Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

  • 0

Onward Movie Review

Tags : 

Onward

Two elven brothers embark on a quest to bring their father back for one day.

Why did I watch this movie again?

See that tag line up there? That’s literally the only thing I knew about this movie going in. I saw it on Disney+ and decided, why not?

4 of 5

Characters

Well, with Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, I expected some great characters, and I got them! This film was very much about how the past intersects the now, and each character had a fun story arc and a satisfying ending.

5 of 5

Did I care what happened?

This started off so quirky that I was immediately drawn in. My hubby is a giant D&D nerd, and he was cracking up at all of Barley’s role-playing references. I was totally rooting for the boys to see their dad, but also for their mom’s boyfriend, the manticore and more.

5 of 5

Plot Holes

You know what, I didn’t notice many. Time was strange. And if they’d taken the path of peril they would have been in the middle of nowhere when they ran out of gas, so there’s that. However, nothing pulled me out of the film. I called a few things long before they happened, but that’s not unusual.

4 of 5

How many times did I yawn?

Not once, and for a Sunday afternoon, that’s pretty impressive.

5 of 5

Cool Factor

It’s more like the fun factor. I had zero expectations going in, which probably helped, but every scene in this film pulled me farther into the characters and the story. The animation was good. The creativity was off the charts.

5 of 5

The End

It’s not often that I’m okay with the main character not getting what he wants in the end. At least not in the way I was expecting. However, this is one of the things that surprised me, and I really enjoyed it. Quite satisfying, if not a little sad. And happy. You just need to watch it.

5 of 5

Overall Enjoyment

I laughed and laughed. I even teared up once or twice. I have no idea if kids will like it, but my husband and I really enjoyed it. The little lessons the brothers, and even their mom, learn are awesome. The Manticore had me chortling. As I said before, very clever. I like that.

5 of 5

38

That’s a Black Belt!


  • 0

3-Apr-2020

A sassy aunt and a dead cat at the museum

Rain pattered down on the crown of Arlene’s clear umbrella. Little streams ran off of the spokes, creating a downpour around her. Her sneakers slapped on the cement stairs in a slow cadence. Gina, her niece, ran ahead, covering her long, curled hair with the flannel shirt she’d been wearing.

Arlene sighed and followed. By the time she got to the door, Gina had put her flannel shirt on over her tank top, tied the bottom corners together and was smiling broadly at a young man standing nearby. “What are you doing here today?” Gina asked.

The ginger boy, who smiled broadly, nodded. “I came to see the chandelier.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder to indicate the twenty . I love musicals.”

Gina’s expression grew sour. “Oh.” She immediately moved to the door and opened it. “Come on, Aunt Arlene.”

The poor boy looked crestfallen, and Arlene leaned in as she went by him. “She hates anything that has to do with culture. Trust me, it’s better this way.”

The entryway to the museum rose before them, three stories high, open, and full of wonders cascading down from the ceiling and up from the floor.

Arlene waved at the man at the desk. “Morning, Gerry.”

He gave her a smile. “Morning, Arlene. Where are you off to today?”

“The botanical garden. Did you get your wife flowers, like I suggested?”

“Yes, ma’am. It worked like a charm.”

“Good fellow.”

He waved Arlene and Gina in.

Gina had her phone out, taking pictures of herself with a dinosaur skeleton in the background.

“We talked about this,” Arlene said.

Gina sighed and typed on her screen for a moment before rolling her eyes and dramatically slipping her phone into the back pocket of her jeans. “Let’s get this over with.”

Arlene followed Gina as the teenager stomped off toward the gardens. “You brought your homework, didn’t you?” she asked in the girl’s wake.

“It’s on my phone,” Gina said without looking back.

“Good morning, Stan,” Arlene said to the old, skinny janitor. “How are your hands?”

He flexed them. “Not bad.”

“Have you been using that cream every night?”

“Nearly every night.”

Arlene held up a finger and waggled it back and forth. “Every night.”

“So you said.”

Gina was already inside when Arlene reached the door to the garden. She moved in through the first door, let it shut, then went in the second door.

Warm air caressed Arlene’s skin. The scent of dirt and plants filled her nostrils. Moisture hung in the air. She could see the clouds through the glass, domed ceiling.

“Which way to the herbs?” Gina, who stood with her arms folded across her stomach, asked.

Arlene narrowed her eyes as she saw a section of the gardens that had been closed. “Hold on a minute.”

Gina let out an exasperated groan. “Come on, Aunt Arlene, can we get this done?”

“In a minute, dear.” Arlene moved toward the portable white, picket fence that stopped her from going into the local flower section. The path curved, and Arlene could see three people standing over a prone cat.

