short fiction

Good Night Gone Wrong: A Flash Fiction Piece

Although there was no judging or awarding of first, second, or third places, I’d received a ton of compliments for my piano-playing and singing-performance of “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen”. People had said to me, “You were really great, Aliana,” despite the pause in the middle of the song. I’d blanked out for a few seconds due to my live-performance anxiety. But everyone experienced them, even the greatest and bravest performers—of anything.

            I sat on my bed and looked at my laptop. People posted pictures of me performing at Spotlight Night. Someone even tagged me.

            I’d thanked my mom for forcing me to practice my piano and voice performance for weeks straight rather than focusing on trying to get my anime comic published. I was only a high school junior after all. My birthday wasn’t for five months. In fact, I’d started attending the public high school in September. Before that, I’d attended private school—the same one since kindergarten.

            A message came up in my Facebook messenger. It was my best friend, Veronica. She said, “Aliana, I just came back from the hospital for a few weeks. I saw that you performed ‘Let it Go’ at Spotlight Night. Well, tell you what? That was my idea. You stole it from me.”

            I replied back. “Veronica, I am sorry you feel this way. However, I wasn’t able to contact you. I’ve visited you a few times and not once have you said that you had that song in mind first. You should’ve said something.”

            Veronica replied. “Maybe we should part our ways.”

            I lowered my jaw. No. She did not just say that. Or she didn’t mean it—she couldn’t have.

            I responded. “Veronica, you don’t have to do this.”

            But she did nothing. I waited a few minutes and surfed other parts of the web instead.

            I returned to Facebook. Veronica had still not answered me. Okay, maybe she had to get offline for something.

            I looked at my digital clock. It was nearly 11 P.M. Tomorrow was Friday. I turned off the computer and got ready for bed.

            I went on my phone to see if Veronica had gotten back to me. Nope. She couldn’t have unfriended me, right.

            I went to the “Who Deleted Me” app on my phone. And guess who was listed… Veronica Button. What? No. She couldn’t have.

            My energy drained. I looked down. My eyes watered. That girl had been my best friend since the first day. And now she was no more.

            I contacted my old friend, Lorenza from my previous school. But she didn’t answer.

            The tears streamed down my cheeks. I sat on my bed. There had to be some way to reciprocate.

            Wait, tomorrow was a gym day. Perhaps, I could talk to Veronica before or after our activity. She should listen. Maybe she’d had a bad day. So she should understand.

 

cooking

Trick or Treat with this Sweet Skillet Cookie

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Ah, the gooey, chewy, skillet cookies–who doesn’t love them, especially when warm and topped with ice cream (which I didn’t use since I don’t have any in my house)?

Well, I used a recipe that was rated close to 5 stars, and had the best rating compared to the other recipes I found on Google. You start off by making caramel with the sugars and butter. Then you add the other ingredients.

I decided to add some extra ingredients to dress it up for Halloween. I know Halloween hasn’t come yet. But hey, stuff about that holiday is already happening.

So the additional ingredients I added were white chocolate chips (I like to use them in general, regardless of time of year), Halloween sprinkles, green sugar, and yellow and red food coloring. I think the problem that kind of messed up the recipe was the green sugar and possibly the sprinkles. The cookie ended up tasting too sweet.

I forced myself to eat it. I still have most of it in my refrigerator. So I have to find some way to get it consumed. I don’t think adding ice cream will be a good idea at this point.

I do usually enjoy skillet cookies. But something about this creation ended up not what I expected. I used unsalted and salted butter, by the way. Hmmm… perhaps, I should keep looking for more recipes. I think I’ll find a recipe just as well-rated. If not, better.

 

movie

On the Way… Now a Review of “Ice Age” (2002)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

One of the greatest prehistoric-set movies of all time is “Ice Age”. I am amazed how much effort the creators did to use prehistoric creatures. They got to use pretty much any kind, except dinosaurs.

