Vivo – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Vivo.

Story

The beginning was a little predictable in its “Pixar” style twist. The rest was a usual road trip buddy story. It was a fun story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

We don’t see a lot of Cuban or Cuban-American culture in animation. It was nice to see the art, music, and accents take centre stage. The characters were all motivated by relatable emotions.

The character of Vivo is sassy, funny, and filled with heart.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The running commentary by Vivo is both adorable and refreshingly funny. I appreciated the music, situational, word, and absurd humour.

I liked that they treated parts of the dialogue like motifs in music. They repeated or altered certain phrases to create more of an emotional impact and to pull the various parts of the movie together.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was absolutely beautiful. It might not have been up to Pixar or Disney quality but they captured the Cuban art and colour style fantastically. There are a few times that the face and perspective in that art style didn’t translate well to a 3D animation, but over all, it was great.

The music was Broadway with the Lin-Manuel Miranda twist and a large dollop of Cuban influence. It’s a little reminiscent of his other work, but that doesn’t detract from how good it was.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was colourful, never wallowed too much, and had multiple levels of humour. It was poignant and had a pretty good message, plus both kids loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

It takes a lot of elements that we’re familiar with in animated and musical movies and mixes them together with a Cuban-American influence making it feel fresh and vibrant. The visuals, music, comedy, and heart warming story make for a wonderful film.

Final Score: 4.5 stars out of 5

Ups and Downs

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m having a hard week. Winter feels interminable, we’re at the start of the third wave, vaccines are being distributed by a disorganized Flash (from Zootopia, not DC), and people are starting to discuss the possibility that maybe under 10 years of age kids don’t need a vaccine. Thankfully the medical community is pushing for it, but without public and government pushing, how long will it be?

I’m not comfortable exposing my children to Covid. Even though the chances are low that they get any serious side effects, I’m not willing to risk it.

Quarantine has its ups and downs; I’m currently experiencing a down. It’s been a hard week preceded by a hard weekend. Right now I want to curl into a ball and binge-watch Stargate SG1.

With time and patience it’ll get better, but right now I’m angry, frustrated, and just tired. I look forward to watching this thing (gestures around wildly at everything) from the future and being glad it’s over.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make myself another coffee and hope it wakes me up and de-grumps me.

Enjoy this adorable picture of Pegasus stuck inside a chair.

Picture of the almost 20 month Pegasus stuck in a patio chair and giving me an annoyed look.
The chair is a metaphor…

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

Canning

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

When my Mom decided to do something, she threw herself into it with recklessness and hyper-fixation. She never neglected what she had to do, but everything else went away for a little while.

This meant giant cleaning sprees, massive meals, epic videogame marathons, and obscene amounts of canning. Every couple of years, she’d go into full canning mode and make jams, fruit butters, pickles, and picked beets. One year, she made a crab-apple and rose-hip butter that was one step away from the consistency and sweetness of solid honey. She and I have never been able to recreate whatever accident caused the deliciousness.

The smells were fantastic, the tastes were usually good, and the frantic energy was exhilarating. I threw out the last can of pickled beets last year after it had been in one cupboard or another for nearly twenty years.

I have a wonderful memory of peeling beets in the sink of my childhood home. ABBA was playing loudly on her old boombox, the smell of vinegar and pickling spices filled the air, and my hands were purple/red from the beets. One little squeeze and the beet would whoosh out into the sink; a satisfying and squishy sensation.

At some point last year, we were gifted or bought a jar of peach jam. I started making home made rolls for snacks instead of English muffins and we started devouring the jam. When we finished it, we had no farmers markets, church bazaars, or friends gifting jam; so I decided to give in and make some.

I bought all the supplies and decided I’d do just the jam. Then I thought of making salsa. So I made peach jam (which is delicious) and peach salsa (also delicious). It was a frantic 4 hours of trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. The peaches froze in our fridge so blanching caused some swearing, but overall it went well.

A lot of my Mom is in me. I feel the same hyper-fixation with many things. I try to use it when it’s helpful and tame it when it’s not, but it’s always a struggle. Probably why I hadn’t started canning until now. I’ve already thought of a dozen recipes I can make and I’m going to try and limit myself to one per week maximum.

Canning was fun, but made me sad. I wish my Mom was here to sit on a chair in the kitchen and order me around. Maybe that’s the real reason I waited so long; it didn’t feel right to do it without her.

Be kind and be safe,

Éric

Being an Author is hard but worth it

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Being a author is hard. You are constantly bombarded by articles that say things like:

Ok that last one was a trick and actually pretty positive.

Borrowed from Usborne Books.

The point is that even when you’re published you have to work your ass off to get your book in peoples hands and only 25% will actually read that book. (These statistics are my educated guess.) From those that read your book they’ll tell you they like it and then put it on their shelves and forget about it. Until you publish something else and if they actually liked it they might buy the next one.

