Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Free Gift

There's so much that I love about Christmas... the music, the lights, the food, the tree in our living room, the TV specials and movies, the day off of work, the Carpenters. But I think what I love most about Christmas is that it's yet another day of the year that we don't have a cat.

Merry Christmas, y'all, and y'all a good night!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Hap-Happiest Season of All

In 1963, Andy Williams released a song that has become a holiday classic: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Since then it has also been recorded by Johnny Mathis, Harry Connick Jr., Amy Grant, the Muppets, and a bunch of other people who we forget exist the other eleven months of the year. What I find most surprising about this song is that, as many times as it's been re-recorded, no one has ever tried to improve the lyrics. They all just sing what’s been sung before without considering how dumb the words are. I think it's time someone examined these lyrics more closely than Donny Osmond or Gonzo ever did.

According to the song, one of the reasons the holiday season is so wonderful is that “everyone’s telling you, ‘Be of good cheer.’” Have you ever been cheered up by someone telling you to cheer up? Of course not. If you want to make someone smile, you do something nice for them or trip down some icy stairs in front of them. Telling someone to “be of good cheer” raises that person’s happiness level about the same amount as telling them you're going to drown a pillowcase full of puppies if they don't smile. In either case, they're only smiling to get you to leave them alone and go away... and possibly to save some puppies, but not because you cheered them up.

Next on the list of bad lyrical choices... jingle-belling? Mistle-toeing? Is “wassailing” responsible for this slippery slope? Just because someone turned a Christmas noun into a verb for their song once doesn’t mean you have to do it multiple times in yours. The guy who wrote this song needs a solid candy-caning.

As for "marshmallows for toasting" and "scary ghost stories"... I guess every family’s entitled to their own Christmas traditions, but are you sure you’re thinking of the holiday season here? Because what you're describing is camping… or possibly Halloween. You may be thinking, "But A Christmas Carol is kind of a 'scary ghost story.'" All right, but the song refers to "scary ghost stories," so name the rest.

And speaking of "the rest," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" was co-written by George Wyle, the guy who co-wrote the Gilligan’s Island theme song with Sherwood Schwartz. Originally that song ended with the words, "...and the rest, here on Gilligan's Isle." And the rest? They only needed to mention two other people. That's like saying the seven dwarfs are Doc, Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy, and the rest. They later replaced that phrase in their song with, "The Professor and Mary Ann." It just made more sense. So if you can change the poorly co-written lyrics in the Gilligan's Island theme song, then why not offer the same courtesy to a song that has somehow managed to become a Christmas classic?

I'd rewrite the lyrics myself, but I just wasted all of my time making fun of the old ones. Maybe next year.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Toy Story 3: The Video Game

Way back in June, Toy Story 3: The Video Game was finally released. I had been working on it for a couple of years, but even after all that time and work, I forgot to mention its release on my blog... until now. Here are six of the 1,800 storyboards I did during the game's production... and that's not just an exaggerated number either. I still have all of them. Clearly these boards aren't in sequence, and some of them were never used for anything, but I wanted to share them anyway... because these are a few that I actually toned. Ah, wonderful grayscale!
I'm very pleased with the way this game turned out... especially after watching my nieces and nephews become addicted to it. The "Toy Box" area is especially fun. That's where you just run around an old Western town as Woody, Buzz, or Jessie, doing whatever you feel like doing. If you want to shoot Bullseye with a rocket blaster for ten minutes straight, no one's stopping you... unless you're my nephew. After ten minutes I stopped him, because enough's enough! I also wrote a lot of the dialogue for the game, so if Hamm sometimes sounds like he's reading my blog to you, that's why.
I did these three drawings for a commercial that we made for Sony. They wanted a video that would highlight Zurg as a playable character in the Play Station 3 version of the game, and they left the rest of it up to us. I thought it would be funny to show Zurg having the time of his life, laughing it up like a crazy person, while Woody and Buzz watched in uncomfortable silence. In the final version, Zurg walks over and hugs the two of them. It works a lot better that way than it did in the boards, so three cheers to whoever added that part.So, Christmas shoppers, if your kids like Toy Story, I expect them to like this game. And if your kids don't like Toy Story, you should probably ask yourself where you've gone wrong as a parent.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Babysitting the Cubs

Thanks to a combination of cartoons, children's books, a really vivid dream I once had, and a nature documentary that featured a segment about them, I pretty much know all there is to know about lions. I expect I'd know even more if the TV hadn't been muted during the documentary, but they're just big cats. How complicated can they be? I now want to share some of what I've learned with you, the easily-angered, blog-post-policing public. This should go well.

