Disney Songs -Duh duh DUH!

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s time once more to undertake a gargantuan and pointless project by listening to all of the Disney songs. That’s right – ALL OF THEM. And by ALL, I don’t mean all – I won’t be covering the straight to DVD sequels or the non-animated work – only the central Disney Animated movies, starting with Snow White and the Fourteen Twats from way back in 1937 (and for fun I’ll throw in some of the Pixar ones too).

As there are literally (not) billions of songs, I’m going to post one movie at a time. I have my favourites and while driving with the kids I will occasionally blast a Disney Greatest Hits, but many of those songs are dreadfully annoying. There will be many songs I’m either not familiar with or haven’t heard outside of the film or have simply forgotten. For now, here is a handy list of every movie I will be covering (may be changed later as for a few of these I don’t even know if they feature songs). Let us know in the comments which Disney Movie you feel has the best songs, and which songs are your favourites!

Snow White And The Seven Dwarves                                             Pinocchio

Dumbo                                                                                                    Bambi

Saludos Amigos                                                                                    The Three Caballeros

Make Mine Music                                                                                 Fun And Fancy Free                                                                                                                                                                                 Melody Time

The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr Toad                                    Cinderella

Alice In Wonderland                                                                          Peter Pan

The Lady And The Tramp                                                                 Sleeping Beauty

101 Dalmations                                                                                    The Sword In The Stone

The Jungle Book                                                                                  Robin Hood

The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh                                 The Rescuers

The Fox And The Hound                                                                   The Black Cauldron

The Great Mouse Detective                                                             Oliver And Company

The Little Mermaid                                                                            The Rescuers Down Under

Beauty And The Beast                                                                       Aladdin

The Nightmare Before Christmas (not complete Disney I know I know)

The Lion King                                                                                       Pocahontas

Toy Story                                                                                               The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Hercules                                                                                                Mulan

A Bug’s Life                                                                                           Tarzan

Toy Story 2                                                                                            Dinosaur

The Emperor’s New Groove                                                              Atlantis

Monster’s Inc                                                                                        Lilo And Stich

Treasure Planet                                                                                   Finding Nemo

Brother Bear                                                                                        Teacher’s Pet

Home On The Range                                                                          The Incredibles

Pooh’s Heffalump Movie                                                                  Chicken Little

Cars                                                                                                        Meet The Robinsons

Ratatouille                                                                                            Bolt

UP                                                                                                           The Princess And The Frog

Toy Story 3                                                                                           Tangled

Cars2                                                                                                     Winnie The Pooh

Brave                                                                                                     Frankenweenie

Wreck It Ralph                                                                                    Monsters University

Planes                                                                                                    Frozen

Planes: Fire And Rescue                                                                   Big Hero 6

Inside Out                                                                                            The Good Dinosaur

Zootopia                                                                                               Finding Dory

Moana

Depending on the time I get around to doing these, I may also include the following as yet unreleased movies and lesser known Disney pics: A Goofy Movie, Doug’s 1st Movie, The Tigger Movie, Recess, Return To Never Land, The Jungle Book 2, Piglet’s Big Movie, The Wild, Mars Needs Moms, Moana, Cars 3, Coco, Wreck It Ralph 2, Toy Story 4, Gigantic.

Stay tuned then for a rundown and half-arsed review of all of the songs. Bibiddi bobbidi arrghh!

TTT – Disney Movies

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Greetings, Glancers. Today I list my top 10 favourite Disney movies. Animated movies that is, as most of their non-animated stuff is muck. For almost a hundred years, Disney has been synonymous with animation and they have crafted some of the world’s most imaginative movies with stunning visuals, timeless stories, wicked villains, tireless heroes and heroines, and a multitude of memorable side characters and songs which have become cultural touchstones – there simply isn’t another company like it. While I have yet to see all of their central animated movies and hardly any of the many many straight to DVD sequels and spin offs, my Top Ten represents a fairly wide array of choices to represent just what made, and continues to make them so special.

