Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land

Did you know Donald Duck is my favorite Disney character? It's true! I actually own every single one of his shorts on DVD. But there was one cartoon that was not included in the set because it wasn't actually a short. It was a film from 1959 called "Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land."

Although this half an hour cartoon was intended to be educational, it goes down as one of the most fun and interesting exploration into the world of mathematics. I'll be honest that I usually find educational stuff boring. You'd be surprised how Disney was able to make stuff like this enjoyable. Let's talk a little about this. A link to the cartoon will be available at the bottom of the blog.

It seems like through the cartoon, the pentagram appeared to be the basis for a lot of designs and inventions throughout history. But although it started off suggesting that the shape was originally the invention of Pythagoras, the cartoon goes on to explain that this symbol was already prevalent in nature. I was always surprised at how many ways a pentagram can be broken down into other shapes, and this cartoon does extremely well in demonstrating this through carefully measured animation. Pentagons, golden rectangles, golden sections, and perfect spirals all seem to come from this unique design.

The cartoon also converted the pentagram into music which blew my mind. Sections of the pentagram became strings on an instrument and were plucked. It really worked! Of course, Donald didn't really appreciate Ancient Greek music and had to jazz it up in his own way. As silly as it was, this only led to an explanation of how music has merely evolved under the same principles over the centuries.

So, if you ever saw this cartoon in the past, you may have noticed the very odd pool table that lacked any pockets. As I child, I wondered what in the world was going on with that. Apparently this is a table for a game called "three-cushion billiards," and it is still played to this day but not really popularized in the US. As the cartoon explained, the idea if to hit one ball, strike three sides before hitting the 2nd ball. It's the only way to get a point. It requires a tremendous amount of skill and calculation to get even one point in the game which leads me to believe that the man in the cartoon was a freaking genius!

I loved how Donald thought it looked easy enough and tried to play three-cushion billiards himself. He got all scrambled in the head and made everything too complicated. I know that's how I would be. I really doubt I could do it without pen and paper handy, and even then, I'd just not have the skill to do the shot.

In my wrap-up section, I want to go into the setting of the cartoon for a moment. At the beginning, Donald appeared to be on a hunt and walks into a cave. The cave led into a strange world called Mathmagic Land where he was guided onward by a voice who called himself the Spirit of Adventure. This spirit draws the silly duck into the world of mathematics until Donald is actually able to imagine possibilities on his own. The doors of his mind open and he enjoys exploring them, but strangely he comes to a hallway where all the doors are closed. These were the scientific finds of the future that had not yet been opened. Smart phones anyone?!

The most surprising and rather tear jerking moment for me was the very end where they give a quote from Galileo:

"Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe."

You know what? I think he was right.

If you would like to watch this great cartoon, here is a link to the YouTube video: CLICK HERE!

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? If so, you can comment below, or you can email me at You can also visit my website at Thanks!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: That Dark Spot

Is there a place in your house you don't visit very often? Almost every house has one. Sometimes there is a closet that is never opened. It can be an attic or a basement that has simply been neglected. What about under your bed? Checked there lately? I went around my house and found at least 5 different places that just felt... dark. Even with the lights on, those places just don't seem to brighten up the way they should.

In a few of them, I took a flashlight and shined it in. Normally the light would fill the area, but at most it just created a dot that illuminated one object at a time. Has that ever happened to you? What about when you were young? I have a feeling that this is more common than we may think because a number of fairy tales seems to rely on this darkness that simply won't go away.

Human beings love to see things. We are afraid of what we cannot see. A dark spot in the house generally becomes an undesirable area that we tend to avoid. We call it a nuisance, but it may be more than that. What if something was in there that we did not want to associate with? If not that, maybe just bugs? It could be a number of reasons. Are there really monsters under the bed? Is there really another world in the darkest portion of the wardrobe?

Fairy tales can often exploit the dark places and make something of it. It can either be an entry way or an exit. It is a portal to another world of either horror or wonder. I love this concept. I love looking at the dark space under my bed and imagining that it goes somewhere.

Let me tell you something neat. I recently had a fantasy about a little girl who befriended a wolf. The wolf said that the only way she would be allowed to be his friend was if he could eat her up later in life. There was a crawlspace in the house that, when removed, would lead into a fairy forest filled with other wolves who had likewise befriended other children. The crawlspace was in the hallway of my actual house, but... it isn't actually there. For some reason my mind put it in a particular spot.

Anyways, this idea eventually evolved into a fairly different story called "A Wolf in my Bedroom," which has been published on The story had nothing of the original fairyland through the crawlspace idea, but somehow, I couldn't stop thinking about it as I wrote it. I still think about it. I still kinda wonder what happened in that strange scenario. Maybe it will see the light of day in the future.

