Jun 30, 2009

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Top 10 Best TV Dogs

Lassie

From: Lassie

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Not much to say about Lassie. She, more than any female in history, exemplifies the perfect companion. She loves her master unconditionally and is willing to cross any distance or brave any danger for him. She is smart for a girl, loyal, and most importantly: beautiful.

In TV and Film adaptations, Lassie has almost always been played by a male, and almost always by direct descendants of Pal, the original. Lassie is currently played by Rockie, great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of the original.

The Taco Bell Chihuahua
From: Taco Bell Commercials

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Contrary to popular belief, this brilliant ad campaign was not discontinued because the dog died. It just didn’t really make any money.

Ren Höek the Chihuahua
From: The Ren and Stimpy Show

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I think every kid who watched Ren and Stimpy knew it was something special. Ren was a psychotic little bastard who took great pleasure in plotting Stimpy’s murder on a regular basis. They don’t make them like this anymore, because they can’t. Too many mommies would complain, and I don’t blame them

Porkchop
From: Doug

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Porkchop is probably as smart as Ren, but lacks homicidal urges, as well as Ren’s ability to speak. He can play chess and tapdance. Porkchop is very brave, as demonstrated when he saves Beebe Bluff when she falls through some thin ice. Who could forget Porkchop’s sweet-ass bachelor pad, complete with satellite TV, and art collection, and even its own mailbox. Porkchop is probably the ballinest dog on this list:

Spunky
From: Rocco’s Modern Life

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Another pooch from the golden age of nicktoons. Rocko’s Modern Life really pushed the limits of how much innuendo could be written into a kids’ show; some of the episodes have been edited for reruns. We kids really appreciated being exposed to adult ideas, even if some of them were soring over our heads. More trusting parents who only caught glimpses of the show didn’t notice the frequent sexual overtones and themes (like the time Rocko got a job as a sex hotline operator, the time Ed Bighead thought Mrs. Bighead was cheating with Rocko, the fact that Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt frequent a restaurant called the Chokey Chicken, and on and on).

Back to Spunky. Unlike the hyper-intelligent Ren and Porkchop, Spunky’s mental capacity is well below the average dog. Spunky is known to drink the contents of his water bowl, then sit with a blank stare while it refills with drool. He then mistakes it for more water, and drinks it again.

Spike
From: Rugrats

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Last dog from a Nickelodeon show. We’ve had a couple geniuses, one dumb-ass, and now there’s Spike. He’s right on par for normal dog intelligence, sometimes doing silly things, but generally remaining affectionate and loyal to the Pickles family.

I never saw it, but in 2003 Rugrats Go Wild came out— it’s a crossover movie where the Rugrats gang meets The Wild Thornberrys on a tropical island. Since Eliza Thornberry can talk to animals, Spike needed a voice. Who could voice Spike but Bruce Willis?

I’ve queued up this trailer so you can hear Spike talk for the first time ever (he spoke in a British accent in one early episode, but it was only Chuckie’s weird dream).

Santa’s Little Helper the Greyhound
From: The Simpsons

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So many good memories.

Homer rescues Santa’s Little Helper after betting on him at the dog track with the last of the Christmas gift money. SLH finishes dead last. One time Bart got a credit card name in Santa’s Little Helper’s name (Santos L. Halper), and used it to buy Laddie, a much better dog. But Laddie was too perfect and Bart got bored of him. I’m sure there’s entire fan sites for Santa’s Little Helper made by some Simpsons nuts, so let’s continue.

Comet the Golden Retriever
From: Full House

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I love Golden Retrievers.

Comet was a pretty average dog, except he was a great listener. The Tanner girls always knew who to talk to when they had a serious problem. Comet would just take it all in, and then the girl(s) would realize the best thing to do is just be honest and apologize for what they did. Then the soft music would play, and there’s hugs, and the audience says “awww” and then applause and then the credits roll. See you to-fucking-morrow Tanner family.

Wishbone, yet another Jack Russel Terrier
From: Wishbone

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Wishbone could talk in the old-school way that Milo and Otis and the Homeward Bound dogs could talk: a voiceover was simply added over the dog just kinda standing there. No fancy CG moving mouths here.

