Room On The Broom DVD Review/Giveaway

wpid-room_on_the_broom.jpgI’m a sucker for stories with lessons.  I also love when books are turned into films, though I’m always wary when a short story is turned into a longer movie.  It’s easy to bog down the story with unnecessary details, completely ruining the tale.  Thankfully, Room On The Broom is exactly the opposite of this.

The book was fantastic.  A witch and her cat would keep losing items of hers.  Animals would kindly return them and ask to ride on her broom.  The witch would agree until the broom was so overloaded that it snapped in two.  Unfortunately, one animal – a dragon – was not so kindly and tried to eat the witch.  The animals had to work together to try to save their friend.

The movie follows the same plot, but you begin before the witch and cat even take off for the first time.  Instead, you get to see some of the cat’s life alone with the witch.  As each item is lost and found, the animal returning it gets fleshed out more.  The dog is eager – bounding around the witch and sniffing the broom.  The bird is green – while all other birds were black and excluded her.  The frog was clean – in stark contrast to the messy frogs surrounding him.

While the witch is glad to have more friends, the cat sees each new animal as a threat to its life with the witch.  It tries to deny them access, but the witch is too kindly and takes them all in.  The cat must learn that these “intruders” are actually friends and work with them when the witch’s life is in danger from a scary dragon.

I loved how the movie not only used plot elements from the book, but took minor illustration components and turned them into scenes.  For example, one picture in the book showed them flying over a crane, sheep, fish, and beaver.  In the movie, this turned into a series of scenes where these animals turn up as they search for the witch’s wand,  In addition, the added elements (such as the cat’s annoyance towards the new animals) made the story even better.  I would definitely recommend both the book and DVD to parents for both entertainment value and the lessons they can teach children.


One of my readers will win a copy of Room on the Broom on DVDTo enter, follow the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below.

Contest starts today, August 21st and ends at midnight on September 7th. You do not have to be a blogger to enter, but must leave a valid e-mail address for me to contact you for your mailing address once the giveaway is over. I will select the winner using Rafflecopter and contact you via e-mail. You will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If there is no response, another winner will be selected. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received both the book and DVD version of Room on the Broom to facilitate this review/giveaway.  All opinions expressed above are my own.

Special Features

Chrisdesign_CD_DVDOver the weekend, we watched Disney Pixar’s Brave.  After watching the movie, NHL immediately had two reactions.  First, he loved the movie.  Second, he wanted to see the Special Features.

Special features are NHL’s favorite part of the DVD/Blu-Ray viewing experience.  He loves seeing deleted scenes (and figuring out where they would have fit and/or why they were removed), alternate endings, and even (sometimes) small featurettes.  If the disc has enough special features, he might even spend more time watching them than the spent watching the movie itself.

In the case of Brave, he watched two special features on the DVD.  The first was a short film that Pixar put in front of Brave during its run in the theatres called La Luna.  The second was an expansion on the Mordu legend that was introduced within Brave.  The one feature that NHL didn’t watch, which might have bored him but was highly interesting to me, was the audio commentary.  During this, the filmmakers talked about how Brave changed throughout the process.  They revealed how scenes were supposed to play out originally and how they morphed (for the better) to the version you see onscreen.  I love these little glimpses of the special kind of magic that it takes to put a movie together.

Do you watch the special features on DVDs and/or Blu-Rays?  Or do you just watch the movie itself?

Note: The "CD / DVD" image above is from Chrisdesign and is available from

Aloha Friday: Farewell, Netflix DVDs

After Netflix shot itself in the foot repeatedly, we began to reassess our subscription.  I still think that both the streaming and mailed DVD offerings are nice.  I like the immediacy of streaming and the depth of their DVD selection.  However, given the recent price hike combined with economic circumstances, we just couldn’t keep both.  In the end, we decided to keep streaming (for now) and get rid of our DVD queue.  (We’ll just rely more on free DVD rentals from our local library.)