The three main characters’ voice actors did such a great job with their roles. John Leguizamo expressed such great humor on Sid the sloth. Ray Romano did a superb job as the cranky Manny the mammoth. Dennis Leary portrayed Diego the dark saber-toothed tiger very well.

And Scrat? Ah, you can’t forget him—constantly chasing his acorn. He may not speak or be part of the main trio (or the group of 4 if you add the baby), but Scrat’s moments are wonderful. There was one moment in the film where Sid, Manny, Diego, and the baby came into contact with Scrat.

Speaking of which, the film begins with Scrat, trying to get his acorn in the snow. He falls and the snow is gone. He catches his acorn, and a larger animal steps on him. The title sequence and opening credits start.

The animals are migrating to prepare for the ice age. Manny goes in another direction. Another scene shows Sid waking up and unable to find his family. After accidentally angering a couple rhinos, Sid runs from them and meets Manny. Sid shows interest in being Manny’s companion. But Manny is too moody and prefers to be alone.

Another point-of-view shows the human baby and his parents. Diego and the other tigers are watching. At some point, the tigers attack. Diego almost gets the baby until the mother catches him. She runs away with the child, but dies as she sees Manny and Sid. Sid takes the baby. Shortly after, Diego meets Sid and Manny. They begin their journey to return the baby to the other humans.

This film had a lot of action, humor, and emotional moments. The scene where the animal trio and the baby get separated in the ice slide tunnels was funny. The baby had no fear whatsoever. The animal trio was for the most part good with the baby. Diego didn’t always act appropriately to the child, though. Sometimes, however, he was brighter than Sid. Sid tended to naïve and didn’t always make smart choices. Like when Manny suggested milk for the baby, Sid reacted with, “Ooh, I’d love some.” Diego clarified that Manny was taking about the baby.

The dodo scene was awesome. I appreciated their Tae-kwon-do scene when the main trio just wanted to give the infant food. And Sid won. There was a slow-motion effect as Sid fought the dodos.

Now the film is not without its flaws. There is one inconsistency I noticed. At the end, when Sid is getting emotional and teary as the baby has been returned to his father and the other people, Diego comes back and says, “You know humans can’t talk.” But the baby’s mother talked. Diego was even there. When she ran away with the baby, she turned around to the other humans and said, “Bye.” I guess Diego must’ve forgot by the film’s end—or had tuned out during that time. I don’t know.

Nevertheless, “Ice Age” was a fantastic movie. There are three sequels after, I believe. I would rate this 5 out of 5 stars.

 

movie

Tick Tock on “The House with a Clock in its Walls” Review (2018)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I saw this film with some friends, not knowing what it was going to be about. In some ways, it made the movie more exciting as everything was a surprise.

The film begins with 10-year-old Lewis, who was recently orphaned and is being sent to live with his uncle, Jonathan. Uncle Jonathan seems nice and doesn’t place any rules at that moment. His house, however, seems haunted to Lewis. Lewis’s mom comes up in Lewis’s dream and says that Uncle Jonathan is evil. Lewis wakes up and believes that. He tries to escape. Even the kids at Lewis’s new school consider the house dangerous. They also don’t care about Lewis. Uncle Jonathan’s one rule is not to open a certain cabinet. Tarby, a classmate of Lewis, tries to disobey that guideline, thinking that it’s no problem. Desperate to make friends with Tarby, Lewis breaks that rule and unintentionally raises Isaac Izzard from the dead. It takes time for Uncle Jonathan and his neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, to listen to Lewis when he tries to admit that he opened that forbidden cabinet. After Lewis confessing his wrongdoing, things get worse and intense.

The movie had its light and dark moments. It also had some strange material, such as toilet humor. I had to cover my eyes when the winged lion excreted. That moment when Lewis is trying to undo the eclipse, Uncle Jonathan turns into a baby with the same adult face and voice. I was trying not to laugh, even after that scene. Does humor like that really belong in a dark moment?

