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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Superhero Sunday: What a Melvin
Jeff Dunham - Melvin the Superhero
Jeff Dunham VideosWalterAchmed

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Save the World Saturday: Small Wonder

As I said earlier this month, October is an awareness month for a number of causes. Breast Cancer Awareness is the most prevalent, with pink ribbons everywhere you look throughout the month. Domestic Violence Awareness also falls in October, signified by purple ribbons (slightly usurped this month by the adoption of purple for anti-bullying against LGBT teens in light of the many suicides recently). As a strong advocate for dogs, I also could not ignore that October is also Dog Adoption Month.
With one more day left in this month, I have one more opportunity to highlight another of the many October causes. I decided to pick one that is really kind of "off my radar," because I think it may have been off yours as well. It is however, a very important one to a lot of people, and, after some research, has become an important one for me as well.
October is Dwarfism Awareness Month.
Here is a video from 2007 that I found very informative from KMIR Channel 6 in Palm Springs:

Here's a link for The Painted Turtle camp mentioned in the video.
By the way, in July 2009 The Little People of America made a public statement declaring use of "the m-word" to be offensive to the dwarfism community and have filed complaints with the FCC regarding use of the word on television and radio. Whatever the FCC decides, I have elected to remove the word from my vernacular, and I encourage you to do the same as it is has been deemed offensive to and by the individuals to whom it refers.
Here is another video that I found very interesting:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Film Buff: Bloodsuckers

There are a lot of movie versions of Bram Stoker's famous Count Dracula, and I like most of them. I like the 1931 black-and-white horror classic starring Bela Lugosi. I like the 1979 version directed by John Badham and starring Frank Langella. I like both the 1922 silent Nosferatu and its 1979 remake directed by Werner Herzog, as both are pretty obviously thinly-veiled versions of the story. I even like the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola version as long as I remember to cover my ears whenever Keanu Reeves has lines.
One version that many people may not have seen is the 1958 Hammer Studios' Dracula. Released in America as Horror of Dracula, writer Jimmy Sangster put a slightly different spin on the classic story and moved the setting to somewhere in Germany.
Christopher Lee is the titular count (and would continue to play the role in several hammer sequels) and Peter Cushing his dogged pursuer, Dr. Van Helsing.
Director Terence Fisher pushed the late 50's envelope for gore and sexuality on film, and the result is a tantalizing little thriller that still holds up today.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Theatre Thursday: Two Ladies

Seven years ago this week, a little fantasy musical comedy years in the making opened on Broadway. I was fortunate enough to see the show about a month after it opened.
It's not my favorite musical by a longshot. It's not even my favorite musical from this composer. However, because of the performers in this show - in particular the two female leads (not something one sees often) it was an absolutely magical experience for me.
I was not surprised to see that it did not win the Tony for best musical, but I was also not at all surprised to see it break box office records and actually break even in just fourteen months. (Most other blockbuster shows usually take at least two years to do that.)
The show, of course, was Wicked:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wildlife Wednesday:Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh. . .

. . . Bats! . . .man.
The other animal most closely associated with the Halloween season is, of course, the bat. I gathered a couple of bat videos to show here on my bat blog for all of you bat readers, and - honestly, I can't stop myself - here's the vids:
This is a trailer for the documentary film Bats.

This one features vampire bats and is, as such, just a little gruesome. Consider yourself warned.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Motivator: Happy Birthday, Helen

Today is the birthday of Helen Reddy, best known for her anthem "I Am Woman," which was a major motivator to women in the seventies looking to secure equal rights. Now the song eventually became something of a cliche and was played in later years as a mockery of itself. However, the message is a powerful one, even if the tune is a bit dated.
Reddy wrote the song herself after looking for a positive song lifting up the power of women and being unable to find one. Even though the song is called "I Am Woman," anyone who is currently being alienated from their "inalienable" rights - or even anyone who's feeling a bit like life's got them down - can find meaning in the words.

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
You can bend but never break me
'cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
And for those of us who really do dig the song:
Happy Birthday, Helen!

