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Welcome to Monsters University!

Earlier this week I went to see Monsters University. I have to admit I was pretty excited about seeing this movie but also quite a bit worried about it. It’s just that making a prequel is not the same as making a sequel.

In a sequel, things move forward, so almost any action can be justified, since the future has not been determined. It can be a disaster, and fans can be disappointed, but there’s more freedom in them. In a prequel, things need to move toward an established truth. The characters already exist and act a certain way, and the prequel must show the characters as they were but also be true to who they are now. Prequels don’t leave much room to play with the ending, which usually pleases the fans more than sequels, but it also creates a lot of expectations in fans, and when expectations are not met, things can get complicated.

I was relieved when I saw that MU was not at all what I had expected. It was so much better! I was happy with the choices made for how the characters met and how they were in the past, as much as what led them to choose the path they did later in life and how much college life influenced them later on. I was happy to see that Mike and Sulley were not best friends from the start, and that Randy was so insecure. It showed how little experiences and how you deal with them have a huge influence in who you’ll become.

“Just wait, hot-shot. I’m going to scare circles around you this year.” ~ Mike Wazowski

Oh, and before the movie, as it happens with all Pixar movies, there was a short animation film, The Blue Umbrella, which was adorable! I loved it! Here’s a clip of it. I’ll post the full version when available.

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And then I saw Despicable Me 2

I somehow got tickets to go see this early screening of Despicable Me 2. How? I’m still trying to understand that part myself. The best part is: I saw it! And I loved it! And I want to see it again!

Gru as a father is adorable. He’s so dedicated and overprotective it’s adorable. The girls are still funny. I kept hoping Agnes would say “It’s so fluffy!!” at some point, even though I highly doubted it would happen. She does say something else with the same passion, but I won’t mention here as not to spoil for those of you who haven’t seen the movie.

I loved that the minions appeared more (or so it seemed to me) in this one. I also loved Lucy and her weirdness. The way she says “Yay” is funny.

And after watching the movie three things were on my mind: I wanted some guacamole, a stuffed minion, and to watch the movie again. Loved it.

 

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How to defeat your enemies

T-Boy (he likes dinosaurs, that’s why I call him that) was watching a TV show yesterday called Ninjago. Since I don’t know what the show is I should do some research to first get to know the show and then do a brief explanation here, but that would take time. Instead, you’re left with my version of the show: it’s about legos, and they are ninjas, and one of them is the master and the others are learning from the master. That’s it. Kind of a teenage mutant ninja turtles but with less turtles and less pizza.

Anyway, I didn’t really sit there to watch the show, but the little bit I heard was about the ninjas trying to answer some riddle from the master. They’d come with a solution and it was always wrong (of course). Instead of watching the show I tried to distract T-Boy. I was not very successful at that, so I agreed to let him watch the last 5 minutes of the show in peace. He was really invested in it.

At the end the master tells his lego-ninjas: “The secret to defeat your enemies is to become their friend.” T-Boy’s expression was priceless, combined with an “Ah” that I’m sure meant what an interesting concept! Maybe I’ll try that next time. And that’s when I was reminded that as much as we may not like the idea of children watching TV shows all the time, if chosen wisely, they can help us teach them valuable lessons. Not that Ninjago is the best show ever (please, I’ve only watched a few minutes of one show) or that I’m advocating that children should watch more TV (I certainly am not saying that), but there is a team of people working behind TV shows and they do (in some cases) try to send good messages to the children.

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Did you watch Dungeons & Dragons? Boy, that was a fun show!

I remember when I was a child and all the TV shows I used to watch. And boy, did I watch TV! The TV was always on. Always. I watched Thundercats, Dungeons & Dragons, Tom & Jerry, Flintstones, Jetsons, Smurfs, Snorks, and so many others. I remember I used to love play-dough as well, and I’d make things from TV shows for my playmobil, like a tiny shell with tiny colored pencils inside. Well, of course it was tiny, have you seen the size of a playmobil’s hand?

