Writing

My Reaction to an Article About Setting Stories Now and What I Think You Can Do About it

Ugh! This pandemic is killing me and us all. I want to get back to full straightforward life ASAP! Okay, I don’t blog about things like this.

However, I did come across an article on BookBaby about “the elephant in the room.” The article talked about setting your story now in 2020, despite the pandemic.

It gave an example from an old story, but twisted on it where a character had to practice social distancing and stay 6 feet apart from others. The post said that there are a lot of complications with setting your story this year. Your characters would have to follow pandemic guidelines, but that could interfere with your plot. The author also said that you shouldn’t have the characters live completely typical lives, such as dining out or partying.

The person advised against setting the stories in the future since no one knows what will happen. I agree with that one. But he or she also said that you shouldn’t set it in the past since it would be unsatisfactory. However, I don’t agree with that one, especially if you only backdate by one or two years. If contemporary settings matter so much, I would still consider 2019 and even 2018 to be pretty contemporary. I think setting your stories then should be totally fine. After all, if your characters need to live normal, typical lives, then setting it one or two years before now should be understandable and even important. That is when setting a story in a certain year plays a crucial part. But I think writers should get to set their stories whenever they want. I wrote another post about that, though.

So, unless your story is centered around Covid-19, or is set in a made-up world (i.e. a make-believe planet in science-fiction or a different magical land or world in fantasy), I think it is best to set it in 2019 or 2018. Or, you could wait until the pandemic is fully over, which should be by next year, or even sooner. This could work if you need to do a lot of research or plan more.

I read the comments on that article, and a lot of people said that books should take you into another world and shouldn’t necessarily be centered around current issues. That probably would work if your story is set in the US and is between January and March.

If your story is set in a made-up world, go ahead and set it now or in the future and keep Covid-19 out of it. Otherwise, set it one or two (or more) years earlier or wait till the sense of pre-pandemic normalcy starts to return.

TV show

Get into “Dexter’s Laboratory” and Check Out These Top 4 Memorable Moments

Ah, the early 2000’s Cartoon Network ruled. For me, those were the golden days. And one of those golden-era shows was “Dexter’s Laboratory”.

If you recall the premise, it focused on a young boy genius who had a secret lab with so many high-tech gadgets, machines, and more. But his annoying older sister, Deedee, enters and plays around with things. I love her famous line, “Ooh, what does this button do?” Bad Deedee!

Anyway, I am going to share the top moments that stand out to me from the show. Here it goes.

4: When Dexter is in Deedee’s body

When a woman asks “Deedee” how she’s doing, it turns out that Dexter’s in her body and is being annoying by going, “Deedee dumb, Deedee dumb.” Deedee, meanwhile, is stuck in her and Dexter’s mom’s body, and a dog is in Dexter’s body, panting. Lol.

3: Mandark’s unrealistic sobs

There is a dialogue-free short where Mandark, a mean kid Dexter dislikes, sounds his signature laugh. But eventually, he cries, and it sounds exactly like his evil laugh, except that the ha’s become wahs. It went “Wah-huh-huh, wah-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh!”

2: When Deedee wants to be a pony

In some episode (I don’t remember the name), Deedee and her friends are fantasizing about being ponies. Deedee breaks down into tears and runs home, wanting to become a pony. Dexter turns her into one, however, he tries to ride her when she wants to be free. She even rejects the saddle Dexter almost puts on her.

1: The events in the episode, “Don’t Be a Baby”

In order to see a mature movie, Dexter and Deedee go into a machine to make themselves older. However, thanks to Deedee tripping over a wire, the machine turns everybody in the world into babies, including Dexter’s monkey and computer. Deedee and Dexter end up taking care of their parents, who have become infants.

This episode cracked me up. Even though I haven’t seen it in years, I still recall it very well. I loved when the computer made baby babbles. Could you imagine your computer doing that? It would be quite impractical.

And the part when Deedee sings for her baby parents a lullaby was hilarious. It went, “Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep, Mommy and Daddy.” It followed the tune of “Lullaby and Goodnight”. Ha ha ha, although this wouldn’t be funny in real life.

So, there you have it.

movie, TV show

Have You Noticed These Differences Between the “Jimmy Neutron” Movie and TV Series?