So tell me if you have experienced this sort of phenomenon. Is there a dark spot in your house that could lead into another place? Is the place amazing or scary? Where does your imagination take you?

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below or you can email me at You can also visit my website at Thanks!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Truth About Mother Goose

In 1957, Disney produced a short animated film called "The Truth About Mother Goose." The concept was that a good number of our classic nursery rhymes have real life counterparts in world history. And that isn't too surprising. Most poetry is based on something, but if you do not know what that something is, it might as well be random. Whether or not the cartoon got their information right--and they suggest that they might have actually been in error--it still ended up being one of the most fascinating animations to ever come from Walt Disney.

The short film focused on 3 nursery rhymes: "Little Jack Horner," "Mary, Mary," and "London Bridges." Each seemed perfectly silly and fun in the beginning. The cartoon features a set of three colorful jesters who would dance about and sing the rhyme for you. But soon after, you would find that the story of the poem had a much darker origin.

In the case of "Little Jack Horner," it was the story of a thief. Jack actually stole something very valuable from a king which had been hidden away within a pie. Interestingly, it seems that Mister Horner did get away with the crime. The narrator even says he lived happily ever after. Yet consider that the bad guy actually did win in that particular story.

"Mary, Mary" was easily the darkest of all three. Apparently the Mary from the rhyme had to do with Mary, Queen of Scotts. Most children would not even know the implications of that. This woman's life was full of contradictions that drove so many people out of their minds. And it did not end well for her either. The cartoon was very clear on this point. She was basically executed for being... annoying. Trust me, it was jealousy that did her in. Some people like contrary, but others despise when anything doesn't fit in their box. It was really too bad.

The last rhyme, "London Bridges" was kind of a mix of happy and sad. It actually was the story of London Bridge--its rise and its eventual fall. The sadness of the story came from the fact that so many wonderful things don't last forever. I got the impression that it was not really due to lack of good maintenance--although I can't say for certain if that wasn't part of the problem. Some things just get old. And after getting burned in the London Fire and being hit by all sorts of things... the bridge just gave up. This was the only story with a happy ending. The bridge was rebuilt and survives to this very day.

"The Truth About Mother Goose" is extremely well produced with beautiful artwork (especially the "Mary, Mary" segment.) They kept it fun but did not mind going to dark places when necessary. The music would go from happy to dreadful at a moment's notice and you are never sure when that change is going to happen. The three jesters were a lot of fun as well.

The short film is just under 15 minutes, and I encourage you to watch it. It is available on YouTube. Here is a link: CLICK HERE!

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? If so, you can comment below, or you can email me at You can also check out my website at Thanks!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Housepets!

A very talented artist and writer by the name of Rick Griffin came up with a wonderful idea. Although it had been done to some degree before, I gotta give him credit for drawing me into a more modern day fantasy to what was once made popular by Beatrix Potter. Let's have a look!

"Housepets!" is a comic strip series which depicts animals as anthropomorphic while still holding the same class roles as they do in real life. For example: a dog walks on two legs, has opposing thumbs, can speak English, and is even intelligent enough to play video games and win. Even so, that same dog is still the pet of a human being and must live life according to those rules. There may be some change in venue such as eating off of the floor. They will probably eat off of the equivalent of a kiddie table but never at the same table as humans.

Dogs are still loyal and silly, and cats are still independent and moody. Other animals have their own personal attributes but in the form of an anthropomorphic creature rather than a feral one. Wild animals have these traits also and there are still pests. Raccoons will occasionally break into trashcans and cause trouble. It is much easier for them because they have thumbs, so the humans have to be a little more careful in how they deal with their garbage.

The animals in "Housepets!" do at times seem like they are mere slaves, but they don't really care. At heart they are still animals and are loyal to humans in the same manner as real animals are. Likewise abused animals tend to act crazy and say crazy things, yet their loyalty is still there even after the abuse. Rick Griffin was very careful to explain all this.

At its heart, the stories told in the comic are comedy. There are punchlines in every strip, but on a grander scale, there is a very unique and interesting story told that keeps you reading endlessly. The story is often semi-serious and relaxing but can, at times, become heartwarming. These moments happen especially on holidays.

Although the cast of characters are many, the two that the comic seems to always fall back on is a dog named Peanut Butter and a cat named Jelly. Best friends at times and enemies when Jelly's mood is not so pleasant. With these two characters, you really get to understand how an animal can be given intelligent but still remain who they are. Peanut Butter has a wild imagination which is why he spends a lot of time drawing his own comics which do not always make much sense. Jelly spends most of her time lounging on a couch until Peanut Butter can rile her up to play with him. There has been a sort of on and off love affair between the two but I have not seen it go too far.