Wild Card: Cursed

So, imagine that it's the 80's and you are a Hollywood movie producer looking to bank on the next big heartthrob. Where's that heartthrob going to come from? Television! But where? Hey, Family Ties is where they found Michael J. Fox! Didn't you hear the girls in the coffee shop - wait, sorry, it's the 80's - frozen yogurt shop - giggling about Mallory's dreamy new greaser boyfriend? What was his name? Fonzie! No, wait, wrong decade. . . Nick! That's it! Nick!
Now, what would be a good movie premise? Romantic comedy, of course, but with a twist - a fantasy/horror twist. Yes! The hunky heartthrob guy turns into a werewolf! No, that was Teen Wolf with Michael J. Fox. A vampire! No, Once Bitten. Jim Carrey. Boy, that kid is going nowhere. Wait! You've got it! A demon! The heartthrob is cursed to turn into a demon whenever he is sexually aroused, which complicates things when he meets the girl of his dreams! Brilliant! And you'll call it . . . My Demon Lover! This will be a goldmine!
Meh. Not so much.
Did they mention that Scott Valentine is in this?
I actually really like this movie, and I was thinking about it as a good Halloween movie for people looking for lighter fare. I looked it up on and read a one-star review that absolutely savaged the film for its flimsy plot and bad acting. Okay, okay, it's not exactly a masterpiece of film-making, but it's only rated a 3.4 out of 10 on IMDb, and I really don't think that's quite fair - especially when Weekend at Bernie's gets a 5.9.
The plot is a bit contrived, but is it really any more contrived than Teen Wolf, Ghostbusters, or Back to the Future? No, not really. Is the acting bad? Some of it isn't great, but, come on, Weekend at Bernie's, people. Really? Scott Valentine does pretty well with a very strange role and Michele Little (spelled "Michelle" in this film) is absolutely one of the most adorable creatures on the planet. The make-up effects are pretty impressive, the story is told well by director Charlie Loventhal (who directs a film on average about every 8 years or so), the leads are likeable, and the gags are fun. On the "Weekend-at-Bernie's-gets-a-5.9" scale, I'd give this at least an 8. (On the real-world scale, a 6, with a 1 point bump for nostalgic fun.)
This film is a bit hard to find, though. It doesn't appear to have been released on DVD yet (and may never be), but there are a few used VHS copies on Amazon. An enterprising fan has uploaded the entire film in parts to YouTube, though the quality isn't great for the nighttime scenes. No one appears to have raised a fuss about the copyright, but who knows how long it will be there.
I didn't want to put this on a Friday Film Buff because it is so hard to find, but, if you can find it, I think you'll get a kick out of it. I do.
And to whomever wrote that scathing 1-star review on IMDb: friend, you really need to lighten up.
Oh, and one more thing I love about this movie: the soundtrack. Check out this clip of the final credits sequence featuring "Let Go" by Intimate Strangers. (Cover your eyes for the first minute if you don't want to be "spoiled" by the very, very end of the movie, but come on, I did say "romantic comedy," didn't I?)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Superhero Sunday: The Also-Rans

The popularity of the campy Batman TV show of the sixties led TV executives at the time to look for other superheroes upon which to capitalize. The live-action Green Hornet, based on the popular radio serials (and soon to be a major motion picture), proved moderately successful and introduced America to Bruce Lee as the martial artist sidekick Kato.
However, not all forays into the TV superhero world were as successful, and probably with good reason.
Mister Terrific ran from January to May of 1967 and featured the adventures of wimpy Stanley Beamish who developed super strength and the ability to fly whenever he took a special pill. The pill only worked on Stanley and only lasted one hour. I don't know what kinds of pills the network executives were taking, but, fortunately, their duration was only 17 episodes.

Captain Nice starring William Daniels hit the scene at the same time. Captain Nice was superior to Mister Terrific in that it mercifully lasted for only 15 episodes.

