Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rerun Article: Lizzy the Singing Lizard

Lizzy the Lizard loves her music!
Hey everyone, Lizzy here and I've been busy this week. I got home and I started listening to music on this app: Pandora. I found many of my favorite songs on it. I have no clue what I'd do if music was never here. I listen to music constantly, like when I'm writing my stories, cleaning around the house and my room, and before going to bed. Sometimes I love the song so much that I play it over and over. Lily, my sister, is a little annoyed when I play the same song over and over again but I can't help it. I've tried to write a song but Lily read it and said it wasn't very good, even though I think it is. Anyway, our topic today is music (as you can tell). I decided to have fun today and I looked up what music was and here's what came up:
"The art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotions."
Here's my definition of music: music can either lift our spirits or trash them. There are clean and uplifting songs and then their are in appropriate and dirty ones. Today I will show you some of my favorite song and why I like them.

I have so many good songs but I decided to pick the top seven. 

1. It's time for Africa by Shakira
Most of the time when I listen to songs on YouTube, I usually look for the lyrics video instead of the music video because I like seeing what words are in the song first. Anyway, I like this song, not only because its energetic but because its feels encouraging to me. You'll see why after reading the first verse.
You're a good soldier, choosing your battles. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and back on the saddle.  You're on the frontline, Everyone's watching. You know it's serious, we're getting closer. This isn't over. The pressure's on, You feel it. But you've got it all, Believe it.
It seems encouraging to me, maybe you have a different opinion but when I'm out on the field playing soccer or anything else that's a competition or hard, I'm gonna have this song in my head.

2. Radioactive by imagine dragons
I wasn't sure how to explain how I feel about this song. It may seem dark but that's not how I feel about it. Trying to look for the right words, I looked up what the song means. Dan Reynolds, who sang the song has this to say, "Radioactive to me, it's a very powerful-sounding song, and the lyrics behind it, there's a lot of personal story behind it, but generally speaking, it's a song about having an awakening; kind of waking up one day and deciding to do something new, and see life in a fresh way. A lot of people hear it in a dark way, but, I think, without saying the word too many times, it's empowering, and so we wanted to display that in a way that the listener wouldn't see normally." Reynold's had been struggling with depression and anxiety issues for most of his life. He put it like this: "Coming out of a pretty serious spell of depression and having a new awakening and real vigor for life."

3. Tell the World by Lacrae
This song also has a very powerful message to it. I've listened to it over six times in a row. That's how much I like it! The message is about being brand new in Christ. Near the end of the song, it says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, Behold, the new has come." That is based on one of my favorite verses, reminding me that I'm new in Christ and nothing should ever change me back. 

4. Fingerprints of God by Steven Curtis Chapman
Although this song seems to be meant for girls, the song has many important statements. My favorite is, "never has there been and never again, will there be another you." It makes makes me feel special and unique, knowing that no one is like me.

5-6. Fearless and Nothing's gonna stop me now both by Olivia Holt.
Both these song are upbeat and encouraging. I feel confident when I hear these songs. I find myself singing the songs, often. I guess songs can have that effect on you. Songs will change your attitude about things, that would also be why you have to be careful what you listen to.

7. Good time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson
This is the last song I'm going to talk about. It's all about having a positive attitude throughout the whole day. "It's always a good time", is the phrase used throughout song. Yep, this song is very catchy, especially the chorus.

Well that's all the time I have for today so this is Lizzy signing off!

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

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Next Issue: Rerun Article: School's Buzzing at Snowflake's Christian School for Animals

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas of the Nativity Fever!

 “It's happening all around us,” said Nigel Milligan, CEO of Animal Adventures Inc. when my trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, and I interviewed him last Tuesday. “Every year, I get more concerned about Christmas because it seems that with each passing year, the true meaning for this season gets lost in the shuffle, even by those who claim to proclaim it!” Nigel knows that way back when, America as a country considered Christmastime a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Though Jesus existed before He was born on earth – because He is One with God the Father – Christmas is the time we celebrate when Jesus was born as a human being – because He is also human) “But times are changing,” Nigel explains. “If you talk about Jesus Christ, people call you intolerant; nativity scenes and other Christian symbols are being removed and forgotten, and it's even often times forbidden to say something as simple as 'Merry Christmas'. My girlfriend was shopping in some of the department stores the other day, and she said she couldn't find one Christmas card with the Nativity, or Mary and Jesus on it? 'What is this world coming to?' she said. In fact, it's so bad that some have begun calling it 'The War on Christmas'.”

