Saturday, September 23, 2017

DuckTales Reboot--First Episode Review



If you read my most recent Mid-Week Music post, you know that I recently watched the Pilot episode of the rebooted DuckTales. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Since when is Launchpad a pilot?"

I'm kidding. I just quoted a line from the show. I do that sort of thing sometimes.

But you're probably thinking that I already reviewed it. And I did, in very brief terms. But "I liked it" wasn't exactly a review--it's the Why You Liked It that makes a review. Therefore, I will put out my first review on this blog.

Where do I even start?

I suppose I should let you know that it was really more like a two-parted episode put together to make one episode. Pilot episodes are usually in parts. So the usual intro was not included until about halfway through. Just a note.

The plot itself was wonderful: Part One, where we are introduced to all the characters, was well done, and showed off the personalities of the characters splendidly. The entire Wing of Secrets part alone was fun, mysterious, and incredibly awesome. Part Two, where they head off on their first official adventure, was just as good.

The twists were interesting, and I did not see them coming. The adventure, the excitement, and the cleverness caught my attention. Seeing as this is an adventure show, it looks as if this is being done right. And since I'm just finishing listening to the Adventures in Odyssey episode, The Cross of Cortes, I have something else adventurous to compare it to. It stacks up well.

(Note: The Cross of Cortes is an episode where Whit and Eugene travel to Mexico to visit Whit's missionary friend, Dan Isidro. The episode includes an adventurous treasure hunt in an exotic land, maps, mysterious messages, temples, a lovely lady from said exotic land, and volcanos. If you are unfamiliar with adventure stories in general, perhaps consider starting there.)



Now, on to the characters. Of course, Scrooge McDuck is Scrooge McDuck--Scottish adventure capitalist. He's very awesome. Replacing the late Alan Young is David Tennant (most people know him as the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who). I was a little worried that the new actor wouldn't be able to capture the character as well as Alan Young. However, Tennant does a great job, and I am highly excited to see more of this character.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie: let me tell you, I could not tell them apart to save my life before. But now, it's quite clear who's who. Huey is more the booksmart type (and wears red). Dewey is the bold--not to mention reckless and a bit arrogant--ringleader of the kids, and loves adventuring (and wears blue). Louie is... well, known as the evil triplet. I don't know how else to describe him, but you'll be able to tell. He's the one that wears green. Some people say their voices sound off, because they're played by grown men, and sound nothing like the originals. And it did throw me off a little at first. However, I think it was a good idea: now, we don't have four characters doing the Donald Duck voice!

Webby, their first new friend at McDuck Manor, is a huge expert in the history of the McDuck family, and wants to go on adventures like her hero, Scrooge McDuck. We've got Launchpad McQuack, the crash-prone chauffer/pilot for Scrooge (aka, Mr. McDee). There's Mrs. Beakley, the housekeeper at McDuck Manor, Webby's grandmother, who is decidedly not the secretary. These characters are all fun characters, whether they're the same as their 1980s counterparts or not.

And then we've got Donald Duck. As I said in the last post, it took a couple of times to get what he was saying, and there are one or two parts I still don't understand. (This is rather unusual, since I can normally understand what he's saying in other cartoons). Still, I think Donald is great. The character's a little overprotective of the boys, but it seems this comes in handy later on. I won't say how, but I will say that the point of a laser death trap is not to touch every single laser while humming your own theme song. Donald is also still very... um, temperamental. Especially when it comes to staplers. (Just watch the episode).

In short, the characters were great. They were well acted, and I loved them. Even the villains were simultaneously evil and funny, without becoming idiots. "He thinks he's SO rich and SO Scottish, when I'm wearing a kilt, McDuck--A KIIIIILT!" And not only that, but both the younger and older characters together play a role in saving the day: something that few cartoon shows have today.

Moving on, the show is well written, with several hilarious parts. However, it doesn't overdo the comedy or include unnecessary jokes. Its main focus is the characters and the adventure, which is done very well. But, when it does try to be funny, it is very, very funny. And this next point makes it all the more special to me: it has no bathroom jokes. Those get on my nerves so much, and even the best of cartoons have had them. But none are to be seen thus far.

But you know what the best part was? This was one reboot among many, many reboots--not just by Disney, but in general. Most of the reboots I've seen have been awful, feeding solely off of people's nostalgia for the original story, while also having no regard for those people or the original story. Others require a full knowledge of the original story to be able to understand it at all. DuckTales is neither.

