‘Garfield & Friends: Season Two’ Is Entertaining, But Imperfect

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/ Paws Inc.

Garfield & Friends is back on DVD again.  PBS Distribution released the second season of the timeless animated series Nov. 5 in a three-disc set through a partnership with Skiprope.  The set’s release comes almost fourteen years after 20th Century Fox released the fifth and last of its Garfield & Friends volumes.  Those volumes are all available through Amazon and other online retailers, and as much as this critic dislikes having to say it, are better investments than this collection and its predecessor in Garfield & Friends Season 1.  That is not to say that this latest collection from PBS Distribution is unwatchable; far from it.  However, it does suffer from one key con – its remastering, which will be addressed a little later.  While the remastering has caused its own share of problems for this collection, the general content makes up for the problems caused by the remastering.  This will be addressed shortly.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be discussed here later.  Each item noted here plays its own important part in the whole of Garfield & Friends: Season 2.  All things considered, they make the set a welcome addition to the library of any of this series’ fans, but only if they cannot get their hands on 20th Century Fox’s previously released Garfield & Friends collections.

PBS Distribution and Skip Rope’s recently released Season 2 set of Garfield & Friends is an entertaining offering for fans of the timeless animated series.  That is due in part to the set’s primary content – the episodes.  Audiences receive in this collection, the second season of Garfield & Friends in its entirety.  All 30 episodes from Season 2 are here from the season premiere to finale.  From the unforgettable “Rip Van Kitty,” — which finds Garfield falling asleep for fifty years, only to wake up in the future which finds Nermal just as cute and annoying as ever, Odie in a wheelchair and an alien invasion in which the aliens look just like Garfield – “Sludge Monster,” which finds Garfield, Jon and Odie staying the night in a “haunted” inn, and “Basket Brawl,” which spoofs the National Basketball Association, placing Garfield against Jon, Odie and Nermal in their attempts to prepare a picnic.  All of the U.S. Acres shorts that accompanied the main episodes are here, too.  Simply put, audiences looking for the second season of Garfield & Friends in its precise chronological order get exactly that here.  That is without question a key positive to the set and makes the set worth owning.  While the presence of Season 2’s full run forms a solid foundation for the set, the actual presentation of those episodes detracts from the set to a certain point.

Much like with the presentation of the series’ first season, this set is also presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen).  For those less familiar with aspect ratios, that might not seem overly important.  However, for those who are more familiar with the matter of aspect ratios, this is a bad thing.  That is because in comparison to the original 4:3 presentation – which was used in the sets from 20th Century Fox – the 16:9 presentation does show a certain amount of loss.  There might be more visible in terms of horizontal content, but clearly there is a certain amount of loss in the picture’s vertical presentation.  Heads are cut off along with tops of scenes.  The series’ full-screen 4:3 presentation by comparison actually does give viewers the literal full picture in each episode.  What’s more, the remastering does show through in general, as the picture is much sharper in each episode.  The problem is that the picture is perhaps too sharp.  It is that clean.  There is something special about seeing this series exactly as it aired in its original broadcast.  Sure, some remasterings are good and necessary. Comparing this presentation to the presentation in the 20th Century Fox box sets really does make the earlier presentations that much more charming and appealing in general.  To that end, one cannot help but wonder if the remastering that was done with this set (and its predecessor in Season One) was truly necessary.  Luckily even with that question in mind, this set is not a total loss.  The set’s packaging helps its overall presentation in its own right.

The packaging for Garfield & Friends: Season Two is key to its presentation in that it does admittedly save space on audiences’ DVD/BD racks.  Unlike the Garfield & Friends sets from 20th Century Fox, this set (and its predecessor) compress the packaging by placing each of its three discs on its own plate inside the case.  The third disc is placed in its own spot inside the case.  By comparison, 20th Century Fox’s sets each consist of three discs.  However, the discs are each placed inside their own slimcase inside the bigger box.  This is key to note because the end result is more space taken up on racks than the packaging manner used in this set and that of Season One.  To that end, PBS Distribution and Skiprope have actually done audiences a favor here.

Adding to the positive of the packaging is that the packaging method used here serves to protect the discs from one another just as much as the manner used by 20th Century Fox.  Keeping that in mind, the packaging used for this collection is just as important to consider as the set’s content.  When the packaging and content are considered together, they make the collection in whole a set enjoyable for those who might not already own the previously released Garfield & Friends box sets released by 20th Century Fox and who might be unable to get their hands on those sets.

