Soul movie poster

A while back, I watched Soul, which follows Joe Gardner, a music teacher at a school who aspires to be a jazz musician. When he successfully auditions for an opening in a jazz band and gets his break, his excitement gets the better of him and he dies. As his soul heads into the afterlife, he refuses to accept his death and winds up mentoring an unborn soul named 22, in hopes of returning back to his body on Earth. He finds this task harder than he thought, as 22 refuses to find the “spark” she needs to go to Earth. After a series of mishaps, Joe jumps back to Earth towards his body, bringing 22 with him. Unfortunately, 22 ends up in Joe’s body and his soul ends up in a cat’s body. 22, with Joe’s help, pretends to be him while finding her “spark” on Earth. After being belittled by Joe, 22 ends up as a lost soul and Joe’s soul returns to his body. Upon resuming his life, Joe finds that music has not fulfilled him as he thought it was, so he rescues 22 from being a lost soul and brings her soul down to Earth. In doing this kind act, he gets another chance at life and makes the most of every day. Soul has some notable actors and actresses as the voices of these characters, including Jamie Foxx as Joe and Tina Fey as 22. Graham Norton, Donnell Rawlings, Angela Bassett, and Daveed Diggs, among others, also voice characters in this movie! I really did not care for Joe. He was selfish, disrespectful, and overall not a practical person. The way he treated 22 was horrible and he belittled her experiences. In my opinion, he didn’t deserve another chance at life. 22, on the other hand, was hilarious – especially her experiences with her previous mentors! Soul is advertised as a movie for everyone, but, being a Pixar movie, it seems like the target audience was children. However, upon watching it, Soul seems too deep and philosophical for a younger audience to follow. I was even a big lost during the movie at some parts but it was definitely interesting! I also love the small animation details in Pixar movies.

good kid, m.A.A.d. city

good kid, m. A. A. d. city CD cover

good kid, m.A.A.d. city, an album by Kendrick Lamar, was released in late 2012 to critical acclaim.

First off, I think one of this album’s greatest strengths is how Kendrick paints a vivid picture of everything he got into during his up-ringing. “The Art of Peer Pressure” shows the activities he got himself involved in, such as drinking and generally just being rowdy. He also details a house robbery he commits with his friends, and how he outran the police with his friends. This is one of the many examples on the album, like “Swimming Pools” detailing alcohol use and being pressured into using it, or “m.A.A.d. city” having Kendrick tell his experience with the kill or be killed environment of Compton, including him seeing someone getting shot and killed at a very young age.

Lyrically and vocally the album is top notch. Kendrick delivers consistently great singing and flow across all songs. Every song never feels boring, even the 12-minute “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”, which is both beautiful and saddening, from its instrumental to the lyrics detailing his relationships, and the chorus of the first half where they tell Kendrick to tell their stories when he gets out of Compton, to sing about them. And that’s just the first half of the song. I have never seen an album so neatly woven and consistent, second-only to, well, himself, but that’s for another day.

Verdict: “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” is a detailed and brilliantly executed story of growing up in one of America’s most notorious areas.

Verdict: 9.5/10

This is starwarsguy124, signing out.

Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island movie poster

This movie follows five people as they arrive on Fantasy Island. On the island, the guests get to live out their fantasies, but the island has a way of twisting their desires. As each of them get involved in their fantasies, they find that the results are not what they hoped for and are disappointed. One of the guests, Gwen, fantasizes about fixing her biggest regret and goes back to rescue her neighbor, Nick, from a fire that she caused. While in her fantasy, she encounters most of the other guests, Patrick, J.D., and Brax, who were all involved in Nick’s death in some way. Mr. Roarke, the host, informs them that they are not living out their own fantasies, but someone else’s. The fifth guest, Melanie, reveals that she was supposed to go on a date with Nick the night of his death, so her ultimate fantasy was to avenge his death by having them killed. Sloane, Melanie’s childhood bully who is on the island for torturing Melanie, fantasized Melanie’s death so that she and the other guests could escape, but not before both Patrick and J.D. had died. Sloane, Gwen, and J.D., who was brought back to life because Brax agreed to stay in Fantasy Island, all returned home. Lucy Hale played Melanie, Maggie Q played Gwen, Austin Stowell played Patrick, Jimmy O. Yang played Brax, Ryan Hansen played J.D., and Portia Doubleday played Sloane. They were all good but Maggie Q, Austin Stowell, and Portia Doubleday really stood out and brought their characters to life. Michael Peña played their host, Mr. Roarke, and he was great in the movie. He was mysterious and I was skeptical of him, but he was charming. The setting was awesome and I really enjoyed the story itself. I didn’t realize it was a television show in the 1970s before watching this movie, but the ending makes a reference to the show, which is cool.

