fiction

The Ball: A Flash Fiction Piece

“Let’s have some fun in a cartoon world,” said Dylan, my nine-year-old brother.

            “Are you crazy?” I asked.

            “I found a special ball that claims it can take you into your favorite cartoon.” Dylan held the glass ball in his hand.

            I made a facepalm.

            “Come on, Elise, please?” Dylan made a sad puppy face.

            “No!” I said.

            Dylan groaned and walked away.

            I was fifteen, and had no time for that nonsense. Plus, Dylan should have known better than to claim that an object could transport him into a cartoon.

            I didn’t know how he’d come up with it, or if he had read it somewhere. If the latter, then that person needed to be penalized.

            I went up to my room and sat on my bed. Perhaps, chatting with friends could take that ridiculous statement off my mind.

            I picked up my phone—only for Dylan to scream.

            “Dylan!” I bolted up and rushed out of my room. “Dylan?! Are you all right?!” I opened his bedroom door. He wasn’t there. My parents were out of town this weekend, so they couldn’t help.

            Inhaling and exhaling, I hurried down the stairs and checked every room. I finalized with the family room—only to find steam arising from Dylan’s ball. I gasped and knelt. “Oh, no,” I moaned.

            My knee pressed on something, which happened to be the remote. The TV turned on, but it played a commercial. The cartoon, “Tyndale and Tina”, about two talking-dogs, came on. The episode started as always—yet a familiar voice sounded, shouting, “Help, help, somebody help me!” A cartoon boy burst into the room with Tyndale and Tina. The kid had pale-blonde hair, and wore the same clothes Dylan wore. Either this was a new episode or…Dylan had ended up in the cartoon.

            “Who are you and what are you doing here?” asked Tyndale.

            “I got sucked into this world!” exclaimed the kid.

            I inhaled. “Dylan!” I knocked on the monitor. “Dylan!”

            None of the characters responded.

            “Dylan, can you hear me?!” I asked. “It’s me, Elise, your sister!”

            Still nothing.

            “Oh, shoot.” I stood and my breathing quickened. If my mom and dad found out about this, they’d ground me, especially since they’d left me in charge.

            My eyes drifted to Dylan’s ball. I stared at it. It could be the only way for me to save my brother. But how would I—or we—get out? There had to be something.

            I crept to the object and picked it up. It had a couple buttons. I would not press any of them, though. One was green and the other was red.

            I carried the sphere and thought about where the instructions could be. Maybe in Dylan’s room?

            I walked upstairs and entered his bedroom. Toys, clothes, and games covered the floor. I picked up each item, but found nothing that could be a manual.

            Then I searched under Dylan’s bed. Still no sign of paper. I returned downstairs and looked everywhere in the family room. Nothing.

            What am I going to do? I asked myself. There’s got to be something.

            I stared into the ball’s buttons and gulped. Perhaps, I should take my chances and press one. Hands trembling, I aimed for the red button. I breathed and touched it. Then I pushed it. Nothing happened.

            I sighed and sat on a couch. But the thing lit from the inside and projected a ray. The noise of Dylan yelping occurred. His colors came out and formed his figure. He landed on the carpet and the beam reversed back into the sphere.

            “Dylan!” I stood and crouched by him. “Are you okay?”

            “I’m fine.” He lifted himself.

            “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you,” I said.

            “I shouldn’t have used that stupid ball,” said Dylan. “We’ve got to get rid of it.”

            “We will,” I said.

            “Can you not tell mom and dad about this, either?” asked Dylan.

            “I won’t tell them.” I hugged him. “I’m glad to have you back.”

movie

This Film of “Sonic the Hedgehog” is on Fire! Now Here is the Review (2020)

The story begins ten years early, when Sonic is just a young child hedgehog. Due to the threats happening, Sonic must leave his owl guardian and travel to Earth.

Years have passed, and Sonic finds ways to occupy himself. He plays games, such as baseball, with himself. However, he is sad and lonely. So, he speeds around the unoccupied baseball field, only to knock out the power everywhere in the entire region. Authorities investigate the mysterious wide-spread blackout.

