Tag!

I was tagged by Rebcake (Becca, I had no idea you had another blog) for a writing tag of sorts. Now, I am not a Canva wizard with money to spend on those countless one-dollar beasties, so instead of trying to finnick with the free images for hours, I figured the quality, conciseness and intrigue of the answers was more important than graphic design. Some things just don’t click with me.

I. What genres, styles and topics do you write about?

Stellar question. When I don’t have a new story rolling around in my head, I write anthropomorphic animal fiction. As in, talking horses. But it sounds more dignified when you use large words to describe it. If I happen to not be in a anthromporphism mood, then I write brutally innacurate historical fiction.

As for topics, I try very hard in my stories to avoid orphans. Pick up any book on the shelves of your local library these days and there’s a 70% chance it features an orphan. Can’t we have some parental supervision these days? I wouldn’t think of giving any of my characters mental instability by removing all of their parental attachment. The cruelest it gets is losing one of them, and even so, they’re forever remorseful over it.

Other things to be avoided: any kind of magic, too much shipping, academies of special people (where’s the idiot academy?) and most “E.S.” stories. E.S. is an acronym used commonly in my notes. It stands for “enigmatical something”, meaning, some sort of thing that every single blasted person knows about and wants except the people irrelevant to your story. The Lord of the Rings, although I really don’t like it, is a classical E.S. story. I usually use the acronym in a annoyed/sarcastic tone, e.g. All this story needs is something to go between part C and part D. Oh, I know! An orphan with an E.S.!

Well, I have spent a lot of time talking about the things I don’t like to write about. So it is safe to assume that I like to write about the things I have not mentioned. Proof by counter-example.

II. How long have you been writing?

I got interested in writing via an online course I took that gave me a bounty of information on how to write, which happened sometime in 2014. But I had been making up stories long before then.

When I was around six years old, I began playing out stories in my head before I fell asleep at night. Most of the time they revolved around this kid named Tony (heavily based on my brother Mac) whose dad was a police officer, and, naturally, went on crime-fighting, mystery-solving adventures that were a lot of fun to think about. Of course, looking back on it, it was awfully cheesy, but I was six.

After that phase three to four year obsession, I began making up animal stories due to my love of animals and the fact that I began to like Tony’s German Shepherd Trooper (made up in the second year of my playing those adventures) better than Tony himself. So I dibbled with those for awhile. But my ‘big break’ was Nanowrimo 2015, when I finally sat down and wrote 40,000 words. I haven’t stopped since.

III. Why do you write?

This is the part where all eloquence flees my mind.

I write because I have stories that need chronocling. As anti-climactic as that is.

Wow, this is oppressively short.

IV. When is the best time to write?

They say that Nanowrimo builds habits. I believe them. I get up before eight every morning, eat an egg and some turkey sausage, read some Bible, then sit at the computer and write for at least an hour. So, morning, I suppose.

This sounds all hunky-dory but I get writer’s block like crazy, so most of the time I only end up with a few hundred words.

V. What do you love about writing?

I love the imagination involved in creating characters and stories and worlds.

I love the tingly feeling I get when I make something that’s actually good.

I love the big thought trains my words buy tickets for and the long discussions they incite.

I love the research I end up doing and the knowledge I gain that was sparked through a simple question I thought up while writing – What does miso soup taste like? What even is miso soup?

(FYI: Miso soup is a Japanese broth made out of soybeans. I have tried and I have to say that if you haven’t had it, you’re not missing much.)

VI. What do you hate about writing?

I hate it when I spend effort and brain cells making something up and then realise that it’s already been written.

I hate it when words don’t behave as they should.

I hate it when I can’t eke out any words despite my most violent efforts.

I hate it when I have a brilliant idea just waiting to be written and then I forget it.

I hate it when I get distracted.

And I hate writing culture. Sorry. I believe in happy endings and moral choices, despite the critics who call that uninteresting and psycologically boring. I’ll show ’em.

VII. How do you overcome writer’s block?

I switch projects. I go write something else. And I wonder why I can’t seem to finish anything.

VIII. Are you working on something at the moment?

Indeed. The votes have pointed towards Dog Story, which I began – ha! This morning!

