art

Mini Art Show: Parrot at the Zoo

Who doesn’t love macaws, parrots, and other tropical birds? They have beautiful bright colors. Some can develop speech and mimic sounds. “Polly Wants an Art Show,” the bird above may say. Ha, ha.

So I was practicing my illustration skills. I decided to try a somewhat simplistic technique. See the solid colors and the simple designs of the “jungle”? Yup. You probably do.

Now why was jungle in quotation marks, you may ask? Because this was (pretty much) copied from a photo I took at the Central Park Zoo. The macaw was actually behind glass and behind it was a painted rainforest.

Except for the platform (I don’t know the word) and the bird, of course, pretty much everything else was official. I don’t even remember if the pink flower was real.

Some elements were distorted for ease and simplicity in the artistic style. The trees were, for instance, as were the leaves. Colors might’ve been changed too. But I am not totally sure. I might have the original photo I captured. Yet, I don’t know where it is.

The outlines may look a bit choppy. That’s because they were done in pencil and scanned into the computer, where I colored them in using Photoshop. And if you think lines need to be crisp and clean all the time in art or illustration? Think again. Many artists use rough outlines. Some use none at all because the style is intended to be outline-free. That is the case for some types of styles (like “South Park”) or realistic paintings (like the “Mona Lisa”).

Why dark green leaves, you might also wonder? I never knew why, but darker, bluer greens always felt more jungle-like to me while lighter, yellowish greens felt very grassy and sunny spring or summery, like a backyard. Of course, it varies per region. Rainforests in Central America looks quite different from those in, say, Africa. At least from the pictures I saw. Obviously, pictures aren’t enough for research.

All right, enough said. I hope you enjoyed this post.

movie

Pocahontas Plot Hole (1995) – All About the Flying Leaves

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

Many of us have seen Disney’s “Pocahontas”, whether we grew up with it, watched it in our early childhoods, or first saw it in recent years. I was 21 when I first saw it. Despite the mixed success and criticism on the movie’s portrayal of Native Americans, I really enjoyed the film. I would give it five stars.

However, no story, in any form, is without its flaws. Aside from the grossly insensitive lyrics in the song, “Savages”, sung when John Smith is about to be executed (but he is rescued, of course), there are a few parts of “Pocahontas” that bother me a bit. They are plot holes. Regardless of what I said about them, I don’t obsess over them. At least not too much.

There’s the first plot hole, of where are Nakoma’s (Pocahontas’s friend) parents or guardians. The second is how did Pocahontas sneak out to see Grandmother Willow after her father yelled at her for wandering off at a dangerous time. And the third, which this post focuses on, is where do those flying leaves come from.

I noticed they come at crucial points of the story. They also seem to arrive when characters change. Obviously, Pocahontas is not unknowingly or secretly an enchantress (that would make an interesting conspiracy theory, but would be shut down by everyone). But what is the point of the flying colored leaves? I’ve actually recently nicknamed them the deux ex machina leaves.

Having you also noticed this? When Powhatan is about to execute John Smith and Pocahontas not only saves her love interest, but also defends him, the leaves fly into Powhatan’s face. He closes his eyes and seems to absorb the wind. Then he suddenly changes and decides not to fight the English. He also lets John Smith go.  

I don’t believe the leaves forced Powhatan to change. Nor do I think that have a bunch of supernatural powers (they do have some, though, as they alter John’s shirt during the “Colors of the Wind” number). But is seems to be a mystery to where they come from and what powers they have besides changing colors as they fly as well as a few other skills.

TV show

All I Really Want for Christmas is Family Guy’s “Road to the North Pole” – Now onto the Review (2010)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

This is one of my favorite “Family Guy” episodes—not just their Christmas specials, but in general. I would even watch it off-season.

