Hasten Up with Handwriting

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Who says you can only type your work on the computer? Yes, we have programs beyond Word, such as Scrivner. But nothing writes better than the hand if you want to be quicker with your writing process.

When you handwrite, you have no distractions on the Internet or the computer in general. No pop-ups, Facebook notifications, computer crashes, etc. Just you, your notebook or any form of paper, and a pen or pencil.

I actually am writing my current W.I.P with a notebook and pen. I am also using different colors for different chapters. It’s easier to read, believe it or not, as long as you don’t use colors that are too light, like yellow.

I have aimed for 2-3 chapters a day. Some days were less, though, especially if I was busy. Another pitfall is that I wasn’t focused on much else.

So now I am limiting to one or two chapters on the weekend and as much as possible during the week.

I try not to write at home too much. I either go to the library or cafes that are not too noisy and are painted with light colors. Yes, that does make a difference.

The library can be a little better, though. You don’t have to buy anything and it couldn’t be any quieter. With two libraries near my house, you don’t have to be a member to just sit and do work.

After I handwrite the current draft, I am going to type it on the computer.

Digital Art: This is What You Should Know

Triangle pattern

A sample digital abstract drawing I did

Do you love creating art? What is your favorite medium? Do you like the traditional approach… or the digital one?

 

Obviously, you should learn both to become a better artist. However, digital art has its ups and a couple downs. The pros first:

 

1: There’s no mess to clean up. It’s all on your computer or tablet. You don’t to wash, dry, or anything. How awesome is that?

 

2: You have a variety of colors to pick. You don’t have to worry about not having a specific color available. The sky is pretty much the limit.

 

3: Errors are easy to fix. You can undo, move with a transport tool, and more.

 

That being said…

 

1: Don’t let digital art spoil you too much. If you do, you might end up frustrated with having to fix a mistake to old-fashioned way in traditional media.

 

2: Certain programs, like Adobe Photoshop, can be expensive. However, you can often get discounts or deals.

 

Nevertheless, digital art can be fun. I enjoy it very much.

Character Critiques… True as They Can be… Beauty and the Beast-1991

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

The animated version of “Beauty and the Beast” remains one of my favorite Disney movies. I liked the live-action remake equally to the cartoon.

However, this post will only critique the characters in the 1991 cartoon. I will discuss all the major and minor characters (including the 3 silly girls in love with Gaston).

1: The Beast:

We all know how and why he became a beast and what he had to do to turn back into a human. His struggle to show kindness communicated well. He had trouble smiling and showing manners. He needed assistance from his servants.

When he grew and changed into a kinder entity, though, there was not much that either hinted at his change or did it gradually. It was a little too abrupt or sudden for plot convenience. The only hint is when he saved Belle after she ran away. However, I did like the beast more after he changed into a nicer character.

HIs anxiety right before the “Beauty and the Beast” song number felt real. I could easily relate to that since I often have to deal with anxiety.

2: Belle:

The provincial village girl who loves to read and is often misunderstood by her community was also well-developed. She was naïve and a little whiny at times, but also strong and brave. She refused to marry Gaston and longed for freedom and adventure. Her relationship to her horse, Philippe was adorable. She and her father’s bond also did well. And her attempt to love the beast was brilliant.

There is a conspiracy theory about Belle having Stockholm Syndrome, but I’m not sure if it’s true. Belle was a likable character.

When she entered the west wing, despite the Beast’s order to never go there, I appreciated how she resisted with Lumiere and Cogsworth, and checked out the area. I felt when she discovered the prince’s portrait before he’d turned into a beast, I felt that it was an important plot element. Had she gone there, would the ending have differed and would she have been confused?

3: Gaston:

The handsome man who wanted to marry Belle was also the main antagonist. Like the other villagers, he considered Belle’s father crazy and wouldn’t believe him about the beast until Belle revealed him to them. His sense of humor and sin was well balanced.

4: Lefou:

He was Gaston’s sidekick. He was silly, but also sinful. He tried to keep Gaston in a good mood. His character design was humorous and appropriate for his personality. Although when Gaston died, we never know what happened to Lefou after.

5: Maurice:

As the father of Belle, and un-liked by the village, Maurice is a great inventor. He also shows love and concern for his daughter. His fear at times was done well. I liked how he got excited over the props in the Beast’s castle (and didn’t know that they were once people). The moment he played with Cogsworth and called him an invention was hilarious.

Because he was unpopular, I often felt sorry for him. However, he was also a likable character.

6: Lumiere:

The kind servant who was turned into a candlestick was willing to take Maurice in, despite the Beast’s rules at the time. He was willing to give Belle dinner and the song, “Be Our Guest” was great.

