fiction

Review of “A Horse to Love” by Marsha Hubler

I haven’t read this book in years. However, I do remember enough to review it. I must also admit that I loved horses as a child and still do. In fact, I used to ride regularly from ages 8 to about 14.

Anyway, let me get to the review.

Thirteen-year-old Skye Nicholson is in court for something. She is assigned to a foster mother named Mrs. Chambers, who makes Skye do farm work, go to church, and has many rules about her home facilities. On the bright side, Skye develops a passion for this horse called Champ.

This book has a lot of memorable moments. Aside from the strong and engaging writing, many scenes stand out to me, such as when Mrs. Chambers comforts Skye and when Skye and Morgan, a physically disabled girl, ride horses together. Another moment that I have strong feelings about is when Skye hurt another girl at school, ran away, and got punished by her foster parents, where she couldn’t use any of the facilities or see Champ the horse. This was obviously wrong for Skye to do.

There are also some parts that I felt were flawed. One is how Mrs. Chambers only allows Christian music and makes Skye go to church. What if Skye were another religion? I considered that insensitive of Mrs. Chambers. It would have been better if the music allowed was something else, such as clean music with no explicit lyrics. 

Another moment that stood out to me was when when Mrs. Chambers first met Skye and said, “You can call me Mrs. Chambers or Mrs. C, but never Eileen.” The third part felt unnecessary to me, especially when an adult talks to a thirteen-year-old. 

Speaking of which, Skye won’t join a teen club Morgan offers her since she still thinks she’s only a kid. But thirteen is a teenager. Plus, most thirteen-year-olds are excited to finally be teens and not younger children anymore.

Other than those issues, I really enjoyed the story and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. 

movie

I’m Spelling Out This Evaluation of “Hocus Pocus” (1993)

Warning: contains spoilers***

There are so many aspects of this film that stand out to me. It begins where a boy named Thackary is looking for his younger sister, Emily. He finds her being cursed by three witches, Winifred, Mary, and Sarah. They turn Thackary into an immortal black cat, but are then executed by the community shortly after. Three hundred years have passed (which surprised me) and the focus is now on a teenage boy, named Max, in his history class at school. The Halloween adventure begins.

I found Max to be very believable, especially since he moved to a new town from Los Angeles and really missed his old home. The bullies who picked on him made me feel even more sorry for him. However, at some point, the bullies were in danger, and Max wouldn’t save them, which was irresponsible. Just because someone is not nice to you, that doesn’t mean you can leave them in peril.

That being said, Max was a good guy. Although he resisted taking his eight-year-old sister, Dani, out to trick-or-treat at first, and she even screamed about it at some point (which was also irresponsible and could have misled her parents into thinking she was getting hurt), he did it and showed loving care with her as the movie progressed. He also dressed as a “rapper.”

Speaking of loving care, it was so sweet how Dani developed strong feelings for Thackary in his cat form. She even held him while sleeping and fed him cat food. During the part where the curse got broken and the witches perished, unfortunately, Thackary passed on, too, and his last sound was a meow. However, he returned to Dani in his human form as a ghost and comforted her until he was reunited with his sister, who also came back as a spirit. This happened at the very end, and I was expecting Max, Dani, and Max’s love interest, Allison, to get in trouble with their parents eventually. Instead, the adults are partying somewhere, unaware of what the kids did to save the day.

Earlier, though, after the witches have been revived and are performing at the Halloween bash Max and Dani’s parents attend, Max, Allison, and Dani try to tell them that the witches have been resurrected and are dangerous. But the mom and dad won’t believe them, which I didn’t expect. In fact, everybody found the children crazy when they attempted to warn them about the witches. Even a bus driver acted casually with the sorceresses when encountering them.

Even though this is just a movie, I found it odd that the witches were able to function okay in modern times after being dead for centuries. They should have been confused like crazy. Another flaw is how they broke into Max’s school and no one caught them. Yes, it was 1993, when school security was likely more relaxed. But shouldn’t there have been surveillance cameras or even a guard?

