movie

Most Memorable Moments in Disney’s “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” and “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas”

Warning: contains spoilers***

These Disney holiday classics have some memorable moments, aside from not being full-length films. Rather, they are broken up into short specials. So, without further ado, I will list the parts that stand out to me.

First with “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

1: When Huey, Dewy, and Louie opened presents early

This is bad manners in real life. But on screen, it was funny. Huey, Dewy, and Louie get so excited on Christmas morning that they open their gifts early. Then Donald Duck comes and says to them, “Shouldn’t you wait for the family?” Shortly after that, Daisy, Scrooge McDuck, and some other character whose name I don’t remember arrive, wishing the boys a Merry Christmas.

2: That same special resembling a plot of “The Fairly OddParents” Christmas special, “Christmas Every Day”

Although this was released before “The Fairly OddParents” first aired, the plot of the special above reminded me, as well as another friend of mine, of “Christmas Every Day.” There, Timmy wishes it was Christmas every day, but that made it unfair to the other holidays. In “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas,” Huey, Dewy, and Louie also wish it were Christmas every day, but upon a shooting star. It also recycles the same events that happen on the actual day of Christmas.

Now onto “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas

1: The fact that it’s CG-animated rather than 2D

Who hasn’t had enough of CG-animation, especially since that’s pretty much the only type these days, except the occasional stop-motion? Anyway, the sequel came out in 2001, when 2D animation was still common, whether with Disney or other companies. Not only did this surprise me, but it also kind of disappointed me, too. I miss 2D animation.

2: The special where Donald Duck wants peace and quiet during the holidays

I totally do not blame him for that. In fact, I can relate a lot. Not to sound like a grinch or anything, but I get overwhelmed by Christmas music and even the spirit at times, too. Sometimes, I will go to the Kosher deli, Ben’s, where you won’t hear Christmas music. That is a save haven for me when I experience the Christmas overkill.

That being said, I still appreciate Christmas. When I was little, I used to get jealous of houses that had lots of Christmas decorations, and mine had none.

Anyway, as Donald Duck tries to get a break from the Christmas spirit, different characters and objects play, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which gets him to change. The fact that even inanimate items would play that song cracked me up a bit.

Bonus:

The endings of both movies

Both films conclude with the sensational six, as well as a few other characters, like Goofy’s son, Max, singing a Christmas melody, combining the songs, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Jingle Bells.”

TV show

Let’s Get Digital with This Evaluation of “The Fairly OddParents” Special, “Channel Chasers”

Warning: Contains spoilers***

In the past, I didn’t usually review or evaluate individual TV show specials. However, that has changed since I have watched that “Fairly OddParents” TV movie, “Channel Chasers,” earlier this year. So, let me get reviewing.

The premise begins 20 years into the future, where Dimsdale has been destroyed. The mysterious guy in the black outfit chases two adults, Chester and AJ. He has to go back in time to stop the evil dictator, Vicky, from ruling the world.

The scene switches to modern-day Dimsdale, where Vicky is her usual self. The news plays and discusses children imitating violent television. Timmy is one of them. He unintentionally bounces into his parents’ offices and gets grounded for it, thus being forbidden to watch TV. So, he comes up with a loophole and has Cosmo and Wanda create for him a remote that takes him into the TV channels. Things go smoothly, and then get crazy, as well as intense at times.

I have to admit how re-watching this reminded me of “Avengers: Endgame”. If you’re an MCU fan or have seen “The Endgame”, you would likely know what I mean. This also teaches the importance of respecting the boundaries of what’s acceptable in real life and what stays on the screen. I used to have a bad habit of imitating television as a child, too.

The TV programs Timmy goes on are all parodies of real ones, including those like, Rugrats, Peanuts, Sesame Street, and even The Simpsons. While I admired that as a kid, as an adult, I feel that it was kind of lazy and the creators could have come up with more original ideas. But maybe they intended that—I don’t know.

Another pitfall is the toilet humor and the amount of defecation jokes used, even in that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special. Also, when Timmy discovers how much longer he can have fairy godparents, he skips ages 13 and 14. He can have fairies until age 18, although I personally feel 13 or 14 would be more appropriate, as you’re not a little kid anymore. Therefore, you need to learn to deal with your own problems more maturely. Plus, most bigger kids want more freedom and independence, so having fairies follow them around might not please them.

Timmy does eventually acknowledge that he needs to grow up and will one day lose Cosmo and Wanda as his fairy godparents. He spends most of the episode not wanting to age.

Speaking of which, it was a good twist for that mysterious guy in the black suit turning out to be adult Timmy. I also appreciate how Timmy grows and changes where he starts off resistant to his grown-up self to missing him when he doesn’t make it past the end credits of “Karate Cows.”

