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Monday, 28 May 2012

Top 10 Father's Day Gifts For Under £10 ($15)

When Is Father's Day, 2012?

Father's Day is on Sunday 17th June 2012, the third week of June. Now, seeing as this month also holds host to the Queens Diamond Jubilee I can imagine that funds are going to be a bit tight, especially given this economic situation at the moment.

How Can I Get A Great Gift On A Low Budget?

The answer is simple really: shop early and shop smart. Think carefully about what your Dad is like and think if there's anything useful that you can get him, or even better, ask him what he wants. If he's difficult and says he doesn't mind it's the thought that counts then check out these top 10 gifts from Amazon.

Top 10 Gifts From Amazon For Your Daddy

No. 1 - The Outdoor Man

The Multi Tool


Ok, so this one is 35p over budget but it's super cool and is a great update for any Dad who's own multi tool is getting a bit worse for wear.









No. 2 - The Gadget Man

Camera Case


For Dads who love to take photos why not get him a case to protect his camera from knocks and scratches. 











No. 3 - The Film Buff

Father's Day (DVD)


If your Dad loves films then he'll love this comedy starring Robin Williams. Billy Crystal and Robin Williams have both been told they're the father to a runaway teenager. The two completely different characters join forces to find the missing teenager to discover who the real father is. This Disney production is based Les Comperes, by Francis Veber but still retains its slapstick comedy and light entertainment.






No. 4 - The Workout Man

York Weight Training Gloves


These are a great addition to your Dad's workout sessions. These gloves will help him grip more and also stop him from getting blisters on his hands.









No. 5 - The New Dad

The Haynes Manual to Babies and Fatherhood


What can I say, being a father is difficult and if you're new to it you're going to need all the help you can get.










No. 6 - The Beer Man

The Pint Glass

For all those Dads who like to relax at the end of the day with a nice pint of beer.












No. 7 - The Sports Fan

Camo Shotgun Cartridge Belt


Shooting is a sport and if you happen to live out in the country or if your Dad has a gun then he would definitely appreciate a new cartridge belt to place his bullets.











No. 8 - The Dapper Man

Eterno 100% Silk Tie


You can't go wrong with a silk tie for a Dapper Dad who always has a need for an extra tie or two.









No. 9 - The Busy Dad

Keep Calm and Carry On


For all you busy Dads out there, don't worry you're doing fine. Just take a deep breath, keep calm and carry on.










No. 19 - The Carefree Dad

Father's Day Box of Treats with Personalized Card


This is a great gift for any Dad who says he doesn't mind what he gets. Everyone loves a bit of chocolate and it is presented in this lovely box that also comes with its own card.








So there you have it, the Top 10 Father's Day gifts for Under £10. Happy shopping!

Related Links

The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride

The sequel to The Lion King was released in 1998 and has since been a favorite Disney movie of mine. Unlike the original this movie doesn't really focus on Simba but on his daughter, Kiara, who like her father is good at getting in trouble. 

Before we get to the main plot you should know that between these movies Scar has created his own pride, all just as corrupt as he was and his wife Zira is upholding Scar's ideals about the Pride Lands and how the Outlanders (Scar's pride) should be the rightful leaders of the Pride Lands. 

The Cast

  • Simba: Matthew Broderick
  • Nala: Miora Kelly
  • Kiara: Neve Campbell
  • Kovu: Jason Mardsen
  • Ziara: Suzanne Pleshette
  • Timone: Nathan Lane
  • Pumbaa: Ernie Sabella
  • Rafiki: Robert Guillame
  • Mufasa: James Earl Jones
  • Nuka: Andy Dick

Simba's Back: The Plot

Having returned to the Pride Lands to take his rightful place as King, Simba has been busy making a family of his own and now has his own cub, Kiara. However, not is all calm and peaceful as there is a plot for Kovu, a young cub from Scar's pride who was hand-picked by Scar himself to infiltrate Simba's pride and take over Pride Rock.

