travel

These Are Unique Outside the State of New York

Image from PIxabay

I lived most of my life in New York. I was born in Texas, but only lived there till I was 15 months. So, Identify myself as a New Yorker. Ironically, I don’t have a New York accent. Neither do my brothers. It’s probably because my mom grew up in Massachusetts, so my siblings and I have her accent.

Anyway, there is so much I’m used to in New York that doesn’t really exist outside the state. Check out these unique things that pretty much is only in New York, or maybe nearby states.

1: President’s Week in February

This exists in New England and New York. However, the rest of the country only does President’s Day off and not a long week of vacation.

2: Family-Owned Pizzerias

There may be other parts of the country where these exist, but they’re pretty typical for New York.

3: Delis with sandwiches and other types of food.

I discovered years ago that delis outside New York usually meant just cold cuts.

4: Diners

Some diners exist in states near New York, such as Silver Diner in Virginia. But according to my mom, diners are more of a New York thing.

5: Children’s milestones being celebrated as banquets

These might be a little popular in some other major cities, such as Chicago, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles (I’ve seen hall websites that list them). But in many parts of the country outside New York, big-deal bar and bat mitzvahs and sweet 16s are not a thing. People usually only use halls for weddings, maybe birthdays and anniversaries. But in places like Ohio, Oregon, and Seattle, the biggest way to celebrate kids’ milestones would be a low-key backyard party. Kids and adults in those areas who know that children’s milestones are celebrated like weddings in the New York City area probably consider that an oddity.

6: Light coffee meaning with cream and sugar

I discovered this while on a weekend trip to Chicago years ago. I asked for my coffee light, and the person behind the counter said that they only had medium roast. I explained that I meant to ask for cream and sugar. Then my mom told me that light coffee meaning cream and sugar was only a thing in New York. Even in New Jersey, light coffee means light roast.

So, if you ever visit or move into New York, keep these cultural aspects in mind.

TV show

The Mystery to Why Some Cartoon Characters’ Faces Aren’t Shown

Have you noticed characters’ hidden faces before? How did that make you feel?

I don’t know about you, but it has always annoyed me—especially when there is no reason explained. Why do so many animators hide certain characters’ faces? This practice has been going on since the early days of animation.

Sometimes, animators change their minds and decide to show those characters’ faces later in the cartoon. This has happened in TV shows such as “Codename: Kids Next Door” (Numbuh 1 – 4’s parents’ faces show later in the series), “The Fairly Odd Parents” (Timmy’s parents’ faces show after the shorts end and the main series begins, and Remy’s mom and dad’s faces show later, too), and “Tom & Jerry” (a woman’s face shows at some point).

At times, there are also reasons for why some characters’ faces do not show. In “The PowerPuff Girls”, Miss Bellum’s face is hidden because the creators didn’t want people to be distracted with beauty. In other programs, it’s because the creators want the audience to focus on certain characters and not others.

Then there are those where no reason is given, like in “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends”, Mac’s mom’s face is never show and there is never a reason why. That has probably bothered a bunch of viewers and me. Is her face unattractive? Does she look like someone one animator hates and they hide her face to avoid getting in trouble?

I rarely watch live TV these days. But these moments remain memorable.

art

Mini Art Show: Rooster on a Unicycle

What a better way to wake up every morning, right? A rooster riding a unicycle. It’s a twist on the cliché of a rooster cockadoodle doing on top of a barn as the sun rises.

Actually, it was inspired by my neighbor, who has a noisy rooster. I’ve always wondered if it was hungry, or just expressing itself. I used to have guinea pigs and they used to squeak when they were hungry.

Anyway, back to the image. I’ve always loved humor in pretty much anything positive, including art. I’ve done a collage of a man playing music with a lion in his boat and a dingo eating a baby (which actually happened, sadly, but was changed to a humorous saying). You can find them on another post.

So, as you can see, the rooster is in the countryside and there’s a barn in the background as well as hayfields. The rooster is probably bigger than real ones are.

Another thing about this piece is that I used Chartpak markers—something I haven’t used in years. I forgot how much they bleed and how strong they are. In fact, when I used them in college, everyone and I were instructed to color on the back for our drawings.

