movie

It’s a Critique for “The Santa Clause” (1994)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Tim Allen plays a guy named Scott Calvin who has a son named Charlie. Charlie firmly believes in Santa Claus, but his dad is a bit rebellious against it. After an incident occurs, Scott Calvin has to become the next Santa Claus.

I haven’t seen this movie for years until recently. So, I picked up some new details. Here are the elements that pleased me and those I felt could’ve been better.

1: The plot

The storyline is similar to that of “Evan Almighty”, which was released several years later in 2007. The way Charlie and his dad got along progressed well. At first, Scott would be a bit tough on Charlie and then their relationship improved over time. The scene where Charlie is sad when his dad has to leave him as he has become Santa Claus was very emotional. Another element that felt believable to me was when Charlie’s mother and her boyfriend, Neil, were suspicious of Scott Calvin when Charlie was telling stories about him being at the North Pole. Scott Calvin was suspended from being with Charlie.

2: The humor

The movie was very funny. It had great dialogue and the characters’ decisions often cracked me up. I laughed throughout much of the film.

Now onto the parts that could have been portrayed better.

1: The characters’ reactions at times

When Santa fell off the roof, he died and somehow vanished. Charlie and his dad didn’t react strongly enough nor believably. In fact, they accepted it too much like it was no big deal. Um…Santa lost his life. And no one seemed stressed out about it.

Other examples of weak reactions include when a kid in Charlie’s class at school called a girl stupid for asking Scott Calvin if he made the toys. And the teacher was way to relaxed and gentle about it. She even smiled. A truly responsible and believable teacher would’ve gotten angry and said something like, “Excuse me, we don’t call others stupid. That’s not nice. Apologize to (whatever the person’s name is).”

And when Calvin gained weight as he was turning into Santa Claus, one of his co-workers commented on it and Scott seemed to casually accept that. Hey, other guy, that’s not your business that Scott was gaining weight. He should’ve known better.

2: Why do the elves look like human children?

Not only do the characters in the movie mistake the elves as kids, but so did I when I first saw it many years ago. The elves are apparently more than a thousand years old. So, why do they look like human children? Bernard, the elf who was involved with Charlie and his father, resembles a teenager.

I am pretty sure elves aren’t supposed to look like human kids. I think the portrayal of them in the movie, “Elf”, that came out years after in 2003, is far more accurate.

3: The bizarre special effects

Okay, okay—I get it. This was released in the 90’s, when special effects were still in their infancy. But seeing the shape changes for plot convenience, such as when Scott’s form alters so that he can fit inside a pipe, looked weird to me. It reminded me of something that would have occurred in a kiddie show, such as “Barney and Friends”. But whatever.

Regardless of the flaws, I enjoyed “The Santa Clause” very much. I would rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

movie

Review for “A Christmas Story” (1983)

A man named Ralphie narrates a time from his childhood many years ago, when he was 9 years old. He is preparing for Christmas and wants a BB-gun, but is constantly told, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Yet, Ralphie remains determined.

This film was a pretty difficult watch. Not only is it because it’s about a kid who wants a weapon, which wouldn’t be acceptable today, but also that the characters are too unlikable and stereotypical. It wasn’t until after I watched it that the unbelievable characters were done on purpose. It turns out that Ralphie’s memories were exaggerated. However, that doesn’t make it more enjoyable for me.

For instance, Ralphie says a four-letter word when he makes a mistake as he and his dad are getting a Christmas tree. He gets in an extreme amount of trouble for that. On the other hand, when the pure-evil bullies taunted him, he beat one of them to the point that the other boy bled. And he seemed to be praised for that.

Another moment that bugged me was when the mall was closing, the elf people and Santa scared the kids who came up to him. Yet the line didn’t shorten, no one complained, or tried to report the people in elf and Santa costumes to authorities. I don’t know if that would have happened in the 1940’s, when the film is set. But the children should’ve left, horrified—at the very least.

Regardless of the flaws, there are some good moments in this movie. As Ralphie and his family were leaving the mall, four people in “Wizard of Oz” outfits did their “We’re off to see the wizard” dance behind them. There was also a parade with Snow White and Mickey Mouse. And despite the other characters lacking appeal to me, Ralphie was developed well and was, perhaps, the most believable and relatable person.

