Archive for the ‘animals’ category

Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” is Coming!

June 21, 2018


I’ve always loved Tim Burton’s work for his dark, twisted, and even macabre take on things.  When Burton joins with Disney, we tend to get a less saccharine and darker vision of a great story with surreal, frequently animal elements, and so Tim Burton’s upcoming 2019 version of the Disney classic Dumbo promises to be a real treat.

We had last seen Dumbo as a two dimensional cartoon image in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and his upcoming outing will be as a far more realistic CGI elephant that is flawlessly integrated with a stellar live-action cast that includes such diverse talent as Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito.  And yes, the hauntingly sad lullaby Baby Mine from the 1940’s classic will be incorporated, so get those tissues ready for when mother elephant is chained up and separated from her baby…

The flying baby elephant with the endearingly enormous ears will be soaring across a big top circus tent in your neighborhood around March 2019.  He works for peanuts, after all…

 

 

Raccoon Climbs St. Paul Skyscraper!

June 13, 2018

 

Like some kind of furry ninja, a raccoon drew major attention for scaling an office building in St. Paul, Minnesota. Making it all look easy, she took a nap on a window ledge over 200 feet up, and later took a break to do some grooming…

…by this point the ‘coon was a social media sensation, but her career was cut short when she succumbed to the charms of traps set on the roof and baited with cat food. The daring lady Rocket Raccoon was safely released, none the worse for the wear…

(Please note: earlier press versions of this saga misreported the raccoon’s sex and the outcome due to available information at the time.)

 

Godzilla vs. Kong!

June 12, 2018


Deep inside me, there abides a ten-year-old fox-boy who never grew up.  For that reason, I can still get excited about a Godzilla vs. King Kong remake, even though it will have been 58 years since a movie bore that title.  Hopefully the special effects will have improved significantly in that time interval.  Just don’t get your popcorn out yet or try to buy movie passes; Godzilla vs. Kong isn’t slated to arrive until May of 2020…

For what is sure to be an epic addition to the MonsterVerse, the film director promises a dark film in which there will be a clear winner!  That’s right, no ambiguous ending for once.  Kong, last seen in Skull Island set in the 1970’s, will have weathered the intervening decades by becoming older, battle-scarred, and bigger. His size will accordingly be more of a match for the redoubtable Godzilla, my personal fave.  I’m sure that there will be an abundance of fires, explosions, and destruction of real estate…look, they’re lowering property values!  Perhaps the battling behemoths can level Trump Tower…

 

Reptilian Mammal Fossil Found!

June 3, 2018


Evolution is perhaps coolest when we can discover examples of its transitional phases, and this little guy whose cranium was discovered nearly intact in Utah fits that bill.  Small but mighty, he weighed in at under three pounds and stood only about three inches tall.  He could probably give you a nasty bite on your ankle…

Resembling fossils previously found only in Eurasia and North Africa, the 130-million year old remains indicate that the supercontinent Pangea held together for about 15 million years, considerably longer than previously suspected, allowing for the spread of early mammals such as these and for their exploration of ecological niches.  Cifelliodon wahkarmoosuch here was fur covered and suckled their young but laid eggs, similar to the modern-day platypus.  

Described as snout-bearing and catlike with buck teeth, the critter was discovered by accident amidst a cluster of larger dinosaur bones as they were being extracted, under the foot of one of them…ouch!  Just don’t dig up your basement looking for another one…

Vintage Sci-Fi Delights, or Nasty Things from Venus…

May 21, 2018


I recently revisited Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth, which I first saw as a kid and which hooked me on science fiction for life.  The 1957 black and white film featured Harryhausen’s stop-action creature features, and was filmed in Italy because that was where Harryhausen wanted to vacation.  He wanted the film to be in color, but they didn’t have the budget to do so at the time although a later colorized version was made. The name of the snake-tailed Ymir creature from Venus was not mentioned in the film because they were afraid people would confuse the name with “Emir.”

The film included many memorable scenes such as a fight to the death between the Ymir and an elephant, which traumatized the young me as the elephant lost.  Then there was the grand finale scene which featured a show-down with the creature in the Roman Coliseum; what could be better staging?!

Equally epic was Harryhausen’s stop-action filmed fight with the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.  That one creeped me out as a kid for some time…

 

 

The C, the C, the Open C on “The Terror”

May 14, 2018

 

Watching a late episode of The Terror series is somewhat like regarding a mummy; there are things here that are distinctly unpleasant to see, but not only can’t you not look away, but you keep on going back for more!  As someone who is also reading Dan Simmons’ novel as they watch the series, you might even say that I’m double-dipping, a true misery porn junkie.  This is depressing and disturbing stuff, but I can’t stop returning to it because it’s so well done!

As people with an understanding of what actually happened to the historical Franklin Expedition, we know what the characters do not know as the story unfolds, namely that they are all doomed and that this doesn’t end well for them, regardless of what they do.  When faced with extreme and desperate conditions, we are shown the polarities of how people can respond to dire circumstances in the now separate camps of Captain Crozier versus the mutinous and psychopathic rebel leader, Hickey.  Crozier has become elevated as the series has progressed, whereas Hickey has gravitated towards the bestial.  Whereas Crozier has remained a civilized man and become almost a spiritual leader, for Hickey cannibalism is now literally on the table.

We say goodbye to Commander Fitzjames in this episode, his condition deteriorating rapidly and an assisted suicide conducted by Crozier.  Captive in Hickey’s camp and witness to a murder, surgeon Goodsir (pictured) is forced to butcher the body for consumption lest Hickey kill another for failure to comply.  And Ice Master Blankey, already minus a lower leg from a previous confrontation with Tuunbaq, goes out solo in a suicidal mission against the creature to buy his compatriots some time.  Ingeniously, the guy wraps himself in forks so as to make the monster’s job less easy, and perhaps enact revenge from within should he be ingested…the guy’s going down, but you gotta love his spirit!

Betrayed by a double agent in his own camp, Crozier is captured by Hickey’s men, with the final outcome to this and other hanging issues to find resolution in episode 10, the last of the season.

 

Resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger!

May 4, 2018

   

The Tasmanian tiger or thylacine became extinct over 80 years ago when the last living specimen died at the Hobart Zoo in Washington D.C. in 1936.  But with the aide of gene editing and pickled thylacine pups, scientists may literally bring this awesome creature back to life again!

In December of 2017, scientists from the University of Melbourne sequenced the entire genome of this extinct Australian beast using thirteen thylacine joeys preserved in alcohol.  Such information could within the next decade be used to bring the unique marsupial back from the dead, with gene-editing used to bridge the gap between thylacines, which have no living relatives, and other existent species.  

Poor genetic diversity and overhunting by humans played roles in the demise of the Tasmanian tiger, which remain an iconic animal in the Australian imagination.  The government paid people to shoot Tasmanian thylacines in the 1800’s due to fears that they destroyed sheep.  Some maintain that the tassie tiger is not extinct, however, but just very good at hiding, with video footage of a bizarre hopping creature taken in North Queensland in 2015.  Wildlife experts, however, remain skeptical of the grainy, unclear, and inconclusive video…

…and wouldn’t “Pickled Thylacine Pups” be a great name for a band?!