Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cat Clips--AmeriCAT Idol

Please click on the photo above to watch the next installment in the "Cat Clips" series, entitled "AmeriCAT Idol." In this episode, "Honey" tries to convince the male cat to begin their own talent competition for cats.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Death of Icons

They say that major tragedies or deaths always come in threes, and this week proved that theory to be true. First, the passing away of Ed McMahon, a bigger-than-life personality with the signature laugh who made everyone comfortable becoming a couch potato. Then came the death of Farrah Fawcett, the quintessential female pin-up of all time and the reason most women feathered their hair in the seventies and eighties. And finally, last night, the announcement that Michael Jackson had passed away. This man, who was as controversial as he was talented, will always be remembered as the “King of Pop,” a title which no one will likely steal away from him any time soon.

Today, the world is a little sadder and a little less colorful without these three among us. But like most icons, they will live on in our imaginations, in our televisions and in our music for decades to come.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cat Clips Father's Day Videos

Today we have two different Cat Clips videos that deal with the same issue---Tuck's desire to have a mentor/father figure.

Cat Clips--Parent Trap

In the first video, entitled "Parent Trap," Honey and the male cat discuss Tuck's future in the household. To watch this video, please click on the photo above.

Cat Clips--Father Figure

In the second video, entitled "Father Figure," the male cat and Tuck have their first mentoring session. To watch the video, please click on the photo above.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why I Love Mary Murphy

For those of you who've never watched “So You Think You Can Dance,” you will probably not know who Mary Murphy is. And for those who have watched the show in the past, you might wonder why I choose to endorse a woman who is sometimes so loud and abrasive that her fellow judges must cover their ears for fear of losing their eardrums. Well, the answer is very simple…she has a passion for dance that is infectious.

And that is coming from someone who hated having to sit through Ballets and Dance Concerts when I was growing up. Not that I didn’t like to dance myself, but I didn’t really have an appreciation for the kind of control and strength a real dancer must have to perform such feats. In fact, it wasn’t until I started seriously working out and lifting weights in my twenties that I began to realize that dancers were sometimes more athletic in their movements than the more macho football and baseball players.

And that is what I find so fascinating about “So You Think You Can Dance.” The dancers are constantly thrown curveballs and new dance styles, and difficult choreographers (like Mia Michaels), and to see them succeed against unimaginable odds is like watching a really good Olympic competition. And some of the dance pieces are quite awe-inspiring. (And again, this from someone who never really appreciated the art of dance until a few years ago.)

Which brings us back to Mary Murphy. When I first caught the show while flipping channels several years ago, I thought it was just another pointless talent competition without much merit or credibility. Then, the next year I happened to catch another episode during the audition process, and was suddenly sucked into the behind-the-scenes stories of the dancers—their tragedies, hopes, dreams, etc. What can I say? I was hooked after that. And yet I still found one of the judges, Mary Murphy, to be quite obnoxious with all her yelling and cheering and constant use of catch phrases.

But as I began watching the show on a more regular basis, I began to warm up to Ms. Murphy because I realized how much she really cares about the people she is judging. Unlike some of the other guest judges on the show, who seem to get off on putting people down or showing off their arrogant intelligence, Mary has compassion and empathy for the dancers. She cries when she is emotionally touched by a dance number, or cheers when she is excited about a dancer’s progress. And you can see from the dancer’s faces how much they value her opinion and favor. She is like a big Mother Hen who coaches and cajoles her little offspring so they can eventually fly off on their own, as prepared as they can be for the cruel reality of a career in the arts.

And just when you think you can’t be shocked any more by the things that come out of her mouth, she suddenly blurted out a few weeks ago that “I can’t look surprised any more because the botox took care of that.” It was such an honest and revealing statement that I think it even caught her by surprise…as evidenced by how hard she laughed for the next few minutes (As did everyone else in the audience). But that’s how Mary is. She can be a tough critic when she thinks a dancer isn’t trying hard enough, or living up to their potential. But when someone succeeds with a genre they’ve never done before, or makes incredible progress as a dancer from week to week, she is the first to offer her praise and congratulations. And that’s why I love Mary Murphy. She’s a cheerleader for the underdog as well as the professional. As long as someone steps up to the plate, she is there to cheer you on. And don’t we all need a little more of that these days?

But that’s just me. What’s your take on Mary Murphy or “So You Think You Can Dance”?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cat Clips--Two-Faced Trance

Please click on the photo above to watch the next installment in the "Cat Clips" series, entitled "Two Faced Trance." Synopsis: While Tipi and Tuck explore a website on Hypnosis, Honey decides she might have misjudged Tipi.

