All posts by ntbadmin

Fair Peril

Fair Peril
by Nancy Springer (1996)

Buffy, a divorced mother encounters a talking frog and ignoring the warnings of fairy tales, does not turn the frog back into a prince.

Trouble ensues when Buffy’s rebellious teenage daughter Emily does kiss the frog.


A rather strange but engaging story that wavers between magical realism and fantasy. Set mainly in the real world but with a talking frog.

Eventually the characters make their way into a fantasy world. But it always seems that characters and events are just analogies for something else.

In the end it is a feminist interpretation of the old ‘kiss a frog’ story. But it’s engaging  and witty enough to keep interest up until the end.

 

Rostered

Rostered On – Season One

Rostered On is an Australian comedy series about the retail staff of “Electroworld”, a general electronics store.

It’s full of Australian stereotypes. From the cute Sheilas to the hyper-masculine Guys. The main focus is Paul Moore as Shaun, a salesperson and aspiring photographer who is constantly fed up with working a thankless job.

Series One is mainly a series of routines involving interactions between the staff and their customers. The customers are generally portrayed as stupid or manipulative.

Although without a laugh track it has some really funny and satirical moments at the expense of Australian culture and the retail trade. Further on into the series an through plot emerges of Shaun trying to leave and become a photographer.

 

Oppenheimer Alternative

The Oppenheimer Alternative
by Robert J. Sawyer (2020)

While J. Robert Oppenheimer and his Manhattan Project team struggle to develop the A-bomb, Edward Teller wants something even more devastating: a bomb based on nuclear fusion—the mechanism that powers the sun.

Teller’s research leads to a terrifying discovery: by the year 2030, the sun will eject its outermost layer, destroying the entire inner solar system—including Earth.


This story takes all the main characters of the Manhattan Project (real people) and projects them into an alternative history after the bombs are dropped.

It postulates that the sun will explode in about 80 years, enveloping the earth and destroying all life. It’s up to the scientists to come together and save humanity. Can they do it ?

Yeah, probably but they wander about having conferences and not really doing anything. Then when Oppenheimer gets involved in the McCarthy hearing you realize that the author has lost his way and seems to be following established history after all.

Looking back, not much has happened. Just about all the physicists of the 20th century have been names dropped, but to no end. And you realize just how boring this book is and stop reading at 3/4 of the way through.

Emperor Groove

The Emperor’s New Groove is a 2000 American animated buddy comedy film produced by Walt Disney.

It is the 40th animated Disney feature film and was directed by Mark Dindal from a script written by David Reynolds, based on a story by Chris Williams and Dindal.

The Emperor’s New Groove follows a young and self-centered Incan emperor, Kuzco, who is transformed into a llama by his ex-advisor, Yzma. In order for the emperor to change back into a human, he trusts a village leader, Pacha, who escorts him back to the palace.

Undoubtedly one of the best of the Disney films. It’s back to the cell animation style with all it’s excesses in bright colours and movement. It’s aided by a great cast:

  • David Spade as Emperor Kuzco, the malevolent, narcissistic, and selfish 18-year-old emperor of the Inca Empire who pays no heeds to the needs of others. However, after transforming into a llama, Kuzco begins to realize the error of his ways.
  • John Goodman as Pacha, a kind and caring village leader
  • Eartha Kitt as Yzma, Kuzco’s elderly advisor who seeks Kuzco’s throne for herself.

The script is witty and unexpected. Sometimes breaking the forth wall and making fun of itself. Eartha Kitt is just fabulous (darling) and clearly having fun as the villain.

 

Dinosaur

Dinosaur is a 2000 American computer-animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney.

It is the 39th Disney animated feature film. It follows a heroic young Iguanodon who was adopted and raised by a family of lemurs on a tropical island. After surviving a devastating meteor shower, the family move out for their new home and befriend a herd of dinosaurs along the way while on a journey to the “Nesting Grounds”. Unfortunately, they are being hunted down by predators such as Carnotaurus.

The first fully CGI Disney film. And it illustrates the problem with the technique. While the creatures look photo-realistic, they have very human-like qualities. Mouth, head and body movements mimic humans, but there is a disconnect between the two.

Of course they speak, and apparently across species with ease in English. It would seem that rendering the animals in cell animation, with the inherent cartoon movements would be more successful. It’s easy to compare this to the Ice Age films that work better as the character designs are caricatures of the animals.