After I colored in the pencil outlines, I traced over color edges with a pen. That’s actually a common practice for artists.

There you have it.

art

Mini Art Show: Cupcake Tower

Who has seen a cupcake tower before? I have, but only in pictures. Cupcake towers have become very popular over the years, especially at weddings.

But how many can fit on the stand all together? That’s tough when you never had one you could easily handle. Looking at pictures can only provide you so much. You can count the cupcakes you can see in the image and estimate how many are not shown. However, that’s still difficult.

It’s also hard to find exact measurements and the accurate number of cupcakes needed per base on the stand. Luckily, I found one.

Why did I do this, you may ask? Because I wanted to challenge my illustration skills. No, I am not planning a party. This was just for fun.

Enough about the stand—onto the cupcakes. I gave the cupcakes different flavors: vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, carrot, and strawberry. The frostings are vanilla, pink vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and cream cheese. I actually made myself a cupcake library for me to copy and paste. That way, I can save time and keep the cupcakes more accurate and even.

I dragged a high number all together. I don’t recall the exact count. But who cares? Like I said before, it’s only for pleasure.

movie

Lights…Camera…Action…and Ratings

In the film industry, there are 5 ratings: G – all ages admitted, PG – parental guidance suggested, PG-13 – Parents strongly cautioned for children under 13, R – Restricted and anyone under 17 needs to be accompanied by an adult, and lastly, NC-17, where no one under 18 is admitted, whatsoever.

Back in the day, the ratings were different. For instance, PG-13 didn’t exist until 1984. So, many mature movies before were rated PG. Nowadays, PG is pretty much the same as G. Most family-friendly movies are rated PG. In fact, when I was little, I thought PG meant it was for all ages.

Some people, however, still see PG as inappropriate and only allow their children to watch movies that are rated G. In fact, back in the 00’s, my youngest brother’s 1st grade class was only allowed to watch G-rated movies. PG was forbidden, including those geared toward kids, such as “Shrek 2”. Seriously—they couldn’t watch “Shrek 2” because it was rated PG. Crazy, huh? My dad actually supported the teacher restricting to just G. Yeah, back in the 70’s, it would’ve made sense as PG-rated movies then were usually for adults, such as “Jaws” or “Airplanes”. I would understand not allowing little kids to watch PG-rated films when it comes to those like “Jaws”. But “Shrek 2”? That’s ridiculous. That’s like not allowing kids to feed themselves or wash their hands by themselves.

Anyway, while PG doesn’t really mean anything these days, I want to focus on the other ratings, too. G is not as common these days. One movie I feel is too dark to be rated G is “Muppets Treasure Island”. At nine years old, I was a bit scared at times when watching that film. PG probably would’ve been more appropriate.

Anyway, fewer movies these days are rated G. NC-17 seems to be the least common rating and is usually used for the most extreme. However, it can also be if there are at least 400 curse words. That was the case with 1999’s “South Park Movie”. It was originally going to be NC-17 due to a ton of fowl language. In fact, only one swear word was removed so that it could be rated R instead. Honestly, there are plenty of dirty words that could’ve been removed from that film. But not enough to lower the rating to PG-13.

Anyway, I am glad that the rating for “South Park Movie” was lowered to R. To me, the film is waayy to mild for the NC-17 rating. There are PG-13 movies scarier and more intense than that. Also, many “South Park” fans are underage, so it would’ve been unfair to them had they stuck with rating it NC-17.

Sometimes, PG-13-rated movies are so scary or intense, their ratings are raised to R. There was talk for raising the PG-13 rating to R for “The Hobbit: Part 3” film due to a ton of battle violence.

So, those are my thoughts on film ratings. There’s also a video on YouTube called “Does PG Really Mean Anything” that you can search for. I’m not the only person who noticed certain details and movies and their ratings.

fiction

Excerpt: The Unruly Curse (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Book 2)

Lilac-colored smoke poured in through the slight opening under Alyssa’s bedroom window. Alyssa leaped back. She swore the window had been closed when she’d come in here a few minutes ago.