Several fans of the original have said that this is a great show. Some have not liked it, but several have. I personally can vouch for the fact that people can enjoy the new show without any knowledge of the old one. It's a show that can stand on its own feet, and doesn't have to rely on nostalgia, while also appealing to it at the same time.

Oddly enough, there are similarities between this remake and another. We have the Old School Hero From the 80s, who's been out of the action for a while and doesn't do anything interesting anymore. He is called back into action by the antics of the Clever Tween Sidekick(s), who are his nephews/niece. They go to stop the Sworn Enemy Rival from evildoing. With the aid of the Smart Tough Helpers/Supporting Characters, they stop the Sworn Enemy Rival and capture the henchmen.


Sound familiar?

However, in Inspector Gadget (rebooted), the title character is an idiot and no longer the main character. The Clever Tween Sidekick does everything, and the Smart Tough Helper does nothing but get chased around. Even the Sworn Enemy Rival is an idiot. Over the top ridiculous humour takes the place of all storytelling and characters. At least in the original the villain was intimidating, and there was actual danger.

But in DuckTales, everyone has a point, and no one is boring. It has a great story, great characters, and a good balance between bold adventures, dramatic mystery, and hilarious comedy. My only tiff I have is that the next episodes can only be watched on TV channels. However, I hear the show may come out on Netflix at some point, so I need to master the virtue of patience. In the meantime, I think I'll watch a few episodes of the original show.

My rating? Five stars out of five. Go watch it now.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mid-Week Music #12 - DuckTales



Ah, now this time, I will be doing the theme song of a certain show. This is one of the rare instances where I will post two videos, simply because there are two versions. Allow me to tell you why I chose this song.

I've always loved Scrooge McDuck. I mean, he's Scottish, he's a capitalist, he's an adventurer, the creator of the character mentioned cathedrals and old-fashioned values when talking about the character--basically, there's a lot to like for someone like me. And when the first episode popped up on my YouTube screen, I felt like watching it. I knew there had been one of these back in the 80s, but I'd never watched it. So after a while--to be precise, this past Sunday--I watched it.

I was not disappointed. The show was awesome! I love the adventure, and the characters are a lot of fun. And when it was funny, it was very, very funny. There were a lot of reasons why I liked it, but guess what else? It was a reboot that was actually great. My family, who watched it with me last night, loved it too. I cannot wait to see the next episode. So now, here are the two versions of the theme song of... DuckTales! Woo-oo!




That was the original opening. I like the horns. I like the sound. Someone made a video combining the music of that one with the visuals of the next. Which is good, because I think the next one is more exciting, more befitting, visually. (Let me know which one you like better in the comments below!)




Life is like a hurricane
Here in
Duckburg
Racecars, lasers, aeroplanes
It's a
Duck blur

Might solve a myst'ry
Or rewrite hist'ry
DuckTales!
Woo-oo!

Every day they're out there making DuckTales
Woo-oo!
Tales of derring-do, bad and good luck tales
Woo-oo!

D-d-d-danger--watch behind you!
There's a stranger out to find you
What to do? Just grab onto some
DuckTales
Woo-oo!

Every day they're out there making DuckTales
Woo-oo!
Tales of derring-do, bad and good luck tales
Woo-oo!
Not pony tails or cotton tails
No, DuckTales!
Woo-oo!

(OR:)
[Tales of daring, bad and good
[Not pony tails or cotton tails
[No, DuckTales!
[Woo-oo!]



Monday, September 18, 2017

Delays and Dragons



Hi there. So... I said in the last post that I was going to try to catch up on my posting. It looks like today is not going to be that day. It's getting late, and I know Mommy will need my help with supper-related things. Therefore, I will probably be posting something either tomorrow or on Thursday or the following days.

But there is some good news: I finally put something on my Writing Projects Page! I wrote something up, and there it is now! It will likely get updated at different points along the way. Scratch that--it will definitely be getting updated along the way. Now then...

Oop, yep, I am definitely getting called in there to help with things. So I will be going now. Here's a random picture, so you can laugh while you wait.



Funniest thing ever.

Gotta go. Bye!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mid-Week Music #11 - Agenda



Hi there! Firstly, sorry I've missed a post. I usually seem to do one normal post then two MWMs. I will need to catch up a little. Second, I think I also missed a post on different kinds of iconoclasm. That will happen! Third, this week's Mid-Week Music is by an artist named Neal Morse.