Stewie and Brian go to the mall to see Santa (a fake one, of course). However, there is a long line. By the time it’s Stewie’s turn, the mall closes and Santa leaves. Disappointed, Stewie makes Brian drive to the north pole. They stop at a Christmas festival, where Stewie blows up at Brian for taking him there and not the real north pole. He reveals the real reason he wants to go: that is to kill Santa.

The journey becomes tough and lengthy. But Brian and Stewie make it, only to discover something shocking about Santa. The types of gifts, as well as the amount, has overwhelmed Santa to the point that he is no longer jolly. He is sick and stressed out. The elves are inbred and some were born blind. The reindeer and vicious and eat the elves that have died. Santa’s health ends up in jeopardy. If he goes out to deliver presents, he will die. Brian volunteers himself and Stewie to give out the gifts. However, things end up ugly.

Everyone wakes up to no presents from Santa. Brian reveals the reason on TV and asks everybody in the world to request only one gift each Christmas. People are willing to accept that.

One year passes and Christmas turns out better. The north pole has had its place cleaned up. The elves and Santa are healthier. And the people enjoy Christmas, even with just one gift each.

There are many things I admire about this holiday special. First, there are the songs, “All I Really Want for Christmas”, sung at the beginning by all the characters. They express their wishes for Christmas. Then there’s the song, “Christmastime is Killing Us”, sung by Santa and his elves right after Stewie and Brian arrive at the north pole.

Speaking of which, I found this approach to Santa and his elves, as well as his workshop, to be the most realistic, compared to other TV shows and movies. Being destroyed by all the requests for Christmas, fancier gifts (like an iPod), and other factors made Santa’s stressed character more believable. I think this would, unfortunately, be the case if Santa Claus were real. But, as Stewie said, delivering gifts to the whole world in one night is inhuman.

There were some funny moments, as well, such as the Gary Busey scene, and the brief “Winnie to Pooh” scene, explaining why Eeyore is always in a bad mood, after Brian almost reveals to Stewie that Santa doesn’t exist (at that point, to Brian).

Overall, I would rate this special 5 out of 5 stars.

movie

Hey, Buddy, Check Out this Review of “Elf” (2003)

Thirty years prior to the film’s main time setting, an orphaned baby is put to bed in his crib. The infant sees Santa come down the chimney. The baby crawls into the sack while Santa is not looking.

Santa returns to his workshop, only to discover the infant coming out of his sack. An elf reads his diaper and sees the name, Buddy. An elder elf, known as Papa Elf, adopts the child and his name becomes Buddy.

Through the years, Buddy notices that he is different from the other elves. He grows much bigger than them. After realizing his differences, Buddy leaves the north pole to seek his father in New York City.

This film was absolutely funny. Buddy had such a great sense of humor by acting uncivilized in New York City as he has never been around humans, besides Santa Claus. He runs into a coffee place that says in its sign that it’s the world’s best coffee, and congratulates them loudly. He also tries to hug a racoon, drinks an entire bottle of Coke and burps for a long time, and screams happily in revolving doors.

But the funniest moment of all is when Buddy sees “Santa” at the mall and gets excited. Then he discovers that he was just an ordinary guy dressed as Santa. He rips off the beard, the kids scream, and he wrestles the man. So hilarious!

I would gladly recommend “Elf” as a great holiday classic and comedy. It is a definite 5 out of 5 star-rated film.

movie

You Better Not Pout, Cause I’m Gonna Critique “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1970)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I first saw this film last year around the holidays. I can’t remember why. But I enjoyed it both then and this year. It’s about the legend of Santa and his early life, why he does certain things, and much more.

I’m not going to narrate the whole movie. But I am going to point out what I thought worked well and what could’ve been better.

 

First with the strengths.

 

1: The plot and reasons behind Santa’s life and choices

 

Using the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as a guide, I must admit that this was done with lots of thought put into it. It was likely no easy task, let alone the stop-motion animation. You find out why Santa was called Kris Kringle in his early life, why he wears red, why he goes through the chimney to deliver toys, and a lot more.

