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Thoughts on Fresh Off the Boat: Year of the Rat

I’m doing things a little different today, today I’m reviewing one single episode of a tv show, and a tv show I really like known as Fresh Off the Boat.

First happy Chinese New Year, yes I realize the irony of a Mexican saying that, but my sisterinlaw is Chinese and I’ve learned some things about the culture and enjoy the food she sends, so this is for you Diana.

It is Chinese New Year and the Huangs are getting ready to take off to DC to celebrate Chinese New Year with their family and everyone is excited including Grandma Huang, but due to a scheduling error by Luis the Huangs can’t make it over.

The family is a little put off for various reasons, but try to keep their chins up and make each other happy despite this set back. However after a bad experience with a local Asian group the family goes into a deep bout of depression.

This episode took a very different turn from the usual antics the family gets into and we see the Huang family authentically beaten down for the first time in the series and this time it’s not played for laughs. For the first time since moving to Florida they truly feel isolated, there are a few laughs in the episode but it takes a back seat to see how the family handles this predicament.

However there was a light at the end of the tunnel, the friends that the Huangs made in Florida since moving there put effort into a makeshift Chinese New Year celebration for them (even the women from the neighborhood Jessica hated on the first episode but are best friends with her youngest son). Some actually researched the traditions and dancing styles of the celebration. Keep in mind that this is 1996, ten years before YouTube would become a household name and the internet was still slow and your best bet to get accurate research would be from a library and the books they have to offer and vhs tapes of said dance routines and music if one is lucky.

There is also some educational facts about Chinese New Year that would normally be shoved into a PBS children’s show.

I’ll give the episode five out of five red envelopes.

Thoughts on The Lunar Chronicles: Winter

WINTER IS HERE! And has been here since November, and yes it’s been two months since I finished winter, but once again higher education takes higher priority than this little blog I do.

Before I get to the spoilers let me say that I was heavily satisfied with the book, the pacing was very well done with an equal amount of screen time dedicated to each protagonist and chapters ending on deadly cliffhangers for each character making me frequently have mini heart attacks one of my favorite characters may die. Now then onto the spoilers.

Spoilers from this if you do not wish to be spoiled do not read beyond this bold text.

First, EVERYONE LIVES YAY! And although my horrible fear of Iko dying or something horrible happening to Cress, or any of the other main protagonists did not happen, this may be a flaw, but I will get to that later.

As I said earlier the pacing between each character was very well done this time, we even got new characters Winter and Jacin enough development to fully flesh out they were and what their motives are in this science fiction adaption of Snow White (also bonus points for making Scarlet the Ruby Red to Winter’s Snow White).

Winter would be a near Mary Sue character for being not only the perfection of beauty both body and soul, but being skilled in not only crafts, but also restoring a home (no really, she rebuilding a house for about two weeks), the thing that keeps her from being a Mary Sue though is the fact that she’s slowly going insane from not using her Lunar Gift and these arts and crafts she does keep her mind occupied thinly preserving her sanity. She’s also resourceful, a little insane in her war strategies, but resourceful. Jacin is a combination of Prince Charming and the Huntsman from the Snow White tale.

We also meet Wolf’s mother, as one would expect she lives long enough to meet Scarlet and dies violently and tragically as any other kind mother would in any other YA book.

As I said earlier each chapter ends with a dramatic cliffhanger for each character giving us the thought that literally any of our protagonists can die with Cress, Cinder, and Iko having the largest amount of cliffhangers that could have lead to their demise.

Unfortunately although I am happy everyone made it out alive (granted they are beaten down pretty bad physically by the end of the novel), that is the primary problem I have with Winter. There is a lot of build up that there will be sacrifices, loved ones will die, ships will be destroyed by death and killing and that there will indeed be consequences for the actions of Cinder and her friends would have to face that just doesn’t happen. Excluding the entire city of Lunar refugees and those killed during the lunar civil war we only have about six named protagonists die.

I give The Lunar Chronicles Winter four and a half lunar apple flavored candies out of five.

Thoughts on Star Wars The Force Awakens

Last night I had the privilege of going to the midnight showing of Star Wars The Force Awakens. I’ll be honest and say that when it was announced there would be new movies for Star Wars the thoughts that came to my mind were ‘okay’, ‘there are going to be a lot of happy fans, there are going to be a lot of pissed off fans’ (like seriously they can’t be happy the Chewbacca is alive again?).

