Nostalgic Books

I just thought I’d share a list I’ve been hoarding on Evernote for years. These are books I grew up reading, whether just once or over and over. They’re all very important to me, and I was adding Goodreads links to all of them and thought I’d post the list here. It’s not any particular order, I just added them as they came to mind years ago, and have slowly been adding to it as I’ve remembered books I read when I was younger. The most recently added was the Larry trilogy, which I added over two years ago, so I think it’s safe to say I’m probably not going to be adding to this list any time soon. This isn’t every book I read as a kid, just the ones that I have distinct memories of, and/or were influenced by in some way.

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman
Heck Superhero by Martine Leavitt
So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld
Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman
Hammer of Eden by Ken Follett
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds
Shiloh Season by Phyllis Reynolds
Saving Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds
Change the Locks by Simon French
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Pigman’s Legacy by Paul Zindel
Ida B. by Katherine Hannigan
The Space Machine by Christopher Priest
The Exiles Trilogy by Ben Bova
Vote for Larry by Janet Tashjian

What are some books that influenced you growing up?

Casabloga List on IMDb

This is just a small thing I did and thought I’d share it here. I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but in my Casabloga reviews, I always link to the film’s Wikipedia article. Well, starting with Unfriended, the review I just posted, I’m now going to link to the film’s IMDb page. I probably should have been doing that all along, but for some reason I didn’t like IMDb. I used to use it all the time, and in fact I created my account back in 2011 and used it frequently until a few years ago. But I logged into my account earlier tonight and now like it again. No idea why I didn’t.

IMDb Lifetime


Anyway, I have a ton of movies in my Watchlist, and was going through updating it with all the movies I can remember watching in the years since I’ve been away, when I had an idea. They have an option to make your own list, so I made one with all of the films I’ve reviewed in the Casabloga series.

Here’s a link to the list, if anyone is interested.

What Happens When Your Star Dies?

Last night I watched Furious Seven for the first time. I actually had a marathon of the whole series, even putting Tokyo Drift sixth, because that’s where it belongs chronologically. Last time I did a marathon of the series was in 2012, when there was just up to Fast Five, and I didn’t watch Furious 6 when it came out, so last night was my first time for that one as well. I had been wondering what they were going to do with Brian O’Conner, the late Paul Walker’s character. Last night, I found out, and I loved it.

It goes without saying that this post will contain spoilers.

On 11 September 2003, actor John Ritter passed away shortly after the filming of an episode of 8 Simple Rules. The show was only at the beginning of it’s second season, but was already enough of a hit that it wasn’t immediately cancelled. After a short break, they decided to simply kill off his character and continue. Considering this was a sitcom, and he was the main character, this was a risky move. Sure enough, the show was cancelled after the third season.

My opinion is they should have just ended it when he died. The show was never the same again, and I think the only reason it continued for as long as it did was because people wanted to give them a chance. But they lost a comedy genius and brought in David Spade. While I am a huge fan of David Spade, I don’t think he was a good replacement for John Ritter.

Sometimes simply replacing actors does work, though. Chris Farley had recorded most of his lines for Shrek when he passed away, but the studio felt having the voice of a dead comic as the star of their kids movie was a bit uncomfortable. So, they got Mike Myers. This obviously worked, otherwise we wouldn’t have Shrek: 9al One For Real This Time.

There are two recent instances I want to talk about. Cory Monteith from Glee, and Paul Walker from the Fast & Furious series. Both were handled differently, and both worked.

On 13 July 2013, Glee’s Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose. His character, Finn Hudson, was a major character from the very first episode.The writers decided to kill off the character. While initially it was announced the character would die the same way as the actor, fan backlash led to the cause of death for the character not even being given throughout the rest of the series.

Shortly before Monteith’s death, Fox had renewed the show for two more seasons, season five and six. After his death, the cast and crew didn’t want to do it anymore, but technically had to, so they decided to make season six the final season. The episode the character is paid tribute to, The Quarterback, is probably one of the most emotional things I have ever seen. The reason for this is that no one in that episode is acting, and all shots were done in one take, because the episode was very hard for them to make, as you can imagine. For me, the two most emotional scenes from the episode are when Santana sings “If I Die Young“, and the scene at the end when it finally hits Will Schuester (I’m assuming that’s the right video. I honestly can’t watch it, it’s that emotional. Because, again, not acting!!!)

