June 30, 2011

Pinocchio and the Grasshopper

Pinocchio scarred the hell out of me as a child, just as Walt probably desired. Much of children's entertainment attempts to teach or reinforce morality, with various degrees of subtlety. This movie eschews any sense of subtlety by being a straight ahead morality tale complete with a third act trial of redemption. That's not to say the film suffers for it, the direct approach is quite effective in Pinocchio. Pinocchio's choices end up feeling that much more precious and crucial when thrown up against such monolithic forces of temptation. My only story complaint lies with Jiminy Cricket. Jiminy Cricket proves to be a good narrator, but his tendency to continue talking after having making his warning clear can be a bit annoying. They should have trusted the animation to tell more of the story.

This movie also benefits from incredibly fluid and active character animation that boarders on the uncanny. It's unfortunate that The Blue Fairy was so obviously rotoscoped, the rest of the human character animation still looks great. The effects animation was a great leap forward and still holds up great. The background art doesn't look as lush or detailed as Snow White's, though that could be because comparing a 19 year old VHS to Blu-ray is folly. (Seeing a preview for Aladdin that starts off by bragging about last year's Beauty and the Beast was incredibly fun.)

  • 1 part Creme de cacao
  • 1 part Creme de menthe
  • 1 part Cream
This was the experience I had hoped for when initially adding cocktails to the Disney Challenge. Mint isn't a flavor that I seek out, so this was more of a challenge than the sweet Appletini. Unfortunately, the challenge didn't prove to be complex as the mint completely dominated my palate. Not that this is an entirely bad thing, I can definitely understand the appeal as a digestif. The trickiest part of mixing the Grasshopper was finding true, came out of a cow, dairy cream. It took half a dozen stores and a couple of explanations that 35% fat whipping cream was too heavy, but it paid off by giving the grasshopper an interesting and unique texture.

    Fantasia and the Martini are up tonight. I'm off work tomorrow, so I hope to have the martini review up sometime before I skip town tomorrow night.
    (I apologize for how long it has taken to get this out. Working 8 to 5 drains me of motivation to sit down to write anything longer than a tweet. I need to get better about that.)

    June 13, 2011

    The Day I Started to Believe

    (Sorry about the dripping nostalgia, I'm in need of that high again)

    San Diego Comic Con International has been built up by the nerd media into some sort of life changing religious event. While it didn't cause me to speak in tongues, I did see the faces of Dennis O'Neil, Gail Simone, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, and Glen Keane. It was an indescribable amount of fun to meet so many people behind some of my favorite things, but the biggest impact that it had was to make me rethink Tangled.

    Before Comic Con I was quite hostile towards Tangled. I wasn't planning to see it in theaters. The only reason I went to its panel was because Glen Keane was listed as a guest and they were sneaky by naming it, "Walt Disney Animation Studios: Character Creation!" They sold me on the film by spending, as you may guess from the panel's title, the whole hour talking about characters. Not just from a design perspective, but also how they think, motivations, and how they interact. Glen Keane spent the first 15 minutes or so talking about how every detail from the magic hair to how Rapunzel doesn't wear shoes all serves to show her irrepressible spirit and desire to seek the new. At the time this seemed like the most amazing thing ever. Wasn't this supposed to be a generally sarcastic movie? How did such a sincere character fit in? The Flynn, Pascal, and Max bits were a little worrying, but it didn't matter at that point because Rapunzel had hooked me. Now look where we are 11 months later. Thanks Comic Con.
    It ended up being my second favorite piece of swag.
    (Shout out to the petite brunet who was in line with me. I hope you went ahead with that Belle cosplay that you talked about.)

    June 8, 2011

    It's Got Concepts and Shit

    Everything about my Tangled fanfiction project is built around my initial interpretation of Eugene; that he is full of regret for his life prior to the campfire scene. I understand why it's not a popular interpretation of the character, I don't have any evidence save for his half of the campfire scene. (54:36 for those of you playing along at home.) Specifically, the way he is down when talking about, "poor orphan Eugene Fitzherbert,"  up for Flynnigan Rider, and back down again for, "I don't know, it just seemed like the better option." Why would he use that phrasing and say it in a regretful tone if it was as simple as easy robbery, swashbuckling, freedom, and unlimited sex? It's unlikely that he chooses this moment to begin having moral issues with his life. I think that the thieving was incredibly difficult, the swashbuckling was very dangerous, freedom meant always being alone, and the sex was beyond bad and right into unpleasant. In effect, his life was no better than Rapunzel's.

    To my knowledge, no one else is writing this. So it's a unique idea. The problem is that I have to make freedom and sex sound terrible without it becoming absurd. Wish me luck.

