Halloween Tuesday Funnies

OK, trick or treat, please. Don’t mess with me lady, I’m on a sugar high.
The New Yorker
I’m afraid I’ve got bad news.
The New Yorker
By the way, does anything other than ‘trouble’ rhyme with ‘bubble’?
The New Yorker

Frankly, I find those costumes demeaning to those of us who are sexy witches every day.
The New Yorker
How do you get your children not to stick to the bottom of the cauldron?
The New Yorker
It’s a simple procedure. We slice off the top of your head, scoop out your innards with a spoon, and carve out your eyes and mouth.
The New Yorker
I make big batches and freeze it.
The New Yorker
We can’t all go as Elsa from ‘Frozen’.
The New Yorker

Silly Thor and Hulk

Little bears are at the movies… to see the silliest movie yet! Thor: Ragnarok!

Thor and Hulk in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

The hammer comes down as usual, but the humour goes up in a whole new way for a Marvel superhero movie. Thor: Ragnarok supplies the kind of sprawling action spectacle Marvel is renowned for, but it is also a sly, dry comedy packed with deadpan punchlines and absurd sight gags. It has wank jokes, arse puns, vampire gags, pratfalls, in-jokes, snarky asides and buffoonery to suit every palate. If you’re the kind of person who thinks it witty when the screenwriters dub a magical portal between worlds “the Devil’s anus”, then you’ll have a fine time.

We struggled with the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but warmed up to the second one (Baby Groot was just adorable!) and did not get into Deadpool. At all! Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t have nearly as much bedroom/bathroom humour as those three, and its frat-boy aspects are offset by a disarming, whimsical tone and incredibly good comic timing by its main characters. Luckily! Little bears are very sensitive!

As joyous as the clowning is, the film occasionally feels too glib. Everything comes second to the jokes – even established character. What Thor: Ragnarok gains in charm and comedy, it loses in story. Individual character arcs are vague, characters themselves are borderline unrecognisable, and more than a couple of film’s big twists are accompanied by quick leaps of logic that you shouldn’t dwell on. Heavier emotional beats, including wide-scale slaughter and the loss of a major character, are all but swept away in a format ill-equipped to deal with sobriety. The whole movie is a grab-bag of insanity so off-the-chain hilarious that you stick with it even when the convoluted plot goes haywire. In a film that manages to pack fire demons, zombies, a giant wolf, a dragon, a goddess of death and the Sorcerer Supreme, it’s hard to feel too short-changed by an occasional lack of gravity or lack of structure in the plot.

And if all that fails, have a cocktail! 🙂

Like a cosmic fever dream, Thor: Ragnarok is a disorientating cocktail of riotous colour and batty antics that seem almost unreal after the fact. Try to fit it into an established mould at your peril, but roll with this and you’ll discover not only a top-tier addition to the MCU, but one of the most flat-out enjoyable comedies of the year.

Marvel’s most unorthodox hire to date, the director of What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople was never going to deliver a standard cape-and-tights yarn. But the extent to which he’s been allowed to push the longboat out — sailing right through the bay of humorous asides and deep into the straits of absurdity — is nothing short of extraordinary. For the first time in 17 (count them and keep counting!) movies, Marvel has delivered something that isn’t an action movie leavened with humour, but a full-bore comedy using blockbuster spectacle as a backdrop for gags. The director himself is the comedy standout. As rock-hewn gladiator Korg, Taika Waititi claims the champion’s share of killer lines, stealing every scene he’s in with softly spoken Kiwi commentary. Waititi said the movie is so unconventional Mark Ruffalo joked they’d both get fired.

Taika Waititi is the voice of Korg in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Directed by cult-favourite New Zealand director Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok is silly and fun and zippy, a great showcase for star Chris Hemsworth’s increasingly reliable humour, and a solid introduction for Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie and some other spirited supporting characters. It’s a fine diversion, and ably carries the Marvel torch before it’s passed to Black Panther (and then to Avengers: Infinity War, and then to Ant-Man and the Wasp, and then to….).

Director Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth at the World Premiere of Thor: Ragnarok in Los Angeles

Waititi sets out his irreverent stall from the get-go, bouncing from a laugh-heavy prologue — in which a dangling Thor continually interrupts demon Surtur’s (Clancy Brown) gloating monologue — into a gleefully silly showdown with Loki-as-Odin (Tom Hiddleston) that kick starts the story proper. And the plot is in no way slight. Anchored in genocide, slavery and the literal end of days, this is as weighty an adventure as any the hammered one has undertaken. But Waititi’s feather-light touch imbues the whole affair with effervescent jollity, caring not a wit whether it’s dealing with mass impalements or a priceless reaction to the sight of a naked Hulk getting out of the hot tub.

