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.

cooking

My Experience with Cooking Seafood

Image from Pixabay

I love seafood, both fish and shellfish. Now these days, though, I prefer shellfish more, not just because of the taste and textures, but also that they’re quicker to make.

Sometimes, you can have lobsters steamed in the grocery store. However, that varies. Sometimes, you can buy just the tail. Other times, you have to pick something else.

That’s the thing with seafood. Its availability is not always consistent, especially if it’s fresh. I suggest buying the wild-caught kinds as farm-raised seafood can have some issues about them. I’ll stop there with that.

Anyway, there are a lot of ways you can cook seafood. The sky is pretty much the limit. With certain shellfish, though, it’s best to steam them. Those include lobster and shrimp. You can boil them, but then they lose their flavor. Maybe that also removes their nutritional value.

I learned to steam them after boiling them for a while. Guess what? They tasted better—way better. I like to have butter with my lobster and garlic seasoning on my shrimp.

Regardless of all this, some people can’t eat seafood, whether they’re allergic or for other reasons. But it’s rare that I’m in situations like that.

I will admit that driving has spoiled me a bit and made me too lazy too cook at times. Instead, I’m getting takeout. However, I want to change that—at least slightly.

My family has been kind of strict with protein at every meal, certainly when I was a kid. Now they’re more laid back. Yet, because of that guideline from the past, I’ve kind of developed that rule as a routine. If I don’t want meat or poultry, I get seafood.

art

Mayhem with Multi-Page Website-Making

As a writer, I am passionate about my books’ world, characters, magic laws (they’re fantasy), and more. I don’t know if I got inspired to expand more because J.K. Rowling does it with her “Harry Potter” franchise. But a while back, I did plan on having a print guide about my books’ universe. However, I was told that things like that are usually reserved for big, popular franchises. So, I decided to come up with a website.

I have a main author site, too. And now I have a website dedicated to my books’ world and content called magicalmissionsworld.com. While I admire the homepage, I am not fond of the articles about my characters. It’s not easy to make several pages with Wix. Therefore, the only solution I could find was making my word docs PDFs. I am not happy about that now.

I want to change the web builder and make a more professional multi-page website using Adobe Dreamweaver, as there wasn’t a lot that I could find online. I looked at other multi-page sites and theirs look way better and easier to use than mine.

So, now I plan to experiment with Dreamweaver and rebuild my franchise’s site using that. I believe you can still add text, images, and more. You can also code, which I’m just okay at.

Anyway, as soon as I figure out Dreamweaver, I am going to take down my current book series’ site and launch a new one.  

fiction

Being Bananas at School: A Flash Fiction Piece

My name is Bernard Applebaum, although people often call me Bernie. Recently, my school had spirit week, and one of the days was “change your image day”. As a fan of the “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” song, I decided to dress as a banana.

Little did I know that I couldn’t fit on my bus and I kept bumping into people. And those stares everyone gave me are never going to leave my memory.

I tried impressing people and even recited the lyrics of “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”. However right before the warning bell rang, I fell down the stairs to the basement level, and everybody laughed at me. I got hurt as well. And if that wasn’t so bad, the principal, Mr. Finkle, glared at me. He took me to his office and reminded me of the dress code, which prohibited hazardous clothing, even during spirit week.

My mom had to pick me up as Mr. Finkle demanded that I get send home to change. And he forbade me to wear a costume. I had to take my banana costume off and ride home topless on a chilly October day.

When I came back to school, kids taunted and teased me for the banana costume I’d worn before. I’ll never forget when that boy, Dylan, called me Bernie the Crazy Banana and even said “Don’t throw your peelings at me.”

I had a few friends who I sat with at lunch. But even they didn’t talk to me. In fact, they left me to go to the library—without even inviting me.

I came home not wanting to speak to anyone. I guess I’ve learned my lesson about wearing big costumes to school. The next day was spirit day, where students dressed in the school colors. I just wore street clothes of those colors.

art

Picture Cards for (Hopefully) Perfect Test Results

Ugh…studying for exams. Who doesn’t get stressed out over that? After all, we need to get good grades.

You might be wondering why I am talking about tests when academics and studying aren’t in my specialized topics. It’s because for my last final exam in college, right before graduating, I came up with a technique to make studying not only more enjoyable, but also easier. I was an art major, so I created picture cards and added humor.

The class I took was for meeting a certain learning goal, and it was quite difficult. I didn’t fail anything, but I barely passed the midterm. So, I met with my professor for extra help several times.

When finals week was approaching, I had to find an effective way to study. That was when I decided on picture cards.

They didn’t have to be artistic, and they weren’t meant to be. Regardless of my art skills, I used simplistic stick figure and shape drawings. They were for a different purpose, anyway.

I no longer have these cards as I tossed them a while ago. However, I do recall some funny ones, such as a crying alien when I needed to define and discuss alienation. Another was a factory and I even drew a stick figure Willy Wonka.

If you struggle with drawing, no worries. Pretty much no artistic abilities are needed. However, this is more likely to help if you are a visual learner.

No matter whether you’re in K-12 school, college, or grad school, this technique may work out for you. It certainly helped me, even though I ended up with a C on the final as well as the overall grade.