Despite it being rated PG, there were a couple of mature words as well as some intensely dark moments that I was getting goosebumps from, even as an adult. I thought it would’ve been better off PG-13.

On the bright side, the story has a lot of excellent elements. The plot was well-thought-out. I appreciated the plot twists, such as when the neighbor, Mrs. Hanchett, was really Selena in disguise this whole time and her dog was Selena’s rat. Selena has been disguised as Lewis’s mom in Lewis’s dreams the entire time. I also admired how Uncle Jonathan was actually a good guy this whole time, despite the hints of him being wicked at the beginning. After the eclipse was undone, he told Lewis not to tell Mrs. Zimmerman about his baby body during the eclipse process. I found that to make him very believable.

Overall, I would rate this 4 out of 5 stars. I’m not sure if I’d recommend this to very young children, but older kids 10 and up may enjoy it. Note, I never read the book and didn’t know there was a book of this until after I saw the movie. I may check it out, though.

TV show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

movie

The Words Will Speak… For “Grease” Analysis (1978 film)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

Over 40 years have passed since this movie has been released. It follows an Australian girl, Sandy, who is in love with a Brooklyn boy, Danny, and the love triangle Sandy goes through with Danny and another guy. Other characters, such as the girls who call themselves the pink ladies and the guys who call themselves the thunderbirds, play major roles as well.

The musical numbers are amazing. I love the songs, “You’re the One that I Want”, “Sandra Dee”, “Grease Lightning”, and “Summer Nights”. Recently, however, I noticed that some of the questions in “Summer Nights” are rude to ask in real life, such as “How much dough did he spend?” or “Did she put up a fight?” I guess trying to fit in, “That’s none of your business” into the lyrics would’ve been out of place and would’ve felt forced. Oh well. “Grease” isn’t a kid’s movie. So audiences will probably know the boundaries of what is okay in real life and what stays on the screen.

I liked the “Romeo & Juliet” reference right after the “Sandra Dee” number: “Wherefore art thou Sandy?”. Ha ha, Shakespeare never gets tiring.  The scenes where Danny is struggling with sports tryouts were great, as well. They made him feel real and likable.

I also didn’t expect a lot of cartoons within the movie, like what the characters watched. Sometimes, I admire the old-fashioned 2D cartoons from the mid-twentieth century more than the CG animation today, especially because 3D animation is pretty much the only kind for movies these days. This was one of those moments.

The fifties culture was very well emphasized. From the diner moments to the characters’ fashion, it really teaches you about that decade. What I didn’t appreciate, however, was when during the dance scene, all couples had to be boy and girl. I get it. This takes place in the 50’s and was filmed in the 70’s, both of when being gay, lesbian, transgender, or gender-neutral was beyond out-of-the-question. However, watching something like that in a time when homosexuality and chosen gender-identity are trying to be more acceptable (and have made progress during the past few years) can be a bit insensitive. I’m asexual and proud to call myself female both biologically and identity-wise. But I do have full empathy with homosexual people and those who see themselves as different genders than how they were identified at their births.

The ending where Danny and Sandy drive into the sky was quite interesting. Not too long ago, there was a conspiracy theory about Sandy being dead the whole duration of the movie. I don’t know if it’s true, though (I hope not). I do know that there’s a sequel to “Grease”, which I didn’t see.

I approached the movie not knowing the whole plot, even though I saw a live production of “Grease” at a local theater with camp when I was 13. But I don’t remember everything there.

I would rate “Grease” 4 out of 5 stars. Although something about the film didn’t engage me fully, I enjoyed the story and musical numbers as well as the characters.

 

 

movie

The Analysis of “Narnia” (2005 film) – The Likes, the Comments, and the Questions

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

Based on C.S. Lewis’s novel, the first Narnia movie, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, focuses on four siblings, the Pevensies. There’s Peter the oldest. Then there’s Susan, probably close to Peter’s age. There’s Edmond, who seems drawn to his father that’s fighting in the Second World War. And then there’s Lucy, the youngest and the most naïve. She is that typical little kid who annoys her older siblings.