Sonic meets a man, who is also a cop, named Tom Wachowski, and nicknames him “Doughnut Lord”. Tom does not like that, though. Although they struggle to get along, Tom agrees to help Sonic with finding his lost rings that allow him to go places instantly. But there is a villain out to hunt for Sonic.

I saw this movie with some friends, and although I am nowhere near familiar with the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise, I still enjoyed the film and felt that it wasn’t super-necessary to know a lot about Sonic. There were some moments that might have made you lost if you know little to nothing about the “Sonic” franchise. But overall, the movie easily stood on its own.

The film consisted of many twists and turns, as well as some emotional moments, both happy and sad. There is one scene that really stands out to me, though. That is when Sonic and Tom are in some country-like bar and lounge area with dancing, a bar, a bull machine for riding, and food. The waitress comes to take the guys’ orders, but when she sees Sonic, she says that there are no kids allowed in the building. I actually didn’t know that that setting was adults-only prior to the woman saying it. However, Sonic looks nothing like a human child or a person at all. Therefore, I found the waitress’s reaction to be too casually accepting of Sonic’s look as if she was completely used to seeing others who resemble him. I really don’t find that believable. The waitress would have been spooked by Sonic’s unfamiliar appearance. She would have freaked out and said something like, “Oh my God! What is that thing?!” Even Tom’s defense for Sonic, claiming that Sonic was in his 40’s and had a growth and skin issue, seemed unrealistic.

Okay, I spent a lot of time with that scene. Anyway, I appreciated the characterization as well as the humor at times. But I considered the plot to be well-executed.

I would rate this movie 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to everyone, even those who know nothing about Sonic the Hedgehog.

movie

Welcome to My Critique of “Bambi” (1942)

Warning: contains spoilers***

I saw this movie at a friend’s house. A fawn grows, makes friends, and even goes through challenges along the way.

Here are the parts of “Bambi” that I admired and those that I felt could’ve been better.

First the strengths:

1: The animation and artistic layout

I find it very unfortunate that Disney stopped doing 2D animated films as did pretty much all movie companies. So, seeing the beautifully illustrated backgrounds as well as the animation of the characters drew me in emotionally.

2: The morals

The lessons that are communicated throughout this movie apply to real life etiquette. I especially love Thumper’s quoting of his father after he criticizes Bambi’s walking abilities. He says, “If you can’t say something nice…don’t say nothing at all.” I’ve heard kids being told that many times, although the wording they received was, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” If only more people took this seriously, though.

3: The characters’ relations to one another

Bambi’s bond with his mother, as well as his friends, Thumper, Flower, and eventual love interest, Faline, were beautiful. The portrayals and importance of friendships, family, and more mattered to me.

That being said…

1: Why doesn’t Bambi’s father play more of a role in his life?

Could it be that deer dads don’t get to know their young like the mothers do? Disney animals are shown to be very scientifically inaccurate all the time. So, while times Bambi and his mom together were sweet, I found it unsatisfying that his father hadn’t been involved in his life until his mother died. We also don’t get to see Bambi learning to grow and change after losing his mom in this film. There is a sequel where it might be more emphasized. However, a characters’ evolution after a tragic event should happen in the same story, not in a later one. After his mother’s death, the scene transitions to when Bambi is an adult and reuniting with his friends, as happy as they can be.

2: What is Bambi’s goal exactly?

Unlike other movies, Bambi’s goal isn’t made clear enough. What does he really want? What was he working toward?

While his development from birth is essential, I couldn’t see what he had an eager desire for. Take other Disney films, like “The Lion King”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, and “Hercules”, where they start when the main characters were babies. Simba, Quasimodo, and Hercules still all had goals they worked toward and did everything they could to achieve them. And they were made obvious to the audience.

Therefore, it kind of disappointed me that Bambi’s ambitions didn’t feel clear.