It all began in 2001 when a young boy genius was introduced to us and the famous line he often says will never leave our minds:

“3… 2… 1… Gotta Blast!”

That’s right, I’m talking about the one and only…Jimmy Neutron. The theatrical release started it all. Then came the TV show, “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius”.

All right, I guess that’s enough introduction. This post is meant to point out the differences between the movie and television series.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

1: Jimmy’s voice is slightly higher in the film

This is something I noticed when I watched the movie recently after seeing many episodes of the TV show. Could this be an inconsistency, or did Jimmy start puberty in between and his voice is changing? Not sure about the latter, but maybe the voice actress (yup, Jimmy is voiced by a woman) chose to or was instructed to sound more masculine.

2: Jimmy and his friends’ outfits change in the TV series

Once the show premiered on Nickelodeon, Jimmy had long pants instead of shorts, Carl had no straps on his pants, Cindy had a ponytail instead of pigtails, khaki pants, and a halter top (which, by the way, would be forbidden at school in real life). Sheen and Libby’s clothes remain the same until after the Egyptian episode for Libby. Not only does she wear her hair in several braids, but she also has a shirt and jeans instead of a dress. Who knows why the characters’ outfits changed?

3: Jimmy’s brain blast is out loud in the TV show while the opposite in the film

If you’ve seen the movie, do you notice how when Jimmy tries to get a brain blast, his mouth doesn’t move? That’s probably because it’s his internal thought.

However, in the series, he starts saying his brain blasts out loud. Another mystery to why the creators made that update for the TV show.

4: There are a bunch of extras in the film that don’t make it to the series

One detail I noticed about the show is that they always show the same extras and there are likely only up to twenty or so, excluding the main and major characters. And Retroville is a suburb and city, not a small town.

When I viewed the movie, I noticed a lot more extras, many which never appeared again. They could have all moved away. Or the TV show had a lower budget. The second one is possible, especially since the series only had three seasons, regardless of its popularity.

Do you notice any details about “Jimmy Neutron” that I didn’t?

movie

It’s the Endgame of Avengers as We Know it (2019)

Twenty-three days have passed since Thanos wiped out the world’s population. The remaining Avengers get together to figure out how to fix the problem. The final idea is to go back in time to stop Thanos from succeeding.

The group tests the time machine until it works. They have to go to different years and different times. Of course, things go wrong while the people are in the past.

I found this film to be interesting, despite never being a huge Marvel Cinematic Universe fan. One scene I thought was funny was the one where the remaining people are testing the time machine and Scott, one of the guys, was their guinea pig. He became a child, old man, baby, and then returned to his actual age. It reminded me of that “Codename: Kids Next Door” episode where the delightful children had a special device that made one age forward or backwards.

It was three hours long. Although it was recommended that people not go to the bathroom during the movie, I actually had to. But I didn’t miss much.

Anyway, some scenes were amazing, some were intense, and a few were sad. Except for the time-machine experimenting moment, I didn’t get super-passionate about a lot of the story. And it’s probably because I’m not a big superhero movie fan.

I would rate this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars. I would still recommend it, though.

fiction

All About Aliens: A Flash Fiction Piece

The school warning bell rang and I hurried to my science class. Today was the last day of classes for my senior year of high school.

After studying science for many years, I realized that how films portray aliens isn’t exactly the most realistic. I know—it’s fiction. But I’ve come up with a theory on what aliens would be like if they actually existed.

Well, first off, they would not fly spaceships. They also wouldn’t speak, not even their own language—I don’t think so. They might not be able to even breathe on Earth.

Just like we earthlings couldn’t travel to other planets safely, I don’t believe aliens could travel to our planet easily, either. Yes, there are studies that suggest that there may be life on other planets, such as Mars. But still—can we be a hundred percent certain, as of now?

I entered the classroom and sat at my desk. My crush, Daxea, sat near me.

“Pssst…Henry, we’re watching a movie,” Daxea said.

“Oh, wow,” I said. “What movie?”

“Class, we are watching The Sad, Little Aliens,” said my science teacher, Mr. Pinkett. “So, please relax, and enjoy the movie.” He inserted the DVD.

I watched the film, my eyes tearing up as some tiny aliens cried. It seemed that they were babies and their parents had died.

