Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Not Easy Earning the Green

It has been awhile since I have seen a really good movie at the theater.  Granted, I haven’t had the chance to see the latest releases like Sherlock Holmes 2 and Tom Cruise in Sunglasses11 but I fully expect them to be nothing more than moderately entertaining, largely uninspired time wasters.  This is understandable given that my movie going experience has been largely limited to kiddy fare (with the eye-clawing exception of Twilight Saga : Please Make This StopBefore I Hara-Kiri Myself Part 1).  This has regrettably brought me face to face with such delights as the toy-hawking Cars 2 but it also gave me a convenient excuse to see the Muppet Movie

Unfortunately most nostalgia-fueled kids’ movies have largely been excruciating money grabs.   Us children of the 80’s remember how much we think we enjoyed the Smurfs, Chipmunks, and Yogi the Bear as kids and then rush out to the movie theater so that our progeny can experience the joy our brain’s way back machine convinces us we had when we first saw them on Saturday morning.  Of course, within 10 minutes of the lights going down, we realize that the Hollywood machine has completely befouled our childhood memories and then quietly weep through the remaining 70 minutes of brain liquefying computer animation while our children mentally make out their Christmas lists with everything they see on screen.  Of course, if we think really hard about it, we might even admit to ourselves that the source materials for these movies wasn’t of high quality either (I did love the part in Smurf where Doogie Howser questioned the naming system of the Smurfs).  And that is a key division point between these ankle biter of equivalents of the G.I. Joe movie and the Muppet-based movie.  The Muppets are legitimately funny.

The Muppets have always walked that thin line between giving the kids what they need for a good giggle while engaging in enough puns, word-play, and general absurdist humor that the adults that were brought along for the ride could have a good time as well (The Phineas and Ferb of its time).  In fact, in recently rewatching the original Muppet Movie with the kids, it bordered on being too adult-paced and teetered on the edge of losing them.  Me – I still found it as good as I remembered.   And thankfully those that made the new Muppets movie retained all of the cleverness that was contained in those classic Friday night episodes that I fell in love with as a kid.  They didn’t decide to computer generate them in 3D or put them in a world that they didn’t understand so you could do the standard fish out of water trope.  Instead it was same as it always was and should be.   That same world that found the existence of talking puppets to be normal and the presence of a flesh and bones and a felt-made brother pair to be unextraordinary.   The same fourth-wall acknowledging dialogue (quick aside – after explaining what the term fourth wall means to my eldest, she greatly enjoyed pointing out all of the instances in the Muppet movie of their fourth wall-breaking behavior.  Our youngest hearing this but not understanding, enjoys pointing out when things break the 2nd and 3rd wall).  Even the new characters introduced to the Muppet Universe in this movie were completely consistent with this tradition.  In fact, one of my favorite parts of movie was the character of “80’s Robot”.  Although he was responsible for one of the most generationally divisive joke of the movie.  The screeching sound of the dial-up modem that he used to connect to the internet produced a hardy chuckle out of the adults in the audience while the kids stared up in them in confusion asking what was so funny.

My greatest disappointment associated with the Muppet Movie is that it is going to finish well behind The Smurfs and the 3rd Chipmunk Movie in box office receipts.  This is a movie that deserved better.  We are likely going to get a second dose of unnecessarily created Smurfs (I am looking at you Gutsy – couldn’t you have just been Hefty or Handy) before we get to find out if Tex Richman remembers to let those showgirls out of his closet now that he has amnesia.  At least TinTin is dying a predictable death and won’t be back for more creepily realistic animated adventures.  If only we treated all of the Belgian cartoon immigrants with the same indifference.  Come on people, buy American. Buy more Muppets.  Maniacal Laugh.  Maniacal Laugh.

Solitaire Update 

See I was right.  I had a very good reason for not stopping at 200 hands played.  My win percentage continues to climb.  Still not ready to conclude anything from this quite yet but it might actually be suggesting that just the act of playing solitaire again and again has actually improved my ability to play this game of skill (A solitaire player who blames bad luck for their losing ways is just a solitaire player that doesn’t truly understand the game).   I am beginning to see the dead-end moves that I would have previously made impetuously but now can avoid.  And as a result, each time I have tallied my results, my win percentage has gone up a percent.  For now, I am going to keep chugging along and see if my Solitaire learning curve finally plateaus.  But, until then, I will continue my climb to solitaire immortality.

Day 21 – 1 of 4 (203)
Day 22 – 2 of 12 (203)
Day 23 – 1 of 12 (200.5, 3.5, 47.07)
Day 24 – 1 of 4 (200.5, 3.64, 48.6)
Day 25 – 2 of 10 (199.5, 3.56, 48.29)
Day 26 – 2 of 11 (198.5, 3.76, 50.26)
Day 27 – 2 of 9 (199.5)
Day 28 – 0 of 7 (200.5, 3.77, 49.4)
Day 29 – 2 of 5 (200.5, 3.71, 49.33)
Day 30 – 1 of 8 (199, 3.75, 49.27)
Day 31 – 1 of 3 (200.5, 3.75, 50.1)
Day 32 – 1 of 4 (200, 3.75, 49.49)
Day 33 – 1 of 12
Day 34 – 6 of 26
Total - 53 of 318 (16.7%)

This blog post is sponsored by Richman Oil.

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