Archive for the ‘animal presence’ category

Progressive’s “Pets: Secret Keepers”

December 1, 2019


It’s hard to imagine Progressive’s insurance agents at home or about, when they are not doing insurance-agent things, and this “Secret Keepers” commercial provides that rare glimpse into their more mundane and vulnerable sides.  Who could imagine, for example, that the formidable Flo could get all weepy and emotional over watching someone miss a spare on televised bowling?  Her dog is nearby, seeing everything and revealing nothing…

Then there is the hapless Jamie, shown ironing wearing nothing but his Progressive apron, his Great Dane silent witness to it all.  Another  male associate is submerged for some reason in a bathtub filled with ice, his cat just down the hall.  There’s also the female associate doing the primal scream thing in a car while her dog watches silently; “I feel much better!,” confesses the woman after her eardrum-bursting yell.

Because pets see everything that we do and never say a thing, our “secret keepers” are covered for free in Progressive’s auto insurance policies, you see…and their silence can indeed be golden, for what they know and have seen could be quite embarrassing if not downright incriminating…

 

“Cats;” Two Paws Up…

July 21, 2019


  

“Cats,” the movie version based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical upcoming in December of 2019, promises to be one of those things that you will either love, or passionately hate.  Previously the studio had released little information about the film other than that it was coming out in December.  A trailer is now available of the film, and reactions run to polarizing extremes with either praise or excoriation .

“This is not a cat,” huffs one, “this is an abomination!”  Other descriptions have included the terms horrifying and terrifying.  Why, you may ask, do some people freak out so badly over the early images from Cats?  The answer might lie in the fact that they are not comfortable with the idea of anthropomorphic animals, which in this case involves a blend of live action and CGI animation.  The cats in Cats have human mouths, teeth, and lips blended in with their furry faces along with human hands, and this seems to creep some people out to no end.  Some of the cats wear clothing and others do not, with the female felines who do not showing breast swellings.  The cats also have tails that move and sway, which seems to have phallic connotations for some viewers.  Anthropomorphic representations of the animal characters also seemed to disturb viewers of the Sonic (the Hedgehog) movie.

Those things being said, the cats of Cats move with ballet-like feline grace and are quite engaging once disbelief and initial astonishment is suspended; they show distinct personalities and a variety of moods.  The cats are shrunk down to their appropriate proportional size in their environments, and are not human-sized even if bearing some human features.  The cast is stellar, and includes Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, and even Ian McKellan…yes, the actor who played Magneto is playing a cat!  When Jennifer Hudson opens up with her powerhouse voice to sing Memories, time seems to stand still.

I’m hardly objective about all of this, being a furry myself.  I could fit easily into this world, but I can understand the discomfort of those who cannot.  This is entertainment, after all…consider it as something different, not as an affront to reality; you may like it, and it might even grow on you.  Cats the movie is likely to be a big hit for the holidays, with viewers likely to love it, hate it, or simply shrug and say, “that was weird.” Such was the reaction to the original musical, which ultimately became wildly popular.  A tale based upon anthropomorphic cats who sit about introducing themselves until one of them dies is weird by nature, and likely to provoke fur-vor on both sides…

“Cats,” the Movie, Coming in 2019…

February 18, 2019



Dancing feline animorphs are coming to the big screen in 2019… you have now been duly warned!  The movie version of the musical will boast some diverse and major stars as cats, including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, and Ian McKellen…that’s right, Magneto is gonna play a cat, although appropriately enough a theatrical one.  What would be really cool would be if he’d play a cat with mutant powers.  Perhaps Catwoman from the DC universe could also make an appearance, and we’d really have a blockbuster!

But I digress…the British-American cooperative venture, several years in the planning, is set to come to theaters in later December 2019… 

“Strange Evidence” Predator Resurrection

February 10, 2019

The Strange Evidence series on the Science (SCI) channel is one of the better shows currently televised on unexplained phenomena and scientific speculation. If somewhat uneven and episodic, the shows have decent production values and offer commentary and opinions by scientists as well as observers of the topics under consideration.  It’s a mixture of the far out and things that just might be possible; I like it!