3: Structure being too similar to “The Lion King”

Well, technically, it’s the other way around. “Bambi” came out decades before “The Lion King”. It’s also common for Disney to recycle animation movements. But the plotlines of both films mirrored a little too much.

And onto the part I’m kind of unsure about

Bambi and his friends finding love interests

I get that this was made in the 1940’s, when standards were different. And Bambi’s romance with Faline does become crucial, even if Bambi, sadly, didn’t join Faline after she gave birth to two fawns. But why did Thumper and Flower need to fall in love? Satisfaction? I do, however, admire the rabbit Thumper develops feelings for. She reminded me of Snow White.

While I found “Bambi” to be a beautiful experience, I felt it could’ve done better with a few more literary elements. So, I would rate the movie 3.5 out of 5 stars.

movie

A “Hercules” Mystery: Why Can’t Mortals Live on Mount Olympus?

Warning: contains spoilers from the 1997 film***

Hercules was born on Mount Olympus as a god. However, when Hades has Pain and Panic abduct him, they give him a potion in a bottle that would make him remove not only his immortality, but also his powerful strength. Luckily, a couple finds him and raises him with loving care.

The gods do try to look for him, too, but they discover that he has become mortal. Therefore, they cannot let him back. Years later, when Hercules has grown, he discovers that he was found and where he actually came from. The Zeus statue reveals that he was stolen and that only gods can live on Mount Olympus.

So, why is it like that? There could be a reason in the original myth. But, of course, it could differ in the Disney movie. After all, Disney does drastically change stories from the original sources as well as sugarcoat them a lot.

My guess is…could there be something on Mount Olympus that makes it unsafe for mortals to be there too long? At the end of the film, Hercules is brought back to Mount Olympus with Meg, his love interest. Meg stands outside of it, unharmed. And, of course, she was never a goddess.

But what if she stayed there for days, weeks, months, years, and so forth? Someone in a YouTube video pointed out that Zeus could change that law of only gods getting to live on Mount Olympus.

I can’t think of any other reasons why that rule is in place, except for my guess or Zeus’s possible inflexibility to change the law.

Writing

When Should You Describe Voices in Your Writing?

Image from Pixabay

Every character should have a unique voice. And by that, I don’t just mean speech patterns, words, attitudes, and so on, I also mean physical voices. For instance, are they high, low, nasal, etc.?

I used to describe what my characters’ voices sounded like in my earlier writing days. And in my book, “The Frights of Fiji,” I do say what a few characters’ voices sound like. Two of them are described with deep voices and one is said to have a high voice. However, those were mainly done for comedic purposes. I originally published “The Frights of Fiji” in 2013 as “From Frights to Flaws.” I now refrain from explaining how my characters’ voices sound, unless it’s important to the stories.

Even my main character’s voice noise isn’t revealed. In the sequel, there is a scene where she sings a certain song. Although I state that she takes chorus at school, I don’t specify if she is an alto or soprano. That is because I want readers to use their envisions to what her voice sounds like.

Many people dislike when characters’ physical appearances are described unless they’re important, otherwise, the readers should get to picture them their ways. I happen to be the opposite with that. I am an advocate for authors to describe their characters with whatever traits they want, as long as it’s not too many (since that can bog down the narrative and be too much to remember), or offensive. I not only believe that writers deserve the right to physically describe their characters, but I also cannot picture characters clearly unless the narrators say what they look like.

That being said, it’s the reverse for voices. Since I first wrote Book 1 of my “Magical Missions” series, I learned more about the writing craft, and chose to give up with explaining how characters’ voices sound, except when it’s crucial. I would recommend that to all aspiring writers. A few voice sounds revealed here and there probably won’t matter. Just be sure not to overdo it, or else, it might overwhelm your readers.

movie

Review for “A Christmas Story” (1983)

A man named Ralphie narrates a time from his childhood many years ago, when he was 9 years old. He is preparing for Christmas and wants a BB-gun, but is constantly told, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Yet, Ralphie remains determined.