            The gas clouded into her room, blocking her sight. It washed onto her, causing her to squint and lean back. She coughed, rubbed her eyes, and opened them. The smoke faded. Someone must’ve pulled a prank, and not just any kind—one that involved…wizardry.

            Alyssa’s breathing sped up. She shut the window and gazed at the huge yard and long driveway. No one was outside—not even Alex, her godfather and legal guardian.

            Perhaps the trespasser had escaped or had hidden somewhere—maybe behind the tree on the lawn or somewhere else on the property.

            Alyssa hurried out, brushing ash from her muted purple shirt. She entered the ground floor and opened the front door. “Hello?!”

            There was no answer.

            “Whoever set that smoke off, it wasn’t funny!”

            The silence continued.

            Despite the freezing air this autumn evening, Alyssa stepped onto the front porch. A piece of paper appeared out of nowhere, making her jump. She picked it up, anyway.

            Welcome back to magic.

            Her chest tightened. She hadn’t encountered a single instance of wizardry in six months! Plus, she had two objects that were supposed to protect her from such encounters.

            She dashed back up to her room and opened the closet door. Tape hung from a shoebox, and the items that she had left in there…were missing.

            Heart jackhammering, Alyssa moved shoes and other boxes around. The two things might’ve fallen when she and Alex had moved here from Ohio in the spring after Alex had lost his job there. No one could have stolen them while Alex had taken her to Chicago this afternoon, right?

            As Alyssa picked up the same shoebox, her palms warmed up, and light beams shot out of both hands. She screamed as the rays smashed into each other, and then faded, revealing a tiny, rainbow-colored, bouncy ball.

            Alyssa’s body stiffened, as if paralyzed. Her jaw hung as she gaped at the bouncing ball.

            How could I have done magic? Alyssa asked herself. I’m not a wizard.

            As the object jumped onto her knee, she yelped and fell back. It had left a multi-colored stain on her leggings.

            She sat up. The toy sprung onto her narrow shoulders and then to the top of her head, where it cracked like an egg.

            “Ow!” Alyssa covered that area and then ran her fingers down her straight, pale-blonde hair, checking for any unusual, hard textures. She lifted the ends up from the area a few inches past her hips, where the length fell to. There were tiny plastic ball-bits stuck in her tresses, so she pulled them out.

            Alex knocked on the door. “Alyssa, are you ready for the party?”

            “Not yet.”

            “It’s almost six o’clock, sweetie. The tent in the backyard is already set up.”

            “Something’s wrong with me!”

            Alex opened the door, already wearing his suit. “What’s the matter?”

            “I…I…”

            Alex had tied his shoulder-length light-brown hair into a ponytail. “What’s going on?”

            Alyssa whimpered. “Ma…ma…”

            “Are you all right?”

            She shook her head.

            Alex looked away and covered his goatee. “Your closet’s a mess.”
            “I did magic!” Alyssa’s breathing quickened.

            Alex opened his mouth. “No way. That doesn’t make sense.”

            “I did!” Alyssa sucked in inhalations. “I’m not making this up!”

            Alex tilted his head.

            “I told you about magic back in March! I was kidnapped and taken to Fiji by an evil wizard! And then one of the mentors gave me a couple of little things to keep me safe!”

            “Wait, what?”

            “The objects are gone! Somebody must’ve stolen them!”

            Alex clapped both hands over his mouth.

            “I looked everywhere in my closet! I can’t find them!”

            Alex removed his hands from his mouth.

            “How could you forget these things?!”

            He remained mute.

            “What the heck?!” She sat on her bed, and her breathing still hurried.

            “I’m sorry.” Alex closed the door and left.

            He’d wanted to hold this party over the summer. But his agricultural-engineering and country-singing jobs had kept him from setting a date.

            Alyssa considered the ways in which she might remove these powers. Maybe one of her previous mentors would know a way. Like technology, magic became more advanced over time.

            Alyssa picked up her phone, went onto her email, and searched for Mathias, the wizard who’d provided her with the magical objects. Nothing. The same happened when she searched for Isabelle and Simon.

            Her device rang and she answered.

“Hey, Alyssa, I hope you’re all right,” Simon said in his English accent.

            “Something’s wrong with me. I…I did magic, even though—”

            “I was calling about that.”