With each installment comprised of several segments, the S1/Ep10 offering included camera trap footage taken in Tasmania in 2016 of an animal unfamiliar to observers that may have been a Tasmanian tiger, a species thought to have been hunted to extinction in the 1930’s with the last specimen in captivity (above) having died in 1936. Actually a marsupial, the Tas tiger was wolf-like with stripes and a long, inflexible tail. Due to the low resolution of the film taken, experts consulted could not conclusively identify the animal present, and thought it might have been a quoll, which is a smaller carnivorous mammal common to Tasmania.

So is the Tasmanian tiger still out there?  I remain skeptical, but stranger things have happened…

The Masked Singer, Episode 3…

January 20, 2019


In the bizarre singing competition of The Masked Singer, the contestant known as The Deer looked like a stag wearing a gas mask with steampunk accessories such as metallic gauntlets and a long overcoat. Dance moves were hardly the Deer’s forte, with his movements stiff and minimal, possibly due to the headgear.  With his vocals equally forgettable, The Deer was voted off during Episode 3, and was unmasked to reveal football great Terry Bradshaw.  Perhaps his outfit could be used in a remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau…

Lion gave another good performance, and Monster I thought surpassed their previous effort.  Unicorn’s was adequate but not terribly memorable.  I thought that Peacock did well again, projecting a Las Vegas presence by beginning their performance on top of a 30-foot lift before descending to the stage.  It was kind of like watching Elvis with feathers…this bird can dazzle!

 

“The Masked Singer,” American Edition…

January 3, 2019

Aha, I just knew that we were going to be able to sneak some compelling furry images and characters onto mainstream television soon, and with The Masked Singer on Fox (- -how appropriate!), our time may have finally come in 2019!

 

Now for those of you not in the know, The Masked Singer is a new reality show (for the U.S., anyways) in which celebrity contestants perform and compete entirely clad in costume head-to-toe, concealing their identity. Most often those costumes are of animals, monsters, or other fantastic life forms with the contestant’s group of twelve including among others a unicorn, a deer, a hippo, a French poodle, a pineapple-man, a lion, and my personal fave, a rabbit! For the first night, six contestants competed on a paired basis, with the lesser voted contestant of each match-up relegated to the bottom three, and the weakest of that group unmasked and sent home. Victors in the matches included a Peacock winning over a Hippo, a Unicorn beating a “Monster,” and a Lion defeating a Deer. The Hippo, a real-life football athlete, ranked lowest and was sent home.

 

The show kind of blends American Idol with The Gong Show by way of a furry convention. Some of the costumes are elaborate and impressive, and dependent on their individual gifts and the bulk of their outfit some of the contestants incorporate a little choreography into their stage presentations. All of the contestants are supposedly well-known figures in music, comedy, or athletics, and the identity of each will ultimately be revealed as the weaning-out process continues. Popular in Asia and originating in South Korea, the American version of The Masked Singer is certainly different, even if it’s not for everyone…

Animals and Thanksgiving Parades…

November 22, 2018

Being a big fan of Halloween, I love images of early Thanksgiving parades because they had balloons and floats back then that were, well, creepy! Animals have had a long association with Thanksgiving Day parades since their inception, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade beginning in 1924 and including live animals, many of them actually borrowed from the Central Park Zoo for the occasion.

The early Thanksgiving Day parades often had a circus orientation, and hence the animal elements. Actual lions, tigers, and bears were trucked down city streets, traumatizing them and causing the elicitation of roars and growls that frightened observing children. Wisely, the use of living animals was abandoned after a few years, with animal balloons and floats substituted, together with some great vintage cartoonish stuff that was rather surreal. Felix the Cat was an early parade favorite.

In the 1930’s, Macy’s actually released their balloons at the end of the parade for a few years, with rewards of $25 offered for their return, a princely sum in depression-era America. Macy’s wasn’t the only Thanksgiving Day parade on the block, either, with Newark, New Jersey having memorable ones as well as other cities in diverse locations.

So while you enjoy that traditional Thanksgiving feast, remember those poor souls who marched, danced, and performed in frigid twenty-some degree weather this year in parts of America dressed among other things as fried eggs and sticks of butter. As I said, I like my holidays surreal, which makes them and family easier to take…