This film was a pretty difficult watch. Not only is it because it’s about a kid who wants a weapon, which wouldn’t be acceptable today, but also that the characters are too unlikable and stereotypical. It wasn’t until after I watched it that the unbelievable characters were done on purpose. It turns out that Ralphie’s memories were exaggerated. However, that doesn’t make it more enjoyable for me.

For instance, Ralphie says a four-letter word when he makes a mistake as he and his dad are getting a Christmas tree. He gets in an extreme amount of trouble for that. On the other hand, when the pure-evil bullies taunted him, he beat one of them to the point that the other boy bled. And he seemed to be praised for that.

Another moment that bugged me was when the mall was closing, the elf people and Santa scared the kids who came up to him. Yet the line didn’t shorten, no one complained, or tried to report the people in elf and Santa costumes to authorities. I don’t know if that would have happened in the 1940’s, when the film is set. But the children should’ve left, horrified—at the very least.

Regardless of the flaws, there are some good moments in this movie. As Ralphie and his family were leaving the mall, four people in “Wizard of Oz” outfits did their “We’re off to see the wizard” dance behind them. There was also a parade with Snow White and Mickey Mouse. And despite the other characters lacking appeal to me, Ralphie was developed well and was, perhaps, the most believable and relatable person.

I would rate “A Christmas Story” 3 out of 5 stars. If a movie is supposed to exaggerate their characters and not make them 100 percent accurate to a person’s memory, they should state that before the opening scene. No one should have to rely on outside material to watch or read anything.

movie

It’s My “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Review (2018)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Newt is suspended from traveling but gets to go with his brother, Theseus, to find Credence Barebone, who is in France. His American companions, Tina, Queenie, and even no-maj, Jacob, reunite with him. Newt also meets Albus Dumbledore and works together with him. Things get dark and intense quickly.

Unlike many films, I was in the majority of how I viewed this movie. I am often in the minority with a lot of films, where most didn’t like them, but I enjoyed them. With a few exceptions, however, I drift apart from those movies and lose strong feelings about them over time.

Anyway, back to this one. The overall tone was a little too dark and intense for me, especially when Leta had swapped her baby brother, Corvus, with another one (who happened to be Credence), and Corvus died. I found it odd that she didn’t get arrested, even though she was only supposed to be, like, 4 years old.

Speaking of which, the actress who played 4-year-old Leta was the same one who played her as a Hogwarts student. I know some say realism isn’t supposed to be dwelled upon, but that’s about a ten-year difference as in the flashback scene where Newt and Leta were at Hogwarts (and I believe Eddie Redmayne also played the same character as a student, which made me assume Newt was a little older than Leta), and I think they were third-years. That’s a bit too bizarre.

Like many fans, I noticed some inconsistencies with this movie, such as disapparating onto Hogwarts grounds, which isn’t supposed to be possible. Some people guessed that maybe it used to be allowed and then changed before Harry Potter arrived at Hogwarts. But J.K. Rowling said that it was always there. What?

Others include the Obliviate spell only erasing bad memories, probably so that audiences could be satisfied to see Jacob reunite with Newt, Tina, and Queenie. Nice try, creators, but the memory-wiping spell erases pretty much all memories, including the good ones, as shown in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”.

And let’s not forget that Professor McGonagall made a brief appearance in both the current moments of the film (1927) and the past ones (1910’s) as a woman in her late twenties or early thirties. I hear she was there because J.K. Rowling says she isn’t that good at math. Hey—a lot of people aren’t, including myself. Still, Professor McGonagall shouldn’t have been born for several years, not until 1935. Unless she was lying about her age this whole time (which is not un-common for women to do as well as hide their real ages), this was just sloppy, even for someone who isn’t very strong in math. I’m sorry. It’s no wonder some people presumed that maybe that was a different Professor McGonagall, who happened to be similar, but unrelated to the one we know. However, it’s the same one.

The ending was also unsatisfying, as well. Grindelwald is basically Voldemort of the 1920’s. And Queenie took his side so that she could “hopefully” be with Jacob, because wizards and witches weren’t allowed to communicate or marry no-majes.