Now before I express my thoughts, please note that I will not bring up events from the book series or the play adaptations. I have never read the novels nor have I seen the play. I have seen both sequels. The second one was in full, but a long time ago. With the third, I only saw bits of it here and there. So this post is only going to discuss the First Narnia movie from 2005, with possibly a comparison to a sequel here and there.

As bombs drop in London, Mrs. Pevensie lead the children out to the underground area to hide. Then she sends them on a train to the country, where it’s safer (this is actually historically accurate, by the way). The four kids find a stern woman named Mrs. McCreedy, who will watch them while they stay. While playing hide-and-seek, Lucy means to hide in a wardrobe—only that it leads her to a snowy environment. Little does she know that she has entered a magical land not part of regular Earth. She meets Mr. Tumnus the faun and likes him as an individual. Edmond ends up in Narnia and meets the White Witch, who seems sweet at first, but is really trying to hurt him. She wants to gain Edmond’s trust. After a bunch of drama where the older kids wouldn’t believe Lucy, they all go through the wardrobe and discover Narnia once again. Things get intense and problematic from there. That’s when the meat of the story begins.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. I used to watch is as a child when it’d come out on DVD. One funny activity my brothers and I would do was guess the children’s ages. It was cute.

Anyway, I’m getting back on topic. I admired the world building and how it was a good way to help kids escape from the horrors of WWII. It was actually written to keep children relaxed and feel like they are escaping the war.

Of course, no story, either written or on screen, is perfect. For instance, who decided that the Pevensie kids would stay with Mrs. McCreedy? She led them around the house with ground rules and no signs of a positive attitude. She especially snapped when Susan touched a statue (and that I supported because Susan should’ve known better at the age she was). No welcoming attitude with “Make yourself at home. You want some water?”? Obviously, the kids wouldn’t have gotten to pick. If Mrs. Pevensie had chosen, perhaps she should’ve been more careful. If the state equivalent in the UK did, then that was they was it was. On the bright side, the professor was very sweet. When Lucy cried, he offered to make her some hot chocolate.

When Aslan is executed, Lucy and Susan cry like he was a loved one they’ve known forever. Lucy also wept when Mr. Tumnus turned into stone. I get that they cared about these characters. But I did find it a bit odd that two girls would cry over deaths of animals they barely knew, especially if they weren’t their pets. Well, I guess the viewers needed some sadness and sympathy for all those characters.

Narnia’s time is pretty confusing. One year equals, like, a few minutes in the real world. After Lucy leaves Narnia for the first time, she returns back to where the hide-and-seek game started. At the end, when the kids have become adults and rule Narnia, they return to the wardrobe. The reverse back into the ages they were when they first entered. And they didn’t seem to react much. I wonder why it’s like that. Kind of strange, huh?

And the last point will tie into the sequels. In “Prince Caspian”, a year has passed since “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”. Centuries have gone by in Narnia. There are now humans. While there are adults from Narnia who can be there, adults from Earth are too old to be there. That is why Susan and Peter don’t go back to Narnia in the third film. There, it’s Edmond’s and Lucy’s last times, too. But Edmond is probably a few years older than Lucy. So while I’d understand Edmond’s last time, why Lucy? Unless they plan to lower the maximum age for going to Narnia.

Yes, there is a reason why kids can’t go to Narnia once they reach a certain point. The short answer is that they no longer need it. And there’s more to the long answer. But I don’t know it well. You could search for it elsewhere if you’re really desperate to find out.

Nevertheless, Narnia is a fantastic movie. Both as a fantasy and an amazing film. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

TV show

This is the Suite Analysis of Zac and Cody

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

movie

Why I Prefer the Willy Wonka Remake (2005) More than the Original (1971)

Ever since Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” released in 2005, every single person had said that he or she liked the original movie, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” from 1971 better. Everybody favored the old one—except me. I liked the reboot better.