I generally ignored most of the hype for the new film intentionally because I had outgrown Star Wars a long time ago when my taste in story telling started to become more sophisticated and basic battles between good and evil just didn’t cut it anymore. I didn’t care for The Clone Wars cartoon show and the expanded universe had become too large for me (and my wallet) to handle.

A year ago though I met my friend Karla and she and her husband are huge fans. I was pleased to discover her son shared my name, and the bond started from there that slowly got me back into the Star Wars franchise.It wasn’t easy getting back into it because I still saw flaws in some of the story telling and as I’ve said before Doctor Who is my primary fandom. As the trailers for The Force Awakens continued to be released I saw something that I had wanted to see for a long time from Star Wars, but never got.

A female protagonist. In the original trilogy we had Leia as the token girl and one of the three main heroes who was revealed to be a force sensitive and nothing more came from it outside of the expanded universe. For the prequel trilogy we had Padme, a badass politician with no force powers. We were eventually given Ahsoka Tano who although is cool is also still primarily an expanded universe character that fans of the movies would have nearly no idea existed.

Spoilers from this point forward, if you do not wish to be spoiled please do not read past this. I’m sorry, I know the internet promised not to give any spoilers concerning Star Wars The Force Awakens, I am actually not posting any huge spoilers, but this particular topic of feminism and Star Wars requires one spoiler. PLEASE DO NOT KILL ME!

A few months ago I finally saw the trailer and saw the character Rey, it looked like she was the new token girl with the main focus being on the character Finn who went from being a Storm Trooper to badass jedi hero and Poe a cool ace pilot.

As trailers continued though more focus was pushed on Rey, and a theory started bubbling in my head; ‘what if Finn isn’t the new Luke, but rather it’s Rey?’ As more trailers and materials were released I was becoming more and more convinced that Star Wars would make the official leap from ‘only boys can save the day and girls help out’ to ‘anyone can save the day.’

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, what you are thinking is indeed true. Rey is our true protagonist, don’t get me wrong Finn, Poe, BB8, and our original trilogy heroes are still important, but our new primary hero is a heroin.

She was compassionate, she had hurt in her life, she longed for more. She knows her technology (she LIVES in the wreckage of a spaceship!) And she is far more important than what anyone is lead to believe.

To further cement the shift of a primarily boy cast we have Leia going from a princess to a general, we also have Maz Kanata who is ‘the Yoda’ of this new trilogy. She’s a good one hundred years older than Yoda, has no force powers, but more than enough wisdom to piece together what is happening with the galaxy.

The movie wasn’t an overly blatant “woo feminism!” experience that I’m making it out to be, but everything was subtle where a normal person wouldn’t even notice it since most people don’t know about the the bechdel test (which the movie does pass).

There is a focus on families, forgiveness, and living beyond what you were led to be. I give Star Wars the Force Awakens ten out of ten lightsabers.

Isle of the Lost (it’s probably better than the movie it’s a prequel to)

I saw the trailer to Disney’s Descendants and imminently thought “this is awful, if the fictional characters in Once Upon a Time saw this, they’d wage war on Disney Channel.” It has potential, but it probably will be as good as Highschool Musical or Camprock, which isn’t saying much since those two were made to get money off the parents of the kids who watched them. The characters introduced looked one dimensional, and clearly I’m not the target audience. The only interest I have in it is Kristen Chenoweth playing Maleficent. I decided to not show interest because I’m an adult, I’m not the target audience, and because I have Once Upon a Time for my needs. Then a book was announced called Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel. I debated on buying it since the book isn’t your typical YA novel; It is aimed for a younger teens, possibly even children between nine and twelve. I decided to give the book a shot if I came across it. Thanks to Target I came across the book and purchased it. I will say I did like it, it was predictable, some of the characterization of well known Disney villains along with plot holes as to how these villains got children (particularly Mother Gothel…) There are snippits of life off the island with Ben son of Belle and Prince Adam and his life in becoming a king for the land of Auradon and foreshadowing between the relationship between him and Mal daughter of Maleficent. It is interesting to see how the children of Disney villains aren’t loved by their parents especially in comparison to Regina and Maleficent of the tv show Once Upon a Time. There is also the issue of the reduced usage of magic between both heroes and villains. Not much else can be said about it, I will say it probably kilometers better than the movie it’s a prequel to. I’ll give the book three poison apples out of five.

Thoughts on Steven Universe Season Finale

Today was the season finale to Steven Universe, and it was very good; it lived up to the hype built up the past few episodes had been making about the gem known as Peridot coming to earth to unleash all kinds of modern gem-kind hell.

Spoilers from this point on, if you don’t want to be spoiled then do not read.

