movie

It’s a Critique for “The Santa Clause” (1994)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Tim Allen plays a guy named Scott Calvin who has a son named Charlie. Charlie firmly believes in Santa Claus, but his dad is a bit rebellious against it. After an incident occurs, Scott Calvin has to become the next Santa Claus.

I haven’t seen this movie for years until recently. So, I picked up some new details. Here are the elements that pleased me and those I felt could’ve been better.

1: The plot

The storyline is similar to that of “Evan Almighty”, which was released several years later in 2007. The way Charlie and his dad got along progressed well. At first, Scott would be a bit tough on Charlie and then their relationship improved over time. The scene where Charlie is sad when his dad has to leave him as he has become Santa Claus was very emotional. Another element that felt believable to me was when Charlie’s mother and her boyfriend, Neil, were suspicious of Scott Calvin when Charlie was telling stories about him being at the North Pole. Scott Calvin was suspended from being with Charlie.

2: The humor

The movie was very funny. It had great dialogue and the characters’ decisions often cracked me up. I laughed throughout much of the film.

Now onto the parts that could have been portrayed better.

1: The characters’ reactions at times

When Santa fell off the roof, he died and somehow vanished. Charlie and his dad didn’t react strongly enough nor believably. In fact, they accepted it too much like it was no big deal. Um…Santa lost his life. And no one seemed stressed out about it.

Other examples of weak reactions include when a kid in Charlie’s class at school called a girl stupid for asking Scott Calvin if he made the toys. And the teacher was way to relaxed and gentle about it. She even smiled. A truly responsible and believable teacher would’ve gotten angry and said something like, “Excuse me, we don’t call others stupid. That’s not nice. Apologize to (whatever the person’s name is).”

And when Calvin gained weight as he was turning into Santa Claus, one of his co-workers commented on it and Scott seemed to casually accept that. Hey, other guy, that’s not your business that Scott was gaining weight. He should’ve known better.

2: Why do the elves look like human children?

Not only do the characters in the movie mistake the elves as kids, but so did I when I first saw it many years ago. The elves are apparently more than a thousand years old. So, why do they look like human children? Bernard, the elf who was involved with Charlie and his father, resembles a teenager.

I am pretty sure elves aren’t supposed to look like human kids. I think the portrayal of them in the movie, “Elf”, that came out years after in 2003, is far more accurate.

3: The bizarre special effects

Okay, okay—I get it. This was released in the 90’s, when special effects were still in their infancy. But seeing the shape changes for plot convenience, such as when Scott’s form alters so that he can fit inside a pipe, looked weird to me. It reminded me of something that would have occurred in a kiddie show, such as “Barney and Friends”. But whatever.

Regardless of the flaws, I enjoyed “The Santa Clause” very much. I would rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

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.

TV show

Hold on Your Diapees, Babies, We’re Going to Analyze “Rugrats”

Anyone born in the 90’s probably watched, or at least heard of “Rugrats”, the show about talking-babies. Well—they also speak to each other, but never the adults, except Angelica and her peers, Susie and Edwin, and possibly a third kid. I can’t recall.

Anyway, there are many memorable moments. One is where Chuckie dreamt about what life would be like if he was never born and he had a guardian angel, which he called a garden angel. It was pretty sad since Tommy was stuck in the garage, his parents were slaves to Angelica, who was obese and would force Dee and Stew, the parents and aunt and uncle to her, to bring her cookies.

Speaking of which, there is a Passover episode, since one family is Jewish, and Angelica is told that she couldn’t have cookies during that time since bread isn’t allowed during that holiday range. Angelica pointed out that cookies didn’t have bread in them, but then learned and understood why she couldn’t eat them during Passover. Regardless of her lesson, that’s pretty mature for a 3-year-old. Most real children that age would unlikely understand that and throw a tantrum to get what they want.

In the episode where Angelica gets in trouble for playing in her dad’s study, she sneaks out, takes her little jeep around town, and then orders the babies to get her some cookies. Sadly, the box is too high for them to reach. So, instead, they give her dog biscuits, which she enjoys until she finds out what they are.

There was also an episode where the family goes somewhere where Reptar the dinosaur is, but the group goes to Goober, another character. What I found cruel, and would definitely result in penalties in real life, is that some staff grabbed Tommy’s Reptar toy from him, made him cry, and gave him a Goober doll instead. Not cool.

Another aspect that would usually be too mature in a children’s show is death. Chuckie had lost his mother before the events of the series began. In “Rugrats in Paris”, while on the plane, Chuckie looks out the window and envisions memories of his mother. Now here comes some spoilers***

Chuckie’s dad marries Kira, who becomes Chuckie’s stepmother, and Kimmy becomes his stepsister. From that point on, the intro theme updates and includes Kira and Kimmy. Then there’s the sequel show, “All Grown Up”, where the babies are older and in junior high. I’ve seen a little bit of it, but not enough to discuss my thoughts on the show.

Speaking of older, there was an episode about Tommy liking to be naked and Phil and Lil undressed themselves. Now that I’m older, I realize that that’s too inappropriate for kids.

