art

At Last, I Am Back and Even Good at Art Again

After doing hardly any drawing and other forms of art, I have returned to it. While I was worried that my skills have decayed or were going away, it turned out that they remained. That’s right—I drew a picture of a boy from a photo and it came out like this:

This is just a rough, observational sketch I did of the kid. I am working on finishing it at the moment with outlining and coloring it in Photo-shop. I wanted to do it traditionally, though. By that, I mean with pen and markers. But not the generic kinds—the sophisticated types. However, I couldn’t find my fancier markers. It was probably because I am donating a portion of my art supplies.

I’m not giving up on art, though. They just took up too much space in my room. Plus, I kind of like Photo-shop better, even if it can spoil me and cause laziness.

That being said, I still enjoy non-technological media, like pens, markers, paints, and pencils, which is what I used in the drawing above. I still have the fancy pens, but I didn’t think of looking for them.

Anyway, let me get back on topic. My drawing skills remained the way they were last. So did the techniques I used in college courses, such as figure drawing. I started with the interior lines and simple shapes before refining the details. And the image still came out well.

The message I want to send to you is that not every talent you possess will deteriorate if you don’t keep up with it for a while, especially if you’ve been working on it since a young age. I’ve been doing art since my early childhood and have been using it regularly as I grew up.

Now here is the finished image of the drawing:

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.

movie

I Solemnly Swear I am Up to Good Details…for the “Harry Potter” Movies

Unlike many fans, I found the “Harry Potter” films better than the books. I often have either liked the changes or cuts better in the movies, or, at least, didn’t mind them.

There is another post that includes content in the novels. But this post will only focus on the film franchise. It will include details that I noticed in the movies.

1: In “Chamber of Secrets”, there were mostly younger kids as extras

Did anyone else notice that most scenes with Hogwarts student extras had few to no older students (like 5th year and up)? Most looked like 1st and 2nd years, maybe a few 3rd and 4th years. Did the filmmakers have a different vision in mind that maybe most of the older students in the previous movie, “The Sorcerer’s Stone”, were 7th years and there were a lot more 1st years in “The Chamber of Secrets”? If so, that’s surprising (and probably not accurate), especially since they broke child labor laws at least once. In film, anyone under 18 has a mandatory limit of 4 hours on a film set. That’s why many times, teen characters are played by adults in their 20s, sometimes even 30’s (which I think is way too old), but rarely actual teenagers. That’s a different topic, though.

2: From “Prisoner of Azkaban” and on, the students have new uniforms, wear street clothes more often, and the Hogwarts campus looks totally different

Unlike the previous observation above, this reason has been revealed. The scenery looks different, because the filming location was changed from Scotland to New Zealand. I believe it was because they wanted a more fantastic-looking environment. Students are often shown in street clothes when they’re not in classes, because the director wanted to make the kids show more of their personalities instead of just wearing robes the whole time. Speaking of which, the reason the uniform look changed was never explained—I don’t think so.

3: Characters control their emotions far more than in the books

Many people dislike this. In “Order of the Phoenix”, when Harry is talking to Dumbledore shortly after Sirius’s death scene, he is calm in the movie while he is angry and out of control in the book. Most people were disappointed by that and liked his extreme rage in the novel. I, however, thought the film’s portrayal was completely fine. In fact, I’ve always found the characters being calmer in the films than in the books a lot better (no offense, just my personal opinion). I don’t know why. Maybe I feel it makes them stronger?

4: Speaking of controlling emotions, Hagrid and Sirius are calmer in the films than in the books

Well, maybe not Sirius in “Prisoner of Azkaban”, but definitely in “Order of the Phoenix”. I already say why in my other “Harry Potter” post that focused on a lot of the books. If I had thought of this then, I would’ve said that I like movie Hagrid better than book Hagrid. I understand book Ginny being better than movie Ginny if she’s better developed in the novels, but movie Hagrid is far more likable to me than book Hagrid. Why? Because he controls his anger and emotions a lot more in the film franchise. I saw the first four movies before I read the books. I noticed that Hagrid had explosive tempers a lot in the novels, and it didn’t please me. I was often glad when those extreme anger outbursts were cut out of the movies or changed to much calmer episodes. Yes, it’s a significant trait for giants and half-giants. But I’ve always preferred calmer, patient people more. Not just in fiction, but also in real life. Movie Hagrid was closer to my envision. Hagrid may be friendly in the novels, but it’s more emphasized in the movies.