 

2: The musical numbers

 

Every song in this film is fantastic. They have great tunes, lyrics, and emotional sensation.

 

3: The brief Rudolph cameo

 

When the children are naming Santa’s reindeer, one almost acknowledges Rudolph until the narrator stops them and says, “That’s a different story.” Even the character’s design in this film differed from the Rudolph in 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”. Lol.

 

And now onto the parts that could’ve been improved.

 

1: Kris Kringle’s character design as a young man

 

As much as I enjoyed this movie, to be honest, I was never a fan of Kris Kringle’s youthful face with mature voice. I don’t know his age at the time, but still.

 

2: Why were the wizard and penguin still alive when Santa reached old age?

 

Unless the wizard was supposed to live longer with magic, even if he lost most of it (and this was made long before “Harry Potter”), shouldn’t he have died years before? Same with the penguin?

Yes, yes, I know. It’s a child-friendly movie. So death might be too mature. Even if it was never mentioned and the warlock and penguin disappeared without reason, it still would’ve raised questions to parents.

However, to young childless adults, like me, it feels strange and unrealistic. Oh well. It’s a cartoon.

 

3: The characters never really expressed strong emotions

 

Even in high-stressful situations, characters barely reacted. Their emotions seemed weak and neutral. It’s kind of hard to relate to them like that. In other child-friendly movies, characters will react more strongly, thus making them more believable.

 

That’s all. Despite some of the flaws, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is a great film, worthy of 5 out of 5 stars.

 

TV show

3… 2… 1… Got to Blast! This is the Analysis of “Jimmy Neutron”

One of Nickelodeon’s earliest CG TV shows has been loved by many, including myself. It all started out as a movie in 2001, where Jimmy and his friends wanted independence from the adults. Aliens even kidnapped the grownups. However, that ended up a nightmare. The children traveled to Yolkus, the other planet, and saved their parents.

Enough said about the film—onto the TV show. The premise is a young boy, named Jimmy, who invents things to make things easier and well for him. Even the community knows Jimmy and his talent for science and inventing. Things usually end up not as planned.

The name of the town Jimmy lives in is Retroville. It’s a city, yet, only about twenty people live there. Don’t believe me? It’s been proven in the third Jimmy-Timmy Power Hour Special (when “Jimmy Neutron” and “The Fairly Oddparents had crossovers) that a very small popular resides in Retroville. After every person you see on the show is sucked away, Retroville becomes a quiet ghost town.

Which brings me to my next point—if so few people live there, why wasn’t it just a small town? In fact, I think most small towns are much more populated than Retroville. Oh well. The tiny population probably saved money and time for the animators.

Another thing about the show is that it seems to take place in Texas, yet the geographic layout and climate are nowhere near accurate. Neither are the people and their culture. Interesting, huh?

Now onto the moments. From my observation, Jimmy is sometimes inconsistent with others. For instance, he and Cindy usually don’t get along. He is sometimes in love with this minor character, Betty Quinland. However, in the second Jimmy-Timmy Power Hour, Jimmy likes Cindy and wants to take her to the school dance. If he really likes Cindy, then why do they act like they hate each other, and why did Jimmy scream, “Noooo!!!” when he discovered his future-self married her. I was assuming that maybe the two grew and changed and decided to like each other, but it the creators just failed to show or tell that on their end. However, I think they fight to hide their care for each other. That’s what I heard.

In one of the specials, Jimmy stated that people don’t change. Um… of course they do. Otherwise, we’d all be looking and functioning like newborns. In fact, there was one episode where Jimmy turned into a Hulk-like monster. I used to nickname him the Julk. That was change… at least in some form.

One thing I found quite funny because it was unrealistic was when Jimmy wanted something badly, but couldn’t wait till his birthday, which wasn’t for three months. He “changed” his birthday to the next day. It was his birthday for over a week until his parents tried to send him off to college.