“Whoa, is that cat dead?” Gina’s phone appeared in her hand, and she began taking pictures.

One of the museum employees noticed them and came over.

“Elyse,” Arlene said. “How’s your puppy? Still chewing everything?”

“Of course.” The tall, thin woman wore a blue staff uniform.

“What’s going on?” Arlene asked, pointing.

“Someone left a dead cat in here,” Elyse said. “We’re just cleaning it up.” She shot a frown at Gina. “Should only be a few minutes.”

“How did the cat die?” Arlene asked.

“No visible signs of distress, but who knows. People are sick.” Elyse gestured behind Arlene. “Please, explore the other side of the gardens.”

“Of course,” Arlene smiled. She and Gina turned and walked the other way. Something wasn’t right. Arlene could feel it.

“About time,” Gina said.

They made it halfway to the herbs, when Arlene stopped at a bench and sat.

“I’m going on ahead,” Gina said.

Arlene could almost tell what was wrong, but not quite. Her brain tugged at her. “Let me see your phone.”

“I’m not taking selfies.” Gina held the device close to her chest.

“I need to see something. Show me the pictures you just took.”

“Why?”

The whine in her words made Arlene sit up straighter. “Now.”

“Fine,” Gina huffed and handed her phone over.

Arlene began to scroll through the photos. When she got to the one she wanted, she tried to zoom in, but only succeeded in turning the picture on its side. She put her glasses on, and still couldn’t see what she wanted. “How do I zoom in?”

“Like this.” Gina did the right thing with her fingers, and the plants in the background of the photo came into focus.

Arlene eyed the pink flowers. “Ah, I thought so.”

“You thought what?” Gina asked.

Arlene handed Gina her phone, stood and walked back toward the dead cat.

“What did you see?” Gina ran to her side. “Tell me.”

Arlene held up a hand. When she got to the picket fence she waved Elyse over.

The woman pursed her lips and approached.

“No one murdered that cat. It ate some of the Azalea flowers.” Arlene pointed. “They’re poisonous to cats.”

Elyse frowned. “Are you sure?”

Gina held up her phone, which now displayed headings for at least ten articles about plants toxic to cats. “It says so right here.”

“Tell your people to keep the cats out of here.” Arlene gave Elyse a nod, then turned to Gina. “Come, let’s get your herb homework finished.”

***
This one turned out better than I anticipated!
Genre – Gardner Mystery
Character – An old wise aunt who lacks a filter and is always giving advice
Setting – A Natural History Museum’s botanical gardens
Random Object – Swinging chandelier that was used in the original performance of Phantom of the Opera


  • 0

Once Upon a Time I Wrote a Children’s Book

Tags : 

Once Upon a Time I had a friend with five children rant at me about how her kids could never find a pair of matching socks.

This was before matching socks were passe, BTW. This is probably WHY matching socks are no longer required.

At the time I was taking a writing class, and decided to use her plight as inspiration for a story. Thus The Elusive Socks was born.

A long time ago I submitted it to a few publishing houses, and never heard back. I believe I won 3rd place in a contest with it once.

So, today is basically the debut of said story on the internet, and you get to be here for it!

The reason I recorded it at all is because a good friend challenged a bunch of us good friends to read our favorite children’s book out loud.

Any picture book that I might have is packed away in the basement, and I was too lazy to go find them, so I read my own.

There aren’t any illustrations, so all you get is this lovely image I Googled. (It was that or a pile of my geeky socks.)

Someday I might come back to it, find an illustrator, and publish it. But that day is not today.

Tomorrow isn’t looking good either 😉

The Elusive Socks

Please excuse the flub-ups as well as the sound quality.

Try to keep a sense of humor through this madness! And remember, your socks don’t have to match. 🙂


  • 0

27-Mar-2020

A murder, a ghost, and a desperate man.

Herman glanced at Jacob, noticed his relaxed posture—leaning back on the settee in an easy manner with his legs crossed—and copied the other man’s position.

It felt odd to slouch, even the smallest bit, but Herman endured the wrongness about it and gave Miss Marie Axton his most practiced smile.

Miss Axton gave him a slight nod, her blond curls bouncing at the side of her face, before turning her attention back to Father Lester.

The good father wore his traditional religious attire of a long black tunic and white collar. He had dragged a small table into the middle of the room. The clawed feet carved clean lines through the dust on the floor. He spoke in a deep, rumbling voice, that contrasted his meek appearance. “We are here to find the murderer of Abigale Rose.”