A special thanks to Debbie Lane of WisdomHypnosis.com for allowing me to use her great Stress Relief audio for this video. To hear the entire audio and experience your own free relaxation exercise, please visit Debbie's site at www.wisdomhypnosis.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cat Clips---Furs & the Fleas

Please click on the photo above to watch the next installment in the "Cat Clips" series. As Spring Fever begins to set in, the male cat decides it's time to talk to Tuck about the Furs and the Fleas.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Trouble with Tony

The minute the Tony Awards started on Sunday night, I knew we were in trouble. Elton John’s microphone wasn’t turned on, so the first few notes of his song were sung into a black hole. This was only the beginning of what I felt was a poorly executed television program, with so many sound issues throughout, you’d think you were watching Amateur Night at the local Rotary Club. Especially when you constantly heard people talking offstage, or into microphones that shouldn’t have been turned on yet. But the worst moment came during the “Guys and Dolls” number when you could hear a technician talking offstage louder than you could hear the singer onstage. That was quickly corrected, thankfully, when the aforementioned tech ran onto the stage with the live microphone he had just been speaking into. INEXCUSABLE.

And then there were the endless musical numbers from shows that are out on tour, that we’ve already seen a million times. I mean, did the “Dancing Queen” number inspire anyone to get up off their butts and boogie? No.

I thought Neil Patrick Harris did a great job of holding it all together. His personality is very likeable, although I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff going on under that perfectly honed fa├žade that’s probably pretty scary. No one is THAT nice.

The most disappointing moment for me was the choice of number from the musical “Billy Elliot.” This number DOES NOT do the show justice. Not that it isn’t impressive to watch someone that young take such command of the stage. But out of context, I don’t think Middle America will really make much of that number. In fact, the people who were initially turned off by the idea of a musical about a boy who wants to dance will probably not be swayed by what they saw on Sunday night. It was so poorly edited and presented that it didn’t make me want to spend the money to go see it. And that’s from someone who has already seen the show three times. (And believe me, it is well worth the investment and it rightfully deserved the title of "Best Musical." So don’t let the Tony number influence you negatively against this show---if it did. It is possibly one of the most grounded and emotionally charged musicals I’ve ever seen.)

Which brings me to the musical number from “Next to Normal,” which actually made me want to go see the show. I’d already heard good things about the show from friends, but was never really motivated yet to plunk down the money to get a ticket. I mean, a show about an emotionally disturbed woman and the toll it takes on her family is not exactly fodder for a fun evening out. But then I heard their voices, and I saw the commitment coming from the actors, and all of a sudden I was excited see this show. Finally, something that doesn’t run around in a costume or come pre-packaged from a movie or TV show. And that’s what the Tonys are supposed to do. Get you excited about going to see a live show, an experience unlike anything else in the world.

So, before I close, let’s not forget Liza Minelli, whose overzealous and perpetually bubbly personality makes me nervous every time I see her. In her heydey, she was spunky and funny and had a quirky personality that made her the life of the party. But now the party has run its course, and the band has gone home, and she’s still out there plugging away. I say retire from singing, because the voice just ain’t what it used to be. As for acting, there will always be roles for over-the-top people with bizarre affectations, so her career prospects are good. But come on, there’s only so many songs I want to hear that are sung with that many strained and missed notes. Even Stockard Channing sounded more on point, and I heard she was horrible in “Pal Joey.”

So though I’m glad they put a lot of money and effort into the production, I think they maybe strived to do too much with what they had. And yet, the show pulled in it’s best ratings since 2006, so who am I to judge? I’m just glad the Tonys are televised at all.

But that’s just me. What did you think of the Tony Awards?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cat Clips--Tunnel Visions

Please click on the photo above to watch the next installment in the "Cat Clips" series, entitled "Tunnel Visions." In this episode, when Tipi and Tuck discover a new toy in the office, they begin to imagine it as many different things.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Soaring Brilliance of "Up"

Last Friday night I went to see the new Disney/Pixar movie “Up,” and after the first ten minutes I’d already decided this film was an animated masterpiece. I won’t give anything away, but the first ten minutes is a little movie all in itself, and can only be described as one of the most touching animated sequences I’ve ever seen. I am still choked up just thinking about it, and I dare anyone not to feel the same.

Okay, moving on. The screening I saw was in 3D, which was pretty cool, although after a while you completely forget about it. (Unless, of course, you find the special glasses particularly uncomfortable.) The theater was packed with adults and kids and lots of teenagers. I was actually surprised at how many packs of teenage boys came together to see this film. When I was a kid, teenage boys would not be caught dead at a Disney film, but I guess Pixar has more of a “cool factor.”

I guess what I liked most about “Up” is how involved I got with the characters, and how much it mattered to me that they succeeded in their quest. I think this movie taps into a lot of emotional and thought-provoking ideas, and I applaud the creators at Pixar for making such a beautiful piece of art.

But that’s just me. What did you think of “Up”?