IX. What are your writing goals this year?

Camp Nanowrimo (July 2017)

15,000 words of Dog Story

Nanowrimo (November 2017)

Editing Camp Nanowrimo Project from April

Over-achiever. *scoffs*

Indeed, I realise that this post is nearly one thousand words long! For your cooperation, you have won access to something you may or may not be interested in.

Introducing…

Secrets

A members-only page for those who make it through posts!

Yay! Free stuff!

But – there’s a catch. To get your classified information, you must answer the comprehension question below:

What was the name of Tony’s German Shepherd?

The answer, which is case-sensitive, is the password to the page. If you can remember the answer, then you will find out the title of the long-awaited Dog Story. And it’s a pretty awesome title, if I may say so myself.

Good luck and good day!

{Tess}

I Touched A Real Human Brain

Yes, I did touch a real, preserved-in-formaldehyde human brain. I also touched a heart and a liver, which were also human and preserved in formaldehyde.

Yes, it was creepy.

No, I did not visit any black-market organ donation joints in creepy alleys.

Today, I went to the  Sci-Port, in Shreveport, LA, courtesy of my friend, Cyto. Now, I had been before today and witnessed all the cool stuff they have there, one of the attractions being an excellent model of the Solar System. Nothing makes you awe at the works of the Creator like seeing your tennis-ball sized Earth next to the thirty-four foot wide Sun. I powered light bulbs and hair dryers with an exercise bike, stood in an old steamboat, and discovered that I have the extremely rare trait of bent little fingers.

But by far, besides petting the milk snake that was out, witnessing the adorable juvenile alligators, and experimenting with pulleys, the coolest thing was the brain.

Of course, the credit of my experience goes to the guy who brought it out of its bucket and let me touch it. That has to be one of the coolest things I have ever done.

The other really, really neat thing that I have done happened yesterday. Whenever I come up to Shreveport, my siblings and I always make sure to visit Cyto’s neighbour, a certain Mrs. Ann Horn. She has told us all kinds of things in past, and showed us several as well. Once she told us how when she was going to college in Princeton, New Jersey in the 1930s, the newest H. G. Wells novel, The War of the Worlds, was being played over the radio, and how everyone mistook the gripping descriptions of alien motherships for the apocalypse being forecasted and fled the town. We all found that quite amusing. But yesterday left me awe-stricken.

She had this book on her dining room table when we came in, explaining that we may want to look at it. So I picked it up and opened the barely-attached cover. The following greeted me as I breathed in the dusty, musty scent.

The Gentleman’s Magazine, May 1754.

I just stared at her. And she smiled back, replying that it was indeed an original printing.

That had to be the oldest thing I had ever held, save a rock. And I couldn’t believe that she had it. Apparently her brother had given it to her.

As I sit here writing, I realize that this sounds a bit far fetched, but I assure you, everything I wrote about is 100% true. On my honour.

What is the weirdest or most interesting thing you’ve ever touched? I would love to know.

Signing off for now,

Tess

Writing poll from Tess

Well, after a week in Louisiana, I realized that I hadn’t posted on Steeplechase in quite a bit. So I decided upon a quick update on the state of lierary things in my Microcosm.

Now, I want some participation, but I know that it isn’t easy to get answers from your average Reader viewer. Understanding that, I have put together a system that should make it easy for you.

In the post below, I will be assigning numbers to responses. When you wish to respond, all you have to do is to type the number of your response in the comments – no composition required. It sounds confusing but it will become clear as you read. Hopefully.

Ready to begin?

I am currently in a dilemma, trying to decide which of my numerous projects to work on. I’m certainly full of ideas, but not will power to do them all at once. Which do you think I ought to work on?

For NaNoWriMo 2016 I wrote a very thrown-together tale about a girl who was trying to cope with her older brother’s absence. At the same time, her brother’s horse Falconer was dealing with the loss of his best friend. An unlikely love springs up between the two, which translates into a full-time friendship. Although it is a very good idea, it needs a tonne of work to be something really moving. If vote to revise my NaNoWriMo project, “A Charger In Command”, comment the number 1.

Camp NaNoWriMo this April also  held some surprises, as I set out to write about something that I knew absolutely nothing about (Feudal Japan) and after a lot of Wikiresearch came back with a lot of new inspiration and the skeleton of a really good  story. Skeleton meaning that so much meat and sinww needs to be put onto it that it would wind up a completely different story. But still. If you think I should revise my Camp NaNoWriMo project, “The Taiso Senshu”, comment the number 2.

