Sunday, April 30, 2017

Top 10 Yoda Quotes

In honor of STAR WARS Day (May the 4th Be With You) this week, all week I will be doing Star Wars themed blog posts. Up today...Top 10 Yoda Quotes.

10. "Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Hmm. A Jedi craves not these things."  -The Empire Strikes Back
Yoda here reminds us that although a Jedi's life is full of adventure and excitement, that's not the goal of the Jedi. It's about keeping the peace, even if that sounds boring.

9. "When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not. Hmmmm?" - Return of the Jedi
Yoda makes a little joke here, telling that with old age comes withering ability. Yoda has lived a long time, and he knows old age and is mature enough to accept that he is soon to pass on.

8. "Hmmm. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense. Never for attack." - The Empire Strikes Back
Yoda is very right here. Jedi never attack. They are guardians of the peace, not the warriors - or freedom fighters - so many people misidentify them as.

7. "Heh. A great warrior, hmmm? Wars not make one great!" - The Empire Strikes Back
When Luke Skywalker first meets Yoda, he doesn't know he's a powerful Jedi Master - or that he's so peaceful. So he tells the little green creature who enters his camp that he's looking for a great warrior. Yoda wisely responds with this quote.

6. "Erm. Right the Padawan is. Hmm, truly wonderful, hm, the mind of a child is, hmmmmmm." - Attack of the Clones
I like this quote because it shows that children are important, for they are the future, and what they think can lay a foundation for future life. Yoda knows his stuff.

5. "Try not. Do! Or do not!" - The Empire Strikes Back
I don't know what this quote really means, except that Yoda is possibly trying to say that if you consider your efforts to be good, and say you'll do something rather than just try it, your confidence will increase.

4. "Hmm! Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering!" - The Phantom Menace
Yoda says that fear is the source of all evil, and that is what I agree with. Fear motivated young Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. Which brings us to our next quote.

3. "Everything you fear to lose... learn to let go of you must!" - Revenge of the Sith
It's very hard to do, but it can save you in the long run. Yoda tells Anakin that he must let go of his fears. He accomplished that on the last day of his life. Or did he?

2. "Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Mm?" - The Empire Strikes Back
Yoda shows here that how you look does not reflect how you are, and although Yoda is 1'10", he is a powerful little creature, and Luke or anyone should not be quick to judge anything.

1. "Rockin', rockin' and rollin'. Down to the beach I'm strollin'. But the seagulls poke at my head. NOT FUN! I said, "Seagulls...mmgh! Stop it now!" - "Seagulls! (Stop It Now), Bad Lip Reading
I know Yoda technically didn't say this in any of the movies, but I had to have it on this list and have it at #1, otherwise all my loyal blog readers would either quit reading the blog, or come into my house and steal my stuffed Yoda backpack. And if I had put "That log had a child" as my #1, I would have been just as safe.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Things to Avoid When Writing a Good Sci-Fi Story

If you've ever seen Star Wars, or if you're one of the couple hundred people who saw 1985's Star Chaser (widely known as one of the worst Star Wars ripoffs of all time), and you want to write your own sci-fi story, the way I do, avoid these things if you wish to be original. 

Things to avoid when writing a good sci-fi story

  • Swords made of light
  • Swords with no blades
  • Swords with invisible blades
  • Swords that are given to the hero before the quest begins. Make the sword the object of the quest.
  • Giant space stations
  • Mining
  • Smugglers
  • Princesses
  • Holographic calls for help
  • Auctions
  • Calling robots “droids”
  • Battles on the edge of a bottomless pit
  • Flagship hijackery
  • The villains can’t be robots trying to rule humanity
  • The call to adventure can’t be a mentor calling on the hero, or a cry for help the hero stumbles upon
  • Wretched hives of scum and villainy
  • Trench runs
  • Talking shipboard computers
  • Trash compactors
  • The Force, or anything like it
  • The hero shouldn’t be one of the people oppressed by the villain. Perhaps he sees in a dream a planet in danger, and goes to save it.
  • Swearing
  • Wookiees, or anything like them
  • Anything as annoying as Jar Jar Binks
  • Podracing, or anything like it
  • Female planetary rulers
  • Lost parents
  • A blind younger brother
  • The hero is not made out as a “chosen one”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sesame Street "Meet Julia" Review

We gathered round the TV yesterday at 10:30 to watch the highly anticipated and publicized debut of Sesame Street's first Muppet with autism. Her name is Julia, and she is an accurate but not stereotypical portrayal of people with ASD. The episode had a few other notable features, and I felt it necessary to go over them all.