When Max, Allison, and Dani celebrated the witches’ “deaths”, I figured that it was the midpoint and knew that they hadn’t really been defeated. This was based on how I studied story structure for years and past movie-viewing experiences.

A couple of moments that also shocked me were when Max was willing to sacrifice himself for Dani when the witches tried to jinx her with a potion and a clueless zombie who had no idea what to do. I have to admit, the zombie who didn’t know much felt more credible to me. It also satisfied me since it was a way to stray away from the traditional approach for zombies, where they’re scary and try to eat peoples’ brains.

I would rate “Hocus Pocus” 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Today is Where My First Book Review Begins: And it’s Called “Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Up until this point, despite being a writer, I haven’t read a lot. However, I am reading more these days and am trying to get myself back into it. So, now I am going to post book reviews here. Let the thoughts come out.

“Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Twelve-year-old Gracie longs to know about her life before living in the real, typical world. She and her mom left it when Gracie was a baby. However, her mother refuses to share information about it. And she strictly forbids her to see the author, Gertrude Winters. Regardless of her mom’s demand, Gracie sneaks out to the bookstore. She not only meets Gertrude Winters, but also tries to receive more information about the book she wrote where Gracie came from. Gertrude Winters disappears, and it makes it to the news. From then on, things don’t go well.

I enjoyed this book as well as the characters. I didn’t like when Gracie’s mom was unfair to her in the beginning, though, as I don’t like adults treating children that way. But the writing kept me engaged and wanting to know what happened next.

That being said, there were some passive writing moments at times. But that didn’t keep me from giving up. I still would recommend this book.

I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: How Has Not One Muggle Felt Sorry for Harry When Growing Up with Abuse from The Dursleys?

For 10 years, from right after his parents’ deaths and until his 11th birthday, apparently nobody was nice to Harry, not even outside his home. His abuse was looked over at school and he was always bullied. Even the teachers didn’t seem to do a thing about it. I know Harry was born in 1980, so much of his childhood before Hogwarts was in the 80’s. Still, I have trouble finding something like this believable.

Yet, there were no new students or staff at Harry’s primary school who were horrified. No teacher wanted to help him with his stress or stand up for him when others bullied him. No student wanted to do the same.

Also, most people, especially in an area where Harry lived, don’t see the same people every single day. There would have been lots of visitors, new residents, deliverers, vendors, and many other people not native to Little Whinging or Privet Drive. And it seems that nobody has been appalled by how the Dursleys treated Harry. Not one individual has reacted with, “Oh, that’s terrible! Aw, that poor kid. I wish I could help him. I feel so bad for him.”

Unless there are charms that keep muggles from feeling sorry for Harry, I don’t find something like this too credible. There has to be kinder, empathetic, and even highly-sensitive people in the “Harry Potter” universe. Many muggles would have been upset to hear about how the Dursleys mistreated Harry. They would have felt sorry for him and even disgusted with how Dudley got spoiled. Even if that type of treatment wouldn’t have gotten the Dursleys in trouble with authorities at the time (not just because Dumbledore might have used magic to prevent that since Harry needed to be with a blood relative to stay safe from Voldemort, but also that the laws about child safety were different then, according to my research), Harry would have encountered at least a few muggles who said that they felt terrible for him and showed their sympathy to him. More would have said how sorry they felt for Harry in front of him, whether directly at him or to somebody else. A lot more would have said it out loud, but either not in Harry’s sight or would have thought it in their heads. At least a couple of muggles would have gone to the Dursleys and asked if everything was okay, and if they found out the truth, they would have felt horrible for Harry and showed it.

Lots and lots of people would have also ruminated and obsessed over how Harry got treated by his relatives, day in and day out. They might have even been down about it to others, talked about it a lot, and tried to do something about it, even if they couldn’t.

If the series were truly believable, Harry would have met or heard countless amounts of people who didn’t like how his relatives treated him and said how terrible it must’ve been for him, and how bad they felt for him. Maybe Harry would have even had a kind mentor nearby who wanted to check on him and be nice to him. Even in the 1980’s, before the Internet, the fact that Harry was abused would have made it to others, and a good number of them would have been horrified.

