Category Archives: Entertainment

simpsons treehouse of horror buying guide

Note: I found this in my drafts of old posts, and this one never got published.  I wrote it in October of 2011, so the list may have changed a bit since then.

For those of you who know me, I really don’t like TV or movies with violence or gore in them. Yet, somehow, I am totally fascinated by them. Oddly enough, I’ll read all about horror movies and slasher flicks sometimes, and never watch them. I think part of the reason is I get *really* scared by them. Anyway. I especially love the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes, because they are just awesome, and not as hardcore.

I promised my little brother that I’d get some for Halloween for us to watch. I don’t think he’s seen any of them. Edit: I showed him some last year. :)

Being the collector type that I am, I did some research, and lo and behold, FOX has released these in the most backwards incomplete way possible. In short, of the 21 seasons available to buy of the Simpsons, 17 of them are available to purchase, either through Amazon Video or DVD.

What’s crazy is that while Amazon Video sells them in “seasons”, they are really just totally random episodes thrown together. On top of that, the one DVD that is available is also episodes from random seasons, and two of them crossover with what is packaged in season 2 on Amazon Video. The rest, you can buy individually from the Simpsons seasons on Amazon Video.

It’s confusing, I know, but here’s how they released them:

Treehouse of Horror – Season One:
1990 I
1993 IV
1996 VII
1999 X
2002 XIII
2005 XVI

Treehouse of Horror – Season Two:
1991 II
1994 V
1997 VIII
2000 XI
2003 XIV
2006 XVII

Treehouse of Horror – DVD:
1994 V
1995 VI
1996 VII
2001 XII

So, for the crazy completist in your life, I’ve organized them in correct chronological order, with the link of how to buy them. Ultimately, you’re going to have to get them all this way, both seasons plus the DVD, regardless of crossover, if you want the most complete amount of episodes.

01: ssn1
02: ssn2
03: N/A
04: ssn1
05: ssn2, DVD
06: ssn2, DVD
07: DVD
08: ssn2
09: N/A
10: ssn1
11: ssn2
12: DVD
13: ssn1
14: ssn2
15: N/A
16: ssn1
17: ssn2
18: N/A
19: indy
20: indy
21: indy

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web media frontend

I have always wanted to tweak my HTPC frontend quite a lot to add extra functionality, but the entry barrier to learning a GUI language has been way too high for me.  I’ve had success though, in patching MythFrontend to do some things a little better for me, but I’ve always wanted to get my own going if I could.

Recently, I was thinking about how LIRC can capture IR events and map them to X keyboard events.  Basically, you can control X applications with your remote control.  I started to reason that if that were possible, then I could just use my web development skills and create a webpage frontend for my HTPC that would run on a lightweight browser, and listen for keystrokes.

Just playing around with it tonight, I actually made some really great progress thanks to a combination of a good friend, my humble jQuery beginnings, and my laughable CSS skills.  This is the result so far. :)

I’m really stoked about the implementation so far.  You’ll most likely need Firefox to get that working properly.  It will capture the arrow key presses (up, down, left, right) and use that for navigation.  I realize that the beginnings are rather crude, but the fact that I could throw this together, so quickly, while I’m just barely learning my way around jQuery seems pretty impressive to me.  I’m actually quite proud, though, that I got the navigation to work properly, too, so wrapping around rows and columns works. :)

This is certainly going to be a fun project to hack on.  If I could get this working, this would open up all kinds of possibilities for me for displaying metadata and new options for navigation.

For comparison, here’s a screenshot of what my frontend looks like right now.  As you can see, I’m trying to imitate the style as closely as possible.

There’s a lot of advantages to having it web-based — not that I’m going to serve up anything remotely or anything, this is solely for my LAN.  It’ll just allow me to build out stuff much faster.

The hard part is going to be doing testing on the frontends.  They are both running off of tiny installations, and it’s not easy building and porting software to run on them.  Sounds like a challenge that’s extremely hard, going to take a lot of time, and will have marginal benefit and at the same time increase my workload and opportunity to own more of my software stack when things go wrong.  That’s just right up my alley. :)

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hello from dvd archive land

Warner Bros. is doing some awesome stuff lately.  They have a great back catalogue of awesome titles that they’ve acquired by buying out Hanna-Barbera.  There’s popular stuff like Scooby-Doo, but also all the lesser known cartoons like Josie and the Pussycats. :)  These smaller titles probably wouldn’t do so well on a retail landscape, so Warner is doing something totally different — making copies of the series available to customers on demand!

The idea is just awesome.  Instead of packaging and producing a large set and distributing it nationally to all kinds of chains, they cater directly to the long tail collectors and give them the stuff they want, and still at reasonable prices.

