movie

It’s Anything but Ooky, “The Addams Family” Review (2019)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Morticia and Gomez are getting married, but the civilians are crashing their wedding as an angry mob. They move to a house on the top of a hill and have a Frankenstein-like servant.

Thirteen years later and the Addams couple has two children. Pugsley is being forced to train for a sword-fighting event he doesn’t seem to value and is pretty unprepared for. Wednesday is her usual grim self who tries to kill or hurt Pugsley.

But one of the family members discovers a commercial where a woman named Margaux Needler offers a service to renovate people’s houses in any way they like. Unfortunately, when the Addams family leaves their home and go out in public, everybody is afraid of them. Wednesday, however, befriends Margaux’s daughter, Parker, and attends school with her. Stakes raise from there.

I was surprised how short this film was. As a fiction writer myself, I was able to point out all the major plot points, which kind of made the duration predictable. Due to past movie-watching experiences, I kind of predicted that Margaux would turn out to be the villain.

One thing I found a bit strange was that the setting was changed to modern times, like this decade, despite how this was originally created in the mid-twentieth century. I understand the creators probably wanted to make this more relatable to young audiences today. But since it’s animated, they wouldn’t have needed to struggle with finding outdated technology as much as if this were live-action. I could be wrong, though.

That being said, there are many moments that I admire, such as when Wednesday brought the dead frogs in science class back to life. There was also a reference to “It” by Stephen King. One moment I found a bit strange was when Uncle Fester compared a certain woman’s breath to a baby’s diaper. I sure hope he meant a clean one.

Anyway, in spite of not being too familiar with the original “Addams Family” show, I enjoyed this just enough. Some of it wasn’t super engaging. Nevertheless, it was still, overall, a good watch. I’d rate this 4 out of 5 stars.

travel

An Amazing Experience Happened at Alice’s Tea Cup in New York City

I discovered this place while on a trip with Girl Scouts several years ago. I was resistant to it at first as I was craving something else for lunch. But then I stuck with eating there and tried some new things.

I had a tomato soup (which I can no longer eat due to a tomato allergy I developed a couple years ago) as well as a tier with a sandwich, scone, and cookies. They were delicious. I’m actually glad that I gave into this restaurant. After that, I’d visit Alice’s Tea Cup on my own.

However, despite the amazing scones, sweets, as well as the variety of tea flavors (many of which you can’t buy at your local grocery store), the food prices are pretty expensive. I can’t remember the price of the cheapest tier at the top of my head, but I believe it wasn’t less than $40. I don’t think there’s a menu online—at least last time I looked. It could’ve changed by now. But yeah—if you’re on a budget, it’s best to save this place for rare occasions.

The space is very small, probably because it’s in New York City, and I think that’s typical there. It’s also got “Alice in Wonderland” images on the walls and in their overall theme for the place.

There are three locations. Two on the east side and one on the west side. The west side location was the first one I’ve been to and the one I prefer the most. Even though I don’t visit New York City that much anymore, I would eventually love to return to Alice’s Tea Cup.

Writing

Your Story Might Work with Fewer Words

Image from Pixabay

Sometimes, less is more with writing. If you write regularly and have studied the craft for years, you may have heard the term, “kill your darlings”. That means you should eliminate anything in your project that isn’t necessary, whether it’s content, like a subplot, scene, or character, or unnecessary words.

This was a big struggle with my own writing. In my early writing days, I would write too little. However, as my skills improved, so did my ability to produce more words in my work. Little did I know that a good number of those words were not needed.

This was especially an issue with my series’ second installment, “Wizardry Goes Wild”, which is now retitled “The Unruly Curse” and has been given several changes, including…a shorter word count. I’ve discovered, when editing that story, that nearly 20,000 words weren’t necessary. Reviewers had even complained about the writing, and I’d thought they had been crazy, as it’d felt perfect and flawless to me. In fact, I’d thought it’d read like a traditionally published bestseller.

Anyway, due to the unsatisfying reviews (but not enough that the overall rating was poor or even just neutral), I pulled “Wizardry Goes Wild” off the market and edited it. I had eliminated 13,000 words and republished it as “The Uncontrollable Curse”. In spite of the reworking, the reviews were, at most, just as unpleasing, if not, more.

That was when I got a content edit from an editing service. Although this wasn’t their idea, I removed two chapters from the story. They didn’t serve much of a purpose.

