Monday, August 31, 2009

Julie and Julia - Movie and Book

I went to see Julie and Julia a few weeks ago, since a. I wanted to see it, b. it was $5 Tuesday, and c. it was the only movie that both The Husband and I wanted to see. He claimed it was just because of Meryl Streep, but I say that there had to be a little desire to see Amy Adams, too. I mean, she's so cute! Anyway, the movie was awesome, and totally filled me with a desire to pull off complicated acts of cookery, and had Jane Lynch in it as Julia's sister, although I didn't realize this until seeing the credits at the end. Seriously, I didn't recognize her at all. In short, I loved it.
So, in the wake of seeing the movie, I decided to read the original book. I'm not quite sure how someone thought it could turn into a movie, but I'm glad they did. I mean, the book was definitely interesting, but the narrative tends to jump around (many bits begin with a few sentences, then a flashback to explain what lead to those sentences, and then the rest of the story), which works in novel-form, but wouldn't strike me as being something that would in film if I hadn't already seen the movie.
Frankly, I think the movie greatly improved on the book, which turned out to be less about the cooking, really, and more about the strange life Julie lived during that year. Not that that's a bad thing. But as I said, the movie made me want to go home and start cooking right away (not that I did, though), while the book gave me the sudden desire to try making a gimlet (which I would have done by now except I can't find my cocktail shaker. I think it got lost in the move ;_;). I guess this is because it's easier to be inspired (to cook, anyway) by actually seeing the dishes than just reading the french name (sometimes with translation, sometimes not) and then a description (maybe) of how it tasted. And I liked how more of Julia Child's history was mixed into the movie. It really brought everything together, I think, although I only thought about that after reading the book.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Voice Actor Connection Again

Sometimes the IMDB just plain breaks my brain. Going from one thing to another tonight, I landed on "Puff the Magic Dragon and the Incredible Mr. Nobody," which I remembered from a tape of things my Dad taped back in 1985 (including Pound Puppies, Star Fairies, and Huggabunch), and so I decided to see what else Robert Ridgely (the titular Mr. Nobody) had done. So it starts out pretty normal, the Hollywood Showcase Annoucer from That Thing You Do, a couple of episodes of Dexter's Laboratory, so on and so forth. Until I got down to the 80's. Turns out this guy was the original Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak! (Yatatatata yatatata!) And I never ever made that connection before. Don't really know why, either, since he's done a ton of stuff, especially in the 80's. So it just goes to show you, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Slightly Worried About Strawberry Shortcake and Sushi Pack

With just three weeks to go until the release of "Strawberry Shortcake: Sky's the Limit Movie," I've been thinking about certain things promised that are yet to be delivered, with no news to be found. This is mostly due to the complications brought on by the American Greetings/Cookie Jar dispute. If you haven't been following it (and it's not like I've been ardently following this, either), here's my take on it. Back last year, Cookie Jar purchased DIC's library, which includes Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, and Sushi Pack. At the time, American Greetings was going to sell Cookie Jar the rights to Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears, but Cookie Jar couldn't raise the agreed-on amount. So another company, Moonscoop, offered to buy them instead for a lesser amount. Cookie Jar was given the chance to match that offer, but later sued AG for not giving them the same amount of time to get the money as Moonscoop. AG countersued, saying Cookie Jar never intended to get the amount they offered in the first place. Most recently, Moonscoop has sued AG to make them get a move on with untangling themselves from Cookie Jar and sealing the deal with them.
What this means for the moment is that Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, and Sushi Pack are not going to be on TV, as Cookie Jar acquired CBS' Saturday block, which will be changing its name from Kewlopolis to Cookie Jar TV on September 19th. What this means for the supposedly upcoming 26 episode Strawberry Shortcake CGI series is unclear right now, as is the future of Sushi Pack (Care Bears' upcoming retooled third season was already delayed, so I'm not as worried about that). Speaking of Sushi Pack, isn't there supposed to be a DVD coming out this fall? Lionsgate has the distribution rights, but so far, there's no word on a DVD release. And there's supposed to be toys coming out this Fall, but as of yet, I haven't seen any. There's still time for that, I know, but the way things are looking, I'm not feeling very optimistic.