Wishbone reenacted literary classics right on your TV. Sounds boring, but it really wasn’t bad, and was significantly less boring than actually reading. Later, I discovered SparkNotes— when faced with having to read A Tale of Two Cities in like, seventh grade.

Scooby and Scrappy Doo, Great Danes
From: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!

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Scooby is the man da bomb. You will never forget Scoob. Watching old episodes now, it’s clear that Shaggy and Scooby were enjoying some Doobie Snacks, if you know what I’m sayin. As a kid I just thought it was funny that they loved to eat so much, and could swallow entire meals whole.

Scrappy “Dappy” Doo is, I think, pretty annoying.

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Jun 29, 2009

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Top 10 Greatest Gangster Movies

Infernal Affairs (2002)

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So good, Scorsese remade it without bettering it. Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s two-mole thriller inspired The Departed, but Tony Leung and Andy Lau’s cop-crook tango throws deeper, darker, deadlier shapes than Damon and DiCaprio’s double act.

Lau/Mak’s inspiration was Face/Off, but they ditch those Woo-vian bullet ballets for the psychological subterfuge of a stylish urban-existential thriller.

“There’s no redemption of any kind,” Scorsese reckoned, tapping the tragic tenor of this gripping psychodrama of duplicity.

Killer Scene: Time stands still for the rooftop face-off.

King Of New York (1990)

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Dark and nihilistic, King Of New York sears into the memory. Walken’s Frank White is paper rich but spiritually bankrupt, a mob boss back from the Sing Sing grave to rebuild his drugs empire.

Roaming the streets of the Bronx in his stretch-limo hearse, White is New York’s Nosferatu, sucking the life from the city’s veins.

“To this day,” says Walken, “when I go to an airport, all the cops, that’s the movie they know.”

Killer Scene: Hiring subway muggers: “Come by the Plaza Hotel, I got work for you.”

Donnie Brasco (1997)

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Pacino ditched the Don to be a goombah, his aging mafioso Lefty Ruggiero too blind to realise the guy he’s tutoring (Johnny Depp) is actually an undercover Fed.

Originally slated for Pacino and Tom Cruise, then shelved when GoodFellas went into production, Donnie Brasco was resurrected by an Englishman, Mike Newell.

The foreign ear explains the loving attention to detail as mafia lingo is deconstructed and a beautiful friendship turns out to be a fugazi.

Killer Scene: Lefty teaching Donnie how to dress, walk and talk like a wisegu

The Killing (1956)

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Can’t do the time, don’t do the crime: Kubrick’s racetrack stick-up unfolds in flashbacks, storytelling fractured to nail the fatalistic theme.

“A crime film,” said the director, “is almost like a bullfight; it has a ritual and a pattern, which lays down that the criminal isn’t going to make it.”

Kubrick’s OCD-editing flits from Sterling Hayden’s perfectly planned heist to the aftermath as his cool professionalism’s undone by the gang of squealers and bunglers he’s working with.

Tarantino nicked ideas for Reservoir Dogs, boasting, “This movie is my The Killing.”

Killer Scene: Elisha Cook’s turned worm: “The jerk’s right here.”

Tokyo Drifter (1966)

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“Inspired lunacy,” reckoned Time Out. They were right on both counts. Seijun Suzuki’s yakuza run-around is your average gang-warfare flickplot-wise, locked’n’loaded by a crime boss’ struggles to “go straight”.

Twists, though, include a fractured structure, freaky effects, impromptu songs, near-slapstick gags, Pop Art colour coding (our hero is frequently coordinated to correlate with the wallpaper) and a villain who pretty much always arrives on screen sunglasses first.

With logic sidelined, are we talking style over content? Not quite: Suzuki extravagantly, exuberantly amplifies style to crack open and unpick conventional crime-flick content.

Killer Scene: A burly brawl in the “Saloon Western”. Insolent, pointless, well cheeky.

