Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Can't roll my eyes hard enough...

"The Double Tree Hotel has taken bottles of ketchup off the tables in their restaurant for fear of offending visiting Republican delegates with the Heinz labels." (from Salon via NY Post)

Yeah, this is the kind of American I want to live in. NOT.

(Though it makes you wonder what condiment wingnuts will use for their freedom fries...)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Smile Dammit!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Small, slow epiphany

I've noticed that you can tell the difference between people who talk slowly because they're carefully considering every word they speak and people who talk slowly because they're stupid. The difference is that you're impatient for the latter to finish.

The Olympics always puts one in an international mindset, so last night one more reason for admiring Japan occurred to me.

You've got to admire a culture that found a way to justify a really fat guy in a thong.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Me, too

Lotsa reviews of stuff coming, but just wanted to point out an excellent article by Garrison Keillor. This guy explains totally where I'm coming from, and the specific dismay I've experienced at the current political scene - which is largely related to the policies, but also the decorum. I'm from that Scandinavian Midwest background he describes, and this portrays perfectly my viewpoint and the background from which it springs. Thank God there are people more articulate than I who can accurately express such nuances.

Here's a taste:
"What some people call elitism is simply a belief that God grants gifts to people regardless of social standing, and a Democrat wants the bus driver's kids who have a God-given ability to be recognized and uplifted. I want the University of Minnesota to be a great institution so that a kid from Biwabik or Blue Earth or Ortonville can entertain enormous ambitions, not just be trained to be a serf in a cubicle. It won't happen with Republicans in power. These shysters slid into power on a grease slick and have to be run out. The moment we do, political wisdom will change and the conservative machine will be quiet for a few weeks and we Democrats will have a new image."


"That's why we defend the notion of first-class public schools and transit and libraries and affordable higher education: Like Teddy Roosevelt and the Victorian reformers, we believe in the divine spark within every last soul and celebrate that in public magnificence -- Yellowstone, Central Park, the land-grant universities, the meritocracy, the ideal of public service as a noble calling."
(I rearranged the order of the quotes there, though it does not alter the intent or meaning.)

Btw, the way Salon works is you have to sit through their "day pass" ad. Once you have, the site is unlocked for the day. Most of the ads you can just allow to run to completion in the background, others you have click through. Either way, it's not that much of a hurdle, like having to register or something.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Equal Opportunity Caption

(Please, from all comers, put a caption or two for this one in the comments. Wingnut, loonie left, moderates, let's have'em all!)
The Town Crier is Trampled by a Mob of Citizens with Torches and Pitchforks

It's normal for the political process to intrude into our lives a little more than we would prefer during presidential election years. One of my fond memories is my grandma grousing during election years, as the commercials would festoon her "stories" (soaps) and game shows, which annoyed her to no end. My grandma was a world-class grouser, full of wit and vinegar.*

But never in my life, outside of the Nixon administration, have I seen such a massive movement to push a president out of office. Sure, there was the Clinton impeachment fiasco, but that was largely just the wingnuts doing that; it wasn't spread across many levels of society. And with Nixon, it was an impeachment for a sitting pres. who had been caught red-handed, not a movement to influence an election. So, when even guys like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp get in the mix (and Mellencamp said the most interesting thing, see the TLD below**), alienating their fans who don't agree with their politics, it's pretty amazing.

But what made me blink recently was an article in "Entertainment Weekly" - my favorite guilty pleasure because it's typically about nothing but entertainment, no messy politics or actual news (outside of the gay movement, of course). This week's issue has a preview of all the movies coming out this fall. A new one by John Sayles is a blatant - "thinly veiled" isn't even strong enough to describe it - portrayal of a dimwitted Texan who's drafted by a cabal of evil wealthy guys to become their political puppet, and the actor portraying the puppet (Chris Cooper) is consciously doing a dead-on impression of Bush, and Richard Dreyfuss is clearly playing Karl Rove. Someone on the production was asked if they were uncomfortable with the naked politics of the production and was quoted as saying she (he?) is proud s/he can be part of something that could help get Bush out of office.

