On Animation

There are a lot of different kinds of animation and there’s no way I’m going to cover all of them in this short piece.

I love animated movies. Well, I suppose I should say the ones made for children. Most of them. I didn’t have much access to them when I was really little (the only VHS we had were Beauty and the Beast, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, and Bambi), but now with this great phenomenon called Netflix I have full access to all the films I only got to see at a friend’s house if I managed to snag an invite to a sleepover. Plus, as a relatively functioning adult, I can go to the store and buy myself cheap $5 movies from Walmart. I stick mostly with Disney nowadays, but Dreamworks and Veggietales both have some great films. My current favorite animated films are The Prince of Egypt, Anastasia, Meet the Robinsons, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Animated television shows are pretty great. Again, the kid ones. I’m not all that interested in South Park or The Simpsons, and the few episodes I’ve seen of Rick and Morty and Bob’s Burgers didn’t impress me. I’m not that well versed in the children’s animated television, so I really only have two that I watch on occasion when I need some lighthearted fun to keep the stress of homework away: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Phineas and Ferb. I’ve also watched and enjoyed The Clone Wars, but I don’t go back to watch episodes, like I do with the other two. I do intend to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender someday. When I have time and and Amazon account that lets me watch it.

I had a brief stint as an anime nerd, which mostly consisted of me watching Fairy Tail and Hetalia. I enjoyed both, but Fairy Tail got a little too fan service-y and predictable, so I got bored. Hetalia has such short and ridiculous episodes that it’s easy for me to go back and watch one when I have 5 minutes to spare. Another anime series I watched and really enjoyed was The Lovely Complex. One I didn’t enjoy was Ouran Host Club. It just didn’t fit my preferences, I suppose.

I realize this is more of an article on cartoons than animation, isn’t it?

I have every respect for animators of every type and kind. I am amazed by the work they do, especially as someone who can only draw stick figures. Being able to draw is one thing (and a very awesome talent), but being able to draw and construct so that something can move fluidly and not look incredibly strange? That’s something else, and the people who do it deserve every compliment they get.

What are your thoughts on animation? What do you think about my tastes when it comes to this topic? Is this article more about cartoons than animation? There is a difference between the two, right? Please let me know in the comments!

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Out from the Pit

Because of my last post titled “On Writing,” I decided to post some more original writing. This is an exercise in not using dialogue, and the concept is rather dystopian. Probably not something I’d do again, but it was interesting to do once. Also, don’t question the physics.

I was born in darkness. While she was pregnant,  my mother had been thrown into a pit so deep the top could not be seen from inside. We were isolated in darkness, imprisoned in the black pitch of it. Bitter water trickled down from the sky, and we drank from it to stay alive. Food was thrown down occasionally, and my mother had me eat my fill before she touched it. She told me my father would come for me, but she would not tell me who my father was, or what he was like.

Eventually the day came when a rope was thrown down. A voice called down from above that the younger one was to climb up to the surface. My mother patted my cheek and handed me the rope. She told me to climb. And I did.

I did not know how long it would take for me to get to the surface, but I climbed anyway. I nearly fell five separate times and slipped ten. My hands chafed against the rough rope and the darkness threatened to choke me.

Eventually I saw a burning brightness that scalded my eyes. I looked down into the darkness I had ascended from and suddenly felt comforted. The light was more frightening than the darkness and I wanted to return to its cold embrace.

However I heard voices calling to me. They told me to keep climbing. They were here for my rescue, they said. I shut my eyes, welcoming the darkness behind my lids and obeyed.

I was pulled onto a flat surface and poked and prodded in various places around my body. Some people were asking if I was alive, and more were asking if I was worth the wait. I had taken longer than the other girls, they said.

I opened my eyes for a moment and saw people staring at me. The brightness of the world threatened to burn my eyes, but I kept them open. I told them I wasn’t dead. I told them to throw the rope down for my mother.