I daresay that this wouldn’t have been pulled off so well at the same time, if Warner Bros. wasn’t doing such a great job of engaging its fan base with social media.  Their older catalogue is being produced and sold on-demand through the Warner Archive lineup, and the brand has it’s own Twitter account that I’ve been following.  Near as I can tell, in the relatively short time I’ve found them, is that they are doing what those who succeed in social media do well — they actually *talk* with their fanbase.  Shout Factory does the same thing as well.  It’s pretty awesome, really, to find companies that can put a human face back on the front lines. :)

Anyway, business methodology aside, what I’m really excited about is the content that I get to have access to again!

I was looking through their pre-orders the other day, and I found two that I remember, very vaguely, watching growing up … and absolutely loving them!  I think it’s awesome that the complete series are available now to purchase, for what I’d consider a good price point, too.

I totally remember this show … once I saw it again.  This is one of those that I remember being really funny, but since it was probably aired so little (and there were so few episodes comparatively), it quickly got forgotten.

I do remember that the ghost is hilarious.  I don’t recall much more about the show other than that.  If I had to guess, without checking Wikipedia, I’d say that the format is similar to Scooby-Doo … a group of kids that goes on adventures with their silly sidekicks and solves mysteries and gets into trouble.

It might seem a little cliched in retrospect, but Scooby Doo was awesome then, and it’s awesome now, and having a different spin on it just means you get some variety.  I’m cool with that. :)

I also, very vaguely, again, totally remember this other one I saw available for pre-order (goes on sale next Tuesday):  Goober and the Ghost Chasers.

I do remember seeing that weird dog before … but that’s about it.  That’s not gonna stop me from getting the collection, though. :)  I’m an absolute fan of Hanna-Barbera’s animation style, and I’ll pretty much get anything that was produced by them during that time period.  So many good memories. :)

There’s actually a couple of series that I didn’t know about, or totally forgot about completely too, though.  I had no idea there was even a series of Josie and the Pussycats until not too long ago, and my little sister bought me the complete series for my birthday this year.  I absolutely *love* watching that show, it is hilarious!  I think it’s funnier than Scooby-Doo in some places. :)  I recommend it.

Because of that one, I’m excited to see Warner Archive coming out with *another* Josie and the Pussycats cartoon, again, this one I had no idea even existed before:

I’m especially excited because, none of the old cartoons get me as excited as any of the ones that deal with outer space (Super Friends, Space Ghost, etc.).  The animation and art style is just incredible, I think.  It still gets me really excited seeing them today.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend checking out Walt Disney’s Treasures: Tomorrow Land if you’re also a space junkie and you like old school animation.  Wow, that thing just puts me in heaven.

There’s one more available right now that I’ve never heard of before, Pirates of Dark Water.

It’s getting great reviews everywhere, and lots of people are excited about it, from what I can tell (based on research in areas of the Internet that most people don’t go into.  Trust me on this one).  I don’t know the first thing about it, though.  Of course, that probably won’t keep me from buying it eventually anyway.  It rarely does. :)

The last one I wanted to write about was Thundarr the Barbarian.

Now I *do* remember this one, mainly the characters, and it being a really fascinating setting … but that’s it.  The memories of this one have been lost to time.  I’m curious to check it out again, but I honestly have no idea what to expect.

Again, same thing as Dark Water … a lot of people are excited about it, and glad to see it out.  I guess I’m one of the few in the Josie and the Pussycats fan-camp.  I imagine it probably had something with me collecting and reading hundreds and hundreds of Archie digests growing up.

So, pretty cool stuff.  What’s really more awesome than the individual titles is the business concept.  I can’t think of titles off the top of my head right now, but I know there’s a ton of old Hanna-Barbera stuff out there that’s never been released, and now there’s a chance we’ll get to see more in the future — in a complete series set as well!  That’s just super exciting.  I tell you what. :)

One other thing I wanted to mention is that, I just recently decided to suspend my Netflix account.  I haven’t been watching any of the stuff they’ve been sending me lately, and I don’t really like surfing through their online library (feels too much like channel surfing to me sometimes, randomly looking for something interesting).  Money has been tight for me recently due to some health issues and paying for school, and so I decided that if I’m gonna allot some money towards movie entertainment every month, that I’d rather just build up my collection instead.  Buying season and complete series sets makes sense to me.  I watch those all the time, and for a small amount, I can get a lot of content that I’ll watch over again.  I love Netflix, but I’ve gotten a little tired of trying to dig out hits.  If money is scarce, I’d rather just spend it on something I know I’d much rather have.

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work, work, work … movies?