Thor gets into the naked spirit by popping some of his clothes off for a bit

Hurled from the Bifrost mid-fracas and stranded on junk-strewn Sakaar, Thor is trapped, trussed and delivered into the custody of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum at his Goldblumiest). Thor is forced into gladiatorial servitude alongside the gamma-green monster, creating an odd couple for the ages. More emotive (and articulate) than ever, Hulk delivers a knockout combination of gags as he fights (verbally and physically) with his former colleague. But Ruffalo delights equally as Bruce Banner: an inspired straight man in too-tight trousers, delivering such lines as, “Guys, we’re coming up on the Devil’s Anus!” without so much as a stutter.

In a cast boasting the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba, you’d be hard-pressed not to spot a star or two – and that’s not even mentioning the much-trailed cameo for Benedict Cumberbatch’s sorcerer superhero Doctor Strange. But wait, there’s more. There’s also a priceless scene, full of cameos. As far as celebrity cameos go, the scene is kind of perfect. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit. Make sure you don’t!

Matt Damon, Sam Neill and Luke Hemsworth
Matt Damon as Loki
Sam Neill as Odin

Stan Lee also features, playing a gladiatorial barber, but you already knew that.

Beary Avengers

It has been five years since the Avengers stopped alien forces in New York, preventing the Chitauri army from invading the planet. Now, they need help in the Infinity War!

And little bears are very helpful 🙂

They are helping themselves to elevenses from Chu Bakery 🙂

Next March they will join the elite support network of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that helps superheroes like Captain America, Iron Man and Thor protect Earth. Prospective agents can sign up for training at Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., a scientific training centre that will open in March at Federation Square in Melbourne. Inside, the S.H.I.E.L.D. director, Nick Fury, will guide recruits through the process, starting with obtaining an ID badge.

Over the course of their training, recruits will use these badges at interactive labs that will allow them to explore the origins of the Avengers through “classified” documents and scientific experiments. The mission is to delve into the history, science, engineering, genetics, technology and profiles of Captain America, Hulk, Thor and Iron Man and more.

How does Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, conduct electricity? How do you navigate the HUD interface inside Iron Man’s helmet? How did the supersoldier serum created Captain America? How do your strength and reflexes test against his? How did the gamma radiation turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk?

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

The exhibit is an interactive experience. The S.T.A.T.I.O.N. tour begins with a mobile device. Trainees can rent a device and enter their information, or download the app to their phone and enter their information, which will be used to create a S.T.A.T.I.O.N. profile. This serves as a personal tour guide for exhibit and is narrated by Friday, Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The device/phone is also used to quiz trainees on Marvel trivia (points are tallied at the end), and lets the guests take photos that are printed in a collage along with the official S.T.A.T.I.O.N. ID card.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

The tour begins with a briefing from agent Maria Hill, and when the doors open, trainees are transported into a different world, completely reminiscent of the labs seen in the various Avengers films. Each area has its own theme, with the major rooms focusing on Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and Thor. The A.I. Friday, which knows exactly where the trainee is in the exhibit, briefs trainees on each aspect. As trainees go from room to room, new messages pop up on the device/phone, helping them along to their next stage in training.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.
Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.
Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

Trainees test Captain America’s shield, interact with the Incredible Hulk, help defeat Ultron and experience Iron Man’s Heads Up Display, or HUD for short. The HUD puts trainees into a contraption that scans their brainwaves and tracks their eye movement. They use their eyes to focus on targets and blast them, all while their face is projected onto a screen that makes them appear as if they’re in an Iron Man helmet.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network) is an exhibit that marries costumes, props and set pieces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a program that trains the recruits to be official Avengers operatives.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.
Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

One of the biggest draws to the exhibit is the artefacts, about 80 percent of which are actual movie props. Marvel supported the project by providing paraphernalia from the 2012 film The Avengers. This includes all the costumes, from Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Agent Coulson, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, Falcon and more, to pieces like Captain America’s shield; the sceptre wielded by Loki, the mischievous god who led the invasion; and a Tesseract, a powerful device that opens portals to other worlds. The station also includes a Chitauri captured in the battle and placed in a hermetically sealed chamber.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

A super-powered dose of science and technology has been provided by NASA to enhance the authenticity of the experience and pique visitors’ interest in real-world science and technology.

The station is the brainchild of Victory Hill Exhibitions, which worked with Marvel Entertainment, NASA and the National Academy of Sciences. The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. got its start in New York City in 2014. Since then it’s been to Seoul, Paris, Las Vegas, Singapore, Beijing, Taipei and Chong Qing. In Las Vegas it has now been established as a permanent attraction. In 2017 Marvel broke records in Brisbane with its Creating the Cinematic Universe exhibition that ran for three-months and saw close to 270,000 visitors (but no bears 😦 ) experience one of the largest displays ever presented.

The station has become an extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With new Marvel films coming out every year, the instillation grows and changes.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

Boo!