The Grudge

The Grudge movie poster

A while back, I saw The Grudge by myself, which was a horrible idea. This terrifying movie follows Detective Muldoon upon moving to a new town with her son. She and her partner investigate a corpse in a car, making her partner, Detective Goodman, uncomfortable after learning that she had been coming from 44 Reyburn Drive. Muldoon questions him and he tells her he investigated murders in that house and believes it to be haunted because his former partner went insane after entering it. She becomes interested and goes to the house, only to find a very disturbed women and a corpse.

The film goes into detail about the deaths that have taken place due to the curse: Fiona Landers, who brought back the curse from Tokyo, and her husband and daughter; Peter and Nina Spencer, real estate agents trying to sell the house; and Faith Matheson, the elderly woman with dementia that Muldoon finds upon entering, her husband, William Matheson, and Lorna Moody, an assisted suicide consultant. Thinking she destroyed the curse by burning the house down, Muldoon hugs her son, only to be revealed that she is hugging Melinda and the curse had followed her.

This film doesn’t go in chronological order which makes it all the more interesting. This film had many characters, but the outstanding actors included Andrea Riseborough as Detective Muldoon, Demián Bichir as Detective Goodman, John Cho as Peter Spencer, Lin Shaye as Faith Matheson, William Sadler as Detective Wilson, Zoe Fish as Melinda Landers, and Junko Bailey as Kayako Saeki. I really enjoyed the setup of this movie, because it was enjoyable to watch multiple people and families be affected by this curse, rather than just one, and to see how they all relate to each other in some way or another. Although I like horror movies, I get scared easily, and this one is definitely terrifying.

The Shadows of Vellair, Part 10

Female Silhouette Enjoying View of Stock Footage Video (100 ...

There is no way to escape. “Be as merciful as possible,” I pleaded with Kikona. She nodded — were those tears in her eyes? Yes, inky black tears, filling them. 

“NO!” screamed my father again. He writhed in pain. She raised her clawed hand above my head and I tried my best not to flinch.

But then I saw terror in her eyes at what she was about to do. No, don’t! I silently pleaded. But she shook her head imperceptibly. With a terrible slash, she brought her claws down upon Vellair.

I can’t describe the sound that went through the air. It was Vellair’s death cry, and it knocked me to the ground, and the worst pain I’d ever felt wracked me. I could feel my life leaking away as wave after wave of lightning struck. I gratefully fled into the fuzzy darkness, wondering if I’d ever wake again.

When I awoke, I was on a cart again. “She’s awake!” cried a voice, and someone’s arms wrapped around me. Father. And I looked down at my arms, which were pale in the setting sunlight. I was a human again!

I wanted so terribly to tell him I loved him, that I was so sorry, but my voice wouldn’t work. I sat up and I saw a woman atop an ordinary horse riding ahead.

How long was I unconscious? I wanted to ask, but I still couldn’t talk. I was unable. Father’s eyes went confused at my frantic motions, but a heavy understanding soon settled over them. And still, to this day, I am mute from the encounter from Vellair.

“We’re going home,” Father told me. I leaned on his shoulder, feeling incredibly weak. My hands shook as I took a deep breath of biting air. “Vellair’s spell is broken.” A flood of relief accompanied his words. Kikona had saved us all when she killed Vellair.

“Indeed you are,” said the woman riding the horse. She turned around. “I am Augusta. You knew me as Kikona.”

Kikona! I wanted to tell her how much love filled my heart for this woman, even though I had hated her and feared her. Or was it just Vellair for whom I had felt those things?

But I couldn’t talk. Augusta’s eyes grew sad. “We’re going to make things right,” she told me. “We’re going to heal the wounds that Vellair opened.”

She can’t heal every wound, I thought sadly. But it’s good that we are trying.

The Shadows of Vellair, Part 9

glowing man | Tumblr

I stared into the swirling darkness. There seemed to be nothing inside the castle. “Continue,” Kikona said, stepping forward. I decided to trust her, so I walked through the arch, not knowing what lay beyond.