I will say when he first greeted Belle, he went a little to far with the kissing. When he was mad that the beast let Belle go, his assumption that maybe it would’ve been better if Belle never came at all made him believable. Although, he seemed to have trouble remembering her name. Right before the “Beauty and the Beast” song number, he still called her, “the girl” instead of her name, “Belle”. Does Lumiere struggle to remember names of new people?

7: Cogsworth:

The clock servant had little sympathy when the beast was still nasty to outsiders. He disapproved of Maurice staying inside the castle because he was worried that the beast would find out, and then he did. When the beast changed into becoming nicer, so did Cogsworth.

8: Mrs. Potts:

One of the few female characters in this movie was turned into a tea-pot. She was kind like Lumiere. When she offered tea to Belle, that was sweet. The way she raised Chip was also great.

9: Chip:

He was Mrs. Potts’s son. He was so cute with Belle and was very brave. When he laughed at the beast’s bad eating manners, and Mrs. Potts gave him a dirty look, I must admit that I agreed with Chip. I appreciated how he helped Belle and Maurice escape from being sent to the asylum.

10: The 3 silly girls:

The blonde triplets who were in love with Gaston were funny. However, someone in a YouTube video pointed out that they didn’t do much to enhance the story. I couldn’t help but agree with them. However, their actions still amused me.

 

Do you want to mention anything you like about these characters?

Behold… It’s “Evan Almighty”-2007 Movie Review

Warning: Contains spoilers***

 

Steve Carrell has had amazing roles in some great movies. He has acted in “The 40-year-old Virgin” and “Sleepover”. He has also starred in this movie, “Evan Almighty.”

The movie centers on a man named Evan and his family, who move to D.C. He gets a job at a government office when animals start coming toward him. God (Morgan Freeman) informs Evan about the flood and how he has to build an ark. As the story progresses, Evan’s appearance changes into the biblical Noah’s look, with the long white hair and beard. No one listens to Evan when the flood happens. But the ark saves everyone when the flood does occur.

I enjoyed this film, and how Evan constantly went through a lot. The scene where his clothes and beard ties change and he is kicked out of the room made me feel sorry for him. It must have been embarrassing.

The stray dog was also humorous. The youngest son pulled a stick out of its mouth and the dog eventually became the family pet.

The ending wrapped the story up just nicely enough. Although Evan had lost his job, I found it satisfying that he got his old look back.

The biblical references were also done well and were clearly thought out, such as the number and the legend of Noah and his ark.

Overall, I would rate this film 4 out of 5 stars. Some scenes could have been better at engaging me. But the story and humor was successful.

Codename: Kids Next Door: Operation A.N.A.L.Y.S.I.S

Warning: Contains spoilers***

 

The Cartoon Network program, Codename: Kids Next Door, premiered in 2002, when I started fourth grade. It consisted of 5 children who lived in a huge treehouse (there were other KND homes, as well) who would go on missions and fight against adults. I would recommend knowing, at least, the main and major characters before reading further.

The show ended in 2008. However, there was (and my still be) a petition going on for a reboot. The show had a lot of great moments, but also a lot of not-so-great moments. I will share my favorite moments first.

The episodes with the baby man running a TV production and the one after where Numbuhs 2 and 3 adopt a baby skunk, were probably my favorite ones. The baby man set off something where he would turn everyone in the world into babies so that nobody would call him a baby. I liked when the thing the baby man used turned a chair into a high chair. That was clever. The plot of saving a camp and Numbuhs 2 and 3 raising a baby skunk was amazing. The skunk would sound like a human baby.

The idea of rainbow monkeys was just silly and amusing. There was even a theme song for them, as well as an island.

The 5 main characters had great development and traits. Their rooms represented their personalities well (Numbuh 3’s room had big stuffed animals—one that she slept on), as did their physical appearances.

Now the TV show is not without its flaws. Sometimes, things would show up just for plot convenience. However, one of the pitfalls I just can’t agree with was constant disrespect and hatred toward those 13 and over because they were not kids (although in reality, you’re a kid until the age of 18, but you might not consider 13 to 17-year-olds little kids). I get that the KND didn’t like having to deal with authority or being bossed around. Still—is this really something you think kids should be learning? I guess it’s okay as long as they don’t imitate it themselves and respect the boundaries between what’s acceptable in cartoons, but not in real life.

One thing I was surprised by was that, at some point during the show, the creators decided to show the KND’s parents’ faces, except for Numbuh 5’s. Why did they change their minds? Why did they decide to continue to hide Numbuh 5’s parents’ faces, but show everyone else’s?