Possibiliy number three is one that has occupied my creative juices since last November. It’s a dog story, but not really the sort I have ever seen told. The only hiccup that I have run into is that I can’t decide how it ought to end. This doesn’t mean I can’t start it, though. If you think I should finally begin the canine story I have been thinking about for what seems like decades, which is entitled “The Vagabond”, by the way, then type the number 3.

And now we come to the last option. I was asked once to make up an AG GOTY story. Of course, knowing me, you should be able to guess what talent I have given my heroine…not all equestriannes are Western riders, AG. It actually sounds like it could be one of her stories. If you are more inclined in my writing my GOTY story that’s been milling about my head for a while, type 4.

One last thing!

If you like this new and improved easy responses thingy, then give me a winking face with your number! Thanks for your cooperation, and remember, my writing until November depends upon your whim! I will post the result of our poll on Wednesday.

{Tess}

Summer Goals

Ahhh….summer. Which, here where I live, translates to Saharan temperatures and hurricanal winds. Nevertheless, I have goals for summer, just like every other blogger in the world, and I’m sharing them so that you can keep me accountable. Ready?

1. Consistently wake up at 6:00 am.

I love sunrises. Especially West Texan sunrises. Maybe that’ll get me out of bed.

 

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2. Write 30,000 words of The Vagabond.

Yes, this is the dog story. Yes, I have made changes on it. Yes, I’ve added wolves. No, I haven’t started yet.

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3. Learn a little bit of piano.

I’ve got some piano-teacher software laying about to be used with a USB keyboard (great for people with space issues!). So hopefully I’ll be able to use it this summer. Disclaimer: I am not especially musically inclined, but still, it’s good to know the basics.

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4. Ride my bike twice weekly.

Biking is one of the best ways to get exercise, and I love how you can get about quickly on it. So let’s get Traveller out and ride him more often. (Who doesn’t name their bicycle?) Haha, I lucked upon a picture of my exact bike!

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5. Blog more often.

“More often” is somewhat indefinite, but still, it’s a start. I need to blog more often this summer.

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6. Animate.

I want to do more animations like the ones I did in this post. Who knows? If I get good enough, I could make an entire movie….. (I didn’t draw this photo!)

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Aaaand that really is it. Because I’m lazy and want to have a good summer just the way it is.

What kinds of things are you doing this summer?

{Tess}

Amateur Art Dump (May 8, 2017)

I hate you, WordPress. Why won’t you let me use my ‘r’ and ‘l’? You have forced me to resort to writing this out on another application and pasting it into the writer-thing. It’s even affected (or, shall I say, infected) my commenting. Is anyone else having this problem? It’s driving me slightly insane.

Weird Automattic issues aside, here’s the latest amateur art dump, ranked, as usual, from my least favourite to my favourite.

A friend and I took a quiz, and our results came back with her being a Golden Retriever and me being a Saint Bernard. (I never really thought I was the Saint Bernard type, but oh well.) So I drew a portrait of the two of us. As dogs, of course.

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I tried using my ADF on my printer, so these are a little lower-quality than usual. Oh well, though, you can see the lines.

(Suddenly, my ‘r’-‘l’ problem is fixed. Coincedence? I think not.)

In speaking of canine front views, here’s a lackluster wolf. But a wolf nonetheless.

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(ADF, why the line?)

Ignore the pawprint in the corner. I was explaining something on one of my drawings.

Next we have a horse & rider.

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The rider’s side-glancing eyes are slightly unnerving. Almost creepy.

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Here’s a wolf. This is the first three-quarter angle that I’ve done, and I’m super proud of it. I like the eyes especially.

(This is Sanya, for anyone who knows about le wolf story. Not like anyone does, though. Blast. The wolf’s name is Sanya!)

Okay, time for the better drawings.

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I am about to die over the 3/4 angle here. This is one of the first times I have tried that, and I’m so proud. It’s based off a familiar, duly-loved Stallion of the Cimmaron….

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Words do not describe how proud I am of this. Seriously. He’s amazing. Here’s a comparison:

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See! Not exact, but pretty close anyways. Close enough to tell who he is.