Julia was in the very first shot of the episode, showing that the show wanted to display the new character prominently throughout. Though Julia spoke mostly through repeating one word over and over, similar to E.T., she was a figure that all of us could relate to, autistic or not. Julia is puppeteered by Stacey Gordon and voiced by Diane Deland, and I thought both the puppeteer and the voice did a wonderful job with Julia. It was poetic to illustrate that Julia could not properly express herself, unless she was a) singing or b) in her element, alone on the rooftops. 

The show did not seem afraid to use the word "autism" and it was very brave of the show to dare use that word in front of 1-year-olds. Autism Speaks tweeted about the episode. However, Autism Speaks is well known to be an anti-autism hate group that treats autism as a disease that needs to be cured, so I thought about calling them up on it. Perhaps via a Simpsons-style prank call:

ME: Hello, Autism Speaks? I'm looking for a Vera, last name Hategroup.
THEM: OK, I'll ask. Vera Hategroup? Does anyone here know Vera Hategroup? Hey, everybody! Vera Hategroup!

If you could still pull off a safe prank call, this would be the first one I'd do.

I didn't expect anything in the episode to top Julia's debut, but sure enough, the Letter of the Day short film, about the letter F (4 points in Scrabble) DID. In it, a little girl flips through her friendship scrapbook, as she recites: 

"Nothing is better than having a friend 
 Because nothing beats friendship and playing pretend 
 Friends can be furry, friends can love food 
 Friends can be funny and brighten your mood 
 Friends make things better, they know just how you feel
 And the best kind of friend knows all feelings are real.
 And even though friends may sometimes get in a fight, 
 A hug or "I'm sorry" can make things all right.
 So go make a friend, and have lots of fun,
 And another great thing... is that you can have more than one."

We see footage of the girl and her best friend - one black, one white - as they "illustrate" the words recited. The last line is accompanied by the two girls seeing a lonely girl on a swing in the woods and inviting her to be their friend too. My mother was in tears after that short played. I was as well. However, no production site has claimed the short yet, so I have yet to identify the actors in the short. In just a minute and 30 seconds, a filmmaker has told as moving a story of friendship as E.T.


Elmo has a smartphone. No really. And this smartphone is his best friend. What kind of message is this show sending our kids? He played Tic Tac Toe with the smartphone. Mr. Noodle, too, has been replaced by an Afro-topped scam artist posing as Mr. Noodle. Elmo's World is officially wrecked, by a smartphone and an identity thief.


Julia is a fantastic new character and will inspire every autistic child and those who know children who have been diagnosed. Julia will turn a generation of formerly fearful and prejudicial children into friendly people that accept and include individuals with autism. The friendship scrapbook video, too, will also inspire a generation of children to trust in their friends, grow stronger and kinder, and learn what a true friend is. The particularly moving final shot of the two girls - one black, one white - running off with their new friend they met in the woods, left me with nothing that could express the miracle of that short. The only words I could let slip were "That log had a child!" Let these messages grow in the minds of our younger friends. Who knows? Maybe war will be abolished because of those two girls and their friendship scrapbook. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Book Review: Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart by Vera B. Williams; You Have to Write by Janet S. Wong

If you were a child who loved to read growing up, a lot of children's picture books would be favorites. The Cat in the Hat and The Giving Tree and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Stuff like that.

And then... A Chair For My Mother (1982) by Vera B. Williams.

This was one of the best things to come out of 1982, along with Ms. Pac-Man, E.T., and Family Ties. Years later I got the sequels to A Chair For My Mother from the library: Music For Everyone (1995) and A Chair For Always (2003), but neither were as good as the original. The original is a children's classic and maybe what ruined it was the fact that there WERE sequels.

But then yesterday at the library I found Williams's Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart, which tells the story - through poetry - of two sisters who are both alike and different, and whose father is in jail. In the story, we are first introduced to younger sister Amber and older sister Essie (who look nothing alike) through portraits of them Williams has drawn. The poems chronicle them missing their father, watching as a new girl (whose mother is dead) moves in, sleeping over with the new girl, and finally their father coming home. A "photo album" of illustrations follows all the poems.

I like this book because of the way it makes people look just like all other people, even if they have an incarcerated relative. Amber and Essie are perfectly normal kids, and so is their neighbor above, even if, in one way or another, they've lost a parent.

Also, one poem, "Daddy Song", spoken from Amber's voice, uses the word "bigly". "Bigly", as we all know, is a word Donald Trump seemingly used at the second presidential debate. Trump persists that he said "big league", but since "bigly" is a cromulent Scrabble word, it's okay if he did.