Update: AGP is going to MIPCOM, and says that the new CGI series, officially called Strawberry Shortcake Berry Bitty Adventures, is still in production and will be "available for a Spring 2010 delivery." No word on Sushi Pack, though.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ode to a Puffy Hat

I've got another post brewing, but there's one thing I want to say that doesn't quite fit into it, so I'm making a quick note of it now:
Why, internet? Why did you have to hate on Revamp Strawberry's puffy hat? That's why none of the other girls have big hats, opting instead for headbands and barrettes, and that's why next to none of Strawberry's dolls come with the hat. And I love that puffy hat! It was one of the first things I loved about the new style. That, and that she had green-striped tights again.
So yeah, I'm pretty sure that it was all the backlash against the new style that axed big hats for the rest of the girls, although it could also be that designing big, puffy hats is not the easiest thing in the world, either.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New MLP Style Animation Debut

Sometime last week (or maybe earlier, but I suspect it wasn't that long ago), Hasbro redid their entire My Little Pony site to match the new style that's currently starting to appear in stores as we speak, dubbed G3.5 by some and G4 by others (the G stands for Generation). Along with new imagery on the website, Hasbro also put up some new bits of animation: the theme song, using the same song that was released with certain pony-and-DVD sets (i.e. Pinkie Pie's/Rainbow Dash's Special Day, Starsong and the Magic Dance Shoes), but reanimated with the new style, often reusing the same shots, if not exactly, then pretty darn close:

Really, it's the second half, when the theme turns into a Theme Tune Roll Call, where most of the similarities arise. The first half is almost all new imagery (including a super-cute Scootaloo pouncing).
The other two videos are short stories (like three minutes long short), and definitely reflect Hasbro aiming for a younger demographic than before. The first one, Waiting for the Winter Wishes Festival, is a prequel to the upcoming direct-to-DVD feature, "Twinkle Wish Adventure." As this is a Christmas story of sorts, Pinkie Pie and the others sing about their favorite holiday activites (dancing, making cards, stories, shopping, parties) while Sweetiebelle bakes cookies and Scootaloo fails at dancing.

Is it just me, or did Pinkie Pie steal Scootaloo's verse of the song? Because she totally did. And the voice Jaynse Jaud uses for PP doesn't quite pull of a touching type verse, hence more proof that Scootaloo was supposed to sing it (Not that Tabitha St. Germain would have done better necessarily, but I'm just saying).

The second, Sweetiebelle's Gumball House Surprise, is a small tour of Sweetiebelle's house set up scavenger-hunt-style, and showcases the ponies getting stumped by clues such as "where you dream" and "at the opposite of front." (That Pinkie Pie is the only one to get the "running = refrigerator" clue makes me think that her parties occasionally feature prank phone calls.) In the end, they are rewarded with what are obviously cupcakes, but the ponies call "muffins."

The new style definitely takes a little getting used to, but it is cute overall. It's a bit jarring to go from the new features on the site with the new style to the older features with the older style, so I wonder how long those will be sticking around. As for the animation, it seems all right to me, but from the wrong angle, the ponies end up looking a little like pigs. And I had to admit, the voice acting is not nearly as high-pitched as the seven minisodes that were put up about a year ago, which is definitely a good thing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Revamped Strawberry Shortcake Voice Cast Confirmed

After about a month of searching various Targets, Walmarts, Toys r Us', and even a Kmart, I finally got my hands on the Strawberry Shortcake figure with DVD. Granted, I saw many of the other Strawberry Shortcake toys during my search (although most places didn't have anything at all yet), but it took until today to find the only one I was interested in (although, if I had a little more space around here, I'd probably pick up at least one of the little playsets).
The DVD just has the short that was previewed on the agpbrands website, but with the addition of end credits, which, as you know, is a boon for me. If you remember from an earlier post, I already knew that Anna Cummer is the voice of Strawberry, and Jaynse Jaud is Orange Blossom. I also guessed correctly that Ashleigh Ball is one of the Berrykins, although I didn't know that she is also Plum Pudding, and while I was right about Britt McKillip being a voice, I was incorrect in guessing she was Lemon Meringue, since she is actually Blueberry Muffin, with Andrea Libman as the real Lemon Meringue. The cast is completed with Ingrid Nilson as Raspberry Torte and a berrykin, and Brian Dummond as a berrykin. Veteran Hasbro VAs all (except for Ingrid Nilson, who has not done very much as of yet), which is what I expected.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Feel Like Bragging Now