And even I, someone who wants Bush out of office badly, hoisted an eyebrow at that. I mean, my God, it's really never been like this before. I once had to back off of political posts on this blog because I was so full of seething frustration, I couldn't write anything other than what amounted to an incoherent bellow of rage. Part of my frustration was the impression that no one but people with similar views to mine were noticing what was going on. It was like watching someone let her toddler stand up in a grocery cart and reach for a glass jar. But these days, I feel I've been lapped in the outrage race, and am kind of breathlessly amazed at the crowd that has passed me.

Then, I see that most polls show that both candidates are in pretty much a dead heat, and that makes no sense. But then there are a lot of factors at play. It's no secret that most of the major news outlets are controlled by conservative corporations who ensure the news is slanted that way - no more do we have a "liberal media," it's gone baby. So the polls might reflect the will of the CEOs more than the people. Also, the partisanship that has been with us since Reagan has a lot of folks in its thrall; some partisans wouldn't change sides even if it were revealed their candidate were satan himself. Perhaps Bush is actually getting some underdog sympathy, as well. Maybe the polls haven't "caught up" with the public opinion. Or, perhaps, the polls are correct, and it really is a dead heat.

However, that just doesn't reflect what I hear on the grapevine. I work and live in a very Republican state. We don't get much Democratic attention because we are considered a lost cause. We were one of the states that allowed Tom DeLay to gerrymander our districts to insure Republican locks in the House and Senate. And we even had one of our elected officials (Ben Knighthorse Shithead, as I call him) switch sides once he got to Washington, because he was told as long as he was Democrat, he would be ignored and barred from committees (one of Tom DeLay's dubious tactics). So, in the midst of redland (interesting that the very people who have taken most of the credit for the fall of Soviet Communism have adopted their color scheme), I'm hearing all these people who would typically be a lock for Bush saying they can't vote for him. So, they're going to sit it out, or vote for (gulp) that other guy. Usually, when the scuttlebutt on the street flows that way, it is a portent for larger things. I think it's gonna be close to a landslide or a mandate come the election.

But I'm still shocked at the intensity and volume of opinion this time. Wowsers.

*TLD #1: This is really an unfair representation of my grandma, because she was typically a very prim and proper elderly lady, very sweet, rarely used profanity, etc. And this was the only time I heard her use this particular word (at times I even doubted that she had ever heard it before), but it's too good not to tell. During one of the Ethiopian famines in the late 70s we were watching TV, and the news kept showing reports of the human devastation. The most common picture was of a mother with about 7 kids around her, one latched onto a breast, with flies swarming around them, crawling in their mouths and such; they were typically so exhausted they didn't fight the flies. Well, after about the nth report that day, my grandmother finally said, "Oh hell! If they've got the energy to fuck, they've got the energy to brush the flies away!" True, not the most sympathetic thought, but I do believe she had a point. I seem to recall I was too shocked to laugh at first, but then I couldn't stop for a good half hour.

**TLD #2: "John Mellencamp has joined a coalition of musicians trying to unseat President Bush, but the rocker says that doesn't mean he has anything against Republicans.

"'If there was a Democrat in the White House, and this was going on, we'd still be doing this,' Mellencamp told The Herald-Times of Bloomington in an interview published Sunday.

"'This is a protest. It's a protest about the abuse of what we feel are American values. And in this case it just so happens that, yes, this is a Republican president, and yes, the proceeds will go to efforts to defeat that Republican president.'"

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

I have finally read something, outside of the Gospels themselves, which does a damn good, balanced job of presenting Christianity; what it is, why it is, and good evidence for its claims, are presented in a why accessible to most. If someone of another faith or an agnostic expressed curiosity about Christianity, along with encouraging him/her to read the Gospels, I would recommend The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith. To me, C.S. Lewis' great Christian works are for the initiate, for those of us who already believe (or are on the very cusp) and want a deeper exploration of the Christian soul.

These books will not convince the fundamentalist atheists. The average atheist has committed to his/her viewpoint (which is not something I'm putting down, btw, eventually you do have to make your choice) and it would take something on the order of a personal appearance by God, and one that other people saw at the same time, to change it. And I doubt even that would put them completely in the "believe" column. They do so badly want to not believe. The evil and pain in the world just don't reconcile with their conception of what God would be, or they have some other objection that, to them, is insurmountable. However, the more balanced atheist would probably agree that these books present the case well, and if you are going to believe, these provide one of the better arguments for that.

