So a couple of weeks ago I finally solved my dilemma about the Amazon books. I really wanted to get a manga in the order, but I couldn't figure out how to make everything come out to exactly the cost of the gift card. I really felt I couldn't pay any cash with that order, so finally I had to set the manga idea aside and I got the two Pony-related books and two Nancy Drews.
The package was delayed because of weather problems and other such things. I was worried it might show up waterlogged. Thankfully it didn't, but whoever packed things couldn't do a good job. The one paperback in the order, the Pony U.N.C.L.E. parody, showed up completely dog-eared on one corner. Half the pages in the book were also bent at that corner! WTH? I don't know whether it was packed stupidly and happened then or if the book was damaged to begin with. I was absolutely furious. I'm still not sure what to do about it. Returning and replacing things online is such a pain, and that was probably the book I was looking forward to the most, so I hated to think of waiting even longer to get to read it. But I don't like always having to settle for damaged merchandise when I order paperback stuff from Amazon, either. I really chewed them out when I bought comics from them and they were packaged really stupidly and all showed up bent. I wonder if Barnes and Noble packs things better. They also have the free shipping with $25 of books deal. The problem there is that I don't have B&N gift cards, so I'd have to pay cash.
(Oh, I miss Borders so much. I was actually in the area where it used to be a couple of days ago and I spent some time just staring out the window at its location across the street. They were so much better than B&N. They actually had discounts in general and coupons for more than 15% off. And they generally had a bigger selection of stuff, except Nancy Drews, but now B&N's selection of those is lame too.)
I ended up reading the book last night. Of course it was a quick read and meant for kids, so it didn't get too deep, but I was intrigued that it touched, albeit briefly, on Bon Bon being weary and wanting to leave the secret agent stuff behind and have a peaceful life now. I would kind of like to expand on that in a fic sometime. And it ended happy, with her and Lyra still in the organization but being able to stay in Ponyville when not on missions. Also, the secret agent place was in New York (well, their New York) and it was accessed through a fridge in a pizza parlor. LOL.
The Equestria Girls book was really interesting. It takes place after the third movie and a large part of the plot is the human Twilight trying to befriend the girls from her old school. At first I was puzzled that it only focused on Sunny Flare, Sour Sweet, and Sugarcoat. But then I realized that the other girls, Lemon Zest and Indigo Zap, were already pretty nice people and probably didn't need any serious help turning their lives around. Lemon Zest is seriously adorable, definitely among the most normal of the girls at Crystal Prep, and so is Indigo Zap, basically. The other three are all kind of dysfunctional in various ways.
I don't think the author really captured the girls' personalities well, though. Sunny Flare was depicted as the nastiest of the bunch and the one most unkind to Twilight and worried about her turning into a monster again. That just doesn't fit to me, because while she was definitely nasty early in the movie, she was the one who called out Principal Cinch for trying to run away, and she looked really horrified and upset when Cinch said she was trying to get away from "that monster" and Sunny Flare should do the same. Sour Sweet was really the nastiest to Twilight in the movie.
Not once did the author do Sour Sweet's trademark of first saying something fake and nice and then following it up immediately with her true feelings, always a burn. She did occasionally do Sugarcoat's trademark of being very blunt, but it seemed more like she gave that trait to Sour Sweet.
I also didn't agree with the author writing that either Sunny Flare or Sour Sweet said they were Twilight's friends (and they were also apparently on her Friends list on Facebook). Not once in the movie did they ever act like they were interested in being her friends; they only interacted with her when circumstances forced them together. Sugarcoat was really the only one of those three who acted like she might be what Twilight considered a friend. And then Lemon Zest was really nice and didn't seem to have anything against Twilight at all. Indigo Zap kind of thought Twilight was an idiot, but she "defended" Twilight when the Canterlot High students started wondering what she was up to, which was kind of cute. (Although she probably only did it because Twilight was a Crystal Prep student, not because she really cared about Twilight personally.)
The author also set it up that Sour Sweet, Sunny Flare, and Sugarcoat were supposedly friends, but weren't happy together. The first two hung out together in the movie and really seemed pretty chummy to me. Sugarcoat, on the other hand, really gave the impression of being a loner.
I did love that Twilight eventually did make friends with them in the book and things ended happy for all of them, instead of them just being portrayed as one-dimensional characters that wouldn't change. But to be honest, I kind of think I could write a better story with that basic plotline that would stick closer to canon regarding personalities. I'll admit that Sunny Flare's personality is the most underdeveloped in the movie, but I don't think it was fleshed out in the book in a manner that fits with what we did see in the movie. Maybe I can try to start writing a story like that and see what happens.
Then last night I started randomly singing Unleash the Magic to myself. It's sung in the movie by Cinch and the Crystal Preppers as they try to tempt Twilight to, well, unleash the magic she's collected in her mystical pendant. I was considering maybe trying to record it and do all the voices. Cinch would be a blast to voice, although I probably wouldn't be able to sound as nasally as she does. But so I got to the line "I understand you have your reservations/it's hard to have a brain as large as yours" and suddenly I wondered if it wasn't just a line of manipulation, but something Cinch personally understood. I finally listened to the commentary track for that movie and they were wondering what her backstory is. Now I'm wondering if she was a smart outcast like Twilight growing up and if in some way, she is a dark version of what Twilight could have become had she remained an outcast. She certainly is smart and calculating and loves knowledge. And even though she seems to be very arrogant and egotistical and is worried above all about her reputation, I'm not entirely sure she was worried for completely selfish reasons. As she told Twilight, it was her reputation, and the school's, that was responsible for everything they had to work with. If the reputation dropped, they might not have all the funding and other things they needed to function properly. So honestly, I could understand her worrying about keeping up appearances to some extent, although of course she took it way too far and her manipulation of Twilight throughout the movie was horrid.