An interesting twist occurs here as Kovo and Kiara fall in love, helped along by none other than Rafiki the baboon. Kovo soon learns that Simba's pride is no threat to the outlander pride but it is too late for him to warn Simba of the ambush that is waiting for him. Simba manages to escape but is badly hurt and exiles Kovo from his lands. 

At this point Kiara is heart broken and runs away from home to find Kovo. While they are running away they realize that only they can end the war between their two prides and they must reach the battle ground before it begins. Only if they can convince the two sides not to fight will both their prides be saved.

The Music

This wouldn't be a Disney movie if we didn't have a song every 5 minutes; the music is just fantastic.

He Lives in You

This is the equivalent to "Circle of Life" and is performed right at the start when Kiara is being presented to the Pride Lands.

We Are One

In this song Kiara learns about the importance of life and how she is more than just an individual. She learns that she is part of the land she lives in and that Simba understands her more than she thinks.

Upendi

Rafiki helps Kiara and Kovu find love during this wonderfully animated song.

One of Us/Deception

This is the song that sends Kovu into exile after the ambush on Simba. It is a very powerful song that gets to me every time.

My Lullaby

This is Ziara's lullaby that she sings to Kovu as the plot to kill Simba begins to form and take action. Ziara sings about what keeps her going during their hardship and what she plans to do to Simba.

Love Will Find a Way

After running away from home Kiara is searching for Kovu. When they reunite the song becomes much more romantic rather than searching as they finally declare their feelings to one another.

Buy the Soundtrack Here:

Verdict

In my experience with sequels they are normally very disappointing, however, Disney has surprised me yet again with another fantastic movie. All the old characters are there, except Scar (but he's mentioned enough), and some great new ones as well like Kiara and Kovu.

I love the story line and the fact that just like her father, Kiara is the only one who can save Pride Rock from another disaster (Simba was the only one who could save it previously). The plot between Kiara and Kovu is a little like Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the point being that two members of different houses have fallen in love and it is life threatening to let on that this has happened. The upside to this story though is that the two main characters don't die at the end but join the two prides together and presumably remain happy for the rest of their lives.

As always the music is spot on. The advances in sound and animation make for a drastic and powerful setting to really tug at the heartstrings, especially in pieces such as "One of Us" which moves me every time.

I think Simba's Pride is more suited to a slightly older child as it deals with more complicated emotions such as love, jealousy and hatred and a small child might not quite understand. However, for older kids and adults there is plenty of in-depth and darker plots to be absorbed. I have watched it time and time again and have yet to be bored with it.

 If you want to get your own copy of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride I have provided a link to Amazon where they are selling for a very reasonable price.


 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Yeah...it's alright - Disney

You know it's a funny thing but you can always taste quality. For me it's like Cadbury chocolate; nothing else quite tastes like it. This isn't just a plug for Cadbury chocolate although it is worth mentioning that it is my favorite brand. Some people might try to convince me that there are better chocolates, chocolates for the more refined palate but I still go back to my beloved Cadbury every time. It's a dear name and with it there comes a certain uniqueness. I might eat some store brand chocolate and it'll taste nice enough. It's good chocolate but it isn't Cadbury and that's the point of today's rant/opinion/view/crazy proselytizing. Disney movies, and particularly Disney animations, have a certain quality that need to be upheld. 

I had a dream when I was younger; to become a Disney animator. Now I know nothing of the animation process on that scale but I was young and na├»ve and actually had a reasonable talent for drawing so I had that going for me. I sat and practiced my art trying to nail the different styles of animation. The Simpsons unique style and, more importantly for me, the style of Disney. I remember gushing with self pride when I finally nailed the Disney technique of the duck's bill and those eggshaped eyes. Soon more skills followed and with each passing year new hope came. I saw Beauty and the Beast (my all time favorite by the way), Little Mermaid, AladdinThe Lion King, Pocahontas, and all the movies of the “Golden Age” come out and each renewed my hope. And then, one day, a dagger was plunged into my heart; Toy Story