To begin with, female lions (or "lionesses" to those who enjoy stumbling through words that end in too many S's) do the majority of the hunting, most likely due to the fact that they yearn to be in charge and feel important. Because female lions spend so much of their time hunting as a result of their pride (or "for their pride" as it's generally stated), the responsibility to babysit falls on the unfortunate males.

Now, babysitting is never easy, but imagine doing it full time while you're also trying to get twenty hours of sleep a day. That's how much an adult, male lion sleeps. You may not know this, but you can't really get much done when you're only awake for four hours a day. I did it for about six years in college, and even if someone had been doing all my hunting for me, by the time I'd eaten dinner and watched Monday Night Football, there's no way I would have been up for babysitting. Male lions are getting robbed! And on top of that, sometimes they're raised by sheep.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dogs Get Old Quickly

It used to bother me when neighborhood dogs would bark and howl in the middle of the night, but then I realized something. Based on the calculation that a human year is equal to seven dog years, if a dog barks at 2AM on a Monday morning, to him he's actually barking at 5PM in 2084. He's probably just trying to protect you from burglars and alien invaders who will be snooping around your backyard in seventy-four years. Consider that for a moment. It's a fascinating thought, riddled with countless logistical holes.

How did someone figure out that a human year is equal to seven dog years? Were a lot of two-year-old dogs reading at an 8th grade level? Because that doesn't say as much about how time works for dogs as it says about 8th grade illiteracy. However this "human to dog" time relationship was determined, the discrepancy between the two explains why your dog celebrates excessively every time you return home. What seemed like a normal day at work to you lasted almost three days for your dog. Your week-long vacation? Nearly two dog months. If the people who provided my food left me home alone for unpredictably lengthy periods of time, I'd start chewing up the couch cushions too.

This coming Thursday afternoon, my wife and I will celebrate our 50th Dog Year Anniversary... which is equal to seven years and 52.14 days in dumb, slow-moving, human time. These fifty years of marriage have been the best years of my 244 year life.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shark Week!

It's Shark Week again! Time to fill our heads and our nightmares with a whole new set of facts, images, and terrifying tales about the ugliest, most tooth-filled demons of the sea. I've decided that the less you know about sharks, the more danger you're in, and the more you know about sharks, the more danger you think you're in. But no matter how much or how little you know about them, the one thing you can be sure of is that sharks are currently plotting your death. There's no way around that.

This drawing was inspired by my childhood fear of bubble baths and hot tubs. I was all right in a bath without bubbles because I could see everything in the tub around me. No shark's going to sneak up on a kid in a bubbleless bath. But as soon as bubbles were involved... well, any idiot can tell you that murky water is the ideal condition for shark attacks... and any idiot just did.

Happy Shark Week, everybody!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Filthy Animals

As I watched volunteers cleaning the unfortunate animal victims of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I thought, "What a great thing to do... but why stop there? Aren't all animals stinky and gross?" A walk in the rain or a river crossing is the closest most of them ever get to taking a bath, and those activities so rarely involve soap that I'm not even sure they count.

Monkeys get clean by picking bugs out of each other's back hair... and then they eat the bugs they find. That's a little bit like taking a bath except, where a bath makes you clean, this just makes you disgusting. Other animals, such as lions, clean their young by licking them. In that way, a lion's tongue is like a wash cloth... a wash cloth that was just used to clean out a zebra's carcass.

