Great animated films MOANA and PIPER now available

Disney has long been the leader of the feature animation field, but until the late 1980s its productions were not huge moneymakers. That was when its production system was updated by Pixar, who began integrating computer production techniques with traditional animation. This allowed relatively quick production, on the order of one to two years instead of four or five. The system did this by letting computers do more and more of the routine work and letting animators focus on the creative side of films.

The creative side included not only imagery but more importantly story values. This included characters and plots which were enormously appealing, not only to children who were their primary viewers but also to adults. It also included using world-class composers and musicians for films incorporating music, which was smoothly integrated into the stories rather than being seemingly arbitrarily injected into them.

The first two very successful films produced this way were The Little Mermaid then Beauty and the Beast, released in 1989 and in 1991.

Today there are two animated films which recently became available fairly inexpensively for you to enjoy. They are Moana and the short film, Piper, which won the Academy Award this year for short animation.

RedBox

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Amazon Video

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SUPERHERO BELLE from Beauty and the Beast

I am eagerly awaiting the live action Beauty and the Beast this Friday, March 17th. Meanwhile, I revisited Disney’s 1991 animated version. It was even more magical than I remembered. I suggest you also watch it. It’s available from several sources.

Amazon Apple Google Vudu YouTube

For fun I created a superhero picture of Belle. Click on it to see the trailer for the animated film.

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PERILOUS WAIF – great military SF

In a far future Alice Long is a 14-year-old orphan on jungle planet Gaia. Her nun-like Matrons would disapprove of the body-mods she has if they knew about them. An accident reveals some, plus the fact that the brain-washing they gave her didn’t make her a docile naturist.

Escaping a heavier brain washing, she travels 2000 miles through dangerous jungle to the planet’s spaceport and manages to get off planet by rescuing the pilot of a space shuttle from would-be kidnappers.

So begins adventures among the stars in Perilous Waif, in a Star-Wars-like future. Almost all humans are modified, and they share ships and worlds with AIs with human and humanoid bodies. Alice makes friends and discovers more about herself and the mystery of where she came from. There’s plenty of action, including a few space battles, but the people are what makes this story special. And me want to recommend to you.

Preview ebook paperback

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ELL DONSAII stories, a fun series by Laurance Dahner

I just finished reading a delightful series by Laurance Dahners. Thirteen books in all (so far) it tells of the adventure of Ell Donsaii, a scientist and athlete of near-superhuman abilities. Unlike much of SF, integral to it is the science and the detective work involved in science.

It’s available in hardback, but I read it by downloading the ebooks. One great feature of Kindle editions is that you can go back and forth (as I did) between my mini iPad and my smartphone. Books stay synchronized in the Kindle apps on all devices.

Incidentally, I chose a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 over later versions because you can replace the battery and upgrade the memory, features not in the so-called “latest and greatest” Note smartphones.

Preview Amz

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W. E. B. GRIFFIN – great author of military fiction

I took off a few weeks post-holidays to deal with some personal issues. Took advantage of that time to re-acquaint myself with my favorite writer of military fiction: W. E. B. Griffin.

I highly recommend him. I suggest you start with the first book in his The Brotherhood of War series. It shows the evolution of the U. S. Army from the Second World War through the Vietnam War, as viewed through the experiences of four soldiers, beginning with them as lieutenants in the last years of WWII.

He also wrote the highly acclaimed Badge of Honor series, about the Philadelphia Police Department. As with all his books, he also tells of the interdepartmental conflicts in military and police organizations which are as dangerous in their own way as the physical action and perils his characters endure.

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Preview Amz B&N

 

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Great TV miniseries STRANGER THINGS

I much enjoyed Netflix’s miniseries “Stranger Things.” The 8 episodes are the length of three or four feature films so buying a month of Netflix for $ 8/10 was well worth it.

The series has been described as Spielbergian. I agree: it reminds me most of ET, with its not-quite-teen main characters of four boys and a girl who is something of a fledgling superhero. Adults and teens do have important roles.

The characters seem real and fully realized, especially the sub-teens, and the 80s era is unostentatiously done well. I suggest you save the last two episodes to watch at once. They make up a very enjoyable finale, rounding off the story arc in a satisfying way but leaving two or three hints that a sequel was planned. The nine-episode season 2 is shooting now for release later this year.

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Great new CASTAWAYS IN TIME book

Just finished a terrific addition to the old “castaways in time” books which started with Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The book by Michael Z. Williamson is a bit long on the details of how the main characters adapted. This might bother a few but I enjoyed them. You can always skim if a book seems slow to you, but I might have felt cheated if the author had left them out.

From the book’s blurb:

“Ten soldiers on convoy in Afghanistan suddenly find themselves lost in time. Somehow, they arrived in Earth’s Paleolithic Asia. With no idea how they arrived or how to get back, the shock of the event is severe. They discover groups of the similarly displaced: Imperial Romans, Neolithic Europeans, and a small cadre of East Indian peasants. Despite their technological advantage, the soldiers only have ten people, and know no way home.”

Preview Amz B&N

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Great read – FRONTIER MAGIC by Patricia Wrede

Normally I post about new books, movies, TV shows. But this last week I read a trilogy that has been out a while & enjoyed it a lot. It deserves a look by anyone who missed it the first time.

In the Frontier Magic series by Patricia Wrede an alternate USA exists in a universe where magic is a reality. Three different approaches to it are roughly the European, African, and Asian. The US in an about the mid-1800s mileau is split by the Mississippi River a third of the way across the country. There a great magical wall was built many years ago to keep magic out.

There the heroine’s family moves when she is five where her father is to teach at a frontier college. Effie is the family’s thirteenth child, supposedly of great but negative magic, just as her twin brother as the seventh son of a seventh son is of great and positive magic. The trilogy chronicles her maturity and rise to power as a magician and scientist.

Preview Amz B&N

Preview Amz B&N

Preview Amz B&N

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JENNIFER LAWRENCE: “Embrace ‘new normal’ body type.”

If you want to get on my bad side – my REALLY bad side – say something negative about Jennifer Lawrence!

If my daughter had lived past seven months I’d be happy if she grew up to be as smart and open as JL. Time after time she’s said something that sounds so perceptive to me that I’d applaud if I were in the audience.

The latest is her observation that Hollywood (and TV and fashion magazines and so much more) has made unhealthily skinny bodies the ideal of beauty in women. So much so that normal women are thought of as overweight. For more on her thoughts click the following photo.

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NINA KIRIKI HOFFMAN duology – terrific

One of the brightest stylists of fantasy fiction is Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Her characters are compelling, her stories engaging. She is definitely an author whose books you want to keep alert for when you go to the book store.

I’ve just begun rereading one of my favorite books by her, and I highly recommend you dip into it on Amazon and see if you might like it too. If you do, you’ll also want to get its sequel. (The first book is complete in itself. You do not need to get the second to enjoy the first.)

Click on the abbreviations above them to preview or buy the books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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