Question: Is anyone interested in any more Spirits? He’s so much fun to draw. Maybe some horses drawn in his style? Just let me know.

Also, I’m going out of town on Thursday. I’ll be finishing The Plastic Challenge and reporting on something really, really awesome. Although I won’t have any photos. But still, look forward to it!

See you around!

{Tess}

Winner, winner, chicken dinner (and review of my cake batter)

Ha. I knew the title would catch your eye. Doesn’t food always catch the eyes of humans? But this post has nothing to do with food. It’s about a lame achievement I made this April.

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Now, you must play the fanfare I won for winning Camp.

Well, no one awarded it to me but myself, but I think I deserve it, right? I wrote fifteen thousand words. The track is seventeen seconds long. That’s about eight hundred eighty-two words per second.

(Off-topic: I could listen to the Lego Universe Soundtrack for hours and never grow tired of it. The mix of brass and violins and interesting percussion is so intriguing, and the feeling I get when I listen to them is nothing short of an adrenaline rush. They have been my life soundtrack for a year or so now and I’m not growing cold on them. Brian Tyler is awesome! Here’s the link to the entire soundtrack via Youtube: Link! My personal favourites are Rocket Escape, Battlegrounds, Monument Race, Blastoff, Nimbus Plaza, Nimbus Station, Red Blocks, Pet Cove, General Forestry, Forbidden Valley, Ninjago Monastery, and Battle Against Frakjaw, which I have linked for your convenience. You can thank my brother Mac for this discourse, because he was the one who got me hooked on this.)

So, my Camp project. It was an idea made up a couple of weeks days hours before camp started. I wanted to write a story about feudal Japan, but it would have bugged me if it were inaccurate. But I didn’t want to go and do a bunch of research on feudal Japan. So I just infused Japanese culture into somewhere that I never expressly mentioned was Japan, I’d be good, right?

Bam. The Taiso Senshu was born. And it probably won’t make a bit of sense because I sprinkled too many Japanese words in it. So many that I’m not even going to bother identifying them for you. Now is a good time to practice your context clues. 😛

The story’s track was different when I began writing it than when I finished it. When I began, I was writing a story about Kaori Sasaki. She was the niece of the main taiso kyoshi and thus steeped in taiso since birth, practically. But the only other female senshu wasn’t a very shining example. She had one chance to prove herself to the other senshu or else she’d have Hanoka Norman’s fate.

As much as I liked that story, the story I finished with went something like this:

Akio Hayashi was trained from birth to infiltrate the taiso senshu and give the Farukon the information leading to their fate. He was supposed to not say a word, to avoid camraderie with the enemy. Yet, in an accident, he breaks his vow of silence by accident, and strikes up an unlikely alliance with Kaori, the only senshu he deems worthy of his time. (Akio has an extreme superiority complex.) But now he’s got a problem – stay loyal to the Farukon, or stay loyal to the senshu?

It’s a lot better reading it, I promise. There were several things I needed to fix, though, and here’s a long to-do list of those things.

  • Change the setting slightly
  • Focus the plot
  • Re-do the POV from an all-Kaori to a half-Akio, half-Kaori
  • Change the details I ended up changing

I’d give The Taiso Senshu a 3.9/10 right now. Maybe once I’ve baked my cake batter, it’ll taste better. (See what I did there?)

Did you win Camp? How many words did you write?

{Tess}

Book Review: Mara, Daughter of the Nile

Wow. Two posts in two days! I’m on a roll!

I apologise for the scrambly review yesterday – I was a bit too excited to care whether I used too many exclamation points or not. Now, I am sane (though no less adoring of that film) and ready to review the novel I have just finished reading – Mara, Daughter of the Nile.

Precautionary statement: This review will likely contain spoilers. For a total surprise, skip this post altogether.