Now I do respect everyone’s opinions and have to deal with being (so far) the only one who liked the remake better. I love a lot of unpopular movies. So here are the aspects of the reboot that make me enjoy it better than the original.

 

1: Willa Wonka and his sense of humor

Many people would disagree. I didn’t mind Gene Wilder’s portrayal of Willy Wonka. But when I saw how Johnny Depp played him, I admired his sense of humor, even if some of it crept certain people out.

2: The Oompa-Loompas’ songs

Unlike the first adaptation, the Oompa-Loompas sang different songs each time. I liked how each one differed, based on the child’s action, and I thought they sounded more exciting than the original movie’s “Oompa-Loompa Doo-bity Doo”.

3: Veruca was less spoiled—at least she seemed to be

In the 1971 film, she would shout, whine, and want pretty much everything she saw. In the 2005 movie, she seemed to control her emotions better. She seemed calmer, more positive, and overall, less spoiled. Of course, she wasn’t spoil-free. She did have some moments where she demands what she wants (like when she didn’t get the Golden Ticket in the beginning or when she wanted one of Mr. Wonka’s squirrels). Nevertheless, I liked the reboot’s Veruca better than the original’s version.

 

A word of wisdom: No matter how unpopular something is, if you love it, but feel lonely, there’s bound to be someone who enjoys it, too. You may never get to meet him or her. However, know that you’re never alone, regardless of how popular or unfavorable something is. Love how you enjoy it. Don’t worry about what others think of it or you. Accept who you are and what you like.

 

 

 

 

movie

Be Our (or My) Guest… for this “Beauty & the Beast” Comparison: 1991 vs. 2017 Adaptations

Warning: contains spoilers***

 

Many of us remember or grew up on the 1991 cartoon of “Beauty and the Beast”. I used to watch it as a small child. I have watched it in recent years, as well.

Of course, I understood the story better more recently than as a little kid. A selfish prince is cursed with becoming a monstrous beast and his servants turning into furniture or props. The enchanted rose loses petals and the beast must love another, and she must love him back by the time the last petal falls. Then the spell will break. A provincial village girl named Belle is seen as strange by her community. Her father goes out on a trip somewhere, but gets lost. Despite the servants’ kindness, the beast imprisons him. Belle finds her father and is willing to take his place. Things move in another direction.

I stopped there because this post is not the synopsis for either adaptation. It is to compare and contrast them.

The 2017 live-action remake featured Emma Watson as Belle, after being known for playing Hermione in the “Harry Potter” movies. Her voice might not match or even sound similar to Paige O’Hara (who voiced Belle in the 1991 cartoon). I also noticed that she couldn’t sustain certain long notes in certain songs as Paige O’Hara did. But I still admired her portrayal of Belle.

The live-action remake also focused on plot holes that didn’t make it into the animated version. For example, there was a lot of emphasis on what happened to Belle’s mother (she died from a disease when Belle was a baby), as well as the Beast’s parents. One plot hole that was mentioned at the beginning explained why no one had wondered what had happened the prince. It was because the curse also wiped the outsider’s memories. While that covered the unanswered question, I felt that the narrator had forced it in instead of it sounding more natural.

Minor parts of the story were changed from the 1991 film, as well as songs. Some songs were added or changed up a bit. One wasn’t sung and that was the song, “Human Again”, when the servants saw the progress Belle and the Beast were making with their romance.

Because I expect differences from originals to remakes, I found both adaptations to be equally good. The cartoon was lighter in mood, compared the live-action reboot. The live-action remake had some changes, but I knew they would. Movie-makers usually don’t like to copy the original sources of either the films they’re remaking or books. They feel that they won’t succeed as much. Of course, many people like the original movies or book sources much better than the reboots or book-to-film adaptations.

Nevertheless, I would rate each version of “Beauty and the Beast” 5 out of 5 stars. I felt that they were too different for me to decide which was better or not as good.