Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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17-Jan-2020

Family. Even a sasquatch doesn’t get to choose them.

A buzz came from my phone.

“Mr. Stick?”

“Yeah, Acorn, what is it?” I aimed the plastic ball at the plastic hoop and let it go.

Nailed it.

“There’s a man here to see someone in production, and Mr. Forest says it’s your turn. I’ll send him right in.”

I swore under my breath and hit the intercom on the phone. “Lance, I’m buried with our next release at the moment.”

My doorknob turned, and an enormous, hairy creature walked in.

I sighed. “Hey, Pinenut.”

He grunted and sat. The chair groaned under his weight. The smell hit me a moment later. Most sasquatches took personal grooming seriously. Everyone except this guy. He smelled of too much moonshine and not enough bathing time.

“Won’t you come in,” I muttered.

“I have a piece for you,” Pinenut grunted. He reached within the folds of his light brown coat and drew out a folded piece of paper.

“You know we prefer digital copies now, correct?”

“Can’t put this on the computer. If they tracked it back to me I’d be a dead beast.”

The paper waited for me to pluck it from his fingers. I wondered what it would be this time. He’d finally run his multi-dimension humans living in the same place we were but in a different…something or other…a few months ago. The faster I let him get it out of his system the faster he would be gone. I took the paper. “You realize that we’ll put your name on the article if we publish it.”

He grunted again. “You think Pinenut is my real name?”

It was. I’d known him since we were kids. I sighed. “Tell me about it.”

“Look at it.” He indicated the paper.

I unfolded it, wary of the suspicious red stain, and found a fuzzy photograph. Of a child’s toy. “It’s a robot,” I said.

“Yes, but not from here.”

Again, better to get it over with. “Where is it from, Pinenut?”

He leaned forward, and somehow his breath of death got all the way to my nose. “The human world.”

I groaned. I couldn’t help it. “We’ve been over this.”

Pinenut held up a ratty paw. “Hear me out. I found this, took a picture, and wrote a note on it. The next day, it was gone.”

“Probably because a cub took it.”

“No. A human.”

“And how do you know it was a human?”

“I saw tracks.”

“Probably of a cub.”

He ignored the comment. “And this was there in its place.” Pinenut once again fished an object out of his coat.

This one was about the size of the end of my finger, and thin. I’d never seen anything quite like it. The color reminded me of shiny, almost orange dirt. Before I could stop myself I held out my hand. Pinenut dropped the item in my outstretched palm.

It held no weight, and was slightly warm, although I imagine that was from it being somewhere in his coat.

The object was roughly oval in shape, and curved along the long direction. The back side was smooth, but the front side had a picture on it. A wiggly boarder surrounded an outline of a blob that sort of looked like Lake CleanWater. There was what could be writing on each side and then again at the bottom.

“It’s from the human realm.”

I shook my head. “Someone could have made this.”

“Out of what? What is it?”

He had me there. “Have you had it tested?”

Pinenut let out a snort. Other, less savory things, came with said snort, and I grabbed a tissue to wipe my desk. “The government would take it, and me, if they knew about it.”

I handed the thing back. “Which is why I couldn’t possibly put it in the paper. It would put you in danger.”

Pinenut’s brown eyes flashed. “The truth needs to be documented.”

We’d been through this a dozen times, although the addition of whatever he had in his paw was cause for actual interest, so I knew the drill. I sat forward, interlaced my fingers and looked him in the eye. “I can see that this might be big. Bigger than anything we’ve ever put in the magazine before.”

He nodded.

“But, we’re going to need more proof. Do you think you can get more of those?” I pointed at the object.

“I can try.”

“Why don’t you do that?” I stood and hauled him to his feet. “Get me so much proof that I won’t be able to refuse you. Then the world will know the truth.”

His eyes shone with gratitude. “Thank you, Mr. Stick.”

“No, thank you.” I steered him to the door of my office. “Come back with more proof in two weeks. Ask to see Mr. Forest. He’ll be waiting.”

More nodding. “I will. I’ll get everything you need.”

I patted him on the shoulder, careful to stay on the clean patches of fur, and watched him leave the office. I rubbed my face. “Why me?” My eyes darted to Mr. Forest’s office, and I glared at him. I mouthed, “You’re next,” before going back into my office and grabbing the plastic ball off the floor.