You may recognize his name from a Mid-Week Music post from last month: Ways of a Fool. This song is very different, and a bit odd. Make sure the sound isn't really high, because it starts out loudly. But really, it is quite a weird song. Reminds me a teeny bit of this show called Phineas and Ferb. Go figure.

I had been trying to figure out which song to do today, and this was the one that stuck in my head. Come to think of it, I have been trying to figure out schedule things. And it does mention summertime, and this is almost the end of that. But, anyway, this funny little song is called... Agenda!



***

Agenda
My beautiful agenda
The one that never dies
I'll shout it in a megaphone
I'll wear it like a French cologne
I'll scream it in the telephone
Hey, hey-yeah

Agenda
My beautiful agenda
To give it all away
It's shockin' as a shootin' star
It's crankin' like a cable car
It's sweeter than the cookie jar

Hey, hey Joe!
There's a place I know
Where the grace won't blow away
And everything is fine
In the summertime
And the battle lines are grey

Remember
My beautiful agenda
I'll sing it to the skies
It throws you like a boomerang
It frees you from the chain gang
It's every song you ever sang

Hey, hey Joe!
There's a place I know
Where the grace won't blow away
And everything is fine
In the summertime
And the battle lines are grey

Agenda
My beautiful agenda

***

Agenda
My beautiful agenda
The one that never dies
I'll shout it in a megaphone
I'll wear it like a French cologne
I'll scream it in the telephone
Hey, hey-yeah

Hey, hey Joe
There's a place I know
Where the grace won't blow away
And everything is fine
In the summertime
And the battle lines are grey

Agenda
My beautiful agenda
The one that never dies
My beautiful agenda

(Agenda)
Agenda
(My beautiful agenda)
My beautiful agenda
Agenda...agenda...agenda
(repeat that a few times)

Agenda!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Mid-Week Music #10 - By Grace



This week, I'm going to show you a song by Christian artist Jamie Soles. He makes songs for children based on the Bible. And usually they're quite fun. Yet I felt like it would be appropriate to include this song now. What with Harvey and Irma, it really relates to the situation of millions of people. This song is about Noah and the Flood.

But there's also a reason why this song is called "By Grace". It's not talking about me, obviously. It's talking about the grace of God. You see, without it, we'd all be dead, or even nonexistent. If God hadn't given Noah his grace, Noah would've gone to the depths with all the rest. Good grief, if God hadn't given it to Adam, the human race would never have even existed!

Yet it goes even further than that. God's grace is at the back of everything, working a purpose, a plotline, a plan, in every little detail. And the story of our world--of all worlds--of everything--would not be except that God had the grace to tell it. For that's what it is: a story. This is something that I believe with every part of my being. Life is a story, and God is the Wondrous Storyteller.

And so you see, even this disastrous hurricane is part of that story. You may have heard stories like it before. I feel it's a comforting thought that we are characters in a story, and one that brings with it many other thoughts: what characters might we be? And whatever happens, we know that the Storyteller is at the back of it, telling our tales carefully, and constantly loving us. All we need do is love Him back.

Some people, though, do more than that. To do what is right is just plain gratefulness to God. And I couldn't mention the hurricanes without mentioning the grateful heroes who give grace to others in need. Because they are just that: heroes. That's the way my story goes.

So without further ado, "By Grace".




(That Noah! He's lost his mind!)
(Yeah, he's building this great big boat!)
(Yeah, and no water!)
(HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!)

In the days before the Flood came
There were many people who wouldn't leave
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord
He believed

Riding waves above the mountains
With his wife and sons and their families
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord
He believed

(chorus #1)
For by grace he was saved through faith
And that not of himself
It was the gift of God
The gift of God
God reserves all glory for Himself

When you come unto the Father
When you love the Son and you now believe
You have found grace in the eyes of the Lord
Be relieved

(chorus #2)
For by grace you are saved through faith
And that not of yourself
It is the gift of God
The gift of  God
God deserves all glory for Himself

(chorus #2)


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mid-Week Music #9 - Lift Up the Suff'ring Symbol



This time, I'll be giving you a song I had in my head after tonight's Bible study at our church. We're going through the Ten Commandments at the moment, and what Martin Luther wrote about them in his Large Catechism. I think that's what it is, the Large Catechism. I will correct it if I am wrong.

Today, we talked about the First Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." In the Lutheran Church, however, that First Commandment also includes the Second Commandment: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images, neither of anything in heaven nor in the earth nor in the waters beneath the earth, neither shalt thou worship them."