The death of the character actually works if you watch the series from beginning to end. Obviously, they didn’t know Monteith was going to pass away, but knowing what you know now, it makes sense from a writing prospective that Finn’s character would be the one to die. He’s the one that held them together at the beginning, and he was the one on course to take over the Glee Club. Him dying immortalized him in the eyes of the Glee Club. So that works.

On 30 November 2013, Paul Walker died in a tragic car accident. Filming of Furious Seven was already over half completed, so the studio put a hiatus on the film to figure out what to do. Of course, they decided to write his character, Brian O’Conner, out of the series. It was already being set after Tokyo Drift, which had the death of a major character, so it’d have made sense to kill off Paul Walker’s character, to make it even more dramatic.  They easily could have done that and no one would have thought less of them for it.

But they did not do that. Cody Walker, the younger brother of Paul, filled his place for the remaining scenes. I kept expecting the character to die throughout the movie, and I think they were counting on you expecting that. Every scene features O’Conner inches from death, and he could have died any of those times. But he didn’t. They instead opted to do something different, and in my opinion more emotionally rewarding.

They gave his character a happy ending. At the end of the movie, he’s on the beach, playing with his son, his wife pregnant with their second child. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) decided that he wanted to let Brian live his life in peace, and walk away. As he drives away O’Conner appears in a separate car so they can race one last time. As they drive, flashbacks to the previous films flash before the screen while Diesel does voiceover. In the end, O’Conner takes a different road, signifying the parting of ways. It was a very good send off, and I feel the best way they could have handled it. They easily could have killed off the character and milked it, but they didn’t, which is why I love those movies.

There will supposedly be a Furious 8, which I’m on the fence about. The ending to Furious Seven was so perfect, I think they should just end it there. At the same time, I love the writing that these movies have, and am curious to see where they take the series next.

What about other series? What if Robert Downy Jr. dies before Marvel can write off Tony Stark? Or if Ray Romano dies before they finish Ice Age 5? Or if Jim Parsons dies before the end of The Big Bang Theory?

Well, let’s just hope we don’t have to find out.

Can A Remake Be Better Than The Original?

I have been thinking about posting this ever since I did my review of Carrie last Halloween, when I compared the original with the remake and determined that the remake was superior to the original. I had several people upset about that, saying that remakes can never top the original, just on principle alone. I got to thinking about that, and thought it was a little funny to automatically dismiss a movie just because it’s a remake.

Let’s look at the example I’ve been giving for weeks now, as I’ve been preparing to write this. John Carpenter’s The Thing. This film is considered one of the greatest sci-fi horror films ever made, and for good reason. Even though it was made in 1982, the effects still hold up today and can still terrify. In 2011, another film was made also called The Thing, and every review of it I’ve read slammed it for being a remake of a classic. I doubt those people actually saw it, because it was clearly a prequel. But anyway, my point is… The “original” is actually a remake of a 1951 sci-fi horror film called The Thing From Another World.

So this means that a remake has be considered better than the original for over thirty years now. Most people don’t even know of the 1951 original, but the fact remains that The Thing is a remake that people love.

What about my review of Carrie that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, and which lead me to write this? Is it possible that the remake could be better than the original? I had a discussion about this with a movie buff fan the other day, someone who always has an open-mind, and got her to realize that story and character-wise, Carrie (2013) is far superior to the original.

Speaking of horror remakes, let’s talk about Halloween. On Halloween 2013, I sat down and watched every film in the series (except Halloween III, because it shouldn’t even count as one). From Halloween to Halloween: Resurrection, then Halloween and Halloween II. I’d heard so many negative things about the reboot movies that I nearly just stopped at Resurrection. But I’m glad I watched them, because it’s a fresh take on an old story. We know the story of Michael Myers. The reboot gave us a different look at his character. Not only that, they got Danielle Harris,  the little girl who played Jamie in Halloween 4 and 5, to play the lead in both, as a new character. It was brilliant, and an excellent easter egg for those paying attention (and as I had just watched all eight previous movies, I caught it right away). I actually might do a Casabloga over the reboot movies now that I think about it, because I love what they did with them. Michael isn’t some supernatural monster, he’s a human. He only wears his mask when he’s about to kill, and yet you still rarely see his face.