    The following is a list of ideas and general notes. (< > denote notes added for general consumption on Paul Presents:):
    • There is a frame story told in present third person subjective from Rapunzel's perspective. Eugene is reading The Tales of Flynnigan Rider to her. <This provides a logical reason for Eugene to talk about his past and is a halfway decent excuse for me to write Rapunzel.>
    • Three or four years have passed. Their marriage status is ambiguous. Rapunzel is no longer naive, but still completely sincere and highly inquisitive. She's adjusted well enough. Her classes have concluded, but she still regularly visits tutors of her choosing. (Carefully avoid  territory covered by Ned, Fabulist, et al. They did it better than you could ever dream of.) <These details won't really be seen in the story, but they're things I need to know before I can have her say or do anything.>
    • Nothing is expected of Eugene by the royalty or kingdom except that he stay out of trouble and one day impregnate Rapunzel. This is very grating to him, so he sets out on his own business ventures. He has a big hit and is made independently with Flynnigan Rider's Brewery and Roasted Meats. His relationships with the King and Queen are excellent. He doesn't know anything about his biological parents and doesn't care to. A few imposters have tried to claim him as their son. He's now 25~26.(In this story, he never would have made it to 26 in Flynn mode.) <Again, these are only details for the frame and probably won't appear in story.>
    • The actual story is Eugene speaking in first person past tense. (Rapunzel doesn't interrupt.) <Mostly because I haven't read a Tangled fanfic written in first person. It's an easy way to do something a little different.>
    • The first story details life in the weeks following his running away from the orphanage. He is about 15.
    Please feel free to make suggestions or tell me why an idea is terrible or wrong. I'd much rather be forced to ask why, defend something, or revise now than later.

      May 17, 2011

      Banknote Holiday

      The following is a comment that I wrote on Ned's blog in part because I'm a smartass who thinks that trying to put Tangled into a larger historical context, or even give it an era, is ridiculous*, but also because it was a bit of fun.
      It is most odd that it would be set in the 1780s with no guns in sight. However, this does open the possibility for an exciting sequel, "Tangled 2: The Coronian Revolution!" The year is 1793, Rapunzel's father has just died and she has been elevated to Queen. The fervor of the French Revolution has spilled over into the borders of Corona and it's left to the new Queen Rapunzel to try and calm the rabble. An attempt on the life of the Price Consort Eugene pushes her past her limit and she tries to purge the leaders of the revolution. Maximus is tasked with leading the secret police who disappear revolutionaries in the dark of the night. Eventually the citizenry has had enough and the film ends when the despot Rapunzel and her sponge of a husband are beheaded by guillotine in the same town square where they first danced. The credits role over their corpses being paraded around the kingdom as onlookers jeer at the ousted royalty.
      Today, Ned posted chapter five of his excellent new (smutty, not at all safe for work) story Trust Me. When reading it something very specific caught my eye.
      ...drops an overly large burlap sack onto the table, making a noise that's somehow both a clunk and a flutter.
      That's the noise money makes.
      The brainless mountain of muscle growls before stomping back to his post, and Flynn lets him get a fair distance away before reaching for the bag.
      "Hey! Slowly!" the middle man snaps, eyeing the thief's fingers as though expecting him to do some sort of sleight of hand and make the whole stash disappear. Flynn holds up his hands in a show of indulgent passivity. He then makes a show of pushing his sleeves further up his arms so he can't slip anything inside. Using your sleeves to hide things is amateur hour anyway. He then pulls the bag towards himself with clear, exaggerated movements.
      It's so tightly packed with bank notes that he has to tug a bit to pull out one of the many bundles. He does some hasty math to be sure the amount's about right as he flips through the stack quickly with a thumb, making an annoying shuffling noise.
      I had assumed that Corona would be a trade and barter economy with bullion coins; maybe just so that Eugene would have to carry around a bag of heavy ass gold after dealing Rapunzel's crown. Having a central bank that issues representative money is so much more interesting because a sovereign would be able to easily order the Federal Reserve of Corona to cease exchanging banknotes for specie. This would allow the sovereign a great deal of control over the economy of Corona. Rapunzel is going to be the sovereign in a few years. Still follow? Excellent. Without further interruption, I present a newer, better, story of revolution in Corona:

      Rapunzel's Downfall (A fanfiction summary) 
      Four years ago, Corona's traditional major export, fish, was found to be making the island nation's trading partners sick. They all ceased buying Corona's stock immediately. The oversupply of worthless fish fueled a deflationary trend that grew into a deflationary spiral once fishers were no longer able to pay their crews sufficient wages and stopped investing into their fleets. The once beloved king has died leaving a thirty year old Rapunzel to run an ailing Corona. A popular movement has sprung up trying to convince Rapunzel to move the Coronan Crown off the gold standard to fiat currency that  can be inflated at will. Her goldbug husband and the cash rich court are against the move because their gold and land holdings have never been worth more. Rapunzel's indecisive actions are interpreted by the starving people on the street as being callous and biased towards her friends in the court. A botched kidnapping by a fringe group ends with Pascal dead. An enraged Rapunzel cuts all crown funding for essential charities. The suffering of the commoners deepens and the fringe groups calling for a new democratic government gains traction. Rapunzel is incapable of rejection on this scale and she dramatically throws herself off the royal balcony that was once where lanterns were launched from. Eugene goes berserker, but is trampled by the crowds rushing the castle hoping to find sustenance. Their corpses are dumped into the sea off of a dilapidated fishing boat.