I got another book at the library yesterday: You Have to Write by Janet S. Wong. In it, Wong speaks to children who have been given a writing assignment. The author gives them tips on how to write, encouraging them to "make their words dance", to recall their own experiences, and not to expect perfection on the first try. Teresa Flavin's illustrations are also excellent. They show four diverse children, Alex, Andrew, Anna, and Allison (these are not their names in the story, these are names I have given them retroactively) working on the writing assignment. The illustrations seem to show the kids first working on their assignment solo, then doing it together. The book ends, "Try. Because you have to write, and you want it to be good."

I have student film ideas for both books. The former (Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart) could simply be an animated version of the pictures in the book, with a narrated voiceover reciting the poems. You Have to Write could be adapted by showing what goes on in the book, with Alex, Andrew, Anna, and Allison altering narration, and at the end, it can be revealed that this advice on writing... was their assignment.

Good stuff, huh?

Pun Names of Famous Landmarks - Just Change One Letter!

Here are some jokes I came up with about landmarks around the world. Just change one letter and you get a funny new phrase.

Q: Add flavor to your food with this Seattle tourist attraction.
A: The Spice Needle.

Q: Lowlifes and thieves hang around this New York structure spanning the East River.
A: The Crooklyn Bridge.

Q: The tallest building in Chicago is getting shorter.
A: The Sears Lower.

Q: This temple in Cambodia is shaped like the world's most popular household pet.
A: Angkor Cat.

Q: This Ferris wheel in England is made of bread.
A: The London Rye.

Q: This is a Greek monument to country singer Brooks.
A: The Garthenon.

Q: You'll get messy if you sit up against this 4000-year-old Egyptian tomb.
A: The Great Pyramud.

Q: The world's largest indoor stadium, for ten cents.
A: The New Orleans Superdime.

Q: It's a giant piece of footwear rising up from the Australian outback.
A: Ayers Sock.

Q: Wear this Philadelphia monument around your waist.
A: The Liberty Belt.

Q: This seat of Russian government is afraid of bright lights.
A: The Gremlin.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Monopoly Tokens, Ranked

Marge Simpson: Why don't we play Monopoly?
Lisa Simpson: Which version? We've got Star Wars Monopoly, Rasta Monopoly, Galipolopoly, Edna Krabappoly.
Marge Simpson: Let's stick to original Monopoly. The game is crazy enough as it is. How can an iron be a landlord?
              - The Simpsons, "Brawl in the Family"

That's why I like Monopoly. Because it's fun and easy to satirize. Recently Monopoly added T-Rex, Penguin, and Rubber Duck tokens to the game, making me all the more happy the version we own is a 1997 edition. After I started up a game with my father and younger brother last night (that ended with me collecting all the yellows), I decided to write this post. Here are my thoughts on Monopoly tokens, all in one post.

Monopoly Tokens, Ranked:

1. The car. Although none of the tokens can technically be landlords (as Marge Simpson so helpfully pointed out), with the car I can zoom all over the board. Plus, a car can destroy most of the other tokens with its aggressive power. Only last night, my little brother, who's 11, took the car first.

2. The cannon. I'll put it this way: There should be a Chance card saying, "If you are the cannon, blow all the houses/hotels on another player's property off the board."

3. The thimble. It works just like a real thimble. Enough said.

4. The dog. A dog may have enough character to think, but not enough to assume ownership of even inexpensive Baltic Avenue. I used the dog the last time I played, and it's gotten me all the yellow spaces, but I'm left with only $324.

5. The hat. Your finger can wear the hat. It looks cute when you do that. Once I played as the dog, wearing the hat. I wonder if anyone ever thought of that before.

6. The battleship. But so many people think it's a factory.

7. The iron. Don't touch the iron. It's hot. Don't touch or mess with States Avenue if the iron owns it, either.

8. The boot. I will kick your hotel off Tennessee Avenue and you will have to pay to get it back!

9. The wheelbarrow. Tips over a lot.

10. The statue. I believe it's Paul Revere.

11. The new tokens. "My T-Rex is way cooler than your penguin! I can stomp all over the Boardwalk! I can stomp on all your houses and hotels and rule the world!" That is not the way Monopoly has to go.

More Monopoly Facts:

1. The names of the properties are based on Atlantic City, New Jersey.

2. There's no such place as Marvin Gardens. There is such a place as Marven Gardens, though. Apparently, it was a typo that never got corrected.

3. The real Illinois Avenue doesn't exist anymore. It was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in the 90s back when the country made a law that every city over a certain population had to have at least one street named after MLK.

