Showing posts with label pets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pets. Show all posts

Monday, May 9, 2022

Dog Watch: Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021)



Watched:  05/06/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Walt Becker

I dunno.  This is for very small kids, but it also felt like it wasted a lot of goodwill and a lot of potential.  Clifford is a character I don't think about much as I am 47 and I have no children.  But I think if all you can think to do is make a boilerplate kiddie movie that seems lifted from every kiddie movie since Uncle Wat turned his attention to live-action, I dunno.  He's a big fucking dog.  Workshop that shit.  

The movie is chock full of cameos and small roles for known talent and looks like they spent some money on it.  It's a beloved and well known character, and...  it kinda feels like they didn't really know what to do once they got the rights.  

It also takes place in the city, which...  look, maybe the first book is urban, but Clifford is a suburban character.  NYC is a lot of things, but it is not a place where a giant dog is going to fit terribly well long term (he wrote as his own giant dog put his massive noggin on his hand and keyboard).  Like - look, the 'burbs are more dull and less diverse than Harlem - but this is also a fictional movie, and/ or could have been in a small town?  I don't get the setting.  It's okay to country-fi that story.

Maybe the thing that was weirdest about the movie is that it desperately wants to be about *something*, and the thing Clifford had going for him in his origin story is the power of love (to turn a small sickly puppy into a giant dog).  But the movie decides to be about accepting something/ someone who is different.  But then it's about very White people in gentrifying Harlem who seem boringly ordinary, even the wacky uncle who needs to grow up borrowed from every movie, ever.  

I'm all about messages of "hey, don't fear something because it's different or you don't understand it", but the speech at the end is wildly nonsensical and unearned.  Being "new to school" is not weird or different, it's...  an uncomfortable period of adjustment (I moved 3 times during my school years.  You adjust.).  Our Emily Elizabeth is a pretty standard kid.  She doesn't have a third eye or something.  She's "poor", but NYC giant apartment poor.  Normal in her world is having a 27 million dollar loft.

Honestly - who wrote this thing?

Anyway.  I thought the cast looked like they were having fun, Clifford was cute and the last act was at least kind of fun/ funny.  I wouldn't not show this to a small child.  But I also am disappointed that this is the Clifford movie we got.  It's better than the Air Buddies movies by a country mile, but it's still... meh.  Gimme a trick or treating Clifford of GTFO.  

Paddington raised the bar for timeless children's characters into movies, studios.  Work harder.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

New League of Super-Pets trailer



Still pretty happy with everything I've seen so far in the trailers and ads for this.  

Hey, we're getting a full DC Super-Pets movie!  That's excellent!


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Night of the Lepus (1972)




Watched:  04/08/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  William F. Claxton

You'd think a movie about giant, mutant rabbits with a taste for human flesh would be more exciting.  But, alas, that is not the case with Night of the Lepus (1972), which seems like such a missed opportunity.  And I welcome some enterprising soul to remake and improve the idea.  NOW IS THE TIME.

The movie features Rory Calhoun, Dr. McCoy and Janet Leigh, among others.  Janet Leigh is kind of weirdly wasted in the film, but wears an interesting array of stripes.  And it also features a lot of bunnies shot in slow-mo on scale sets, and it is goddamn adorable.

The main character and his family are entirely responsible for the science and bad decisions that create the mayhem of the movie, and should be in jail.  Even the little girl.  It's a hell of a script.  

Anyway, my middle school floor hockey team was named The Slaughter Bunnies, and I really wish I could say we based it on this movie, but we did not.


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Post-Christmas Check-In and Andre




Hi all!  

I hope your Christmas went well.  

We had a good few days of festivities.  Thursday was Santa With Muscles Day, which... really, should never be repeated.  

After much COVID testing, we were able to host Christmas Eve for my parents and cousin, Jamie's Dad and brother (The Dug) and his wife, K.  Unfortunately we were in a gray area with my brother's family until Christmas Day, so we missed them on Christmas Eve.  

Cocktails, too much food, some jolly music and cheer was had by all.  It's also my cousin's birthday, so it's always a one-two punch of festivities on Christmas Eve.  As always, after parents left, we checked in with The Pope, watched some Hallmark, watched some Christmas specials, etc... it was lovely.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas Cat Watch: The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014)



Watched:  12/20/2021
Format:  Hallmark Channel
Viewing:  First?
Decade:  2014
Director:  Mark Jean


The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014) is the movie that precedes The Nine Kittens of Christmas, which we just watched.    Some of the cast from the follow up is in this movie, like Gregory Harrison.  But it's a different and oddly cheaper film than the sequel.  