Another great moment was when Sheen discovered that he had a terrible singing voice. It was a huge disadvantage until the twankie-combined monster became so violent that Sheen needed to sing to make it fall asleep.

Who remembers that special? The twankies were cute and harmless until they heard music. Then they transformed into violent creatures and eventually merged into a huge monster. Only Sheen’s horrible singing voice kept the twankies from becoming dangerous.

Despite the show’s popularity, it only lasted for about three seasons. My family enjoyed this show and they used to be disappointed when there were no more new episodes. Oh well.

There was actually a spinoff where Sheen had his own show. But that didn’t do well. I didn’t even find it appealing just based on the advertisements.

That’s it for this analysis. Now it’s time to blast off.

 

 

 

art

Mini Art Show: Round Gingerbread Ornament

 

20170425_132228

It’s been a while since I’ve done a mini art show. But hey, we’re just in time for the holidays. I’m going to discuss this piece above. I did this painting in my senior year of college two years ago, part of my senior thesis.

I love gingerbread cookies, especially when they’re soft and/or decorated. I also like to show some holiday spirit at this time of year. There’s green and red dots, representing Christmas. There are also blue and white marks, acknowledging Hanukkah.

The white against the light and dark browns were meant to look like icing. Yum, lol. The green and red dots could be big sprinkles, chocolate candies, gumballs, or anything sweet, honestly.

Of course, they’re not meant to be eaten everyday. But at holiday season, or any occasion, they are delicious. Decorated cookies rule as do plain ones.

Anyway, my thesis was complex or unusual abstract art. And because this was done in December, I wanted to add a holiday-themed tone to it. Themes actually helped in my abstract drawings and paintings. Otherwise, I would’ve been stuck with no ideas or making random shapes that would’ve taken me nowhere. However, I’d distort the shapes to not make them obvious because, hey, that’s what abstract art is all about.

I’ve done a bunch of holiday artworks and crafts before, although I don’t remember all of them. I do, however, recall wanting to draw snowmen a certain way when I was little. But that’s another story.

Why is it round, you may ask? Because one student wanted me to create works in non-traditional shapes, besides squares and rectangles. And I agreed.

So happy holidays to all!

 

short fiction

Santa Bots: A Short Story

Remember when you used to believe in Santa Claus until you were told at a certain age that he didn’t exist? That it was really your parents who got you your Christmas gifts?

I’d been told only seven years ago, at age eight, that there was no Santa. I’d opened my mouth in horror. I’d also let my energy down, as I had dragged my feet to my room over the shocking revelation.

Of course, now at fifteen, I knew how unrealistic it’d be for a man to deliver presents to every good girl and boy from the North Pole in one night.

But my ten-year-old brother, Tristan, wouldn’t let go of accepting that Santa Claus didn’t exist.

I walked into my living room, where the decorated Christmas tree stood. Tristan watched TV.

A mad scientist made robots and dressed them up as Santa Claus.

            “I’ll make all those children happy, after their parents told them there is no Santa Claus,” the scientist said. “Perhaps, Santa is just not what they imagined.”

            The scientist finished assembling the last robot. He pressed a button on his remote that said, “Activate.”

            The robots’ eyes lit up. They walked toward the man.

            “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” said the first one. “I am Santa Claus.”

            “Father Christmas,” another robot said in an English accent.

            “Babo Natale,” a third robot said in an Italian accent.

            “Perfect,” said the scientist. “Now I will make everyone believe in Santa, and they will also be loyal to him.”

            “Yay,” Tristan said.

“Tristan, that’s just a TV show,” I said.

“Oh, Cassie.” Tristan turned off the television. “What’s Christmas without a jolly old—”

“He’s not real. Aren’t you going to be in middle school next year?”

“What does that have to do with this?”

“Everyone’s going to think you’re crazy, still believing in Santa and falling for a TV show.”

“Maybe Santa was a robot this whole time.”

“You’re joking, aren’t you?”