Wild Card: Police Brutality

Let me tell you right up front: The Offence (1972) is not an easy film to watch, which is why I'm not putting it under a Film Buff Friday recommendation. I still do recommend it, but you really have to prepare yourself: this is a movie about a suspected child rapist (Ian Bannen) severely beaten during an interrogation by a no-nonsense cop (Sean Connery).
Now if that seems like a spoiler, it's not. We find most of this out within the first five minutes or so. The rest of the film is about how it got to that point and the aftermath, and if you think that it's a straightforward police procedural, you're in for a bit of a ride.
"Moneypenny? Never heard of her."
Sidney Lumet directs, and while he may not be as popular a director as, say, Martin Scorsese, I do feel that he's every bit as masterful. If you're a Sean Connery fan - and I mean a real fan of his work as an actor, not just his wise-cracking brogue - this just might be his best work. Again, though, this film may not be for everybody.
Ian Bannen was one of those actors who showed up in dozens of movies, but American audiences didn't take much notice of him until Waking Ned Devine, one of his last films. I haven't seen a lot of his work myself, but this is the best I've seen him, too. Throw in Trevor Howard as the interrogator who has to grill Connery after the beating, and you've got one bloody good drama.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Save the World Saturday: Rescue a Pooch

October is dog adoption month.
There are lots of dogs that could use a new home and are anxious to meet you.

Here in the Denver area we have two particularly good shelters with lots of pooches looking for good homes.


The Denver Dumb Friends League

If you don't live in the Denver area, be sure to check out to find a dog to adopt in your area.
You may have already seen OkGo's new music video for "White Knuckles" featuring all of those very clever pups, but did you know that all of those dogs were rescued?

I don't know anything about the goat.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Film Buff: When the Wind Blows

One of my favorite anecdotes in theatre history is the story of the Federal Theatre Project's production of Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock produced by John Houseman and directed by Orson Welles in 1937.
The play was shut down just before it was to open due to "budget cuts,"  however, there is much speculation that it was in fact due to the accusations that the play was pro-Communist. It didn't help that the Federal Theatre Project was the subject of similar accusations at the time.
The theater where the play was to be performed was locked up and guarded with armed serviceman. The actors were even forbidden by the Actors' Union from performing in the show.
(And, yes, in case you were wondering, this happened in America.)
Now, that's not what makes this one of my favorite anecdotes. That's just Act 1, if you will.
In Act 2, the indomitable Welles and enterprising Houseman decide to perform the show anyway. They find another theatre, advertise to the press that The Cradle Will Rock is so controversial that it had to be shut down - basically ensuring that they will have a packed house- and ask playwright and composer Marc Blitzstein to perform the show himself, with just a piano. That night, however, members of the cast are sitting in the audience and decide - in defiance of the union - to get up and perform the show anyway.
It is the epitome of the adage that the show must go on, and a pretty brave thing to do during the Great Depression, considering that defying the union could affect one's ability to work.
Tim Robbins took this story and combined it with several others of the time for his semi-fictionalized movie Cradle Will Rock (1999) that explores the role of art and power in America - specifically in the 1930s.
Now, just in case you're thinking this might be a dry, heavily political, documentary, well, let's just go over the cast list:
Susana Sarandon, John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Bill Murray, Jack Black, Rubén Blades, Vanessa Redgrave, Philip Baker Hall, Carey Elwes, Angus Macfadyen, Emily Watson, Hank Azaria, John Turturro, and Paul Giamatti.
That sounds good, doesn't it?
Well, it is. Funny, thought-provoking, and exciting - Cradle Will Rock is a great film that a lot of people missed when it first hit theaters. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Theatre Thursday: En Français

Most theatre buffs know that the immensely popular and successful musical Les Misérables, featuring such beautiful lyrics as:

"In the rain the pavement shines like silver

All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever."

was originally in French. Ever since, a watchful eye has been turned toward L'Hexagone for the next colossal hit. Miss Saigon came from the same team as Les Miz, though it opened in England and in English.
My favorite French musical, Notre Dame de Paris, looked poised to be the next French import to Broadway, but the looming rumors of the possibility of Disney mounting a stage production of their own Hunchback of Notre Dame animated film frightened producers away from competing with the Magic Kingdom on the Great White Way. (This is my theory, anyway.) An English version ran in London for about-a-year-and-a-half, and a shortened English version played in Las Vegas, but it's mostly off the radar of American musical-lovers. I like the French version better, personally. I don't follow the lyrics as well, but it just sounds prettier to me.