Following in the graceful footsteps of the series finale to Avatar The Legend of Korra Steven Universe provides us with an LGBT couple introduced in the second half of the season finale episode Jail break. Previously the leader of the Crystal Gems Garnet had been defeated at the hands of Jasper with bother her gems being separated. Many fans (myself included) had their theories proven true that Garnet is indeed a fusion gem of Ruby and Sapphire (that part I kind of just threw in because I’m a huge pokemon fan. Something tells me Rebecca Sugar is too.) However we’re shown that Ruby and Sapphire had different personalities with Ruby being a feisty warrior and Sapphire being elegant, lady like, and similar to a princess. Prior to this the fans had just been exposed to four fusions (Opal, Sugilite, Alexandrite, and Stevonnie), all of them temporary fusions because of lack of compatibility (Opal, Alexandrite, and Stevonnie) or had to be defeated (Sugilite).

I had suspected what kind of fusion Garnet was for a while; in Coach Steven was that she was just two gems who “lost themselves” together as Garnet thinking it was better to have a gem like her. Part of my inner self thought ‘what if fusions is like being married?’ after Pear commented that Stevonnie was “inappropriate” for Steven and Connie and the large grin on Garnet’s face

I think it’s gread that Steven Universe is joining in by having LGBT characters, but does it really count since the whole gem population is female? Debatable; this topic along with gem fusions is for another entry.

The episodes themselves really show how far Steven has not only come since the beginning of the series, but also how far Steven himself has come since the episodes Mirror Gem and Ocean Gem and losing his healing powers shortly afterwards. The long lived fear that Steven’s humanity was making him less effective as a gem proved to be the reason why Steven was even able to execute his rescue mission of the Crystal Gems in the first place.

We also see how far the citizens of Beach City have come too; they know that their city is a target for disaster, but are always trusting that the Crystal Gems ‘always save the day, and even if they can’t they’ll always find a way, believing in Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl and Steven’. However in this episode they realize, their heroes may not be able to protect them and abandon beach city and show concern for each other when Greg and Steven have a car accident. Not sure if Connie’s parents are still unaware of the kind of universe they live in, but I’m pretty sure they evacuated.

The gems really are placed to the test; all of their technology and the fusion of Opal (that should give you an idea of how grave the situation is) prove to be useless against Peridot and Jasper’s machines. They strike back with grace against their opponents making easy work of Peridot and Garnet being able to defeat Jasper with the power of love.

We also get the return of Lapis Lazuli from the midseason finale; Lapis is taken prisoner and isn’t happy with the gem homeworld and what they’ve become. In an effort to make up for the wrong she’s (minisculely) responsible for she agrees to fuse with Jasper into Malachite and trap themselves at the bottom of the ocean. It’s a pretty tragic end to her character since all she wanted to do was go home and her home having become a horrible place.

In the end The Return and Jail Break were a great way to finish up season one of Steven Universe. I think for season two they’ll return to the format of writing that the start of season one had of having a Monster of the Week format along with hints of what could happen; Peridot is somewhere on earth, but has no power to fight the gems without her technology (I think she’ll become comic relief), the Crystal Gems have access to modern gem technology now that Pearl can probably reverse engineer to be of use to them, there’s still the threat of Yellow Diamond, the mystery of Lion, and the possibility of Rose living on through Steven to gather plot driven episodes from.

I give it five cookie cat icecream bars out of five,

Wild at Heart (it’s crap)

A few months ago a friend suggested I read Wild at Heart because most christian men like it. I’m going to assume those men are extreme right wing conservatives going through a midlife crisis and have had little to no troubles in life outside of being bored and unsatisfied with life.

The idea that the only way to be ‘alive in Christ’ through the form of adventure does sound interesting at first, but then talk that only masculine men do adventures and all men are called to it and every other man is a lost cause and can never fully ‘know God’ is very idiotic. Most of John Eldredge’s views on ‘what brings men closer to Christ’ is pretty hypocritical to Jesus’ actual teachings of love, charity, and mercy.

Don’t get me started on the sexism present in this book.

I actually can get behind the idea though that people do need to disconnect from their phones, tablets, computers, and whatever else they find themselves connected to and enjoy nature and try to encourage that same nature onto one’s children. Sadly these thoughts are lost within the “boys and men need to live dangerous wives while mom is just glad no one is bothering her in the kitchen.”

No one should ever read this book. Read anything else please; read the Bhagevad Ghita, read His Dark Materials, Read the actual Bible if you want to feel a connection to God or Christ!