      *Speaking strictly in the sense of the story. There's no reason that artists can't give it a very specific setting and time in architecture, style, etc...

      May 14, 2011

      Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - The Appletini

      (My sister is reviewing the movie. I'll link her review here when it has been posted.)

      The Appletini

      • 1.3 oz Sobieski(100% Rye) vodka
      • .5 oz Mother's Sour Apple Schnapps
      • .5 oz Cointreau
      • Apple slice for garnish (courtesy of my sister)
      The Appletini is a drink that really surprised me. The Cointreau did an excellent job of balancing out the overly sweet schnapps to make a drink that is more balanced than its reputation suggests. Unfortunately, the vodka was lost behind the noise. It's not something that I will insert into my regular rotation, but it's something that I can foresee drinking from time to time.

      Snow White was completely lost on me once I began to drink. All I could think about was Amy Adams in Enchanted. An attempt on her life is made using an Appletini made with a poison apple that follows the rules of Snow White's apple. Besides that, Enchanted is a better movie in almost every way and Amy Adams is as lovely as she is talented.

      Nathaniel: [with an absurd French accent, setting down a glass of apple martini by Giselle] For the nice lady. From a secret admirer. 
      Giselle: Oh! 
      Robert: A secret admirer? How come people keep giving you free stuff? 
      Giselle: What is it? 
      Nathaniel: It's an apple martini, miss. 
      Giselle: Oh, apple mar... ooh! It looks yummy. 
      Robert: Yeah, be careful, it's poisonous. 
      [Nathaniel growls at him] 
      Giselle: You're joking. 
      Robert: Yeah. 
      Robert: No, they'll creep up on you, though. I'd be really careful. 
      Giselle: Well, I'll just have one sip. 
      Nathaniel: A sip is all it takes. 

      May 4, 2011

      Disney Cocktail Challenge: The First 25

      Here's the new list with cocktails matched to movies. Thank you Abigail for the great suggestions.

      1Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Appletini- I've decided to pair "Princess movies" with "girly" cocktails. An Appletini is just too perfect for the girl poisoned by an apple.
      2Pinocchio: Grasshopper
      3Fantasia: Martini - I'm using the music and compilation films to explore the martini and some of its variations
      4Dumbo: Pink Elephant
      5Bambi: Bambi
      6Saludos Amigos: Margarita (On the rocks)
      7The Three Caballeros: Tequila Sunrise
      8Make Mine Music: Vodka Martini
      9Fun and Fancy Free: Dirty Vodka Martini
      10Melody Time: Gibson
      11The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: Shandy
      12Cinderella: Cosmopolitan
      13Alice in Wonderland: The Red Molly - Alice in Wonderland calls for some absinthe
      14Peter Pan: Shirley Temple - underage drinking is frowned upon in this establishment
      15Lady and the Tramp: Salty Dog - For Tramp
      16Sleeping Beauty: Mimosa - The classic brunch cocktail for the girl who needs to wake up
      17One Hundred and One Dalmatians: White Russian - It's white with spots(ice)
      18The Sword in the Stone
      19The Jungle Book: Gin and Tonic - introduced by the British East India Company's army in India
      20The Aristocats: French Martini
      21Robin Hood: Gimlet
      22The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Brooklynite - It contains"hunny"
      23The Rescuers: Dirty White Mother - In honor of Medusa
      24The Fox and the Hound: Whiskey Sour - It seems like a drink suitable for Copper's owner
      25The Black Cauldron:

      And so I am stuck. All help is appreciated.

      May 2, 2011

      The Joy of Drinking

      A friend once called the Old Fashioned that I was drinking "girlie."[pejorative] I am no longer on speaking terms with him because he is a misogynist fraternity asshole, but also because he obviously has no taste. The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail and part of my personal Alcoholic Great Awakening. (Or maybe Alcoholic Age of Enlightenment?)

      In the past few months, I've discovered a whole world of alcohol beyond the American lager. It's a world of hoppy beers, nuanced tastes, cocktails that require a little bit of work before you can drink them, and research into what was fermented to produce a specific vodka. It's a bit like food but with less mess in the kitchen and nothing gets burned by my incompetence. Well, nothing but brain cells.

      My sister and I have decided to attempt the Disney Challenge and watch all 50 Walt Disney Animation Studios features over the coarse of this summer while taking turns reviewing them on our blogs. I have upped the ante by deciding to include a cocktail review with the movies that I review. This means I will learn approximately 20 new cocktails while watching about 30 movies I've never watched before.