I should get off that movie before I go ahead and review it here.

Let’s change direction slightly. A remake doesn’t have to be better, but can it at least be good? My first thought is the Total Recall remake. On the surface it’s a good movie. Most people hated it because it’s a small-scale version of the original. The 1990 original has Schwarzenegger saving a whole planet. The 2012 remake has Colin Farrell saving a city. Much less at stake, and in the end all that happens is the bad guy is defeated. In the original, Mars has new life as it’s given breathable air. Much more satisfying ending. But does this make the remake bad? I don’t think so, because I still found it enjoyable. Even saw it in theater.

Part of the problem, I think, is comparing. Sure, the Psycho remake totally sucks, but we can’t help comparing it to the original. Especially since it’s meant to be a shot-for-shot remake. At least the director admitted it was just an experiment and that it failed. But it’s still a bad remake. Is it possible to remake Psycho and it be good? I’m sure that it is, but we’ve yet to see it happen. Who knows, maybe after they complete the series Bates Motel we’ll get a modern-day Psycho remake made in that version of the franchise. Based on how good that series is, I’d definitely love to see that.

So what about you? Are there any remakes you think outdo the original?

Fig Tree Reborn is expanding

When I started this sub-blog, I didn’t think it would be more than just a couple of posts. Now it’s grown and I have decided to expand it outside of The Blog and make it be it’s own site. It still has a WordPress subdomain, but I plan to register my own domain soon and make Fig Tree Reborn into a ministry. You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in over a month. That’s because everything I wanted to post about would require making another sub-series within the already sub-series. This is why I have decided to go this route. Now I can have multiple series within this series, each with their own tab. I am very excited about this, and pray that this blog expands and reaches more people. I wish to thank everyone who has been supportive of this whole thing.

The new home for this blog is here. This will be the final Fig Tree Reborn post on this site. All future posts will be at the new site.

The Golden Tree

Part 1: Ohio

I’m 26, and spent the spent the first 26 years of my life in Texas. In April 2014 I moved to Ohio. There were many reasons for this, but mostly I just needed a change of scenery. I graduated high school in 2006, and hadn’t really done anything worthwhile between then and 2014. I took a week-long trip to San Francisco in July 2011,but other than that I pretty much was a useless hermit. So in September 2013, when a friend in Cincinnati, Ohio offered me a room, I thought about it a couple days then said yes.

I’ll call her Sherry for this post. I’d only known Sherry about a year or so. But we talked nearly every day, so I thought I knew her quite well. She often mentioned a friend of hers whom I’ll call Karen, but I only talked with her a couple times before the move.

On 5 April 2014, I locked my apartment door for the last time as I headed to the Greyhound station, arriving in Cincinnati the next evening. Karen was there to pick me up. I thought it was weird that Sherry wasn’t there, but even weirder that we went to Karen’s house instead of Sherry’s. I asked when we would be going to Sherry’s house, and that’s when I found out that there had been a change of plans back in January, but Sherry was afraid to tell me incase I changed my mind. Sherry had gotten engaged to her boyfriend and his kids would be getting the room that was to be mine, so she figured since I had talked to Karen a couple times that I wouldn’t mind living with her instead.

At first I didn’t mind. I was in Ohio, and that was all that mattered. Things were going smoothly for about a month. I got a job, found the best church I’ve ever attended, which I’ll call Grace Baptist Church (because that’s actually it’s name…), and made a few friends.

But near the beginning of May, Karen started to change. I found out that she was crazy. No, that’s not me calling her crazy because I don’t like her or anything, she’s literally clinically diagnosed with several things. I don’t remember all of them, but the main ones were Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), Bi-polar, schizophrenia, and a few others. She had a large pill compartment for all the pills she had to take. I’m not criticizing her for her condition, or putting down anyone with mental illness, because I know other people with the same things. The only difference is that none of them did what she did.