“Whatever.” Tristan stood up. “Don’t be surprised if you get coal tonight.”

I crossed my arms and glared at Tristan. No way would mom and dad give me coal. I hadn’t misbehaved all year. Even then, it’d only happened occasionally. I’d still received gifts every Christmas, including when I’d believed in Santa.

 

A few hours had passed. My family and I had eaten dinner. I now lay in my bed, only to hear a bang on the roof. Gasping, I bolted up and hopped out of my bed. I opened my window and looked up. There was a sleigh, and hoofs scraping against the roof.

I closed my eyes and shook my head. I gazed again. The same things remained there. And a heavy figure climbed into the chimney.

This can’t be happening, I thought. Santa’s not real.

Despite being taught not to do this when I was little, especially on Christmas Eve, I left my room and walked down to the living room. My heartbeat raced and my palms sweated. I rushed my breathing.

The boots showed themselves. I inhaled and backed away. More of the figure’s red clothes revealed themselves, followed by a white beard. The figure showed his face—only to have it look more metal-like than flesh-textured.

This couldn’t be, though—unless some unknown scientist or genius had super-advanced tech to created a Santa bot like on TV. Still. That couldn’t happen in 2018.

The eyes glowed yellow. The robot turned to me. “Ho, ho, ho,” it said in a robotic tone. “You have to go back to bed, or else you’re getting coal.”

I ran back upstairs and into my room. I leaned against the door and breathed. Who could’ve done this? Should that person be reported to the police?

Perhaps, so. I hurried to my parents’ door and knocked. “Mom, Dad, wake up!”

My mother opened the door. “Cassie, what’s going on?”

“There was a Santa robot downstairs!”

“Now’s not that time for nonsense, Cassie.” My mom closed the door.

“I’m being serious!”

There was no answer. I stomped down the hallway and knocked on Tristan’s door. Tristan opened the door.

“Tristan, there was a Santa bot downstairs, like the one in that show you were watching.”

“No, that was just a TV show.” Tristan closed the door.

“It was like that, seriously!”

He reopened the door. “Have you lost your mind, Cassie?”

“No!”

The roof shook.

“Earthquake!” cried Tristan.

“It’s not an earthquake,” I said.

The vibration came to a halt. I looked around. My bedroom door had remained opened. I turned to the window. The Santa bot and reindeer rode away on the sleigh.

“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” the robot said from outside. “And to all a goodnight.”

“That doesn’t seem right.” Tristan rushed into my room. “Those reindeer look fake.”

I approached him.

“Santa’s voice sounds strange,” Tristan added.

“That’s because he’s not Santa,” I said. “That’s a Santa robot.”

Tristan gasped.

My parents’ door opened. Both my mom and dad entered my room.

“What’s that outside?” my mother asked.

“A robot Santa along with robot reindeer,” said Tristan.

The sleigh landed on the house across the street from mine. The Santa bot hopped out.

“Yes,” the scientist’s voice echoed from outside. “Soon, you will also start being loyal.”

“What was that?” asked Tristan. “He… he sounded like the same mad scientist on TV.”

“Let me be considered the nicest man in the world,” the same voice said.

More sleighs soared outside. The sky also glowed yellow.

“Hey, Cassie, why don’t we go back to sleep?” asked Tristan.

Gasping, I turned to him. His pupils glowed yellow. So did mom and dad’s.

“No, no!” I rushed downstairs. I put on my boots and coat and dashed outside. The same mad scientist as on television walked down the street. All the neighbors stared at him, with yellow eyes.

“I’ve been considered naughty forever by my parents,” the scientist said. “I’ve always wished that Santa existed. But now he is going to take all your prized possessions and give them to me.”

I inhaled and ran back inside. A Santa bot had my electronics, beauty products, Tristan’s action figures, and mom and dad’s photo album.

“Stop!” I cried.

The robot turned to me. “You are not loyal.”

