Dog Gone Trouble (Netflix Animated Movie) — Fun, Silly, Heartwarming

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A little dog named Trouble, the cute character in the center of the above photo, is the hero of this animated film. Netflix acquired the rights to this film made in 2019.

Trouble lives in a beautiful spacious mansion with his elderly mistress, Sarah Vanderwhoosie, voiced by Betty White. He lives a rather spoiled life where he’s kept sparkling clean, accompanies his mistress to the spa and even has a servant to spritz his behind after he relieves himself outside.

One day, his mistress dies, and a couple, her only relatives, are set to inherit the mansion and all her riches on one condition, that they take care of Trouble and first prove themselves to be good caretakers for him for a week. The selfish couple are excited about inheriting riches but show no feeling at the passing of their relative and plan to pass Trouble onto the pound as soon as they pass the test.

Photo from IMDB

In the meantime, Trouble gets himself lost and finds he has to find a way to survive on the streets. He meets up with a female pit bull named Rousey who has street smarts and knows how to survive and scrounge for food. She tolerates Trouble but is not overly friendly to him at first.

Trouble also gets into some, well — trouble — with some comical squirrels who preface their gang-like threats with synchronized dance moves. Inspired by West Side Story? Perhaps. At one point, their leader steals Trouble’s jewel-studded collar and uses it as a belt. At this point, the dancing squirrels reminded me of a disco group like the Jackson 5 or the Osmond Brothers.

Eventually, Trouble runs into Zoe, a pizza delivery girl and aspiring singer, who takes him in.

Photo from IMDB

Meanwhile, the mean couple who understand that Trouble is the key to their inheritance, hire a tracker to go after him. The way this character is drawn somehow reminds me of Jim Carrey the way he appears in several of his movies. His motions are strange and animal-like as he gets on all fours to sniff the ground, hops from tree to ground and practically slithers like a snake. He also picks up the most detailed information from the tiniest of clues. The character is, obviously, very exaggerated from reality but imaginatively presented.

Photo from IMDB

A couple of celebrities are presented in the movie as animated characters, voiced by themselves. These include Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, and Jason Mraz. Cesar acts like a personal attendant and almost therapist to Trouble while he is in the mansion (and later to other dog characters.) Jason Mraz hosts a singing contest that Zoe wants to enter.

I won’t disclose the whole plot, but I will say that everything ends happily. In spite of a lot of goofiness and exaggerated fantasy elements, there is a down-to-earth message that gets across about kindness to animals, adopting strays and how even humans might feel like lost strays sometimes. Overall, I found the movie enjoyable.

As a warning for parents watching with children, there’s a little bit of vulgarity in some places. The dancing squirrels talk to Trouble about “disturbing their nuts,” “stepping on their nuts” and similar phrases. The dialogue makes perfect sense in referring to actual nuts that they have stored in a tree, but there is a suggestion of a double meaning. Even Trouble, the dog, says several times that “this sounds inappropriate.” There is also a very brief scene where a random dog — not one of the main characters — is seen humping first a person’s leg and then a dog toy.

Penguin Town (Netflix Documentary Series) –Fun and Informative

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The new Netflix docuseries Penguin Town is loads of fun (and cuteness) while still being informative.

The series is filmed in Simon’s Town, South Africa, where these adorable African penguins roam close by to people, strolling down the sidewalk, passing sunbathers on the beach, and, in one shot, even plodding through some sand castles. It makes me feel like I want to visit this part of the world, so I can spot these cute waddlers while visiting the beach.

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The narrator for the series is Patton Oswalt, the actor who played Spencer on The King of Queens and has also done some voicework for movies like Remy in Ratatouille. The soundtrack of the series is also fun and enjoyable, and, I believe, adds a lot to it. You’ll hear snippets of mostly upbeat music that fit the scene from surf music to African music to tension-building instrumentals for adventures involving potential danger. In one funny scene, where a male penguin spots his mate from afar, a snippet of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet is played along with slow motion film of the female penguin shaking water from her head.

The series follows various penguin couples like Mr. and Mrs. Bougainvillea, named for the bush where they have their nest, and Mr. and Mrs. Culvert, named for the same reason. Then, there’s Lord and Lady Courtyard, the aristocrats. With great humor, their love stories are told, and you follow the adventures of these penguin couples starting families and having chicks, while facing some complications from egg-stealing predators presented as “Bad Guys.”

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You’ll also see the stories unfold about Junior, a young penguin with a molting issue, who needed help in captivity from vets for an infected seal bite wound until he was healthy enough to be released again. Some of these scenes are cleverly and humorously filmed from Junior’s point of view, as he is carried through the center, looking through a hole in a cardboard box, and is, in his mind, “captured by aliens.” You do have to wonder what wild animals think about these experiences and if they understand humans are trying to help them. These same vets also help nurture some lost or abandoned penguin eggs.

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I saw one reviewer thought the series made a mockery of an endangered species by being light-hearted and entertaining. I don’t see it that way. The docuseries makes it clear that the animals are endangered. Seeing endangered birds mate and have families is positive news in light of the issue. Seeing vets successfully rehabilitate an injured bird or oversee an egg to bring forth a healthy chick is also positive news. Penguins are naturally charming and entertaining. Why not make it positive?

National Jazz Day Playlist

This weekend may be Memorial Day weekend, but today, May 29th, is also National Jazz Day. I put together a playlist of 15 of my favorites. It’s really just a hodge podge of selections from different jazz subgenres and different decades: Latin jazz, classical-jazz fusion, hard bop, boogie woogie, ragtime, gypsy jazz, Dixieland revival, swing revival, ’40s swing, electro swing and even some pop songs restyled (in almost a parody style) as retro jazz.

