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.

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 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.

art

Mini Art Show: A Sketch of a Bird

It’s been a while since I’ve shown a piece of art I did recently. That is because I haven’t been doing much of it these days. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy art. I just have other priorities.

Anyway, I sketched this image based off a tourism pamphlet from my house. My parents went to upstate New York (I’m from Long Island) and brought back a wildlife guidebook.

Since I wanted to vary my drawing subjects, I decided to draw the bird on the front cover. Of course, there are differences, besides the lack of color and the pencil marks. I simplified the plants in the background and even changed some. As for the bird, I started off with simple shapes, a technique I learned in college.

The paper was also not a cream tone. It just came out that way when I photographed it with my phone and adjusted some aspects in order to bring out the image more. Despite that, I decided to keep the background that beige. I feel it adds some sophistication and aesthetic.

Will I color this in? Maybe. After my other priorities are out of the way, I could color or paint it, either with traditional or digital media. But I am not sure, as of now. What do you think of this?

TV show

Review of “Very CatDog Christmas” (1999)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

Cat and Dog are preparing for Christmas and go to the mall, where various animal children stand in line to sit on Santa’s lap. Santa is also the only human in that universe. Not long after, a VIP’s spoiled daughter, Rancine, whines about how she wants the CatDog. Dog convinces Cat to take the offer, but he doesn’t agree with it. So, Rancine cries while on Santa’s lap.

Shortly after, Santa is furious and cancels Christmas, where his sleigh erases every holiday element and decoration. Even CatDog’s Christmas tree is gone, so they get creative and try making their own. Then they realize that spending time with loved ones matters more for Christmas than the stuff.

This special interested me a bit when one of my friends wanted to play it at my 24th birthday party a few years ago. Like my guests, I found it odd that Santa was the only person in an animal world. I also found Rancine unlikable, not to mention that her dress is so short and her underwear shows. That’s not exactly age-appropriate for someone as old as her.

But the strengths include the morals and the engaging element of a childhood show. I think it’s a great special that everyone can enjoy. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

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.

travel

My Top Animal Encounter Moments on Trips

Who doesn’t love animals? I certainly admire them. This list will include moments from both local and exotic trips. It will not be in any favorable order, either.

1: Crabs at a park near me

This happened on a sixth-grade field trip, many years ago. We got to walk on the beach and play with the crabs. I remember naming mine Bob for that moment, Lol.

2: A chameleon in Hawaii

After watching the sunrise, our tour continued. We stopped somewhere for breakfast and outside of the place, our guide let us handle a chameleon. I recall it crawling on my arm, but cursing a bit since I was worried about it falling. This happened when I was 19.

3: An octopus and pufferfish in Costa Rica

While snorkeling, our guide there showed us an octopus and pufferfish. He let us touch them, too. I was too grossed out by the octopus, but was fine with the pufferfish.

4: Feeding fish in the Bahamas

A year before I went to Costa Rica, I went to the Bahamas and stayed at Atlantis. We went snorkeling at a place outside the resort and were given fish food for the fish. I was surprised that they permitted it, but it was because the fish would forget human interactions shortly after. After I dropped the fish food, I thought a fish bit me. But it turned out that the fins scraped my finger. I got a Band-Aid after, though, although not right away.

5: Swimming with dolphins in Cozumel and the Bahamas

The first time I swam with dolphins was when I was 10, in Cozumel. The latter happened when I was 16, one or two days before we snorkeled outside of Atlantis. Their skin felt rubbery and I could easily kiss them, which I could never do with any other creature, especially those with fur.

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.