A memory flashed into my mind. My dad died when I was ten…in a motorcycle crash.

I covered my face, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Daxea touched my shoulder. “Henry, are you all right?”

“Leave me alone,” I whispered.

I left the classroom and went into the bathroom, where I washed my face. When I returned to the room, there was a scene where a young boy carried the baby aliens into his house.

“Mom, Dad, look what I found,” said the child.

The parents stared.

“Gabriel, what are those things?” asked the father.

“I…uh…don’t know,” Gabriel said.

“Put them back where you found them,” the mother said. “They don’t belong in the house.”

“But their parents are gone,” said Gabriel.

“Listen to your mother,” the dad said.

“Please, please can I take care of them?” asked Gabriel.

“Absolutely not,” the mom said.

Gabriel paused. “I’ll do anything for you if you let me care for these things. I promise.”

The parents hesitated.

“If you promise,” the father said.

“Thanks, Dad,” Gabriel said.

I smiled.

movie

It’s Time We Try the “Lilo & Stitch” Critique (2002)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

I saw this movie with camp when I was eight. It was one of Disney’s few successful features in the early 2000’s. It had a few sequels and even a TV series on Disney Channel.

The story centers around an alien and a little girl from Hawaii desperate for a friend. Stitch is blasted off a planet. At that point, he is dangerous and his identity is Experiment 626. The POV switches to Lilo, a small girl late for her luau class after feeding Pudge the fish his peanut-butter sandwich. Lilo and the other girls break out into a fight and then she runs away unsupervised. Her older sister, Nani, gets in trouble with CPS as a consequence for the escape. After an arguement between the two, Nani forgives Lilo. The two go to adopt a dog. Lilo chooses Stitch, thinking he is a dog. Their time begins from there.

Now here are the strengths of this film.

1: The plot

In some ways, it reminds me a lot of “Beauty and the Beast”. The structure of scenes, the characterizations and actions of both Stitch and Lilo, and how they go from an unhealthy to heartwarming bond. Does that ring a bell? I can’t imagine this was intentional, but it was well-executed.

2: The Elvis music

Not often do you hear pop music in a Disney movie. Although “Lilo & Stitch” is sometimes treated like classics such as “The Little Mermaid” or “Pinocchio”, it sometimes is not. None of the characters sing. But the scenes where Stitch plays the guitar dressed as Elvis and where “Hound Dog” and “Burning Love” play are great.

3: The way this film was promoted (lol)

As a way to promote the movie, Stitch barged into classics, such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King”. I love this line from the others, “Get your own movie” (Belle really is a funny girl). I will admit, however, that the picture quality wasn’t the strongest.

Which brings me to moments that could’ve been improved or explained better…

1: How does Stitch learn to speak?

The alien somehow goes from monstrous feral beast to knowing how to use developed speech like a human. Yet, it is never explained why or how (correct me if it gets revealed in the series or one of the sequels). I was surprised to hear that there is talk on making a live-action “Lilo and Stitch” remake. I don’t know if this plothole will be resolved, though, depending on how many people are bugged by this. But it’d be nice if this question is answered.

2: Why was Cobra Bubbles there at Lilo’s birthday in that brief scene?

I get he was an important character, but doesn’t anyone find it a bit strange to invite someone from CPS to celebrate a child’s birthday? I wouldn’t do that.

That’s really it. I would rate “Lilo & Stitch” 5 out of 5 stars.

movie

He is the God of Thunder, from the Planet, Asgard – Let’s Review “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

I’ve never been a superhero fan, regardless of brand or characters. I saw “Thor Ragnarok” at a birthday party a little over a year ago. It turned out better than I thought. However, I will say that I didn’t love it.

The film starts with Thor is some underworld environment. He then joins his father and brother. Thor discovers that the planet, Asgard, is in danger. In fact, an evil woman, named Hela, gains so much power and puts the whole planet in danger as she becomes a tyrant.

Thor is whisked away to another planet, where there are messed up beings and cannibals. Thor is imprisoned somewhere. Not long after, his hair is cut and he has to fight the Hulk in a stadium. Meanwhile, Asgard is falling apart. It takes time for Thor to get others to trust him and try to save his planet.

Unfortunately, the planet is pretty much destroyed once Thor arrives. The people there have to move to Earth.