“He’s your dad,” Mr. Forest mouthed back.

I sighed. Why me?

***

Okay, I’m working with new categories this year. Man, my Facebook friends made them tough!

I think I did okay with this one.

Genre – Sasquatch Magazine (It was supposed to be a naughty magazine, but I had to nix that. Kids read these posts!)

Character – The Town Drunk

Setting – Lake Tahoe

Random Object – Toy Robot


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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Movie Review

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

 

Why did I come to this movie again?

All I knew about this movie going in was that it was about Mr. Rogers. I was never a stalwart fan of the show as a kid—I preferred cartoons—but I did watch enough of it to “get” this movie.

5 of 5

 

Characters

I thought the reporter and his wife were amazing! The reporter’s relationship with his father was…well…at first I thought it was too cliché. It’s not hard to figure out that his father is a real jerk and that the reporter hates him. Pretty standard. However, as the movie went on the audience learns little things that make it unique, and when the reporter yells at his father about how his mother died…ack! So powerful. And his apology to his wife after he runs away for a bit. So. Good. These moments made me want to be a better writer.

Okay, I might get shot for this, but while I thought Tom Hanks did a good job, I could tell he was acting. Does that make sense? His Mr. Roger’s persona felt forced to me, and I’m not sure why. It’s not like I know that much about good acting, and Tom Hanks fully got the character across, for some reason Mr. Rogers felt wrong. Fake. Part of the story was to let yourself believe that this man was just that good. It didn’t quite work for me.

4 of 5

 

Did I care what happened?

Yes. Even when scenes between the reporter and his father or his wife made me squirm in my seat, I was riveted to the screen.

5 of 5

 

Plot Holes

I honestly didn’t notice any plot holes. As a matter of fact the hubby and I spent the whole of the credits and the drive home talking about how tight the writing was and how the dang movie made you feel like ten times.

5 of 5

 

How many times did I yawn?

None that I remember. I didn’t catch the hubby dozing off like usual, so that’s a pretty good testament to how well the writers and director kept the tension going even during slower parts of the film.

5 of 5

 

Cool Factor

I loved the little effects they put in with Mr. Roger’s neighborhood and that same style they used for New York and other areas.

I honestly expected a little more nostalgia in the realm of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

One thing that I laughed about is that the movie was trying to make the 90’s nostalgic, which makes me feel old. Very old.

4 of 5

 

The End

Beautiful. Loved it.

5 of 5

 

Overall Enjoyment

It takes a really good drama for me to like it, and I did like this one. I saw a few reviews online saying it was too “feel-good.” Uh, did they ever watch Mr. Rogers? That’s kind of the point of the whole show. Great reminders for children as well as adults on how to cope with our feelings when they become overwhelming.

A fun fact: I spent the whole movie trying to figure out where I’d seen Mr. Roger’s sort of body-guard before. Bill was his name in the show. I finally had to go to IMDB, and I found him in none other than Galaxy Quest! I might not have ever figured that out.

5 of 5

 

38

That’s a Black Belt!


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10-Jan-2020

I must be in the mood for a romantic comedy…

“Can we stop at the next fast food place so I can go to the bathroom?” Carl complained from the back seat.

“No way,” Trina said. “I can’t get all of these layers off to go to the bathroom, and I have to go too.” She met my eyes in the rearview mirror as the plastic octopus hanging from it dangled back and forth. “Don’t you dare stop.”

I cocked my head from one side to the other, then tapped my thumbs on the steering wheel.

“Jack, don’t you even think about it.” Trina’s voice grew dangerous.

I laughed in the face of danger on a daily basis, so I signaled and turned off the main road.

“No!” Trina cried.

“Look, sis, I wore this stupid outfit for you all night, and now I’m hungry. So we’re stopping.”

“But we had dinner.”

“I wouldn’t call a piece of meat the size of half an egg with fruit punch disguised as wine dinner,” Carl said.

“Agreed,” I said.

“Will you hurry?” Trina said, sounding like a three-year-old doing the pee-pee dance. “Like really hurry?”

“Or you could get out,” I said.

