudes
, Lord Of The Rings
, Lord Of The Rings Movies
, Million Years
, Special Effects
, Speed Racer
, Terry Pratchett
, Two Books
, Wonderful Time
September 29th, 2009 by Richard
Sometimes it really doesn’t pay to try and teach your little dudes a lesson about life. I tried and now I feel like a bad man. A very, very bad man. To understand that, though, I think I need to give you a little background.
Here’s the deal: The other day, I was um. . . exercising (?) (certainly not out jogging on my bad knees, because, FSM knows what my orthopedist would do to me if he ever thought I was doing that) with my oldest little dude, Sarcasmo. He’s going to be running a 5k in early October and — Good grief! I just realized it’s going to be this Sunday. Darn. We’d better get He’s going to need to be ready for this. — he was in training. I was going with him (again, not saying I was training)
We were sweating along the road sort of near our house when an older woman in a nightdress came running out of a house on our right, screaming.
“Mr. White Shirt. Mr. White Shirt. You in the white shirt! Help me!”
I looked down. Sure enough. I was wearing a white shirt. I was tempted to just keep going, but I knew that wouldn’t be right. And, stopping to help might not only be the right thing to do, but it might help Sarcasmo learn the value of kindness and a willingness to help others.
I slowed down and started walking over to her porch. She was really panicked. Now I was glad I stopped, fearing there was something medical going on and she really needed help. Visions of us being in the paper for saving some stranger danced in my head, accolades and awards. You know, the usual.
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” she panted. “You’ve got to help me, there’s a snake in my house.”
My ego completely deflated. Still, helping others in need is the right thing to do, so I told Sarcasmo to wait outside and I went in. When I did, I saw the woman’s mother, easily 168, also in a nightdress and carrying a broom. She was staring in horror at the hallway closet door. The woman picked up a hoe (no, not that kind of ho. A garden hoe.) and held it in front of her as she inched inside. They told me they thought the snake had gone into the closet.
As I walked closer, I saw that the snake had, instead, found refuge in the hallway itself, between the wall and the hall table. I pointed this out to the ladies. Bad move. The woman who’d called me actually levitated into the other room and attached herself to the ceiling*. The woman’s mother backed quickly down the hall. I figured this would be easy. After all, it was only a little rat snake. No actual harm to anyone.
I took the broom and began sweeping the snake toward the front door. I quickly succeeded in getting it out on the porch. I closed the door and bent down to pick it up so I could move it across the street. That was when the woman and her mother crowded toward the door and, in panic-filled voices, demanded that I kill the snake.
“I won’t let you leave until I know it’s dead,” the woman said.
I tried to explain that I could easily move the snake across the street and they’d never see it again.
“Oh, no,” the mother said. “It could get into the sewer and then come up in our toilets.”
I tried to explain the sheer unlikeliness of that, but they wouldn’t hear it. What I did hear was the continued panic in their voices. They sounded almost out of their minds with fear. I could easily imagine my carrying off the snake and then quivering in fear for days until one of them dropped dead. I didn’t want that on my conscience. I also didn’t want killing a harmless snake on my conscience. I balanced them out and the snake lost.
Sorry, dude. I brought down the hoe (not the ho) and cut the snake’s head off, almost vomiting as I did so. I managed to keep my bile down as the women rushed outside and thanked me effusively. I couldn’t talk to them. I just waved vaguely in their direction and headed back toward the street and Sarcasmo.
I’d wanted to return to him in triumph. Instead, I’d achieved my objective, but felt all the worse for it. I told Sarcasmo what happened and he smiled and said I did the right thing. He’d love to kill a snake like that some time. Not exactly the lesson I wanted to impart. I gave him a little of the ole live and let live as we finished the exercise and I like to think it worked its way through those thick plates of bone in his head.
I just wish I could stop thinking about the snake.
*possibly not entirely true.
Share on Facebook
Tags: A Dude's Guide to Kids
, A Dude's Guide to Life
, Bad Knees
, Bad Man
, Garden Hoe
, Good Grief
, Helping Others
, little dudes
, Older Woman
, Running A 5k
, Snake In The Grass
, Value Of Kindness
September 28th, 2009 by Richard
It’s not often that I get surprised when I go to the movies. Normally, by the time I actually hit the multiplex, I’ve got a good idea of what I’m going to see, for good or ill. In fact, the last time I remember actually being totally surprised in a good way, was when Zippy the Monkey Boy and I hit the first Pirates of the Caribbean while the rest of the family went to see the animated Sinbad. Zippy and I are convinced that we had the much better part of that deal.
Well, it happened again last night. Since the little dudes didn’t have any school today, we decided to hit a movie in early evening. The one we all compromised on was Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, based on the elementary-school classic book by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. The book, published in 1978, was a short little tale about the town of Chewandswallow, a place where no one ever went to a grocery store because all the food and drink they could need actually fell from the sky. The people of the town of Chewandswallow really designed their lives around the thrice-daily meteorological culinary event. So much so, in fact, that restaurants didn’t serve food: they just were buildings with roofs open to the sky and let food land on the tables.
Now, I recently re-read the book and, while I enjoyed it, I thought there was no way the movie makers could string out the picture book’s plot long enough to make a halfway decent movie. Well, I was right about that at least. They didn’t make a halfway decent movie: They made a fantastic movie.
Of course, the movie makers had to take liberties with the plot, but it actually was all for the better. The main character of the movie is Flint Lockwood, voiced by Bill Heder, a backyard inventor who has never actually succeeded at anything. Playing off him wonderfully is the so-smart-she-feels-like-she-has-to-hide-it weathergirl Sam Sparks, voiced by scream queen Anna Faris. However, to my mind, the greatest voice performance can only be credited to that giant among thespians, Mr. T, who gives voice to Officer Earl Devereaux. A true classic of the field.
Flint Lockwood has a father that yearns for him to settle down and come work at the sardine bait and tackle shop, to get a real job. Flint only wants to help his town, Swallow Falls, which faces a deep depression since the world has discovered that the source of Swallow Falls’ wealth — sardines — were actually really gross. Through a series of accidents, Flint accidentally launches an experiment into the skies above Swallow Falls. The experiment, designed to take water and produce food (through the use of some really, really bad science gobbledygook). Flint thinks the experiment has failed until the sky begins raining the perfect cheeseburgers.
It’s odd, but I find that I don’t really want to divulge too much of the plot of this animated movie because there are some truly wonderful jokes and scenes here. The scene with the cooked chickens alone was worth the price of admission. And Steve the monkey must be seen to be believed.
If you’ve got little dudes, or even not-so-little dudes as do I, you really should make the time to take them to this movie. You and the little dudes will want to thank me for it. And I’m all for that.
I give this movie four and a half out of five meatballs. It really is that good.
Share on Facebook
Tags: A Dude's Guide to Life
, Anna Faris
, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
, Culinary Event
, Decent Movie
, Early Evening
, Food And Drink
, Food Land
, Grocery Store
, Judi Barrett
, little dudes
, Monkey Boy
, Movie Makers
, Picture Book
, Pirates Of The Caribbean
, Ron Barrett
, Scream Queen
, Zippy The Monkey