So don't think you have to go all the way to the Gulf of Mexico to clean animals. Grab a brush and some shampoo and start tidying up the animals where you live. The ones that don't kill you will be slightly less gross because of the service you provide.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bursting with American Pride

It has been widely publicized in recent years that Americans are fat, but is this an accurate assessment or an unfair generalization? I looked up the statistics, and I was proud to find that nearly one in three Americans is barely fat at all, meaning that we, as a nation, score an unimpressive 67% when it comes to being overweight. Sixty-seven percent? That would earn you a D+ in most high school classrooms... hardly enough to cause your fellow students to refer to you as "the smart kid." Sure we're a little on the chunky side, but until we reach a respectable 90% obesity rate, shouldn't we be known for our cowboy hats, our poorly-made cars, and our arrogant self-importance? After all, our success rate in those fields is well above 67%.

As fat as we may seem, America isn't even the fattest country. Like most Olympic events, our chubby nation comes in third in that race. Did you know that the U.S. has more bronze medals than China, Canada, Spain, Russia, and Germany combined? We're the third-placingest country on the planet! If we ever hope to become the fattest country, we must first find a way to out-eat and under-exercise American Samoa and Kiribati. What? There's a country called Kiribati? When did this happen? Maybe we assume we're the fattest country in the world because we haven't heard of the other countries yet, and it's this disregard for the world beyond our borders that seems far more "American" to me than the two-in-three guys who have to turn sideways to get off of a bus... which raises the question... how did they get on there in the first place?

Happy 4th of July, my fellow fatties! It's time for some grillin' and explodin'! Yee-haw! (We shall now throw our cowboy hats in the air and shoot at them with our many handguns).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Everybody Loves Soccer

With roughly four billion fans, soccer is unquestionably the world's most popular sport, which is great if you're soccer but really disappointing if you're the world. I don't like soccer... probably because I like not being bored out of my mind. I decided to give soccer another try last week, and I seriously made it 31 seconds into the game before I had to start skipping ahead. After a couple of hours that I could have spent napping, the game ended in a tie... a stupid, unsatisfying tie! No sport, field event, race, or board game should ever end in a tie. (Are you hearing this, NFL?!) So with its upward-counting clock and low-scoring lameness, soccer will just have to go on without me... unless they find a way to score 20 to 30 goals a game... then I'm back on board.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Who's the New Guy?

Twelve days ago, we reached a high temperature of only 52 degrees. Today we got up to 81. I don't mean to alarm you, but that's an increase of nearly 2.5 degrees a day. If these warming trends continue... and buckle up for this... it's going to be an unseasonably warm 572 degrees by Christmas. And if it's that hot here, you can bet that our polar bear friends to the north are going to find themselves in the same miserable situation that has been facing European beverages for years: no ice. At that point, it's fair to assume that the world's remaining polar bear population will have no other choice but to migrate south. And on that day, people will finally stop telling me that "polar bears and penguins live on opposite sides of the planet, so this drawing doesn't make sense." Finally... a reason to support global warming.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ducks in a Row

I recently spent several months working long hours while we were finishing the Toy Story 3 video game. I'll say more about that and hopefully post a few storyboards after the game's been released. For now I just want to announce that it's done, and I'm officially back to blogging! I've got my ducks in a row, and that's where they'll stay. And to prove I'm serious, I'm going to shoot the first duck who steps out of line. Or better yet, I'm just going to shoot them either way. Then I can line them up however I want. Or maybe I'll stack them. Then I can start using the phrase, "I've got all my ducks in a stack."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bayou Jug Band

I have a fun game, but we're not going to play it. Instead we're going to play this dumb one... which of these animals would you guess has the most teeth? Here's a hint: it's not the alligator. Don't feel bad if you were wrong... unless you guessed "the guitar-playing dragon," because then you should feel kind of bad. It is actually the opossum that has the most teeth... more than any other land animal. Hopefully this information will help you win Jeopardy someday (if that's even a show still), because that's the only chance that it's ever going to come in handy. See what I mean? I told you this was a dumb game. Unfortunately I was lying about the "fun" game. There never was one.