But it does have stars Brandon Routh and Kimberley Sustad.  I can kinda see why people liked them enough that this got a sequel.  The acting isn't robotic, and you can see its not just people smiling at each other like morons.

It's basically a movie about two adults as shy and dumb about romance as two middle schoolers, who are eye-@#$%ing each other for 3/4ths of the movie but, do not do anything about it until the final, Christmassy pronouncement of love.  

Because TV, and especially these movies, works a certain way - there's a scene when it's just the two of them, alone in a house in which they both live, and they kiss, and then apparently time and space no longer matter, because they're then telling their confidants about the kiss in two different locations.  And I'm like... so... what happened for the 12 hours or so inbetween here?  You said nothing to each other?  I would think you would say something to each other.  Like - I get that that felt good in the edit bay, but it literally makes no sense at that point.

ANYWAY, these movies are not about making sense.  They're about dumb misunderstandings.  And Christmas-time romance.  And picking out a tree.  And talking about Christmas when I was a kid.  And hitting all the beats.  Plus, cats.

The movie doesn't really set up Routh's character quite the way I imagined they would based upon the sequel, which states that he has a hard time with change.  I mean, maybe?  But not a pathological fear of change as presented.  He's adjusting to the idea of taking a girl seriously rather than having fun, but he does do it on his own.  

Anyhoo...  there's a couple of cute cats.  And I realize now several things in the sequel were call-backs to this movie, which means the people who made the sequel were assuming we were very, very familiar with this movie (I don't think I'd watched it all the way through before).  

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Christmas Watch Party Finale! "Adventures of Bailey: Christmas Hero" (2012)




Watched:  12/17/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Steve Franke


I have to ask Producer/ Director/ Writer/ Actor Steve Franke - what is this, Steve Franke?  Because our Amazon Watch Party is pretty convinced that this movie is somehow a tax write-off scam.  

Look, I am second to none in adoring large, silly dogs.  And this movie has two white golden retrievers as stars of the movie, and they are pretty great.  It also has other dogs, a pack of alpacas or llamas (I don't know the difference), and in two insert shots, a fucking bear. 

I guess this is a Christmas movie, but it's also a quest movie if your quest is two fluffy dogs just running hither and yon around fields in Texas.  Also, a separate quest for the scared kid looking for his dogs.  CHRISTMAS.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Hallmark Christmas Watch: The Nine Kittens of Christmas (2021)




Watched:  12/15/2021
Format:  DVR of Hallmark
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  D. Winning

So, a few years back I noted that occasional Superman and Ray Palmer actor Brandon Routh had signed up for a Hallmark movie.  It makes sense.  He films in Canada all the time, anyway.  Might as well get a little scratch between seasons of TV and whatever else he's up to.  

What I remembered about the movie was (late edit: I had not seen all of this movie):  Routh was a fireman, he was doing home maintenance, a cat was involved, and the love interest could also act (Hallmark has to balance how terrible their leads are, and many of them are truly wooden robots).  But a lot of name folks pass through the Hallmark factory every year, so I enjoyed it for what it was and then chucked the movie from anything resembling RAM in my head.  

Well, lo and behold, someone scraped enough pennies together and got the cast back together from the cat-related movie and came up with a concept for a sequel.  If one or two cats worked - why not 9?

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Goodbye to Scout

 


Today, very, very suddenly, we lost Scout, our dog of about 11 years.

I am definitely still processing what happened, and I expect the waves of ugly crying will keep hitting me, but in some ways, right now, anyway, I'm taking enormous comfort in that she suffered so little.

Just last night, she was doing exactly her usual routine.  She hung around while we were working in the kitchen and whenever we looked her way, she came in for a hug and then was looking for treats.  The night before she was playing with me in the yard while I grilled dinner, doing her favorite thing - which is picking up a leaf and throwing it in the air so we would cheer for her.  

This morning, she suddenly seemed not to be doing well after 9:45 or 10:00, and Jamie asked me to come down from my office and see.  I've learned not to rush dogs to the vet for every cough or twitch, but after watching her for a bit, I joined Jamie in her concern - but believed the issue was pain related to her legs or hips.  We had dropped her off at the vet by 10:50, and couldn't go in due to COVID restrictions.  Shortly, they told us that Scout had several tumors on her spleen, and one had burst - leading to the pain and discomfort.  At about 1:40, we spoke with the vet.  She would require major surgery, which might not go well.  And she was suffering kidney failure.  