So, for the rest of us, both "Cases" are just the ticket. They tackle the thorny questions on the authenticity of the Bible, the problem of pain and injustice, the straw men of science (because true science does not inherently contradict the concept of God), and most importantly who Jesus claimed He was and how it could possibly be the truth. The case is laid out in a way all orthodox Christian denominations can embrace (with perhaps the sole exception of the Protestant view that Jesus had brothers and sisters, which contradicts the Roman Catholic view that Mary remained a virgin). Politics are thankfully absent (see paragraph below). The presentation and the writing itself are pleasant and straightforward so that anyone literate should be able to read them with ease, while at the same time the more sophisticated reader will not be bored or put off due to overweening simplicity. Anyone giving Christianity a fair shake will find these books convincing and compelling. Those looking for a respectful and non-strident evangelism tool should put these wonderful books in their arsenal. That and a good Bible should reach anyone reachable.

The same can't be said for another recent publication whose title I love: I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler. (I think the title/phrase nails one of the problems I have with virulent atheism - it takes as much of a leap of faith to deny God as it does to accept Him, given the evidence.) Sadly, this book, which presents a lot of the same information as the "Case" books, immediately goes political and has a rather consistent "so THERE!" tone to it all; there appears to be no respect for the reader. One of the great mistakes of our age is Christian fundamentalists getting into bed with the far right of Republican party and implying strongly that if you're one, you're the other. Many Christians - in fact the majority - do not feel this way, yet we are all painted with that same broad brush. Books like this merely foment this false impression, and serve mainly to alienate those casually inquiring into Christianity. The words "liberal" and "conservative" are bandied about - painting the prior group as "lukewarm" Christians and the latter as the fire-breathing type (sigh). Rush Limbaugh's brother wrote the freakin' intro (heavy sigh). And one story about a fundie who tells a Unitarian-type pastor who preaches "all paths lead up the mountain," which is inimical to the orthodox Christian view, "You're going to hell!" is told with glee, rather than with the requisite sorrow that such an encounter should hold for anyone who belongs to Christ. Yes, "all paths lead up the mountain" is not a valid Christian outlook, but telling a "fun story" about someone telling the other they're doomed isn't either. Were I not a Christian, this book would merely annoy me and would probably bolster some of my worst stereotypical opinions I might have about (some kinds) of Christians. As a Christian, I'm ashamed that someone would write this kind of a book which so willingly disdains and mocks anyone who doesn't hold a particular political or theological point of view. Only the title of this book is worth the effort to read.

But now that you've done that, go read The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel, if you're interested. And it's OK to skip the parts where he describes how each of his interview subjects is dressed (I began to wonder if he'd solicited writing advice from Danielle Steel). And in case you didn't know this, you can read the Bible for free, here: http://www.biblestudytools.net/
Fahrenheit 9-11

I'm posting this review quite a while after I've seen the film in order to digest it, particularly the dubious elements of the film. If you've just clicked on to this blog for the first time, know that I am a moderate Democrat who thinks a stacked Supreme Court installed Bush illegally in the White House. I don't care that Gore won the popular election, because that's not how our country works; we have an electoral college, so that's what counts. However, I do believe the Republicans did many shady, and in some cases illegal, things to swing the key Florida election to Bush. Had the election been run completely above board there, I firmly believe Gore would be the President right now. (And he would probably be in very real danger of being voted out of office after 4 years, too.) I disagree with about every policy the neocons (whom I often call "wingnuts") have put in place; I am pretty much diametrically opposed. Their exploitation of the 9-11 terrorist attacks to push through huge chunks of their agenda will go down as one of the turning points in history, for better or worse - and probably worse; our grandkids will read about it in school and wonder what was wrong with us. Had moderate Republicans held sway at any time in my adulthood, I probably would be a Republican, because I do agree with many moderate Republican ideals. But I also agree with many Democratic ideals, and the neocons currently run the Republican party, so there you have it. (The far loony left of the Democratic party to me is as unattractive as the neocons, btw, but I think they have no chance of taking over the party in the same way the neocons took over the Republicans.) And I don't feel that I've chosen the lesser of two evils, mind you, I just agree with a lot of moderate viewpoints, which tend to have truck on both sides of the aisle. So now that my politics are on my sleeve, let's talk about this flawed movie.