            Alyssa raised her eyebrows. Then, she recalled how marble figures, which resembled statues, could gather information from others at the speed of sound, even if they were unconscious.

            “Why didn’t you call earlier?”

            “I wanted to get more information about your new powers.”

            “How can I get rid of them?”

            “I’m not sure.”

            Alyssa exhaled. “There’s got to be something.”

            “I’ll look into it. In the meantime, try some gloves.”

            “You sure that’ll work?”

            “I believe so. That’s one of the things I found out.”

            “On the wizarding internet?”

            “No. From someone who’s friends with the guy who jinxed you.”

            Alyssa gritted her teeth. “Someone jinxed me? Who is he and why did he give me magic powers?”

            “I’m going to have to find out more about that.”

            Alex knocked again.

            “Alyssa, you better get going,” said Simon.

            “Wait.”

            But he’d hung up.

            “Ugh!”

            “Alyssa, who are you talking to?”

            “One of my wizard mentors.”

            Alex opened the door and stepped in. “I can’t cancel the party tonight. The staff won’t let me.”

            “Well, my mentor, Simon, told me to wear gloves.”

            “You think that’s going to work?”

            “He said it should and to give it a try.”

            Alex pressed his lips together.

            “He helped me defeat that sorcerer in Fiji.”

            “When’s the last time you talked to him?”

            Alyssa hesitated. “Not since April. But he was the one who told me about the wizard hunting me down when I was living with Uncle Bruce.”

            “Can I talk to him?”

            “Sure.” Alyssa gave him the phone. “He was the last one who called.”

            Alex pressed on the screen and held the phone to his ear.

            When Alyssa had lived with her uncle, Bruce, in March, she’d informed Alex about wizardry. She’d even told him around the time he’d been granted legal custody over her.

            I guess I forgot to tell him about who my mentors were, she thought.

            Alex hung up. “He’s not answering.”
            “He must be finding out more information about these new…powers.”

            “I’ll let you wear the gloves, but I really don’t feel ready to trust Simon.”

            “Well, I trust him. If it weren’t for him, I might not have made it.”

            Alex sharpened his eyes.

            “Everyone back in New Jersey trusted him, too.” That was where Alyssa had lived until the day after her thirteenth birthday in April.

            “Even Uncle Bruce?”

            “At first, no. Then Simon sent him a note and he trusted him… until that warlock wiped his memories with a storm.” Alyssa looked down, thinking about Uncle Bruce, who resided in an assisted living home. The memory-wiping spell had been blocked years ago, but some powerful magicians could use other ways to get past it. Alyssa still didn’t understand how the storm’s power had erased Uncle Bruce’s memories.

            “After you’re done getting ready, I’ll call Simon from your phone again,” said Alex.

            “How about I just write down his number?”

            “Do what you need to do.” Alex walked out.

            Alyssa sighed as she peeled her clothes off. While Uncle Bruce had treated her and her cousin, Hailey, with little respect and had placed unfair rules on them, Alex cared for her like his own daughter.

            Alyssa’s parents had named him not only her godfather, but also guardian in the event that something might happen to them. The loss of her mom and dad in that car crash when she was seven had changed her life. Despite what the will had stated, Alyssa’s then-babysitter had convinced the cops to let her stay at her aunt and uncle’s house nearby. The state of New Jersey had made Aunt Laura and Uncle Bruce her new guardians.

            However, when Alyssa was nine, Aunt Laura had died from an allergic reaction to a chocolate filled with raspberry cream that she had barely touched. She’d had a fatal allergy to berries. Then, Uncle Bruce had toughened up his attitude, although he’d always had a stern way of parenting, and had rarely smiled. It just hadn’t involved as much yelling and restrictions before Aunt Laura’s death.

            Because a sorcerer called Master Beau had wanted to enslave Alyssa, he’d erased Uncle Bruce’s memories so that he couldn’t protect her. Master Beau wanted her to find items and ways to help strengthen him for ruling France after the French government had banished him for committing a serious crime. Alyssa had never discovered what the offense had been, though. She still deemed her life to overwhelming for a thirteen-year-old.