I do not consider myself a jazz expert, especially as there are some big names in jazz whose work I don’t know very well, but I do find myself attracted to a lot of music under the jazz umbrella. This list is definitely not all inclusive, is probably missing some very popular pieces but is still fairly diverse.

Carmen Cubana

I discovered this in the soundtrack of the movie Hitch, starring Kevin James and Will Smith. I’m not sure I even paid much attention until the the second or third time I watched the movie. I thought, “I recognize that tune, but it’s a little different here.” I looked it up, and it is “Carmen Cubana” by the Klazz Brothers and Cuba Percussion, a kind of Latin jazz rendition of “Habanera” from Bizet’s Carmen.

Baroque and Blue

I first heard this piece “Baroque and Blue” by Claude Bollling on an album belonging to my sister-in-law while she was a music major in college and I was a junior higher. You don’t expect to hear a flute leading in a jazz piece, but you can definitely hear both jazz and classical influences in this one.

Charlie Brown Medley

Of course, I grew up hearing “Linus and Lucy” and other “Peanuts” pieces by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. This “Peanuts” medley by The Piano Guys is a lot of fun, and their nursing home audience definitely seem to be having fun with them.

Où est Ma Tête?

“Où est ma tête?” performed by Pink Martini is adorable, especially as, according to the storytelling in the video, it seems to be a love song for a man and his dog. You might be able to make out the French lyrics even if you’ve only had French I. I won’t fully translate it for you, but I’ll give you a few lines for the idea. “I lost my head in la rue St. Honore (St. Honore road.) I looked here and there. I didn’t find it. Tell me, where is my head? I lost my arms in La Place de l’Opera. I didn’t find therm. I looked here and there. Tell me, where are my arms? Since I lost you, I am in pieces on the avenue, and I can’t pick up the pieces by myself. Repair me, my dear, because I am not whole. I need you — only you — and in addition, I love you.”

Baby Elephant Walk

So, I recently posted an elephant poem and a cute baby elephant video. Here is more elephant cuteness with Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk” which was written for the movie Hatari.

Watermelon Man

“Watermelon Man” by Herbie Hancock might be an oldie from the ’60s, but it was new to me a few years ago when I heard it as a community reporter covering a dance class. This piece stuck with me, and I asked the instructor for the title.

Cotton Candy

Here is another piece from the same era and similarly food-themed, “Cotton Candy” by Al Hirt. Where “Watermelon Man” is considered hard bop, “Cotton Candy” is Dixieland revival. It has a very cheerful sound. I love the slide bits.

Bad Romance (Restyled)

Postmodern Jukebox is a fun group that seem to specialize in restyling pop and rock songs into styles from past decades — often some form of jazz but not always. They’ve also restyled songs into tango, bluegrass, doo wop and other genres. This is ’20s style jazz rendition of a popular Lady Gaga song, with some rhythmic tap dancing.

Super Trouper (Restyled)

Max Raabe and his Palast Orkester perform jazz songs from the ’20s and ’30s but also a few comparatively more modern songs like ABBA’s “Super Trouper” in that style. (He also did Britney Spears’ “Oops, I did it Again.”) Max Raabe does seem to have the perfect look for it.

The Bare Necessities (Ragtime)

Jonny May plays a lot of ragtime and boogie woogie, include ragtime versions of Disney songs. “The Bare Necessities” was already a cool jazz song, but he plays a ragtime arrangement of it.


Here is some more retro fun, with the Avalon Jazz Band, performing a ’30s French gypsy jazz piece, as sung by Charles Trenet.

Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)

Swing music and dancing are a lot of fun to hear and watch. This group is dancing to Benny Goodman’s piece, “Sing Sing Sing (With a Swing.)” The scene is from the movie Swing Kids, which tells the story of underground swing clubs. Swing music was forbidden in Hitler’s Germany, as the innovators and performers of swing were often African-American or Jewish.

Gimme That Swing

This next one was just a YouTube recommendation that was somehow right: a beautiful ethereal vocalist, a nice swing, fun dancing and a feeling that is both modern and retro.

You’re the Top

One of my Pandora stations began to introduce me to Ella Fitzgerald. This is one of my favorites sung by her, as I enjoy both her voice and the clever lyrics by Cole Porter.

Why Me?

Some swing revival bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy came out in the ’90s. Here is a fun song performed by them, “Why Me?”

Waltzing to Strauss

Photo by Scott Broome on Unsplash

Floor-sweeping gowns

Gracefully turn.

The orchestra plays

In a romantic way.

A corner of skirt

Held in the hand

Beautifully draping

In splendid display.

The couples twirl

across the floor,

Gliding with elegance

In their limbs.

The music floats

Light as a cloud

As feet tilt and turn

And the dance floor skim.

© Susan Joy Clark 2021

This is in response to dVerse’s poetry prompt, Meet the bar waltzing. Bjorn, this was an interesting prompt indeed.

Some of you may know that I am a fan of Gershwin, so I thought of this scene from An American in Paris, Gershwin’s tribute to Strauss. The original lyrics (not included in the movie) include a little joke on himself,

“Away with the music of Broadway!
Be off with your Irving Berlin
Oh, I’d give no quarter
To Kern or Cole Porter
And Gershwin keeps pounding on tin.”

And for some actual Strauss and beautiful waltzing …

Waking Up with Music on My Mind

Photo by blocks on Unsplash

I often wake up with a song playing in my internal jukebox. It can be rather random, just my brain pulling some song out of my mental archives.

And so, I just want to tell you …

Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash

how I’m feeling. My brain rickrolled itself.

And now, you’ve been rickrolled.

You’re welcome. 🙂