Also, the rainbow monkeys, as live-creatures, kind of looked the opposite of cute. Sharp teeth and drooling is not exactly the most appealing to me. The idea of how they changed colors thought was cool.

So those are my thoughts of the TV show. Of course, no cartoon is perfect. But many have a lot of benefits and great ways to communicate humor. Codename: Kids Next Door is among many of them.

Why I Often Like the Movies More than the Books

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“The books are always better than the movies,” say everyone, but me. Of course, if I have neither read the book nor seen the movie, I would not have a say. But at least with, “Harry Potter”, “Lord of the Flies”, “Aladdin”, and “The Little Mermaid”, I like the movies a lot more.

Now all these opinions are my own, so everyone can still prefer the books over the movies. A lot of people get disappointed when something they liked in a book was cut from the film adaptation or changed. I totally understand that. With me, though, there are sometimes moments in books that I didn’t like, and if removed or altered, I appreciated. The “Harry Potter” franchise is actually one of the biggest of these. You can read that on another post, though.

“Lord of the Flies” was a required book when I attended high school. I found it boring, but the movie engaging. “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid”, like many other Disney movies, were based off fairytales. And the original stories were pretty R-rated. I don’t know if they were all told to children, but, of course, Disney had to drastically clean them up to make them appropriate for all ages. There are several moments from Disney classics that would not be acceptable today (i.e. a damsel-in-distress or a guy kissing a strange unconscious girl to wake her up). There are also several moments that aren’t historically accurate, and if they were, the movies would not have been rated G or PG.

Films usually have a time-limit to their productions as well as budgets. So that is why many exciting content, unfortunately, has to be cut. I actually am trying to get myself to read more. I enjoyed reading fiction for fun until fourth grade. I would only read fiction if forced to. Then right before eighth grade, I read the “Harry Potter” books. I would only read for fun if it was a “Harry Potter” novel.

Anyway, I tend to view book-to-film adaptations differently. There actually are rare occasions when I like something in the books more than the films. But, generally, the opposite is more like me.

Oh Monster’s University, My Critique Sings for Thee

Warning: Contains spoilers***

I saw the first “Monster’s Inc.” film in the movie theatre when it first came out in 2001. I was 20 days away from turning 8. I liked it then.

And then came the prequel, “Monster’s University” in 2013. With a better understanding of films and storytelling, I comprehended the story and elements. I have studied writing and storytelling, so I have viewed the movie from a writer’s POV. I identified the plot points, characterizations, conflict, twists, and more.

Here are the elements I thought were done well:

1: The Plot Twists

Mike was desperate become a scarer. He wrote out a plan for the rest of his college career and when he made it to the real world. Regardless of what others told him, Mike was still determined to convince others that he could scare easily. When he was kicked out of the scaring program in the middle of the film, he still wouldn’t give up. After so much hard work, Mike “won” the final competition. Sully had cheated to make Mike win. Disgusted, Mike broke into the door lab and actually tried to scare, only to discover that everyone was right all along. He couldn’t scare a single child. Sully finds him, and the two return to the monster world. They get expelled, but find work in the mailing room of Monster’s Incorporated.

I appreciated how the story was not too predictable. When Mike thought he’d won the final scaring part, I was surprised to find out that he didn’t. More twists and turns occurred, and although Mike didn’t achieve his goal, the ending was still satisfying.

2: The characters’ origins before “Monster’s Inc.”

Mike dreamed of becoming a scarer. Sully bragged about being the son of a famous scarer. Randall was Mike’s first roommate and wanted to fit in with the cool kids. Their motivations evolved what they eventually became when the events of “Monster’s Inc.” began.

I knew beforehand that Mike and Sully started out as foes. I didn’t expect Randall (or Randy, as he preferred to be called) to start out as Mike’s roommate and be friendly. I felt the biggest moment for setting up the characterizations in “Monster’s Inc.” was when Mike tried to sign up for the scare games. Randy turning down Mike’s scare team hinted at how he was going to go bad. Sully offering to join, even though Mike didn’t want him, gave a clue that the two would form friendships after being enemies. These things all matter.

3: Every line of dialogue was super-important to the story

This may sound obvious to some, but every line of dialogue in any form of written or visual media needs significance to the plot. Each line represented the characters’ motivations and moved the story forward very well. I find this has done better than in some other movies.

Now onto what I didn’t exactly agree with:

1: Monsters being discriminated for not looking frightening

Although this is crucial to the plot, I found to be the equivalent to human racism. Mike was kicked out of the scaring program just because he wasn’t scary. That was discriminatory.