Trumpism

Too Much and Never Enough:
How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man
by Mary L. Trump (2020)

Mary Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

Mainly a history of the Trump family. Not much is new here, but there is more detail and explanation of Donald’s motications.

It all becomes clear at the end with a tirade against her uncle that seems to be her trying to stamp an opinion for history.

 

Time Amazon

Memoirs of a Time Traveler
(Time Amazon #1)
by Doug Molitor (2016)

Archaeologist David Preston comes into possession of a baseball supposedly signed by the legendary Ty Cobb in 1908, thanks to Ariyl Moro and her mysterious companion, Jon Ludlo.

The ball tests out to be an impossible paradox. It was signed with a ballpoint pen (not invented until 1938) using ink that’s several centuries older. But then, Ariyl and Ludlo aren’t who they claim to be either.

So it’s a jump into a time travelling science fiction adventure. Ariyl is a tall beauty from a 22nd century paradise where time travel is the latest craze.

Ludlo plays the psychopathic villain who steels stuff and causes alternative timelines. Generally light in tone the story speeds along as the two travelers solve problems and interact with american presidents. There is some very specific American history here, but most is explained for an international audience.

However eventually the plot and time threads become so complex it gets a bit confusing. In the end it all accumulates to a big fight that feels ripped off from a Bond film.

So an enjoyable romp through time, but not memorable.

Fantasia 2000

Fantasia 2000 is a 1999 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation.

It is the 38th Disney animated feature film and sequel to Fantasia (1940). Like its predecessor, Fantasia 2000 consists of animated segments set to pieces of classical music…

Beethoven – Symphony No 5

This is an abstract segment created by Pixote Hunt with story development by Kelvin Yasuda. The segment combines hand drawn backgrounds of butterfly like things using pastels and paint that were scanned into the Computer Animation Production System (CAPS). Computer-generated imagery of abstract shapes and effects, which were layered on top.

 

Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi

A family of humpback whales are able to fly. The calf is separated from his parents, and becomes trapped in an iceberg. Eventually, he finds his way out with his mother’s help. The family join a larger pod of whales, who fly and frolic through the clouds to emerge into outer space. Introduced by Steve Martin and Itzhak Perlman. Probably my favorite, very inventive and obviously CGI.

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin.

Set in New York City in the early 1930s, and designed in the style of Al Hirschfeld’s known caricatures of the time, the story follows four individuals named Duke, Joe, Rachel and John, who wish for a better life. The segment ends with all four getting their wish, though their stories interact with each other’s without any of them knowing.[3] Introduced by Quincy Jones with pianist Ralph Grierson.

 

Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102 by Dmitri Shostakovich.

Based on the fairy tale “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” by Hans Christian Andersen, a broken toy soldier with one leg falls in love with a toy ballerina and protects her from an evil jack-in-the-box. Unlike the original story, this version has a happy ending. Introduced by Bette Midler featuring pianist Yefim Bronfman.

 

The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.

A flock of flamingoes tries to force a slapstick member, who enjoys playing with a yo-yo, to engage in the flock’s “dull” routines. Introduced by James Earl Jones with animator Eric Goldberg.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas.

This is the only one featured in both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. Introduced by Penn & Teller.

Pomp and Circumstance – Marches 1, 2, 3 & 4 by Edward Elgar.

Based on the story of Noah’s Ark from the Book of Genesis, Donald Duck is Noah’s assistant and Daisy Duck is Donald’s wife. Donald is given the task of gathering the animals to the Ark, and misses, loses, and reunites with Daisy in the process. Introduced by James Levine featuring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky.

A Sprite is awoken by her companion, an elk, and accidentally wakes a fiery spirit of destruction in a nearby volcano who destroys the forest and seemingly the Sprite. The Sprite survives and the elk encourages her to restore the forest to its normal state. Introduced by Angela Lansbury.

 

 

Tarzan

Tarzan is a 1999 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney Pictures.

It is the 37th Disney animated feature film, the tenth and last released during the Disney Renaissance era.

It is based on the story Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, being the first animated major motion picture version of the story.

The film stars the voices of:

Nigel Hawthorne as Professor Archimedes Q Porter

Another fun frolicking adventure in the style established by Aladdin and Hercules.