movie

What Can I Say, Except, “You’re Welcome” for this Wonderful Review of “Moana” (2016)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

I saw this film a year after it was released in theaters. I watched it at my house. It was such a beautiful movie.

As a baby, Moana is interested in the story she is hearing in daycare about Maui stealing the heart of Te Fiti. All the other children are scared. Moana is somehow called to the ocean. But her overprotective father forbids her to go near it.

Years later, when Moana has reached her current age for the main part of the story, there is a shortage of fish by the reef. Moana suggests going beyond the reef. But her father gets angry and will still prohibit anyone going further than the reef. Moana’s mother reveals why her dad is so against going beyond the reef. Moana tries sailing, but it ends up not working out. Her grandma shows the story of her ancestors and how they used to go beyond the reef all the time. They stopped because there were too many dangerous monsters, especially Te Ka the lava demon. Unfortunately, not long after, Moana’s grandmother is dying. She tells Moana to sail out to the ocean, seek Maui, and return the heart of Te Fiti. Moana’s journey begins from there.

I really admired many parts of this movie, from the story to the characters, especially Moana. She is one of the few Disney princesses to have no love interest. The other two are Merida and Elsa (which is why fans were begging Disney to give Elsa a girlfriend in the “Frozen” sequel). Anyway, Moana was fierce, brave, and strong, which is what many expect for female characters today.

The music was also fantastic. Many songs sounded different from traditional Disney songs. Some sounded more like pop songs, such as “How Far I’ll Go” and “Shiny”. I particularly appreciated the rap section in “You’re Welcome” sung by Maui.

That being said, there were a couple flaws in this movie, such as some urine jokes and (sorry to disappoint some of you) the coconut pirate scene. I loved when Moana said that they were cute and then they went vicious. However, I couldn’t see how important it was to the story. I felt it was just a little filler to add conflict. And the story told in Moana’s daycare is really too mature for little kids. It was only used for plot convenience.

The ending was beautiful. After violence with Te Ka the lava monster, Moana figured out that she was really Te Fiti without the heart. The scene where Moana returns the heart and Te Fiti turns back into a beautiful Goddess and Island was heartwarming. It was also funny how Te Fiti looks a lot like Moana.

I would rate Moana 5 out of 5 stars. It is such a wonderful movie that I would recommend to all, especially with a strong, independent female lead.

short fiction

The Cruise: A Flash Fiction Piece

Ava took out her paper while facing the classroom. “This is a true tale about something that happened over the summer.” She gazed into her sheet and looked at the other students. “The sun was shining over the ocean. I was dancing on a cruise with some friends and my family. But a thunder storm struck lightning nearby. Our ship had to move away from it. The party was over. I was disappointed.”

            “And we’ll stop there,” said Mrs. Sanders, the teacher. “Ava, is this really a true story?”

            “Yes,” she said.

            “You’re crazy,” said a boy.

            “I thought your family didn’t have a lot of money,” said Kelsi.

            “Mind your own business, Kelsi,” Ava said.

            The bell rang. Everyone left the classroom and packed up as his or her locker.

            Ava breathed, thinking about what her classmates had said. She couldn’t be insane. She couldn’t have made the whole thing up.

            After hopping onto the bus, Ava’s phone rang. It was her mom.

            “Ava, what happened in school today?”

            “Nothing, Mom.”

            “I got a call from Mrs. Sanders that you made up a story about us being on a cruise.”

            “We did go on a cruise over the summer. I remember.”

            “We’ve never been on a cruise before. I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to have a chat when we get home.” The mother hung up.

            Ava felt her stomach compress. How could her mom not recall the cruise? Either her mom was starting to forget things or… Ava had some memory issue.

            No. She couldn’t. She’d heard of some condition where people unintentionally lied about things that never happened. But that couldn’t be the case for her.

            Minutes had passed. Ava got off the bus and went inside. Her mom gave her a sharp look. “Ava, I have some bad news for you.”

            “I’m grounded, aren’t I?”

            “No.” The mother sighed. “You have been cursed with a condition that gives you memories of things you’ve never had.”