Speaking of opossums, can you think of a single, non-spelling-based difference between opossums and possums? From what I've gathered, which is very little, it seems that possums are native to the Eastern hemisphere whereas opossums are native to the Western hemisphere. So why do so many people in the Western hemisphere call our opossums "possums?" It's the same reason we have calculators and Dancing with the Stars... because we're lazy and stupid.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mythological Jug Band

According to Wikipedia, the internet's leading source of mythological information, gryphons (which some people spell "griffins" and dumb people spell "grifunz") mate for life. What? I can think of one major ingredient that's missing from the theory that gryphons mate for life: "life." Don't you have to exist before you can enter into a lifelong relationship? Why are we assigning behavioral ettiquette to animals we've pretended into existence? I don't have an answer to this, but here's what I do know: if a gryphon finds your gym bag, he'll return it to you at his own expense, unicorns sneeze cake frosting, and flying pigs are offended by the mere thought of under-salted french fries. And when a gryphon gets together with a unicorn and a flying pig, you can count on three things: jug band music, rainbows, and a dessert buffet. (You may want to steer clear of the cake).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Winter Olympics

As a fan of watching cold people fall down, I've really enjoyed this year's Winter Olympics. I came to a shocking realization last night, though... I've never participated in or even attempted a single winter sport in my life. I've lived in Utah for most of my life, a state that uses my car's license plate to advertise itself as the home of "the greatest snow on earth," yet I've never been skiing or snowboarding even once, and the closest I've come to ice skating was when I slipped on an icy patch coming out of Arby's several years ago. The fact that unexpectedly slipping on ice and nearly cracking my tailbone reminds me of a winter sport is a clear indication that winter sports are far too dangerous. In fact, until the Winter Olympics expand their list of sporting events to include driveway shoveling, snowman building, downhill sledding, figure slipping, freestyle parking-lot-donut-making, or using an old broom to brush snow off of a satellite dish (which is kind of like curling)... well, I don't want to completely count it out, but it's possible that I will never become a Winter Olympian.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Too Much Love

Have you noticed how much we've cheapened the meaning of the word "love" by overusing it? I use that word to describe everything from my affection for my wife to how much I enjoy taking naps, not mowing the lawn, and involving myself in other inactivity-based activities. Considering the lengthy list of things I claim to love, it is clear that I am doing my part to additionally minimize the word's already tattered meaning.

Because "love" hardly means anything on its own at this point, people frequently include additional phrasing to emphasize the difference between the things they truly adore and the things they merely enjoy, such as, "I love it to death," or, "I love it more than words can say." Well, I propose we all start trampling the meaning of these phrases too... mostly because I want to find out how people will say that they really love something when even these expressions have become meaningless. I offer the following suggestions... please use these phrases and others like them as frequently as possible:

"I love my new TV with all of my heart."
"I love sleeping in to death."
"I love barbecue chicken pizza like it's my brother."

Where will they go from here? I can't wait to find out. I love where this is going like my life depends on it! Happy Valentine's Day, y'all!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ocean Jug Band

For someone who grew up on a planet whose surface is two-thirds water, it's surprising how much I hate the ocean. Don't get me wrong. I love marine animals, and I enjoy the sunshine and the cool breezes at the beach as much as I enjoy frolicking in the ocean's gentle tide. I guess what I don't like about the ocean is that my favorite things about it seem to want me dead. Most of the animals in the ocean could easily kill me without even trying or meaning to, the pleasant ocean breeze only masks the inevitable heat stroke and skin cancer that the sun is constantly dishing out, and the "gentle" tide tends to treat me like a washing machine treats a kitten that hasn't figured out the difference between its bed and the laundry basket. I could possibly forgive all of this if the ocean was as delicious as the sea food that resides there, but the miserable ocean even tastes gross. For such a beautiful, incredible thing, the ocean certainly is a scary, nasty place.

The ocean even scares me when I'm not in it... like when I'm in airplanes. For me, the worst thing about a plane crash at sea would be the off chance that I might survive it. I would choose death over drifting alive in the open sea. Perhaps I could talk the stewardess into beating me to death with the fire extinguisher at the first sign of turbulence. But I guess she'll probably be busy helping everyone prepare for the imminent water landing, so I better just ask her to do it as I board the plane... even if it's not an overseas flight... just to be safe.

We are within a few days of my blog's fourth anniversary. Thank you all for coming here, and an even bigger, specialer thanks to those of you who have come back over and over again. I never thought anyone would like this kind of stuff, but I guess I hadn't counted on there being you. Happy 4th Anniversary, Blog! After four years, 325,000 visitors, and eight animal jug bands... we've only just begun!