            She wore her wide-strapped blue-and-black dress. Her fingers sweated as she tied a blue ribbon in her hair and secured it back halfway. Her hands also shook as she put on her jewelry and makeup.

            She opened her closet and put on her dress shoes, a pair of leather gloves, and then went downstairs. Scooter, the yellow lab, barked by the door.

            Alyssa opened it. No one was outside.

            “Who’s there?!” called Alyssa.

Music played in the backyard.

“I’m not stupid!” Alyssa shouted.

            “Alyssa, what are you doing?” asked Alex.

            “I’m yelling at the man who cursed me!”

            “Wait…someone—”

            “Yes! Simon told me!”

            Alex gasped, covered his mouth, and shook his head.

            “I wish I didn’t have to go to the party anymore.”

            Alex took his phone out of his pants pocket and stared into it. “I got a text from your mentor, Simon. He says he’s not a hundred percent sure if the gloves will help. But he’s almost certain.”

            “Did he find out how I can get rid of these powers?”

            “He’s still working on it.”

            Alyssa inhaled and exhaled.

            “Sweetheart, just give the party a try. If you feel uncomfortable, you can go back inside.”

            “What about that speech we’re supposed to give?”

            “It won’t be long.”

            “But I don’t like speaking in front of crowds.”

            “You only have to say a few sentences. I promise.”

            Alyssa sighed.

            “We should head outside.”

            Alyssa followed him.

            I hope the gloves actually work, she thought.

            She continued to look around for the warlock who’d hexed her. He could be wearing an invisibility poncho, or he could have disappeared in a snap.

Alyssa passed the swimming pool and continued down the small hill into the tent. Orange, yellow, and brown balloons covered each pole. A DJ played music near the entrance. A white cloth covered each table, including the round ones for sitting at and the rectangular ones for serving.

As Alyssa shoved her way through the crowd, she saw her friend, Sydney Watson, gaping at her phone, her elbow-length chestnut curls covering her freckled face.

Stomach tightening, Alyssa sat next to Sydney.

“What’s up?” asked Sydney.

“I don’t want to be here.”

“What’s the problem?”

“I…I…it’s too weird.”

“Tell me, anyway.”

“It’s…it’s…m-magic.”

Sydney tilted her head.

“You forgot? I told you about it when we first met.”

Sydney inhaled. Her eyebrows lifted.

“What’s wrong with you?!”

“You didn’t tell me a lot about it.”

“Well, yeah, because I’m technically not supposed to.”

“You said in April that you defeated a magician. I thought it was the kind at magic shows.”

Alyssa shook her head.

“Wait—so what was it really?”

“Nothing.”

“If this is something serious, you need to tell me.”

“Okay, it’s…it’s…”

Sydney nodded.

“It’s something from a stranger.”

“What?”

“A…an issue with my hands.”

Sydney pressed her lips together.

“I’ll stop there.”

“Alyssa, you’re hiding something.”

“I think it would be better if you stayed out of it.”

“Look, I’m your friend. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Alyssa remained mute.

“If you want us to help you, then you shouldn’t hide things like this.”

“Who said anything about help?”

“Hello, guys,” said Lily Browne, another friend of Alyssa’s. Lily trotted to them, smiling. Her dark brown hair bounced against her waist. She joined Alyssa and Sydney. “This is going to be so awesome.” She giggled.

“I hope so.” Alyssa looked down.

“What’s the matter?” Lily asked. “Had a bad day?”

“Not until right before the party,” she said.

“Aw.” Lily patted her shoulder. “It’ll be okay.”

“Why don’t you tell Lily about what happened to you?” Sydney asked.

“No,” Alyssa answered.

“You can tell me,” said Lily. “I won’t judge you.”

“Maybe later,” muttered Alyssa.

“Alyssa, you really should tell us what happened to you,” said Sydney.

“We won’t tell anyone else,” Lily said. “We promise.”

Alyssa stayed quiet.

A short, tanned-skinned girl entered the tent. It was Krystal Gordillo, Alyssa’s third-closest friend. Krystal ran her fingers through her dark brown hair. “Stupid wind messed up my hair.” She tied her locks, which fell to the middle of her back, into a ponytail. She sat with Alyssa and the other two. “Does anyone else hate when the weather messes up your look?”