Although our DVD plan has ended, Netflix allows you to keep your DVDs out for a limited time before sending them back.  Currently, we have Captain America: The First Avenger and one of the Batman: The Animated Series DVDs.  By Saturday, we should be done with these and ready to send them back.  Then, our mail will no longer see any of those little red envelopes.  Part of me is really sad about this.

My Aloha Friday question for today is: Do you subscribe to a DVD rental service (either Netflix or some other?  If Netflix, has the recent price increase made you change your subscription?

P.S. Happy 111111 Day. Or, if you know binary, Happy 63 Day!

P.P.S. If you haven’t already, go visit FollowerHQ and let me know what you think of my Twitter application.

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #113

Hot Potatoes! The BEST of The Wiggles Review and Giveaway

We’ve been fans of The Wiggles since NHL was young and they were on Playhouse Disney. We’ve been to three Wiggles concerts and seen countless TV shows/movies. We’ve pointed our fingers and done the twist, mashed some potatoes, woken up Jeff and even rode the Big Red Car. When we go in the car, JSL will invariably ask for "toot toot chugga chugga" (his code word for the Big Red Car song). When NHL goes to sleep, he insists on listening to Go To Sleep Jeff (a series of slow songs designed to help kids fall asleep). Needless to say, they (and we) were excited to hear about a "best of" Wiggles compilation.

The first thing I liked about this DVD was the inclusion of Greg. As any Wiggles fan knows, Greg had to step down as the Yellow Wiggle due to health reasons. Even though Sam stepped up and made a fine Yellow Wiggle, many of the Wiggles classic songs were done with Greg. Instead of having the Wiggles re-record these past hits (with Sam), they simply did an introduction to the piece and then let the original video speak (sing?) for itself. This also gave you a chance to marvel at how young the Wiggles looked during some of their early videos!

Of course, the next thing we liked were the songs themselves. From Wake Up Jeff to Monkey Man to Hot Potato to Hot Poppin’ Popcorn, there was a good mix of classic and newer Wiggles songs. When we put this on, it didn’t take long for the boys to get up and start dancing.

Finally, I loved the bonus material. Seeing the Wiggles’ mothers talk, while not too exciting for my 3 and 7 year old, was very interesting to me. My kids and I both enjoyed seeing some of the early Wiggles videos too. They marvelled at a very young Anthony, wearing green instead of his usual blue, singing with a very young Greg, Jeff and Murray in an obviously low-budget setting (especially compared with current Wiggles productions).

All, in all, this DVD is going to see a lot of use and my kids are going to get a lot of exercise dance a lot thanks to the wonderful songs on it. Hot Potatoes! The BEST of The Wiggles is definitely a must have DVD for any Wiggles fan.


Thanks to The Wiggles, one lucky winner will receive their very own copy of Hot Potatoes! The BEST of The Wiggles DVD. To enter, simply leave a comment below answering this question: Who is your favorite Wiggle or Wiggles character?

You can also earn bonus entries by doing any (or all) of the following items. Just be sure to leave a separate comment for each item that you complete.

  • Follow @TechyDad on Twitter. (1 bonus entry)
  • Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter. Be sure to include @TechyDad, The BEST of The Wiggles DVD Giveaway, and a link to this post in the Tweet. (1 bonus entry per day) For example: Get ready to Wiggle. Chance to #win The BEST of the Wiggles DVD from @TechyDad. #Giveaway
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed or let me know if you already are. (1 bonus entry)
  • Leave a comment on any of my non-giveaway posts from July/August. Leave a comment here letting me know which post you commented on. (1 bonus entry per comment, maximum 3 entries)
  • Write a post on your blog linking to this giveaway. Leave 3 comments about this to get credit for all of your extra entries. (3 bonus entries)

To enter, please follow the rules above within the comment section. Contest starts today August 19 and ends at 11:00 AM EST on September 2, 2010. You do not have to be a blogger to enter, but must leave a valid e-mail address for me to contact you for mailing address once the giveaway is over. I will select the winner using and contact you via e-mail. You will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If there is no response, another winner will be selected. Open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Also note that TheAngelForever is also running a Hot Potatoes! The BEST of The Wiggles giveaway on her website. You can increase your chances to win by entering there as well.

