Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Thunder Force Review

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Thunder Force

In a world where supervillains are commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends reunite after one devises a treatment that gives them powers to protect their city.

Why did I come to this movie again?

A few friends had seen it, and said it was cute. Funny. Cheesy. They warned me not to expect too much.

4 of 5

Characters

The characters were fine. Lydia is waaaaay over the top, but never pretends to be anything different. Emily is a brianiac who is more interested in revenge than people. (She calls it helping, but it’s really revenge.)

The bad guy, along with his henchmen, were ridiculous. Jason Bateman was both terrible and awesome.

Basically, the characters were everything I expected, but remember, my expectations were low.

4 of 5

Did I care what happened?

Somewhat. I wanted to see the friends reconciled. I wanted to see middle-aged woman who were not the Hollywood standard kick butt. I wanted to laugh.

All of those things happened. As for the plot, it was a bit too much by the numbers, even for me.

3 of 5

Plot Holes

Honestly, I’d suspended my disbelief until the very end, and when this thing happens I was like, “What? That’s dumb. That doesn’t even make sense!”

The normal superhero plot holes were fine, this one at the end was annoying.

3 of 5

How many times did I yawn?

Maybe once.

4 of 5

Cool Factor

Considering people showing super-human powers has been done so much, there weren’t any real “wow” moments in that regard.

The filming was fun. The special effects were good. The humor was as cheesy as I expected. I really liked the premise, so I’ll give that to the cool factor.

4 of 5

The End

Besides the incident with the bomb at the end, it was fine. No surprises when the daughter gets involved, and the characters changed just enough to show that they had an emotional arc.

3 of 5

Overall Enjoyment

The cheesiness was amazing. Like, don’t watch this show unless you’re ready to laugh your butt off at the stupidity of it all. Perhaps there should be some alcohol or a lack of sleep involved.

Jason Bateman as the crab guy actually stole the show for me. He killed it.

Also, I’ve had You Belong to the City by Glenn Frey in my head for a couple of days. The dancing scene between Lydia and Crab Man was literally the best part of the show!

4 of 5

Total: 29

That’s a Green Belt!


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A Girl and Her Cat Chapter 10

Chapter 10

My phone dinged, interrupting the moment between Wyatt and I. I reluctantly withdrew my gaze and opened Facebook. Several comments had come up on my post to the corn allergy support group.

I haven’t had any problems with my service animal.

I hadn’t expected everyone to be having problems.

Sometimes the animals go through stages where there sense of smell becomes heightened. This could be one of those instances. I wouldn’t stress out about it.

That afforded me a little comfort. The last one made me scowl.

Aren’t you the girl with the service cat? Cats were never meant to be service animals. They don’t bond enough with humans. And they often go against their masters. You should get rid of it immediately.

“What is it?” Wyatt asked.

I turned off my phone and shook my head. “Nothing. Just some comments in a group I’m in.”

“From Bryan?” Wyatt asked.

“No.”

I didn’t want to have to think about what would happen if Echo left. I’d tried out three service animals before him, and was dangerously allergic to all of them. One of the more insensitive women from the agency who had been trying to match me to a service animal had said that I would likely have to trade the discomfort of a dander allergy for safety from my corn issues. I’d never believed that. I knew Echo was an experiment but in my heart I’d always known he was the right service animal for me.

My gaze was drawn to him, and he looked up at me with his beautiful golden eyes. Not for the first time I wondered what he was thinking. Why was he reacting to people so strongly? What had provoked him to attack that man? Had it simply been to protect me? Or was it something more?

I had too many questions and not enough answers.

As if fate had been waiting for this moment, a reminder popped up.

Animal control people.

My breath caught in my throat and I almost dropped my phone. They had an appointment this afternoon.

I had the proof I needed to show them that Echo wasn’t the problem. I could show them that he was reacting to something he smelled from the soda pop. How could they refute that? Would they really take him away from me?

I jumped when Wyatt put a hand on my back. He rarely touched me, and the gesture seemed oddly tender.