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I had this! This exact one!

Oh, boy, what a sweet childhood I had. Maybe it’s time to get the box of play-dough out. Maybe I’ll make something the legos can use…

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Remember the Snorks?

 

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Easter with a touch of childhood memories.

When I was little Easter was a fun time. I remember following the Easter bunny’s paw prints around the house to find the place where he (you can’t call him it) had hidden my basket. The basket would always have a big chocolate egg. And by that I mean one of those:

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Just a few examples of Easter eggs.

You can find them everywhere in Brazil (yes, I grew up there) and you find them hanging from the ceiling (or a support over your head) in grocery stores. All you have to do is pick the one (or ones) you want and grab them as if you were getting fruit from a tree.

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Easter eggs are expensive, but walking into a supermarket and see all the eggs hanging above your head is priceless.

And if you have never seen the inside of one, they look kind of like this:

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This is a homemade one. Yes, you can get homemade ones and they are simply delicious!

Of course the contents of the eggs differ from one egg to the next, but they are all hollow with candies (and sometimes also toys) inside. The chocolate on the outside of the egg also changes, matching the candy they are based on (some have peanuts mixed with the chocolate, some are white chocolate, etc.).

But they were not the only thing in my basket. There were also smaller eggs and a chocolate bunny. I always got a chocolate bunny. Maybe because when I was little someone stole my bunny, a chocolate one, so my mom decided to give me one every year to compensate. Who knows, the point is, it was magical.

But one thing was even more magical. The decorated egg shells. My mom would start collecting eggshells weeks (maybe months) before Easter  It was a tough job to get them ready. She’d break just a little piece at the bottom of the eggshell, just enough to get the egg out. Then she’d wash the eggshells, let them dry, and store them in an egg carton. Later she’d make sugar peanuts (or Easter peanuts, as we’d call them) and put them inside the eggshells. She’d use a tiny cupcake liner to cover the whole and keep the peanuts inside. Then she’d decorate the shells using watercolors and a paintbrush.

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My mom’s ones had cupcake liners under them instead of egg holders, but they looked just like these ones.

Can we just take a moment to admire the artwork on those? I have to say I admire my mom’s dedication in using a tiny paintbrush to make the tiny details on the eggs. Nowadays with sharpies it would be a much easier job. Yay for that, right?

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Here you can see the peanuts inside and the cupcake liners.

And now I’m a bit nostalgic. Gee, I wonder why, right?

How was Easter for you growing up? What things are part of your fondest memories?

Oh, yeah, and HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE! Hope the Easter bunny leaves you a bunch of good moments to turn into sweet memories one day.

 

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Alma

Looking around for more animated short films I came upon this one and I just loved it!

Alma is Rodrigo Blaas’ first short film as a director. Originally from Spain, Rodrigo Blaas has worked in animation for more than ten years, in Spain and in the United States. Seizing the possibility of directing his first independent short film, Rodrigo Blaas asked some of the best artists in their field to take part in this independent project: French animator Bolhem Bouchiba, character designer Carlos Grangel and Sergio Pablos, Art Director Alfonso Blaas, music composer Mastretta and sound designer Tom Myers. For more info visit almashortfilm.com.

Alma means soul, which is very fitting, don’t you think? I just loved the whole idea of it. For some reason now I want to read Gaiman’s Coraline. Go figure.

So, any recommendations of other animated short films I should watch?

 

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Look! A giant guinea pig!

A day at the zoo with a 4-year-old:

Boy – Look! A giant guinea pig!

Me – Where? (Trying to see what was behind the capybara only to realize that that was the giant guinea pig he was referring to.)

The 120 lb animal now to be known as giant guinea pig.

I guess he’s right, capybaras do look like giant guinea pigs.

I’m not a 2 lb capybara, I swear.

And they are related, so…

 

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Grown-ups & figures. Go figure.

The Little Prince

Photo courtesy of ;Deirdreamer

“Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, ‘What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?’ Instead, they demand: ‘How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?’ Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

 

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