PBS Distribution and Skiprope’s recently released Garfield & Friends: Season Two box set is a presentation that will appeal to fans of the timeless animated series that who do not already own the series’ DVD sets previously released by 20th Century Fox and those unable to get their hands on those sets, which collectively present the series maybe not in chronological order, but in full.  Audiences do get here, the whole of Season Two in its entirety and in precise chronological order.  They also get positive packaging.  For all of the positives that the set shows, it also does have a negative that cannot be ignored – the general presentation of the episodes.  While it clearly detracts from the set’s presentation, it is not enough to make the set entirely unwatchable.  It just shows that perhaps the remastering was not entirely necessary.  Keeping all of this in mind, the whole of Garfield & Friends: Season Two is enjoyable, but still leaves itself lacking to a point.  Garfield & Friends: Season Two is available now.  More information on the set is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbsdistribution.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PBSDistribution.org

 

 

 

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PBS Distribution Releases ‘Garfield & Friends: Season 2’

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/ Paws Inc.

Everybody’s favorite flabby feline is back on DVD.

PBS Distribution released the second season of the timeless animated series Garfield & Friends Nov. 5.  Season 2, which originally premiered Sept. 16, 1989, features 30 episodes including Garfield’s farm friends from U.S. Acres.

Among some of the most notable of the season’s episodes are the unforgettable “Rip Van Kitty,” “Sludge Monster,” and “Basket Brawl” as well as the equally entertaining “Robodie,” “Swine Trek” and “Heatwave Holiday.”

“Rip Van Kitty” plays on the classic take of Rip Van Winkle, putting Garfield into a dream sequence that finds him sleeping for fifty years. When he wakes up, it’s the future, and an army of Garfield lookalikes from the planet Zizzabonnawannawanna Boink Boink Three (say that three times fast) has invaded Earth.  For all the changes that have happened during his nap, two things haven’t changed — Nermal is still as annoying as ever and Binky the Clown is still on the air, only much older.

“Sludge Monster” plays on Universal Pictures’ classic monster movies as Jon, Odie and Garfield have to stop for the night at a hotel that is allegedly haunted by the infamous sludge monster.  The discovery leads to an entertaining musical number by Jon.

“Basket Brawl” is one of the series’ most memorable episodes, as it finds Garfield going solo in a game of basketball against Jon, Nermal and Odie as they try to get food for a picnic into a picnic basket.  The show’s writers poked fun at famed broadcaster Marv Albert in this episode, creating a mouse version of Albert to anchor the showdown.

“Robodie” makes Odie the star after he is kidnapped by a mad scientist — of sorts — who wants to make robot versions of Odie.  There’s just one problem:  Odie’s robot doubles are just as absent minded as Odie, which leads to its own share of laughs.

“Swine Trek” is one of many U.S. Acres shorts featured in Season Two of Garfield & Friends.  This episode spoofs CBS’ classic Star Trek series, with Orson taking on the role of Captain Kirk, Lanolin playing Uhura, Wade as Dr. Bones (fittingly), Booker as Chekov and Bo sheep as Scottie and Sheldon as Spock.  Orson’s evil brothers play the part of the Klingons.  the whole story rises from a dream sequence that Orson has after he falls ill with a cold.

These episodes and so many other memorable episodes make up the whole of Garfield & FriendsSeason Two.  The collection is available now through PBS’ online store for MSRP of $14.99.  Garfield & FriendsSeason One is also available through PBS’ online store.

More information on these and other titles from PBS Distribution is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbsdistribution.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PBSDistribution.org

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Nickelodeon, Shout! Factory Finishing Off Another Classic Nicktoon Next Month

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon established a partnership only a few years ago that has seen some of the network’s greatest classic series, called Nicktoons, get full, proper releases. Almost all of those classic Nicktoons has seen releases in separate seasons and complete series box sets. Now what is one of the last of those series sets will be released next month in the form of CatDog: The Complete Series.

CatDog: The Complete Series will be released on DVD Tuesday, October 14th. The series’ complete four-season, sixty-eight episode run will be released in one complete multi-disc set. It will retail for MSRP of $29.93. After this release, the only full series sets that are left to be released under the companies’ current partnership are The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series and Hey Dude: The Complete Series. Audiences can keep up with the latest on all of these releases online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Denver The Last Dinosaur Is Extinct No More

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Denver The Last Dinosaur is extinct no more!