As Christians should know, Christmas is the time we set aside to celebrate Jesus' birth. But even many Christians seem to forget this. Nigel is quoted for saying, “Department stores and other businesses are trying to sell things as quickly as possible, and we the consumers are running around like dodo birds in a thunderstorm trying to buy, buy, buy and find that perfect gift for our friends and family. While giving to others is a good thing, we tend to focus more on ourselves during this time of year rather than on Christ. Without Him, there is no Christmas.”

I asked Nigel if there is any connection between the lack of focus on Christ during Christmas and Santa Claus, a popular icon for this time of year. “Yes and no,” Nigel answered. “No, I don't think Santa Claus is intentionally trying to lead people away from God. However, people, children especially, are always focusing on Kris Kringle...[They're] trying to be good so they can get presents on Christmas Eve when he flies their way. Parents, television and friends of these children sow the seeds of commercialism in them during Christmastime. Sure, many parents may assume their children already know about the true meaning of Christmas, but what if they've been paying for attention to the false meaning of Christmas; what if when asked Who the center of Christmas is, they answer, 'Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer?'; what if when it's time to sing Christmas songs together, they can't seem to remember the words to 'O Holy Night', 'Mary, Did You Know' or 'Away in a Manger', but know 'Jingle Bells' and 'Santa is Coming To Town' perfectly well? I've seen it happen so often in children of this generation.”

Adults too, Nigel explains, fall into the world's trap of commercialism and focus on everything but Christ during Christmas. “It's saddening,” Nigel says, “to see how many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and other family members remind their children that they need to rush out of church so they can get home and fix a meal before the family comes over, or so they can run to the store and get that last minute Christmas gift.”

Nigel says, “For this Christmas, I have some advice for everyone: slow down! Slow down and consider what you are doing for the holidays. As Christians, we should show those around us through our actions Who are focus is on and who we are in Christ. Are we really doing that when we're acting just like the rest of the world this time of year? That's why, we at AAI. have decided to start the 'Nativity Fever'!”

Nativity Fever, is, as Nigel's calling it, an attempt to get people thinking about the true meaning of Christmas. “Jesus was a radical person,” Nigel explains, “and I believe that He wants us to follow in His footsteps, so we should be radical too, even if other people don't like it. Hey, I mean, not everyone liked Jesus in His time either!” Inspired by the recent Minnesota Nativity Scene occurrence, Nigel and everyone at AAI. will be setting up nativity scenes around the property and several designated areas around the town. In addition to that, they will be conducting a mini-parade through the streets of Riverville featuring a live nativity. “We will have many human residents participating, as well as many animals: sheep, donkeys, cows, goats and camels, things like that. However, we'll be careful to be as biblically accurate as we can in our portrayal of the Nativity; for example, we will not show the wise men and their camels near baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the manger because, according to the Bible, they didn't visit Jesus until He was a 'child', perhaps a year or two old.”

It's a small step, but what Nigel believes that this parade and the Nativity scenes he and his company will set up will be a good witnessing tool. Lord-willing, it will get people thinking about Jesus, the real meaning of the season, and give Nigel and the others a chance to share with unbelievers (and remind believers) that Jesus Christ came into the world as a baby almost 2,000 years ago so that, 33 years later, He could sacrifice Himself by dying on a cross for the sins that each and everyone one of us commit each day so that if we call upon His name to save us, we will not have to suffer the penalty of sin – eternal separation from God – and exist with God after we die. And to prove what He said He came to earth to do was true, He rose again.

To coin the phrase,” Nigel says, “it's time to put Christmas back in Christ!”


Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

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Next Issue: Rerun Article: Lizzy the Singing Lizard

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Rerun Article: Star of Wonder, Star of Treasure Discovered!

The three gifts the wise men gave long ago

“Through mountains and valleys it led them each night, a star of most radiant light. The wise men rejoiced as they journeyed afar, to behold such a beautiful star!”
sung by Kathy Mattea