That’s the life cycle of a regular book. One that doesn’t get turned into a TV show or movie, explode in sales, or cause a kerfuffle with its content.

I see what some fantastic authors do to encourage their book sales and I feel like I should be doing more. More writing, more advertising, more promotion, more writing, more events, more submitting to review, and did I say more writing?

An excellent guide to the care and feeding of a writer by Agarthan Guide.

The real problem with writing, novels specifically, is the speed of return. I so envy my friends who write fanfiction and can receive almost immediate feedback and love. A book takes me a year or two to write, another year to edit and pitch, and (if I’m lucky) another year to edit and publish. Sometimes it’s longer. This week marks the four year anniversary of me starting to write Everdome. It will hopefully be published in either 2019 or 2020.

So being an author is hard but there’s nothing like the feeling of holding your book after all that time or having someone tell you how much they loved your book.

Long story short or as the kids-these-days say TL;DR, it’s not easy but I love it and I’m not going to stop.

 

Later days,

Éric

How the Tide Pod Challenge Represents the Internet

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Let’s start this out with; Yes this trend is happening and it’s very dangerous and extremely stupid.

The American Poison Control Centers have reported over 700 cases of teens eating the candy coloured poison pods this year alone.

Does that sound like a lot? A national emergency? Something that people will make fun of for years to come? Apparently.

The story for the Tide Pod Challenge is as colourful and alluring as the pods themselves. It’s a great way to make fun of Gen Z and Millennials. However, like most things, it’s only reported everywhere and laughed about because it’s easy.

700 cases sounds like a lot right? It is nothing compared to the cases of children under 5 eating them. Every year since 2012, over 7500 cases are reported.

Consumer Reports: The problem with laundry detergent pods

Why is this the first time we’re hearing about it? Because it’s not flashy and fits into the current overwhelming Juvenoia.

It’s a perfect example of the way our social and news media deal with reality through a funhouse mirror. They cover Colin Kaepernick’s protest and ask if it’s anti-american instead of covering the countless useless deaths of black people. They cover the White Nationalist protests by asking whether it’s okay to call them Nazi’s instead of asking if it’s okay for them to march for a cause that would see millions of people killed.

It’s not fake news, it’s sensationalist news, and it’s nothing new. Look past what a few talking heads and meme creators tell you and think about what is going on.

So next time you see a funny meme about how kids these days do stupid stuff, ask yourself why it’s funny and if maybe it’s the wrong focus?

Later Days,

Éric


Sources

PBS: Kids got sick eating detergent long before the Tide Pod Challenge

New York Times: Yes, People Really Are Eating Tide Pods. No, It’s Not Safe.

Consumer Reports: The problem with laundry detergent pods

NaNoWriMo (AKA Éric wants to torture himself)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again. If you haven’t come across the term it stands for National Novel Writing Month. In short, during November a whole lot of writers and aspiring writers try to write 50,000 words in a brand new novel.

This will be my fifth attempt. A Study in Aether and The Sign of Faust were both started with NaNoWriMo. It’s a wonderful (if stressful) way to jump start a book.

What Am I Writing

I was listening to a particularly sad song by Ed Sheeran called Supermarket Flowers.

The song reminded me of an old book idea I had about taking a roadtrip with my Mom in an alternate universe where there were dinosaurs roaming around.

The original idea was an apocalypse story, but listening to this song I realized how much I miss talking with my Mom. It’s been 9 years since her death and this book will give me the chance, in an odd way, to spend one last roadtrip with her.

It will be one long conversation between me and my mom. A memoir, love letter, with dinosaurs.

When I wake up in the hospital where I was born, I find my Mother waiting for me. Instead of going home, she decides that we should go on a roadtrip. “Let’s get lost,” she says with a mischievous look.

Over the trip we’ll reminisce, laugh, and tell each other things we never had the chance.

But why are we on this trip? Why was I in the hospital? And why are we being followed by dinosaurs?

I can already tell that this will be the hardest book I’ve ever written, but I think I’m at the point in my life that I can write it properly.

I apologize in advance if I’m not overly active online or if I’m a little sad over the month of November.

Follow my progress on my NaNoWriMo page. Add me as a buddy if you’re also diving into the pool of imagination.

Later Days,

Éric

Mortality and Immortality

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

As you age, you start to notice patterns around what happens to your friends who are around the same age. You’ll notice everyone getting married, or having kids, etc.

Unfortunately, I’ve reached the age where people are dying or having close calls. Earlier this year a friend died of a heart attack and it was sad. He was a good man with an amazing mind and even though I didn’t see him much the world feels lessened by his loss.

I’ve had friends die before, but now we’ve transitioned from the deaths being horrifying and unthinkable to sad and unexpected.