Belle (Notre-Dame de Paris)
Uploaded by the-adolescent. - See the latest featured music videos.
Incidentally, Dennis De Young - former Styx front man - has his own musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I also think is quite good, and is also being kept from Broadway by the continuing rumors of a Disney production. (This is also just conjecture on my part.)
So far, the Disney version has only seen a production in Germany as Der Glöckner von Notre Dame. 

The next contender for import from France (in my opinion) may be the popular new musical Le Roi Soleil (The Sun King), based on the life of Louis XIV.
Check out this clip of the first act number "Être à la Hauteur," in which young Louis sings about having to measure up as king.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wildlife Wednesday: Keen Hunter

One of the creatures that is synonymous with the spooky Halloween season is the owl. Owls are associated with death in many cultures, and there are few sounds as haunting in the dark as the eerie "hoot" of this nocturnal predator.
Owls are terribly efficient and effective predators as demonstrated in this video from the BBC:

However, for all of their lethal efficiency, many species of owls are becoming endangered due to loss of habitat through logging and more, and, of course, some owls are still poached for their beautiful feathers or sometimes just for sport.
Organizations like the World Owl Trust are doing as much as possible to raise awareness and preserve the habitats of these remarkable birds, and, of course, there are many ways you can help.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wild Card: Tom Bosley 1927-2010

Tom Bosley, best known for his TV roles as father-tries-best Howard Cunningham on Happy Days and the titular, crime-solving priest on The Father Dowling Mysteries passed away today in Palm Springs. He was 83 years old and left a showbiz legacy of over half a century of movies, television, and stage.
Just before taking the role on Happy Days that would make him a household name, Bosley lent his distinctive voice to an under-rated prime time animated sitcom called Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

Prior to his television career, Tom Bosley had a pretty steady gig in films including The World of Henry Orient, Divorce American Style, and Yours, Mine and Ours starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.

Bosley also had a long and varied career on the stage, winning a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Fiorello!

In 2004, TV Guide ranked Bosley's Howard Cunningham at #9 on their list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time."
Good-bye, Dad. We'll miss you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Motivator: Desiderata

Desiderata ("desired things" in Latin) was at one point thought to have been written in 1692. Gaining popularity in a recorded version in the seventies by Les Crane, the true authorship was eventually unearthed, and the poem was rightly attributed to Max Ehrmann in 1927.
It is easy to see, though, how someone could think that this poem contained an ancient wisdom. Perhaps, in a way, it does:

1927 by Max Ehrlmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Superhero Sunday: Big Ugly

"I never forget a face, but in 
your case I'll make an exception"
Groucho Marx 

This big fellow is called Kilowog, and, as you may be able to tell from the costume, Kilowog is a member of the Green Lantern Corps. 
If you didn't know that that there was more than one Green Lantern, that's okay. I'll cover that in just a moment. If you don't know what a Green Lantern is, welcome to the internet and congratulations on your new computer. By the way, that thing you're using as a cupholder is actually meant for playing DVDs. You're welcome. 
The Green Lantern Corps is essentially an intergalactic police force in the fictional universe of DC comics. Hal Jordan - who will be played by Ryan Reynolds in the upcoming Green Lantern movie - is the "agent" covering sector 2814, which includes Earth. There are many other sectors in the galaxy and many other Green Lanterns. These keepers of the peace use specially-powered rings emitting green light to maintain order in the universe.
Kilowog, of the planet Bolovax Vik, was a genetic scientist and a rookie training in the Green Lantern Corps when the training facility is attacked. Kilowog fights valiantly, saving the lives of many Lanterns and is soon fully inducted into the Corps.
Kilowog figures heavily into most Green Lantern Corps stories, I think, because comic book artists have so much fun drawing the big guy. Interpretations of Kilowog's "unique" features vary greatly from artist to artist. A few photos of a Kilowog mask have been circulating on the internet, but there is not a character listing for him on for the 2011 movie. This suggests that Kilowog will be in the movie, but he probably will remain in the background.
I think that's too bad.
He's a big hero with a big heart and proof that you don't have to be a pretty boy to be a comic book icon.