10. The Sword In The Stone

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One of the lesser known and most unusual Disney movies, this tale based on Arthurian Legend doesn’t feature a princess in need of rescue or any overly memorable songs, but it does have cutesy animal characters, quirky humour, and a host of slapstick action and ideas. The animation has a similarly bland feel to 101 Dalmations but a variety of colour schemes and transformation scenes which are magical in my childhood and were likely all the more impressive at the time of release. Arthur is an unusual hero, a bumbling but well-meaning idiot, surrounded by brash masculine figures, a crabbidy old owl, and a wizened old wizard. Madam Mim makes for a unique villain, a crazed witch who doesn’t really have a goal in the overall film’s plot, but her scenes are a lot of fun and make you wish she played a bigger part. The plot of the story is fairly bizarre too, as it simply chronicles a short stage in Arthur’s life as he moves from weak little squire to England’s rightful ruler – but it features some early meta-humour and enough oddities to make it charming for a viewer like me.

9. Frozen

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I almost was not going to include this monstrosity, but I have seen it so many times that it is not only a huge pop culture phenomenon, but something which my family has watched together numerous times. If you’re a parent of young children then you’re probably in the same boat – Let it Go will haunt your waking hours without warning, your house is adorned with Frozen memorabilia, clothes, toys, and you know the characters, dialogue, and story by heart. It’s difficult to be cynical when the film is so good at wrapping up the kids in its wonder, and its’ very easy for an older viewer to get pulled in again. It’s classic Disney stuff, with many tropes twisted on their heads, clever one-liners, great characters, and a message which values true love in any form over blind faith.

8. The Lion King

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Like Frozen I almost feel obliged to include The Lion King in my Top Ten. I know it’s going to many people’s favourite, especially people of my age who think it’s ever so clever to announce at the top of their voices that it’s based on Hamlet. There are quiet a few films not included on this list that I enjoy more than The Lion King, but where it succeeds over those is in the quality of animation, music, performances, and humour. The cast of The Lion King is superb and breath life into even the most minor character, and with a list including Simba, Mufassa, Scar, Timone, Pumba, the hyenas, and many more, there is so much to love. Throw Elton John, Hans Zimmer, and Tim Rice’s music and lyrics into the mix and you have one of the most successful movies ever made. The subtle use of CG merged with gorgeous traditional animation serves up a sprawling view of Africa – bright, mammoth, and deadly, but brimming with life and wonder.

7. Pocahontas

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I saw Pocahontas quite late, after generally seeing the 90s Disney output shortly after release. I remember only watching part of it after its VHS release, and then only watching it fully some years later on TV. It continues the gorgeous art work of the 90s Disney features before the CG began taking over, and features a very strong female lead in the title character, continuing the company’s trend which started with The Little Mermaid. The story of the cultured white man coming to the new world and staking his claim may get criticized for being simplistic, but along with the general environmental message this is a story with heart and meaning – aimed at children. I have no doubt that the messages sink in to younger minds and hopefully once watched a bunch of more tolerant people come out the other end.

We have a dastardly villain who may not be the most memorable in the Disney canon but still is eminently slappable, a strogn male lead in John Smith, a few decent side kick characters, and of course Pocahontas herself. It isn’t a joke heavy movie, but there are a few funny moments, strewn between some effective action scenes and of course a load of great music – it’s the music which raises the movie well above average and reminds us of the message.

6. Mulan

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Disney struck gold again after the modest financial and critical success of their previous two movies with Mulan. I don’t remember this getting much praise upon release and it seems like the movie’s popularity has grown with time. Mulan is a divisive character, getting both praise and sharp criticism from feminists, but in my mind she is another progressive Disney woman who controls her own destiny. I also would rank Mulan as one of the most beautiful looking Disney films -the oriental art style and the setting being unique and one I wish the company would return to. Shan Yu is one of the most vicious and evil Disney bad guys, although he is perhaps not memorable due to his lack of comic moments. The voice cast is superb, with Ming na Wen, BD Wong, and James Hong all giving terrific performances, but Eddie Murphy steals the show as the dragon Mushu. The battle scenes are epic and exciting, the songs are wonderful, there are plenty of visual and slapstick gags, the hero’s journey is hopeful and poignant, and we even get an excellent montage, Rocky style.

