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14 October 2016 @ 09:48 pm
30 years ago on this day, Walt Disney Home Video kicked off their latest promotion: "Bring Disney Home For Good." One new release on that day was the first entry in the "Disney Sing-Along Songs" series!
Many an 80s and 90s kid saw or owned at least one of these. They would play songs from Disney movies or cartoons, and the lyrics would typically appear on the bottom of the screen, inviting the viewing audience to sing along. There were numerous other sing-along videos from different companies, some of different franchises or whatever (there were sing-along videos from companies like KidStuff, Golden Book Video, even Warner Home Video had a few!)
Prior to many of the great animated classics coming to home video, this was one way to see what some of them were like (such as was the case with "Snow White," "The Aristocats" and "Oliver & Company," even the unreleased "Song of the South!")
Here's the original intro, which utilizes footage from a couple of 1953 "stylized" Disney shorts: "Melody" and "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom"...

Love those 80s synthesizers!

And yes, you did hear me say "Song of the South." The very first volume, released 30 years ago, included "Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah" on it...

It was to tie in with the 40th anniversay celebration of "Song of the South" Disney was doing back then. Ironically, the complete film has NEVER been released on home video in North America due to Disney being too chicken to do so. (Come on Disney; it can be for historic purposes, AND it'll sell millions! Think of the high demand!)

One particularly interesting release was 1990's "Disneyland Fun," which consisted of new live-action footage of Disneyland's park characters (even including Roger Rabbit!) along with various Disney songs (both theme-park related, and from their various films.)

Since Halloween will be here soon, here's the "Grim Grinning Ghosts" number from that video. A certain long-tongued wolf makes an appearance in it too... ;)

Many of the titles are still available on DVD to this day (but not "Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah," not surprisingly...) so future generations can grow up with these, like I have.

Also, 30 years ago today marked the official debut of Walt Disney Home Video's new animated opening logo, featuring Mickey Mouse dressed in his Fantasia attire...

Another Disney staple of my childhood!

And Disney also released "Sleeping Beauty" on home video for the first time that day, to which it became the top-selling video title of 1986! But it didn't use that Disney logo I just posted; being in the Classics collection, it used this rather primitive opening logo introduced a couple years before...

Though I definitely remember seeing this logo before "Dumbo" and "Lady and the Tramp" as a kid.

And there's your Disney history tidbit for today!
08 October 2016 @ 10:53 pm
Today was an event I was looking forward to all week: the annual Downtown Fest Car Show,  co-operated by the hobby shop I have connections with. And of course, K-O the Kangaroo got to be part of it. It was lots of fun! There were even some kids there that enjoyed my appearance. And some fun 50s and 60s songs were being played. K-O especially enjoyed dancing to a surf medley that ended with "Secret Agent Man."

Since I love classic cars, I couldn't resist posing with them for a few photos. Here's K-O posing with a neat old Ford Model T. Note the hood ornament: it's Mickey Mouse!

K-O plays around with some plastic/decorative food on a drive-in diner table set up on this 1954 Buick.

The owner of the hobby shop has a little setup of Brockton Rox merchandise and memorabilia, so K-O just had to pose with it. And hey, I have one of those K-O plushies!

Here's a picture of K-O the Kangaroo posing in a neat 1928 Ford Roadster!

On the other side of the Ford Roadster, K-O actually couldn't cram into the drivers' seat very well...

K-O posing with a cool classic Chevy.

Of course we had some model trains set up at Downtown Fest. Here's K-O the Kangaroo running the small N-scale layout set up here, with a DCC and sound-equipped Amtrak F40PH locomotive pulling some rolling stock, including a couple of Superliner cars. The Amtrak F40PH is my favorite Amtrak diesel; I used to see them all the time at South Station in Boston as a kid (now they just have the Genesis diesels.)

During the award ceremony for the car show, some of the participants helping out with the show got trophies as well. Even K-O the Kangaroo got one as well! How nice!