Suddenly the crowd parted to admit a man. He smiled at me in a way that said I should have known him, but I did not know what he wanted or who he was. He took me by the shoulders and lifted me up. He kissed me on each cheek and on the forehead. He told the crowd he claimed me as his child and that he would care for me as a proper father. He was pleased with me, he told them. He said I was a child worth waiting for.

The crowd applauded happily until another man stepped forward. He looked me up and down with a lingering stare and approached the man who held my shoulders. He told the man he wanted me for the pits. He said I had good genes and should be used accordingly.

The crowd booed. They begged that I be able to live in the light. The darkness was too scary for a young one like me. I had already gone through my torture, they told him. They argued that I had lived in the pits eighteen years, and that I should not have to go through it again.

The first man brought me closer to him. The ceremony had been performed, he said. I was his child. He told the second man that he had waited patiently eighteen years for a daughter like me and he wanted to keep me.

This displeased the second man. He grabbed me by the hair, causing a scream to escape my lips. He handed me a pistol and told me to shoot. I asked him how and why. He roughly grabbed my hands and helped me hold the gun still, pointed at the first man. Shoot, he said, kill the traitor.

The man looked at me pitifully. All he wanted was a daughter he said. He told me not to kill him. Patricide was a crime he said. I’d be thrown in the darkness for good.

The second man growled. He shook my hands. He told me to pull the trigger. Tears filled my eyes, blurring my vision. I did not care about either man. I was confused and didn’t know what was going on. I just wanted to return to the darkness. The light was too scary. I could see what happened in the light; in the darkness all you did was hear and feel. No need for seeing.

The man holding my hands shook me, telling me to shoot. I opened my eyes and looked at the first man. He smiled at me again, a knowing smile telling me he knew what I was thinking. I closed my eyes, rejoicing in darkness, and raised my hands to the sky.

I heard the crowd shouting for me not to shoot, the second man telling me to let him adjust my hands to the target, and the first man laughing. I pulled the trigger and a loud bang made me fall to my knees. I covered my ears and kept my eyes closed.

Something fell over my head and onto my shoulders. I opened my eyes and saw a piece of cloth draped over my body. There was a hole in it that let my head poke through and I began to lift it over my head when a voice told me to stop.

I looked up and saw the first man. He smiled at me and told me I had passed the test. I was his daughter Erena and it was time to go home. He said to keep the shawl on. He would give me proper clothing when we got to his house.

I shook my head. I told him I wanted my mother. I could throw the rope down to her and have her climb I said. The man looked at me sadly. He told me I could not do that. It was against the rules. He said I should forget her.

If you have a better title for this short prose, let me know in the comments! While you’re commenting, tell me what you think of it and what I should try next! I love suggestions!

On Writing

“What?” I hear you say. “Random Rambles is posting something before the last day of the month?” Believe me, I’m just as surprised.

I started telling stories when I was very little. I think I was about 5, and it was 3 in the morning. There was a storm outside, and my sister and I were out in the hallway with the light on because she was scared. I wanted to cheer her up and make her laugh, and so I told her the following story:

Once upon a time, there was a princess who loved to eat oranges. And when the man she loved asked her to marry him, she said no. The end.

It is a super dumb, super short story, but it cheered my sister up. By the next morning I had come up with two equally dumb and equally short stories:

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved the color purple. But when all the purple stuff was on sale, she bought all of the expensive brown stuff instead. The end.

Once upon a time there was a man who lived in a bathtub. All the people of the town thought he was so clever, but when the wisest girl in the world saw him, she slapped him across the face. He was very confused. The end.

I learned from creating these stories that I loved coming up with things that would entertain people. And from then on, I was a writer.

I thought I was an amazing writer when I was little and that I could come up with stories no one had thought of before. I was wrong. Looking back on what I remember from my early stories (most of them are lost thankfully), I have to cringe. All I remember from my first multi-page story was that it had characters named after skin defects, and if that’s all I can remember, I don’t want to know what it was about.

The only good that came from me writing these stories was that I developed a writing style and a decent sense of how to use words. I excelled at grammar in grade school and high school, and rarely needed to revise any papers I wrote.