5. Tangled

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Moving on from the Girl Power Disney Princesses of the 90s, the Noughties Disney girls retained their strength while still being girly – never more obviously shown than with Rapunzel. I’ve always loved the story of Rapunzel and was excited when Disney said they would be tackling it. It’s one of the fastest paced, most fun Disney movies with gloriously bright visuals and a fairly sad plot. Rapunzel is an extremely lovable character, somehow always upbeat even though she was kidnapped at birth an locked in a tower for her whole life, while Flynn Rider is an affectionate rogue in the Han Solo mould. Mother Gothel is one of the most interesting villains in Disney history – ambiguous enough that we think she does sort of love Rapunzel, but clearly wicked and self-interested. It must have been a difficult task for the writers to turn the witch of the original story into someone as wily and engaging as Gothel, and Donna Murphy gives her rambunctious diva breath. While the songs may not be as monumental as those in other movies on this list, they are a hell of a lot of fun and performed in a light, bouncing spirit.

What always disturbed me about most versions of the original story was how the first half focused on these loving, poor parents who have a child, and in the second half it’s all about Rapunzel, the Witch, and the Prince – the parents apparently never find out what happened to their baby; Tangled changes this for the better. It’s maybe cynical that her parents are King and Queen, but who cares – it’s magic!

4. The Nightmare Before Christmas

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Okay, I’m cheating a little with this one as it isn’t really a classic Disney feature, but it’s still a product of them – current animators, ex-animators, and it spices up the list giving something with a little bit of flavour. It is a fantastic story, imaginative, dark, and filled with cheeky charm. The stop motion still looks as good today as when I saw it in the cinema, and Jack Skellington is a legend. An unusual love story like several of Tim Burton’s others, this is a tale for kids who are perhaps that little bit lonelier than others or who simply appreciate the darker things in life or maybe see the world through a rim of shadow that a ray of light – but who still dream and hope.

3. Aladdin

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Another one I saw in the Cinema upon release, Aladdin must rank among the most entertaining, funny, and action packed Disney movies and has possibly the best single performance in any animated movie – Robin Williams as The Genie. Disney has a record of employing iconic comedians for their movies, but never before or since has someone as loved as Williams provided so much of their own style , personality, and energy into a character.

With all the anti-Muslim fearmongering and hatred in the world at the moment I’m surprised Aladdin is still as beloved as it is. Hopefully that shows that a good film will always be a good film no matter how culture changes and how many fools decide to show their true colours. At its heart though, this is classic Disney – dreams of better days, love and romance, freedom and desire, all offset against wicked, ruthless, and selfish ambition. Like many Disney classics of old we get a roster of classic characters – Aladdin the adventurous street rat, Jasmine the lonely Princess who wants true love and a real life of possibility, Jafar the insidious cheat and power-hungry magician, The Genie and more. The movie builds upon the CG experiment unveiled in Beauty And The Beast to provide dazzling thrills and timeless set pieces – the escape from the Cave Of Wonders, Jafar’s last stand, and of course a little sequence involving a song called ‘A Whole New World’. Disney truly expanded its horizons in the 90s and Aladdin was a key component of that expansion – it remains as effervescent and amusing and enjoyable to new viewers new as it was to oldies like me.