            Ava lowered her jaw. “What?”

            “I found out that your father was a magician. And that he gave you that jinx.”

            Ava gasped. “No.”

            “It’s been ten years since he died. I waited too long to tell you.”

            Ava looked down. “How am I ever going to get through life like this?”

            “You’re the only one who can control those false memories.”

            “What?”

            “It’s all up to you.”

            “But how do I control them?”

            “You have to consider other circumstances and suppress those that don’t match with them.”

            “Okay.” Ava sat on a couch. She closed her eyes. “We never went on a cruise ship,” she whispered. She repeated herself a few times.

            The thought faded. Ava forgot what happened before the storm. She reminded herself out loud a couple more times. She couldn’t remember anything about a cruise vacation.

            Ava looked down. It would be nice if we went on a cruise one day. Perhaps, before my thirteenth birthday in January.

art

Mini Art Show: A Young Woman Sketch

Oh, isn’t she lovely? Ha, ha, just admiring this sketch I did years ago. It wasn’t for school, but for pleasure. I wanted to learn how to make more realistic (technically semi-realistic) portraits.

I saw a video of some guy sketching a woman’s face. I practiced that too, and then tried doing other variations of my own. This was one of them.

And let me guess what you think. She looks like Fleur Delacour from “Harry Potter”, doesn’t she? I actually discovered that by mistake when sketching this image. I was NOT trying to draw Fleur, nor was I trying any “Harry Potter” fan art. Actually, when I was 13, I made silly “Harry Potter” fan art of the characters doing silly, ridiculous things. They are no longer funny. Twelve years ago, I laughed by brains out at them and showed my family. They were unimpressed. Now I look at them and think, “Oh, god”.

That’s another topic, though. But who doesn’t like to have fun? Anyway, let me get back to the image.

Why does the hair have bolded streaks, you may ask? Because the demonstrator in the video did his drawing like that. Where are the other variations? Unfortunately, I might’ve thrown them all away, including this one. I was probably cleaning out my room and felt that I no longer needed those pictures. Luckily, I photographed this one and the digital picture of it is still here.

There is not much else about this drawing that I want to discuss. The shading was done based on what I’ve learned. Also,in the original image that this was based off, the woman didn’t have a ponytail. That’s all, guys.

movie

He is the God of Thunder, from the Planet, Asgard – Let’s Review “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

I’ve never been a superhero fan, regardless of brand or characters. I saw “Thor Ragnarok” at a birthday party a little over a year ago. It turned out better than I thought. However, I will say that I didn’t love it.

The film starts with Thor is some underworld environment. He then joins his father and brother. Thor discovers that the planet, Asgard, is in danger. In fact, an evil woman, named Hela, gains so much power and puts the whole planet in danger as she becomes a tyrant.

Thor is whisked away to another planet, where there are messed up beings and cannibals. Thor is imprisoned somewhere. Not long after, his hair is cut and he has to fight the Hulk in a stadium. Meanwhile, Asgard is falling apart. It takes time for Thor to get others to trust him and try to save his planet.

Unfortunately, the planet is pretty much destroyed once Thor arrives. The people there have to move to Earth.

The film was interesting. I will admit that. But I found some things disappointing, like when Thor had his long hair chopped off (I actually have a super-painful memory of me experiencing my hair chopped off years ago) as well as his eye removed. I felt sorry for Thor’s hair to be cut and right after that, the crowd booing at him. At least the scissors guy let Thor keep his beard. As for the eye, something satisfying happened in the “Avengers” film with all the Marvel characters (I won’t say what, though).

Hela was so evil. She was not only unlikable to the point that I couldn’t even have just the tiniest amount of sympathy for her, but she also wasn’t really believable . She just abused her power. Maybe she has a tragic backstory and wasn’t always evil. But pure evil villains are too stereotypical and even lazy.

Thor’s brother wasn’t too likable, either. The ruler of the planet (played by Jeff Goldblum) or the Grandmaster, was wicked in a special way. He was calm and acted more positively. I think that’s more creative than the approach to developing Hela.

The ending was disappointing too. I know this is an installment, but still. It could have been at least a little more satisfying. Will things turn around later?