The film was interesting. I will admit that. But I found some things disappointing, like when Thor had his long hair chopped off (I actually have a super-painful memory of me experiencing my hair chopped off years ago) as well as his eye removed. I felt sorry for Thor’s hair to be cut and right after that, the crowd booing at him. At least the scissors guy let Thor keep his beard. As for the eye, something satisfying happened in the “Avengers” film with all the Marvel characters (I won’t say what, though).

Hela was so evil. She was not only unlikable to the point that I couldn’t even have just the tiniest amount of sympathy for her, but she also wasn’t really believable . She just abused her power. Maybe she has a tragic backstory and wasn’t always evil. But pure evil villains are too stereotypical and even lazy.

Thor’s brother wasn’t too likable, either. The ruler of the planet (played by Jeff Goldblum) or the Grandmaster, was wicked in a special way. He was calm and acted more positively. I think that’s more creative than the approach to developing Hela.

The ending was disappointing too. I know this is an installment, but still. It could have been at least a little more satisfying. Will things turn around later?

I would rate “Thor Ragnarok” 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was engaging. I will also admit that many parts were funny. Just a few things didn’t really work out for me.

TV show

3… 2… 1… Got to Blast! This is the Evaluation of “Jimmy Neutron”

One of Nickelodeon’s earliest CG TV shows has been loved by many, including myself. It all started out as a movie in 2001, where Jimmy and his friends wanted independence from the adults. Aliens even kidnapped the grownups. However, that ended up a nightmare. The children traveled to Yolkus, the other planet, and saved their parents.

Enough said about the film—onto the TV show. The premise is a young boy, named Jimmy, who invents things to make things easier and well for him. Even the community knows Jimmy and his talent for science and inventing. Things usually end up not as planned.

The name of the town Jimmy lives in is Retroville. It’s a city, yet, only about twenty people live there. Don’t believe me? It’s been proven in the third Jimmy-Timmy Power Hour Special (when “Jimmy Neutron” and “The Fairly Oddparents” had crossovers) that a very small population resides in Retroville. After every person you see on the show is sucked away, Retroville becomes a quiet ghost town.

Which brings me to my next point—if so few people live there, why wasn’t it just a small town? In fact, I think most small towns are much more populated than Retroville. Oh well. The tiny population probably saved money and time for the animators.

Another thing about the show is that it seems to take place in Texas, yet the geographic layout and climate are nowhere near accurate. Neither are the people and their culture. Interesting, huh?

Now onto the moments. From my observation, Jimmy is sometimes inconsistent with others. For instance, he and Cindy usually don’t get along. He is sometimes in love with this minor character, Betty Quinland. However, in the second Jimmy-Timmy Power Hour, Jimmy likes Cindy and wants to take her to the school dance. If he really likes Cindy, then why do they act like they hate each other, and why did Jimmy scream, “Noooo!!!” when he discovered his future-self married her? I was assuming that maybe the two grew and changed and decided to like each other, but the creators just failed to show or tell that on their end. However, I think they fight to hide their care for each other. That’s what I heard.

In one of the specials, Jimmy stated that people don’t change. Um… of course they do. Otherwise, we’d all be looking and functioning like newborns. In fact, there was one episode where Jimmy turned into a Hulk-like monster. I used to nickname him the Julk. That was change… at least in some form.

One thing I found quite funny because it was unrealistic was when Jimmy wanted something badly, but couldn’t wait till his birthday, which wasn’t for three months. He “changed” his birthday to the next day. It was his birthday for over a week until his parents tried to send him off to college.

Another great moment was when Sheen discovered that he had a terrible singing voice. It was a huge disadvantage until the twankie-combined monster became so violent that Sheen needed to sing to make it fall asleep.

Who remembers that special? The twankies were cute and harmless until they heard music. Then they transformed into violent creatures and eventually merged into a huge monster. Only Sheen’s horrible singing voice kept the twankies from becoming dangerous.

Despite the show’s popularity, it only lasted for about three seasons. My family enjoyed this show and they used to be disappointed when there were no more new episodes. Oh well.

There was actually a spinoff where Sheen had his own show. But that didn’t do well. I didn’t even find it appealing just based on the advertisements.

That’s it for thisevaluation. Now it’s time to blast off.