“Hey, it’s going to be okay.”

I blinked and tear rolled down my face. When had I started crying? I quickly wiped my cheek and gave him a smile. “I know.”

I don’t really remember eating my cheeseburger or going back to the van. Whitney sat with me in the rear seat all the way to my house. She gave me a hug as I exited and promised she would call thirty minutes after they arrived to see what had happened. I nodded, said something, and got out of the van.

Being numb gave me a new perspective on my home. I’d walk into it thousands of times but had never noticed how nice the trim around the door looked and how the edges of the bottom two stairs were starting to crumble. Echo pulled at the leash knowing he was almost off-duty. Just as I opened the front door a car pulled up to the curb behind me. I bolted inside and shut the door behind me. My legs refused to take me any farther, so I leaned against the door breathing hard.

“Everly?” my mother asked.

“It’s me.” The next words stuck in my throat. “They’re here.”

My mother must have noticed the tremor in my voice because she came out of the kitchen, took one look at me, and engulfed me a hug.

Our family wasn’t very touchy. Not like the Larsen’s. However, my mom’s arms provided me a solace I’d been missing. My mom always knew when I needed her the most. She squeezed me hard. “Your dad worked from home today. He can come out for the meeting.”

I pressed my head into her shoulder and whispered, “Thank you.”

She ushered me into the kitchen, where she already had a tray of lemonade ready,  and sat me down on a chair.

A moment later the doorbell rang.

I hadn’t even had time to tell her about what we’d discovered. Echo let out a little meow of protest because I hadn’t taken his leash off. “Sorry buddy, you have to wear it a little bit longer.”

The front door opened with a click and my mother greeted the people who could take away my life.

“Come on in. Everly and Echo are in the dining room.” I could hear the forced cheer in the words. At least I wasn’t alone in my anger.

I straightened in my chair. Maybe if I looked responsible and smart they would be more prone to listen to me.

A tall, rail thin woman with brown hair preceded an even taller man into the dining room. They both looked at me, looked Echo, and then looked back to me. The woman smiled and held out her hand. “Hi Everly my name is Jackie. And this is Harold.”

I hated the way my hand trembled as I stood.

My mother gestured. “Please, have a seat.”

They sat. My father joined us. His eyes flicked to Echo then back to the two intruders.

Jackie folded her hands together on the table and pursed her lips. “Everly, we’re here today to talk to you about Echo.” She shifted in her chair. “We’ve reviewed the facts of your case I’m sorry to say but —”

“I have new information.” The words burst from my lips like a whip stopping her before she could finish her dreadful sentence.

The man, Harold, gave me a pitiable expression. “I’m sorry Everly, but the decision has been made.”

I had dropped my bag in the hall when my mother had hugged me, now I shot to my feet to retrieve it. “Hold on.” I hefted the bag and spoke as I ran back.  “You have to understand there are extenuating circumstances. Echo has never hurt anyone before, and I don’t think he will again.” The dining room table shuddered under the impact as I poured all five soda bottles onto it. The adults scrambled to keep them from rolling off the table, and my father raised his eyebrows.

I pressed my hands flat on the wood surface so I wouldn’t talk with them. “You’ve heard about the soda pop recall?”

Jackie nodded. “Just the basic information.”

I gestured at the bottles. “All of these are from the recall batches. I got them from kids at school.”

My mother put her hand on my arm. “Everly, I don’t think they’re here to talk about that.”

I jerked away from her. “They’re here to take my cat away from me. You know the one who saves my life when he detects corn in food.”

My father reached out and tugged her back. “Listen to what she’s got to say.”

I  cleared my throat and spoke. “Ever since Echo attacked that man I’ve been trying to figure out why.”

Harold opened his mouth to speak, but I held up a finger. He stopped.

“My friends and I have tested Echo on a bunch of different types of corn and food and he’s passed every test with flying colors. We even had people eat candy bars fifteen minutes before he saw them and he still knew which ones had corn and which ones didn’t. Just by their breath.”

Jackie raised an eyebrow at me. At least I knew I had her attention.