I rushed into the kitchen and grabbed a rolling pin. I wacked the robot. But it grabbed me.

“Hitting is naughty,” it said. “That means you are getting coal… forever and ever.”

I kicked the bot and returned to the kitchen. I filled a glass of water. But the robot grasped my wrist. The water spilled away from it.

“You are on my naughty list permanently.”

“No, no!”

But the liquid spread to the robot’s shoes. The bot let go of me. Streaks of light electrocuted it. Its voice deepened and died out. The robot collapsed onto the ground.

Breathing, I stared. Yup, it made zero moves. I went outside. All the Santa bots lay on the street motionless. The people seemed to have gone off the spells. They gazed at the machines.

“Cassie?” my mom called.

“Yeah?” I turned to her.

“Cassie, darling, are you all right?” my mother asked.

“I’m fine, Mom.” I hugged her.

“You saved Christmas,” said Tristan. “I saw that are stuff is still here.”

“Well, more importantly, we’re all still here,” my dad said. “After all, Christmas is about spending time with loved more than it is about the gifts.”

“That is true,” said Tristan. “Family is more important than Santa.”

I grinned.

movie

Let it Go… Can’t Hold These Thoughts Anymore… For an Analysis of Disney’s “Frozen” (2013)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I did not see “Frozen” in the movie theater. However, I did see it on my computer. I also saw the Broadway show, which I actually liked more. But this post is only about the movie.

I am not going to include thoughts on the shorts, such as “Frozen Fever” or “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”, as I did not see those. So here is the analysis.

Many of us know the story. As young children, Anna and Elsa play together until Elsa accidentally knocks Anna out unconscious with her ice powers. Anna’s memories of Elsa’s ice powers are altered and wiped. Elsa has to have a bunch of restrictions on her until she can control her powers. Anna and Elsa grow up mostly separate. Their parents die, and then three years later, Elsa is crowned queen. She accidentally does ice magic at the coronation and flees while creating an eternal winter. Anna goes out to look for her. I could go on, but I’m not going to.

So here are my thoughts. First off, I really appreciate how Elsa is developed. She is misunderstood by others, scared, and struggles to control her ice powers. That made her seem very real and likable.

Speaking of likable… did you know that Elsa was originally supposed to be the villain, in “Frozen”? She was going to be much older and use her ice powers for evil, like in the original story “Frozen” was based off: “The Snow Queen”. However, I am glad the creators changed it and had Prince Hans be the villain instead.

In fact, I think it was a smart move as standards have changed since Disney’s early days. Just because someone seems charming, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should love and trust him or her. It was also a nice, unexpected twist for the story, straying away from the traditional approach, where the prince the princess falls in love with is a good guy. Kristoff ended up being Anna’s love interest, even though he wasn’t as easygoing as Hans seemed.

It was also pretty unsanitary that Kristoff and Sven shared carrots. At least it’s not realism, otherwise, Kristoff would’ve gotten sick, as well as Sven.

While still discussing character development, I did find Anna too immature at times for her age. For instance, Elsa had to remind her that she couldn’t marry a guy she’d just met. But Anna had unrealistic expectations for romance. I knew better at Anna’s age (18) and even younger.

Now the most memorable character for me was Olaf the snowman. He was silly, enthusiastic, and comedic. I especially love his song about summer. It was cute to see how a snowman envisioned summer, especially when he didn’t know that heat melted snow.

The songs were all great. Many of them didn’t sound like traditional Disney songs. For example, I thought “Let it Go” and “For the First Time in Forever” sounded like “Wicked” songs.

The layout of the setting was executed well. Another fun fact is that the cast and crew had to go to Norway to study the land and architecture for the film. And it worked out well.

I would rate “Frozen” 4 out of 5 stars. While the story content was done with lots of effort, something about it didn’t engage me enough to give it 5 stars. In fact, when I first saw this movie, I found the beginning to be kind of boring. I only watched the whole thing because it was a big, popular film.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it very much.