In the meantime, K-O is spending the weekend at my place, since the Rox office/stadium is closed for the weekend. Here he is watching "Characterz"...

And here's K-O up against my own kangaroo, Sydney!

What do YOU think the outcome will be?
And yes, that's both me in the costumes, combining them with Photoshop magic.

A really hoppy weekend up here, mates!
20 September 2016 @ 11:09 pm
Today, Walt Disney Home Video released "Beauty and the Beast" once again on Blu-Ray and Digital HD, to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary, in their "Walt Disney Signtature Collection," which is the successor to the "Diamond Editions." I haven't gotten a copy yet, but I plan to once I have enough money to do so. I do already have the film on VHS, the original 1992 "Black Diamond Classic" edition...

Of course, some of you may recall a recent online trend where these tapes are supposedly worth hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars all of a sudden, but as I said before, that simply isn't the case. This is one of THE most common Disney "Black Diamond" VHS tapes out there, along with "Aladdin." It was the best-selling home video title of 1992, released in late October, and then went back in the vault in spring 1993.

Also, as a promotion for the film's home video release, Walt Disney Home Entertainment has brought a bunch of other vaulted titles out for sale for a very limited time, including "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Little Mermaid," all of which went into the vault this past spring. Combining them with "Beauty and the Beast" and the already-out "Snow White," "Aladdin," "Pocahontas," "The Princess and the Frog," "Tangled" and "Frozen," Disney is promoting that you can buy ALL of the original Disney animated princess features. No having to wait several years for the next cycle!
This is the first time Walt Disney Home Video ever pulled a stunt like that; I do recall 30 years ago, in fall 1986, they had a big "Bring Disney Home For Good" promotion, where the centerpieces of the video promotion were the Classics titles out at the time, including "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," "Alice in Wonderland," "Sleeping Beauty," "The Sword in the Stone" and "Robin Hood." You could even buy all six in a collectors' box set!

This image is from my Facebook friend Kyle's animation blog.

I don't really plan to buy any of those other princess titles, and I already have "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin" Blu-Ray editions. But as I said, I do plan to get the "Beauty and the Beast" Blu-Ray/Digital HD combo pack, as that's one of my favorite Disney animated films. For an animated Disney movie produced in the 1990s using computer technology, it has a very classic look and feel to it. It was even nominated for Best Picture in the Oscars, but lost to "Silence of the Lambs." (But it still won the Golden Globe for "Best Musical or Comedy" and the Annie Award for "Best Animated Feature," the very first one!) Only two other animated features were nominated for the "Best Picture" Oscar: Pixar's "Up" and "Toy Story 3," and of course they both didn't win it (but at least they got the "Best Animated Film" Oscars!)

It's good that Disney is still re-releasing the great animated films on home video so future generations can grow up with these beloved Classics.
19 September 2016 @ 11:37 pm
I'm sure some of you may recall going through a closet, basement or attic and finding old home movies. They could be Super 8mm film reels, or old videotapes of some sort. You decide to put them on and relive the memories. (Such as pulling out the old movie projector or VCR to play them.) As you watch, you are surprised at how different they seem now, compared to when they were originally filmed.

I did that today. I decided to pull out some of my old Hi-8 videocassettes and play them on my Sony Digital8 camcorder. (For those unfamiliar, Digital8 was a digital video format that recorded onto 8mm videotapes using the DV codec, as if they were MiniDV tapes; the Digital8 camcorders could also often play back analog Hi-8 recordings.) On one tape, I found old footage from 2005 of me goofing around in my rubber Wile E. Coyote mask. I remember before I even had my own digital still camera, I still had a Hi-8 video camera, so I would sometimes show off my Wile E. gear this way. (This was where my being a furry began to take off.) So I just had to digitize it...

Unlike with many other analog video formats, if you have a Digital8 camcorder, digitizing your 8mm/Hi-8 videotapes is quite easy. You simply plug the camcorder into a computer's FireWire port (if it has one), and capture it in the video editing software as if it were regular digital video! It doesn't have timecode or automatic scene detection though, due to the video being, well, analog. But at least it's being imported in full quality!