5: Music classes at Hogwarts exist in the movies

Fans constantly point out the lack of core education classes at Hogwarts, such as math, English, science, and social studies. Even though the film franchise doesn’t include liberal arts courses, they do have music classes, such as choir, like that scene in “Prisoner of Azkaban” where the school chorus performs in the great hall, or in “Order of the Phoenix”, where Flitwick is having them rehearse their voices, and in “Half-Blood Prince”, where Flitwick mentions having to teach choir practice. There is also an orchestra in “Goblet of Fire” in the Yule Ball scene and a band playing at the third task in the same movie. I don’t remember any music courses in the novels. But I’m pretty sure there weren’t any.

6: The actors playing Lily and James Potter were much older than their characters

Yet, the crew did not bother to make the characters older in the movies. The actress who played Lily was in her 30’s when they filmed the first movie. The actor who played James was in his 40’s when they filmed the first installment. J.K. Rowling was actually offered the part of Lily, but I think she turned it down. That being said, she could’ve told them that they were only 21 when they died. Unless she wasn’t allowed to, or she forgot, and when she finally remembered, it was too late. Clearly, the casting person had a very different vision of Lily and James. They probably pictured them much older. Once the 7th book was released, readers discovered that Lily and James were much younger than how the films portrayed them. In fact, it’s apparently still a common misconception that they died in their 30’s. The filmmakers had every right to make those characters at least 10 years older than in the books, even if J.K. Rowling demanded that they didn’t. Authors usually don’t get to have any creative control over their book’s film adaptations. J.K. Rowling was one of the few exceptions and it was only because she was an incredibly big-name author.

Anyway, the filmmakers could’ve cast younger actors from the start or when they found out Lily and James’s real ages (which probably wouldn’t have been an option, though), or put youthful makeup on them to look younger, or—just simply made them older in the movies. Nothing would have been messed up as a lot of elements were already cut and changed. Plus, it is common for characters to be made older in the films than in their original sources. This happened with Disney’s “Pocahontas” (and many other adaptations of the same person), 2002’s “Tuck Everlasting”, “The Crucible”, “Percy Jackson” movies, and “The Giver”. The crewmembers probably thought the movies would succeed more and have wider appeals if the main characters were made older than in their original books. Oh well.

So, those are all the observations I had for the “Harry Potter” movies.

TV show

I’m Gonna Evaluate, Cause it’s “Danny Phantom”

Ah, “Danny Phantom”—one of those amazing cartoons for people who grew up in the 00’s, like me. Created by Butch Hartman after “The Fairly Odd Parents”, the premise focuses on a 14-year-old boy named Danny. He has two ghost-hunting parents who have a special machine with a portal. Danny has done something that altered his DNA. And… you guessed it… he became a ghost. Well, half ghost. From then on, he is Danny Fenton (his human surname) and Danny Phantom, although the people in his town refer to him as the ghost boy and think he’s evil.

But why is Danny okay with that—being considered a villain? I know he doesn’t let anyone know he’s the ghost boy, except for his two best friends, Tucker and Sam, and later, his sister, Jazz. Still—someone could seriously hurt him. Nothing can get too extreme as “Danny Phantom” was a children’s show.

There was one episode special, however, where Danny accidentally revealed to the public that he was the ghost boy. His parents were shocked, and so was everyone else. But we didn’t get to see Valerie’s reaction. In fact, she didn’t appear at all there.

You probably remember Valerie, that girl who also hunted ghosts, but was harsher than Jack and Maddie Fenton, Danny’s parents. But she wasn’t always kept tracked of too well. She had three different voice actors, the third being Cree Sumner, who voiced her throughout the series from that point on. But then she seemed to have disappeared. I remember finding it unsatisfying that Valerie wasn’t in that special where Danny transformed from ghost to person. I’ve always considered how she would’ve reacted.

Another thing I discovered about the show was that the ghosts aren’t dead, and they’re only referred to ghosts to make it easier to recall than to use some other word (I can’t remember the other term). This came from the fan theory: Is Danny Phantom half dead? Ironically, in one episode, a ghost said, “You can’t catch me alive,” and another said, “Um… you’re a ghost.” Hmmm… was that ever explained? Or how Danny just sucked his future evil self into the Fenton thermos to resolve the main conflict? I wonder how that worked out.

Regardless, the ghosts were memorable and well-developed. I loved the box ghost—his signature line, “I am the box ghost” is so clever. He sounds like the alien, Mark, from “The Fairly Odd Parents”. Ember the Rockstar had an amazing song and I enjoyed how she hypnotized people to love it (until Tucker undid that in one episode).  Desiree the wishing ghost was like a wicked genie. She reminded me of Norm, who was also from “The Fairly Odd Parents”.

Ghosts could possess people in this series. I loved when Danny possessed his dad when he got in trouble at school. It was such a clever way to avoid getting punished.

And have you also noticed this detail about the extras? They’re all physically diverse. People have all different body types and I applaud that. After all, no one should ever feel self-conscious about his or her appearance, especially from something on the screen.