This was something I'd never seen before, a style of animation completely new to me. Foreign, cold, and unfamiliar (Are you a secret cartoon racist? - Ed.). But it was fine. It wasn't all singing all dancing but it was entertaining enough, in fact very entertaining. Still, despite what it said on the posters at the theater, it wasn't Disney though. Disney movies were animated in a more traditional style, they had big song numbers and were major events. Often it would be the case that we wouldn't see a Disney movie in the theater but actually wait six months for the VHS to come out. They were huge. And here was this movie which, despite it's ground breaking new techniques, seemed very small. It's fine I thought, just a glitch like when your favorite rock band releases a lot of poorly chosen electro disco tracks – I'm looking at you Queen, and thankfully more traditional Disney movies returned (Mulan, Hercules, e.t.c. - Oh by the way, I make no claim that any of this is chronological it's just what my eleven year old self is remembering.) 

Shrek, Monsters Inc., Shrek 2, Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2, 'Finding Shrek Inc.', Toy Story 3: Attack of the Killer Cars. These are all good movies but they lack that key quality of the show. The Disney formula is simple: Take one traditional folk story/pseudo-historical event; add an Alan Menken musical score; a dash of Disney magic and leave to simmer in the hearts and minds of adults and children alike. The Rescuers was amazing by the way – I preferred The Rescuers 2

Now for anybody from Disney who might be reading: stop with the pop culture references. They age incredibly badly. Your movies used to have funny moments without having ghetto speak or characters which are outrageous. Also stop with the freaking stupid cuts. You're not making a Scooby Doo cartoon from the 70s. The cast breaking out into song shouldn't be so damned staged. And lastly, GAAAAH! 

Lance “Drawn-with-natural-outline-colors” Pawman

Click Here! for information on getting a cheaper holiday to Disney Land.

Posters for Sale

Find your favorite posters at Allposters.com

       

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

    

If you haven't seen this movie, for starters where have you been and have you been under a rock? This epic movie was created by the directors of Beauty and the Beast, Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, in 1996 and has been a best seller including awards such a the BMI Film Music Award and the Artois Award for Best Casting of Animated Voiceover to name a few. 

Here's a little trailer to start you off:


Characters

Let's start with the awesome cast who did such a fantastic job of pumping energy and spirit into this film to make a classic that will last forever.
  • Quasimodo - the hunchback voiced by Tom Hulce
  • Esmeralda - dancing Gypsy voiced by Demi Moore
  • Jolly - the kid goat 
  • Phoebus - captain of the guard voiced by Kevin Kline
  • Frollo - minister voiced by Tony Jay
  • Clopin - jester and Gypsy leader voiced by Paul Kandel

Plot

For their 34th movie Disney took Victor Hugo's classical novel and turned it into an amazing animated film. Set in 17th-century France, Clopin (the jester and leader of the Gypsies) tells us the tale of Quasimodo a hunchback bellringer of Notre Dame who is ridiculed and tortured because his appearance is different. Not only is this abuse given by the townsfolk but also from his corrupt Master Frollo who believes he is pure and righteous in his ways but actually a twisted old minister.


Quasimodo is enthralled at the idea of going to the Feast of Fools and sneaks out of his sanctuary of the cathedral only to be accepted then shot down for his appearance. However, the Gypsy dancer Esmeralda takes pity on this creature and frees him from his bonds. Outraged by her actions and stunned by her looks, Frollo sets out to either take Esmeralda for his own or to have her burn at the stake.


We continue to see the burning of Paris as Frollo hunts for Esmeralda and once caught only Quasimodo can save her from Frollo's fire. But before he can do so Quasimodo has his inner daemons to fight: has Frollo been right all along and Esmeralda is a witch or should he save her life because she is kind and values all life? Only when he has won this battle can he save Esmeralda and her people.

Verdict

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is another fantastic movie by Disney that has all of my favorite elements in: singing, dancing, secrets, fighting and romance. Disney seem to have this perfect formula that works in any setting - it is not the story line that makes these movies great but the characters that enact it.