We've done the "heroic efforts" route before, but I now believe the best thing - and hardest thing to do emotionally - is to not let your pet spend their final days, weeks, months or years in bewilderment and discomfort.  Had a few details been different today, we would have approved the surgery, we would be worrying about Scout recuperating at home.  But the cascade of what was coming meant a life in which I knew Scout would need surgeries and other treatments, and we'd likely lose her at any point over the next months, during which she would be unhappy. 

I knew she'd gone for a long walk yesterday, seen friends (socially distanced) over the weekend that she hadn't seen in a year, had seen our families in recent weeks... and we'd had so many adventures this year (I slept downstairs with her during the freeze), we wanted her final days to be her good days.  Her last mealtimes included grilled chicken, hamburger, and whatever else were eating.  She was living a good dog life.  It was the life we wanted for her every day, not just when she was ill or we were worried about her.

It's hard to explain - because all dogs are motivated by love and food, but Scout's entire personality was built around love.  She just wanted to be nearby, and available for hugs and not to cause a fuss.  She hardly ever barked, and mostly regarded people with cautious curiosity, and eventually deciding "okay, we're friends".  She flatly did not understand negative reinforcement - and I kicked myself every time I would get snippy at her for doing something that she shouldn't, because now there were bruised feelings and much apologizing that had to occur before she felt safe and secure again.  

The thing she absolutely understood and gave was love and kindness.

Scout and me among the firewheels


Maybe ten or more times a day as I puttered around the house, she'd slide up to me and walk between my legs so I'd lean down and give her pets for a while.  Sure, we went on lots and lots of walks, and she knew the neighborhood well, and would tell you which path she wanted to go on.  

But she never figured out "fetch".  In fact, some wire got crossed when Jamie tried to teach her how to play with Lucy, who was a retriever and never needed a lesson.  Scout wasn't interested in chasing a ball so much as picking one up and tossing it around, or pointing out "yes, here is the ball, I have found it".   Eventually, one of us saying "ball" became the only time she would bark.  Happily and enthusiastically, because we cheered her for it.  And she forgot the word was ever tied to her toy.*

We adopted Scout in the year after we lost Melbotis.  Lucy needed a pal, I generally believe in a two-dog house, and so we went to the ASPCA and walked around for maybe ten minutes when I saw her sitting at the end of her kennel.  I squatted down, and she popped up and came over to say hi.  Cautious optimism in all things with this dog.  In a room full of dogs banging off their cage doors, she was extremely gentle and sweet, and I figured: this dog will be good for Jamie. 

But, really, she was good for me.  Mel was brilliant by dog standards, and Lucy was full of personality and demanded attention.  Scout just needed love.  And treats.  And to play.  She learned our routines and insisted upon them - up to and including 10:00 PM walks in the summer, once the sun was down.  Which kept me moving.  But it's hard to say all the ways in which living with something that doesn't understand anger or raised voices makes you better, yourself. 

When we lost Lucy about three years ago, we figured Scout would be lost without her.  Lucy was the big sister and Scout followed her around.  But we quickly found out Scout was okay - she just turned up the attention she'd always given us, and seemed pleased not to have to compete, kind of coming into her own.  And, not knowing how long we had with her, that was okay.

I'll miss her gentle, polite spirit and earnest expressions.  I'm going to miss her delight at seeing me, and running right into my shins whenever I opened the door as she sought pets.  And how happy she would be when she'd slide between the coffee table and the love seat to get pets from Jamie while I rubbed her ears and face from the sofa.  I'll miss her prancing in the yard when we'd go out to spend time with her, or playing tag with her.  And, of course, the long neighborhood walks when she'd insist on one direction or another.  And in the last year when her hearing started to go, burying my face in the fur at her shoulders and telling her she's a good dog, making sure she could hear.  

It's not easy.  It never is.  I can't tell you how much I'll miss her.  

*our first dog, Melbotis, however, thought "toy" meant anything he particularly liked, including Jamie, as it turned out when one day I said "go get a toy" and he wandered over to Jamie.








Friday, January 3, 2020

Friday, July 12, 2019

Stewart the Corgi Merges with The Infinite


2019 was the year I finally started watching Brooklyn 99, and like everyone else who watched the show, I became a big fan of Cheddar, the pet Corgi of Captain Raymond Holt and the lynchpin of more than one episode.

Sadly, a pup doesn't live forever, and Cheddar performer, Stewart, has merged with the Infinite.