Now about the characters. Sam’s parents were the opposite of her. They had sunshine-like appearances and personalities while Sam was goth in both her looks and personality. Paulina was (I think) Danny’s crush at first, but then, out of nowhere, she seemed to have betrayed him and joined Dash’s side. I wonder why this happened and without explanation.

And Danny… our hero and star of the show… he was such a relatable character. From going through teenage issues to being Jazz’s annoying little brother at times to being loyal to his friends. Wow.

The show ended in 2007, despite its popularity. There are still some shorts of it on YouTube, such as the special where all the Butch Hartman cartoons cross over with “Danny Phantom” and “Danny Phantom goes to Hogwarts”. Even if there’s unlikely to be a reboot, the show is still great. I would gladly recommend it to kids today.

TV show

This is the Suite Evaluation of Zack and Cody

Two twin boys named Zack and Cody live in a hotel with their single (or widowed or divorced) mom. They do fun things together, along with two older girls named London, who is wealthy, and Maddie, who is smart. They make viewers laugh (and maybe cry) throughout their humor, actions, and more.

I used to watch this show on Disney Channel in 8th grade. I enjoyed it very much. There were a lot of funny moments, such as when London learned how to swim and almost kissed her love interest, but accidentally kissed a duck float.

The episode where Zack and Cody cut school and went to the mall because they missed the bus was very clever. They did as much as possible to avoid getting into trouble. But their mom eventually caught them and punished them with losing all their privileges. I especially found it amusing when she punished Cody (I don’t think it applied to Zack) with no reading for fun. For the record, reading for fun is actually good for your brain. Studies even show that kids who read for fun perform better in school. But that’s a different topic.

There was also an episode where London wrote a picture book and read it to a group of little kids. But then she got in trouble for copyright infringement. Law officials even showed up and the children gave up with London. Imagine if this happened to you (and no, it would not be good at all)?

When Zack and Cody started high school, they rehearsed for “High School Musical” and London received the part of Sharpay. The characters wanted Maddie to play her, but she was too kind. I read somewhere that casters thought Ashley Tisdale was too nice to play Sharpay in the actual “High School Musical” movie. What was really clever and silly was when one of the twins (I can’t remember if it was Zack or Cody) was told he looked like Zac Efron, who played Troy in HSM. Then Maddie said, “And I don’t look like Ashley Tisdale?” Lol, Ashley Tisdale played Maddie.

And one major character I would like to mention now is Mr. Moseby. He was great with everyone. He even went onto the sequel “The Suite Life on Deck” with Zack, Cody, London, and a new character, Bailey. Why didn’t Maddie go? I don’t know. I’ve assumed that she couldn’t afford it. But I didn’t watch a lot of “The Suite Life on Deck”.

The show, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” no longer airs. I’m not sure if the Sprouse brothers (who played Zack and Cody) still act now. However, I admired their performances as well as the other actors.

TV show

I’ll Evaluate, Cause “Phineas and Ferb” Is Gonna Do it All

Airing from 2007 to 2015, Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb” has had a lot of fantastic moments. I discovered it when my brother used to watch it as a young child (he’s 18 now). I also enjoyed the show.

The cartoon focuses on two little boys, who are stepbrothers, and how they express their creativity and fun. They have an older sister named Candace. Candace is pretty aware of all the activities Phineas and Ferb do. Sometimes, Phineas and Ferb get their friends, Isabella and Baljeet, involved. Their platypus, Perry, also is an agent against his arch-enemy Dr. Doofenshmirtz. I loved when Dr. Doofenshmirtz shouts, “Curse you, Perry the Platypus!”

I enjoyed when Candace and Perry switched places and Candace had literally become a talking-platypus. The rollercoaster episode was also cool. Phineas, Ferb, and their friends rode a rollercoaster in the sky. Candace pointed it out, but the mom wouldn’t believe her.

Later on, there was an episode where Candace caught them and the mom’s reaction was quite realistic. She called the police and the boys were taken to an institution that forbid creativity and where they were trained to stop creating. It turned out to be Candace’s dream. I adored Phineas’s reaction of that. He came up with an invention idea to make people’s dreams into movies.

Another funny moment was when Phineas and Ferb searched for a mummy, and Candace had bandages all over. The boys thought she was the mummy.

And the moment I found to be the most humorous was when a robot man claiming he is a platypus’s predator received a bullhead. He became a minotaur in a suit. Oh my god… that was so clever and hilarious. It’s not everyday you see minotaurs or other mythological creatures in modern-day attire.

“Phineas and Ferb” had such an amazing concept and even theme song. I liked how the opening theme ended when Candace went, “Mom, Phineas and Ferb are making a title sequence!” Ha ha—the usual annoyed older sister never gets boring. Neither do the main little boys, Phineas and Ferb.