4. Only two of the railroads are legit. The B&O never served Atlantic City, and there's no such thing as the Short Line Railroad.

5. There are many, many editions of Monopoly, but my favorite has to be the Simpsons edition. Or the Star Wars edition. Or my very own Universal Orlando edition. Worst ever? One Direction-opoly, and you can see why.

12 Hilarious Drew Magary Quotes

Now, if a kid wants to use the Internet wisely, they stay off Deadspin. But if there’s a guy on Deadspin pointing out all his problems with children’s television, then you just gotta go there. Unless you’re too mature to. At almost 16, my Deadspin days are through.
Drew Magary swears a lot, but not as much as the Nostalgia Critic or South Park. I’ve censored the quotes. If you want to report me to the web cops, go ahead, but here are 10 quotes from Drew that I found hilarious. When I was 12.

  1. On “Max and Ruby”: Usually, it's Max and Ruby's grandmother who has to come along to point out Max's inadvertent triumph. "Oh ho ho! Why, this is the most original historical society invitation I've ever seen!" Then Max smiles and we circle wipe to black.”
  2. On “Wow Wow Wubbzy”: The Wubb Girlz have a song of their own, by the way. It goes like this: SING A SONG / SING SING SING / SING ALONG / SING SING -  Now repeat that 80 times. I don't care if it's a reincarnated John Lennon singing it.”
  3. On “Chuggington”: “ which a shrill loudspeaker named Vee (controlled by aliens?!)”
  4. On “Dora the Explorer”: Then you gotta sing this whole awful song, which I will repeat here because I know it by heart.”
  5. On “Dora the Explorer”: Just change “Gooey Geyser” to “Enchanted Taco Hut” and you’ve got yourself a new episode.”
  6. On “Dora the Explorer”: And his song is somehow even worse. ‘I’M THE MAP / I’M THE MAP /  I’M THE MAP / I’M THE MAP / I’M THE MAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPP!’ Really? I thought you were an ice cream cone!”
  7. On “Super Why”:  That's when the four kids all transform into superheroes, even though they already live in a magical kingdom. Princess Pea transforms into Princess Presto. How is that different? She started off as a [CENSORED] princess, and now she's just a different one. She's just doing a wardrobe change. I don't see a huge leap in abilities.”
  8. On “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”: “ make the clubhouse appear, you gotta say the magic words: MEESKA MOOSKA MICKEY MOUSE!”
  9. On “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”: That’s how stupid this show is. I swear to God, one time they made you push a button to summon a train sound, and the correct button was a [CENSORED] HOT DOG. You know why? Because, as Mickey explained, you “chew” a hot dog, so if you “chew chew,” you’ll get CHOO CHOO.”
  10. On “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”: Anyway, once you’ve used the kite to blow open the bank vault and solve the problem, the show is over, and you must do the Hot Dog Dance. Ohhhhh, They Might Be Giants. Oh, I will ruin you. No word on if the Hot Dog Dance summons a [CENSORED] train.”
  11. On “Paw Patrol”: PAW Patrol takes place in a (Canadian) town called Adventure Bay that apparently has no functional fire department, police department, or local contractors. So whenever someone around town has a problem, they have to go crawling to a volunteer squad of seven puppies (not even grown dogs!) and one (Canadian) boy, all of whom work out of the town’s space needle.”
  12. On “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”: “Worst Episode: Snowflake Day. This is an hour-long special where the kids get dressed up and literally sing a song about how special snowflakes are. Seriously. It’s supposed to be a holiday episode but it’s really just an after school special on the dangers of PBS.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

If I Were to Make a Sitcom, This Is What It Would Be

Sometimes I wonder... why can't life be more like a sitcom?

Life should be both of the two major types of sitcoms. It should start out as the family comedy and becomes the friends-in-an-apartment comedy when you grow up. I'm only 15 but I am a sitcomologist without an official sitcomologist card, so I decided to conceive an idea for a sitcom that I could relate to. It's a friends-in-an-apartment comedy called "The Odd Man Out".

"The Odd Man Out" centers on a young man who moves into an apartment complex - and is roommates with four young women. As you can guess, hilarity ensues. With that simple premise, I could do anything!

Maybe I'm a long way from actually making "The Odd Man Out" happen, but at least I've partially laid out the characters:

Clark: The main character. A man stuck in an apartment with four giggly girls. Center of most of the episodes. Clark has a good heart but a short temper. Only reason he doesn't move out of the apartment is because he wants to give the girls a chance, and occasionally finds himself attracted to one or more of them. Clark cleans himself a lot. He also is quite skilled in the kitchen.

