Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Movie Review
    — Doogal

Doogal is, um, a computer-animated kids movie about a dog and a singing cow and slacker rocker rabbit and a snail who take on a quest from a good wizard spring to stop a bad wizard spring from freezing the world solid, and who do a lousy job of it but eventually win anyway (for not much reason other than because the good guys always have to win).

If that sounds both stupid and not especially enjoyable — probably including for the kids it is aimed at — you’re right.  As bad as Barnyard was, this is the computer-animated film that will make you swear off of watching anything in that mode that comes down the Netflix queue.  (Then again, I haven't dared to watch Hoodwinked yet.)
  • Unattractive character designs.
  • A melange of characters apparently based on the toys left ignored in some kid’s toy chest, given how poorly they mesh as a group/team.
  • The classic quest concept of recover the magic objects, and in the process lead the bad guy to each of them so he can get them instead, never mind that he would have apparently never found them otherwise.
  • Loads of pop culture references and anachronisms (a laser grid in an ancient Aztec temple?), the sort which break you out of the thin story over and over again rather than enhancing it.
  • Subplots which go nowhere (like the snail’s unrequited love for the cow).
  • Atrocious matching of the voice work to the character mouths.  (Apparently all the characters but the cow and good wizard spring were redone for the American release, and they either did a lot of ad lib or the script work was really shoddy in terms of retaining the timing.)
The only reason I would recommend this is to put something in front of a 4-year old that he or she hasn’t already seen twelve times.  If the kid has seen something else only ten or eleven times before, put that on again instead of this.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Movie Review
    — Barnyard

Remember those foam “stress relief” toys from the 1990s, the ones you could squish into a malformed ball and they would slowly restore to the original shape?  That is the apparent basis for the design of the cows in the animated film Barnyard.  It’s also the only redeeming feature of the film.
  • The male cows all have udders.  According to IMDB, the director says this was an intentional joke.  That may be true, but that doesn’t make it funny.
  • Other than the cows and a couple other barnyard animals, the bulk of the character designs are simply ugly.
  • While this is positioned as a movie leading into a Nickelodeon television series, it’s obvious that the reverse is true: they took several episodes of the proposed TV series and strung them together  The entire film is structured in roughly 20-minute chunks, and several of the pieces have characters who do not appear in other chunks.  If you’ve going to give us a movie, give us an actual movie, not a re-edited batch of TV shows.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saves water… or invests it?

This little placard (about 4" high) was posted near the urinals at Safeco Field.

I hate messages like this, because they are often used to lie with statistics, using math comparisons to hide the real information, usually to make it seem more impressive than it really is.

In this case, though, the placard is outright wrong!

“This urinal flushes with only 16 oz. of water” — okay, that’s clear enough.

“A standard one-gallon urinal” — points for good hyphenation, but deduction for switching from ounces to gallons.  How many ounces in a gallon?  (I had to look it up to be sure, got it wrong at first: 128.)

But the word after the comma, this is where the placard text is wrong.  If it had said “This urinal flushes with only 16 oz. of water, using 88% less water per use than a standard one-gallon urinal”, it would have been correct (albeit overusing “use”).  87.5% of 128 oz. is 112 oz., so saving 88% leaves 16 oz being used:
x - .88x = 16        (where x=ounces used by a one-gallon urinal = 128)
But they had to try to go green and put the word “saving” in there.  That changes the entire meaning.  It is no longer about using less than another urinal does; now it is about saving more than another urinal (saves).  That unwritten word is the key.  It means that we are comparing this urinal and the regular one to some unspecified third option, a presumed baseline.  But what is that baseline?

The EPA refers to an “older, inefficient 1.5 gpf flushing urinal”, and the state of Alabama mentions “older flush type urinals used 2.5 gallons”.  Or going to sit-down toilets, new pressure-assisted flush toilets use 1.4 gallons, and post-1994 ones used 1.6, while ones before then used 3.4 gallons.  Flushometer toilets like those in commercial restrooms also use about 1.6 gallons.  (Interesting side note there: urinals use less water than sit-down toilets, but still more than 2/3 as much, a far higher percentage than I expected.)

If we were just comparing one urinal’s volume to the other, our math formula would be what I listed above.  But with the mystery toilet involved, it is:
128-16 = .88 y        (where y = ounces saved by a regular urinal)
(additional amount saved by special urinal = 88% of amount saved by regular urinal)
Per this formula, for these special urinals to save 88% more than a regular urinal, a regular urinal saves about 128 oz. (one gallon), meaning that the baseline item uses 2 gallons, which doesn’t fit any of the profiles noted.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Were They Thinking?
    — Mexico, Peru, What’s the Difference?

“What Were They Thinking?” highlights products and presentations which just don’t make sense.

Encountered this Mexican restaurant in Richland, WA.  It is part of a small chain in Eastern Washington.  Here is their website.  (Warning: Flash-based, plays loud music, and features dancing animated chilis — very obnoxious.)

I wonder at what point someone said “I don’t care that the Aztecs were in Mexico and the Incas were in Peru, 2500 miles away.  I don’t care that Mexican cuisine is different from Peruvian cuisine.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Were They Thinking?
    — Dingleberries

“What Were They Thinking?” highlights products and presentations which just don’t make sense.

Holy crap (literally!), what were they thinking to name a product “dingleberry”?  I doubt I could order it without snickering.

This company sells chocolate-dipped berries at Safeco Field for Seattle Mariners games.  As an added curiosity, “shishkberry” is the nickname for a strain of pot.

I’m not even gonna comment on what sort of sex toys the stacked coated berries look like.