Monsters, Inc. was one of the most celebrated animated films of 2001. Tapping into the child-like notion that monsters live in closets and only come out to scare children at night, the film follows Sulley and his wisecracking sidekick Mike Wazowski who are the top scare team at Monsters, Inc., the scream-processing factory in Monstropolis. When a little girl named Boo wanders into their world, it’s the monsters who are scared silly 🙂

The animated feature from Pixar reveals that it is true that there are monsters in the bedroom closet, especially after the lights have been put out. Little bears have solved this problem, there is no closet in their bedroom!

Monsters, Inc. followed the two Toy Story movies (back when they were only two) and A Bug’s Life from Pixar, and showed off again the studio’s remarkable computer-aided animation, which creates an uncanny sense of dimension and movement. Monsters, like toys and bugs, came in every conceivable shape, size and colour, which must have been one of their attractions, and the movie is jolly to look at. And since the monsters are terrified of Boo, whose very name is a rebuke to their lifelong missions, there are screams and chases on both sides of the closet doors. The doors are manufactured in Monstropolis, to such exacting specifications that no one ever figures out they didn’t come with the house 🙂 The most entertaining sequence in the movie is a roller-coaster chase scene involving hundreds of doors on an endless conveyor line that loops the loop at a breakneck speed.

There was a real little girl who voiced Boo and her name is Mary Gibbs. She was two years old at the time of filming for Monsters, Inc., and the crew found that Mary was unable to sit still in the recording booth, so they followed her around the studio with a microphone to record her dialogue. They used puppets to talk to her, and her mother would tickle Mary to make her laugh and take candy away from her to maker her cry… Poor kid!

Her father was a story board artist for the film and the director asked if anyone had a little girl they could sketch and use for scratch dialogue. Normally they have adults do kids voices, but since her father was part of the animation team and Mary was comfortable around everyone. they ended up using her voice for the actual movie. Archive recordings of her cries and screams were re-used for toddler-age Riley Andersen in Inside Out.

The Pixar artists are known for slipping references to past and future movies into their films and there are several in Boo’s bedroom. Among Boo’s toys are the ball from Luxo Jr, Jessie from Toy Story 2, and Nemo from Finding Nemo, which was released after Monsters, Inc.

One of the more obvious in-jokes in Monsters, Inc. is the name of the restaurant where Mike takes his girlfriend Celia. Harryhausen’s is named after Ray Harryhausen, the legendary special effects artist known for creating monsters for films like Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts. Harryhausen passed away in May of 2013 at age 92.

Hey Sulley, these monster cakes must be from Harryhausen’s!

The animation of Mike Wazowski is interesting because the animators apparently had so little to work with. Instead of an expressive face and a lot of body language, they’re given, as one of the leads of the picture, an eyeball! Luckily, the eyeball has an eyelid, or maybe it’s a brow, and with this to work with, the artists are able to supply him with all the facial expressions a monster would ever need – especially one without a face 🙂 It’s a tour de force.

The technical team for Monsters, Inc. had a different challenge to find a way to refine the rendering of Sulley’s fur to make it look and move as naturally as possible. One challenge was figuring out how to animate the huge numbers of hairs — 2,320,413 on Sulley (clearly someone counted every one of them 🙂 ) — in an efficient way. Another challenge was making sure the hairs cast shadows on other hairs because without self-shadowing, fur or hair takes on an unrealistic look. In response to the engineering challenges they faced, Pixar set up a Simulation department and created a new fur simulation program called Fizt (“physics tool”). The Fizt program was a breakthrough, allowing the team to take the controlled movements of the characters and add fur or clothing to them after the scenes had been shot. This practice helped the fur and clothing move in a natural way with the characters movements.

Monsters, Inc. may have lost the very first Best Animated Feature Oscar to Dreamworks’ Shrek, but it did win another very important Oscar. The film’s lone song, If I Didn’t Have You, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Randy Newman, who had been composing and writing music for Pixar since Toy Story, had received a whopping 15 previous Oscar nominations, but never a win. Thanks to Monsters, Inc., Newman could finally add ‘Oscar winner’ to his impressive list of credentials,

No word yet on Monsters, Inc. 3 but it hasn’t been ruled out yet. Pixar is pretty busy with The Incredibles 2 scheduled for release in 2018 and the fourth Toy Story movie for 2019.

They have to come back because they scare, because they care 🙂

Professor Puffles

You’re wearing a dress…

I’m wearing a professorly dress!

And I am making professorly doodles!

A long time ago, a Greek mathematician named Pythagoras discovered an interesting property about right triangles: the sum of the squares of the lengths of each of the triangle’s legs is the same as the square of the length of the triangle’s hypotenuse. This property — which has many applications in science, art, engineering, and architecture — is now called the Pythagorean Theorem.

The very first, and most important, maths book is Euclid’s Elements and this is the grand finale of that book – it’s one of the greatest achievements of Greek geometry.

The Pythagorean theorem is such a celebrity, it made it into the Simpsons!