Courtesy:  Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Courtesy: Cinedigm/VCI Entertainment

Cinedigm and VCI Entertainment will release Denver The Last Dinosaur: The Complete Series on Tuesday, September 16th. The series ran a total of fifty-two episodes from 1988 to 1990. It follows the adventures of Denver—a Corythosaurus—and his human friends who discovered him after he unexpectedly hatches from a fossilized egg. The series received a recommendation from the National Education Association for its engaging and nonviolent story lines. The series features the talents of some of today’s most well-known voice talents including: Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama, Hey Arnold!), Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Curious George, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), Kath Soucie (Dexter’s Lab, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures), June Foray (The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Garfield & Friends), Brian Cummings (Duck Tales, Garfield & Friends, Adventures of the Gummi Bears) and three of the voice talents from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, and Rob Paulsen among so many others.

The upcoming box set will contain not only the series’ complete fifty-two episode run but also a handful of bonus materials, too. Those bonus materials include interviews with the series’ Creative Director Jeremy Corray, image galleries, and even a glimpse at other classic cartoons including the likes of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. The six-disc set will retail for SRP of $59.99. More information on this and other releases from Cinedigm is available online at http://www.facebook.com/Cinedigm, http://twitter.com/cinedigm and

http://www.cinedigm.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

WHV Finally Gets It Right On Its Latest Peanuts DVD Release

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

Warner Home Video has struggled quite a bit in the past year or so with its home releases. The 2013 releases of Tiny Toon Adventures Volume 4, Taz-Mania: Season 2 Part 1, and Hats Off To Dr. Seuss were all troubled with their own problems. 2014 hasn’t exactly been off to much of a better start thanks to the release of The Flintstone Kids: Rockin’ in Bedrock. That release presented only the main Flintstone Kids shorts minus the companion Captain Caveman and Son and Dino shorts. That alone took off major points from that set. But now WHV has finally started to pick up the ball and get things back on the right track thanks to the brand new release of This is America, Charlie Brown. This brand new double-disc has officially made its own spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs and Blu-rays for families and children. The primary reason for that the features included in this set are both entertaining and educational. Another reason for the set’s enjoyment is the use of both hand drawn animation and historical photos to help illustrate each “lesson.” The last factor to examine in what makes This is America, Charlie Brown a success is its packaging. Each of the noted factors by themselves, play important roles in the success of the set. Together, they make this brand new release one of the year’s best new box sets for families and children.

The first and most important factor in the success of This is America, Charlie Brown is the combination of both entertainment and education. The eight features spread across the set’s two discs educate viewers in such fashion that it doesn’t even feel like viewers are being taught. Thanks to the legacy of the Peanuts gang, it feels more like viewers are going on a fun field trip through America’s history than just learning about history from another documentary. There are even some fun little pop culture references that parents will appreciate along the way. One of those references is to the command module of the Apollo 10 being named Charlie Brown. Lucy comments on this saying that she doesn’t know where such a name could have come from. The kids also see their own comic strip hanging in the Smithsonian Museum of Art. The little reference there is just as funny. On a more subtle level, audiences that know anything about animation history will appreciate Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Curious George, Garfield & Friends) as the voice of a number of characters here including Wilbur Wright in “The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk.” Gregg Berger (Garfield & Friends, Aahhh!!! Real Monsters, G.I. Joe) joins Welker as the voice of Wilbur’s brother Orville. This isn’t the only feature to which Berger and Welker offer their talents, either. Lou Rawls joins them in “The Music and Heroes of America” and makes the journey all the more enjoyable even as being an educational journey. It serves as one more example of how the combination of education and entertainment is such an important factor in the success of this set. It isn’t the only important factor to the set, either.

The combination of entertainment and education in the features that make up This Is America, Charlie Brown is a solid foundation for the mini-series in whole. Just as important to the set’s success is the use of both hand drawn animation and historical photos to help illustrate and advance each story. Kids will be entertained by the hand drawn animation. And parents that grew up in the days of true animation will appreciate the original animation style of this Peanuts presentation. Those behind the mini-series balanced the animated segments with just enough historical photos to help drive home the stories in each feature. They even included some vintage video to help advance each “lesson,” too. And that video is just as balanced. The resultant effect is a presentation in each feature that will keep viewers of any age fully engaged from start to finish. It’s one more aspect of the whole mini-series that maintains the set’s value.