Thoughts on Paper Towns and an Update

Today I finished my second John Green book Paper Towns and I think I’ll do something a little different. Like many other books at the end of Paper Towns is a group of questions to be asked incase the book is being read as a group so for this review I think I’ll just be answering some these questions along with the actual review. Before that though, the spring semester has started again so I probably won’t post anything for the next couple of months. I’m not quitting, I just have priorities.

Spoilers from this point forward
I liked the book, it was very strange and had more quirky moments than The Fault in Our Stars. THe story concentrates primarily of the disappearance of Margo and how it affects the people in her life and Quintin’s life. I think it’s interesting that she chooses a moment in time where feelings and emotions are at the strongest for teenagers. Their last year of regular education before going off to college where they realize they may miss the people they grew up with.
True colors of Margo’s friends begin to emerge which is something I felt was needed to be seen; in fact true colors of most of the characters are seen and it just so happens most of the characters are kind of assholes. Even our main protagonist Quintin falls under the asshole category with his obsession of finding Margo, granted he is very worried for her safety and scared she may have committed suicide.
I’d say the only character’s who aren’t complete jerks are Lacey, Radar, Angela, and nearly all parental figures. The argument is made that Margo’s parents are jackasses because they’re so hard on her. Understandable, but did anyone besides Q’s parents think that maybe they wouldn’t be such jackasses if Margo wasn’t such a bitch to them. It’s one thing to be a wild child, but it’s another to be out of control and not give a shit at all to what the people who clothe and house you.
Yes it is lame of me to take the side of Margo’s parents, but some of the shit she pulls would drive me nuts too. I don’t feel bad for her when her parents “kick her out” because honestly after having my trust betrayed so many times I’d probably do the same. My thoughts on Margo can be summed up by this quote from Lacey “Actually, yes,” Lacey says. “And actually he’s great. And actually you’re a bitch. And actually, I’m leaving. It’s nice to see you again, Margo. Thanks for terrifying me and making me feel like shit for the entire last month of my senior year, and then being a bitch when we track you down to make sure you’re okay. It’s been a real pleasure knowing you.” For those that read this blog, this is the part where Lacey became my favorite character in the book.

Now that I’m done ragging on Margo, let’s actually talk about other people. I gotta say I’m impressed that John Green has a generally accurate idea of what teens are kind of like. Alot of them are jerks, I’m still not sure if they drink as much as I’m led to believe in movies, books, and television, but then again I was introverted in highschool.
I like that Q didn’t put up with the sentimental garbage that is present in the last few weeks of highschool. Granted I was in a similar situation my last few weeks, but I just walked away.

Now onto answering questions;
WHy do you think margo picks Q as her accomplice on her campaign of revenge?
Convenience. Her statements at the end of the book are probably true too.

Do you think the characters Margo targets for revenge get what they deserve? Does Lacey deserve to be included?
Sure, and no. Lacey probably didn’t realize what she was doing and was clearly hurt by Margo’s actions.

Do you think margo wants to be found? DO you think margo wants to be found by Q?
I think she wanted the attention regardless of her answer to Q’s questions in the long run. Yeah she definitely wanted to be found by him.

Discuss the scene where Q finally finds Margo. How does her reaction to seeing her friends make you feel? Do you believe that she didn’t want Q to come find her?
The scene is pretty interesting, Margo is clearly a little happy to see her friends. She’s happy and forgiving enough to hug Lacey. Her reaction to seeing her friends further supports my thoughts on her being an ungrateful and uncaring attention seeking bitch. She wanted Q to find her.

Why do you think Q makes the decision he does at the end of the book? Do you agree with his decision to turn down Margo’s invitation?
I think Q rejects Margo’s invitation because he realized that they weren’t compatible people. Sure she taught him to man up and open his mind, but at the same time she’s fairly closed minded at the thoughts and feelings of her loved ones and only claims to be aware of them despite acting only on impulse. I agree fully with Q’s decision to go to college; being a nomad may sound nice and it may satisfy Margo in the long run, but Q realizes the reality of his life and that drifting around NY and the US was not a lifestyle he desired. Fun Fact-mortality rates that Margo states as being about thirty were only that way because of infant mortality. Alot of people lived beyond thirty.

With which characer’s version of the “real” Margo do you most agree?
As much as I disliked Ben, I gotta say he knew what the deal was with Margo just wanting the attention.

Okay that’s enough for this blog.
ALl in all I really did like Paper Towns, who knows I may even watch the film adaption. Yes I will be reading more of John Green’s work, but first I’ll probably go back to The Lunar Chronicles and read Fairest.