The Hunchback starts in a Disney traditional fashion with an epic opening number setting the scene for 17th-century France, almost like the setting for Beauty and the Beast but with deeper themes on a larger scale.

This particular movie is more like a musical than any of the others. I would say that the majority of the story telling is done through song and only when you get to the darker parts of the plot, especially with scenes of Quasimodo and Frollo do you get speech only. This is why this it is one of my favorite movies, the choir backing and epic musical numbers cannot be out done, not even by Belle from Beauty and the Beast. The singing in this movie is just wonderful and sends shivers up my spine along with goose bumps at every song.

The overall theme for The Hunchback is that of tolerance and acceptance which is important for young children to learn. It also talks of friendship, being right and true and respecting others and the laws and customs of the land. Without these guidelines humanity would cease to function smoothly and end up like the end of this movie: city on fire with every person for them self.

Although this movie is Universal (U) it still has some fairly heavy topics that some younger children might not understand just yet - you have been warned for the Q&A session after, or even during, the movie.

I would definitely recommend this movie to every single Disney lover, which should be everyone by my records. Even if you don't like Disney you should watch this film anyway just for the plot and character interaction. If you want to buy the film click on the first link, if it's Victor Hugo's book you want click on the second. 


The Hunchback Of Notre Dame [DVD] [1996]
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Wordsworth Classics)



Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Lion King

Yet another timeless classic from Disney and also one of my favorites. This 87 minute movie was released in 1994 and has since been performed on the stage and re-released in 3D animation.

Cast

King Mufasa (Lion) - James Earl Jones
Adult Simba (Lion) - Matthew Broderick
Cub Simba (Lion) - Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Scar (Lion) - Jeremy Irons
Sarabi (Lioness) - Madge Sinclair
Cub Nala (Lioness) - Niketa Calame
Adult Nala (Lioness) - Moira Kelly
Rafiki (Mandrill) - Robert Guillame
Zazu (Hornbill) - Rowan Atkinson
Timon (Meerkat) - Nathan Lane
Pumbaa (Warthog) - Ernie Sabella
Senzi (Hyena) - Whoopi Goldberg
Banzai (Hyena) - Cheech Marin
Ed (Hyena) - Jim Cummings

Plot

On the African planes there exists a pride of lions headed by a might lion known as King Mufasa and his wife Sarabi. His kingdom is known as the Pride Lands and there is a celebration occurring as we sweep over his kingdom: the young cub Simba is presented as future King to all the land. 


As with many young characters they often have difficulty in accepting responsibility as they merge into adulthood and will always be getting into some form of trouble. Simba's evil Uncle, Scar, takes this into account as he plans to kill Mufasa and take over the throne. A well planned 'accident' kills Mufasa and forces Simba into exile while Scar and his pack of hyenas take over Pride Rock.

Wandering in the Savannah the young cub meets Timon and Pumba. The unlikely duo take him in and teach him the ways of the jungle. Through the montage of 'Hakuna Matata' we see Simba growing into an adult lion. Timon and Pumba are the 'life of the party' and keep the story's emotional level up as they tell their jokes even at the most inappropriate times. With Timon and Pumba you will always have a laugh and momentarily forget the evilness and heartache of the previous couple of minutes.

Meanwhile Scar and the hyenas have turned the Pride Lands into a deserted wasteland, the animals have moved on and there is little water. This has caused Nala (Simba's best-friend from Pride Rock) to hunt outside the Kingdom. Nala finds Simba in the jungle (after trying to eat Pumba) and tries to convince him that he should return home as the rightful King. However, Simba is still running from his past and is convinced that the others would not accept him. 

Rafiki (an old family friend and King's counsel) follows Nala and eventually convinces Simba that he cannot change the past and that he must take his place as King in the circle of life. Returning home Simba is heart broken by what he sees and immediately challenges Scar as rightful heir. Will Simba convince Scar to step down and allow him to take the throne? It all depends on the outcome of the final battle of Pride Rock.