Though I will say, in several cases, filming something on analog video in the 21st century can sometimes make the video actually appear much older than it really is! Though eleven years is a long time now...
17 September 2016 @ 11:36 pm
Today I went to King Richard's Faire 2016 for a furmeet, and had quite a bit of fun! Naturally I decided to go as the Big Bad Wolf, as he would somewhat fit with the fairy tale-esque setting. Plus, I still wanted to show the new fursuit head I built for the wolf. I got a lot of positive reaction, and quite a few people wanted my picture, even kids! There were a few that mistook me for Goofy, and one kid even mistook me for Peg Leg Pete! (I mentioned to him that Pete is a friend of mine.)

Here's me with another furry dressed as a "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" unicorn. Pretty neat fursuit he had!

Here I am posing with two foxes I befriended, Dahlia and Anti Blue Fox!

Here's the Big Bad Wolf posing with Jacque the Whipper (get it?) at King Richard's Faire. He put on some pretty cool whip demonstrations! Here I am holding his bicycle horn he also uses in the show (but not honking it at him though :P )

There were so many trees around King Richard's Faire, and the Big Bad Wolf couldn't resist one of his signature "lurking" poses...

...along with the "sneaky walk," too!

Here's a pretty cool dragon that was also at Kind Richard's Faire. So of course, the Big Bad Wolf had to pose with him! He did enjoy my presence, too.

I've been caught!
Here's the Big Bad Wolf at the dungeon exhibit, posing inside a cage. I thought this would make for a fun photo op!

I also saw a neat jousting tournament, some girl acrobats, and more! Here's a little video I shot of the Wolf around King Richard's Faire...

I'm glad I had fun here. It kind of reminded me of my time at Boston Comic Con this year.
This Halloween, I plan to have the Big Bad Wolf appear at my college, especially for the Halloween party. Will he go over as well there? I'm pretty sure he will...
15 September 2016 @ 11:24 pm
It doesn't seem like that long ago when YouTube started and became a very popular website. But it did, way back in 2005. I wasn't even aware of its' existance until early 2006, when I was a senior in high school! It quickly became one of my favorite websites to visit. Ten years later, it still is.
What has changed between those ten years is how videos for YouTube are sometimes produced. Back in 2006, if you didn't use a webcam, you would most likely have used a MiniDV camcorder. They recorded onto small digital video tapes, and were very high quality compared to legacy analog videotape formats. A popular thing about them was that the digital codec allowed the video to be transferred into a regular computer via IEEE-1394, a.k.a. FireWire. Apple took advantage of this with their original iMac G3, when in 1999, they introduced a version with FireWire ports and the original version of their iMovie video editing app, which was the world's first consumer video editing software. It took home movies to a whole new level!

Today, desktop video editing is much more commonplace. And it also was back in 2006. But you still had to capture the video with a FireWire port and cable. By that point, all Macs had at least one FireWire port, and some new PCs did as well (if your PC tower didn't have any FireWire ports, you could easily buy a PCI FireWire card to install on the back of the PC, which is what we did when I first began using a MiniDV camcorder.
Many video editing programs back in 2006 were a lot like the ones today, but editing in high-definition video wasn't as common (mainly only in professional video ediing software), and back then you couldn't upload from the program directly to YouTube or another video sharing site, like you can today. iMovie was also different ten years ago. Chances are, producing a YouTube video on the Mac would've looked something like this...

Yes, as an intentional Throwback Thursday project, I produced a new short YouTube video on my Canon Optura 60 MiniDV camcorder (in standard definition, no less!), and edited it on iMovie HD 6 on my Mac Mini. It took a little more effort than it would on the current iMovie, or even Final Cut Pro X. But see it for yourself!

I'm pretty pleased with how this experiment came out.