I don’t think I’ve ever made it any particular secret that I don’t enjoy the many jobs I’ve had.  Looking back through the long years of working (20 years now, go me), there’s only been one job that I’ve enjoyed: working at the movie theater.  I don’t remember exactly how long I worked there, since it was at two different chains  and across a number of years, but I’d say it probably capped out around three years of my life or so.  And, man, I still miss working there to this day.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I wanna do with my life, and invariably the answer always quickest to come first to my mind is, “not this!”  I never wanted to go into computers, and I did so, really, as a matter of indifference … I did it because I could.  I’m finding that attitude to be somewhat negative now.

But, I don’t wanna sound like I’m whining.  I got myself into the situation I’m in, and I’m willing to take responsibility for that, and I want to gracefully exit out, but at the same time, find something I would rather do instead.  Interestingly enough, I’ve had two ideas bouncing around my head lately of something I could do.  It seems incredibly risky, but I have so many ideas and I get so excited about it that I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t at least start to look into it.  I’ve been thinking about either running my own local movie theater or video rental store.

I’ve always wanted to run my own movie theater, ever since I was a little kid.  Growing up, going to the movies was a rare treat, and I really enjoyed it every time.  Well, except that one time my mom took me to see Bambi, and I thought the movie was pretty boring.  I must have been five at the time or something.  A critic at such a young age.  I still love going to the movies, for just the thrill of the experience.  One of the reasons that working at a movie theater was so much fun for me too, was that I’ve never found myself so culturally engrossed around people of my own kind as I was there.  First of all, those of us who were long-term workers were really into movies.  There seems to be more than a few shared qualities from that fascination, since I made a lot of good friends working there.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I have some really cool ideas for what would make a movie theater fun to visit.  I especially have lots of ideas on some cool promotions to do (which I might go into later … right now, they’re just floating around in my head).

The same is true for a video rental store.  I know it’s in the news this week that Hollywood Video is going out of business, and it really comes as no surprise to me.  I’ve written before how I think the whole business concept is outdated, and some ideas they can use to brighten things up.  I have lots more ideas on top of those I mentioned there, too.  There’s so many things you could do more than just making it a trip to pick up a movie or game to rent.  I gotta write em down.

There’s only one small problem — I’m not really the entrepreneurial type.  Personally speaking, I dislike the ideas of capitalism in general, and I completely glaze over anytime the topic of business comes up, so I’m not sure I’d be well suited to take on such an endeavor as I might run it financially into the ground, quickly.  If I was serious about doing it, I’d have to do my due research, that’s for sure.  I’d like to think I’ve worked with the movie theaters for long enough to know what would be the basics (I’ve filled every role there — usher, concessionist, box office, projectionist and management), but it seems like running a theater would be a lot riskier than a video store.  Who knows.  If it was small enough, I guess.

Anyhooms, I’m just thinking out loud for now.  I dunno what I think of the idea, but one thing I’m absolutely certain about — it’s one idea that gets me really excited, and just keeps generating more and more energy as I think about it.  Add on top of that it’s something I’ve thought would be cool  to do for years, so … who knows?

I guess at this point I’m just wondering if I should pursue the idea or not.  I mean, not commit myself to it, and run out and get a loan from the bank or anything, but rather just ask myself if there’s really some sustained interest there or if it’s just something to consider.  I dunno.

I can really think of some cool ideas, though. :)  Maybe I should share them.

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how to train your dragon

I saw “How to Train Your Dragon” the other week (in 2D … gah, I hate saying that), and it was pretty freaking awesome. :)

I was really skeptical about the movie after seeing the trailers, so I went in with some doubts, but man, they absolutely *nailed* this movie.

First off, you’re not gonna see a story so original ever again.  There’s just nothing to compare it to.  The main character’s name is Hiccup, who is a young teenage viking who is an absolute geek through and through.

And that’s where the movie really shines, is in its authenticity as far as how the character in that situation would act.  I kept thinking the movie is really human, for lack of a better term.  It certainly tells the story accurately from that persona’s point of view, including the awesome young hawt teenage chick he’s chasing, as well as the idiot bullies that get in his way.  It’s just great all around.

The animation was pretty incredible, too.  But what I thought was really unique was the cinematography.  When Hiccup is flying around on his dragon, some of the scenes are pretty intense … I actually got quite the rush from watching it, which was *totally* unexpected, and pretty rare!  I was really surprised.  For that reason alone, I wanna go back and see it in 3D.

Another thing I kept noticing was the attention to detail.  The dragons themselves acted a lot like how animals would really act — with their motions and reactions and things like that.  Again, it just made the entire thing seem really authentic.  I kept thinking how Hiccup’s dragon was acting just like a playful cat, since that’s what it seemed to be mimicking.  Really cool.

I won’t give away the ending, but it really took me by surprise how true-to-life it was.  I’m glad to see cartoons and kids films in general going back to their roots where actions have consequences and things aren’t watered down anymore.  It really adds to the story, and it certainly was *another* thing I wasn’t expecting.