Pouring one out for you, buddy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Happy National Pet Day from The Signal Watch


Happy National Pet Day from The Signal Watch.  This is your blogger with his two dogs, Scout (left) and Lucy (right). 

Despite the fact they wanted to go out at 3:30 in the morning again last night, I love these two dogs dearly.  They're older now, and it's both a heart breaking and lovely time in their lives - they are as sweet-natured as they've ever been, but you also see the sun is setting.  They can't talk about it, and they want to still be the same dogs they've always been, and they just get up every day and keep trying.  You just need to have more patience, help them when you can and love them as much as they love you.

I wouldn't trade these two knuckleheads for all the tea in China. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Oh my GOD Watch: Roar (1981)



Let's not screw around.

Why I wanted to watch this movie:  it really, honestly features dozens of live big cats with minimal training, just sort of being big cats.  And by big cats, I mean lions, tigers, panthers, jaguars, pumas...  all in one film, all intermingled with actors trying to perform scenes both engaging with the animals and around the animals.  The animals even get a screen-writing credit because, hey, animals gonna do what animals are gonna do - and that clearly drove the story.

It's not a freakshow, but it is absolutely nerve wracking to watch as every bit of your well-honed DNA of thousands of generations of ancestors starts screaming out at you that this is a very, very bad scene, even as the movie is insisting "we should learn to love the big cats and live in harmony with them."

Thanks to, I think, a Hollywood lifestyle bit I was watching about Tippi Hedren back around 2001, I'd been aware of the movie, but good luck finding it back then.  Or much information about it.  Just the casual mention of "oh, she has a lion sanctuary and this one time she made a feature film with dozens of wild big cats called 'Roar', so, anyway, she's Melanie Griffith's mom..."

It also features Speed director Jan de Bont as a cinematographer, and, apparently he was one of the 70 people injured working on the movie.  And, in fact, de Bont was gravely injured when a lion took his scalp clean off his head.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Happy #NationalPetsDay with Krypto and the Super Pets!



Here at The Signal Watch, we have a Super Affinity for pets.  We've got our own two little geniuses at home making our lives more colorful every day.



Back in the Silver Age, National Comics introduced a dog named Krypto to the Superman mythos.  Supposedly sent in advance of a baby Kal-El in a test rocket, Krypto arrived on Earth around when Superboy was making a name for himself in Smallville.  The comics made their usual bends in logic and soon Krypto was appearing in both Superboy and the adventures of grown-up Superman.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

We say Good-Bye to Sam the Cat

Jamie and I are very sad to say good-bye to Sam the Cat.  Today poor little Sammy merged with The Infinite after about 15 years of being about as good-natured and sweet a cat as you were ever going to find.


Sam is not our cat.  He belonged to Jamie's Dad.  But, as Jamie's dad travels quite a bit, Sam became our "rent-a-cat".  After Jeff the Cat passed, we went from cat-sitting by shoving him in the guest room to letting him roam free.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dog Watch: Lassie Come Home (1943)


I had no burning desire to watch Lassie Come Home (1943) to see the gripping tale of a dog coming home.  But I was aware of the ascendency of Lassie in Hollywood via this movie, a career that would span into the 1990's before kind of fading, so far as I know.  I was also curious about the movie as it stars a young and precocious Elizabeth Taylor (that's Liz there on the right) and Roddy McDowell as a kid (our man there on the left).

The movie also features Edmund Gwenn of both Miracle on 34th Street and Them! fame and, Signal Watch favorite Elsa Lanchester of Bride of Frankenstein as Roddy McDowell's mother.

I don't know that I grew up with Lassie, but I watched reruns of an American show from the 1950's on Nickelodeon, and everyone knew Collies were "Lassie Dogs" back in the 80's.  In the 1990's I made my pre-Jamie girlfriend go see an American movie called Lassie that starred Helen Slater.

In my ever-expanding fascination with how much more frank kids' movies used to be back in the day versus now, this sweet movie about a dog and boy who love each other very much and are separated thanks to the economic forces of Depression-era Britain would probably, mostly, make it for kids today if you didn't have some coarse behavior and hobos beating up Edmund Gwenn and killing his own little dog (spoilers).

The movie was shot in color, and it's a beautiful look at the countryside of California doubling as England and Scotland.

It occurs to me that during this same window where Lassie was making a name for her/himself at the movies, Rin Tin Tin was literally being used as a training dog for GI's as part of the war effort.  Meanwhile, Lassie was providing a bit of escapism for the kids back home and in England, I suppose.  And, of course, the movie released during war time mentions that the author served with Britain in World War I and was just killed in WWII.  That's a hell of a thing, but I guess it was no secret America was at war.