Propaganda really is the most accurate term for this kind of film. Now, not all propaganda is bad. For instance, the "safe sex" campaign is propaganda. What's organically wrong with propaganda is it tries to remove your ability to form your own opinion and having all the facts at hand. It plays to your emotions, and often lies by omission to bolster its case. But, if you are using propaganda to get your kids to wear prophylactics, is that a bad thing? So, when even members of the notorious Nixon administration are saying that this is the most secretive and potentially corrupt administration they've ever seen (and that's not even touching the PATRIOT act, the gerrymandering and the false pretense for war), is it so bad that someone is making effective propaganda to shed some light on that side of the dilemma? You be the judge of that.

This film is quasi-effective in painting those issues in big bold strokes that can be seen even from the cheap seats, which is the point. The audience of the showing I attended was exclusively retirees and a class of students (college or high school, I couldn't tell); I was the only person there between the cradle and grave contingent. The old folks gasped and remarked as some of the more outlandish offenses perpetrated by the Bush team crawled by. The kids were all glum and clearly pissed off throughout (even throwing harsh glances at me, obviously not understanding that my occasional laughter was the cynical and not the amused kind). The audience was enthralled.

So, Outside of being good at what it does, the film has some flaws. But these are the same flaws that all of Moore's film have, so I think they can be attributed to his usual blind spots and not so much to deviousness or purposeful intent to skew the truth. Btw, I didn't see any outright lies, but it came pretty close during a little montage that portrayed pre-war Iraq as a shiny happy place where people were getting married and little boys flew kites. The point intended, of course, was that people were going on with their lives underneath this ruthless dictator, and they suffered along with the regime when the war came. But plenty of Germans and Japanese lives were disrupted or lost during WWII, too, and would we have hesitated to fight them?

Many others have made much of the minutes where Bush sat in that classroom after he'd been told of the second attack. Moore narrates what Bush might be thinking at the time, and it made me squirm, because it was what Moore would have thought with 20/20 hindsight, not what the President would think during perhaps one of the most horrific things that can happen to a nation. Others have painted Bush as seeming ineffectual, lost, and even cowardly during those terrible minutes. I didn't see that at all. I saw a man who was dealing with some pretty terrible information in front of a bunch of kids whom he didn't want to frighten. I saw honest shock. I also saw him thinking about all he had to do next. So, in my opinion, everyone playing armchair quarterback after all this time as to what was going on in his head is specious, at best.

My other big problem was what I felt was the exploitation of the woman who had lost her son in the war. The painting of the background of her story, her telling her kids that the military was their best shot at getting an education and her conservative Democratic political view, was useful and informative, as was the news of her sons death in combat. But the overly long clips of her grieving over her lost child are inappropriate, especially where, at one point, she leans over because she's crying so hard, and the camera dips down in order to stay trained on her face. Yes, it's terrible to lose a child. But he joined the service, and that's what the service does my friends. That doesn't lessen anyone's grief, and it shouldn't. But Moore stumbled the most by framing that section the way he did.

Moore usually has one big gaffe in all of his films. The fact that he leaves it in either shows that he doesn't understand how it might be perceived, or he's making a braver choice in showing how he followed a false path, and felt compelled to show it anyway. This was particularly stark in Bowling for Columbine, where he more or less proved it was our American media scaring us to death and not really the number of - or easy access to - guns that was behind gun violence in America. He was so intent on staying with his premise that he needlessly and embarrassingly blindsided the polite Charlton Heston with bullshit questions about his NRA rallies (as the president of the organization), implying that they were somehow insidious - even after Moore had shown it was the media and not gun ownership that was the problem.