In early May, she told me I had until October to find a new place to live. She’d had a chore list for me, which I totally didn’t mind. I’d have felt weird not contributing. The only problem is that she wanted me to Swiffer the floor. Everyday. The Swiffer uses disposable pads, and they’re expensive, and a pack doesn’t come with much. I decided to do it weekly, since the floor never gets dirty enough in a day to warrant a pad. So even though I did everything else on her list, because I skipped Swiffering (I swept, however, everyday), in her eyes it cancelled out everything else I did.

So to clarify, I did the dishes, cleaned the bathroom completely, wiped the counters, dusted the shelves, and swept the floor. But I didn’t Swiffer the floor, so that meant I didn’t do a single thing.

So instead of our original signed agreement that I’d stay with her until I could afford to get my own place, she changed her mind and said I had until October 2014 to find a place.

So then I started using the Swiffer everyday, hoping she’d change her mind, but when I predictably ran out of pads a week later, she got onto me for wasting Swiffer pads. I was doing what she originally asked.

One day in late May, I’d been at work all evening, and when I walked in she was angry and said, “I’m still mad at you for what you said to me a couple hours ago!” I told her I’d been at work for eight hours and she said, “Don’t give me that!”

On 1 June,  she had Sherry come over with her phone to film her (Karen) telling me something. She fake cried while saying how afraid for her life I make her and that she doesn’t even feel safe in her own home. I was so fed up after nearly a full month of putting up with it that I finally snapped at her…on camera. Probably the worst time to do that, because she grinned at the camera and said, “See what I mean?”

Anyway, during that she said I had until 1 July to get out, even though we had already signed on October. Well, I was go from my job the next day (was still under the 90 day probation, so they didn’t even have to give a reason).

On 11 June 2014, Karen kicked me out, even though we agreed on July.

(My stay with her was actually much worse than that, but I shortened it greatly so as to move this along.)

So now I was homeless in a place I barely knew.

Thank God it was Wednesday. Literally. I walked around town all day, calling all the homeless shelters, but they were all full. When it came time for church, part of me wanted to skip it to keep looking for a place. But I knew if anyone could help it was the people at church. Sure enough, a couple friends, a married couple I’ll call Steve and Peggy, stayed behind and called around for me. They found a shelter in the next town over that I didn’t find on Google. They had one bed left, and you could stay for 45 days. But they stop intake at 10pm and it was currently 9:30pm. They drove me over there as fast as possible, and we got there at 9:55pm. Last minute.

Part 2: The Shelter

After a week at the shelter, I began to notice something. Most of those people there were either just having bad luck and had just become homeless, or had been homeless for years or decades. However, both types of those people were angry and bitter about their situation. When they heard that someone had gotten out of the hole and into their own place, the number one thing I heard was “When is MY turn!?” instead of being happy for them.

What made this even worse was that the shelter had this program where if you could show a proof of income and get approved for an apartment, they would pay the security deposit and first month’s rent for you. Most of the people who qualified would complain about “ONLY the first month’s rent!?” instead of taking advantage of this easy head start.

One of the biggest problem at the shelter was drug use. In particular, heroine. Pretty much everyone there had visible track marks on their arms. In the back of the shelter was the kid’s area with a TV and VCR and DVD player. One day I sat down in front of the TV in the main area and was surprised to see a Care Bears DVD on top of the DVD collection. That night the residents were trying to pick a movie and I jokingly said, “Why not the Care Bears?”, picking up the DVD. I heard a rattling, so I opened the case and the room went silent. Right there in a children’s DVD case, someone hid a heroine syringe. I immediately turned it in.

The shelter was in the middle of a wide countryside. I was from Texas, so this view was entirely new to me. It was the freshest air I’d breathed in years. I’m an amateur photographer, and the scenery inspired me greatly. It was one of the best photo opportunities I’ve ever had, and got some of the best pictures I’d ever taken.


Everyday I would walk down to the McDonald’s a mile away. It was mostly for their wifi to look at apartments or anyone needing a roommate. I wanted to find a place within walking distance of my church, but I knew that was highly unlikely, but I still prayed that it was somewhere close. I looked in the entire Cincinnati area, even checking Craigslist once a week.