I don't think kids of today could tolerate the measured pace of the movie, but you never know.  The story is largely episodic as Lassie meets folks along the way returning home, so it moves at a decent clip.  You could have worse introductions to the character.

In the 1990's I was working at a mall record store and whichever dog was the official Lassie at the time came through for a photo-op sort of thing, and I've always regretted not paying the $20 and getting my picture with that dog.  But, you know, it was a Lassie photo or eating, so I guess I made the right decision.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Signal Watch Reads: Rin Tin Tin - The Life and the Legend, Susan Orlean (2011 - audiobook)

I am not entirely certain why I decided to read this book.  I've not read any prior Orlean, and I had literally never seen anything with Rin Tin Tin in it other than a few scant moments of the circa 1990 series, Rin Tin Tin: K9 Cop.  It is true that I like a happy looking dog, and I was marginally aware of a strange history of the pooch.  But after reading the Larry Tye Superman book, a topic I knew entirely too much about to ever wonder where it was going, and partially because, lately,  I've been thinking a lot about the lifespan of a media-driven concept - as the 20th Century and the first media giants fade in the collective memory, Rin Tin Tin seemed to be a good place to pick up that thread again as any.

Certainly I was curious as to what became of the media empire that I knew once existed and, today, there's not a kid out there who knows what the words "Rin Tin Tin" mean.

And, hey, it's about dogs.  I'm a fan.



Susan Orlean is perhaps most famous for the book she wrote, The Orchid Thief, which was turned into a Meryl Streep movie which I confess that I have never seen (Adaptation).  In Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, Orlean traces more than a century of history, from the ramshackle, lonely and unpredictable childhood of Lee Duncan, the man who would find a litter of German Shepard puppies in a kennel within an evacuated German base in WWI France, straight through to the modern era of DVD's and memorabilia collection.  And, of course, the tangled existence of a very real dog who became a screen legend, only to become a fictional character with his passing, and becoming the sort of property that people wind up suing one another over until the value of the property has fallen through the bottom.

Orlean weaves her own story into the book, not one that's particularly remarkable as these things go, but it gives the reader context when it comes to her research, what sparked her interest, how the misty memories of both the dog on the television in the 1950's series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin and her relationship with an knowable grandfather echoed back to her as she tried to bring the past into the present, with things both on the screen and real.  And, it's an honest approach as Orlean necessarily frames her experience hunting down the folks who are still alive from Lee Duncan's family, those associated with the show and a Texas woman who has been breeding heirs of Rin Tin Tin in Texas, and who was smart enough to run out and trademark Rin Tin Tin when Hollywood had not.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dog Watch: Finding Rin-Tin-Tin (2007)

Because I like watching dogs on TV (ask Jamie), under other circumstances, I might have tuned in to this movie for about five minutes, realized it was terrible and getting worse with each passing moment, and moved on.  But I'm currently reading the Susan Orlean book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (2011), and so I was curious, I guess.  Rin-Tin-Tin is a character who was already on the shelf by the time I was a kid, with occasional blips of relevance (I remember Rin Tin Tin: K9 Cop on The Family Channel circa 1990 as it ran at the same during the same era as The Family Channel's Zorro reboot, which I did watch), and I plan to talk a whole lot more about Rinty when I discuss the book.



But I'm around 1967 or so in the book, so I have a ways to go before we get to this 2007 movie.  

Let's just say...  there's a point at which when you're trying to get your independent kids' movie made where you've agreed to film it in Bulgaria with a cast of unrecognizable actors on a shoestring budget, that maybe it's time, as a producer, to take a hard look at your film and say "why isn't anyone wanting to put money into this?  Maybe... just maybe...  it's time to take a step back and rethink everything."  That clearly didn't happen here, and while I hate to say it's worse than the Air Buddies franchise - because nothing is worse than the Air Buddies franchise -  at least I understand that those movies are aimed at very young children and are more or less using puppies as digital puppets.  They aren't a weird munging of real history, fake history, the horrors or WWI played down for laughs and fart jokes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Spider-Sam, doing the things a Spider-Sam zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

face down in the Spidey blanket

This is Sam.  He is Jamie's dad's cat, and he's staying with us for a few days.

Sam got a little sleepy today.

And, yes, I sleep under a Spider-Man blanket when it is cold out.

And the Spider-Man song is The Dug's joke, not mine.