2. The Jungle Book

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In some ways I’m surprised this one is so high up my list – when I was young it was the Disney movie I probably saw most and at times I got annoyed about this because I wanted to check out other Disney movies but the only thing being shown was The Jungle Book. It got quickly to the point that I knew the dialogue and lyrics off by heart, meaning I would unleash impromptu King Louie performances upon unsuspecting school friends (I never could manage to skip over my own arms though). The Jungle Book is maybe the central ‘Boy’s Disney Movie’ as it skips many of the traditional Disney tropes – Princesses, romance, some typical bad guy to overcome, and instead it’s basically an adventure, a journey through the jungle with a bunch of friends getting into various scrapes. There is of course Shere Khan, voiced deliciously by George Sanders who acts in the antagonist role, but rather than being a constant stalking presence, he’s only there so we have a greater sense of threat and conflict. It’s about leaving home, finding your place in life, finding friends, and making your own home, family, and future. There’s also a lot of singing and scratching your arse against trees.

The Jungle Book has some of Disney’s finest songs and funniest scenes. In Baloo the bear we have the perfect madcap folly to the straight-laced Bagheera, in Mowgli we have the innocent wide-eyed man-cub who is easily influence by the world and characters around him a la Pinocchio, and there’s a host of supporting characters from Primate mobsters, Scouse vultures, and marching elephants. If you don’t laugh at Baloo shouting in Bagheera’s face, or if you don’t dance, sing, and woo-bee-doo at this, you have no soul.

  1. Beauty And The Beast

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It couldn’t really be anything else, could it? You can rank Snow White as the most important, Pinocchio as the archetype, The Little Mermaid as the first return to form for the Company, but for me Beauty And The Beast trumps everything else – in those categories and more. Arguably the first animated movie in 50 years to be taken as a serious piece of art*, it was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, it breathed new life into an old story and completely rejuvenated a Company that many would have claimed to be past their best. It brilliantly utilizes the state of the art CG which was just creeping into the industry, seamlessly blending with traditional artwork to create a sweeping re-imagining of a tale as old as time, with classic characters, timeless music, and a story everyone will enjoy.

Belle is one of the finest Disney heroines – containing all the Princess tropes of beauty and kindness, but possessing an inner and outer strength, a huge imagination, and a dream of there simply being more to life than her quiet provincial existence. Thrust into a nightmare, it is her inner strength which turns her fears to fantasy and her fantasy to reality as she sacrifices her future for her father’s safety and embarks upon an adventure where beast can be more human than man and love can be the only thing to save us. The Beast is a fantastic creation – terrifying when he needs to be, and scary when he doesn’t, dumb, shy, proud, funny, lonely, regretful, but at his heart he learns to be heroic and to also understand a selfish sacrificial act. We have Gaston as the worst of humanity – a pinnacle of manhood – masculinity for masculinity’s sake, a man who believes the world should obey his puerile whims, and someone who is cruel, calculating, and will let nothing sway him from the pursuit and completion of his goals. Then there are the side characters of Lumiere, Mrs Potts, Coggsworth, Chip, Belle’s father and many more who each are important in their own right and each make the movie that bit more special. It is rare for any movie, let alone an animated one, to have such fully formed and interesting characters in such a vibrant world.

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I can’t leave without commenting on the music – not only do we have a fantastic array of songs, but the incidental music is superb too – just listen to the opening track played over the prologue which blossoms into ‘Belle’. The music meant multiple Oscar nominations and two wins for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, but lyrically they are excellent too – funny, poignant, and imaginative – getting right to the core of the character or struggle. Howard Ashman wrote most of the lyrics for the soundtrack on his deathbed, adding another layer of tragedy and something bittersweet – he never got to see the final product, but there could surely be no finer passing gift.

So there you have it, my personal favourite Disney movies. A polarizing company with many polarizing works – but if you’re reading this I’m sure you have your own favourites. Why not share them and your reasons in the comments below!

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*Grave Of The Fireflies might have something to say about that.

Amazon Vine Freebies – July 2015

And here’s another delayed post:

As we wait for summer to arrive, Postman Nasty brings his sack for my dirty mitts:

Sheba Tray Tender Pieces in Jelly with Cod, 85 g, Pack of 18

For creatures with claws.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night [DVD]

For creatures with fangs.