TV show

Holy Magic Mackerel! I’ve Noticed These Details in “The Fairly OddParents”

As a childhood favorite, I not only learned a lot about “The Fairly OddParents”, but I also picked up many details, both as a kid and now as an adult.

You probably know the premise: a young boy named Timmy Turner is miserable and has two fairies that grant him wishes. But he has to keep them secret, or else he’ll lose them forever.

Anyway, if you’ve watched a lot of the show, you might follow this better. So, without further ado, here are some insane and interesting details from the show.

1: A lot of deus ex machina moments

If you don’t know what it is, deus ex machina is a term for when something in a story happens merely for plot convenience. It is often frowned upon in creating any form of fiction, written or visual.

But one detail I found that constantly happens throughout the series are characters saying, “It’s not like this (whatever it is) will happen.” And then it does. Or when somebody watches TV, the hosts or reporters will say things to the viewers as if they knew who was watching and when they were. Even as a child, I found this a little annoying, although I didn’t know the term, deus ex machina. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the show.

I must also mention the convenient use of tomato-throwing when people are mad at something or somebody.

2: Characters seem to be “stupid” and not notice anything, just for plot convenience

In the episode, “Chin Up!”, Cosmo and Wanda appear as their normal fairy forms, in front of a bunch of people. Timmy freaks out loudly, and reveals that if anyone finds out they’re his fairy godparents, they’ll have to go away forever. But Wanda tells Timmy that the others will think they’re big kids in costumes, and somebody walks by and compliments on their “costumes.” This is very unbelievable. Timmy would have lost his fairies from there, even though they kind of are at fault. Moments like this occurred several times throughout later episodes, too. Characters would speak their thoughts out loud and nobody would pay attention or even seem to hear. Another aspect that’s not believable. But I guess that is enough with the criticism.

3: There are a lot of similarities to “The Simpsons”

I noticed this in recent years. Some details include how Mr. Crocker sounds like Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons”, although they’re not voiced by the same actor. Vicky’s head changing to something related to one of the episodes about to show is also similar to how the couch gag changes for different stories of “The Simpsons.”

4: Wand magic doesn’t always work fully

I assume this based of the events in the episodes, “Babyface” and “Teacher’s Pet” (no relation to the Toon Disney cartoon or movie). In the first one listed, Timmy accidentally runs into a daycare away from Francis and a bunch of other big, mean kids. So, he wishes to be a baby in order to hide from Francis. However, not long after, he realizes that he can’t talk. Therefore, he can’t wish himself back to being age 10 normally. That being said, he can still read, spell, and think like a 10-year-old. He points to the blocks and Wanda agrees with the idea to spell out his wish. But if the magic worked fully, not only would Timmy have lost his ability to speak, he also would have forgotten to know how to spell, read, or even think and solve problems like an older kid. In fact, he would have put the blocks in his mouth as that’s how babies explore their world. Yet, then there wouldn’t really be a story.

In the episode, “Teacher’s Pet”, Timmy wishes to be teacher’s pet, and Cosmo and Wanda’s infant son, Poof, grants him the wish and turns him into a guinea pig. He can still talk, though. Once again, if the wish worked completely, Timmy would only be able to squeak and function like a real guinea pig, and not a human.

There you have it. I hope you find this list helpful.

TV show

Beware! It’s My Top Memorable Moments from “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy”

A skeleton is friends with two children. There is Mandy, who has a dark attitude and hardly ever smiles, despite her blonde hair and pink top. Then there is Billy, who is enthusiastic and silly.

This show aired on Cartoon Network for a while in the 2000’s. It was a great show.

Now here are the top memorable moments from the show.

7: When Grim wore a bra

Okay, okay, I can guess what you’re probably thinking. But it’s true. There was one episode where his cloak was removed and he had a bra on. Really.