Obviously, this doesn't mean we should never make pictures or paintings or any kind of artwork. The First and Second Commandments together mean we shall worship the Lord our God and Him alone, and we shall worship Him in the way He tells us. For example, those people in Exodus who made the golden calf--they didn't say it was a new god. They thought they were worshipping the same God that brought them out of Egypt.

Worshipping God through images doesn't work. Sorry, but no. That was the main problem with relics among the Roman Catholics of Luther's day. We can only pray to God: nothing and nobody else will do. The only intercessor we have is Jesus Christ. So the 'images' we make--whether paintings or sculptures or even those talking pictures I've heard so much about--should be made to glorify God, just as we are meant to glorify God. And to teach and inspire others, as well.

Iconoclasm, oddly enough, has been somewhat rampant in the South recently. To be sure, it's of a different nature, but it is the eradication of images in any case. I will be putting up a more detailed post about it. Perhaps in a day or two? For the moment, though, here is the Michael Card song I had in my head: Lift Up the Suff'ring Symbol.




They grew tired of bread from heaven
And of Moses and of God
And longed to live the life of slavery once again
So they muttered and they grumbled
And they whimpered and they whined
With each faithless word sank deeper into sin

He took the pen of pain once more
To write upon their hearts
The lesson they had been so slow to learn
And writhing in the sand, the fiery serpents came to call
With a holy message and a bite that burned

(chorus)
Lift up the suff'ring symbol
And place it high upon a pole
Tell the children to look up and be made whole

So Moses made a metal snake
And nailed it to a pole
Sent out the saving word so they would know
That the symbol of their suffering was now
The focus of their faith
And with a faithful glance, the healing power would flow

In time the brazen serpent became
An idol in the land
And they left the living God to worship clay
When they forgot their suffering soon true faith had disappeared
And so some idolize a brazen cross today

(chorus 2x)

***

(chorus 2x)
Tell the children to look up and be made whole


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Workings of a Wordsmith: Scene One



Today, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into some of the things I'm writing. If you weren't aware, I plan on being a professional wordsmith--thus the page entitled "Writing Projects". Unfortunately, I forgot to put anything on there when I posted it. Oops. But I promise I'll get to that soon. For the moment, here's part of what should be there.

Right now, I'm working on two things: a novel and a novella. Neither, at the moment, has any official title. (Typical me, very typical.) The novel is the first in a series, which is called Hanesion House. I haven't been working on it as much lately, however. That's due to my working on the novella.

This novella is for a writing contest called "Five Poisoned Apples", for Snow White retellings. At first, I had no ideas, though I wanted very much to enter. Then I was swamped with ideas, and wasn't sure which one to do first! But finally, I've gotten it down to two. The one I'm working on now is the one I'm definitely going to enter in the contest.

I began the project on the first of the month, and finished it... I can't remember when exactly, but I think it was about two weeks later. Maybe even less. I don't know, but that was the fastest I've ever finished any writing project in my life. I'm in the editing stages now. And I'm planning to send it to Rooglewood Press (the publishing company) sometime in the first week of September.

This retelling is a science-fiction story, hopefully in the vein of something good. Perhaps Space Opera*, perhaps something else. In any case, this is a story that excites me very much. Brave heroes, beleaguered princesses--mystery, suspense, some bits of action here and romance there. Hopefully though, the story itself will do a better job of getting your interest than that brief... would it even be called an overview?

Anyhow, I would appreciate it if you were to give your thoughts on my workings. Now, if you don't mind, I'll set forth a scene for you--the very first one--and you can see what you think. I may or may not be posting the rest of the story here on my blog, so enjoy the cliffs while you can: you may be hanging onto the side of one soon.

Apologies: there are still one or two unfinished parts lurking about. I've put them in bold text so you can see them better. Sorry!

*Star Wars is an example of Space Opera, if any of you are uncertain of the term.