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Specifications:

Author: Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Published: 1953
Pages: 279
MSRP: $6.99

Not a bad price for an extremely compelling historical novel.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile is set in Ancient Egypt, during the rule of Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BC). In it, Mara, a slave girl yearning for her freedom, is employed by one of Hatshepsut’s agents to get information on the queen’s half-brother, Thutmose, who may or may not be trying to take the throne. But as she is carrying out her missions for Lord Nahareh, another lord approaches her. His name is Lord Sheftu, and he is an agent for Thutmose. He wants to restore whom he believes is the proper ruler onto the throne of the Black Land, who is none other than Thutmose. All Mara wants is her freedom and possibly some gold, so she accepts the offer, realising a bit too late that she is now a double-spy caught in what could become a fierce revolution. She also realises that she loves Lord Sheftu, despite his cold attitude toward her. When her duplicity is discovered, Mara must make the choice – help the cause she originally was supporting, or help Sheftu and all the rebel friends she has met.

(my description)

The thing that made this read special was the extremely descriptive writing. I felt ported immediately into a time I hadn’t known more than sterotypes about just from the way the words flew off the pages at me. An example of the author’s writing:

The innkeeper closed the door behind them, his broad face wreathed in smiles. He was a hulk of a man, vast of girth and guileless of countenance, dressed in a rumpled shenti and huge copper ear hoops. He pattered ahead of them, the earrings bouncing and his paunch preceding him, through a tiny entryway and into a large square room which was smoky with torchlight and smelled of beer and roasting meat.

Not only do I see a pudgy, sweatily good-natured man, I also see a dark, stale, loud room with plenty of ill-to-do characters guffawing within. I felt like I was in the story, not just reading about it, and the author definitely knows the techniques of foreshadowing and contrasting.

Pushing past the blaringly obvious hist-fict genre, I’d say this story is 50% romance and 50% adventure. There’s enough action scattered between the romantic scenes to make the story thrilling and gritty, yet enough romance and intrigue balancing out the excitement to give it direction.

The characters are likeable when they ought to be and abhorrable when they need to be. In the same way that I loved Nekokh, the cynical riverman who ended up being my favourite character, I hated Sahure, the wily juggler who was meant to be disliked. I loved Innani, the Syrian princess that fit in with the Egyptians as much as a bird fits in with fish.

Content: There is a lot of historical drinking (after all, it’s not like noblemen drink water), numerous mentions of false gods (this is Egypt) and likewise using their names as exclamations or expletives. I don’t think it’s appropriate for children, persay, but tweens and older should be able to 1) fully understand the plot and dialouge, and 2) understand that anything that seems funny nowadays is cultural. Plus, the reading level is pretty high.

From a religious standpoint, this book is a useful tool for understanding Egypt from a Biblical perspective. The most blaring example of this is in what Egyptians thought about darkness. They mention several times in this book that “the darkness is laden with evil spirits” (not an exact quote). Think about the plague of Darkness for a minute…

I think my favourite chapter was chapter 18, which is undoubtedly the most exciting chapter. You know I’m a thrill-seeker…;P

Overall, I give this book a 9.5/10. The best word to describe it is intriguing, I think.

The verdict:

YEA!

{Tess}

Movie Review: The Fate Of The Furious

Precautionary statements:
This review will contain major SPOILERS. If you don’t plan on watching the film, or if you are the kind who likes to know everything about a flick before watching it, then this is the review for you.

This review also will get rambly at parts, so stay with me. I have a lot to say about it.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

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Yesterday, courtesy of my wonderful mum, I went to see The Fate of the Furious. I hadn’t been to theater since The Peanuts Movie, so I was pretty excited…but a little turned off by the previews, I might add. Seriously, it was a 3-2-1-1: three sensual movies all rated R, two beat-sheet action films, one really creepy horror film. Seriously, no one needs to see movies about playboys, mummies coming back to life, lifeguards who obviously aren’t doing their jobs, or anthromorphic apes fighting humans. Apes have the wrong anatomy to ride horses, anyways!

But there was one film I actually did want to see. How many days is it till Dunkirk comes out?! Look forward to a review for that this summer :).

After kind of being shell-shocked by all the evil previews, I was quite relieved that the film finally began. If you want a rundown on the plot, go Google it. 😛

I went into this film without having seen any of the previous films or a true action movie (National Treasure doesn’t count, does it?), so I was eager to see what would befall my adventure-loving spirit.