The Big Heat (1953)

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Predating Dirty Harry and Popeye Doyle by two decades, Glenn Ford is the tough cop hunting the ruthless mobster who blew up his wife in Fritz Lang’s brutal thriller.

Shockingly violent for its day, this hard-boiled noir paints a bleak universe steeped in the kind of endemic corruption that was being uncovered at the time by the Kefauver Committee.

What unsettles, though, is the way women – beaten, burned, scalded and tortured – become the story’s collateral damage: sacrificial lambs caught in the cross-fire of a vicious new order.

Killer Scene: Lee Marvin’s psychotic gangster Vince Stone throwing hot coffee in Gloria Grahame’s face.

Carlito’s Way (1993)

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“What might have been if Carlito’s Way had forged new ground and not gone down smokin’ in the shadow of Scarface?” wondered Rolling Stone magazine about Brian De Palma’s mesmeric gangster flick.

These days you have to wonder what the Stone guys were smoking not to see the neo-noir clout in the tale of mobster Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) and his struggle to carve out a law-abiding life for himself.

Even without Sean Penn’s turn as a coke-hoovering shyster, this is scintillating stuff, from its dying man’s voiceover to its bone-cracking violence.

Killer Scene: Carlito uses a pool trick to escape a trap.

Casque D’or (1953)

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François Truffaut eulogised the “tenderness and violence” in Jacques Becker’s fable of fleeting love doomed by the mob. Manda’s (Serge Reggiani) an ex-con going straight, Marie (Simone Signoret) is a mobster’s moll.

Bad news for him when he claps eyes on her… The action oscillates between verdant riverside scenes viewed through love’s eyes and claustrophobic backstreets where death lurks.

Both feel lived-in, Becker substituting pastiche for the higher goal that captured Truffaut’s heart: truth.

Killer Scene: Manda and Marie wake from a night of love.

Get Carter (1971)

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It’s grim up north. It’s even grimmer when East End gangster Jack Carter (Michael Caine) arrives in Newcastle looking for the bloke who killed his brother.

Get Carter injects the Brit-flick gangster movie with knuckle-scraping brutality. Caine loved the realism: “The idea was to show that in real life, each punch grinds some teeth in, and just one thrust of the knife can open someone’s heart.”

Killer Scene: Giving a tubby Tynesider a beating: “You’re a big man, but you’re outta shape.”

White Heat (1949)

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The inspiration for this gangster epic’s blisteringly mad and bad lead character Cody Jarret was simple, says writer Ben Roberts: “We synthesised Ma Barker down to having one son instead of four and we put the evil of all four into one man.”

The genius move though was squeezing that malevolence into the pint-sized Jimmy Cagney, here making his first gangster flick since 1939’s
The Roaring Twenties.

As the mom-obsessed psycho bouncing between homicidal wit and shuddering rage, he’s still one of cinema’s most chilling nutjobs.

Killer Scene: Hearing that his mum’s dead, Jarret goes berserk in a prison canteen.

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Jun 28, 2009

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Project Squirrel asks animal nuts everywhere to report squirrel sightings

300px-common_squirrel-217x300 Sittin on the porch countin squirrels this weekend?

Email those numbers to a Chicago scientist and you can take part in a citizen-science project that has implications not just for the furry tree-dwelling varmints, but for animals and ecosystems throughout the world.

The Chicago Academy of Sciences just revived a decade-old project that used citizen “squirrel monitors” to document the prevalence of two species of tree squirrels–the gray squirrel and the fox squirrel—in the Chicago area. The revived project is seeking data from people “no matter where you live, city or suburb, from the Midwest to the East Coast, Canada to California.”

And no matter who you are. “That’s why it’s so cool, because everybody can get involved,” Steve Sullivan, the project’s lead scientist, told me yesterday on the phone:

I have 7-year-old girls getting involved, I have grandmas at rest homes getting involved, I had the CEO of a record label email me the other day with her observations. It’s simple, it’s fun, everybody can do it, it’s great for the family, and ultimately it has potentially a huge impact. The more people that get involved, the bigger our impact.