I couldn’t see anything. The blackness seemed to suffocate me. I could hear a whimper from behind me. My father. Echoes drifted by my ears. We seemed to be in an enormous room.

“Vellair, my lord,” Kikona said loudly. “I have returned with prisoners from the east.”

Out of the shadows came a light. I stared intently at it. It seemed to grow larger and larger, until . . .

I could see the figure man. No, not a man. More like a god, I realized as he strode nearer. He had flowing silver robes made of light, a perfect, chiseled face made of shining gold, and beautiful turquoise eyes. His hair flowed down his back, shining black, and his smile was brighter than the sun.

Despite how beautiful he looked as he approached us, there seemed to be something off about his presence. He seemed to be slightly transparent, as though not there, and his smile seemed oddly despicable. His eyes, though the most flawless thing I had ever seen, seemed to pierce me, as though he knew all of my secrets. They were cold; no, beyond cold, hating, and calculating.

There he stood, no less than five feet away from us. “Kikona, darling. I’m so glad you’re home,” he purred, stroking her cheek. She stayed still as stone, and was she flinching?

“And who are these two guests? Obsidian and Tar? How lovely to meet you,” he grinned coldly.

I was very confused. How did he know our shadow-man names? Was he Kikona’s husband? “Are you a prisoner too?” I asked. Pain bloomed through my mouth, and I gritted my teeth. This time, I saw Kikona really flinch.

The man threw back his head and laughed. Though it was the richest, most beautiful voice, ice soaked into my bones. He was cackling at me. And the strangest thing happened: with each burst of laughter, a pulse of pain rattled within me.

As soon as his laughter was spent, he looked at me, a sort of grin settled on his perfect face. “No, Obsidian,” he sneered. “I am your master.”

His words hit my mind like ash exploding from a volcano. He was . . . Vellair? Vellair was supposed to be ugly and disfigured. But this man was the most amazing I had ever seen. 

But yet . . . it made sense. He was evil, that I could see. He made Kikona flinch like he’d pierced her.

Vellair stared at me emptily. He seemed to be reading my thoughts. “I did,” he hissed. My heart jumped. His words seemed to simultaneously come from my mind and his mouth. 

“Kill Obsidian,” he instructed Kikona. “She is too defiant.”

“No!” my father screamed. Spasms of pain left him writhing on the ground. Vellair turned, and his eyes left holes in my brain. 

My mind exploded with fear. I tried to run, fighting the shadows, but pain burned my toes, forcing me to walk back to him. “You think you’re so smart,” he grinned, cupping my chin in his hand. I pulled away and he cackled again. 

The Shadows of Vellair, Part 8

Black stone castle far away from mountains

In the morning, it was still dark. The sky was permanently black now, with shades of red mixed in. Was the voice still there, or had it all been a dream? I will always be here, the voice whispered. My fists clenched at Vellair’s sentence. I didn’t want to disobey, or I’d die. But the life of a shadow-man was a terrible one.

“We are very close,” my father whispered from behind me. “Everything is full of evil.”

I turned around, my eyes stuck on him. His face was gaunt, and his frame had somehow become emaciated over a very short period of time. He was very sickly, even after I had saved him twice. I had no light left to give, and he could only be saved a certain number of times. My eyes stung, and soon my face, so I had no choice but to turn back around.

I still was a bit curious about Vellair, even though I was imprisoned by him now. I imagined he was the worst creature that ever lived, gruesome and rank and fiery. But predictions can always be wrong, as my father had shown me. So I sat, scared I would do something wrong and die, scared for my father’s life.

I shivered, even though my shadow-man body couldn’t get cold. I stared at the back of Kikona’s dark head as we continued. Who was she before her light got stolen? Did she give up her own life for someone she loved? It would all remain a mystery. 

The world was made of shadows now, only faint outlines of trees and blood in the sky remained. Ice rained down from the sky, though the sensation of it hitting my skin was no more than a light touch.

In front of us, a castle, hundreds of feet tall, loomed. It was carved from black stone. Surrounding it was towering red flames. Behind the castle, even further from us, was water. I shook, knowing the dangers of the sea. 

The ground that the aglusken hovered over was made of ice. Rather than shimmering like normal ice did, it was dull and gray. Dead trees grew out of it, cracked as if they had been struck by lightning.