It took me two years to write my first multi-chapter “novel.” I finished it in 2015, and was immensely proud of myself. The problem is, it is loaded with errors and plot holes, and I am too proud of it to change anything. I’ve been writing the story’s sequel for two years now, and although it’s about the same amount of words, it’s only about halfway done.

Writing calms me down. That’s part of why I started this blog. “It will be cathartic,” my friend said. She knows me so well. Writing is cathartic for me. When I’m stressed, I either write in my journal (that has so many spelling/grammatical errors in some places I want to cringe- let’s just say I went through a phase where I shortened everything and used numbers as words), or close my eyes in front of a blank page and write whatever comes into my head until either a timer I set goes off or I’ve written a page of nonsense. It’s so relaxing. It helps that my laptop is old and has clunky keys, so I can hear each thump as I type. It’s a really nice ambient sound.

As much as I claim to hate it, I write more poetry than I mean to. I am very bad at it. I write poetry when I’m sad, and I never rhyme or come up with a meter, so it’s awful angsty stuff that should honestly just be burnt to a crisp. When I actually apply myself to writing poetry, I do okay at it; I mean, a poem I wrote won 2nd place in a contest and won me a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card. But I try to avoid poetry because I hate symbolism.

Almost all of my stories have a common factor: princesses. When I was little, I thought I would grow up to be a princess, and so all my main characters were princesses destined for glory. I’m the kind of person who (either purposefully or accidentally) bases my main characters after myself. It’s an easy thing to slip into.

My writing will never be like that of J. K. Rowling, nor J. R. R. Tolkein, or any other famous author (absolutely not Nathaniel Hawthorne- I do not have the vocabulary or the thesaurus for that). But it’s mine, and it makes me happy. That’s what counts, right?

Book Series Review: The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

I was really scared I wasn’t going to get this in this month because A) I procrastinated, B) school has started, and C) my Wifi was out for like 3 hours and I didn’t know what was wrong. (Note: this says it was published on September 1st but it was August 31st my time when I published it so it counts as my post for August not September).

If you haven’t heard of The Chronicles of Prydain, I’m not really surprised. If you’ve heard of these books only because of the Disney movie The Black Cauldron (1985), I feel just a little bad for you. Lloyd Alexander wrote a solid plot in these books, and Disney did not make a good adaptation (This is about as much as I will say on the movie). There’s probably spoilers ahead, so be warned.

The series follows Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper at Caer Dallben. There are 5 books, chronicling Taran’s growth from being a young upstart to a brave young man. There are five books: The Book of ThreeThe Black Cauldron (why Disney chose to name their movie after the second book I may never know), The Castle of Llyr (probably my favorite), Taran Wanderer, and The High King (warning: a lot of people die in this one).

Each book is between 200-300 pages, getting longer as the books continue (as happens with most series). I would recommend them for 6th graders and up, although I first read them when I was a junior in high school. There are some strange words (mostly character names), but they’re still quite easy to read.

I might eventually write a fleshed out review for each book, but in this post I am looking at the series as a whole. Overall, I like it. It doesn’t deserve the horrible adaptation Disney gave it. The plot is solid, although maybe a tad cliche at moments. There are a lot of coincidences that happen in the books, but you have to give the author a little slack: the books aren’t that long and he had to fit a whole plot in; who cares if they randomly come across this item they’ll need in two chapters?

When reading the series, I often have to pause to laugh at some character’s idiocy (usually Fflewdder) or obliviousness (usually Taran). There are also some really heartfelt moments, such as the end of The Castle of Llyr, and some moments that made me really angry. Lloyd Alexander really knows how to get a reaction out of someone, that’s for sure.

The characters are amazing. Throughout the series, I grew very attached to Taran. I could understand his motives and what made him tick. I loved Eilowny’s spunky attitude, and that you got to spend more time with her during The High King. Fflewdder and I are basically the same person. Anytime my mind supplied a comment, the next line was Fflewdder’s words saying practically the same thing. Gurgi is the sweetest, bravest, most loyal thing in the world. I love him to bits and get angry with anyone who doesn’t appreciate him. I feel about the same way with Prince Rhun, but not to such a great extent. I can honestly say the only character I don’t like (besides the villains; they’re not very redeemable or likable, although I do appreciate Achren kind of) is Glew. It’s a good thing he’s a rather minor character.