6: When Billy’s friend, Irwin, turned into a dog

Billy found a dog with glasses, not realizing that it was his friend, Irwin. He asked his parents if he could keep him. His mom said no, but his dad said yes. Then, at some point, Irwin turns back into a human in a stadium, naked in front of everybody.

5: When Grim and Billy switch personalities

Grim acts silly like Billy and Billy behaves like Grim. Eventually, their physical appearances switch, too.

4: When Billy loses his sight from a video game

Billy presses his eyes against the TV monitor while playing a video game, which could have ruined his eyes, according to Mandy. And it did. At some point later, Billy even thought Mandy held up 74 fingers.

3: When Billy and Mandy told stories

Mandy’s story was so inconsiderate and lazy. It went, “Once upon a time, the end.” Then she told a story about Humpty Dumpty where it ended where everybody had eggs for all three of their meals. However, Billy’s involved a villain who couldn’t defeat anyone because they were so happy. Even he became joyous, himself.

2: When Billy and Grim celebrated Mandy’s “birthday”

Billy has Grim help him plan a birthday bash for Mandy. When Mandy arrives, Grim and Billy go, “Happy birthday, happy birthday, it’s your happy day.” But Mandy reveals that her birthday isn’t for another 5 months.

1: The song, “Under the Ocean”

Ah, a parody of “Under the Sea” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. This was a great moment.

So, there you have it.

TV show

Now Calling, Kids Next Door Mysteries

Since lockdown began in March in my area (although things reopened with restrictions), I have been visiting old childhood TV shows. Not only did I read synopses of my favorite episodes, but I also watched some. One of them included “Codename: Kids Next Door”.

I saw a few episodes recently. A couple of them breezed by, but the other two were a bit slow and less engaging.

Anyway, while I researched the program, I came up with a few unanswered questions that I wonder.

1: Why do the kids next door have to steal the delightful children’s birthday cake every time they have birthday bashes?

I’ve only seen the first episode, known as C.A.K.E.D, which I believe is the pilot that set the show up. There, the KND try to take the delightful children’s cake, and then the delightful children trap them in their home and have them play party games. But what is wrong with the delightful children’s cakes?

2: Why aren’t the KND’s parents’ faces shown in the early episodes?

This practice has been going on since the beginning of animation. Sometimes there are reasons for hiding certain characters’ faces, and other times there aren’t. That used to really bug me, and maybe others, too.

However, for some reason, the creators seemed to have changed their minds later and decided to show the KND’s parents faces. But I read that they kept Numbuh 5’s mom and dads’ faces unseen.

3: Why do the creators like Numbuh 5’s braid exposed, but not Numbuh 3’s hair?

In the L.I.C.E episode, all the KND’s hair has been eaten (although lice don’t feast on hair in real life), but Numbuh 5’s braid remained. Also, Numbuh 3 wears swim caps when going in the water. And the KND’s logo originally had Numbuh 3’s ear hidden, but then made it exposed. This pattern has happened many other times. Not just in the show, but also in some computer games.

If that’s so frequent, then couldn’t the creators have just chopped off Numbuh 3’s hair from the start? Who says she needs to have long hair?

And those are the three mysteries I wonder about “Codename: Kids Next Door.”

TV show

What TV Show Are These Top Episodes From? “SpongeBob SquarePants”

I am a fan of “SpongeBob SquarePants”, although not a longtime one. For many years, I’ve lost interest in it, but then I got back into it. Now I play songs from the show a lot, like when I wash dishes or lift weights.

Anyway, here are my top 3 favorite episodes.

3: “Employee of the Month”

SpongeBob has been awarded as employee of the month several times. But Squidward might be nominated this time. Both he and SpongeBob aggressively compete.

The way Squidward and SpongeBob handle the situation was crazy and extreme at times, but still funny. This is one of the episodes that made me laugh my brains out.

2: “Band Geeks”

This is an all-time favorite from many fans. And I am one of them.

Squidward wants to conduct a band to play at the bubble bowl since another octopus desires the same thing. However, none of the others can play instruments. Rather, they fight with each other.