Wild Card: Wordle

I made this picture using the text of my last blog entry at

Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Save the World Saturday: Think Pink

It would be very difficult to not be aware of the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everywhere you turn, you are given the option to buy something pink to show your support and contribute to the fight against breast cancer. At the check-out counter and on websites you may also be asked to contribute to this organization or that toward breast cancer research.
You might begin to wonder which organizations are doing the most in the fight against breast cancer and which are merely opportunistic organizations that are contributing only a small fraction of the funds raised toward the cause with the bulk of the money being absorbed in "administration and fundraising." The latter actually happens more than you think. You can check out most charities at and get a report card of their overall effectiveness.
I decided to go to Charity Navigator myself and pick out some of the site's highest-rated charities in the area of breast cancer awareness, research, and support, so that you can know that your contribution dollars are being used to their greatest effect.
Check them out yourself.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund

The Rose


Breast Cancer Connections

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Each of the above organizations were given Charity Navigator's four-star rating, the highest rating the site gives to any nonprofit.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Film Buff: Coochie Coochie Coo

I have mentioned Babies before: the innovative documentary that follows four babies in different parts of the world from birth through first steps. 
What's interesting about the film (by director Thomas Balmes) is that it's about a lot more than just four babies.
It's about parents and grandparents, neighbors and teachers, older siblings and cousins, house pets and livestock, toys and food, crime and punishment, playing, working, shopping, teaching, curiosity, discovery, and boundaries.
Who knew a movie about four little rugrats could be so thought-provoking? 
The babies are Hattie in San Francisco, Mari in Tokyo, Ponijao in Namibia, and Bayarjargal in Mongolia, and the film paints a fascinating portrait of what it is to be a human being on planet earth.
The similarities are touching: every baby in the world is captivated at the discovery of their own toes. 
She's just happy she wasn't born to the
hippie couple in San Francisco.
The differences are poignant: one segment cuts back and forth between Mongolia and Tokyo as Bayar is delighted at his discovery of a roll of toilet paper while Mari is literally bored to tears in a room full of toys.
What I think is most interesting about this film is that I was only watching the babies for the first ten minutes or so. After that, I was watching the world through the eyes of the babies.
If you think it's going to be 79 minutes of just cooing at little cherubs, then you haven't spent much time around actual babies. Babies are pretty funny little people. I laughed harder at this movie than I did at the last five intentional comedies I've seen.
And just wait until you see the most Zen housecat in all of Mongolia.
I enjoyed it. I think you will, too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Theatre Thursday: Same Old Story

When a story is very good, it bears repeating.
Such is the case with Miklos Laszlo's Parfumerie, a comic play about two co-workers in a small shop in Budapest who loathe one another not realizing that they are also anonymous pen pals falling in love with one another.
If the story seems just a little bit familiar, it might be because in 1988, it was updated to Manhattan, the co-workers became competing book store owners, and the anonymous exchanges occurred via e-mail for the Tom Hanks/ Meg Ryan film You've Got Mail.
If you're a fan of older films you may also have seen the story adapted into the Ernst Lubitsch classic, The Shop Around the Corner, starring Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart - one of my favorite films. (By the way, you may recall that Meg Ryan's book shop in You've Got Mail was called "The Shop Around the Corner.")
In 1949, it would be moved from a Budapest parfumerie to a Chicago music shop for the grand Judy Garland musical In The Good Old Summertime with Van Johnson. (Just before the end credits, a very young Liza Minelli makes her film debut.)
In 1963, the story got the full Broadway treatment as She Loves Me with music by Bock and Harnick. The show would be revived on Broadway almost exactly 30 years later. It is among my favorite musicals, and this beautiful, simple opening number from the 1979 BBC television version shows why:

It's Hydromatic!
(I have heard that the long-running British sitcom Are You Being Served? was inspired by the comic interplay of the colorful characters in the shop in the many adaptations of this wonderful story.)
Sadly, this musical - despite being a multiple Tony nominee and winner - just doesn't get produced much in regional theatre. You'd think someone could find a way to squeeze this gem in between multiple productions Grease.
Ah, well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wildlife Wednesday: Not Intended for Cuddling

Okay, look at this picture of a baby marmoset during a check -up at the Everland Zoo :
Cutest. Manicure. Ever.                     Photo by In Cherl Kim/ Everland Zoo
Cute, right? Looks like it'd make an adorable pet, right? Sure it does.
Here's the problem: Marmosets are extremely high maintenance "pets," as detailed in this article on
More importantly, many species of marmosets are endangered now because of the illegal pet trade.
Ironically, because the above article uses Google ads (just as I do), there are several ads for just such monkeys as pets. I expect that there will be the same below this entry for the same reason. (I may just delete my Google ads add-on, anyway. I haven't made a penny off of them. I just think that sometimes they might be of interest to my readers.)
Please, no matter how many of the ads you see here or elsewhere, and no matter how many cute videos you see on YouTube of marmosets riding around on dog's backs or eating out of cereal bowls on kitchen tables, marmosets are not meant to be pets. It's not good for them individually and it's not good for them as a species. It's also way too much trouble to keep them unless you intend to cruelly cage them like a guinea pig. Marmosets are not guinea pigs. they are wild animals and belong, ideally, in the wild, or, at the very least, in a wildlife sanctuary or zoo where they're needs as a wild creature can be suitably met. There are plenty of adorable pets out there that need your attention and love. Animal shelters are full of them. Leave the wild animals in the wild.
Now, if you want to look at some more pictures of the cute baby featured above, you can do so at the Zooborns site.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wild Card: DeClaw or Not Declaw

Well, I'm not doing as good at staying off of the internet on Tuesdays as I had planned. In my defense, there's a break-up happening in my Facebook news feed as I type this - very hard to stay away. (General tip: if you and your significant other decide to call it quits someday, might I recommend a crowded restaurant where there are fewer witnesses?)
Anyway, Adelaide really wanted me to write about an important topic today, and she's supervising me right now. (Not kidding, she's sitting on the back of the couch right now with her front paws on my shoulder.) Here's an earlier picture of Adelaide for those of you who haven't seen her.
She heard David Tennant was trending and wanted to see for herself.
In order to better understand my feline roommate, I have been reading a really great book by Margaret H. Bonham called The Cat Owner's Problem Solver. I was particularly surprised by the section in the book on declawing. I have always known that declawing is a rather barbaric procedure. You see, it's not just the claws that are removed, it's the whole tip of the digit. Bonham compares it to having one's finger chopped off at the first knuckle. Ouch.
What I did not know is that this procedure can have adverse physical affects later in life. It is a surgical procedure, after all. More profoundly, the psychological effects on the cat can be significant. A cat's claws are a source of protection and security for her. Not having them any longer can make kitty feel very unsafe, which can result in behavioral problems far worse than scratching your love seat.
Besides, there are many alternatives to declawing. Cats can be trained to understand what is okay to scratch and what isn't, and Bonham's book details some great techniques for doing this. Failing that, there is a nail capping procedure that is far less physically scarring. (I don't know as much about the psychological scarring, though, so I would try training first.)
I know that there are a lot of apartment complexes that require cats to be de-clawed, and I think we need to pass some laws to make that requirement illegal. It's painful and cruel. Very, very, very cruel. (Adelaide insisted on more "verys.") By the way, declawing is a largely American (aka "give me the easiest solution") concept. Most other places in the world don't do it. Many have outlawed it.
Now, if the owner has an immunodeficiency or is on blood thinners, Bonham (who is definitely an opponent of declawing) feels that an exception could be made.
I don't. I truly believe that it would be better to let your cat live with someone else than to have this procedure performed on him. Adelaide concurs. Or she's hungry. I haven't figured out all of her "meows" yet.
Here are a couple more resources about de-clawing that you might find interesting:

Declawing Cats Q&A (from WebMD) has information about de-clawing, scratching behavior, and more.