I would rate this special 5 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Review of Book, “Cooking with Caroline” by Katharina Marcus

Sixteen-year-old Kirsty Matthews attends an assembly with her school, where a celebrity chef named Caroline Connelly announces a healthy cooking class for students. She learns more about the program as students ask Caroline different questions related to it. She unintentionally signs up for it as well as gets in a little drama with a boy named Jake Deacon. How will things progress? Read the book to find out.

This novel had a lot of unique aspects. One thing that stood out to me was the protagonist being overweight. It is not too common for main characters to have heavy figures—at least not in the ones I have read.

Another part that I found surprising was that every other chapter switched from third-person to first-person and focused merely on Kirsty’s thoughts. While that did displease me a bit, it did not distract me too much nor did it bother me a lot.

The food Caroline made the kids prepare sounded interesting, such as healthy soup and even pasta dishes. Sometimes, my mouth watered just from reading this fictional story. Lol.

From the teen life to the cooking lessons, this book brought lots of different feelings to me. I would rate this 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to both kids and adults.

Writing

Writers, Should You Hire a Beta Reader?

Image from Pixabay

What is a beta reader? It’s someone who gives you feedback on your story and its literary elements, such as plot, characterization, conflict, etc. They don’t edit your work or rewrite weak sentences.

So, if you are considering hiring a beta reader, here are some aspects you should be aware of.

Pros

Cheaper than traditional editors

Many book editors, especially those who have worked with big-name best-selling authors (like Stephen King), can charge lots of money for their services. They can range from hundreds to even thousands of dollars.

There are people with that kind of money. But unless you are one of them, start off with a beta reader.

Can return work more quickly 

Depending on the editor and the work, it can take at least a week or month to have the project returned to the client. From my experience, though, beta readers may take less time before they give the customers feedback. This can vary, however, depending on the reader and other factors.

Cons

Might not necessarily answer the writer’s specific questions 

With my last beta reader experience, I sent a bunch of questions to the person that concerned specific issues in my manuscript. The beta reader clarified that she was not an editor, so I said that she could answer the questions she felt were relevant. Sadly, she didn’t answer any.

Can be tough

Despite working on my manuscript for nearly 5 years, the beta reader said it needed a ton of work. Other beta readers bashed my projects, too. However, when I showed them to editors, the stories pleased them. For my current WIP, an editor said that it was strong and only needed minor editing.

I don’t know how typical it is for beta readers to be super-tough, but I am giving my manuscript to other beta readers as well as a developmental editor.

Remember to do what you think will work for you.

fiction

Holy Cricket! These Details in “Harry Potter” Surprised Me!

I’ve enjoyed the “Harry Potter” series for many years. Although I’ve read all the books and seen the movies, I still like learning more about the franchise. In fact, that is pretty much routine for me.

Anyway, along with gaining more knowledge on J.K. Rowling’s fictional world, there comes some shocking facts either revealed at some point or that I didn’t notice until later. So, without further ado, let me begin.

1: The “Missing Day” in “The Sorcerer’s Stone”

I don’t mean the movie scene, where Hagrid drops off Harry at King’s Cross, apparently the day after his birthday (or more than a month may have passed and Harry just wore the same clothes again). In the book (I’m not sure about the film adaptation), it is revealed that Lily and James Potter died on Halloween night, but Hagrid does not deliver Baby Harry to the Dursleys until the evening of November 1st. This is known as the “missing day” or “missing 24 hours”. I did not notice this until a few years ago, when someone stated it in a YouTube comment. Before that, I had thought Hagrid had taken Harry straight to the Dursleys within hours of leaving his parents’ home within the same night (and encountering Sirius Black, whom he had to deny legal custody to for Harry, under Dumbledore’s orders). But when I first read that statement, I was surprised. Hagrid had to watch Baby Harry for a whole day? Darsh! Hopefully, someone else took care of certain things for the infant.

Anyway, many fans have come up with their own theories on what could have happened during that missing day. I’ve read so many different ideas. One person guessed that J.K. Rowling might have made a little typo. She could have, but then wouldn’t she have admitted it?

2: The revelation on how wizards used to “go to the bathroom”

After the “Harry Potter” series concluded, J.K. Rowling revealed more tidbits about her books, including ones that were better left unsaid. I believe that in 2019, she revealed that before muggles invented plumbing, wizards and witches would relieve themselves where they stood and then magically vanish their waste. Ewww! Gross! Why did we need to know that?

3: When Professor McGonagall made an appearance in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” years before she should have been born

What’s even more bizarre was that she was already teaching at Hogwarts in the 1910’s and 20’s and looked to be in her late 20’s or early 30’s. But she was not supposed to be born until 1935. She even stated how many years she taught in “The Order of the Phoenix”, which takes place in the mid-1990’s. I forget what that number was, but she most definitely should not have existed in the events of “Fantastic Beasts”, which is the 1920’s.