That aside, I felt Fahrenheit 9-11 showed the American men and women (really boys and girls) fighting the war in a fair light. It veers close to casting them as mindless goons who like to put on heavy metal and giggle away whilst blasting the targets with their BFG 2000s - even though that's what in essence the military is rightly trained to do - but it does balance that by showing those same soldiers after that, who say straight out that war is not a video game, that their souls are wounded in the very act of taking a life, and the carnage they have to witness will be a scar they carry for life. This does underline the point that because they were sent over there on false pretenses, the loss of life and their innocence is a price this administration had no business asking anyone to pay. I don't feel once that it portrays our soldiers in a bad light. Thank God.

In the end, it's a mixed bag. I'm thrilled that it's out there showing the public at large who don't read the newspapers or the web (or only have access to neocon-tinted media) many of the crucial behind-the-scenes facts about Bush, his family, and his ties to Arabian oil wealth. I'm thrilled it spells out what the PATRIOT act really is, and the facts of the last election. It's wonderful that the movie does not put you through seeing those towers burn again, but instead plays the sound of the jets hitting while showing a black screen. It's the perfect reminder without dragging out all that terror and grief in a way that would overwhelm the rest of the movie. But, he should've drastically shortened the grieving mom section, skipped the happy Iraq silliness, left the army/marine recruiters alone, and put in more about the various policies of the Bush and the good ole boys that can stand on their own as indictments (or praises, if that's the way you lean) of this administration.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Caption Thang

You know what to do.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Dan Quail Theory

Back when George W. Bush was selected as the Republican candidate for President, my wife, myself, and several friends - even our Republican friends - reacted with incredulity. At the time I proposed a possible (and admittedly cynical) reason: Since everyone laughed out loud when they floated Dan Quail as a possible candidate, they went looking for another idiot they felt they could control. See, I think the current Republican party knows they can't run the power players and expect them to win, because most of them have bad reputations and long rap sheets in terms of potential links to corruption and CEO misdeeds, ala Dick Cheney, so they need a puppet who will do their bidding. It worked great with Reagan (though it appears at times he had a mind of his own), and didn't work at all with Bush the Sr. So when the time came to float a candidate, and no one would take Quail seriously, they debated who was stupid and pliable enough for the job. And someone said, "Y'know, George has a boy..."

Some folks have dismissed my theory out of hand (probably because the implications are too horrific to contemplate fully), but some have chuckled darkly and nodded with apparent acquiescence to the sadness of it being a real possibility, and not just a cynical, half-hearted conspiracy theory.

Well, members of the jury, I offer exhibit DQT8.1:

Denver Post
Friday, August 6, 2004
Page 8A

"Bush Misspeaks on National Defense"

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." [My emphasis.] No one in Bush's audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted.
Bailiff, would you tag that and put it with the rest of the evidence? Thanks.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

An Evening with Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith is the writer and director of the films Clerks, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Jersey Girl. Also, he produced and is mostly responsible for Good Will Hunting getting made at all. Fans know he plays "Silent Bob" in all of his flicks except Jersey Girl.

But that's all beside the point.

Kevin Smith is one of the FuNNieST SOBs I've had the pleasure to see speak. Not personally, mind you, but seeing him speak in person is now on my "to do before I die" list. Luckily, someone else realized this and put out a DVD set of a lecture tour of universities Smith did recently.

<Valley Girl Accent>OH. MY. GAH-AWD!</Valley Girl Accent> Besides the fact that Smith is a consummate storyteller - almost in the Bill Cosby stratosphere of gifted - he never ever pulls a punch or glosses over embarrassing details. He names names, blames himself as quickly as he points out the idiocy of others, and is a savant at managing a crowd. I have never seen anything quite like it.

I put this sucker on just to casually check it out, kinds preview it for viewing later when I had more time, and I ended up staying up until 1:00 AM on a worknight, laughing my ass off. Of the many topics he covers, the best are:

1. His being hired to write the script to the new Superman movie, and the hilarity that results.
2. Being hired by the artist once again known as Prince to do a documentary, and coming back with weird scenes from the goldmine. I knew Prince was insane, I just didn't realize the sheer extent of his insanity.
3. The first time he had sex with his wife, which became a journey through the very pit of pain itself because he was sporting an egregious penis wound she had unknowingly given him during foreplay.