Squirrels are easy to study—they’re essentially ubiquitous, Sullivan told me, they’re diurnal, so people see them during the day, and everyone has an opinion about them. And it turns out that squirrels are important to study for a couple of reasons:

• Scientists can monitor squirrel behavior to document the hospitality of ecosystems to many species. Squirrels share resources with other forest animals and migratory birds. When food is plentiful, squirrels stay close to trees, which offer them safety. But when they are hungry or ill, they will risk that safety and travel further for food. Scientists measure the distance squirrels travel from trees as a reflection of ecosystem health.

• It’s also important to study the American eastern gray squirrel, an adept survivor, because it has become an invasive species in other parts of the world. It has been blamed for declining numbers of red squirrels in England and western gray squirrels in California. Sullivan:

One of our native fauna is out there really screwing things up in Britain and scotland, and also in Italy. As I begin to understand the mechanisms of coexistence more clearly in our region, hopefully this will result in some solutions to problems that a species that is native here, but not native there, is causing.
The previous version of the study found gray squirrels associated with oaks and pines and fox squirrels associated with maples and elms. It found more gray squirrels in areas with apartment buildings and multi-story dwellings, and more fox squirrels in areas with single-family homes.

Fox squirrels were also more likely to thrive in areas with lots of cats and dogs, likely because they evolved at forest edges, where they were more likely to encounter predators. Gray squirrels evolved in forest interiors. What about black squirrels? They’re a variant of the gray species.

Sullivan is also studying the third major species involved in this study: the human squirrel monitors. He surveys his squirrel monitors at different points in the study to measure their knowledge and attitudes toward the environment.

If people can suddenly differentiate two species of squirrels that live in their neighborhood, and they begin to look at them with a more critical eye, does that mean that they then begin to be able to observe nature with more understanding or compassion or care or interest?”

Squirrel monitors can submit numbers, stories, or photos by visiting the Project Squirrel website.

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Jun 26, 2009

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The Happiest Places on Earth

Here are some extraordinary places that accommodate joy and inspiration in the world. Just forget about your worries, agonies and troubles, let the yesterday, tomorrow, future and fantasy inspirations in these happiest places fill you with fond and sweet memories.

mickey-mouse

Hi, I’m M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Just call me Mickey, OK? First of all, welcome to Disneyland Park- the happiest land on earth. Today, I’ll become your tourist guide.
Get yourself ready and let’s start our tour now. I hope you enjoy the trip! Here we go…

disney-park

Disneyland was the first Disney theme park owned by the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division of The Walt Disney Company, and it was opened on July 17, 1955. Disneyland was the idea of Walt E. Disney, an artist who created the cartoon character of Mickey Mouse. He wanted to establish a park, in which the families could have fun, and there his dream fulfilled when the first Disneyland was built in Anaheim, California in 1955. He hoped to bring Disneyland as a source of joy and inspiration to the entire world. Indeed, Disneyland has become a huge hit for both adults and children!

disneylandThere is also a plaque at the entrance of Disneyland stated that “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.”

Sleeping Beauty Castle

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castle-in-disneyland

Sleeping Beauty Castle is a building situated in the center of Disneyland Park and Hong Kong Disneyland Park. It’s the oldest and best known building of all Disney castles, with several dioramas depicting the famous fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty.Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland reaches a height of 23.5m and its pink castle is surrounded by a moat where swans swim. To enter, please follow me to walk across a drawbridge.

Adventureland

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Adventureland takes you to far off places like Africa, Asia, South Pacific, Middle East, South America and desert islands. This themed land was opened on July 17, 1955 and it features a theme of the remote jungles of the above mentioned places. In almost one place, you could picture a diverse civilization, which of course makes your adventure here worth a penny. Exotic animal statues, Congo drums, architectural crafts of Pacific, tribal performance mask and non-American totem poles are some of the notable features here. Jungle Cruise, Tarzan’s Treehouse, and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room are three main attractions in Disneyland, while Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye is a renowned tourist spot at Tokyo DisneySea theme park in Chiba, Japan. The trips to these places are absolutely enjoyable!