I love The Chronicles of Prydain. I don’t know why it took me until my junior year in high school to read them, although it also took me until junior year of high school to read The Chronicles of Narnia, so maybe that was just the year of reading old children’s books. I would definitely suggest reading The Chronicles of Prydain yourself!

Let me know if you’ve read them (or I suppose if you’ve seen that horrible excuse for a movie or know why it’s named after the second book) in the comments, or just let me know when you’ll read them!

On Fidget Spinners

I recently got my hands on a fidget spinner, and I have a few things to say.

First of all, THEY ARE SO DUMB. You just spin them over and over. There’s no purpose! I have one of the ones that doesn’t light up, it’s just a black metal one, so maybe the lights add some more flair? Either way, it’s a small toy that you can do barely anything with. So dumb.

But, I have to admit they are fun. As dumb as they are, simply spinning something over and over is fascinating to watch. I love moving my hand slightly and feeling the momentum change as gravity affects it. At least, I think that’s what’s happening.

I’m not convinced that fidget spinners actually help with focus that much. When I’m watching movies or television, it does help me focus. I hate having nothing to do with my hands, so the small toy to spin is beneficial. However, when I’m listening to someone talk, my focus is on the toy, because its whirring noise is much more interesting than whatever someone is trying to tell me. However, I have not been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, and so although it doesn’t help me, perhaps it is beneficial to those who need it.

I recently taught a summer school, and my students had fidget spinners. I was not a fan. One of my children kept taking his apart and cleaning it while I was teaching, and so I knew he wasn’t paying attention and that the toy wasn’t helping him. The fidget spinners that my other students had lit up and were quite noisy when spun, so even if it was helping the student who had it, it was distracting the rest. My students would exchange fidget spinners quite often and would focus more on playing together than learning.

My overall opinion of fidget spinners is this: they are toys. Perhaps they are useful to those who actually need them, but I have found they are not useful in classrooms. They are too distracting for other students. But, they are incredibly fun when you’re not in a classroom. Unless you’re like me and you’ve accidentally flung yours across the room and nearly killed someone because you lost your grip.

On Deadlines

Alright, in honor of me being lazy and unproductive with no motivation to post anything, I have decided that I will write one post each month. This means I’ll probably write a post every 30th/31st since I’m a procrastinator, but maybe I’ll get struck by inspiration.

Deadlines are annoying. In many cases, I have 99 things to do on one day, and none on the rest. I spend my time complaining about all that I have to do and that it all needs to be done by that one day instead of actually doing what needs to be done so I’m not overworked on one day when I try to do it all.

Deadlines are threatening. As the date draws nearer and nearer, my nerves get worse and worse. Every time I think about whatever I need to do, dread fills me to the core and I have to go scream in a pillow or cry in a public bathroom. My creativity and my imagination leave me, and I am left a blank being who can only eat, sleep, and say “Yes” or “No,” which doesn’t help when I’m trying to get stuff done.

Deadlines are necessary. Without them, nothing would get done, and if it did, it would take forever. If I only ever do things when I want to, then none of my homework, actual work, stories, or blog posts would be completed or even started. Motivation comes to me at two different times: when I only have a short amount of time, and when I am so inspired that if I don’t find a way to channel it I will explode or set a building on fire.

One would think that I would learn from my past mistakes when handling deadlines, but one would be wrong. By now, these mistakes have become habits. Every single time I am given a deadline, I think: “Oh that’s a month away. I’ll worry about it when it’s two weeks.” Two weeks comes along, and I think: “Netflix is really calling me right now. I’ll do it all next weekend.” Said weekend comes along, and Netflix is still incredibly enticing (I am not blaming Netflix for my problems; I am blaming my poor prioritizing). Suddenly, it’s two days before the deadline and I have 1500+ words to write or something equally overwhelming. In such a time crunch, I drop everything else that exists in my life and do only the bare minimum.. Once the project is done, I tell myself: “Never again.”