Some people have assumed that that could have been a different Professor McGonagall. But the script reveals that it’s the same person Harry meets many decades later. Unless McGonagall has lied about her age this whole time, or somehow went back in time and used the time-turner (which has lots of rules), this should not have occurred. And no, J.K. Rowling’s excuse for not being strong at math isn’t valid. This isn’t calculous here—it’s grade-school level math. But “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” did have a lot of plot holes, even with J.K. Rowling involved.

So, there you have it.

movie

This is “The Greatest Showman” Review (2017)

The story begins with a musical number sung by P.T. Barnum, and then goes back to when he was a kid. He meets a girl named Charity, falls in love with her, and she eventually becomes his wife.

Years later, P.T. and Charity have two daughters, Helen and Caroline. P.T. takes his family to a museum of stuffed figures, and then decides to open up a circus. He asks for unique people to perform in his circus. His fame picks up from there.

Despite the mixed reviews, I thought this movie was pretty good. The musical numbers were amazing, especially Zac Efron’s (who played Philip the junior assistant) voice having a little hint of Troy Bolton from “High School Musical”, even though he sounds nothing like Troy. Other strengths include the importance of family, but especially the acceptance of different people. I was impressed how P.T. longed for unique people, such as an exceptionally tall man as well as a very short guy, and a bearded lady. Although those people were often misunderstood by others, I admired how P.T. taught them to accept who they were and not to be ashamed of that.

Although this film had a good number of perks, there were parts that didn’t please me. One includes Charity’s father slapping P.T. when he was a child. Yes, it was a historical period, and I don’t think that would be okay today. Still. Another oddity was how Charity remained P.T.’s love interest from her youth to her adulthood. Maybe this was common in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. But it hardly ever happens these days. Most people lose touch with their childhood and high school friends by their 20’s.

Anyway, back to the review. When one of P.T.’s daughters (I can’t remember whom) performs ballet, I must admit that their recital was pretty fancy and unusual. After the show, the people are mingling in a rotunda and servants are passing around alcohol. But maybe that was typical then.

The movie also had many twists and turns. You’d have to see it to learn what they were.

I would give “The Greatest Showman” 4 out of 5 stars. Something about it wasn’t fully engaging. But it still kept my attention for the most part.  

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.

movie

It’s Going to be a Good Evaluation of “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” (2004)

Warning: contains spoilers***

I first saw this film in a car ride with Girl Scouts many years ago. Then I watched it again recently and picked up more of the story, not to mention that being older also likely played a part. Anyway, let me start the evaluation.

A bunch of pirates have tickets to “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”, sing the theme song, and enter the movie theater, which is close to a boating dock (pretty odd). Then it focuses on Bikini Bottom—only for there to be a police investigation due to a customer not having cheese in his crabby patty. SpongeBob saves the day by placing cheese in the guy’s sandwich and is cheered for as the Krusty Krab manager… but it was all just a dream. Nevertheless, SpongeBob looks forward to earning his position as the new manager. However, the prize is given to Squidward, and poor SpongeBob is heartbroken. Meanwhile, Plankton envies Mr. Krabs’ expanding business and steals not only the secret formula to the crabby patties, but also King Neptune’s crown. King Neptune angrily blames Mr. Krabs for it and freezes him with his rake. It is up to SpongeBob and Patrick to save everything.

As usual, the humor succeeded very much and I laughed my brains out throughout the film. I especially found the part where Patrick and SpongeBob ate so much ice cream and got drunk because of it. Other strengths include the songs, like “Now That We’re Men” and “Goofy Goober”, both the original and rock versions, and much more.

Speaking of rock, it’s unknown how SpongeBob got a supernatural guitar and costume when he freed the Bikini Bottom citizen being Plankton’s controlled slaves. I felt it was too much of a deus ex machina moment, which is when something saves the day with little to no believability and merely for plot convenience, just out of nothing. Other deus ex machina moments include David Hasselhoff taking SpongeBob and Patrick back to the ocean (and being a perfectly good swimmer and literal human motor) and when the water revived all the dead sea creatures in Shell City. Unless the sprinklers had magic in them, it was pretty unbelievable. Someone on YouTube made a good point. Except for Patrick and SpongeBob, who had just recently and briefly drowned in the air, pouring water onto dead sea animals would not bring them back to life. But maybe the water was enchanted, since SpongeBob and Patrick’s tears traveled to a nearby outlet and caused the emergency sprinklers to come on.