That’s what you want to talk about?” Sydney asked. “Krystal, grow up.”

“Yeah, parties are all about fun.” Lily beamed. “You should enjoy yourself.” She sipped her Sprite. “I’m hoping to get my science-of-happiness badge for Girl Scouts. We get an extra treat if we help others become more confident.”

“But I’m a mess,” said Krystal.

“Better than what Alyssa’s dealing with,” Sydney said.

“What happened?” Krystal asked her.

“For the last time, I don’t want to talk about it!”

“Alyssa, not cool,” said Sydney.

“Yeah, I just got here,” Krystal said.

“Can we just change the subject?” asked Alyssa.

“Maybe you’re hungry,” Krystal told her.

“Yeah. Let’s go get some snacks.” Lily stood up.

The four gathered appetizers and beverages. Alyssa nibbled her veggie sticks and chips, and got up.

“Where are you going, Alyssa?” Krystal asked.

“Bathroom.” She put her coat on and ran back inside the house. But she didn’t need the bathroom—she just wanted a break.

She returned to her room, where ink spelled out “Errol was here” on the floor. Her mouth opened and she panted.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, be sure to order the story here.

Writing

I Am Not Like Other Writers…And Let Me Tell You Why

What makes me different from other writers, you may ask? Do you know how writing experts say that all authors must love reading, too? Well, that’s not how I am.

Yes, it might be strange for me to say this, but while I love writing, I don’t love reading. You read that right. I hardly ever read for fun. Usually, I read to enhance something for myself or if I’m forced to—which hasn’t happened in years since I’m out of school and college.

The last year I’ve enjoyed reading stories for fun was 3rd grade. Starting in 4th grade, I’d only read non-fiction for fun. Not much has changed with that since—well, except in 8th and 9th grade. I would only read “Harry Potter” for pleasure. I constantly borrowed the books from my school library. And because I started reading them after the first four movies had been released, I read the novels out of order. It was no problem.

Anyway, another unique trait in me is that I’m not just a weak reader for my age, but I also have younger tastes. I am not kidding. I would often get surprised when I heard about young children reading about characters at least a few years older than them and advancing faster than I thought. There are even complex books for kids who advance quickly, but are appropriate for their ages.

When I heard about a 7-year-old who wouldn’t be caught dead reading Dr. Seuss and read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, I was thinking Caught dead? At that age, I was constantly borrowing Dr. Seuss books from my school library. I also heard about a 4th grader who read about 14-year-old main characters. When I was that young, 14 would’ve been an extremely big number for me, and I would’ve considered myself way too young for that. I am not exaggerating. The first time I read about a 14-year-old character was early 8th grade, and that was “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. I was reading about characters at that age when I was 16. I also read “Judy Moody” when I was 10. I’m, like, the only person who read down a lot—the opposite of many people, children and adults. My mom even had to stop me from reading a certain book for school summer reading because it was too young.

Excluding required stories for school, I’ve rarely read up for fun. I read the 7th Harry Potter book from age 13-14 (I read super slowly and have a short attention span) and where the protagonist is 17. But that was only because it was a bestselling franchise. Had it been at the level of “Percy Jackson” or “Eragon”, I likely would never have touched the book.

Last year, right before turning 25, I was just getting interested in new adult stories. As a college freshman, my classmates would discuss books like, “The Help” while I was far from ready to outgrow young adult novels.

On the bright side, if you write children’s books, reading other stories in your target audience’s age range will help you with your own writing. So, there’s a benefit of reading below your level.

Above all, don’t let others judge you. Be who you want to be. Read what you like and when you want. Hey—it might benefit your own writing.

fiction

If Chicks Hatched in a Refrigerator: A Flash Fiction Piece

Image from Pixabay

Grocery stores usually sell un-fertilized eggs, although some do sell fertilized ones. We all know where eggs come from. So, when I was little, I used to imagine what would happen if we bought fertilized eggs.

            While this would never happen, and probably wouldn’t be funny one bit, I had once considered it humorous if chicks hatched in my family’s refrigerator. My mom would probably scream and jump. The chicks would also make messes all over the house. And who would take care of them?