Dang, this episode cracked me up several times. And one of my favorite moments is when Patrick asks, “Is mayonnaise an instrument?” Lol, who doesn’t love that line?

And finally…

1: “Goo-goo Gas”

Okay, you may be looking at this like I have two heads. It came out when the episodes were no longer considered good. While those I didn’t see could be bad, this one made me laugh the most and hardest.

After Mr. Krabs catches Plankton trying to steal the secret formula to the crabby patties, Plankton decides to turn him into a baby with a special gas he calls goo-goo gas. However, his gas doesn’t work the way he wants, so he brainstorms other ideas.

I laughed so hard at this episode, that my mom made me take deep breaths. I love this episode very much. In fact, when I first saw it, I had not known that the “SpongeBob” episodes that came out after the 2004 film were unpopular. But now, except for this one and a couple of other exceptions, I probably won’t see the episodes that were released after the “SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.”

There you have it.  

TV show

Questions I Have About the “Peanuts” Cartoon

Although I didn’t watch a lot of the “Peanuts” cartoon as a child, since my family didn’t own any on video or DVD, I still have a few questions about the series. I did view enough of it to wonder certain things.

1: Do the children hear the same physical voice for both men and women?

For anyone who has seen the “Peanuts” cartoons, only the kids speak actual words. The adults go, “wah-wah-wah” since that’s how the children hear it. The grown-ups are also out of sight, I believe. But one thing that stands out to me is that they all have the same physical voice. I think they are voiced by a brass instrument. Yet, the men and women seem to all have deep nasal voices.

2: Why doesn’t Snoopy look like a beagle?

I searched this on Google and it turns out that many others have wondered the same. I’ve called Snoopy the inaccurate-looking beagle in recent years. Real beagles have a mix of black and brown colors and a little bit of white. However, Snoopy looks nothing like a real beagle. He could have, though, or could have been declared a different breed, or a mutt.

3: Has Snoopy ever barked once?

Another element about Snoopy that differentiates him from real beagles is that he doesn’t bark much while real dogs his breed do. But has he barked once? That is something I couldn’t get an answer to in my Google search.

Those are all the questions I have.

movie

Boom, Baby! And Check Out My Review of “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)

I enjoyed this film as a child and re-watched it after many years. The story is about a young emperor, named Kuzco, who wants to build a summer resort for his 18th birthday. But he gets turned into a llama and ends up away from his palace. Meanwhile, his advisor, Yzma, wants to become the next ruler. There is even a funeral scene, similar to that part in “The Lion King” after Mufasa dies.

There are many great moments from this film. I loved the idea of a theme-song guy for the movie’s opening as well as the clever and humorous dialogue. Other enjoyable scenes include the made-up Happy Birthday song (“Happy, happy birthday, make all your dreams come true…”) the waiters sang to Yzma (but for some reason, she didn’t tell her assistant, Kronk, about it), the “Wizard of Oz” reference in one scene, and the squirrel with the balloon animal. Who knows how the creature got it?

That being said, there is one aspect that didn’t please me, and that was Kuzco. Okay, okay, I know he’s the main character. But I thought he was very unlikable with how he treated others. Although he didn’t yell (he even reminded me of the trash planet ruler in “Thor: Ragnarok”), he was a jerk to everybody and kind of abused his power at times. He didn’t care about ruining the peasant, Pacha’s, home, when he wanted to build his summer place…on the same area as Pacha’s small house. I felt frustrated when Kuzco refused to change his mind over and over again, even when he turned into a llama and wanted to return to his palace. He asked Pacha to help, but Pacha refused.

Pacha was more likable, and he reminded me of Sully from “Monster’s Inc”. Not just because the same man who voiced him also voiced Sully, but his behavior was quite similar to Sully’s.

Does Kuzco become a better character? You’ll have to see the movie to find out. But regardless of his not-so-great attitudes, I would still rate “The Emperor’s New Groove” 5 out of 5 stars.