Friday, October 30, 2009

Elefun and Friends?

Well, my Blockbuster blues are slightly cured, as one of my discs finally came today, the official debut of the new MLP style in animation, Twinkle Wish Adventure. I'll be blogging that one soon, but before I get to it, I'm taking a quick look at a bonus short that was included on the DVD. Titled "Elefun and Friends," it is apparently a tie-in to games like (natch) Elefun, Gator Golf, and Hungry, Hungry Hippos. At first I thought it would be your typical, run-of-the-mill, children's show, and while it does generally follow that format, it put in some scenes that surprised me.

I mean, to start off with, the short begins with Elefun and his roommate Froggio getting some breakfast, while a lighthearted tune plays in the background. Froggio gets the spoons and starts drumming along to the tune on a piece of furniture, then jumps onto Elefun's head and starts drumming on him. Elefun doesn't seem to mind, but then he suddenly trumpets, blowing the frog off his head and into a coconut bowl. While Elefun just watches, their butterfly friends pour first cereal and then milk in both bowls, right on top of Froggio. Guess Elefun wasn't so keen on being a drum after all. Shortly thereafter, Elefun goes out for a morning swim, and upon seeing the empty pond suddenly fill up with all manner of animals, he cannonballs into the pond, splashing everyone else out quite intentionally. Sheesh.
The main plot kicks off when Elefun finds a kite shaped like a dragon stuck in a tree. Rather than send Froggio or the butterflies up to get it out, he decides that following the string to its origin will help him to get it unstuck. If you say so, Elefun. As Elefun states his dedication to following the string, even through jungles and deserts, Froggio begs out, only for Elefun to fix him with a withering glare until he agrees to come along. After that, things are pretty run-of-the-mill, with Elefun following the string through different countries, picking up the occasional companion, and learning the word "friend" in different languages. It isn't until they reach the actual end of the string in China that things pick up again. That's where they encounter a purple panda trying to treebuchet using bamboo over a river to the end of the string. She only gets halfway, leading this this exchange:
Elefun: Wha'cha doing?
Pandarama: Sipping tea. What does it look like I'm doing?
Spin: Sinking.
Pandarama: Who asked you?
Elefun then goes on to introduce himself and his hangers-on to her, and when he asks if she wants to be friends, she instantly replies, "No!" although she does backtrack, as she slips toward the water, "So, let's just say I want to be friends, not saying for sure, but pretend I do. What does that get me?" That's good enough for Elefun, and he devices a plan to help her across: she can slide down Giraffalaff's neck. Giraffalaff objects to this, though not because Elefun's being awfully presumptuous here, but because he has an embarrassing secret (and amusingly, when he asks Elefun if he can keep a secret, Froggio pops up to say, "Well, no," and Giraffalaff rebukes him, "I wasn't whispering to you!"), which everyone finds out anyway: he's afraid of heights (and sure enough, he's kept his head low the entire time). He even goes off on a soliloquy about how he hates eating the brown leaves on the ground, but the green leaves are too high for him, prompting the panda, still hanging from her bamboo, to ask him to solve his lunch woes later. Eventually he sticks his neck out and rescues Pandarama. With their friendship cemented, Elefun calls her a friend, and Pandarama corrects him with "朋友", pronounced "peng you," as Froggio explains to the audience, although not to Elefun, leading to this:
Elefun: Peng You is a pretty name.
Pandarama: My name is Pandarama.
Elefun: Then who's Peng You?
Pandarama: You!
Elefun: No, I'm Elefun.
There are a few more hijinks that ensue to finish up the episode, but that's basically the end of the good stuff. Pandarama was seriously the best part of the short, and voiced by Katie Leigh, although I really wouldn't have placed her without looking. The animation is done by Renegade Studios, who also did The Mr. Men Show, which I mention because a few of the voices also come from that show (Phil Lollar, Danny Katiana, and the previously mentioned Katie Leigh). While the animation itself is fluid, the edges on the characters are occasionally choppy, most noticably on Elefun. I don't know if I would check out a whole series of this, but I would definitely make a point to watch a few Pandarama-centric episodes, especially if the writing perks up a bit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It Just Bugs Me: The Busy World of Richard Scarry

I'm getting right down to business this time around. When I was younger, my sister and I watched a fair amount of Nick Jr., and almost always watched The Busy World of Richard Scarry. Which is why, to this day, I still burn with rage when I remember the terrible inaccuracies about different cultures and world history they fed to unsuspecting children. The show was in a "three shorts" format, and while most featured the gang from the Busytown books going about their Busytown lives, there would be the occasionally story about recurring detective characters (there were at least two different ones, if I recall correctly) or historical events. Only, as I said before, they were not anything close to the truth.
I don't remember the detective stories well enough to have that much rage against them, except for one, where the female detective went to China and had to solve the case of the kidnapped noodle chef. Only, it turned out that the guy who kidnapped the chef only did it because he always slurped his noodles and got banned from the restaurant for doing that (I think). Only, and even as a kid I knew this piece of information, in China and Japan you're supposed to slurp your noodles. It's a sign that you're enjoying your food. *headdesk*
But it's the show's attempts to tell a historical story that really brings up the ire in me. I mean, according to The Busy World of Richard Scarry, sandwiches were invented because the Earl of Sandwich's servant got distracted and forgot to wash the gloves aristocrats wore to eat food (what?), Amerigo Vespucci was a stowaway on Christopher Columbus' ship, and Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel's ceiling because he couldn't get the Pope (or maybe just a Father) to stop messing with the mural he was doing on the walls. There are more, but those are the ones I remember best.
I guess what really bothers me about these gross inaccuracies is simply that I don't understand why the show's producers thought it was necessary to completely change the story of history, or why they wanted to include historical segments anyway. It just makes no sense.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Whistles?