“He hasn’t attacked anyone else but he has growled at a few people.” The moment that came out of my mouth I knew it had been the wrong thing to say. Harold and Jackie looked at one another and shared a small nod.

I went on before they could stop me. “I thought it was random. Sometimes the people were touching me sometimes they weren’t sometimes they barely looked at me. But something happened today that solidified what’s been happening.”

Everyone at the table stared at me. Echo, who sat on the floor, was looking up at me with interest.

I reached for soda bottle and wrapped my fingers around it as if it would keep me from falling. “Right after they announced the soda recall at school a kid in my class opened this bottle. Echo growled at him. A moment after he growled I smelled the cherry flavor.” I patted the bottle.

“That’s hardly proof that he isn’t aggressive,” Harold said.

“I know. That’s why I got these other bottles too. They’re all from the recall batches and if my theory is right Echo will growl at all of them.”

Jackie sat back and let out a little huff. Harold wait for me to continue.

The bottle was harder to open than it should’ve been. The whole thing shook as I took the cap off and set it down on the ground next Echo.

I’d been expecting Echo to hiss or growl, or at least flatten his ears. Instead he looked at me, looked at the soda bottle, and gagged.

“Honey, he always does that when he smells corn.” My mother put her arm around me.

I shook it off and grabbed another bottle. I waited until I sat it down next Echo before I opened this one. He gave me a look that seemed to say are you serious about this? Then he proceeded to gag.

No, no, no. This could not be happening. He had reacted to the soda, not Cedric. I grabbed another bottle and tried one last time. Echo did nothing but give me a tail thump.

My dad gently took the bottle out of my hand. “That one’s diet honey.”

I sat back. All the energy drained from my body and I deflated like a pool toy. Why hadn’t it worked? I looked at Echo and begged him to tell me what the difference was. He simply gazed back at me and licked his lips.

The adults were talking but I couldn’t understand the words. The intruders stood, shook hands with my parents, and left. I found myself petting Echo and he was letting me. My mother knelt down next to us and scratched Echo under the chin just like Wyatt always did.

” Everly, they don’t want to take Echo just yet, but you need to keep him on a tight leash. If anything happens we are going to be held responsible.”

“They’re taking him away from me.” I sniffed. Crying again. “They’re going to kill him.”

My mother patted me on the knee.” “I’m so sorry Everly.”

***

If you missed the beginning of the story, click HERE to go to Chapter 1


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Godzilla vs. Kong Review

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Godzilla vs. Kong

The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another – the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong – with humanity caught in the balance.

How I would rate the first three movies of the series:

Godzilla:
4 out of 5 It was pretty much what I expected. There was some great filming in it.

Kong: Skull Island:
4 out of 5. Again, pretty much what I expected when I watched it.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters:
3 out of 5. The humans were too stupid. I kept yelling at them and hoping the monsters would step on them. A bit heavy-handed on “saving the planet.” The monster fights were awesome.

Why did I come to this movie again?

Because I wanted to see monsters fighting monsters. There was a distinct lack of this during the first half of the movie. Then it got better.

4 of 5

Characters

The monsters: Fine

The little girl with Kong: Great

All of the people involved in Millie Bobby Brown’s plot: Painful to behold.

3 of 5

Did I care what happened?

Sure. Except for Milly Bobby Brown’s group.

4 of 5

Plot Holes

Uh, this is a monster movie. The plot holes are usually bus-sized. In this case, aircraft-carrier-sized. Most of them I can forgive, because the movie didn’t promise anything different.

I do have to balk at the point where spilling a drink on the computer won they day. Pretty sure computers don’t work like that. Not when there are servers. And backups. And why were there vents right there by the keyboard?

Also, how can you not notice a sky-scraper-sized monkey learning sign language?

3 of 5

How many times did I yawn?

A bit near the beginning, but then it held my attention.

4 of 5

Cool Factor

There were epic fights of monster on monster. Spoiler: there’s even a giant robot. Sort of. This movie totally delivered on the cool stuff.