Content-wise, this movie is pretty good for PG-13. There is a good bit of swearing, but certainly less than Band of Brothers. I really don’t see that as a problem when the ones watching it know not to imitate, i.e, anyone over 13. Frequent uses of the “Big Five” swear words, plus a couple of British ones (we’ll get to that!). There is only one scene with racing party girls (you know, the one’s at the beginning and end of those car-racing games at the arcade), and it barely lasts thirty seconds. I was forewarned, and you can be too – look away when you see the first one. When you see an engine out of your peripherals, then you can look back.

Action. Sooooo much awweesommme acctionnn. I have a weak spot for things blowing up and big brawls and whatever, so I was really excited. Seriously, cars began to drive themselves. Seriously, whoever has a GPS in their car needs to tear it out. That’s terrifying to think that your car could be one of the ones that Cipher hacks to fly out of the parking garage onto the convoy carrying the nuclear football. Or one of the ones she controls to chase said convoy. And the part where they have Dom trapped in the grappling hooks? AWESOME. Until he hoses them and flips all their cars. 😥

The story of this started right after the movie started. There was no fiddling around waiting for something to happen. Seriously, Cipher was introduced in the third scene. But the previous two weren’t unimportant either – for someone who hadn’t been following these characters for seven movies, I liked Dom the minute I saw him. And when he agreed to race for his cousin’s (or was it his nephew’s?) car, I was like, “Yay! A race!” The Cuban N2O won after all. I would never have thought of throwing the car in reverse to avoid the rapidly flaming engine. He won, but threw the car into the ocean. And gave his cousin/nephew (I can’t remember which) his ’70s Impala. Wicked!

The characters of this film were the kind that you liked on sight. I loved Dom and Letty the moment they leaned over the engine, Luke Hobbs the minute I saw he was a family man, Deckerd the Brit the minute he began to trash talk. Well, my like for Deckerd may have been because he was British. And that he didn’t get riled up when Luke told him he was going to beat his blank like a Cherokee drum.

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Left to right – Deckerd, Rhodes, “Mr. Nobody”, Roman, Cipher, Dom, Letty, Tej, Ramsey, “Little Nobody” Eric, and Luke.

My personal favourite out of these characters was Letty. I loved to see a combat-boot-wearing, kick-your-rear kind of woman who’s not catty, who’s sensitive but not flowery, and believes in Dom no matter what everyone else says. She didn’t over-wear her makeup. She wasn’t a throw-in because the team needed a girl to make the sexist activists happy. She wasn’t an advocate of feminism (finally!) She was an honest-to-goodness good character, and her attitude toward the others was something that should have been modelled long ago.

Letty is on the team because she wants to help. She isn’t trying to “show everyone what girls can do” or “show the men that she’s just as good as they are”. In fact, she’s the one who supports Dom in everything he does. Even when the rest of the team is convinced that “Dominic Toretto’s gone rogue”, she still believes that he knows what he’s doing. Which pays off in the end, because he did sort of know what he was doing. It was when his son got involved that things got complicated. Whoa, spoilers. :P.

I have to say that my favourite scene was when Deckerd gets Baby Toretto, later named Brian, out of the plane. It is extremely funny.

I found out from my mom that the reason they named the baby Brian was to commemorate a cast member who died in a horrible car crash. That was a nice way to remember him without CGI (I was shocked to find out that you could do that!).

Some people say that this film is unrealistic, but hey, isn’t every movie? I really think this flick was fun, action-packed, and awesome. If you’re not touched by swearing, then I would suggest that any action-loving person go see it.

I’m sorry this was sort of scribbly, but with a movie as free-flowing as this one, I figured the review ought to be the same way.

Final verdict:

YEA!

(for good characters, non-stop action, and visual appropriateness. AND BRIAN TYLER DID THE MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

{Tess}

Sarah Briel’s wish may just have come true

If I recall correctly, Sarah Briel mentioned to me in a comment that she would love to see what my drawings would look like animated. That began the gear-turning in my head, until finally the idea was executed last night. Now I’m addicted.

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No background, and the refresh frame sort of bugs me, the way it makes it choppy. But hey! It’s my first animation. And it really moves! The little wolf buddy wags his little wolf tail! Gah!

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This is today’s animation. Just a bit more detail. I like this one a bit better than the first. Although the hills move around unnaturally.

Things to work on: stillness of things that need to be still. And editing skills. Perhpas they’d be smoother if I scanned them better.

What do you think? Would it be interesting to see more animations? Let me know.

{Tess}