The final battle is an awesome clash between lion and hyena. The music increases the intensity of the battle and the animation illuminates the bloody battelfield as well as portraying the fear and anger of each side as they fight for the place of Pride Rock. 

Verdict 

I absolutely love the old Disney movies and The Lion King is no exception. It has everything a great movie needs: romance, horror, action, adventure, suspense, humor, and let us not for get the musical elements. The animation is fantastic and was the best when it was released and is easily adapted for the stage and has had some amazing reviews in that medium. 

Disney has again provided an amazing series of songs and soundtracks. They never fail to provide the right music to really set off the scene. For example, one of my favorite scenes is when Nala and Simba are rekindling their friendship and find love instead. This heart-touching scene is accompanied by 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight', it expresses Nala and Simba's love yet at the same time Timon and Pumba's concern that their friend will leave them.  Disney never ceased to amaze me with their music, the fact that they can have multiple conversations in any given song reminds of opera but for family animation. 

On the flip side, one of my favorite "evil" songs is Scar's 'Be Prepared'. Here he is talking about how he feels as an 'outcast' in the family and his evil plans to take over Pride Rock. The music is angry, low, and dark to simulate his words and the animation is almost like a general talking to his troops before battle (with hyenas as his troops). 

The Lion King will have you laughing, gripping the edge of your seat and crying into your pillow every time you watch it. Disney has once again plugged an amazing story into its unique formula and created yet another masterpiece.

                                     

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Power of Five: Necropolis, Anthony Horowitz

I'm not normally a fan of horror stories but as this series goes I must say I am a fan. Anthony Horowitz's Necropolis is the fourth book of the Power of Five series and introduces the fifth and final gatekeeper Scarlet Adams, also known as Scar. Up till now the series has introduced the four other gatekeepers, Matt (and Richard his best friend), Pedro, Jamie and Scott (the twins), and their plans to destroy 'The Old Ones' (evil beings who wish to destroy the human race).

Plot

Necropolis begins with Scarlet Adams being a normal school girl in England who manages to get herself caught up in a media storm due to her short disappearance during a school trip. Unbeknown to the rest of the world Scarlet discovers she is a gatekeeper but does not really understand why there is a secret organisation (Nightrise) out to get her. All she knows at this point is that she must try and find the four boys - one whom she knows as Matt - who only show up in her dreams.

Because of Scarlet's media coverage The Old Ones locate her and in turn lure her into Hong Kong as it begins to turn into the necropolis (the dead city). However, once you're in Hong Kong there's no way out and this starts to become a problem as death walks the streets.

The Old Ones know that the other gatekeepers will follow Scarlet and this is their chance to capture them so that the gatekeepers will be out of the way during the world domination. Once in Hong Kong Matt is captured by The Old Ones and put in cell with Scarlet, however there is a plan: they must reach a secret door - that only the gatekeepers can use - in a nearby temple to get out of Hong Kong. In order to escape Scarlet must discover what her special ability is (just like the boys have done) to keep herself and the other gatekeepers alive but it may already be too late.

Opinion

Seeing as I haven't read the previous books I found getting into the story incredibly easy. Horowitz covers the previous books at the start as a refresher, or in my case some background information, which is great for filling in the gaps as you go.

As for the story itself it is brilliant, I really got into the plot and the characters. Reading about familiar landmarks, such as the London Eye, and knowing that it 'happened' in the last decade really hits home and gives it a unique set of characteristics that I haven't found in other books.

I love how Horowitz's writing style just flows through the page and he can easily conjure up vivid images of the characters and settings. The chapters are broken down into manageable slots and are interspersed with excerpts from Matt's diary, which again gives it that extra real feeling.

Necropolis is a fast paced book that will literally keep you on the edge of your seat, recoiling from the pages and engaged for hours on end. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a mixture of reality thrown in with fantasy and horror.