I saw Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs a couple of weeks ago, and I enjoyed it, even if the whole fathers and sons thing was too heavyhanded IMO. And I've recently been relistening to the OCR of Anyone Can Whistle, which made me realize that there's a bit of similarity between the two. Not a lot, mind you, but some. For instance, both take place in a town that's fallen on hard times due to their main industry falling flat for a rather silly reason. In ACW, the town made a product that never wore out, thus, no one needs to buy anymore, and in CWaCoM, the town's sardine industry goes down the tubes when the world realizes that sardines are "super gross." And in both, the towns are revitalized by a "miracle" (water spurting from a rock and raining food, respectively) that is taken advantage of by the mayor. Of course, in CWaCoM, the food rain is actually created by a machine, but so is the water from a rock in ACW, although the mayoress and her cronies try to pass it off as a genuine miracle. And frankly, the mayor from CWaCoM could very easily sing the mayoress' opening song, "Me and My Town," with lyrics like:
Come on the train, come on the bus,
Somebody please buy a ticket to us.
Hurry on down-
We need a little renown.
Fitting, as the mayor's first scene is him announcing his intention to unveil something to put the town on the map. Over the course of the movie, the mayor's motivation is to build himself up using the town's fame, which is what ultimately leads to the third act, and meshes nicely with the mayoress' main motivation, which is, as her song states, "Me and my town, we just wanna be loved."

The second similarity is slightly spoilery, so if you're planning on seeing the movie, feel free to skip the rest of this post (although really, it's not a spoiler that will ruin your enjoyment of the movie).

Anyway, in both Anyone Can Whistle and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, the female leads (Fay Apple and Sam Sparks) have a persona they put on to hide their true selves, which they only reveal (at first) to their respective male leads (J. Bowden Hapgood and Flint Lockwood). Sam hides her geeky self behind a perky, "dumb blonde" TV personality, while Fay uses a Wig Dress Accent to get around her rigid, by-the-book self. However, the male leads react differently to their ladies' secret identities. Flint encourages Sam to embrace her inner geek, including inverting the usual "Glasses Gotta Go" scene, but Hapgood encourages Fay to relax and be free on her own, basically to be who she is with the wig, but without it.

Other than that, though, the two stories have little to do with each other, which is to be expected, considering ACW is forty years older than CWaCoM.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sushi Pack Coloring Books

I finally got around to picking up the Sushi Pack coloring books last month, although I've put off blogging them, since there isn't too much to say about them. The second is mostly images from the first, but with different captions. Really, the only thing of note concerns Oleander. The coloring books posit that Oleander is her last name, and her first name is actually Fatima *dry laugh.* I'm not sure if this is canon or not, though, since it never came up in the show. I always assumed that she was simply going by her first name, and in my own personal fanon, her last name is White (mostly because I kept mistakenly referring to her as White Oleander in the early days). Apparently there is also a sticker book now, I'll have to try and track that down soon.

In a related note, a reader sent me a link to this doll that looks rather Kani-esque:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blockbuster Blues

Unlike those folks who use Netflix, I get my movies-in-the-mail from Blockbuster, which goes back to when I was in college and had at least five Blockbuster stores I passed regularly when traveling by bus, and I used to get two free in-store rentals per month as part of my subscription. Now, there are only two or three stores nearby (and none of them any closer than fifteen minutes drive), so I've dropped that part of my subscription. But I still get the movies by mail, and for the most part I enjoy what I see, except for the odd occasion where I completely forget why I put a movie in my queue by the time I actually receive it (not that I don't enjoy it, but I do wonder about myself sometimes).
Lately, though, I've been faced with a slightly frustrating situation. You see, over this week, I've received three DVDs, but none of them are the ones I put at the top of my queue. What bothers me about this is simply that I put two movies at the very top, so as to get them next. Both are listed as Available, so availability shouldn't be a problem. And yet, as each DVD was returned and new ones sent out, those two were skipped. I understand that there's more to the DVDs being sent than just running down a list, but still, it's very vexing. One, I could understand, but both of them being skipped three times?
Now, my subscription is the three-at-a-time variety, and yet, I was surprised to get two discs in the mail today, since I already had one and had just put one in the mail to go back. Well, earlier this week, I reported that a DVD I had returned hadn't shown up on my profile page yet, and I'd sent it in two weeks before (and another DVD I'd returned since then had already shown up). So they sent the next DVD (but not, you know, the next DVD. Or, come to think of it, the DVD of Next, although they did send that to me once by accident) that day. So now I'm guessing that the DVD I returned finally made it back there, and so they sent another DVD anyway. Except, they sent a DVD that they already sent (the same one, I think, that they sent when I reported that DVD missing in the first place). This could be an indication that the computer system over there has gotten slightly messed up, which could very well be why the two DVDs I want keep being skipped over. But really, I'd better get those movies soon.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fun With the IMDB Again