The lectures were spliced into about 4 hours of sheer entertainment, and I haven't had a better time in front of the tube this summer. Do check out An Evening with Kevin Smith, mang.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


I think my expectations of Hellboy threw off my enjoyment of it. It's a good movie, shot well, suspenseful, doo dah doo dah, but I just didn't get any big tingle out of it (save for Selma Blair's eyes - wowsers). The critical raves mystify me.

The plot is the Nazis (always somewhat of a movie-spoiler for me, the sheer evil they represent is always a little too potent for fiction for me) try to awaken the "7 gods of chaos" and, though they are thwarted, a little demon boy slips through. He's raised by the American government, and is essentially a slave of the government, trotted out to help them deal with paranormal and especially nasty villains. The bad guys prove to be hard to kill, and thus come back from the dead to try and complete the summoning of the 7 gods in the present day. Joining Hellboy in hero/slavery are "Abe Sapien" - essentially the creature from the black lagoon reconfigured as a gentle, learned soul who can pick up psychic residue from things (ala Stephen King's The Dead Zone), and is voiced by Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) - and Liz Sherman - Stephen King's Firestarter all grown up, but, unable to control her talent, often sets off a minor atomic explosions of flame. Luckily her beau, Hellboy, is fireproof.

Ron Pearlman (of the old TV show "Beauty and the Beast" where he played a lion-like monster in love with the Terminator terror Linda Hamilton) is Hellboy. He does a decent job of emoting through the makeup (the extent of said makeup is unguessable as Rob kinda really looks like Hellboy, horns notwithstanding), but outside of some verbal zingers and a love of cats, he's not as well-drawn as, say, Spiderman or Daredevil are in their recent celluloid turns.

I still recommend it. About everything director Guillermo del Toro does has something in it to justify a viewing. I expect bigger and better things from him in the future, though. Heck, maybe even the next Hellboy will have some more meat to it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Apparently Bush and Team Have Prayed for Re-election

The signs aren't looking good...

Monday, August 02, 2004

More Surreal News

Obtaining Cheney Rally Ticket Requires Signing Bush Endorsement


Some would-be spectators hoping to attend Vice President Dick Cheney's rally in Rio Rancho this weekend walked out of a Republican campaign office miffed and ticketless Thursday after getting this news:

Unless you sign an endorsement for President George W. Bush, you're not getting any passes.

The Albuquerque Bush-Cheney Victory office in charge of doling out the tickets to Saturday's event was requiring the endorsement forms from people it could not verify as supporters.

State Rep. Dan Foley, R-Roswell, speaking on behalf of the Republican Party, said Thursday that a "known Democrat operative group" was intending to try to crash Saturday's campaign rally at Rio Rancho Mid-High School. He added that some people were providing false names and addresses and added that tickets for the limited-seating event should go to loyal Bush backers.

However, some who left the office off Osuna NE without tickets on Thursday said they're not affiliated with an operative group and should have a right to see their vice president without pledging their allegiance to Bush.

"I'm outraged at this. I'm being closed off by my own government. It's crazy," said East Mountains resident Pamela Random, who added that she is an unaffiliated voter.

An endorsement form provided to the Journal by Random says: "I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." It later adds that, "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush."

A Journal reporter, who is a registered Democrat, called to inquire about a ticket Thursday afternoon. He was asked for his name, address and driver's license number but was not told over the telephone that he would need to sign any endorsement form. He got the news after arriving at the Bush-Cheney office.

Another Journal employee, who is a registered Republican, visited the office Thursday morning and got a ticket without being asked to sign the form.

Shi said the Rio Rancho event is intended to "energize" Bush-Cheney supporters, and organizers don't want it disrupted.

Security for Cheney's visit is exceptionally tight. There will be no parking at the school where he is to speak: Rally participants will instead be shuttled to the event. Those without tickets, including protesters, are to be in a designated area across from the school.

Read the whole thing here.

I can't hardly wait for November.

What caption should go with this picture?

To me, at least, it kinda evokes the malevolent penguin (below) from the "Wallace and Gromit" claymation cartoons. But maybe that's just me.