These are the words to a beautiful song called “When They Saw the Star”. This song talks about the wise men that had visited baby Jesus and presented him with gifts. But this is where many people get the Nativity Story wrong: if you were to go out and ask a bunch of people walking down the street right now and asked what they know about the wise men in the Bible, most, if not all of them would say that they visited Jesus in Bethlehem as He laid in the manger. Well, go get your Bible and look in the book of Matthew in the second chapter. That’s where it talks about the wise men. Does it say they visited Jesus in the manger? Read it for yourself in verse 11: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him . . .” Does that say anything about a manger? Noooooo! It clearly says that they visited Jesus when he was living in a house with His mother (and His dad too). Yet, we see the wise men visiting Jesus in the manger in television shows, movies, plays, nativity sets and so forth. However, the wise men really did follow a star to find the Child. They followed this star until they finally reached the place where Jesus was. Then they presented Him with three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. We don’t really know how many wise men there were, but since three gifts were given, it is assumed by many that there were three. However, after the gifts are given to Jesus, they mysteriously disappear. As far as we know, they don’t appear in scripture anywhere. They kind of just floated off into the unknown . . . right? That’s what everyone thought until one day, that famed explorer and archaeologist, Indiana James, took a little trip to Vermont to visit his grandparents. While visiting, he went in a little antique shop and saw something in the corner of his eye sitting in a box in the very back of the store (the store was really junky, the antique dealer just bought antiques and piled them into piles or onto shelves in the store, so for the most part she really didn’t know what she had to sell). He took a look at three little “jars” in the box and realized there was something very peculiar about them . . . they looked strangely familiar. “I don’t know how on earth these would have looked familiar to me,” says Indiana James, “considering I really had never seen them before. Maybe it was just pure providence. Yeah, it probably was.” After taking a few minutes looking at the beautiful objects, he opened one of them up to reveal some strong smelling spices. He recognized it as frankincense. He opened another container and realized it was a bright, shiny object called gold. And the final container was filled with myrrh. He instantly knew the kind of find he had made and quickly bought the objects he found. He tried asking the antique store owner how on earth these three objects got from the Middle East to Vermont, she shrugged. So it was up to Indiana James to find the origins of these little “jars” to see if they were in fact the same ones given to Jesus. How would he find out? Well, he first found out where the antique store owner bought the pieces from. She said she had bought them from an old lady who lived up by Champlain Lake. This is what Indiana did with all of the people who had once owned these valuable artifacts. After doing his research (and eventually flying all the way to the Holy Lands), he believes he knows how on earth these pieces made it here to the U.S.: the lady at the antique shop bought the “jars” from an old lady. The old lady got it from a friend of hers who had had it in her family for at least three generations. The “three-generation” family kept the artifacts because a man in their family named Pilot Gorge Kingston, had it in his possessions during his piloting during World War II. How did he receive the treasures? Well, he bought it from a merchant in the Middle East who found the treasures in an old shed. The shed used to belong to a “police” who had confiscated the treasures from thieves who stole it from an emperor who had received the “jars” from a poor man. This is where the story is abrupt. “I looked in all the resources I could find,” says Indiana James, “but nowhere could I find how the treasures got from Jesus’ family to the poor man. All I know is that this poor man lived in the area Jesus grew up in. This mystery will have to wait for future generations to solve it . . . if I don’t discover it before I am dead and gone, that is!” So as the archaeologist says, this mystery will have to wait to be solved. But regardless of how it got from Jesus’ family to the antique dealer, we mustn’t forget that this is not the reason for Christmas in the first place. The real reason for the season is not the wise men’s gifts, instead, it commemorates the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who left His throne in heaven and humbled Himself. He came to earth for one main reason – to die for our sins. He took the punishment for our sins so that we don’t have to. Thanks to Jesus, when we die, we can go to heaven to live with God. Thanks to Jesus, all we have to do to get admittance in heaven is admit that we have sinned and need Jesus’s salvation, next we have to believe that Jesus is 100% God (yet he’s also 100% man), and last but certainly not least, we must confess our faith in Jesus and chose to live for Him. And that’s what Christmas is all about! Have a merry, merry Christmas from all of us here at Smiley’s News!

PS: The wise men’s treasures are now safe and sound in the Riverville Museum of Natural History, thank goodness for that!

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographed by: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

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Next Issue: TBD

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rerun Article: Reindeer Girl Power!

Elizabeth Sorkin and a pair of reindeer, Elizabeth is one of the scientists involved in explaining how Santa's reindeer do certain things, such as fly
You know their names, we all know their names. I think just about everybody knows the names of those helpful little animals that, come every Christmas Eve, help Santa Claus pull his sleigh. You know – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. Those nine reindeer faithfully, every year pull Santa Claus’s sleigh to help him deliver presents to all the children of the world. Over the years, a lot of myths have come up about these deer. One of the biggest myths of all is also the most surprising. How can I break it to you? After careful research, scientists have concluded that Santa’s reindeer buddies aren’t the majestic, awe-inspiring bucks we often see depicted. Instead, these reindeer are majestic awe-inspiring . . . does (pronounced as doehs)! Yes, you did read right. Santa’s reindeer that haul the sleigh full of toys are actually female! How is this possible? Well, my trusty junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater and I headed over to Dr. Elizabeth Sorkin, the veterinarian at Animal Adventures Institute to learn about this reindeer myth. Dr. Elizabeth says, “The reason why we now know Santa’s reindeer are female is because of a few reasons. First of all, right after the rut in the winter, male reindeer, like all other deer, lost their antlers, while females keep their antlers all year long. Also, soon after the rut, reindeer bucks are tired from the fighting with other males over females. The reindeer pulling the sleigh have to contend with a load of toys AND a plump little man while they fly through the night air.” After asking why male reindeer are normally what is seen in Christmas movies, she says, “This is because most Christmas movies are actually filmed in the summer. Very few Christmas movies are filmed in the winter. During the summer, reindeer bucks are big and strong, even stronger than the does. So naturally, they choose these deer for the movies and ever since, people have always been confused.” Wow, this is shocking, I mean, we’ve all grown up thinking these deer were male.