Disclosure: I received this DVD complimentary of The Wiggles PR agency in order to facilitate this review. They also sent a few other Wiggly surprises for our sons that included a T-shirt, CD and Henry the Octopus doll. No other compensation was given. The opinions expressed above are my own. The Wiggles are also providing the giveaway item to my readers.

Netflix, Roku and Cut Cable, Oh My!, Part 4

It Slices! It Dices! It Cuts Cable Cords In Two!!!

Thanks to the one two punch of Netflix Online and Roku, I’m pretty confident that my kids would survive a cut cable cord without too much screaming.  So where does this leave cable in our household?

For now, it hasn’t been cut, but don’t confuse being uncut with being safe.  We’re currently looking into many options ranging from cutting to going with an alternative service like DirecTV.  (Any DirecTV reps out there who want a technologically savvy daddy blogger to do a review on your service? )

My original conclusion, meanwhile, has been revised.  Previously, I determined that we would save about $15 per month if we cut cable.  However, I soon realized that that relied on two erroneous assumptions.

The first was that we would buy $15 in DVDs every month.  We really don’t buy many DVD movies because we tend to watch them once or twice and then add them to the stack.  Kids movies get a bit more play, but there’s only so many times you can let your child watch a show before you go insane.  Now, we tend to rent our DVDs via Netflix or our local library.  DVD purchases happen pretty much only if a deal is extremely good or for a Chanukah or Birthday present.  Our total DVD purchase budget is probably closer to $30 per year than $15 per month.  This increases the Cut Cable savings to $27.50 per month.

The second assumption was that we would frequent Amazon VOD.  Apart from having Mythbusters episodes, I just can’t see spending a lot of money on this service when I get essentially the same thing "for free" with my paid for Netflix subscription.  (Yeah, I know Netflix isn’t free, but you know what I mean.  I don’t have to pay $1.99 just to see another episode of Heroes.  It’s right there.)

The only thing I might pay for is the aforementioned Mythbusters.  (TechyDad want big boom!)  At $1.99 per episode and an average of 25 episodes per season, I’d only be paying about $24, or $2 per month, for this Amazon VOD.  This is far short of the $26 a month I initially assumed and raises the Cut Cable savings to $51.50 a month.

I’ve also re-thought my setup.  I don’t need to invest in a media streaming setup.  I just need to manage our existing DVDs better.  So I’ve used EMDB to catalog all of my DVDs.  I plan on making a list out of it and laminating it for the kids to refer to.  This way they’ll be able to point to an item on the list and have B or I put it in rather than wondering just what we have to watch.

The only tripping point at the moment is how we would hook our existing TVs up to receive over the air broadcasts (do we need to buy any equipment for this?) and what DVR to buy to replace our cable company issued one.  TiVo is a possibility, of course, but the monthly fee ($129 per year) would eat into our Cut Cable savings.  Still, even after TiVo, we would have over $40 left per month in savings.  The first six months of savings would pay off the purchase price of TiVo.  After that (and possibly a few months paying off equipment to receive digital OTA signals), we’d be in pure savings mode.

Alternatively, we could switch from Time Warner Cable to DirecTV.  The one year locked in rate would save us $28 per month over cable.  Either way, money talks, especially in this economy.  Unless things radically change, I don’t think our current cable connection has much of a life left in our household.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary 3 month preview of Netflix for review purposes.  However, after my preview period, I intend to remain on as a paying Netflix member.  As stated, I won the Roku box during an online giveaway.  The reviews expressed above are my own and were not altered in any way by Netflix, Roku or anyone else.

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