4 of 5

The End

Called it even before I started watching the movie. It works. Again, not dazzling, but adequate.

4 of 5

Overall Enjoyment

My brother-in-law was ranting about how bad this movie was, which set me up with very low expectations. So when I watched it I was like, “Meh. It wasn’t that bad.”

Except the Millie Bobby Brown stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, she did great, but the story arc with her character and the group she ends up with was beyond dumb.

3 of 5

29

That’s a Green Belt!


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A Girl and Her Cat Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Whitney and I gathered five other bottles on our way out to the minivan. It hadn’t been hard to convince people to give up the soda under the guise that we said we would throw them away. I felt kind of bad for lying, but in the end we would throw them away. No one was going to drink them.

Neither of us were surprised to see Wyatt waiting for us. His homeroom was right next to the locker rooms and the exit. He glanced up and gave us a wave as we approached.

“He’s been awfully nice to us lately,” Whitney said.

I pointed at Echo. “He loves my cat.” Of course I wished it were for a different reason but for now Wyatt having a bromance with my cat would have to do. I thought struck me. “Where’s Anne?”

“Hopefully nowhere near us.” Whitney made a show of wiping her brow in relief.

Wyatt had caught Whitney’s dramatic display and said, “What was that for?” Then his eyes traveled to our hands. “What are those for?”

I quickly explained what had happened with Cedrik. Wyatt’s expression grew excited as he made the connection as well. “So if this is the cause, then Echo gets off?”

“That’s what I’m hoping.”

Wyatt squatted down and scratched Echo’s chin. Echo closed his eyes and approval.

“We’re not in the van yet Echo,” I reminded the cat.

That got me a tail swish.

Wyatt opened the doors with the remote. “Come on, I didn’t get lunch. I’m starving.”

Whitney snorted. “You haven’t been drinking any soda have you?”

Wyatt laughed. “Did you just make a decent joke?”

“Did you just reveal that you had an actual sense of humor?”

Echo and I settled on the back seat of the van. I smiled at the familiar banter and for the first time in a few days the weight on my shoulders got lighter. Echo butted his head against my thigh indicating he wanted to be pet.

I absently stroked his head a few times and then his back. I stopped before he got annoyed. I figured I’d have plenty of time to harass him later.

Wyatt drove us in to a nearby McDonald’s. He insisted on going inside so we could use their free Wi-Fi, because he got a notification on his phone that about the batches of bad soda pop. I took pictures of all the labels of the ones we’d collected before we went inside.

“Do you girls want anything?” Wyatt asked.

Whitney made a face of disgust. “No way.”

Wyatt looked at me. He wanted to know if I wanted something? Whitney was right he was being too nice. However, he continued to stare at me so I blurted out the first thing I thought of. “Cheeseburger?”

“You got it.”

Whitney grabbed me by the elbow and dragged me to a nearby table. We sat and she said glared at me. “Seriously he’s freaking me out.”

“I told you it’s Echo.”

“Echo’s going to be fine now, and he’s still acting weird.”

My eyes flicked to where Wyatt was waiting for his orders then back to Whitney. “Maybe he broke up with Anne.”

Whitney sat up straighter. “That would be awesome.”

I agreed.

I had to fend off a couple of kids who wanted to pet Echo and explain to them that he was my helper. By the time that was finished Wyatt arrived and slapped a full tray of food down on the table.

“How much do you need to eat?” Whitney asked.

“Coach says I need energy.” He shoved a single cheeseburger at me then unwrapped a double and took a big bite. As he did he started scrolling through his phone.

Whitney was also on her phone, so I took a moment to pull up the Facebook group my mom had put me in. It had been a while since I posted, but I saw that there had been some activity. I briefly explained that Echo was having a strange reaction to the soda that was in the recalls and asked if anyone else was having problems with their service animals.

Whitney leaned over to look at my phone. “Talking to Bryan?”

“Nope.” I put down my phone and picked up my cheeseburger.

“Who’s Bryan?” Wyatt asked around another huge bite.