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Huggies Disney Special Edition Baby Wipes 56 Pieces – Pack of 10 (560 Wipes)

For creatures with bums.

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Best Animated Picture – 1967

My Nominations: Asterix The Gaul. Mad Monster Party. Jack And The Witch. The Jungle Book.

Even though there was no Animated Picture category this year, there are a number of notable films worthy of nomination. France’s most famous animated export Asterix makes his film debut. A decent film with all of the humourous traits of the comic even though I’ve never been much of a fan of the series. More interesting is Mad Monster Party, a films which deserves wider recognition and is perfect for younger viewers at Halloween. Even though the animation is dated, unsurprisingly, the script is strong, the songs are enjoyable, and the voice acting superb, from the likes of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller. Toei Animation’s Jack And The Witch is another great entry from Japan – a zany, dark tale of a strange car racing, animal befriending boy who has to take down an evil witch Queen who kidnaps and transforms children into monsters.

My winner though, is yet another Disney feature, and one of my all time favourites. The Jungle Book is at once the archetypal Disney film, and one of the most unusual – we have beautiful animation, humour, poignancy, vibrant memorable characters, and wonderful songs. On the flip side, there isn’t a Princess or a love story in sight, the setting is unique (or at least it was for the time), and an ending which is not as obvious a ‘happy ending’ as we may be used to. With tonnes of hilarious moments which still make me chuckle – King Louis chumping over his own arms, Baloo deafening Baghera, the John, Paul, Ringo, George vultures etc etc. The last film Disney worked on himself before his death in 1966, it was also arguably the final great film from the company before their early 90s return to glory.

My Winner: The Jungle Book

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Let me know in the comments what your favourite Animated Film of 1967 is!

Book Reviews – The Christmas Pocket Bible and Disney Classics SIngalong

*Note – both reviews were written a few years ago based on free copies provided by Amazon.

The Christmas Pocket Bible: Every Christmas rule of thumb at your fingertips (Pocket Bibles)

The Christmas Pocket Bible makes for a good stocking filler or pre-Christmas present; a read in the nights running up to the big day can heighten the seasonal festive feelings, while browsing through the history, the copious lists, interesting stories, and other assorted details is an ideal and relaxing way to spend the aftermath of a stomach bursting Christmas meal. The book is informative and interesting where it explains the often wacky origins of our traditions, and on the flip side it can inspire new traditions for your family, ideas for the holidays, and ways to improve or adapt your Christmas. The book is laid out in the fashion of an encyclopedia, so rather than read from front to back you can simply dip in and dip out. At the moment the book is fairly cheap- good value for the amount of information on offer here. Well written and researched it reminds me, if anything, of QI – the show and the books. There is a gentle humour and some articles seem to enjoy delving into the stranger side of our cultural past. Overall this provides a decent and leisurely way to pass some time over the holidays.
I’ll echo what most other people have said about this book and CD combo – good book, average cd. The book has solid, thick pages with vibrant artwork depicting scenes or people from 6 Disney classics. As is to be expected from Disney, the colours and characters are second to none, endlessly charming, and will spark the imagination of many a young fan. If I have any complaint about the book it’s that some are sparse, but I assume that is so that the lyrics are easier to read. Additionally, I don’t think we need the copyright info and song credits on each page – they could have been together on a final page – but that would be mere nitpicking.

Onto the CD – I have no problem that these are not instrumental versions, in fact I prefer the full vocal backing. However, the vocals are not from the movies in some cases which takes away from the experience, at least for a hardened Disney fan like myself. I imagine this wouldn’t be much of a problem for the younger listeners. My main complaint is the song collection, featuring two songs from Winnie The Pooh which I don’t think anyone has ever heard, and one from 101 Dalmatians, which is hardly known as one of the strongest musically in Disney’s catalogue. There are a wealth of songs and films to choose from, so it seems odd to pick 3 relatively weak songs when the likes of Aladdin and Beauty And The Beast are left out. Naturally this is personal preference, and again I’m sure that the kids won’t mind. There are plenty of other cd/book combos and you can always buy movie soundtracks.