There was only *one* minor complaint I had about the film — the audio track didn’t seem that great.  I went and saw it during a weekday, which was a mistake, since there was a small crowd and the sound wasn’t turned up very loud.  In fact, I was surprised to find myself  thinking it would sound better at my house.  But more than that, a lot of times the dialogue’s audio mix didn’t fit with the environment.  For instance, they’d be flying around, and their intonation or volume wouldn’t change with the circumstance — it sounded the same whether they were close up or skimming the water.  I think it’s interesting I even *noticed* something like that, but it really did seem to stand out like that a few times.

Final comments, though, go see it, and take your kids.  It’s got a lot of action sequences, but I wouldn’t classify it as really scary / frightening until the end, and even then, it’s still pretty simple fight sequences that wouldn’t be nightmarish I think.  I myself am pretty squeamish, and I know there weren’t any “ew, gross” moments, if that stands for anything.

Good times.  I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5, I think. :)

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happy april fool's

Okay, technically it’s 30 minutes before midnight, and I should be in bed … but hey, I should be married and have five kids by now, too, so whatever. :)

I’m not gonna post any entries this year.  In fact, I didn’t even remember about April Fool’s til about 2 weeks before this year, and I was like “oh yah … oh well.”  So, no ideas this year.  I’m just outta steam, yo.

However, here’s some links to my favorites from last year. :)

Just for the record, I don’t recommend having ferrets as pets.  Woodland creatures do not transform well into household environments.  And I’ll gladly share stories with you about stepping into puddles of ferret pee.  Seriously.

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return of the joker

I finally watched the Batman Beyond movie, Return of the Joker tonight.  I’ve had the DVD for a good long while, but since I’ve been ripping a lot of them to my backend recently, I decided to watch it tonight since it was so dead simple.

It was a good movie, I liked it.  In fact, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, which surprised me.  The story was really well done, and unlike some of the other Batman animated movies, it really did a good job of keeping the feel of an original series episode.

That’s not to say I’m really familiar with the Batman Beyond series.  I have to confess to seeing only about half a dozen episodes, if that.  I do have all three seasons of them on DVD though.  Again, just never really got around to watching them.  There’s a lot of TV shows like that though that I own.  It’s pretty common.  I just don’t get to them until the bug kinda hits me.

One thing that really impressed me about the movie, that I kept noticing, was that I really liked their art style.  I remember one reason I initially thought the series was going to be cool, was because it borrowed from the same animation style of the original Batman: The Animated Series runs, but now it was based in the future.

I’ve always loved the retro look of the original Batman cartoons (well, original for younger audiences), and I think that Warner Bros. has always done an amazing job with the art style.  But one thing I’ve consistently noted is that when you get good animation departments working with a futuristic timeline, they really have a ball and can come up with some really amazing concepts.

That’s one reason I like animation so much — it’s much easier to play with fresh ideas.

The story was great, as well.  I’ll be the first to admit that other Batman animated movies were alright.  In fact, I remember going to see Batman: Mask of the Phantasm with a friend when it was in the theaters.  We got there about 20 minutes late, which was a real crime, since the story flips back and forth between flashbacks constantly.  We were especially screwed because we came in when they were in a flashback sequence, and the movie was really short, and we were *completely* lost.  It’s still a good fun flick to watch, but the story is a bit strained.

This one, though, was much better by comparison.  A lot darker, too.  I’ve noticed that the newer WB animated movies are going in that direction.  I’ve got mixed feelings about that, personally.

I won’t give any of the story away, but I have always remembered reading one review of the movie a long time ago that said that it was really cool how the Joker came back.  And, I’ll agree completely.  I was pretty skeptical how they were going to work it out, but it was well done.  Plus, he is extra creepy in this one, and it seems like it delves into his character much more than before.

For that matter, now that I think about it,  the other main characters (Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis) both get some character development in the story.  We get to see a bit more about them as people.  Again, I thought the story was well developed.

The only thing that bummed me about the movie itself was the video transfer.  Warner Bros. is always great about their DVD transfers, but this one was non-anamorphic widescreen, meaning it was full-framed, but still letterbox.  On the flip side, though, the audio track was 5.1 Dolby Digital (not 2.0 like the Amazon.com listing suggests), and it was not too shabby.  It was well mixed, and even I, the non-audiophile, noticed the surround getting used quite a few times.  So, they didn’t really skimp there.  It wasn’t great by any means, but it was good.

I gotta say again how much I really enjoyed the art style in this one.  They really seemed to put some care into it.  I’m left to wonder if that transferred to the series as well.  I haven’t seen any of the episodes in a while, but I’m certainly curious to check them out now.

There were so many great shots and backgrounds, and I would love to post more, but some of them would give away the story.

Good stuff, though.  Can’t really go wrong with Batman.  I’m surprised I hadn’t seen it before now.  I like. :)

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