The visual presentation of the mini-series’ features and the ability of the features to entertain and educate without being too outright about their educational purpose are key to the success of This Is America, Charlie Brown. There is still one more factor to examine in the set in considering what makes it worth the purchase and the watch. That factor is the set’s overall packaging. Both of the discs in the set are placed on their own spindle inside the case. On one level, this protects the discs from scratching one another, thus increasing their life span. On another level, it minimizes the size of the box used to contain the discs. The bigger picture of this is that it conserves space on any viewer’s DVD rack. So not only is the mini-series in whole educational and entertaining, its case is ergonomic. Sure, there’s little else to the set whether extrinsic or even intrinsic. It’s a bare bones presentation. But these factors together make This Is America, Charlie Brown a much needed win for Warner Home Video and for fans that have waited so many years for this mini-series to get a proper release.

This Is America, Charlie Brown is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online from the WB Shop at http://www.wbshop.com/product/this+is+america%2C+charlie+brown-+the+complete+series+dvd+1000411223.do. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Nicktoons Nostalgics Will “Scream” With Joy for Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series

 

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Nickelodeon

Halloween is right around the corner once again.  That means that lots of people are looking for entertainment for their annual parties.  This includes parents looking for entertainment for their children’s parties.  Next Tuesday, Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory will release one more new fun release for the whole family that is a perfect fit for those parties in the form of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series is great fun for both new young audiences and for those that grew up with the series.  It is one of Nickelodeon’s famed Nicktoons that brought Arlene Klasky and Klasky Csupo to fame during the 1990s and early 2000s.  And just as the pair set itself apart from the crowd with its groundbreaking series, Rugrats and the equally innovative Wild Thornberrys, it did so just as much with this series, too.  Klasky Csupo showed just how far ahead of its time it was with this series.  To an extent, one could argue that it might well have been the influence behind Disney/Pixar’s 2001 movie, Monsters, Inc.  That’s because the movie in question didn’t come into being until at least three years after Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had ended in 1998.  This is just one part of what makes the series so important for any fan of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  In direct connection, audiences will appreciate the show’s writing.  Again, a comparison to both Klasky Csupo’s other cartoons and to Monsters, Inc. is necessary to show how far ahead of the times and quick the writing was in this series.  A third factor to consider in deciding whether or not to buy or order this new set is its packaging.  Yet again, Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have set the bar with another box set’s packaging in this collection.  What can be said that hasn’t already been said about that?  But that’s a good thing.  And it seals the deal on what is another great trip back in time for any purist Nicktoons Nostalgic.

Klasky Csupo was the Pixar of the television world from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.  That is thanks to its long strain of original hit cartoons that would be the backbone of Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons programming.  Those hits included the likes of Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and what would end up being the studio’s last Nicktoon, All Grown Up.  Throughout all of the cartoons created by the studio, each one was entirely different from the last.  And Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was one that definitely stood out.  It stood out among both other Nicktoons and other cartoons in general.  The only other studio doing anything remotely similar at the time was DiC Enterprises with its claymation based Bump in the Night.  Between the two, Klasky Csupo’s cartoon still stood out and in a good way, as it lasted well past the latter of the two toons.  No one at the time had thought of the concept of a trio of young monsters living in a dump, learning how to scare humans.  Even the characters themselves were original.  One look at David Eccles’ Krumm makes one wonder if he in fact wasn’t an influence behind Mike Wazowski.  Both of these factors (and others) show just how far ahead of its time this series was.

Aahhh!!! Real Monsters was well ahead of its time in so many ways.  From the general story and characters to other smaller aspects, its cast and writers proved that in so many ways.  In direct connection, it is just as impressive thanks to its writing.  From learning how to scare and avoiding the wrath of their teacher, The Gromble (Gregg Berger—Garfield & Friends, The Angry Beavers, The Garfield Show) to trying to escape capture by Simon the Monster Hunter (Jim Belushi—Life According to Jim, Hey Arnold!, the Adventures of Jimmy Neutron), the writers found so many ways to keep the show fresh through all four of its seasons.  There was even a hunt for a pail that sends Ickis on a wild chase that will leave audiences laughing.  It’s one more of so many wonderfully entertaining moments that make this new set so fun for anyone that grew up with the series and for their kids, too.