Rachel, the girl sitting in the front seat threw me a dark look. “She’s not taking that costume in there. And you’d better not get a single grease stain on yours.”

“It’s not mine,” I reminded her. “The two of you begged Carl and I to come so you could take couples pictures. This is the beginning of your payback to us.”

Carl laughed. “So true.”

I pulled into a parking spot and threw the car into park.

“You sure you don’t want to come in?” Carl asked Trina. I’d caught Carl  staring at the results of a corset on my sister a couple of times tonight. We might have to have the “don’t date my best friend’s sister” talk later.

“No. Please hurry.”

Part of me wanted to walk as slowly as I could to the entrance, but considering what I was wearing, I wanted to get this over with.

The door pulled open with a slight squeak, and a rush of deep-fried goodness filled my nostrils. The diner at the Regency party had been less than satisfying. Carl bolted toward the bathrooms. “Do you want anything?” I asked.

“Get me a soda.” His words faded as he got farther away.

“Because you need more liquid in your system,” I said.

Lucky for us, it was late. And the place was almost deserted. One woman sat alone in the far corner, munching down fries and scrolling through her phone. A couple occupied another table, but they only had eyes—and hands—for each other.

I decided if I was going to be spotted in this ridiculous get-up, that I would at least make it look good. So I straightened my vest—er, waistcoat—fluffed my cravat, made sure my collar was brushing my jaw, then strode forward with my knee-high boots clicking on the floor.

I should have brought the walking stick thing.

The bored looking girl behind the counter saw me, and her eyes went wide. “Jack?”

Of course it was someone I knew. Unfortunately for me, after spending an evening with a bunch of people who ran around in Regency outfits playing out Regency dinner and garden scenarios for fun, I’d fallen into character. I walked up to the counter and bowed. “Sandi. So nice to see you.” I came up from my bow. “Are your parent’s well?”

Sandi and I had gone through school together. She was a band nerd, while I was a crazed athlete, but ever since we’d accidentally made a dry ice bomb for science class in junior high, we’d been friends.

She sniggered and did a curtsy. “They are well, thank you. How is your sister?”

Apparently Sandi had at least seen Pride and Prejudice before. “She is in the car, and under some distress.” I leaned forward. “She needs to use the privy, but did not want to do it here.”

“Understandable.” Sandi smiled. “What can I get you, my lord?”

I straightened and tapped a finger on my lips as I studied the menu. “Methinks I would like a large order of thine fries, a large Coke and a large Dr. Pepper.”

“Thine?” Sandi’s smile spread across her whole face. I’d never noticed that her nose wrinkled when she laughed. Nor did I notice the adorable freckles on her cheeks. Or the way her blue eyes lit up.

I was staring. I cleared my throat and raised an eyebrow. “Indeed.”

“Very well, my lord.” She did another curtsy and then typed my order into the computer. “Thine total is three of our dollars and one quarter.”

“Ah.” I reached inside my vest—waistcoat—and fished out my debit card. “Will this suffice?”

“Indeed,” she said.

Why did I notice that our fingers brushed when she took the card?

Why did I watch her the whole time she was running the order?

Why did I want her to smile at me again?

I shook my head. It must be this stupid costume.

The computer let out a pleasant dinging sound. Sandi handed my card back, along with my receipt. When I went to take the card, she held it fast until I looked into her alluring, blue eyes again.

Stupid costume.

“Next time you and your sister go to a regency dinner, count me in.”

I tugged on the card.

She smirked. “My lord.”

The card came free. I bowed. “My lady.”

Another worker handed me my order and I did the only thing a sensible young man worth at least five thousand a year should do.

I fled.

***

Not going to lie, I almost didn’t write this one. But then, when I did, it was so fun!

Like I said, I must have romantic comedy on the brain. Yes, I stretched the genre a bit…I hope you liked it.

Genre – Regency Romance

Random Object – Octopus

Setting – Fast Food Place


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The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review

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Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker

The surviving members of the resistance face the First Order once again, and the legendary conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its peak bringing the Skywalker saga to its end.

 

Why did I come to this movie again?

Full disclosure, I’m a fan of the original trilogy. I grew up with them and no movie since then has really satisfied me. I tried to love Episode 1, but it didn’t last. 2 and 3 have the bones of a good story but Lucas isn’t the greatest story teller. Like building a beautiful room and then painting it a garish color. Or not finishing the ceiling.