Since his death, I’ve had several friends hospitalized for heart or other life threatening conditions and it scares me. I don’t want to lose my friends and I really don’t want to die.

In an early episode of the new Doctor Who, Charles Dickens asks, “But you have such knowledge of future times. I don’t wish to impose on you, but I must ask you… My books, Doctor. Do they last?”

I like to joke that I plan to live forever; it’s only partially a joke. I know I will live through my daughter and I hope I will live through my work. I have two novels published now, three others written, and two others in the works; I have almost ten years of blogs written and almost enough short stories to fill a book. (If you’d like to help me create more, please buy, borrow, or request my books and review them on amazon and goodreads.)

I have a lot more work left to do and SO MANY more stories to tell. (No, seriously, I have a list of 20+ novels I want to write.) I hope to be around for a long time.

 

Take care of yourselves,

Éric

Immortality

quote-naturally-there-s-got-to-be-a-limit-for-i-don-t-expect-to-live-forever-but-i-do-intend-isaac-asimov-37-87-55

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

If I could limit the degradation of my body and mind, I would want to live forever. (Immortality with dementia or complete paralysis is quite possibly the most terrifying thing I can think of.)

A lot of people talk about living forever (again if you could stay healthy) as something that would be terrible or horrifying. It may be the idea of watching everyone you care for grow old and die and I agree that idea is sad. I love my family and by the age of 26, I’d lost both my parents, three of my grandparents, a few cousins, my childhood best friend, and almost all my great-aunts and uncles. Death sucks for the people who care about you.

My family has a very low life expectancy; my mother didn’t make it into her sixties and my father didn’t make it into his fifties. Those ages are closer then I’d like them to be and it scares me. I have so many novels to write, so many memories to make with my daughter, so many things I haven’t tried, and so many places I want to visit. I don’t want to shuffle, deal, or fold, this mortal coil any time soon.

So yes, if I could live forever. I would. I’d want to offer the same to my wife and daughter, in-laws, friends, and you (my imaginary friends/fans).

My goal and hope is to make it to 2068, that way I’ll see the 100th anniversary of Doctor Who (2063) Star Trek (2066), and the bi-centennial of Canada (2067). My daughter will be 50 at that point and I hope to see her doing something she loves as a career. Maybe grandchildren, if she wants. I also hope that I’ll get to see a more open and tolerant world by then.

I have so much left to do…

Would you live forever if you could stay physically and mentally healthy?

To many later days,

Éric

Back to Work

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Today is my second day back at work after a wonderful eight and a half months on parental leave.

I expected it to be weird (like visiting your old high school or a previous job) but it wasn’t, it was depressingly familiar. It almost felt like I hadn’t left.

Some things had changed but mostly it was the same old job. That’s both a good and a bad thing. I mean I’m glad I don’t have to learn an entire new job but I was hoping something would have changed a little.

Thanks to my freelance work, I haven’t slowed down or lost much of my ability, which is really nice considering I was thrown into a project right away.

from meme.com
from meme.com

The hardest part is being away from Dragon and Jen. I really enjoyed doing my freelance work and taking breaks to snuggle, change diapers, or play. It’s going to be really hard not seeing them all day.

Not being there for first words or first steps will really hurt but until I win the lottery or sell the movie rights to my books, I’m stuck here.

Back to work,

Éric

Dear Dragon – Your Gramma

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Dear Dragon,

It’s the first of December and that means that Christmas is just around the corner. We’ve been listening to holiday music for the past three weeks and other than “Last Christmas” I’m still loving it.

There are all kinds of reasons I love the holidays, the snow, the presents, sappy movies/tv, spending time with family and friends, but most of all, it’s a time that most people feel more hopeful.

I hope you grow up with the kind of holidays that your Mum and I had. Our parents went out of their way to make it a loving and wonderful time.

As much as I love this time, I’m always a little sad. It reminds me of your Gramma. She loved this time of year, she’d get as excited as a child. I can still picture her with her santa mug of coffee and a mischievous grin.

christmas06001

It wasn’t an easy season for her. She wanted to give me everything the other kids had but couldn’t afford it. I was still spoiled (especially by your Uncle Dan) but I remember the pain on her face when we received food boxes. It hurt her pride but she knew she needed to accept it.

No matter what happened, she made sure it was a great day filled with laughter and family.

She’s been gone for eight years now and when she died I took custody of an old box. It was packed in 1996 and says not to open until 2016. I remember packing it with some of my favourite toys, although I don’t remember the toys.

img_20161129_140122img_20161129_140147

I’m a little conflicted about the box. I want to open it, but I also want to open it with you when you’re old enough to appreciate it… to appreciate her. I’ll decide at the last minute.

She would have loved you sooooooooo much,
Your happy and sad Papa