For most videos I make nowadays, I shoot them on my Canon PowerShot ELPH115-IS digital camera, my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone, or my iPod Touch 5G, which can all film HD video. I can even edit it on the two mobile devices and directly upload to YouTube (via the mobile Cyberlink PowerDirector and iMovie for iOS apps, respectively!) The camera and the Smartphone record video onto memory cards, and the iPod Touch has internal memory, so I import them into a video editor the same way I import still photos, all via USB or an SD card slot. No FireWire needed! (Matter of fact, very few computers have FireWire on them nowadays, but for the new Macs you can get a FireWire to Thunderbolt adapter for those legacy FireWire devices.) On the Mac, I usually use iMovie 10 (sometimes the previous version, labeled iMovie '11) and Final Cut Pro X, sometimes Adobe Premiere Pro CC. On the Windows side (as my Mac Mini has a Windows 10 Boot Camp partition), I typically use Cyberlink PowerDirector 14 Ultra (I may upgrade to Ultimate 15, as it came out just recently, once I get the cash), and sometimes Sony Vegas.
And speaking of video editing software, the video editing lab at my college is planning to get new computers, to replace the seven-year-old 24" iMacs they've been using. (They won't be able to run MacOS Sierra when it comes out next week.) They're thinking of leaning towards the new thin 27" Retina display iMacs. But the director was against Final Cut Pro X, when it came out five years ago and was radically redesigned, changing from a purely professional video editing program to looking more consumerish (some even nicknamed it "iMovie Pro" because of that.) But over those five years, Final Cut Pro X has had more and more professional features added to it that have sent some video editors crawling to it. I usually use Final Cut Pro X for my YouTube Poops or anything else elaborate...

(This is from when I created a cartoon "Li'l Red Riding Hood" music video.)

It's got so many professional features, even I haven't used them all! The TV director was very impressed with this updated version, when I gave him an in-person demonstration of the software early this week on my MacBook. It reminded him a lot of the old video editing software we used ten years ago, back when our video editing lab used upgraded Dell PC towers: Pinnacle Liquid Edition (later renamed Avid Liquid.) He used to work for Pinnacle Systems before Avid bought the company (and then Avid sold it to Corel.) He joked that Avid must have licensed some of their old Liquid properties to Apple or something. So now he's considering getting this program for if we get new iMacs for our video editing lab. They currently use Adobe Premiere Pro CC and sometimes Apple Final Cut Pro 7 (the last "classic" version of the program), but I imagine they'd probably end up using both Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X, like I do.
Also, Final Cut Pro X is one of the few professional video editors that can upload directly to YouTube. The only other professional video software I know that can do the same thing is Sony Vegas Pro.

It goes to show how digital video production has come a long way!
Well, summer came to a close yesterday, and once again it's autumn, just like in this clip...

And of course, that means it's also the first day of school, in the Disney universe, which happened to be today here in Brockton. So here's a rather cheesy but fun Golden Book Video that came out 30 years ago showing Richard Scarry's characters and artwork, where little Brewster (no relation to Huckle Cat) goes to his first day of kindergarten...

My brother works as a teacher's aid at the city high school, so of course the following 180 school days will be busy...

But fortunately after September comes October, and with October comes Halloween, and then after Halloween is my birthday!

I'd better rest up. Tomorrow I start taking my new college computer course!
03 September 2016 @ 12:10 am
Early last Month, my mom wanted me to pull up weeds from the garden near our back porch, including the milkweed that frequently grows there (Common Milkweed.) But as I was starting to work on the milkweed, in the process I discovered four Monarch butterfly eggs!