But that’s a lie. This cycle continues, and I keep saying: “Once you’re a full adult, you’ll have time management perfect and everything will be easier.” But that’s not true. Time management is something you learn and practice, not a magical trait that shows up once you hit age 22 or whatever you classify a “full adult” as. 40, maybe?

And perhaps it’s better that I procrastinate so badly. My best work is done when I’m crunched for time, even though I never have time for proofreading. But maybe that’s just the excuse my brain provides so I can keep being lazy and not change my ways.

My Science Has Exploded

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! I decided to post a poem I wrote in seventh grade. I recently found it on my computer and thought it was funny. This will be the start of my collection of original writing I have done. Enjoy!

My science has exploded,

And now we’re doomed to die,

Or maybe we’ll be lucky,

And just our skin will fry.

My teacher made me do it,

So please don’t ask me, “Why?”

He said to be creative,

And all I did was try.

I really liked the chemistry

We learned about in class,

And history is interesting:

World War II, and all that jazz.

If I mixed the two together,

I’d surely have to pass.

My chemicals were solid,

But they ended up a gas.

I remembered I had thirty

Other classmates in my room,

So I tried to make things smaller,

But the atoms went “KABOOM!”

So, my science has exploded,

And now we face our doom.

Atomic bombs mean danger

And fill science fairs with gloom.

My science has exploded,

And now we’re doomed to die.

My project spelled disaster,

But all I did was try.

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

It’s time for everyone to hear my thoughts on the recently released remake of Beauty and the Beast!

The short of it is that I loved the movie. There are three main areas that I want to talk about: the costumes, the songs, and the characters (well, at least some of them). Then I’ll talk a short bit about a problem I had with the plot. Fair warning: there are probably spoilers.

The costumes were amazing. As a lover of history, it was amazing to see the outfits based on the Rococo period. As a person whose childhood was overrun by the thought of princesses, the dresses were breathtaking and dream-worthy. A slight problem I had was when Belle’s peasant dress was pinned up at her side. I suppose it did make her look a little quirky and different from the townspeople though, so that might have been the point.

The songs were cool. I have to say I liked the new ones better than the old ones (the ones that were in the 1991 cartoon). I think this is because I grew up with the cartoon, and so the remade versions of the old ones had a lot to live up to, and they just didn’t do it for me. My personal favorites in the 2017 movie are Evermore and Days in the Sun.

Now for the characters. The main ones I want to talk about are Gaston, LeFou, and the enchantress.

Gaston was well portrayed. I could easily see how he had control of the town (he almost swayed me too, but then he had his horse kick mud onto those poor girls’ beautiful dresses), and it was nice that he didn’t set up his wedding to Belle without asking first (it’s a funny scenario in a cartoon, but not so much in a live action movie). It was amazing to see his descent into madness. He changed from being just egotistical to being almost insane.

In much the same way, I enjoyed LeFou. I loved that although he and Gaston were best friends, in the end LeFou acknowledges that “There’s a beast running wild there’s no question, but I fear the wrong monster’s released.” Then he went on to save Mrs. Potts and join the servants in fighting the invaders (what can I say I’m a sucker for character development).

I was really glad that the enchantress actually stuck around. It was a little corny that she continued pretending to be a beggar, but I mean it is a children’s movie. I don’t approve of her decision to turn the servants into actual objects after the rose fully wilt. Seriously. I understand he had a lesson to learn, but why take away the only people he can talk to and make him wallow in misery forever if he fails her test? Also, why put a time limit on falling in love anyway? It’s cruel.

My only problem with the plot was the weird scene with the book. I thought it was unnecessary. I mean, I guess yay? We now know how Belle’s mother died? I don’t really see how it was important to the plot of the story though. Sometimes, backstory isn’t needed. Let people speculate a little.

As I said in the beginning, overall I liked the movie. It had its flaws, but nothing is perfect. It’s a very enjoyable movie and Dan Stevens has a beautiful face.