The fun of this sort of world really makes me consider what it would have been like to have a pet in that universe. How awesome would it be to have a pet dog who could play video games with you? How awesome would it be to have a cat to give you emotional advice when yer feeling bad? It's really quite a wonderful idea!

Before "Housepets!" the nearest thing we had to that sort of universe was that of Beatrix Potter. In her universe the animals were similar anthropomorphic and lived among humans in a similar way. It was a bit grimmer though if you consider that pigs were still slaughtered regularly and eaten by the humans. And apparently the pigs had just accepted this because they were pigs and it was their duty. I mean... Just be honest in the comment block. Could you do that? Could you eat the bacon knowing that the pig it came from was a person? But Beatrix Potter always had a rough streak in her stories anyways.

I get the impression that similar things happened in "Housepets!" but were not really addressed heavily because it wouldn't have been very funny. One part I did remember was when they talked about the dog actors in old movies where they had to cut off their tails or break their legs for the sake of the film before animal rights laws existed. (I can't remember which to be honest.) Still, you can imagine the connotations of that if they could walk and talk like us.

With "Housepets!" Rick Griffin managed to give us a peek at a fun and interesting world that we might not mind being a part of too much. I would love it if I could talk to my cat. Having an animal friend to hang with sounds like it would be a blast. Tell me what you think!

Did you enjoy my blog? If you like, you can leave a comment below, or you can email me at You can also check out my website at Thanks!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Agents of the Eye and Ear (Book Review)

Fairy tales can come in many forms. They can be cute with talking animals having silly problems. You can have a boy who discovers a magical sword. There is, of course, the traditional dashing knight who saves the princess from the dragon. There are simply many ways a fairy tale can go.

One of the most fascinating things to pop out of the world of fairy tales was the advent of J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." Here we had a much grittier and vast fairy tale world mixed with specific races all interacting with each other on a social and political scale. The books pretty much dwarfed the tiny stories of Grimm and Andersen. This series has inspired a lot of wonderful fairy tale universes since its release.

An author I know personally named Shawn O'Toole wrote a book called "Agents of the Eye and Ear" which, on its surface, might feel somewhat like the world of Middle-earth. However, what you are actually seeing in this story is a world inside the one we live in, and what lives in there are many creatures of fairy tale lore. And Mister O'Toole did something else that broke convention. He focused exclusively on the story of the fairies--mainly the elves in this case.

In "Lord of the Rings," the humans were a strong power living among the fairies. In "Agents of the Eye and Ear," the humans barely come into it. They are having their own separate adventures topside, while the fairies of inner-earth are clashing for their own reasons. Shawn O'Toole is very good at explaining how this world works through regular repetition.

The story plays out as a set of secret agent style missions. I have often described the this book as Mission: Impossible with elves. The dark elves always seems to be the villains in the book, but one thing that Shawn does so well is that he explains all points of view perfectly. The dark elves are the villains for a reason.

You may notice that I am not really revealing much about the story. The truth is that I am desperate not to spoil it. I actually really adore this book. The action and story of the book is a strange combination of fun and gritty. Everything is written to be as realistic as possible. The elves are even written realistically.

A lot of my blogs have referenced fairy folk as similar to demons--in that they are soulless intelligent creatures. Fairies are basically intelligent animals. They only do what comes natural to them. Shawn, in the writing of "Agents of the Eye and Ear," makes it perfectly clear that his elves are in no way human at all. They are elves through and through. Some of their actions may surprise you!

"Agents of the Eye and Ear" is worth the read. The story may sometimes seem disjointed, but it really isn't. It just dances around here and there and pulls itself together as a whole. There are a lot of wonderful stories here intermixed with covert missions. The drama is wonderful. The characters are endearing. I consider this story to be the masterpiece of Shawn O'Toole.

If you are interested in buying this book, it is available on Amazon. Here is some information:

Paperback: $13.99
Kindle: $3.99

Click here to see the listing!

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? You can comment below, or you can email me at You can also visit my website at Thanks!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Living Plush Animals

Plush animals walking around and talking have been a mainstay in stories for as long as we've had them. It is also one of the easiest to imagine... mainly because we imagine them doing it as a regularity. How many times have you picked up a plush animal and animated it with your hands? The impulse to do so is very common. For one, they are very cute, and when they act out, everything they say and do is very appealing.