            My parents never wanted pets, though they let me have a fish until it died, about a month after buying it. But there is no way they’d want to raise chickens. We also don’t know any farmers nearby.

            Nevertheless, chicks hatching inside the fridge is something that’ll never happen. Even if the eggs are fertilized, I am pretty sure there is something that keeps the embryos from developing.

            Therefore, that idea is complete fantasy. While I never had a pet, except for the fish, I must admit it’s still peaceful in my house. No mess to clean up, no animals needed to be fed—I get more free time.

            Soon, I’ll be graduating from high school. Then I’ll be off to college hours away from home. I only have a couple months left with my family. At the end of August, they’ll be saying, “Goodbye, Esme, and good luck with your studies.”

movie

Where are Those 2D Films? They Seem so Rare These Days

Who grew up with 2D animation? I certainly did. Not just TV shows, but also movies. I watched certain Disney classics in 2D, such as “Aladdin” and “Cinderella”. One of my earliest, very faint memories is me seeing “Hercules” in the movie theater when I was 3. I also saw “Tarzan” in the cinema when I was 5.

Enough said about my earliest memories. 2D-animated theatrical releases were still common in the early 2000’s. By the middle of that decade, they were dying out as CGI was on the rise. In fact, I got so used to 3D animation that I was surprised when 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog” was hand-drawn.

For the 2010’s, however, only a few 2D-animated movies were released into cinemas. While there is and was some stop-motion, pretty much every movie that came out during this decade was CGI. I generally have no problem with 3D cartoons. However, over-doing it gets tiring and even feels like the companies are a bit lazy. I’m not the only one missing hand-drawn animated films. There are others like this everywhere.

Many young children who have grown up with mostly CG films found 2D animation primitive and lacking the technology available today. I, however, often find mid-twentieth century hand-drawn animation more appealing than CGI. Even though I was born in 1993, I still got to see older cartoons, including those from the 1930’s. Too much of anything gets overwhelming. That is why I’m hoping (if enough people in the general public request this) that 2D-animated films will return in the 2020’s, even if none of them come from Disney.

Unfortunately, for many people born before the turn of the century, Disney discontinued hand-drawn animated full-length features after 2011, their last one being a “Winnie-the-Pooh” movie. Originally, it was going to be 2004’s “Home on the Range”, believe it or not. Their reasoning was that hand-drawn films were too time-consuming and CGI was the new trend.

CGI is great, but my ideal taste for movies would be an even balance of live-action, stop-motion, CGI, and 2D. A little bit of everything is good for me, and should be for everyone, especially young children today. They’ll never know the beauty of how animation originally started—unless even just some film companies return to them. As of now, 2D animation basically just exists on TV or the Internet.

Writing

Music Makes Editing Much More Fun

Image from Pixabay

Who doesn’t love music, regardless of genre, mood, and everything else? I like to play it when I do chores, sometimes drive (only when I stop, of course), and when I edit. But not just any kind of editing—the text-to-speech kind.

Yes, your computer probably has it—if it’s a more recent model. And you know what? It’s a huge savior for spotting spelling, grammatical, and pretty much every kind of error. At least for me, it is.

While I don’t usually play music when I’m having text-to-speech reading for shorter documents, they make a big difference for longer documents, like novel manuscripts.

Before I discovered music makes the reading more pleasurable, I would use text-to-speech for one chapter a day. And that would take forever. Then, came along my discovery for music playing when using the text-to-speech feature. Boom! I had a grander time editing and would have the voice read at least a few chapters. I sometimes didn’t want to stop.

What kind of music do I play, you may ask? Pop, showtunes, and Disney—but in instrumental versions, like piano pieces. Lyrics would probably distract me. Plus, the tunes still sound great on the piano, if not, better—sometimes.

Reading your work aloud always makes a difference and you can spot errors more easily. But if your voice is tired or you’re in public, just look up how to use the text-to-speech feature. Then sit back, relax (and wear earphones if in a public setting), and enjoy your text being read to you as well as music on your computer (or phone if you are at home and you can play things without earphones). Yes, you can have more than one form of audio on your computer. I’ve done it before. What do you think?