Another thing the commentary track mentioned was that an early draft of the script had Cinch fall through the gaping portal hole created by Twilight when she flipped out and became Midnight Sparkle and Cinch ended up a horrible monster in Equestria. They changed that because it seemed too mean. I agree, honestly. Maybe it would have been poetic justice, especially after how she ostracized Twilight's transformation considering she encouraged her to use the magic, but I wouldn't have wanted her to stay like that permanently or be stuck in Equestria. That's more like what a show like TMNT might do, or maybe even the U.K. Pony comics of the '80's and '90's, but it doesn't fit for something sweet like the current My Little Pony series and movies.
Speaking of TMNT, though, the new movie came out today! Eeeee! And hopefully I'll get to see it next week! I actually really loved the movie two years ago; I thought it was great overall and I loved that there was scarcely anything crude and it was largely absent of swearing. I was very surprised and impressed by that. And to be honest, I really think I liked that movie better than the one called TMNT that came out about nine years ago. (Oh gosh, that long ago? Seriously?) While that movie was cute too, it had some things I didn't like, such as April and Casey living together while not married, and how they made it look like only Raph did something bad during the fight between him and Leo. Honestly, it was kind of interesting how they had Leo finally snap and say something really awful to Raph ("I'm better than you"), but it was spoiled by neither Leo nor the script acknowledging that Leo did something wrong as well as Raph. That was just seriously WTH?
Well, at least that film contributed to my loving Raph more. He scared me as a kid because of his bad temper. That still scares me a bit, but I'm mostly seriously intrigued by him and he's replaced Donny as my second-favorite Turtle.
I still need a Mikey figure. Even though he's my least favorite, I want to have a complete set of Turtles. I just wish the figures weren't so expensive these days. It costs almost $9 for one from any current Turtles line! And that's the cheapest price, since it's Wal-Mart's. I've checked other places before and they've been worse.
(Amusing note: just about each Turtles figure I have is from a different line. My Raph, and my Fugitoid, are from the 1987 TV series. My Leo is from the second movie. My Donny is from a line that looks more like the comics. And my Casey Jones is from the 2003 series. I need an April too. Not having her is sacrilege. And Splinter. Actually, I'd kind of like another Raph too, since my Raph is a space suit Raph and even though I love him dearly, I'd like one that's just normal Raph. But then I'll probably feel guilty to have two Raphs and not two of everyone else. Heh.)
I also want Mikey and Donny plushies. I had thought of getting Build-a-Bear's Mikey, but their new Mikey has a different face than the old one, I think. The old one was just cute, but this one's expression is seriously obnoxious. And then with Donny, I always planned to get him from the same line as my Leo, since I'm not crazy about Nickelodeon's redesign of Donny and it's less obvious with those big pillow plushies. But I didn't want Mikey from that line too, since they all have the same expression and that's kind of WTH. That was why I got Build-a-Bear Raph instead of pillow Raph.
And then I was thinking that while the 1960s and 1970s fascinate me, it seems to be the 1980s that I have some serious nostaglia for. Which is funny because I don't even remember the 1980s. By the time I was old enough to remember much, it was 1990. But so many things I loved from my childhood are from the 1980s to begin with: Ponies, Mario, TMNT, DuckTales, Gummi Bears, Pound Puppies, Care Bears, Garfield (well, he started in the late 1970s, but he sure got popular in the 1980s), Baby-Sitters Club, Alf, the latter two Star Wars original trilogy movies.... Most of my paper dolls had 1980s fashions. We had a couple of huge catalogs, a Sears Wish Book and a J.C. Penney's equivalent, both from the 1980s, that I just adored looking at again and again. And when I go to antique malls, it's the 1980s toys that send me into serious nostalgia trips. Sometimes I remember happy times of playing with 1980s toys with friends in the 1990s. When I see shows from the 1980s, especially family or kids' shows like Punky Brewster or the Pony or Care Bear cartoons, the nostalgia continues even though I never saw those when they originally aired. There's just something innocent and sweet and fun and cheesy about that decade. Then there's things that started in the 1990s: TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Sonic.... I love those too. And I'm trying to remember when Trolls got a resurgence of popularity, the 1980s or the 1990s. I think the 1990s, but they've existed since the 1960s. Gomer even had a pink-haired one in his foot locker, which Sergeant Carter threw a fit about. ROTFLOL. ("A Troll doll is a non-regulation item!") But I just don't seem to be nostalgic about the 1990s like I am about the 1980s. Weird. I almost wonder if that's because I actually don't remember the 1980s and so it carries a sense of mystery and the ability to place it on a pedestal, whereas I remember the 1990s very well and it just doesn't hold the nostalgia/pedestal factor. I don't think there's one decade I remember that I feel nostalgic about, really. I get nostalgic over experiences and shows, but not decades as a whole.