How many stories can you think of right now that have plush animals walking and talking? I bet you can name three right off the bat. For me, the first that comes to mind is Margery William's "The Velveteen Rabbit." Number two would be A. A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh." Although I've never seen any from the series, "Toy Story" is such a huge phenomenon that I have to make it my number three. I've seen enough clips from it to notice a few plush characters seen within it. These three represent less than 1% of the collection of living plush stories.

When I was a child, I absolutely loved physically animating plush animals for my own amusement. Even though I was using my hands and voice, I sort of just ignored the extra limbs and imagined if the animal was really doing and saying those things. People complimented me a lot for how I did it too. I still might find myself doing it once in a while. It's fun!

When I do this sort of thing, it is no wonder so many stories were made of these inanimate objects coming to life. One of the things that often fascinates me is how life would actually be if I were to exist as a living plush animal. Would I feel pain when pricked? Would having fill inside me feel significantly different than flesh and blood? I mean... If we are going to give them life, we should wonder how they feel about it, right?

The concept of being a completely different type of living creature is something I think about a lot and often try and imagine. They aren't like us. They probably don't need to eat or even breathe. They would have other problems like avoiding getting their fabric snagged on things. Would getting unraveled or losing their fill kill them, or would they just lay there waiting for help?

All this is really fascinating to me. What do you think? Consider if you were a plush animal and could actually feel what it would be like to exist in that state. Tell me where your imagination takes you. What would it feel like? How would you feel? Just a little experiment. I wanna see what you all think on the matter.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? If you like, you can leave a comment below, or you can email me at You can also visit my website at Thanks!

The Velveteen Rabbit (2009)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Happily Ever After?

If ever you have read a good number of Grimm stories, you get used to seeing the phrase "...and they lived happily ever after." This seems like a good ending on the surface, but I'm not too sure. First off, lemme tell you how they usually get there.

The happy ending usually comes after a hero does something great and ends up with a wife. Likewise a woman can do something great and wind up with a husband. Either way, basic heroism seems to lead to a happy life forever more. Otherwise stated; Happily Ever After.

This is where the story ends. We see that it ended well and move on. We want to know if any other heroes and heroins have a similar ending. Some don't always. Sleeping Beauty's ending was rather rocky before the happy ending could be obtained. But most stories simply allow for for the overcoming of one trial before "happily ever after" can be obtained.

The question is this: What is Happily Ever After? What does it mean? What does it involve? Let's take a moment to think on the matter.

The first thing most people think is very much akin to retirement. The two lovers live peacefully in the castle, have children, and when the king dies, they take over as the high rulers of the kingdom. They will eventually die, and their kids will do likewise. No more real adversity will occur. The trials the heroes faced in the beginning of the story were all that were needed to be completed to obtain a world of perfect order--at least in their part of the world. Happily Ever After simply means a good, peaceful, uneventful life until death takes them away.

This is not that far fetched. Some Grimm stories will out rightly explain this concept at the tail end. In brief, they mention about the peaceful life, and the king's death, and their life-long peaceful rule before their own demise. There are no wars or crime. Everybody loves them. For so long as they two remain alive, the world will work perfectly. Most other stories leave the meaning to your imagination.

My problem with this version is that it seems a bit boring. I am happy that the couple fell in love and was married, but then their life rather took the path that so many have taken. Retirement is not really all that exciting. It was never meant to be. Heroism is much more interesting when it begins and never actually ends.

Another concept for Happily Ever After would be a life full of adventures. The bond formed between male and female can still thrive here. In fact, it can even promote it. Adversity can still occur, but now the hero is better prepared for it. It may even be exciting for them! In this case the story does not actually end, but it is still a "happily ever after."

I think my main beef with these endings is that I don't want the story to end in such a boring way. The human race can do a lot of wonderful things, especially our heroes. Why should they be limited to one great act? Let them do as many things as they can! Let heroes be heroes and remain heroes forever. Their story doesn't have to end so abruptly. Let me know what you think on the matter. I'm curious to hear what others think on this phenomenon.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at You can also visit my website at Thanks!

Image taken from Disney's "Robin Hood."

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Spelldrive (A Neat Idea)

Ever heard of a show called "Invader Zim?" It was a children's show which originally ran on Nickelodeon from 2001 to 2002. It was extremely weird and... actually fairy violent for a TV show with its age group. Not really much of a fairy tale which is why I never brought it up. It's basically a lot of comedy mixed with an unusually well-developed story.

Anyways, the whole reason I am bringing it up at all is because of a fairly neat idea proposed in the episode called "Gaz, Taster of Pork." The show introduced something kin to its universe called a "spelldrive."