Anyhow, I could go on and on about more memorable moments. But I’ve seen so many episodes, as well the specials and movies, that I feel it’s too much to list here.

While I watched “Rugrats” when I was younger, I have lost strong feelings about much of the premise and moments. However, the ones I discussed still stand out to me.

movie

It was “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Won’t You Please Read My Review for this Movie (2019)?

Despite not watching the TV show as a child and not hearing about it till many years later, I saw this film with a bunch of friends and ended up liking it.

It starts with what probably was the opening to the TV program and introduced the latest Mr. Rogers, played by Tom Hanks. Mr. Rogers introduces different pictures and then focuses on a guy named Lloyd.

Lloyd has a wife called Andrea and a newborn named Gavin. They are going to attend a wedding. While there, Lloyd’s father says something unpleasing and Lloyd hurts him, which ends up becoming a fight involving a few other people. Lloyd ends up with a cut on his nose.

Lloyd’s editor assigns him to interview the children’s TV host, Mr. Rogers, and write a 400-word entry about it. But Lloyd doesn’t look forward to it. Nevertheless, he does it.

I was surprised by how the “Mr. Rogers” universe looked more like a toy universe instead of a real one. While I’m sure it was deliberate and meant to attract kids, to me, it appeared bizarre.

That being said, the show’s format was well-thought out and the lessons were great. Tom Hanks did an amazing job portraying Mr. Rogers, who happens to also be a distant relative of him. The real Fred Rogers would have been proud.

The characters were likable, but sometimes, I felt there were silent moments for a little too long as well as not enough emotional tension at times.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

movie

It’s Anything but Ooky, “The Addams Family” Review (2019)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Morticia and Gomez are getting married, but the civilians are crashing their wedding as an angry mob. They move to a house on the top of a hill and have a Frankenstein-like servant.

Thirteen years later and the Addams couple has two children. Pugsley is being forced to train for a sword-fighting event he doesn’t seem to value and is pretty unprepared for. Wednesday is her usual grim self who tries to kill or hurt Pugsley.

But one of the family members discovers a commercial where a woman named Margaux Needler offers a service to renovate people’s houses in any way they like. Unfortunately, when the Addams family leaves their home and go out in public, everybody is afraid of them. Wednesday, however, befriends Margaux’s daughter, Parker, and attends school with her. Stakes raise from there.

I was surprised how short this film was. As a fiction writer myself, I was able to point out all the major plot points, which kind of made the duration predictable. Due to past movie-watching experiences, I kind of predicted that Margaux would turn out to be the villain.

One thing I found a bit strange was that the setting was changed to modern times, like this decade, despite how this was originally created in the mid-twentieth century. I understand the creators probably wanted to make this more relatable to young audiences today. But since it’s animated, they wouldn’t have needed to struggle with finding outdated technology as much as if this were live-action. I could be wrong, though.

That being said, there are many moments that I admire, such as when Wednesday brought the dead frogs in science class back to life. There was also a reference to “It” by Stephen King. One moment I found a bit strange was when Uncle Fester compared a certain woman’s breath to a baby’s diaper. I sure hope he meant a clean one.

Anyway, in spite of not being too familiar with the original “Addams Family” show, I enjoyed this just enough. Some of it wasn’t super engaging. Nevertheless, it was still, overall, a good watch. I’d rate this 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Unlucky Twelve: A Flash Fiction Piece

Image from Pixabay

Days like this make me want to cry. It was my twelfth birthday and I’d hoped for a fantastic time.

            However, instead things had gone wrong. I’d received my math test back with a grade of fifty—an F. Another thing that’d ruined my birthday had been when I’d fallen down on the basketball court and my pants had come down a bit. Everybody had laughed at me.

            My parents had lectured me about the failing grade I’d earned on my exam. I’d even cried after. They’d yelled, too.

            Who’d want to spend their birthday in misery? Yes, there were people who’d had worse birthdays, such as Shakespeare. He’d actually died on his birthday.

            Still—this is a day I wanted to forget. My older brother had been treated nicely on every birthday he’d had that I could remember, including his twelfth.

            Yes, turning twelve wasn’t as significant as turning thirteen, when you actually became a teenager and could do teen activities. You also could no longer be considered a little kid.

            If my twelfth birthday hadn’t gone right, I could only hope that my thirteenth one would turn out better—a lot better.

            In fact, my parents hadn’t gotten me a cake tonight. Why? Not because of my poor math test grade. But because they’d been busy supporting my brother at his basketball tournament. So, they’d forgotten.

            A few people at school had wished me a happy birthday here and there. But overall, I wish I could have my memories of this day wiped and not remember a single thing.

            Maybe I could have a party at some point later. I hadn’t thought about doing something. But perhaps that could make my mood better. I would have to come up with an idea. Then I, Ally Preston, would feel happier.

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.

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Ranking of Disney Princess’s Fathers

While mothers rarely exist in Disney films, fathers often do. Some are likable, and others aren’t.

