Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

This week's animation news is all about Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. This is the first big-budget animated feature of the year, and expectations are high. The first Ice Age was a blockbuster, and this sequel will attempt to follow in its frozen footsteps.

There are a few changes this time: Chris Wedge, the co-director of the first Ice Age, as well as the voice of Skrat, is just executive producing this this go-around. Carlos Saldhana, his co-director on Ice Age, and Robots, flies solo for this sequel. Queen Latifah has joined the cast, as a female wooly mammoth named "Ellie." Skrat, the sabre-toothed squirrel, who stole the first movie with his brief appearances, has much more screen time in Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, with a series of vignettes interspersed throughout the movie.

Advanced reviews are mixed, though generally favorable. Skrat is still a crowd-pleaser, and it seems that the chemistry between Ray Romano, Dennis Leary and John Leguizamo remains intact from the first movie. One criticism is that the film gets a bit preachy about global warming, but unless they have an unfrozen caveman Al Gore explaining it in great detail, we can't see how it could detract from the rest of the movie. We hear the highlight of the movie is a Busby Berkley-styled production number with Vultures.

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown is currently playing, check the Gazz Movie Finder for theaters and times.

Battle Of The Brewery

IWA East Coast returns to the South Charleston Community Center Wednesday April 5 with "Shoots And Ladders," an evening of carnage and high-flying action.

The big match on a loaded card features a rematch, one year to the day, of the classic "drunken ladder match" between El Drunko, the inebriated luchadore, and Sandman, the beer-guzzling ECW legend. Last year these guys stole the show at "Happy Hour Hatred", and their rematch promises to be an alcohol-fueled funny car ride to oblivion.

Another match on the card is garnering international attention. Japanese wrestling legend, and former member of Kai En Tai in the WWF, Dick Togo, challenges IWA East Coast's champion, Chris Hero, in a ladder match with the championship belt at stake.

Fans will also be treated to a "3 Way Hell" match between Mad Man Pondo, Necrobutcher, and Mr. Insanity. Ruckus returns to take on Omega Aaron Draven in what promises to be an exhibition of acrobatic violence. Mickie Knuckles faces Japanese Women's legend Sumie Sakai in a rematch from last fall. Hardcore legend, Ian Rotten, goes up against Bull Pain. The newly-formed team of WarPig and Razorback, known collectively as "Freaks Of Nature,", take on Trik Nasty and JD Escalade.

IF YOU GO: Bell time is 7 p.m. April 5 at the South Charleston Community Center, 601 Jefferson Road. Tickets are $10 and $15. Visit IWA East Coast online for more details.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Cool Toy Of The Week: Schleich Knights

This week's cool toy is the line of Knights and Dragons from German toymaker Schleich. These exquisitely detailed little figurines can now be found at Target, as well as independent toy stores, and they're the kind of special toy that kids will remember for a lifetime.

They're also a bit pricey. Most pieces cost around 15 dollars, though there are larger sets and accessories that can cost quite a bit more. However, they are well worth the price. They're sturdy enough for kids to play with on a regular basis without destroying them, but they're so well-sculpted and painted that they hold their appeal for adult collectors. This is the kind of toy that you give a kid as a gift for a special occasion. They're just the right size for Easter baskets, ranging from 3 to 6 inches tall. With just the right combination of sturdiness, beautiful colors and high detail, these could very well become family heirlooms for future generations.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Song Of The Week: "Gardens Of Hope"

I'm delving into the Radio Free Charleston archives for this one, sort of. Actually, this song was recorded a few months after RFC was strangled in its crib, but it's by Three Bodies, one of the most popular local bands that I played on my old radio show. Three Bodies consisted of Kris Cormandy on guitar, Brian Lucas on bass, and Brian Young on drums. All three were frequent guests on Radio Free Charleston, and good friends of mine. In June 1990, I was asked to lend my ears to the Bodies as they entered Pat Arnold's recording studio above Gorby's to cut four songs for a demo tape. Spencer Elliott was also on hand, as we co-produced the songs with the band.

My main contribution was on the day before, when the Bodies took over The Empty Glass to rehearse. It was a criminally hot June afternoon, and while I listened and offered suggestions, the guys repeatedly tore through the four songs they intended to record--for more than six hours. The songs were pretty much worked out by the end of the day. My only real suggestion that made it to tape was the song arrangement I'm going to post here next week. The song I'm posting today was Spencer's baby. He came up with the piano intro and arranged the song on the spot. It was the standout of the four tunes.

I did the illustration above for a flyer advertising a performance by the band. I recall drawing it using duotone Craftint while sitting on the porch of Spencer's bohemian hangout, across the street from Asbury United Methodist Church. I colorized it in the computer just a few minutes before writing this.

Three Bodies went their separate ways later in 1990. Spencer went on to form Mother Nang with Brian Young, before jetting off to become a world-class litigator. Lately, however, he and Brian have teamed up with Dan Jordan to form Whistlepunk, who you can check out here. It's great that the old local scene from the RFC days isn't totally dead.

So, here's our song of the week, "Gardens Of Hope." It's a particularly relevant plea for peace these days. Click the song title to listen, or right click and save, to download. Next week I'll post the song that I helped arrange.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Live Improv This Weekend

On Friday and Saturday night, West Virginia's premiere improv troupe, The No Pants Players, invades the Labelle Theater in South Charleston with a family-friendly evening of live, on-the-spot comedy. The fast-paced show shifts gears and covers a wide variety of topics in the classical improv manner.

The No Pants Players are all local performers who will be familiar from their work with The Kanawha Players, The Charleston Stage Company, and IWA East Coast.

This is going to be a bittersweet weekend, as the No Pants Players pay tribute to troupe member Maria Bukovinski, who recently passed away, just weeks after giving birth. In the best spirit of "the show must go on," the remaining members vow to celebrate Maria's life and love of performing by dedicating this weekend's performances to her memory.

It promises to be a fun evening, and it's happening at the Labelle, one of my favorite local venues. This would be a great low-priced family night out or a good place for a youth group to gather. What better way to break up the monotony of going to the movies or just hanging out, than an evening of live, local comedy?

IF YOU GO: There will be two performances of the show, appropriate for all ages, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Labelle Theater on D Street in South Charleston. Tickets $5. Call 744-9711 or visit

Monday Morning Art: TRAX

To your right you see TRAX, a digitally-assaulted photo from February 2006. I shot this a couple of blocks from my house. Click to enlarge.

Blogger's note: There was no Cool Toy Of The Week last week, because, at the last minute, I discovered that the toy in question will not actually be in stores for several more months. The Cool Toy Of The Week will return Friday.