While I enjoyed the main “Harry Potter” franchise as well as the first “Fantastic Beasts” film, I’m afraid this didn’t really do much for me. It was so dark and intense that I felt the need to watch something more lighthearted, and I did. I watched a “Mickey Mouse” cartoon.

Anyhow, I’d rate this movie 3 out of 5 stars. The cast and crew promise to fix the plot holes and inconsistencies in the third “Fantastic Beasts” movie, which won’t be released until 2021. Hopefully, that one is better.

movie

Have You Noticed These Unique (and Kind-of Strange) Details in Disney Movies?

Who doesn’t love Disney? Many of us grew up with Disney classics whether they were older like “The Little Mermaid” or more recent, like “Frozen”. While I absolutely adore and enjoy Disney films, there are some details that have stood out to me in recent years. And I am not exactly pleased by them.

1: Good looks on human characters rarely exist after age 30

Many Disney protagonists are young, often ranging from younger child to teen to young adult. Since the turn of the century, however, there have been more adult main characters older than teens. I’m assuming Carl from “Up” is the oldest Disney protagonist to date. He’s in his 70’s.

Anyway, as I look at the secondary characters, as well as the villains, who are either supposed to be (or are possibly) over 30, I notice that many of them lack the attractive looks that the characters in their 20’s or younger possess. There are exceptions of younger characters who aren’t as handsome or beautiful, but a lot of adult Disney characters have large or long noses and are too skinny or heavy. Very few are as good-looking as the young people.

Um…hello? People can be as good-looking as late as their 50’s, 60’s, or even 70’s. Some mature TV shows, such as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” are better at acknowledging this fact. Believe it or not, both Flanders and Quagmire are in their sixties. But they look incredibly youthful and good for their ages.

It’s not just in Disney’s 2D-animated movies where this happens. I looked at the extras in “Frozen” and saw this same detail there too.

2: Males often have drastically bigger hands and feet than females

Regardless of age, males’ hands and feet in Disney movies are often very big and wide, while females often have much smaller and thinner hands and feet. In fact, there are times where the males’ hands are so big that they could injure the females’ tinier and skinnier hands. The only exception I notice where this detail is absent is in “Tarzan”, when Tarzan and Jane place each other’s hands together. The sizes are similar, but it was for plot convenience. Since noticing this detail, I’ve always wondered if this promoted male superiority. Hopefully, not.

3: Non-verbal animals understand human language way too easily

While Disney is known for talking-animals (although it’s rare that they speak to people), when the animals make the same sounds as their real types do, they understand words much too easily. This was especially strange in “Pinocchio”, when he and Jiminy Cricket are asking the sea creatures about the dangerous whale, and underwater. That went a little too far with believability and setting examples for children. Kids, don’t try this in real life.

Anyway, to an adult, this looks too bizarre. In real life, animals can only understand tone. Even highly intelligent animals, such as dogs, don’t understand English. Parrots may mimic words, but their brains aren’t going to process language the same way humans do.

So, there you have it. Are there any unique details you notice in Disney films?

Writing

Why I Don’t Base My Characters Off of People I Know

You’ve probably heard this from many authors: base your characters off people you know. A lot of writers do that, including big ones like J.K. Rowling. However, unlike them, I never base characters off people I know.

That being said, I do often develop them like people I know. Many characters in my books were developed like family members and people I went to school with, including teachers.

However, the ideas of those characters were often for plot convenience or inspired by other fictional sources, such as movies, books, or even legends. In fact, the antagonist in my second book of the “Magical Missions” series was inspired by the Grim Reaper. Believe it or not, in early drafts, he was more like the death figure: pure evil and carrying a scythe. But now he is not like that. I developed him to make the readers sympathize with him more. I won’t spoil anything else from the story, though.

Why don’t I base characters off people I know, you might ask? Because I just feel uninterested and find basing my characters off of other fictional sources better. My life has been pretty straightforward and ordinary. While I’m more social than I used to be, real people inspiring me for characters just doesn’t happen.

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.