I looked back at my father, lying limp against the bottom of the cart. He looked so tiny, swallowed up by the wood. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought he was dead. Ice rested in a thin layer on his body and his breath came billowing out as smoke. 

Suddenly, the aglusken disappeared with a whiff. Startled, I landed on my knees. The cart vanished as well. Kikona, who had landed on her feet, looked at me with her eyes narrowed. I stood up on wobbly legs. She lumbered over to my father and scooped him up. His pale face stood out in stark contrast to the dark setting of the castle.

“Why did it disappear?” I asked. I let out a sigh of relief when there was no pain for my words.

“Once the aglusken and the cart have completed their purposes, they vanish,” she explained. 

She started toward the castle. I stood, frozen. It was strange; though flames were normally bright, these were dull, barely flickering. Flames also melted ice, and these didn’t seem to affect the solid water at all.

I started after Kikona. Ice was normally slick, this ice just felt like cold stone under my feet. It was strong; it didn’t crack under my large body.

I peered at one of the dead trees. The bark was peeling away from the wood, and frost rested on the cracked branches. It was black as the sky was. I wondered how it had grown out of the ice, or if it had just always been there with Vellair.

“Come on,” Kikona growled. 

I hurried up to catch her, looking ahead again. In front of us was the tower of fire, about a hundred yards away. I clenched my fists. Somewhere, waiting inside of the castle, was Vellair.

As we approached the flames, it felt like a funeral march. I was going to die, I felt it. Some day very soon.

And then, we were there. Five feet from the flames, standing in the frostbitten air.

Kikona paused, setting my unconscious father on the ice. Then, before my murky brain could sense what she was doing, light started flowing from my father. So much. I screamed, but she couldn’t hear me. The ball of light surrounded him, until there was just . . . shadow.

The light vanished, and there lay my father, now a shadow-man.

“No!” I cried. Tears flowed down my face, leaving burns where they had been. Pain surged from my head as I stared at my father’s muscular, dark form. His eyes, misty, confused, and scarlet, stared at me. “Daughter?” he asked, and then howled and shook. I wanted so badly to tell him it was going to be okay, but it wasn’t. We were in the hands of the most evil thing who ever lived, with no hope for escape.

“Get up,” Kikona commanded gruffly. “Vellair is your master now.” Hate for her surged through me, and I wanted to slap her, but her words were true. Also, as I had figured out along the way, I didn’t know my own strength.

My father shakily stood up. “Where are we?” he asked, and clutched his head for a few seconds.

I wanted so badly to say, This is Vellair’s castle. And also, I love you, Father. I always will. But I couldn’t bring myself to say those words. Not unless I wanted to be in terrible pain.

“Follow me,” said Kikona. And then she walked through the dull flames. I gasped, and my throat stung. What was I — How was I — Pain rattled in my bones. Go forth or you will pay, seethed Vellair in my mind. The pain would keep persisting, until —

I threw myself into the fire, holding my breath. The flames licked me, but I felt nothing. Then, all of a sudden, I was on the other side. Gray stones covered the ice, which peeked through in between them. The sky somehow was blacker than on the other side of the fire gate, making everything barely visible.

Stretching far above my head was a giant arched entryway, with intricate, jagged designs covering it. Steps wound up into the entryway, and beyond it, there was blackness.“We must get to Vellair,” Kikona persisted. She was about twenty steps ahead of me. I looked behind me to see my father a couple steps back. I started up the steps, and the claws on my feet made scritching noises against the stone. The staircase seemed to last forever, and by the time my father and I reached Kikona, I was panting.

The Shadows of Vellair, Part 7

Jagged Tree at Arches National Park BW Photograph

My vision came back into focus. I was sitting on the floor of the cart. How am I still thinking? My father was sitting up, dazed. Then he looked at me. His eyes filled with tears, and I turned away, ashamed that I had disobeyed him.

Kikona turned around from atop the shadow horse. Its red eyes burned me.

One thought echoed in my mind: if I was a shadow-man, why wasn’t I mindless?

I looked down at myself. I was, as I expected, a shadow-man, muscular and terrifying. I was wearing animal skins and both of my hands were clawed. 

My father had once told me that shadow-men were just filled with evil, nothing else. Why wasn’t my brain gone?

“Come on,” Kikona said. “We must get the prisoner to Vellair.” It was strange; somehow I understood that she was speaking the shadow-man language, but I was also aware of what the words meant. She — Kikona was a she. Her voice sounded like a normal human woman.