I had learned to recognize how they appear. And some of you may remember when I reared three Monarch butterflies from eggs I similarly found on our milkweed four years ago. Well, since the number of Monarchs have been dwindling, I decided to lend nature a hand and nurture them myself! If left to the wild, the eggs or the caterpillars could be eaten by ants or something. So I took the four eggs I found and left most of the milkweed intact.
Normally, we don't get Monarchs laying eggs on our milkweed, but it happened back in 2012, and it happened again this year. I suspect it had something to do with the mild winter we had this year, as 2011-2012 was also a mild winter. And it was good for the migrating Monarchs, too. The dwindling Monarch butterfly population is partly due to rough climates in Mexico for the overwintering butterflies, and also partly due to the lack of milkweed, as that's all the caterpillars eat. Fortunately, Monarch butterflies are native to eastern Massachusetts, as are many other familiar North American butterflies (I've been seeing a lot of Cabbage White, Spicebush Swallowtail and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies this summer!)

The evening after the day I brought the eggs in, the caterpillars hatched.

They were so small among initially hatching. But I gave them a fresh milkweed leaf and let them eat it. They don't eat much when they're really young, but at least it gives them the energy they need. Every day, I would give them fresh milkweed, and clean out their feces (it was nasty, but it had to be done.)

Unfortunately, one of the caterpillars didn't make it (I guess I mishandled it; oh well, live and learn.) But the other three turned out just fine. Here are the three after they molted into the second instar. They would actually eat their old skin; I guess it contains nutrients for them to grow. This photo was taken when the caterpillars were three days old.

Here they are three days later, after molting into the third instar. They still didn't eat as much, but still got all the food they needed to grow. When they were young, I would give them a single milkweed leaf every day. I even plucked some of the really big leaves and saved them in the refrigerator, for when the caterpillars were bigger.

When my caterpillars were a week old, I moved them into a slightly bigger habitat. The initial one was a plastic jar with a paper towel covering the top via a rubber band, so the caterpillars could get air but couldn't escape. The second container was a "Critter Case" from Toysmith's Backyard Exploration product line.

By the time the caterpillars were in the fourth instar, I bumped up the milkweed supply to two leaves a day. I also placed a paper towel at the bottom of the habitat, to make it easier to clean up after them. (At least it wasn't as bad as cleaning up after the gypsy moth caterpillars this summer!) These caterpillars just kept eating and crapping continuously. When they would not move and be very still, I learned this meant they were getting ready to molt. After shedding their skin, they would eat the old skin and resume eating the milkweed.

By the time they were two weeks old, they were HUGE. I would often give them three leaves a day, as they ate a lot more in the fifth instar.
For another day, they kept eating. But then when they were 16 days old...

Two of the caterpillars prepared to go into the pupa stage! I supplied a paper towel on the top of the container, to make it easier to transport them into my butterfly habitat. For most of Sunday, August 21st, they hung there.

When I woke up the next morning, the three caterpillars were still hanging upside down in the "J" shape, but as I checked on them, the one in the foreground began to wiggle. I knew what was about to happen, and filmed the action with my iPod Touch!

I sped up the video, because the molting process took quite a while. I sure was lucky to see it happen. Hours later, the second chrysalis formed.

That black stuff on the edge of the chrysalis in the foreground is the caterpillar's old skin. It came off easily once the shell completely hardened.

That evening, the third caterpillar went into the pupa stage.

The next day, I moved the three chrysalises into my collapsable mesh butterfly habitat I ordered from Educational Science. I also learned to tell the gender of them by examining the chrysalises with a magnifying glass. The two on the right were female, and the third was male, according to THIS guide.
This was without a doubt the easiest part in caring for the Monarchs.

On the ninth day since they began pupation, that evening, the two female chrysalises looked like this:

You can see the wings beginning to form through the shells.

The next morning, the tenth day since they began pupation, those two chrysalises had darkened like this:

That meant it wouldn't be long now before they'd emerge. So I kept an eye on them, and eventually, after 11 AM, the one on the bottom hatched!

She chose to hang on the bottom of the paper towel piece to expand and dry her wings.

A half-hour later, the second butterfly hatched out:

Here they are with their wings full-size, letting them dry. By 3 PM, the wings were strong enough to let them fly.

Here are the two female butterflies together.