Karoline: One of Clark's four female roommates. A health nut. Pet peeves include junk food and people spelling her name with a C. Also loves her smartphone.

Shana: One of Clark's four female roommates. To her friends she is Shay. Afraid of many things but not everything. Best joke-teller of the gang of five. Most annoying characteristic is her high-pitched scream.

Lix: One of Clark's four female roommates. Dreams of being a parent. Obsessed with productivity and decluttering. Never really knows what the solution is in the face of a problem. Tries to plan ahead, often fails.

Jessie: The last of Clark's four female roommates. Loves art and music, also loves to learn, especially from online education programs. Wants to be a teacher.

Laura: The twelve-year old girl that lives with her single mother across the hall. Appears occasionally, usually with her mom.

Bob: The super of the building. Only man Clark sees in his life on a regular basis. Sometimes stops by the apartment where most of the action takes place to hang out.

And thus you have my main cast. I love the idea of this show. I hope someday it'll get made and it will be the next Seinfeld or Friends or Big Bang Theory. It's just a bunch of ideas floating around now. But with a snappy title like "The Odd Man Out", and likable characters, it might just come to fruition.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Top 12 Worst College Nicknames

Just what were they thinking when they made these? For this list I’m looking at colleges that have named their athletic teams shocking or unusual things.

The countdown starts now:

12. Xavier Musketeers. Nothing’s wrong with the Musketeers, unless your mascot isn’t even a musketeer. Their mascot is named “The Blue Blob”, and is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s so funny it comes out the other side to genuinely intimidating.

11. Whittier College Poets. Because no one fears poets, except when they look like this nightmare. Seriously, that thing doesn’t even look human. And what might they say at graduation? “Mr. Clark Haile will not be receiving a diploma because he can’t write poems. We here are the Poets, so if you are incapable of writing poetry, you must transfer, Mr. Haile.” If that’s the truth, then close Whittier College.

10. Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers. What is a Hilltopper, anyway? Apparently it’s this thing, which looks like a red Jabba the Hutt with legs and feet. Its name is “Big Red”. At least it’s a better name than The Blue Blob.

9. University of California at Irvine Anteaters. And their biggest rivals, Long Beach State, aren’t even called the Ants. So why the Anteaters? It makes no sense and it’s terrible. And to think that this wonderful, magical tribute also came out of Irvine!

8. Scottsdale University Artichokes. Now, you can make vegetables your mascot. Artie the Artichoke (that’s his name) was probably kicked off VEGGIETALES by Bob the Tomato, who despite being the voice of Christian virtue to kids, loathes vegetables becaus he’s too commonly mistaken as one.

7. Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Fightin’ Snails. Snails aren’t tough. Snails are wimpy and small and can be killed by sodium. Their biggest rivals are the Loyola Ramblers, which should really become the Loyola Salt Shakers if they want to wipe out the Snails.

6. Santa Cruz University Banana Slugs. Banana slugs are common in California, and they do have great survival skills, but they make a lousy mascot. Sammy, who dances around at the basketball games, looks like snot, which actually makes a better mascot.

5. North Carolina School of the Arts Fighting Pickles. I’ve actually BEEN to this school, and the image I currently have of it is not helped by the fact that their mascot is a pickle. An INFLATABLE, IMMOBILE pickle, not a student in a suit.

4.  Evergreen State Geoducks. A geoduck isn’t a type of bird, it’s a mollusk. Octopi, squids, and even Calamarians make neat mascots, especially if Squidward or Admiral Ackbar is running around taking pictures with little kids. But geoducks? Half the world has never heard of these things.

3. Webster University Gorloks. Never heard of a Gorlok? Well, that’s because it’s an IMAGINARY animal DESIGNED BY THE STUDENTS OF WEBSTER U. It has the head of a something, the teeth of a… you get it. It’s an amalgamation of different animals, given a name that sounds like it would be a fake Scrabble word from a sitcom.

2. Delta State Fighting Okra. And their on-field mascot is much uglier than the Okra Man, the giant inflatable okra that marched through the town I spent my early years in every September. Check him out here. He’s not even friendly!

1. Rhode Island School of Design Nadds. The school’s nickname comes from the original founder’s last name, kind of like the Cleveland Browns. Worse, to cheer them on, you must yell, “GO NADDS!” And thus, Scrotie the Scrotum, who entertains kids at games, was born. No kidding. Their nickname is the Nadds, so you say, “GO NADDS!” and their on-field mascot is someone dressed as a SCROTUM. This is real. Look it up or just check out a picture of Scrotie the Scrotum here.

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