And, of course, I highly recommend Bonham's book.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Motivator: Acres of Diamonds

Earl Nightingale (1921-1989) was known as the "Dean of Personal Development." His deep, baritone voice imparted wisdom via radio, record, and audio tape to millions of people looking to improve their situations and themselves.
This wisdom is timeless as you can tell by listening to the story below:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Superhero Sunday: Stars and Stripes

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the new live-action Captain America movie starring Chris Evans set for release in 2011, but I'm just not sure how I feel about it.
As cool as Captain America is in the comic book world (and he's pretty darn cool), there's just something about a guy who calls himself Captain America and fights bad guys with a shield that doesn't translate well to from the page to the screen - or at least it hasn't thus far.
The two Captain America movies of the seventies were made for television (and look it), and studio executives seemed unsure of just how to update the good Captain for action audiences of the time. Well, a motorcycle was introduced, and a motorcycle helmet became a completed part of the costume for beefy Reb Brown as the titular hero. I don't know, you be the judge:

Then in 1990, a more traditional take on Captain America hit theaters (just not any in America) with a decidedly low-budget movie from B-movie director Albert Pyun. This time, the shield was handed over to thespian Matt Salinger, previously known as . . . one of the jocks in Revenge of the Nerds.This one might have had a chance in the right hands and with a little money behind it, but it just doesn't quite cut it.
I actually happen to like Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty, and Darren McGavin, but if those are your headliners for a "blockbuster" superhero movie, you're in trouble.

I guess, we'll just have to see what the Marvel Studios come up with this time, but until then, there's always:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Save the World Saturday: Safe

It seems like everywhere you look in October these days, there is something pink: a ribbon, a shopping bag, a hat. October has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness, and I think that's a great thing.
I will, however, be devoting another Saturday this month to breast cancer awareness. You see, there are only twelve months in a year, and there are a lot more than 12 important causes, so most months double and triple (and quadruple) up.
October is also domestic violence awareness month. (This campaign is signified by the purple ribbons you may be seeing around.)

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

I also wanted to share this video of Patrick Stewart talking about his own personal experiences with domestic violence.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Film Buff: Blood Brothers

Yes, I was just looking for an
excuse to post a picture of
Barbi Benton.
Most of the sword and sorcery films of the eighties were little more than an excuse to put half-naked models and bodybuilders on film amid gory and hokey special effects. A perfect example of this is the first Deathstalker film in 1983 featuring former Playboy model and ex-girlfriend of Hugh Hefner, Barbi Benton.
However, there is one film that is often lauded among fanboys and former Dungeon & Dragon fanatics as a cut above the rest and, arguably, the film that kicked off the genre for the decade.
Hawk the Slayer is earnest (if a bit unintentionally campy) and makes pretty good use of the special effects available at the time, though we might dismiss them as somewhat cheesy today. 
John Terry and Jack Palance play brothers (with a 30 year age difference?) at odds over the control of the kingdom. Hawk (Terry) is the good brother with a magic sword, and Palance gnaws scenery as the evil and scarred Voltan.
The story plays out like a round of Dungeons & Dragons as Hawk assembles a fellowship of a dwarf, a giant, and an elf to free an abbess captured and ransomed by Voltan.
Lost fans may recognize Terry as Jack's father. Bond buffs will know he played one of the Felix Leiters (The Living Daylights), but, at the time, the lone star power of this film rested on the broad shoulders of Palance, and he delivers in his inimitable style. (Seriously. Do you know anybody who does a Jack Palance imitation?)
This film has achieved cult status for a lot of reasons, but it is most frequently referenced for its score by Harry Robertson, which mixes classical orchestrations with disco beats and a spaghetti western feel.
This movie is just for fun, and having seen it counts as a badge of honor in certain circles.
There are rumors of a sequel with British actor Tom Hardy (Inception, Star Trek: Nemesis) assuming the title role in Hawk the Hunter.