Book Review: Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen by Joyce Tyldesley

This is the first in another series I’m going to do: Book/Movie/Music Reviews. I’m not really an expert, but it’ll be fun.

            Joyce Tyldesley’s book, Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen is an excellent book to read. Tyldesley had a great understanding of the 18th dynasty of Egypt, and she was able to distinguish her opinions from the facts. Her explanations of Egyptian customs and philosophy were easy to comprehend, and she also made sure her audience understood her style of writing.

Tyldesley took a chronological approach to her book, but when many things were happening at once, she switched to thematic. This made the story easy to follow and kept readers from becoming confused by all the odd names that they hadn’t seen before.

As expected, Tyldesley cited many sources and used archaeological data to support her arguments. When discussing any theory, she stressed that there was no clear answer, but she gave solid evidence against those she thought improbable and for those she found the most likely. The main purpose that Tyldesley had in mind was to show that in order to fully understand Nefertiti and her life, one had to learn about the time she lived and the man she had married. A second, minor purpose she had was to clear away the assumptions of archaeologists who had initially placed speculations on Nefertiti before any real evidence was found.

There aren’t that many books on Nefertiti (that I know of), and Joyce Tyldesley has written many other books concerning figures of Egypt. Her knowledge about ancient Egyptians makes her a valuable and trustworthy source on anything Egyptian, and the fact that she has written so much shows her dedication to the topic.

Joyce Tyldesley began each chapter of the book with firsthand account from ancient Egypt, usually a proclamation. This sets the scene and mood of the chapter so that she can simply write information without having to lead into it too much. Her writing is witty, which keeps the reader from feeling like he is being lectured on the topic.

In conclusion, if you’re a history nut like me and enjoy reading biographies, I would recommend this book.

On Friendship

This is the first in a series I’m going to be writing every once in a while. It’s the ‘On __________’ series, where I write about my feelings on a certain subject. It might seem kinda melodramatic, but whatever. I listen to epic music a lot when I write, and it really affects it.

Friendship is amazing. Although sometimes I like to be by myself, it is nice to be able to think about how I am never alone: I always have someone I can have fun with or be comforted by. Friends are a great blessing, and I hope that everyone has at least one friend that is as supportive and kind as all of mine.

Friendship is improbable. What are the chances that two strangers grow to care about each other, or regard each other as someone they couldn’t imagine their lives without? It seems almost overnight. One day, you’ve had a simple conversation with a new person, and the next you’re making plans to spend the whole day talking or playing board games.

Friends are supportive. You can be yourself around them, and you don’t have to worry that they think less of you. They encourage you to be the best version of yourself, and many times, they know what you need more than you yourself know. For example, a friend told me on Monday: ‘You should blog. I think it would be cathartic.’ Now here I am five days later, with my brand new blog (and boy is she proving to be right).

Friends are inspirational. Once I shared my blog with my friend, she sent a message: ‘I’m so proud of you!’ Such a simple message, and yet it filled my heart with such happiness and joy that I got the idea for this On _______ series and decided that my first one would be on the glories of friendship.

Friends are caring. Even if you don’t tell them everything, friends can determine what you need from what you say and how you act. Trying to keep something that bothers you hidden? Your friends are going to notice, no matter how much you pretend that they don’t care.

Friends are unique. Regardless of the number of friends you have, no two of them will be exactly alike, and none of them will be the same as you either. That’s why there are so many stereotypes about friends: the crazy one, the smart one, the quiet one, the artsy one, the mom friend, and many more I can’t name. The stereotypes never completely fit each friend though, which is why the list continues to grow. Sometimes something about a friend that makes them unique is something that bugs you, but you love them nonetheless.

Friendship is very often a mutual relationship. Never forget that the way you feel about your friends is pretty close to the same way they feel about you. You support them, you inspire them, they know you care about them, and they love you despite your imperfections as well.

Friendship rarely ends. Even if you no longer talk to someone you once spent every day with, you still consider them a friend. Their memory brings all the good times you spent together into your head, and you wonder how they’re doing and wish them well. A friendship only ends with a loss of regard, not with a loss of contact.