While focusing on the emergency, King Neptune’s daughter, Princess Mindy, told SpongeBob and Patrick that they were the only ones left who could receive the crown since all the other residents in Bikini Bottom have become Plankton’s slaves with their bucket helmets. However, King Neptune and his servants (at least one of them), were not under the curse of Plankton’s helmets. So, they technically could have contributed somehow. But King Neptune was too insecure about his baldness (or what he called thinning) to go out.

Which reminds me—it was not nice for the Bikini Bottom residents to freak out over King Neptune’s baldness. Not just because he was the ruler, but it’s also rude in general. You never make fun of or freak out over somebody being bald. What else is ironic is that the Bikini Bottom dwellers are sea creatures (except for Sandy), and none of them have hair. So, that would put them in the same boat as King Neptune, even if he abused his power. Mindy was right to ask him to use kindness and compassion. Like the YouTuber, Brooks Show, I have to agree that Mindy is a bit like Velma from “Scooby Doo”. Part of her also reminds me of Ariel and King Neptune as Triton in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Their beliefs and relationship are quite similar.

Another part I would like to comment on include the cyclops, who is really just some guy in a diving suit. But I think he is an extreme psychopath. Brooks Show also made another good point that he didn’t have to be in that big suit once on land. When Patrick’s Goofy Goober underwear showed after SpongeBob believed that the two were just kids, Patrick ran away in tears without pulling his shorts up. I whispered, “Pull your pants up,” and then SpongeBob did the same. Funny.

So, that’s it for my evaluation. I would rate “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” 5 out of 5 stars. Do you agree?

cooking

How to Cook for Private Events Without Making Yourself Crazy

Image from Pixabay

I have been cooking for many years, ever since I was 12. I first discovered how much I enjoyed it when taking home economics in 7th grade.

Recent years, I have been cooking for many of my private events, such as birthdays. But the reason isn’t for health or money—it’s because I have a few friends with dietary restrictions. One who has come a lot is allergic to nuts and intolerant of soy. So, I have usually cooked the food from scratch, both the dinners and desserts.

I am turning 27 on the 22nd of this month. Because my friend with the nut allergy didn’t come, I could order a cake as well as dinner. I did cook a pasta dish with garlic and oil for another friend, who is voluntarily vegetarian, although we ended up not serving it. 

But last year, for my birthday, I cooked all day for the party. I did not even get a chance to eat lunch. So, for my birthday party next year, I will cook only one thing: a pasta dish. I will also serve premade bread and butter along with salad. If the friend with the nut allergy comes, I will make the cake, filling  and frosting from scratch. Or I will make a pull-apart cupcake cake.

The lesson I learned is less can be more for food at parties. Although my parents are health freaks, and my dad has enforced protein at every meal, especially when I was younger, I can rebel against that for events. I would gladly order pizza, but I am allergic to tomatoes. I developed the allergy in 2017, right after graduating from college.

Anyway, if possible, cook only a little bit or not at all. If you have to cook, then pick up to a few items that are not super involved. It’s not the end of the world if you have a guest with a dietary restriction and you need to accommodate him or her. If their food intolerance or allergy isn’t too severe, then it’s okay to serve something with the ingredient they can’t have as long as you tell them. 

I hope this helps.

travel

My Most Memorable Moments on a Girl Scout Trip to London in 2008


Many years ago, when I was 14, I went on a trip with my Girl Scout troop to London for 5 days. I enjoyed it, except where we stayed. But I am not going to talk about that here.
Instead, I will focus on a few memorable moments that happened there. So, without further ado, let me get started.

1: Mature t-shirts in an outdoor flea market 

On our last day in London, we toured more sites and then shopped at a flea market. I noticed some t-shirts with naughty language, but there was one word I didn’t know the meaning of. So, I  asked my mom loudly what it was. But she whispered me the definition. I will stop there on that.

2: Low-quality fish n’ chips

I know, the UK is known for having awesome fish n’ chips. I did have good ones, too. However, the first night there, my troop ate at a restaurant where the food quality wasn’t what I expected. I even told my mom the fish tasted like a frozen kind.

3: Excitement on Legoland 

On our way back from Stonehenge, we passed a park called Legoland, and everyone got excited. But the guide said, “We’re not going to Legoland.” Not only was it not part of the itinerary, I think it was also closed.

4: Touring the London Dungeons 

Although it was memorable, it was far from my favorite. It scared me and I experienced haunting effects in my room at night. I might have had trouble falling asleep. I don’t remember. But visit that at your own risk, no matter how brave you think you are.

I don’t know when international travel will be safe and normal again. But when it resumes, be careful. Also, keep in mind that some of the places might have gone out of business either recently or a long time ago, whether related to the pandemic or not. Discovery Times Square in New York City is an example.

If you choose to go to London when it’s safe again, you can consider these places and activities I’ve listed. Just check to see if they still exist.