A spelldrive is a portable computer with a number of magic spells stored on its hard drive. Each spell uses a number of "power points" to cast any one of its spells. The computer's maximum power points seemed to be three. So basically, the user simply picks from a list of spells, and if he has the required number of power points left on the device, he can cast the spell without any mystical knowledge at all. The latter was apparently taken care of by the devices programmer which likely happened in ancient times--prehistory probably.

Where I am sure the spelldrive was capable of being recharged, by the time it was found in the show, there was no known way to do so. So if you used any of the remaining power points to cast a spell, you would never get those points back and the spelldrive would become useless forever.

The spelldrive is what I refer to as a very neat idea. It's almost sad that "Invader Zim" was the only one to really utilize this idea at all. It heavily suggests the possibility of a technologically advanced prehistory or at the very least a misunderstood ancient history. It is also not all that implausible.

In fairy tales, there is the concept of enchantments. Any object can be enchanted to behave in a certain way. A door can be enchanted to make the next person that touches it paralyzed. Mystical traps can be set upon the floor by way of enchantments. Have you ever considered what enchanting a computer would do? Someone who was both aware of technology and the mystic arts might be able to make the two work in tandem. The computer becomes a critical part of the spell.

Not everybody understands the mystical arts. That was often left to the adepts at the craft. This is why you usually see one wizard within the court of a king. But there seems no reason why the wizard should be the only one to be able to use those arts. The wizard would take a computer and program in a number of spells. He would put a portion of himself inside of it and allow the user to choose where that force is directed. In reality, the wizard would be casting the spell, not the user of the spelldrive.

I am sure the spelldrive's main purpose would be to assist people in high places along so that the wizard would not have to be in multiple places at once. But imagine if you were a child that happened upon one of these devices. You open it up and are presented with a long list of powerful spells. You have three power points loaded in and can choose any one you want. What would you do? Would you be mischievous and experiment, or would you return it to the wizard and play it safe?

The concept is quite fun but it also seems very dangerous. For one, you would be aligning yourself to the powers of someone greater than you. It might lead to unexpected consequences. Also the wizard might not bee too happy with you fiddling around with his spelldrive. If he can place a piece of himself within a computer, what do you think he can do to you? The idea is very neat but also very scary.

I just got to give "Invader Zim's" creator Jhonen Vasquez a lot of credit for being creative in this case. When I first saw that episode, I confess that I wanted my own spelldrive. I did not really think of the consequences of all. They just sounded like a lot of fun. It is probably best I never got one though. All my friends might have ended up talking animals or something. They would have never forgiven me for that.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? If so, you can comment below, or you can email me at You can also check out my website at Thanks!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Two Magic Words

Ever wish you knew some magic words that could make your life better? Well I have two that may or may not be useful to you. They come from completely unrelated fairy tales, but were nonetheless useful to those who knew them. Let's have a look.



Go on. Say it! I know you want to. Bricklebrit! It's fun right? You may notice that it doesn't seem to be doing anything, but there is a very good reason for it. It only works around donkeys.

The word comes from the Grimm story The Gold-Ass but has been used in a number of other stories in a similar way. Pretty much all you have to do is approach the donkey, say the word, "Bricklebrit!" and the most amazing thing will happen before your very eyes! The donkey will begin to throw up and poop out gold. Yep, out of both ends.

Although I cannot really guarantee the cleanliness of any of this gold, there is strong possibility that you won't care. I mean consider the fact that what comes out of the donkey's butt is actually gold. All you have to do is clean it, right? And sure, the gold that comes from its throat is mixed with a bit of its own nasty, but still. Any farmer would be proud to know this word.

I do feel for the donkey though. I see him standing in his barn... looking kinda nervous. And then, the door creeks open. Who could it be? Is that the farmer making his creepy grin again? Oh no! Don't say it! Don't say the word! "Bricklebrit!" Instant laxative! Blleeeehhhh! Phhbbbbt!

Please use this word responsibility. Donkey might die. And then where will you be?



This word come from L.Frank Baum's "The Magic of Oz." It is an extremely powerful word used in transformations. You simply say who or what you want to change and what it must change into. Then you say, "Pyrzqxgl!" to complete the spell. Works like a charm. Go on try it. It absolutely always works.

What? Didn't work for you? Maybe you didn't pronounce it right. See, you have to pronounce it properly to get the transformation spell to work. If you can't say it right, then I can't do anything to help you. These things are the responsibility of the spell-caster.

Well, if its just too hard for you, I would recommend traveling to Oz. The wizard knows how it's pronounced. Why don't you just go ask him? What? Don't tell me you're lazy too! Well, never mind then.

Thank you for reading my blog. Did you enjoy it? If so, you can comment below, or you can email me at You can also visit my website at Bricklebrit! Pppbbbttttt.