fiction

How Magic Shapes My Characters

What is fantasy without magic? My “Magical Missions” does not differ from that.

However, the magic laws and culture do stand out from other fantasy books. One is that they are set in modern-day America, and the other is that wizards have their own enchanted technology far more advanced than the regular kind. 

How does this shape my characters? The protagonist, Alyssa, has grown up not believing in magic… until the start of book 1, “The Frights of Fiji.” Of course, she reacts with surprise as do the other characters. Or they don’t believe her. Those that do witness wizardry are either amazed or scared.

In the sequel, “A Curse of Mayhem,” Alyssa has already gotten used to magic, even though it hasn’t interfered with her life for the past 6 months. Unlike then, though, she is performing it against her will and longs to remove it. Of course, it involves lots of complications.

While Alyssa’s friends stand by her as does her guardian, most of the characters fear and misunderstand her, especially her school principal. He sees her sorcery as threatening and dangerous. Therefore, he gives her detention several times. Alyssa also ends up at risk for expulsion. Of course, I won’t spoil anything.

Wizards and non-magical people (there is no specific term for them) share the same world, although magicians hide their supernatural culture and skills differently. They will either blend their buildings in with security charms, put invisibility shields around them, or disguise things around ordinary people.

I do explain on my website how wizards hide their secret world. But this is how magic shapes my characters.

You can also buy Book 2 here and Book 1 here.

TV show

“The PowerPuff Girls” Theory: Is King Morbucks Afraid of His Daughter, Princess?

This focuses on the original series of “The PowerPuff Girls”, starting in the 90’s and until 2009. Other adaptations won’t be included since I am not familiar with them, nor do I really want to be.

Anyway, for those who’ve watched a big portion or all of the show, we know that Princess Morbucks is not only one of the villains, but a huge spoiled little girl. She brags when things go her way and throws tantrums when they don’t. Her dad plays a big role in giving her whatever she wants and whenever she desires them. He even bought her the mayor’s office in the episode where she legalized crime, probably because Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup would not let her be a PowerPuff girl.

In another scene, Princess screams for a glass of water, and her father holds her hand and walks with her as she thanks him. However, if anything happens to his stuff, he will ground Princess for a long time.

In the Christmas special, when Princess and the PowerPuff girls are at the North Pole with Santa, Princess throws a tantrum about how her daddy says she gets whatever she wants and whenever she wants. But I am wondering if he really chooses to spoil her.

Except for that brief parade of villains in a certain episode that I don’t recall the name or plot of, King Morbucks’s face is never shown. I also don’t think he gets any spoken lines. However, I can get a glimpse of his personality where he isn’t too enthusiastic, but rather the opposite. Of course, I could be wrong.

Yet, from what I notice, he doesn’t seem anything like Rancid (an uncle who has a spoiled niece) in “Very CatDog Christmas” or Mr. or Mrs. Salt in either “Willy Wonka” film adaptation. Although the audience doesn’t get much of King Morbucks’s traits, he seems exhausted and likely stressed. That is why I wonder if he gives Princess what she wishes for because he fears her, kind of like how Vicky’s parents are afraid of her in “The Fairly OddParents.”

I will confess, though, that while I did see a lot of episodes of “The PowerPuff Girls”, I didn’t see too many post-2004 ones. So, the reason King Morbucks spoils his child could be explained in a later episode. But I am not sure.

Do you support this theory?

fiction

Review of the Book, “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman

Warning: contains spoilers***

I don’t usually review picture books. But since I watched a video of my friend reading “Are You My Mother” and really enjoyed it, both the clip and the story, I will review the content. This book was actually a favorite of mine when I was little. Anyway, let me start.

A mother bird is sitting on her egg and figures that her baby will need food. So, she flies away to fetch something for her young. Then the baby bird hatches and leaves the nest to find his mom. He asks different creatures and even a boat and construction machine, which he calls a snort due to its sound, if they are his mother. Eventually, he finds his real mom and shares a bonding moment with her.

The story was nice and fun. I especially found it cute when the baby bird called that construction machine a snort. I told that to my friend and he found that funny. I also agree with him about how the baby bird doesn’t seem to understand genetics. Lol.

That being said, one flaw that stands out to me is that the mother bird wears a bonnet, even though she’s a wild animal. Unless she was released into the wild by a human and already had the bonnet on, it’s quite odd and unbelievable. Even if she found it, how would she put it on when she doesn’t have apposable thumbs?

Although this is the main purpose of the plot, I found it irresponsible for the mother bird to leave the nest and her baby alone. He even passed his mother when looking for her and didn’t know that was her. But maybe it is scientifically accurate for a mother bird to leave the nest and young to find it food before it hatches.

The story was still great. I think pretty much everyone has read it in his or her childhood. I would rate “Are You My Mother” 5 out of 5 stars.

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.”