I would rate “Thor Ragnarok” 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was engaging. I will also admit that many parts were funny. Just a few things didn’t really work out for me.

cooking

Who Struggles With Yellow Cake From Scratch? Me

Above is my college graduation party cake that I made from scratch. Everything, including the icing you see and the cake and filling you do not see. The cake was half chocolate with chocolate buttercream (the biggest hit) and half yellow with strawberry filling (which, by the way, tastes a lot better than the commercial kind in my opinion).

I could discuss more about the cake’s design and filling. But, as you can see in the title, that is not what this post is about. It is about the struggles I’ve gone through with baking yellow cake from scratch.

Yes, I get it. You can’t see the cake on the inside, because I hadn’t cut it yet. However, I will say that this recipe, is perhaps, the best yellow cake recipe I could find.

It’s a chiffon kind. You use egg whites to make meringue as well as cream of tarter. It tasted delicious. In fact, I was the only one to eat the yellow cake section at my graduation party.

For years, I would make different yellow cake recipes from different sources whether it was the Internet or print books. Not one has tasted as good as this one. For a while, I wouldn’t make yellow cake from scratch. In fact, I’d preferred the boxed mixes a lot more. I’m not kidding. The other recipes tasted bad.

I learned to revisit making vanilla cake from scratch because one of my friends has a peanut allergy. I was surprised to learn how limited people with peanut allergies are when it comes to food, including unexpected places. So I had to be extra-careful with what I served at my parties.

You can search the vanilla chiffon cake recipe on Google. You may love it.

cooking

Healthy and Happy Blueberry Muffins

Image above from Pixabay

Blueberry muffins are delicious. Many of us love them. However, did you know that there is a healthier way to make them?

You read that correctly. I’m not kidding. There is a delicious blueberry muffin recipe made with no flour, but almond meal, and no sugar, but pure maple syrup (not Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup).

I did not make the muffins in the image above. This is a picture from Pixabay as you can see in the caption below. However, it does resemble the almond meal muffins closely enough. Want to find the recipe? Search “Almond meal muffins” in Google.

Not only are those muffins healthier, they are also irresistible. At least as much as the traditional kinds with flour and sugar. If not, more.

What else about these muffins, you might ask? You got to eat or freeze them as quickly as possible. They spoil rapidly. I’m not joking. I actually had to throw some away because they’d gone bad. And that was only after a few days since I’d baked them.

So there you have it. Wish to try baking these, yourselves? Go ahead. Want to substitute eggs? You’re in luck. You can use applesauce in place. Then they are vegan.

Hope you enjoyed discovering that you can make some of your favorite desserts healthier.

art

Mini Art Show: Perseus and Medusa

An illustration I did for college

How many of you enjoyed learning about Greek mythology? I certainly did. That was why I chose to illustrate scenes from “Perseus and Medusa”.

This was an assignment in my illustration class at college. It was the final one. We had to illustrate a fairytale NOT adapted by Disney. I was passionate about “Perseus and Medusa”.

Above is where Perseus has just chopped off Medusa’s head. Want to know the story? You’ve got Google for that. Or you may already know.

While my professor was unhappy about this, I had copied an illustration I did of Perseus holding Medusa’s head and pasted it into the cave background I drew. Except for the blood, which was done digitally in Photoshop, I drew the outline by pencil and pen and colored in strong markers. Not the Crayola kinds kids use. But professional kinds. There was a little bit of Prismacolor and a little bit of something else that was stronger and bled more.

I used a reference image to illustrate the cave. Thanks to learning figure drawing, building Perseus was no problem. He has muscles as a way to represent both strength and heroism.

You should know that Medusa is hideous and dangerous, especially when one looks into her eyes. So I had to choose colors that represented monsters. And because gazing into Medusa’s eyes can turn you into stone, Perseus’s eyes are closed.

And why this simplistic style, you might ask? It was the easiest at that time, which was two years ago. Also, a lot of people illustrate Greek myths in simplistic styles, especially if they are illustrating for children.

So there you have it. Stay tuned for more mini art shows. Thanks.