The writing and general ingenuity of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters went a long way toward making it one more of Klasky Csupo’s most beloved cartoons.  The same can be said of what made it one of the best Nicktoons of Nickelodeon’s golden era.  There is one last factor in this new set that fans of the show will appreciate in its upcoming release.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory have already released both Rocko’s Modern Life and The Angry Beavers in complete series sets.  Those sets both managed somehow to contain eight discs in a box that only takes up the space of two standard DVD cases on any DVD rack.  The same can be said of this set’s box, too.  Each of the set’s discs are placed on either side of their own “plate” within the case.  As large as it may make the box seem, it actually manages to conserve space in the long run.  For that, both companies are more than deserving of even more credit.  What’s more, this form of packaging also protects the discs from being scratched up.  So it serves as a double whammy in the best possible manner.  Keeping this in mind along with the original writing and the generally original concept behind the show, audiences are presented with another welcome shining release from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory.  One can only hope that from here, the two companies will eventually strike a deal to release Klasky Csupo’s other classic Nicktoons next.  Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series will be available online and in stores Tuesday, October 8th.  It can be ordered direct online from Shout! Factory’s store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/node/218263.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available on the official Shout! Factory website, http://www.shoutfactory.com and Shout! Factory Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

CatDog Goes Out On Top In Its Final Season

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

The end is finally here for another classic Nicktoon courtesy of Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  The two companies have released CatDog: The Final Season to the masses at long last.  Unlike the show’s previously released season sets, this season contains only a single disc.  Even in just the one disc, viewers are treated to even more fun, zany adventures from everybody’s favorite canine feline, including the now beloved three-part mini-epic, “CatDog and the Great Parent Mystery.”  This episode was the cornerstone of Season Four.  It’s just one example of the continued top notch work from the show’s writers even four seasons into the show’s run.  The show’s writing isn’t all that audiences will appreciate from this final season.  Also worthy of note in CatDog’s final season is the return once more of Tom Kenny and Jim Cummings as the voices of CatDog.  Also to be noted in this season is the guest appearances by veteran actors Billy Bob Thornton and Jane Krakowsi along with one of the most famed of all voice actors, the one and only Frank Welker. All elements combined together, they make CatDog: The Final Season one more wonderful addition to the library of any true Nicktoons Nostalgic.

The writing in Seasons Four’s episodes is just as fun and zany as it has ever been throughout CatDog’s previous three seasons.  This season sees the boys have to convince Winslow to come back to their house after he’s kicked out by his own niece and nephew in “Harasslin’ Match.”  This is a tried and true storyline, given.  It’s been used in so many cartoons and sitcoms past and present.  But that makes it no less funny in this episode.  In another of this season’s best moments, CatDog’s parents make a return appearance.  And once again they are voiced by some very well-known names in the form of Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa, The Astronaut Farmer, Armageddon) and Jane Krakowsi (30 Rock, Ice Age, Ally McBeal).  The pair return in the episode titled, “Vexed of Kin.”  Having finally found their “parents”, CatDog deals with the issue of sibling rivalry in their own wacky way.  It makes for a very good tie in the season’s three-part premiere episode.  The two episodes together exhibit what is another of the positives carried from the show’s first three seasons into this season.  The positive in question is the writers’ ability to once again balance the show’s zaniness with its heart.

The writers responsible for bringing CatDog’s adventures to life have done an expert job of balancing the show’s funny side with its heart over the course of its past three seasons.  This season is no different as evidenced by Season Four’s three-part premiere episode.  The boys’ adventure and the final reveal about their past are both as zany as any previous episode.  On the other side, this episode shows more heart than previous episodes.  Who doesn’t want to feel love from a parent, regardless of whether or not that individual is one’s birth parent?  The love of a parent is the greatest love of all.  It’s that knowledge that makes this episode just as heartwarming as it is funny.  It is a tribute to the talents of the show’s writers, even four seasons in.  And along with the season’s remaining seven episodes, they all come together to make this season one more enjoyable collection for any Nicktoons Nostalgic.

CatDog: The Final Season is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online through Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.  And to keep up with all of the latest news from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory, parents and kids and go online to http://www.facebook.com/nickelodeon, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial, http://www.nick.com, and http://www.shoutfactory.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.