Just as I expected, that evening, the male chrysalis looked like this. That meant he would be a butterfly the next morning!

When I woke up that morning (the first day of September, no less), that third chrysalis looked ready to hatch. So I kept an eye on him...

Eventually, he hatched out!

This one preferred to sit on the empty chrysalis shell to expand and dry his wings.

Then after that, I provided the butterflies with some nourishment, with a couple of butterfly bush cuttings laced with sugar water, and a little chunk of watermelon (they love to drink the juice from it!)

With two females and a male being in the habitat together, it could've easily been a butterfly version of "Three's Company!"

For those wondering, it's much easier to tell their gender apart when they are butterflies.

A male Monarch butterfly looks like this...

And a female Monarch looks like this.
When I last raised Monarchs in 2012, all three of them turned out to be male.

That day started out cloudy and wet. But later that afternoon, the rain stopped and the clouds parted, and I figured it was perfect for releasing the butterflies! So I did.

Here's the male Monarch sitting on my finger, from when I coaxed him out of the habitat. I did the same with one of the females, but the other female butterfly simply flew right out of the habitat and up into the sky! The butterflies sure were happy to be free.

Here's one of the females enjoying our butterfly bush. She hung out here for a while before finally taking off.

I do hope my butterflies will do well. They are part of the big generation that migrates in the fall! Since these butterflies were born and raised in Massachusetts, chances are they will fly either to Mexico or to southern Florida, according to a Monarch migration map I checked out. Monarch butterflies are famous for their migration.

Anyways, if you have milkweed, I recommend you check it before getting rid of it. Or you may want to keep it, to help the Monarch population. Who knows? A female butterfly just may lay eggs on it, and then YOU can nurture them! If you have no milkweed but want to plant it, I'd recommend looking into Tropical Milkweed or Butterfly Milkweed; they aren't considered a nuisance like Common Milkweed is, and they grow beautiful flowers that attract butterflies. If we move to another place in the near future (my parents are looking to find another house here in Brockton) and there's no milkweed, we will probably get some Butterfly Weed and plant it for a nice little butterfly garden.

I even managed to get a new Caillou YouTube Poop out of all of this that showcases Monarch butterflies (not safe for work!)

But I need to get ready for when I go back to college this month. I'm taking a computer course this semester, as I am going back to get a computer science degree so I can move forward with my future I.T. career!
Saw this in the Sunday paper this morning, and enjoyed it quite a bit!

So much detail about vinyl records! I enjoy it when Paul Trap writes about his nostalgic moments in the comic strip. I'm guessing the father's copy of the album is a recent printing, due to the linear notes on the inner sleve, and the vinyl being 180 grams (normally used for high quality records these days), even mentioning setting the speed to 33 1/3 RPM! While of course, the Baby is listening to music on a modern SmartPhone player of some sort (maybe like an iPod Touch?)

While I like listening to my iPod Touch for music on the go, in my room I still enjoy listening to music on tapes and records! Being the old-timer he is, the Big Bad Wolf also prefers vinyl records...
Current Mood: "Pig Out" from Disney's Mousercise!
15 August 2016 @ 11:01 pm
Today I installed some whiskers onto my Big Bad Wolf fursuit head! I used black aluminum jewelry wire, and pierced and glued them in, making it sort of like the whiskers on the head for the official Big Bad Wolf theme park costume. Of course my head looks more like how the wolf actually appeared in the cartoons. So here's a selfie of me showing the new whiskers!

I'm quite pleased with the results. I also shot another photo to show the whiskers...

And I filmed a new vlog video as well; today marks the 70th anniversary of the Disney movie "Make Mine Music," which included their famous adaptation of "Peter and the Wolf." So I commemorated that event with reviewing the read-along book-and-record adaptation of that cartoon. It's also one of DIsney's more unique read-along titles, as it was the only one of the early releases to have music accompany the narration, and has no turn-the-page signals...

Now I really can't wait for next January, when Anthro New England 2017 rolls around, and I can show this new head there!