I would rate “A Christmas Story” 3 out of 5 stars. If a movie is supposed to exaggerate their characters and not make them 100 percent accurate to a person’s memory, they should state that before the opening scene. No one should have to rely on outside material to watch or read anything.

TV show

Hold on Your Diapees, Babies, We’re Going to Analyze “Rugrats”

Anyone born in the 90’s probably watched, or at least heard of “Rugrats”, the show about talking-babies. Well—they also speak to each other, but never the adults, except Angelica and her peers, Susie and Edwin, and possibly a third kid. I can’t recall.

Anyway, there are many memorable moments. One is where Chuckie dreamt about what life would be like if he was never born and he had a guardian angel, which he called a garden angel. It was pretty sad since Tommy was stuck in the garage, his parents were slaves to Angelica, who was obese and would force Dee and Stew, the parents and aunt and uncle to her, to bring her cookies.

Speaking of which, there is a Passover episode, since one family is Jewish, and Angelica is told that she couldn’t have cookies during that time since bread isn’t allowed during that holiday range. Angelica pointed out that cookies didn’t have bread in them, but then learned and understood why she couldn’t eat them during Passover. Regardless of her lesson, that’s pretty mature for a 3-year-old. Most real children that age would unlikely understand that and throw a tantrum to get what they want.

In the episode where Angelica gets in trouble for playing in her dad’s study, she sneaks out, takes her little jeep around town, and then orders the babies to get her some cookies. Sadly, the box is too high for them to reach. So, instead, they give her dog biscuits, which she enjoys until she finds out what they are.

There was also an episode where the family goes somewhere where Reptar the dinosaur is, but the group goes to Goober, another character. What I found cruel, and would definitely result in penalties in real life, is that some staff grabbed Tommy’s Reptar toy from him, made him cry, and gave him a Goober doll instead. Not cool.

Another aspect that would usually be too mature in a children’s show is death. Chuckie had lost his mother before the events of the series began. In “Rugrats in Paris”, while on the plane, Chuckie looks out the window and envisions memories of his mother. Now here comes some spoilers***

Chuckie’s dad marries Kira, who becomes Chuckie’s stepmother, and Kimmy becomes his stepsister. From that point on, the intro theme updates and includes Kira and Kimmy. Then there’s the sequel show, “All Grown Up”, where the babies are older and in junior high. I’ve seen a little bit of it, but not enough to discuss my thoughts on the show.

Speaking of older, there was an episode about Tommy liking to be naked and Phil and Lil undressed themselves. Now that I’m older, I realize that that’s too inappropriate for kids.

Anyhow, I could go on and on about more memorable moments. But I’ve seen so many episodes, as well the specials and movies, that I feel it’s too much to list here.

While I watched “Rugrats” when I was younger, I have lost strong feelings about much of the premise and moments. However, the ones I discussed still stand out to me.

fiction

I Dream of Time-Travel: A Flash Fiction Piece

Image from Pixabay

My name is Savannah and I am 26 years old. While I have a lot of amazing memories, so many moments from the past also hurt me to this day. Some I wish I could forget, and others I wish I could change.

            But there is one event from the past that I would consider one of my most painful memories—my seventh birthday. Yes, even when your little, certain things that happen to you can sting so much, you’re upset about them for life. That’s right, when I’m old, I’ll still be haunted by it.

            My second-grade teacher (I had a late birthday in September) forced me to experience something I hated. Then she threw me into a small space that was part of the classroom and had me go through that torture. Then I cried and lost my happiness for the rest of that day. My parents did nothing about it. No one did. You’d think the teacher would’ve been reported for that and would have had to face consequences. Nope. Everything resumed as if nothing had happened.

            Fast-forward 14 years and I attended a fashion college. One of the professors put me down for struggling with my assignments, and even demanded that I switch to another major. My mom freaked out over that. She had me speak to the dean about it, file a disciplinary action report, had me meet with a private instructor instead, and transfer to another college. Even then, she continued to yell at the previous university.

            Five times all those reactions should have taken place with my second-grade teacher. Not only should she have been reported for that awful treatment, but she also should’ve written an apology to me, gotten suspended for a few months, and been on probation for the rest of the school year. Everyone in the class should have apologized, too, along with the principal. She should have sent out a newsletter to everybody, revealing that an incident had occurred where I, the student, had been forced into an uncomfortable position. Adding a reminder that no one should’ve been pushed into those types of situations, mistreatment toward others wouldn’t have been tolerated, and to thank everyone for his or her cooperation, should’ve happened, as well.