In fact, I am pretty sure that in real life, Mike would actually be a little scary. I don’t know about most people, but if I saw something that looked like him walking around, I would certainly freak out, because I wouldn’t expect something like him to exist.

Of course, it is not okay to fear people because of their looks. But that is my one criticism of “Monster’s University”.

I would rate this film 5 out of 5 stars. It is one of those movies I can easily watch over and over again.

Real, Real Cool… Review of “Sleepover” (2004)

Despite the unpopularity of the film at the time of its’ release, I actually liked the movie. Many famous actors star in it, such as Alexa Vega, Jane Lynch, and Steve Carrell.

It’s the end of eighth grade. Julie (Alexa Vega) is hosting a sleepover. Her mom’s (Jane Lynch) biggest rule is no leaving the house. However, the popular crew and Julie’s best friend Hannah make a deal to go on a scavenger hunt. Whoever loses sits at the worst table in the high school. Julie has to sneak out of the house and make it back without getting in trouble.

While I found the movie engaging, I also spotted out a lot of unbelievable scenes. For example, when the movie opens, Julie’s locker is still filled and decorated. Why hasn’t she cleaned it out long before? In real life, secondary school students are required to clean out their lockers before finals begin. Also, was there no moving-up ceremony?

I also found it odd that the characters were able to avoid being noticed and good at fooling others just for plot convenience. Folks, please don’t try this.

What I liked about the film was the silliness, regardless of what I said before. The themes of friendship and young teen drama were done well, too. The romance between Julie and Steve was sweet. All in all, I would give movie 4 out of 5 stars.

 

Spectacular Spiral Cookies

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It’s chocolate and vanilla dough rolled together. When you slice it, you should get spirals. Of course, not all the cookies will have perfect spirals, or even anything resembling a swirl. As you can see in the picture, there are no cookies with whirls. This was just a portion of a picture from my college graduation party.

I find them irresistible. When I choose to bake them, I make a lot and I eat many. My family doesn’t really enjoy them. But I love them.  

These are not very well-known cookies. I discovered these in a cooking class from high school. But they are super-delicious. You can go online and find a recipe to make them. You can choose from hard or soft-baked.

Be aware, though, that these are not instant from mixing ingredients to going straight into the oven. You need to refrigerate the vanilla and chocolate doughs separately for at least two hours. Otherwise, you may not receive satisfying results.

The wait is worth it, though. Many love the best of both chocolate and vanilla.

Feel “The Jungle Book” Rhythm: The 1967 and 2003 Cartoon Comparisons

Warning: Contains spoilers***

 

“The Jungle Book” was the first animated Disney feature since Walt Disney had died a year before in 1966. I did not watch recent live-action remake, so it will not be part of this comparison.

I actually saw the sequel from 2003 first. I didn’t see it in the movie theater, but I did watch it regularly after it came on DVD. The opening starts off with Mowgli using shadow puppets to narrate the story of the first movie. It then starts its own plot. Mowgli is forbidden to go into the jungle because his authority figures consider it dangerous. But Mowgli just misses the jungle. Baloo misses Mowgli and rebels against Bagheera’s demand to not take Mowgli back. After Mowgli is punished for leading the other children from the village to the jungle, Baloo finds him and takes Mowgli back into the jungle. However, Shere Khan is still out to hurt Mowgli.

I haven’t seen “The Jungle Book 2” in years. However, I did see the main feature from 1967. It gave me a better understanding of the sequel. As an infant, Mowgli is raised by wolves. Years later, Bagheera forces him into the village, but Mowgli keeps resisting and wants to stay in the jungle. He meets and befriends Baloo, gets kidnapped by monkeys but trusts them, runs away after Baloo tells him to go to the village, and faces the dangerous Shere Khan.

Now onto my opinions: I found the first film to be less engaging than the sequel. The sequel was more modernized and had a new cast of voices. I also appreciated how Shanti becomes a more major character and is not whiny or too reliable on males. Her name is not said when she is first introduced at the end of the first installment. She also has no speaking lines; just a song and a giggle. Despite how she becomes essential in the second movie, I felt that having her in the first movie was just a quick and cheap way to get Mowgli to go to the village. There were no hints to Shanti, except at the beginning credits with her voice actress’s name. But she was just referred to as “the girl.”

Also, in the main movie, why did Baloo deliberately fake his death, other than for plot convenience? It seems common for there to be sad moments before the happy endings in Disney movies. But rather than having someone save Baloo more believably, he just surprisingly turned out to be alive.

I still enjoyed the first film enough to rate it 4 out of 5 stars. However, I favor the sequel more, even though I haven’t seen it in several years. The film wrapped up more believably and there was no forced content just for plot convenience.