I know I said I would rank the Disney princess’s dads. However, I am not going to do all of them. Some don’t have paternal figures in their movies, such as Snow White and Cinderella—they have evil stepmothers. Anyway, the princess’s fathers I will rank will include King Triton, Ariel’s father, Maurice, Belle’s dad, the sultan, Jasmine’s dad, and Powhattan, Pocahontas’s father.

Note that these are only my personal opinions with the ranking from least to most likable. Also, be warned that there are spoilers below.

4: King Triton

I find King Triton to be one of the least likable fathers in Disney films. He has a terrible prejudice toward humans (even though he and the other merfolk are all half humans as well as half fish), a very hot temper, especially with Ariel, and doesn’t seem to suffer consequences for his actions, such as destroying the things in Ariel’s grotto. That moment made him so evil, I hated him more than Ursula. No wonder some YouTube video considered King Triton a good character who was actually a villain.

If Atlantica had CPS, and they penalized King Triton for the destruction of Ariel’s grotto as well as his other major flaws, and took all his daughters away, including those (possibly) over 18, I would have supported that. We all should be responsible with our actions and if we can’t, we suffer consequences.

Destroying your child’s huge collection out of anger is the equivalent to setting someone’s house on fire. Not only did I find it disappointing that King Triton never apologized to Ariel for the destruction of her stuff as well as either re-created it with his rake or provided her new items, but also never paying the price for that. That doesn’t include him trading places with Ariel to be Ursula’s polyp prisoner or when his seahorse messenger told him that he couldn’t find Ariel, Flounder, or Sebastian.

On the bright side, King Triton does advocate for Ariel when Ursula tries to hurt her after she went from being a human back to a mermaid, and allows Ariel to become a person with legs again to rejoin Eric. At least he changes his views on humans.

3: The Sultan

While not nearly as hot-tempered as King Triton (if anything, the opposite), he neglects Jasmine’s access outside the palace. The “Aladdin” live-action remake states that the sultan forbids Jasmine to leave the palace because her mother was killed out there. However, in the animated version, it’s only because she’s a princess. Couldn’t he just require Jasmine to be escorted by bodyguards instead? That’s how it is in real life for the royals, president and his family, as well as other highly elite people. Secret service bodyguards are mandatory for them.

Another flaw is that he forces Jasmine to get married by a certain year in her life (either her 15th or 16th) within a few days from when she first appears in the animated movie. And the guys who come to the palace and try to ask for her blessing are all old enough to be her dad, except Aladdin when he is disguised as Prince Ali. The sultan seemed to acknowledge him as the first young male to come as a suiter for Jasmine.

Since Jasmine is a minor, this whole situation is actually forced child marriage. I know it’s an ancient time period and a female getting married at no younger than 18 would probably be the equivalent of a woman getting married for the first time at age 50 today. Still, there are dangers to forced child marriage. Having a minor forced into marriage could be insensitive to those were forced to get married before the age of consent. There are still countries where that happens.

While the sultan is drastically more likable than King Triton, he still could do for some improvement (not counting the end of “Aladdin”, when he changes the law and lets the princess marry whomever she wants, even if he is not royal).

2: Powhattan

Powhattan allows Pocahontas the freedom to explore and wander, except during dangerous times. While he doesn’t have a temper and is usually patient with his daughter, he does have prejudice toward the English settlers. Luckily, that changes.

1: Maurice

Maurice is patient, sweet, and tolerates all types of people, including those who don’t understand him and consider him crazy. His relation to his daughter, Belle, is very heartwarming. Belle loves her father enough that she is willing to take his place as the beast’s prisoner. Out of all the fathers on this list, Maurice is the only one I feel sorry for. The villagers think he is so insane, he and Belle are almost taken to an asylum.

So, there you have it.

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The Mystery of the Maturing Appeal of “Winnie the Pooh”

Many of us grew up with “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”. We enjoyed the characters, the morals, and much more.

However, in the 2000’s, according to my observation, “Winnie the Pooh” apparently became more suited for small children. From the products geared toward little kids, and most of the fans being in their early childhood, I had considered “Winnie the Pooh” kiddie.

But thanks to movies, like “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” and “Christopher Robin”, “Winnie the Pooh” might be appealing to older crowds again. While I didn’t see “Goodbye, Christopher Robin”, I did see “Christopher Robin”. It is anything, but kiddie, let alone the PG-rating (which is pretty much like G, and has been since the 90’s or early 2000’s).

I won’t spoil anything from “Christopher Robin”, but many of the content and elements used are more sophisticated and appealing to adults and bigger children. Perhaps Disney wanted to make “Winnie the Pooh” more interesting to older audiences—maybe they didn’t wish to give the general public the impression that “Winnie the Pooh” was only for small children.

Nevertheless, I am glad that “Winnie the Pooh” no longer seems to attract just little kids. The same seemed to happen with the Disney Princess line in the 2000’s. That also used to allure merely early childhood, but is now enticing older crowds (some people have had Disney Princess-themed weddings).

While some franchises, such as “Barney” and “Teletubbies” will probably always attract mostly small children, it’s great that Disney tries to engage all ages.