            Even though 19 years had passed since, I wish I could go back in time, find my younger self (without revealing that I was her), hand her a note about what needed to happen with the teacher, and remind her to tell Mom. But that will always remain a fantasy.

movie

It was “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Won’t You Please Read My Review for this Movie (2019)?

Despite not watching the TV show as a child and not hearing about it till many years later, I saw this film with a bunch of friends and ended up liking it.

It starts with what probably was the opening to the TV program and introduced the latest Mr. Rogers, played by Tom Hanks. Mr. Rogers introduces different pictures and then focuses on a guy named Lloyd.

Lloyd has a wife called Andrea and a newborn named Gavin. They are going to attend a wedding. While there, Lloyd’s father says something unpleasing and Lloyd hurts him, which ends up becoming a fight involving a few other people. Lloyd ends up with a cut on his nose.

Lloyd’s editor assigns him to interview the children’s TV host, Mr. Rogers, and write a 400-word entry about it. But Lloyd doesn’t look forward to it. Nevertheless, he does it.

I was surprised by how the “Mr. Rogers” universe looked more like a toy universe instead of a real one. While I’m sure it was deliberate and meant to attract kids, to me, it appeared bizarre.

That being said, the show’s format was well-thought out and the lessons were great. Tom Hanks did an amazing job portraying Mr. Rogers, who happens to also be a distant relative of him. The real Fred Rogers would have been proud.

The characters were likable, but sometimes, I felt there were silent moments for a little too long as well as not enough emotional tension at times.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

Writing

Cutting Notebook Paper for Writing…Not!

I am finding that when I handwrite my prose words first, they come out better on the computer. But recently, I have been handwriting what I’d write on my laptop and then dictating the words using Dragon software. Of course, I only do this at home.

One time, though, I tried ripping and cutting out paper from old, small notebooks to write my story on. While it might have worked before when I stapled the pieces together, the last time I tried, it did not work for me. I don’t know why.

So, now I am not going to do it again. What also has not usually worked for me was using full 8.5 X 11-inch paper for writing my words. But now I am writing on it using pens and then dictating the words onto my computer. Then I print out the partial chapters I have produced on Word and continue writing more of those sections by hand. The process cycles on and on. It will probably be like this till I’m done with the draft, which will hopefully be the final one. Ugh—I’ve been working on this story for almost four years. I just want to call it the end of it. Of course, there will be more books to write after this one.

Anyway, I have a lot of old notebooks, excluding those I’ve used for school or college. Sometimes, you’ve got to let those go, especially if you are attempting a process that just won’t work for you. Pushing yourself through doesn’t always succeed, either. Bottom line: do what you know you’ll keep up with, whether it’s your choice or not.

movie

I’m Out of the Unknown with this “Frozen 2” Review (2019)

The film begins with Anna and Elsa as little kids, around the ages they were when the first “Frozen” movie was released in 2013, but before Anna’s memories of Elsa’s magic were wiped. Their parents are telling them about an enchanted forest that was a place to visit, but then got hidden.

Many years go by; apparently three years have passed since the main “Frozen” film had ended. Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven, and everyone else in Arendelle is having a grand time. As the main characters play charades, Elsa hears a voice and eventually follows it. Arendelle ends up in trouble. Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf go with Elsa to the enchanted forest Anna and Elsa’s parents had told them about when they were small. They meet the natives there. Then things happen.

While I enjoyed the first “Frozen”, that one was more of a 4-star film for me as it wasn’t nearly as engaging as this one. Speaking of which, there are a few moments where the events from the first movie are being revealed. One is where Olaf acts out all the main parts in a funny way.

The characters have developed and changed as well, especially Kristoff. He is far friendlier and romance-worthy than in the previous movie, where he isn’t exactly the most favorable. There is a song he sings about separating from Anna, and I must admit, it sounds like a 90’s boy band song, such as one written by N-SYNC.

There are also a lot of twists and turns, some happy and some sad. I won’t spoil anything, though.