Everyday, I called my friend Brent (fake name), from church. We discussed biblical things, mostly dealing with End Time prophecy. I love discussing it. One day I decided to write down everything I knew about it to tell one of my other Christian friends. I found that it was too difficult to write down everything. Just like this post, I was mostly jumping around and was having trouble finding a way to make it flow. I’m just trying to get it out. Eventually, I decided it’d be easier to make a couple blog posts for her. But that expanded into a blog series, which I called Fig Tree Reborn.

What started out as me trying to tell a friend about what I’d learned from studying the Bible turned into something I’ve since been able to turn into a way for me to teach the Bible to other people. Not only am I posting things I knew and using scripture to back up everything, I was also in turn learning as I researched posts, which lead to more posts.

And I started it while homeless.

My learning more about the Bible automatically grew my faith in God as a result, and because of this, when people at the shelter told me my situation was hopeless, I told them God would take care of me. And take care of me He did.

The shelter accepted donations, but they didn’t come everyday. So they made the food last as long as they could. Even past expiration. Even meat. My first week I got sick from eating shelter meat. So because of this I refused to eat the food the shelter provided.

Yet not one day I was homeless did I ever go hungry. The people at church heard my situation and reached into their pockets and handed me their gift cards. The majority of the cards were……. McDonald’s.

God always provides. The gift cards lasted until the Sunday before my 45 days at the shelter were over.

On 23 July 2014, I was starting to worry. I had only one day left until my 45 days ended and I had to leave. I had no apartment, and no roommate. Most of the people there at least found someone to stay with by then. Rarely do people stay the whole 45 days. Usually they don’t even stay a month. Yet I was on day 44 and had nowhere to go.

So I went on Craigslist to check again. I saw a newly posted advert by someone in my city saying they needed a roommate immediately. I looked at the map and froze.

It was one block away from my church.

Part 3: The Golden Tree

20 October 2014: Today. I’ve been living with Dave, the fake name I just gave the poster of the advert (my roommate) for nearly three months. It’s been very great here. Dave is very friendly and we get along nicely. As I said, I’m a block away from my church, so that’s always a blessing.

A couple days ago was Brent’s birthday, so he, Steve, and I went out for lunch, then afterwards we went up to the church. Behind the building is a large wooded area. It’s property of the church, we just never use it. So today we went on a little hike and found out it was much larger than we thought it was.

As pointed out earlier, I’m an amateur photographer, and seeing all the colours of autumn around us like that, I pulled out my phone, a Galaxy S4, which is the best camera I’ve ever had. I bought it since before I moved to Ohio. So I was using it to take pictures.

I stopped in my tracks when I saw it. Standing before me was a tree with bright yellow leaves. I snapped a quick photo.


But I knew I had to get closer and take another picture. As I approached the tree, the Sun peeked out from behind some clouds and the tree lit up in a dazzling display of the brightest yellow leaves I have ever seen. I walked under the tree, pointed my phone up, and said, “Capture”. I heard the shudder sound, but because it was so bright, I couldn’t see the screen to see how it turned out.

A couple hours later I returned home, and I went through the photos I took while in the woods, doing my usual Instagram edit of each one as I looked at them. Then I got to the picture from under the tree. I was blown away. I’ve been taking pictures for years, but this has to be the most perfect picture I’ve ever taken. The following picture was set up by God Himself, as He made the Sun brighter just so this picture could be possible.


In fact it’s the first picture I ever posted on Instagram that I didn’t edit. Nothing I did to it could enhance what was naturally perfect.


God has never failed to provide everything I need. It’s never in my time, but in His time. Yet He never fails me or let’s me down. He can even use the smallest thing to inspire you. My friends have been trying to convince me to write my story, about being homeless and everything, but I kept refusing. This wasn’t supposed to be that. I was just going to write the story of how I came across this tree, and I was going to explain that I’m from Texas so this was new to me. But before I knew it I was telling my story.

Because I can’t tell the story of where I am without telling you the story of how I got here.

Outdated Phrases

I know it’s been awhile since I did a post, but I’m still without a computer. I just had the idea to write this and did minimal research. I’m still solely using my phone so I’m not able to do as much as I’d like to do. But I really wanted to do a post. So this may be a little less “professional” than my previous posts.