So overall this is a good, cheap product which is a bit different from the usual selection of fairy tale cds. Kids and adults alike can singalong and relive some classic Disney moments like Simba’s courting and King Louie skipping over his own arms. The last time I attempted to relive that particular moment and skip over my own arms, it ended up with a quick trip to casualty, two weeks of agony, and a lifetime of embarrassment, but it was all worth it for 8 seconds of hilarity.

Amazon Vine Freebies – November 2015

A dirge for November, or a deluge. Six freebies were cast down from the Vine Gods to land at my threshold, and I received them with thanks. Here they are.

A Hard Day: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hard-Day-DVD-Seon-gyun-Lee/dp/B00MBORLCI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431002752&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Hard+Day

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A decent Chinese movie with plenty of intriguing action

El Nino: http://www.amazon.co.uk/El-Nino-DVD-Jes%C3%BAs-Castro/dp/B00MBORKNI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1431002792&sr=8-2&keywords=El+Nino

A decent Spanish movie with plenty of intriguing action

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Philips LED Spotlights – Twin Pack (GU10 4.5W) – White: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Philips-LED-Spotlights-Twin-White/dp/B00MB5XVJ4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431002686&sr=8-1&keywords=Philips+LED+Spotlights+-+Twin+Pack+%28GU10+4.5W%29+-+White

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A decent pack of spotlights with plenty of luminous action

Verbatim 52602 LED Candle E14 4.5 Watt 350 lm Light Bulb: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Verbatim-52602-Candle-Watt-Light/dp/B00J0TQ7TK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431002644&sr=8-1&keywords=Verbatim+52602+LED+Candle+E14+4.5+Watt+350+lm+Light+Bulb

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A decent LED bulb with plenty of long-lasting action

BETA Adult Shepherds & Setters with Lamb Dry Dog Food, 12 kg: http://www.amazon.co.uk/BETA-Adult-Shepherds-Setters-Lamb/dp/B00KLATFS2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431002587&sr=8-1&keywords=BETA+Adult+Shepherds+%26+Setters+with+Lamb+Dry+Dog+Food%2C+12+kg

A decent sack of food with plenty of chomping action

Philips Disney Frozen Children’s Projector Torch and Night Light (1 x 0.3 W Integrated LED): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Philips-Disney-Childrens-Projector-Integrated/dp/B00MGPUQR4/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1431002541&sr=8-2-fkmr0&keywords=%E2%80%A2Philips+Disney+Frozen+Children%27s+Projector+Torch+and+Night+Light+%281+x+0.3+W+Integrated+LED%29

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A decent Disney torch with plenty of shadow figure action.

Amazon Vine Freebies – July 2014

One month closer to the big Vine shake up, and one final month of frantic 8pm F5ing. July was an improvement over June, which wasn’t very difficult given June’s scant offerings:

Fisher-Price Nursery Rhymes Projector Lightshow: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0056FSALU

It’s a crib projector which plays songs, tells stories, and projects images onto the ceiling to disturb your baby to sleep.

Ultrasport Men’s Men Function Softshelljacket – Victoria/Blue, Small: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006HCSBME

It’s a coat for the tiny man, smooth like a horse’s neck. I gave it to my wife.

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H2D VI Professional Ionic and Infrared Hair Straighteners: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00KLTEMMW

It’s a very good set of straigheners. Not to be used on horses.

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Philips Disney Princess Children’s Night Light and Projector – 1 x 0.1 W Integrated LED: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00J3O9LHC

It’s a projector which doesn’t play music or tell stories, but projects images onto the ceiling to disturb your baby to sleep – with added Princesses!