Being as I am the kind of person I am, I derived more pleasure from learning a piece of info about an upcoming episode of a certain show than actually standing by the stage door and getting to see actual Broadway performers up close and personal. Of course, it stands to reason, as this combined my two greatest loves (musicals and voice acting), but I can't help but feel like my priorities were a little whacked.
And just in case you're wondering, I saw 9 to 5 yesterday, and noticed that Megan Hilty's bio mentioned doing a voice on Phineas and Ferb, so when she came out, I asked her who she was, since I couldn't think of it and I knew that I wouldn't have time to look it up by the time I got home. Turns out, the episode she's in hasn't aired yet, but she laid down the tracks back in February.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sushi Pack - Wicked Waste Wisps

Out in the forest, squirrels frolic, but not for long, as Sir Darkly is afoot. Taking garbage from a nearby trash can and dumping it in the lake, he creates the titular wisps, with the intention of turning all the citizens of Wharf City into litterbugs. With a whiff of their odor, anyone has the overwhelming urge to dump trash all over the ground.
The next day, The mayor tries to give a press conference, despite having a terrible cold, but Ikura changes the channel to Sophia Tucker interviewing the wisp's first victim. Wasabi, meanwhile, is out for a jog near the lake that Sir Darkly used the night before, and does a little victory dance after kicking a bottle into the recycling bin. He encounters some animals, but rather than having a heartwarming scene as he expects, the woodland creatures burst into tears, and the fish spit water at him. He rushes back to the Green Donut to fill in the others, and they all go out to investigate.
Meanwhile, two kids picking up trash outside the Green Donut (with the promise of five bucks for a job well done) become the latest victims of the stinky wisps, dumping all the trash onto the Pack as they walk out. As the kids run off, the Pack use their powers to pick up all the trash again, but the scent of the wisps lingers on. The forest forgotten, they split up to figure out what's up with that smell. Ikura and Wasabi encounter a wisp at the park, but they fail to capture it, since they lack ghostbusting equipment. Tako and Kani have similar encounters near a hotdog cart and garbage truck, respectively. Kani even ends up pinching herself in her pursuit of a wisp!
The current situation has not eluded the Mayor, for as he notices, all the trash makes the citizens crabby, and the only thing tourists hate more than trashy towns are crabby citizens. I wonder how good the tourist trade is in Wharf City, anyway, if that's the mayor's prime concern about all the trash. The mayor's less than altruistic motives incite him to take matters into his own hands (after all, when the garbage men can't be trusted to clean up the town, who can?), and he uses a leafblower to blow away the trash. While the Mayor blows stuff around, the Pack gets together to add up what they know about the wisps: 1. they're ethereal; 2. they stink; 3. they make people litter. They don't come to any conclusions, but the two kids show up to throw more trash on them, which the Mayor promptly blows away into a huge pile.
Climbing to the top of the pile, the Pack notices that, thanks to the Mayor's plan to get rid of the litter, all of Wharf City is, well, littered with similar piles. The Mayor promises them any resources they need, and they take him up on that by calling a conference in front of town hall. They implore the people of Wharf City to help them clean up the town again, but the citizens are in no mood to do anything but accuse each other of stinking. When they start pointing out the stink of the town, though, the Mayor (still stuffed up thanks to his cold) objects, only for the Sushi Pack to refute that yes, Wharf City really does stink. Kani suddenly realizes that the Mayor can't smell the stink, hence why he still has the desire to not litter. As the wisps close in for another attack, Tako orders everyone to plug their noses. The inability to be smelt robs the wisps of their power and they retreat. But there's still two minutes to go in the episode...
Back at the lake, Sir Darkly tosses more and more garbage into the lake, revealing that it's all part of his plan to make Wharf City miserable. The wisps return to him with the Pack in fast pursuit, but Sir Darkly laughs at them, telling them there's no way they can beat him on their own. Only they aren't on their own: all the citizens of Wharf City are there, and together with the animals of the forest, they get down to cleaning up all the trash. Clean-up continues in the city, and the sight of a pristine town causes each wisp to dissipate. The Sushi Pack chases Sir Darkly out of town with brooms instead of pitchforks.
A few weeks(?) later, the two kids deliver their winning "Keep Wharf City Clean" essay, and Tako tries to take credit for getting things back to normal, but the woodland creatures arrive in time to call him on this. He agrees to share credit with them, and the episode is over!

This one was just so-so for me. The only thing that made it worth writing up was Mayor Martin.