     "Starlog 27.3, or, uh, like us Earthlings say it, August 1, 2317, on a Tuesday. My twenty-seventh adventure." Carter Prince sighed and rubbed his hands together. "It's odd how I've been counting time by how many adventures I've had. It feels like it's been forever since I've been home.
     "Speaking of which, how are things back in Virginia? You still in charge of the American Alliance, Dad? I'll bet Mom's still trying to convince you to [do something]. Oh, and let Luke know I said happy birthday! You've gotta transmit the images soon." He sighed. "I really miss you guys. All this adventuring is exciting beyond belief, and I do a lot of good. A lot of good. But... it's pretty lonesome out here."
     He paused. Then, grinning, he got up out of his chair. "Say, you haven't forgotten me, have you? Carter Prince--adventurer, protector of the innocent, and the first Intergalactic Knight?" He chuckled. "Remember that, Dad? You gave me that idea, back when I was younger than Luke. Now, I'm doing it for real, sword and all. I--" He was interrupted by a white flash outside the window, directly at the front of his ship.
     "Whoa! What the heck was--okay, you know what? I'll get back to you. Love you." Carter turned off his recorder and started pushing buttons. "Computer, damage report."
     "No damage sustained."
     "Then what was--" Before he could continue, he noticed a sound like heavy breathing nearby. He listened for a while, trying to discern the source. Then the voice, half-whispering and shaky, spoke. It was the voice of a young woman.
     "I don't know if there's anybody out there, listening. But I--I can't bear it anymore, I can't!"
     "Are you all right?" Carter asked.
     "I can't stand having no one to talk to, and I... have to tell someone about all this, even if I can't hear them." Carter then realized what was going on: this lady, whoever she was, had recorded and sent out this message. He listened intently. "The Droids that watch me just say it's only silly dreams and fears, over and over. They never listen. No one does."
     She sighed shakily. "I've had... every night, I have these dreams. And every time, it's the same one. Or almost. They start out... that's one of the strange things, because they don't start out the way they end. I walk in a forest, a beautiful forest. Almost unlike anything I'd seen before. It looked almost..." she paused, considering her words, "...it seems magical. I don't even know what the word means, but it sounds--well, somehow right. I walk through it, in beautiful clothes, and I hold an...an apple. A very red apple, shining in light. Like a jewel, almost."
     The voice paused, and Carter could hear her breathing, which was getting more rapid and shaky by the second. "Then, as I stare at it, it gets larger as if it's coming up toward my face. And then it... the apple disappears like fire, and everything flashes into darkness. I'm... down and down, I fall. I feel as though it will never end. Then--" She cried out, and Carter jumped toward the sound, and his hand to the sword at his side, only to remember with frustration that he couldn't do anything.
     "I jerk to a stop, and I feel as if I'm dangling on a string in the middle of the darkness. I blink, and I'm... suddenly, I find myself in a beautiful case. Of glass, and gold. There are flowers around me, but they are all dead. This place... yes, it is beautiful, but it's a tomb. I will be trapped forever... I must get out, I must! I struggle to get out, but I can't... move. Not at all.
     "Then I look out of the glass case, and there is... someone is out there, outside the case. Or something is there. I feel its eyes on me, staring at me, and I squirm, trying to escape. But I can't even blink or look away. Then it... I hear it laughing at me, laughing wild and cruel, and then there are eyes of fire, and I--I can't--ahh!" She screamed. Carter could not help but slam his fist on the dashboard.
     "No! I will not let--"
     "Then I... wake up, alone in the dark, in utter silence." The voice let out a little sob. "No one is there to help me. The only thing I ever see when I wake up is the stars, hovering in the darkness. But even those aren't there all the time. The Droids don't understand, they say it's an irrational fear. They don't do a thing. It doesn't help.
     "And then, there's... when I'm awake, there's something from my dream. I..."  She said something more, but it could not be heard: the message was fading in and out. "I can't ... much longer ... "
     "No! Computer, trace the message, quickly!"
     "Please, if there's ... if anybody is out ... really out there ... help me ... only hope ... please, help me!" The voice fell silent. Carter stared at the dashboard, open-mouthed.
     "Trace successful."
     He sighed and blinked slowly. "Show me."
     "Showing coordinates. Orders?"
     Carter stood silently for a few moments. "Computer, set a course for..." He looked closer at the information. "Set a course for the Septimon System."
     "Affirmative, sir." Carter straightened and put his hands behind his back.
     "Don't worry, my lady," he murmured. "I'm on my way."

***

Well, how's that for an introduction? Now y'all have met Carter Prince, and have embarked on a quest to help this mysterious girl. Do you plan to follow him all the way through? If so, please let me know! What are your thoughts on the first scene?

Also, I have a sort of idea for the title. However, I'm not sure about it. It seems it might work. Any suggestions on that wise would be greatly appreciated, as well!

My idea:
Princess of the Seventh Star

Please leave all your thoughts about my story in the comments below!