I would rate this sequel 5 out of 5 stars.

cooking

How I Make Mashed Potatoes

Image from Pixabay

Many of us love mashed potatoes, whether it’s with gravy or plain. No two versions are alike—nor are two formulas.

Because I have a short attention span and a tendency to be very impatient with food (but obviously polite), I try to get my potatoes to cook more quickly. That is because I cut them into small diced cubes and boil them.

Now why do I boil them instead of microwave them, you might ask? That’s because microwaving them tends to dry them out. Boiling them adds or retains moisture. I don’t know how, though, but it’s what I notice.

Another part of the process, which is mostly due to laziness, is leaving the peel on. That’s not a big deal. In fact, some say that potato peels are good for you. I’m not sure if that’s true.

Anyway, after the potato cubes are fully cooked and softened, I put them in the blender with salt, pepper, milk, and melted butter. Then I combine them. They come out creamy this way. Just be sure not to overmix, or else you’ll have dough-like potatoes. Unless you’re making gnocchi from scratch, I would recommend avoiding the doughy texture.

The amount of other ingredients will depend on your serving size and taste preferences. That is the beauty of savory cooking—there isn’t always a fixed formula.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: Why Don’t We Hear About Wizards with Disabilities?

While J.K. Rowling has addressed and revealed different elements of the “Harry Potter” franchise, including sexual orientations (Dumbledore was gay), there are topics she discussed little to nothing on. Those include vampires, because she claims they’re cliched, religion, even though she mentioned that there were Jewish wizards, such as Anthony Goldstein, and what this post is about: disabilities. Disabilities are never mentioned in “Harry Potter”, except for a blind wizard that didn’t make it to the books and the possibility of Professor McGonagall being in a wheelchair temporarily. But we never hear about wizards and witches who are deaf, mute, or have other physical or neurological disabilities. There have been no clues to special ed at Hogwarts or handicapped pathways or restrooms in the wizarding world.

Although there have not been big discussions about this from major sources, I’m not the first to notice the lack of possible neurodiversity in the “Harry Potter” series. For instance, I saw a comment on YouTube where someone said that they wanted to ask J.K. Rowling if there were autistic wizards, but they couldn’t find a way to contact her. I was thinking, I don’t know. Maybe. We do know there are Jewish, gay, and Transgender wizards. Another person asked on Quora if Hermione had Asperger’s (which I highly doubt), and another YouTuber came up with a theory that Newt Scamander from the spinoff “Fantastic Beasts” franchise had Autism (which I also think is highly unlikely as he didn’t seem that way to me).

Speaking of theories, I have come up with a guess on why neurodiversity is never discussed in “Harry Potter”. Maybe when J.K. Rowling was planning the series in the 90’s, she might not have thought about disabilities at the time. Think about it—the only option for magical education in her books’ world is going to the designated boarding schools. If a child doesn’t learn to control his or her wizardry and suppresses it, he or she becomes an obscurial, where he or she turns into smoke. In fact, many obscurial children don’t live past age 10.

I don’t know the real reason why Rowling never address disabilities in the wizarding world, but the only guesses I have are best to be avoided here. Have you noticed this detail as well?

movie

Review of “Harriet” (2019)

A young woman named Araminta Ross (Harriet Tubman, later) is lying on the ground, having flashbacks about her past. She is a slave with a mean master. Despite loving her family, she makes a plan to escape and eventually free all slaves. At some point, she calls herself “Harriet Tubman”.

The movie was pretty interesting. The cruel master looked and sounded a lot like the mini cowboy figurine in the “Night at the Museum” films. Maybe it was the same actor.

Anyway, while “Harriet” was a decent film with some possible changes to what really happened, unfortunately, certain parts were too historically accurate. Those include things like the use of the N-word, something you would think wouldn’t be allowed today, and a purely evil master. Also, there are weapons used by the figures to get what they want. That also isn’t a good example for today.

Regardless of that, the way Harriet handles her confidence was done well. She also really supported her family and would even sacrifice her desires to save them.

Overall, I would rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars. While I was kind of familiar with the events revolving around Harriet Tubman (I did learn about her in school), the movie also didn’t engage me fully.

Would I recommend this? Maybe. I got very uncomfortable with the racism and how the slaves were treated, even if it’s historically accurate. But there were some good morals and examples set, as well.