“Just a guy I know.”

Wyatt raised his eyebrows. “Do I need to vent this guy?”

Whitney slapped him on the shoulder. “You leave her alone.”

“You leave her alone.” Wyatt spoken almost the exact same tone as Whitney had. Which almost made me snort cheeseburger out my nose. Wyatt opened his mouth to say something else, but he got drawn back to his phone. His expression of glee faded into a frown.

“What is it?” I asked.

“The story about the soda is number one on everything.”

“What’s so weird about that?” Whitney asked.

“I didn’t expect it to make national and international news so quickly.” Wyatt turned his phone around so we could see the list of reports. “It’s the top new story in almost all of the European nations.”

I flicked my own phone to life and saw that he was right. Even Facebook had a warning as the app opened. An interesting story caught my attention. “Hey, apparently there are some cannibals in South America.”

“Gross,” Whitney said.

Wyatt’s attention immediately turned to me. He leaned so he could see the screen. “Click on it.”

I did, and found a short article outlining a small town that had been isolated due to a mudslide a few weeks before. Rescue efforts had proved futile, but relief supplies had been dropped a couple of times. A medical team had finally reached the village the day before, and despite the fact that there was plenty of food left from the drops the people had apparently eaten two of their own.

I made a face that had to look similar to the one Whitney had made when Wyatt had suggested she get something to eat from McDonald’s. “That’s disgusting,” I said.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t have food left from the drops.” Wyatt said. “See if there’s any more on it.”

I scroll down but the article was only a few paragraphs long.

Wyatt pointed at my screen. His arm brushed my shoulder, sending a little zing over my skin. “What about that story?”

The title read “Two friends making video attack third.” I looked at Wyatt. “You want me to click on that?”

Wyatt touched the screen himself. The typical news site came up with the video available after an ad and the test of the story underneath. I scrolled down and caught the gist in just a few lines.

Curiosity finally got the better of Whitney, and she scooted next to me. “What is it?”

“Apparently these two guys were making a dance video and suddenly decided they were really hungry. They were out in the middle of nowhere and attacked their friend.”

“That cannot be real,” Whitney said.

I scrolled back up and waited for the ad to end the. We all leaned in as the video started.

The garbled sound of one phone picking up music from another phone came from my speakers. Two Asian teenagers appeared and started to dance.

“I’ve seen hundreds of these,” Whitney said.

We watched the two guys practice the same part of the dance a couple of times and was painfully reminded of going over the same song for the musical again and again. I suddenly wondered if the school would cancel it. As my mind wandered the two guys in the video stopped. They said something I didn’t understand, pointed at the camera, and then ran toward it.

The screen showed the sky and then must’ve landed on an angle where it could still film the two guys and their victim. Screams filled the air in as the two men grabbed this person’s leg and took a bite out of him.

Whitney recoiled. “That’s disgusting.”

Wyatt nodded. “Stop it and started again from the beginning.”

I didn’t really want to watch it again, so I handed him my phone.

“What did you do?” Wyatt asked after he took it.

“I didn’t do anything.”

Wyatt showed me my phone. The viewer had gone gray and now had opaque words written on it stating the video had been removed.

Wyatt glanced at it again. “That was fast, it’s only been up for twenty minutes.”

Whitney shrugged. “It was probably fake.”

Wyatt’s frown deepened as he scrolled down the screen. “There are a lot of comments on this.”

“Of course there are,” Whitney said. “Who isn’t going to comment on something like that?”

“No, other people have seen the same thing happen. Comments are from all over the world.”

Whitney rolled her eyes. “Is this more of your apocalypse theory?” She shot a look at me. “Did you guys find these beforehand you could scare me?”

I met Wyatt’s gaze. His usual confidence was there, but underneath there was something I rarely saw from him. Fear. A shiver ran through my body. Echo flicked his ear at me. I thought about the soda bottles in the car and wondered if this was a simple recall or something more.

***

Check out Chapter 10 HERE!

If you missed the beginning of the story, click HERE to go to Chapter 1


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