“We can’t!” I exclaimed. “You took us and nearly killed us. I will never work with you.”

Pain coursed throughout my body. I shook with it. I cried out like a werewolf, howling, howling . . . 

When it finally stopped, I slumped to the floor of the rumbling cart. Lightning still thrummed within me. I clenched my teeth and squeezed my eyes shut. “What — what’s wrong?” My father’s face, pale and frightened, was next to mine.

My name is Obsidian. You must obey me. 

Is it real, or is it all some sort of hallucination? I wondered, still shaking.

SAY IT, OR YOU WILL BE AT MY MERCY!!! The voice commanded. Shocked tears filled my eyes, leaking onto my face. “Mmyy nnaammee iiss Oobbssiiddiiaann. Yyoouu mmuusstt oobbeeyy mmee.” I said, my voice shaking. Why was this happening to me? Who was the owner of the voice inside my head? Was I just going crazy? Was I being controlled?

YES, the voice said. It echoed in my skull. 

Shadow-men weren’t mindless, I realized. They were under someone’s control.

Vellair, came the thought immediately. There was no one else who could control them, no one else who was powerful enough to do that kind of magic.

As soon as I said the terrible words, my father gasped. “What are you saying?”

Scratch him. I could feel Vellair grinning. Make him bleed. “No . . .” I whispered. SCRATCH HIM, OR YOU WILL DIE!!! he commanded.

Then, as gently as I could, I lifted an arm and scratched my father’s face. Hatred filled my heart for Vellair. I pulled my hand away, and blood sprang to the surface of my father’s face. Four claw marks stretched across the entirety of it. He looked utterly shocked. He pressed his hand to his face, and it came away wet and crimson. I’m sorry, I thought, but it couldn’t come out. It wouldn’t come out.

“Get on the aglusken,” Kikona told me from the shadow-horse. That must’ve been what it was called, because the word wouldn’t translate itself in my mind. The aglusken snorted as I stood up in the cart, my feet heavy, my heart numb. I walked slowly to the shadow-horse and Kikona put out her hand to help me up onto it. I didn’t go through its body. It felt as solid as a normal horse.

The sky was getting darker by the minute as we rode in silence. The trees looked more and more jagged as we passed them. But I didn’t feel cold, not at all. I turned around and my father shivered violently as ice covered him. 

We waited silently for hours. The rocking of the aglusken eventually made me fall asleep.

Finding the Truth (Part 3)

Image of a raft on the ocean

Lindsey and Lily got up and starting collecting materials to build a raft. The girls built a raft and set out to sea to find the Island of Truth.

The trip started out smoothly and the girls ate a few snacks that they packed being careful to ration out the snacks. A few hours into the trip the sky started to turn grey and thunder started to rumble. The sea became choppy and rain started to fall. The raft the girls had built started to tip and the girls fell off the raft into the ocean.

When the girls opened their eyes they were separated on the opposite side of an island. Lindsey got up and started calling for Lily. After calling for Lily for a few hours Lindsey gave up and started gathering wood for a fire. Lindsey tried to start a fire but the wood she collected was wet so she could not start a fire. She got up in search of dry wood. When Lindsey got back from her search with no luck, there was a fire burning where she had tried to make a fire.

Lily woke up on the other side of the island where the girls landed. Lily decided to seek shelter in a cave and start a fire. Lily went on a hunt to find food for the night. She returned with no luck. But when she entered her cave there was a pile of food next to her fire. She thought, I could share this with Lindsey if she was here. Where are you Lindsey?

The girls were separated for three days and mysterious things kept happening on the island. Food magically appeared, fire started out of no where, and fresh water was everywhere.

What is happening on the island? Is this the Island of Truth? Will the girls ever find each other? Find out next in Part 4 of “Finding the Truth.”


Image of students in a classroom

Have you ever misspelled your own name?

Or maybe had a voice crack during roll call,

And if your really all out lame,

You’ve choked on air so hard you fall.

I know for sure I’ve tripped in the hallways,

More times than I can count, which is pretty high;

Every day I feel embarrassed in new ways,

Sometimes I wish the day would just go by.

Some people barely remember me,

Others just don’t like me which is fine,

While some are friends wo make me feel free,

And we never stay out of line.

School isn’t all that bad,

But who am I to say, this is only the third day I’ve had.