Once again, the IMDB has broken my brain. I was looking at the things Richard Horvitz (Daggett from Angry Beavers, Zim from Invader Zim) has done, and while I knew most of them (aside from a few "additional voices" credits), when I got to toward the end of the list, I just stopped cold. Why, you ask? Because he was Alpha 5 from the original Power Rangers series. And I honestly have no idea how to feel about that. At the moment it's ranging from "I can't believe it!" to "That makes so much sense now!" to "Is this really true?"
(Not relevant, but I would like to point out that it was my younger sister who was into Power Rangers, thus I saw a lot of it due to her.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Black Adder Season One

My mother likes to say that there are only six actors in England, and they're all in everything. And there are times when I really start to believe it, like today, when I finished watching the first season of Black Adder (which I decided to check out both because there's hardly a page on TVtropes that doesn't mention it, and when you get to the third season, Hugh Laurie is in it).
Overall, I enjoyed the series, even if there wasn't any Hugh Laurie yet, but I couldn't help feeling that I'd get more of the jokes if I knew more about Middle Ages history. The DVD only has a few special features, but luckily for me, one of them is a few quick notes on some of the history as pertaining to certain episodes. Another is a "Who's Who" which gave a quick bio of a handful of the characters, spoken by Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick (and prefaces his entry with "This is the good one"), with a list of key TV and Film roles on the screen. Or rather, the titles they've been in, though not the actual role they played (the biggest are usually mentioned by Tony), so naturally I was rushing to the IMDB to flesh out a couple of them, such as Peter Cook, who played Richard III in the first episode, but was also in The Princess Bride as the Impressive Clergyman (I would not have guessed, seriously). And when I saw that Miriam Margolyes was in Little Shop of Horrors, you better believe I looked her up real quick. Turns out she was the nurse at the dentist's office, but along the way I learned that she was also Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies, as well as some voice acting work, such as Fly (the sheep dog) in Babe and The Matchmaker in Mulan.
The special features are rounded out with a sing-along of the ending theme, which was good for me, since I could only understand half of the lines, and there aren't any subtitles on the DVD, and a couple of trailers for other BBC series on DVD.

You know, before I knew what Black Adder was, and just heard the title tossed around as a show that people liked, I thought it was actually some kind of sci-fi mystery show. Probably because the title becomes Blackadder after the first season (which is technically called The Black Adder). It just gave me the image of a dimly lit set and strange happenings going on.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Voice Actors in the Flesh

You all know that one my great pleasures in my online life is to make all kinds of voice actor connections, finding out the different characters they've been in the course of their career (and if I actually recognize the role, so much the better). Related to that, however, is another interest of mine, actually seeing a voice actor (or someone I know primarily for their voice work) in a live action role. I have rented movies solely to see a voice actor, but more often than not I'm pleasantly surprised to find them in a movie I'm already watching. Like the other day, when I was watching Scrooged for the first time ever (I've been meaning to watch it for a while, but never got around to it, since I limited myself to waiting for Christmastime. But it was on TV, so I figured, what the hey?). And I found that Bobcat Goldthwait was in it (a complete shock to me, since he was playing a complete nebbish, and didn't sound like his usual self until toward the end) and Brian Doyle-Murray (who is Bill Murray's brother, in fact), who I mostly know as K'Nuckles on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. And a couple of months ago I was watching The Dream Team, and was very pleased to find out Stephen Furst, who will forever be Fanboy from Freakazoid! to me, was in it.
It was thanks to Stephen Furst that I put up with Midnight Madness for as long as I did (one of the very few movies I couldn't stand enough to finish), although I didn't know he was in it until I was watching it (Eddie Deezen, aka Mandark from Dexter's Laboratory, is in it, too). I was actually checking it out because I'd read a book (not so recently at that point) that mentioned it was the main character's favorite movie, and another character dressed up like a character from it to impress her. But I just could not stand it, and I put up with a lot of movies.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Midafternoon Video - I Made Another AMV

I'm at it again, although this time my AMV is an actual Anime Music Video, using Wandaba Style and a song from Phineas and Ferb. Wandaba Style follows the Teen Genius Susumu Tsukumo, who is trying to launch a rocket into space using eco-friendly methods, with a group of Idol Singers as his pilots. I first watched it back in 2005 when it was released in the states, but I recently bought it on sale at a convention, with the thought that I might make an AMV. This wasn't the one I had in mind, but it fit so well that I did it anyway.

In the course of rewatching the series, I ended up making a page for it on TVTropes.