Mickey’s Toontown

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Where can you see Mickey Mouse and all your favorite Disney characters? In your PC game, Nintendo game, shows, cinemas, TV screens or newspapers? Where can you meet and enjoy the ride with the character of Mickey? Of course, your dream can be fulfilled by visiting Mickey’s Toontown which was opened to the public in 1993. At Tokyo Disneyland, it’s called Toontown.  Here, it’s a home of mine as it houses the house of Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse. The establishment of Mickey’s Toontown, has notably raised my global status as the most popular kid idols as well as the most popular cartoon characters.

Main Street, U.S.A

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Main Street, U.S.A. brings you back to a typical Midwest town 100 years ago. At Disneyland, it even has horse-drawn trams.There is a train station above the entrance for each Main Street, U.S.A. However, this service is not available at Tokyo Disneyland.

Tomorrowland

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Do you want to pilot your own spacecraft on a mission to venture into the mystery of the outer space? Then, come to Tomorrowland and have a ride on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster. Not enough with this ride? Alright, how about have a wild ride on Astro Orbitor? Come and experience yourself, it’s indeed an exciting ride here as it depicts numerous exciting views of the future. Give yourself a chance to participate in the adventures of Star Tours, I Shrunk the Audience, Disneyland Monorail, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Innoventions, Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Station, and Autopia.

Critter Country

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Here, we come to a place called Critter Country which was initially a home to Indian Village. It was opened in 1972. The notable spot to look for here is Splash Mountain. It’s a log-flume journey and the idea of the creation of Splash Mountain was actually inspired by the Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris. The mountain ride here is really thrilling and unforgettable! You should never miss it!

New Orleans Square

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New Orleans Square which was opened on July 24, 1966, depicts a theme on 19th century New Orleans. Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are two well-known attractions here. Hey, wanna to meet pirate? Here is the place. Come here and meet Captain Jack Sparrow.Hello, Captain Jack, shall we have a drink at Club 33?

Fantasyland

fantasyland

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Fantasyland is a world of storybook. The characters of the story become “live” here which are served as a source of creative inspiration among the youngsters.At Fantasyland, you’ll encounter this poor Donald Duck. Hey, listen, he’s calling for HELP…

Donald says, “Hey, who pasted my buttock to the ceiling? Come here and get me down here, and I’ll give you 100 buck, OK?” He continues to yell, “Help, help, help….!”

Disney’s California Adventure

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Next to Disneyland in Anaheim, there sits Disney’s California Adventure. The adventure park here takes a theme of the state of California. At night, colored lights will turn this park into a magical place.

Disneyland Paris

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Disneyland Paris is in France. Here, Mickey can speak French
! Amazing though!Next to Disneyland Paris is Walt Disney Studios Paris, which is an extraordinary trip to HOLLYWOOD!

Tokyo Disneyland

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Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo Disneyland. Located in Urayasu, Chiba, Japan, this Disney Park was the first to be built by Walt Disney Imagineering outside of the United States. It was opened on April 15, 1983.Next door to Tokyo Disneyland is Tokyo DisneySea. Here, it tells you all about the ocean and the aquatic animals.  At the main entrance to Tokyo DisneySea, there you’ll see another Disney character, Donald Duck. It’s a big hit with kid there. Donald is CUTE, isn’t he?

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WWAALTT E-E-E HOOPES U HHAVVE A GGOODD TRIPP HEREE. MICCKKEEEY ISSS TTTIRRED N HEEE ASKS MMMEE TOO DEEELIVVVER UUU GOODD WIIISHHES …TTTOO TOOO.. WWAALTT E-E-E -HASSS 222 LEAAVEE NOOOWW BYYYE BYYE HOPEE U UNNDEERSTAANND MEE …DDIS ISSS A ROOOBOTICC LAANGGUAGEE…TOOO. TTTOO…

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Jun 24, 2009

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Houses with Character

Ever get to know someone and then you go over to their house and realized something isn’t quite right? Here are a few houses that needless to say, have a lot of character.

Hello Kitty

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The Simpsons…

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And the Flintstones…

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