We usually don’t think much about the phrases we use everyday. They’re so fused into our minds that it’s just a normal thing. But when’s the last time you’ve dialed a number or hung up a phone? Or rolled down a window, or filmed something? Probably never.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that no one reading this has ever hung up a phone. That phrase is from the old phones we see in movies and cartoons, with the ear piece that you hold to your ear, and the part you talk into mounted on the wall. You’d hang up the ear piece when you wanted to end the call.

It’s more likely that some of you have dialed a number. Those old phones with the circular dial.

I remember rolling down the window in cars. In fact, I didn’t even think about it until a couple weeks ago when I was riding with a friend from church when we rolled do….lowered the windows and he asked why we still say “roll down the window”. That’s really when I got the idea for this post.

A few minutes later, I pulled out my phone and started recording video, and right before he said, “You’re not filming, you’re making a video”. You can hear me at the beginning referencing that. But he has a point. I’m pretty sure that the Galaxy S4 doesn’t use film.

In 2009, I went to get my driver’s license. I took my written exam……on the computer…

I’m sure there’s loads more I could list, but it’s nearly 1am and I’m going on very little sleep. Feel free to comment this with other examples of outdated phrases. I’d love to see examples from other eras, like things that were commonplace centuries ago yet we still use today.


I am now in Cincinnati. But it may be even longer than I thought to get fully settled in. USPS wouldn’t ship my things because the labels didn’t have their logo on them. So I left my things with my sister so she can send them (don’t worry, I gave her the money. I’m not making her pay for it. She’s my big sister, not my little sister). So I’m currently without my computer. Luckily I bought a Galaxy S4 before I moved, so I am able to post this without it crashing like at Christmas. So for now, here are a few pictures I’ve taken here in the city…






I have been absent on here lately because I am in the middle of a big move across the country. My next entry in the Casabloga series will be Psycho, because it’s #20, but I won’t be able to do it before I leave like I planned. I’ve been so busy that I was unable to do a Batman & Robin post as an April Fools joke like I wanted to. I might not be able to post on here again until after I get settled into the new place, which may not be for a week or so. I forgot about this blog in all the excitement until just now when WordPress emailed me. I have one of those “one post a week” goals, and I haven’t posted this week and it’s Thursday and I got an email which read, “It’s time to post”, and I was like, “Oh! If anyone actually reads my posts they might think I lost interest because I stopped posting abruptly”. Nope! I should be posting again in a week or so. is a bunch of theives

I have used for a last couple years. In fact, the “Photography” and “Books” links at the top of this blog link to Wix pages I made. I’ve loved how I was always able to do anything I wanted to do and make the sites looks however I wanted.

In 2013, I decided to give my Wix site a domain, so I paid to make and connect a domain. I was trying to appear to be a professional writer/photographer, and “” just doesn’t seem very perfessional. Finally, I was able to share my website without feeling embarrassed about the domain being long.

But then I changed my site name, got a new site, moved to WordPress, etc….

I got an email on 2 February 2014 which told me that my domain “was about to be renewed”, so I went on my account and cancelled the that. I barely used Wix anymore, anyway. I removed my credit card info and disconnected the domain.

Yesterday, 4 March 2014, I went to buy something on eBay and I was told I didn’t have enough on my card. I went on my online account and was shocked to find I had -$21. Yes, that’s a negative before the dollar sign. The transactions showed that Wix had reached in and taken my money the on 31 February 2013.

I just gave them a call and asked that they refund my money, because I cancelled that already. I was told the package was not cancelled. I was told that as I had this page up (I was calling them via Skype)



I kept telling them that it had, in fact, been cancelled, I was told that I should have cancelled it on 1 February, the day before I actually cancelled it. I sat there and argued with them for twenty minutes, because they kept telling me that they could not refund money once it’s been taken. Even though I do not use that domain name anymore, and the connection has been cancelled, and I am almost completely on WordPress now, I am out $24 because Wix is a greedy bunch of thieves.

I am leaving my Photography and Books pages up until I join a WP host site, maybe in May. Then after that I will be deleting my account with them. They are not worth the effort.