I was excited when Disney took over, because they’d done a really good job with the Marvel Universe. The Force Awakens was okay, but I felt they pandered a little too much to, well, me. A bit too heavy handed with the callbacks to A New Hope. It was more like a retelling than an original movie.

The Last Jedi made me really grouchy. I didn’t mind most of Luke’s story. Everything about the space chase was badly written with clumsy characters who each carried a huge idiot ball the entire movie screaming “Look at me! I’m new and shinny and therefore amazing!” I told you it made me grouchy. However, my biggest problem with the movie, is that the writers or directors or both decided to subvert every single promise from the first movie. I realize it’s probably because fans like me were like, “The Force Awakens was too much like A New Hope!” but most of what episode 8 is about tries to undo what happened in episode 7. In the same way that episode 9 tries to undo a lot of what happened in 8.

This is terrible planning on someone’s part. As an author, I know it’s suicide to subvert everything you promise at the beginning of a book or series. Yes, some twists are great. Surprising the reader is awesome, but Disney shot itself in the foot by trying too hard to be different with episode 8. Just my opinion.

A friend said what I couldn’t find the words for a few weeks ago. “Disney had one job with these movies. Put Luke Leia, Han and Chewie on the screen together. That’s what fans wanted, and they never got it.”

There’s a lot of truth to that. Yes, the newer characters are the main focus, but that is what I wanted. Even just a few scenes. Even if they were all a little broken.

So, with that said, I didn’t have high hopes for this movie. I went in with low expectations.

3 of 5

 

Characters

Rey was supposed to be the focus of this movie. Her journey with the force and where it would lead. They did an okay job with that. Much more compelling, however, was Kylo Ren’s character arc. The movie rushed them both, but I wanted more of Ben! Way more. I didn’t think he was particularly interesting until this movie.

Finn was back! Loved him in episode 7, not so much in 8, really liked him in this one. A lot of people were upset Rose had a “bit part,” but I actually thought they put her in a nice position. Her character was rough, raw and a little dumb in episode 8. This time around she’s helping the general, in charge of stuff, and doing a great job of it. They tried a little too hard with Poe. He did make me laugh, which is good, so there’s that.

The heroes were a bit rough in the beginning, but turned it around a little way into the show. In general I liked the characters. I still want more of Ben.

4 of 5

 

Did I care what happened?

Surprisingly, yes. It took me a while, but I finally got drawn in.

4 of 5

 

Plot Holes

A Star Wars movie is like a Marvel movie. Yes, there will be plot holes. I rolled my eyes several times, but since my expectations were so low, I didn’t mind as much.

More than plot holes, this movie used easy plot devices. How many coincidences can happen? A girl on a random planet gives Rey a necklace and asks her what her family name is, Kylo appears to her via force vision/bond thing and snatches the necklace, allowing him to find out where she is, Rey and co. having to run from bad guys until they fall into the same quicksand as they dead guy they’re looking for, which leads them to a worm, which Rey helps foreshadowing for later, which leads to the knife which leads to a new ship which leads to rescuing Chewie which leads to them getting their old ship back. Oh, and Lando. All together it was just a little bit too convenient for my taste.

Granted, they had a lot to cover. As I said before, the director was trying to “fix” a bunch of the issues with the last movie, so most things felt very forced.

4 of 5

 

How many times did I yawn?

Never? My complaint would be that the movie moved too fast.

5 of 5

 

Cool Factor

Effects were great. Rey and the transport…yikes. Force Lightning! Leia dying 🙁 They packed this movie full of Star Wars-ness, and I loved most of it.

5 of 5

 

The End

I liked it. Here’s my spoiler: by the end of the movie, I was much more interested in Ben than Rey, which made me not like that part of the end.

4 of 5

 

Overall Enjoyment

I’m surprised to say that I enjoyed the show. I went in with low expectations, which helped. I also tried to immerse myself into the story and not compare it to anything. The parallels with Return of the Jedi were too prevalent to ignore completely, but all in all, I liked it. A decent ending to the saga.

4 of 5

 

33

That’s a Brown Belt!


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