Thoughts on Fangirl

Happy New year everyone who reads this. Let’s skip all the holiday stuff and go straight towards my thoughts on Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Generally around Christmas time I was exhausted from shopping with my mother and forgot to bring a book/my ereader with me. Luckily we were breifly at a Target and I walked to the book section
I gazed through the books available and I had the choice between John Green books and other YA novels. I then saw Fangirl and it sparked my interest because the plot involved a girl who was a big fan of a Harry Potter expy. She wrote fanfiction and entered college with the intention of becoming a writer. THe book follows Cath, a fangirl who is abnormal to the rest of the world since she is a fangirl.
Her twin sister Wren was once a fangirl too, but wants to move on with life.
Spoilers Start Here.
Generally through most of the book Wren is a bitch. She behaves recklessly during her first two semesters of college while our hero Cath is concerned with her school work and keeping up with her fanfiction for Simon Snow.
I like that the book concentrates primarily on Cath adjusting to a life outside of her comfort zone and I like that Rainbow Rowell had Cath slowly adjust to living like a normal person without sacrificing any of her fangirl mannerisms.
The only problem I had with the books is when Cath reads her fanfiction to her love interest Levi and while it is sweet that the two bond over her reading out loud to him, I wasn’t interested at all in hearing about her fanfiction (if I don’t read fanfiction in real life why would I read fictional fanfiction,) generally the fanfic portions of the book can be skipped without missing much of the plot.
Although the book was entertaining, I feel a little misled. I still give the book a B-.

Legend of Korra Series Finale (part 1)

Spoilers Ahead
MY SHIP WON!!!!!!! Oh and something about the dramatic battle between the Air Nomads, Bei Fong family, Korra against Kuvira.
I will eventually get to that later on, right now I want to talk about the last five minutes of the episode. After the battle of Republic City is over everyone is gathered to attend Verick and Zhu Lee’s wedding. We get some moments between Korra and Mako that hints a little that the two may become an item again. Then a semi father/daughter moment between Tenzin and Korra, and finally what was thought to be small chat between Korra and Asami with Asami grateful that Korra was still alive despite losing her father in the battle.. Little did anyone know and to the delight of many lgbt shippers, the ship known as KorrAsami was made official.
Normally I don’t care for shipping, I wasn’t sure if KorrAsami originally started as a joke or not, but I liked the pairing because they were two mature women who handled the relationship between shared love for a man very well. Despite this Korra and Asami’s friendship proved to be stronger. Then more hints were dropped, I wasn’t sure if the creators were trolling the fandom, or just sending out strong themes of friendship between women.

I think this is beautiful that the creators of Avatar The Legend of Korra decided to start a healthy relationship between Korra and Asami. I also think it’s a really hopeful message to the lgbt community and lgbt youth watching the series. I feel that words can’t properly describe my joy over the series finale and the unintentional message evolving beyond “girls can save the day just as easily as guys,” to “anyone can save the day, even if you love someone of the same gender.”

The Fault in Our Stars (yo, where you been?)

First, let me say that higher education has higher priorities than this little blog where I write about books and television shows I like. It has been a tough semester, but it’s over and I can enjoy my winter break. Now on with my little blog.

I reluctantly read The Fault in Our Stars, mainly because judging from the way the movie was advertised it seemed like one cheesy ass romance novel involving a girl with cancer as it’s main gimmick. Then again I managed to avoid all commercials for the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars because I was busy with school and family issues to watch normal tv. I bought it because a friend guilted me into it. I will admit, I like the constant snark between Hazel and Augustus so much more than any other romantic couple I’ve read ever!
I also thought a lot about someone I knew who had leukemia and passed away when I was nine. I’m not going too deep into that subject, but I wondered what kind of individual he would have grown into based on reading what Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac go through.
I like that John Green chose to make Hazel more of a fangirl rather than a girl who is ‘so damn educated, but pale and unusual to fit in or have a guy ever notice my plainness’. I mean Hazel still is plain, but she’s beyond being the Mary Sue of YA novels thanks to her snarky ways and fangirl tendencies toward her favorite book and unusual enjoyment of America’s Next Top Model (do they even show that anymore?).
I also like that John Green didn’t make Hazel and Augustus the typical ‘we believe in God, but we’re not religious’ couple and had them both as agnostics with Hazel leaning more towards atheism and Augustus acknowledging that there is a creator rather than the God of Abraham.
I will recommend it, but not because of how popular it is, but because of how good it is without all the hype surrounding it.