When I republished book 2 the third time as “The Unruly Curse”, the readers gave better reviews than the previous times.

So, remember, always read through and edit your work, as well as have someone else do the same. And I suggest it’s NOT somebody you know personally, as he or she may be biased and afraid to hurt your feelings. After all, your story may need fewer words than you might realize.

fiction

Confessions of a Zookeeper Parent: A Flash Fiction Piece

Summer is coming, and my eighteen-year-old son is about to graduate high school. My twenty-year-old daughter is completing community college and will go off to a SUNY school this fall.

            However, I am fighting against letting my son go to his senior prom or have a graduation party. Why? Because he barely passed this year. He should consider it a miracle that he can graduate this year.

            My daughter also passed just by the skin of her teeth. She’d had to abandon her dream of going to an ivy league school last year.

            As a zookeeper, I wish I could take my children to work with me and teach them responsibility with helping out. I was considering a farm trip where they’d have to collect eggs from chickens and clean up a barn. However, I can’t afford it this year.

            And I don’t think the zoo I work at would allow me to bring my kids, even if they’re overage. They’d probably say that it’s too dangerous. It makes sense to me as most of the animals we have to deal with are unsafe. They’re technically not meant to be tamed and around humans.

            I can’t think of a position they could do that would keep them safe as well as teach them responsibility. Helping out with directions would be too easy for them.

            I might know someone who could keep them busy and give them little, if any, time for fun. He’s a farmer, but he lives in Nebraska. I’m in New York, and I had trouble finding affordable tickets to fly anywhere, especially since it’s a peak travel season.

            Well, I can’t think of any big, famous tourist sites in Nebraska. A lot of people I know like to go to Disneyworld, Alaska, and other popular destinations for the summer. I’ll try looking at plane tickets to Nebraska online. If I can get permission from this farmer to let my kids help him, maybe then I’ll send them off there. I’m going to be a tough dad.

cooking

A Trick to Crispy French Fries

Image from Pixabay

Most of us love French fries, even though too much of them aren’t healthy. Technically, that applies to everything, including food that is good for us. But that’s a different topic.

Anyway, many recipes will tell you to soak your fries for some time before you put them in the hot oil. I supposed that’s a good trick. However, here is the technique I use. It is far quicker and maybe even better. That is…to microwave your potato strips until they are soft enough to poke something all the way through them.

You could boil them, too. But then you have to wait for the water to heat up. Anyway, what I do is cut the potatoes into strips, microwave them till they’re soft (I can’t remember the number of minutes at the top of my head now), heat the oil in a pot or deep pan, put the potatoes in them, and cook them till I like them.

Did you notice that I omitted the peeling stage? You can still peel the skin off, as that’s conventional for making fries. However, I’m too lazy to do that. So, I keep the skin on. Believe it or not, the skin is actually kind of good for you. Or it’s, at least, tolerable.

Another thing to know is that if you use steel pans or pots, you need to heat the object first before you put in the fat, like oil. Then the base has to get hotter, too. Otherwise, your food will stick and cleaning up will be a pain in the butt.

So, there you have it. Does this sound like a good way to make French fries?

art

Mini Art Show: Witch in Detention

How did I come up with this, you may ask? Well, it was inspired by one of my own novels, believe it or not. In one of them, my protagonist is cursed with uncontrollable magic powers and is constantly misunderstood by others. This, unfortunately, used to happen hundreds of years ago, as well. Those who were miscomprehended and accused of being witches were… removed from society. Actually, they were killed.

But that I wrote book is set in 2010. While many things have changed in the past 9 years, the consequences my MC received for unintentionally doing wizardry would probably happen today. One of the punishments she gets is detention at school. Despite the seriousness of past witch hunts and even what my protagonist goes through, I turned this tragic idea into a comedic one.

So, as you can see, the witch looks pretty typical for a paranormal figure. You might think she looks more like a Halloween witch. That was deliberate. And no—she’s not the one from “The Wizard of Oz”, nor was that witch behind any inspiration for this piece. After all, don’t you notice the orange hair?

The cartoony look was not really done on purpose. Nor was the fact that I did it in Photoshop. However, I think a more realistic appearance wouldn’t have worked out as realism often doesn’t promote satire or humor.

The idea stood out to me for a while. It wasn’t until recently, though, that I decided to turn it into a visible image.