The words vibrated through the air, and Herman shivered. He glanced beyond the small circle of furniture to where the rest of the house lay under large sheets and spider webs. Dust hung in the air, coating his tongue and muffling the sunlight coming in through the single window they had uncurtained.

Jacob shifted a little, and kept his eyes locked on nothing. Miss Axton smoothed her skirts. The other two women in the room put their hands over their mouths. One let out a little squeak.

Father Lester reached deep into his black tunic to retrieve a long, wooden spoon, which he then lay on the table. Then he dropped to his knees, and began to pray silently.

Herman caught Miss Axton’s gaze over the father’s head. “How was your Christmas holiday?”

Her blue eyes went wide. Her lips moved once, but she closed them and started again.

She’s certainly struck by my sincere inquiry, Herman thought. How could she not be?

“Shhh,” Jacob hissed along with shooting Herman a scowl.

Herman smiled and nodded, and kept his eyes on Miss Axton. “I heard you went to town?”

She gave him a single nod.

Was she blushing?

Herman kept the satisfied smile from his lips.

“Have you no respect?” one of the other girls asked in a harsh whisper.

Father Lester’s booming voice overcame all other sound. “Abigale Rose. One year ago today your life was taken by a fiend and a villain. One of such brutality that their very existence is offensive to the heavens and the earth.”

A shiver ran up Herman’s spine. Miss Axton’s face turned an ashen gray. Jacob shifted again, and a frown creased his lips.

The other two women looked around as if expecting the fiend to snatch them next.

Herman opened his mouth to speak words of comfort to Miss Axton, but Father Lester interrupted.

“Abigale Rose, we are here to sooth your soul. If any in this room were involved with your death, point the spoon toward them.”

The group, less Herman, took a collective breath. Silence fell like a blanket. The slight gasp one of the other girls let out in response to nothing at all, seemed the loudest thing they had ever heard.

Herman had been in the sitting room with several ladies at the party, not near Abigale, who had only invited him after he had promised not to speak to her. He had nothing to fear from her ghost.

So he caught Miss Axton’s brilliant blue eyes, the shade of which matched the summer day outside, and spoke. “How are your parents?”

Father Lester didn’t move a muscle, but a silent command to be still seemed to push into Herman’s mind.

Herman did not allow any distress to show on his face, but raised his eyebrows in silent expectation of Miss Axton’s answer. Her lovely face had drained of all color, drawing out the beauty of her eyes.

The spoon twitched.

“I’m not feeling well,” Miss Axton said. She locked gazes with Herman. “Perhaps Mr. Norton would be willing to escort me outside.”

Herman beamed. She had finally submitted to her feelings. “Of course.” He started to rise, but stopped when Father Lester threw out a hand. A heavy weight fell on Herman’s shoulders, and he collapsed back to the settee.

Miss Axton’s jaw dropped open, as she too was pressed down.

The spoon began to turn. Slowly. First at Jacob, then one of the other girls. It took so long to do so, that both of the other girls began to scream, and continued to scream as the spoon moved past each one of them and to Herman.

Herman sighed.

Everyone in the room looked at him with fear.

He waited.

The spoon did not slow as it went past him.

Past him and then settled on Miss Axton.

She let out a little squeak.

Herman wanted to go to her, she needed comfort, but the same pressure that had reseated him, kept him in place. His own eyes turned to the spoon, and he frowned when it floated off the surface of the table.

“Miss Axton had something to do with your murder?” Father Lester asked. Tap once for no, and twice for yes.

The wide end of the spoon hit the table once, the sound dying in the circle of people.

Miss Axton put a hand on her breast and sighed in relief.

Tap.

“No,” Miss Axton whispered. “I didn’t do anything…” Her voice trailed off as the spoon came toward her. Floating. Accusing. Not wavering its course.

“No,” Herman said. Miss Axton was the last woman in town who had not rejected him. She had to be the one.

Father Lester stood. His eyes blazed red. “Miss Axton, confess, or we will force a confession.”

Miss Axton burst into tears. Sobs. Gibberish.

The invisible hand holding him relented, and he slouched back.

The other girls began to wail.

Without thinking, Herman reached out and patted one of their hands. “There, there.”

When the fingers grabbed onto his, Herman smiled. Perhaps there was hope.

***
I admit, I giggled while writing this one. Also, I had to look up who DeVerl was in The Single’s Ward. There’s not much on him, but needless to say he’s desperate to find a girl, and not very smooth with his approaches.

Genre – Historical Murder Mystery
Character – DeVerl’s Doppleganger from The Singles Ward movie
Setting – Haunted House
Random Object – Wooden Spoon


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 26 other subscribers