On the topic of reindeer, I decided to ask Dr. Elizabeth another popular question came to mind: How do reindeer fly? Dr. Elizabeth is quoted to saying, “A lot of people have different ideas about how reindeer fly. This is because no one knows. I have my own theory: if you’ve ever seen the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, you’ll recall that Charlie and his grandpa were able to float because of this special drink they drunk. The drink filled them with gas and this was how they could float. (However, unlike the movie, reindeer have more control in the air and don’t have to burp to get the gas out of their body). I did my research and found out that the drink was made from a special type of corn that grows only in below freezing temperatures. It is called Zea mays hellifer, a.k.a. “Magic Feed Corn”. I believe that “Magic Feed Corn” is fed to the reindeer and this is what lifts them off the ground and helps Santa deliver presents to children all over the world.”

Then yet another question that has puzzled me since forever: how does Rudolph’s nose glow? “No one is quite sure why Rudolph’s nose glows the way it does,” she says, “but there are many theories. One theory – the Sun-to-Nose Theory – is that light from the sun, moon, or whatever light source is around hits the nose and something inside the nose makes the light bounce back from the nose and to every other direction. One problem with this theory is that the light from Rudolph’s nose shines on and off, with or without another light source. Another possibly theory is the Hot Nose Theory. This theory suggests that Rudolph’s nose is lit up by the hot air coming out of her nose. Another theory – the Firefly-Nose Theory – is that perhaps inside Rudolph’s nose, there are two chemicals, luciferase and luciferin, the same chemicals that make a firefly’s tail shine. So perhaps this is why her nose glows.”

Wow! We learned a lot about Santa’s Best Friends. Now you know how they fly, what gender they really are and why Rudolph’s nose glows. Most of the reindeers’ names are unisex, so there’s no problem with most of them. If the name “Rudolph” sounds a bit boyish to you, you can simply call her the name in the song that we can now all sing, “Rudolpha, the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose . . .”

A reindeer

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographed by: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

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Next Issue: Rerun Article: Star of Wonder, Star of Treasure Discovered!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rerun Article: The Mysteries of Saint Nicholas

Does Santa Claus exist? There's plenty of "evidence" that he doesn't . . . but how valid is it? Read this week's article to find out!
Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus and Kris Kringle, is a hot topic this time of year. (And by hot, I mean HOT!) Many people firmly believe in him, others do not. But what's the truth? I mean, how else do all those presents get under the Christmas tree? I've heard plenty and plenty of so-called evidences that Santa Claus doesn't exist. I've heard them time and time again and it gets awful annoying. I seriously believe some people are paid to prove Santa Claus doesn't exist. This past Monday, I was bored in my office at Smiley's News (which, as you might recall is a part of Animal Adventures Inc.) with my trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, Lizzy the Lizard, another writer at Smiley's News and a ton of arguments on the internet that Santa Claus doesn't exist and what was I to do? Well, my photographer and I decided to get to the bottom of this and find out evidence that Santa exists! I firmly believe that he exists with little or no evidence, but other people aren't so convinced so . . . oh, my photographer just informed me that I'm babbling so I'll get right to the point. Daniel, Lizzy and I did our own research to find a conclusion. First of all, I'll refresh your memory on just what Santa Claus has to do every Christmas Eve – as we all know, Santa jumps into his sleigh with his red bag and tons of presents and he flies into the sky thanks to his nine reindeer. Now, let's look at each of the arguments against Santa Claus' existence and I'll put my arguments forth and we'll prove once and for all that old Saint Nick exists!

Argument #1 – No one can deliver presents all over the world in one night, not even Santa Claus

Well, let's look at the facts: there are around seven billion people in the world and around one billion are kids. Here's the math: Santa has 24 hours to deliver all the presents, and one billion divided by 24 equals 41,666,666 kids per hour! And we're not finished yet! After dividing 41,666,666 by 60 (as there are 60 minutes in an hour), you get 649,444 kids to be visited per minute. After dividing 649,444 by 60 (as there are 60 seconds in one minute). That's 11,5574 kids per second! How does the old guy do it? Many Santa-disbelievers object to his existence because they think it's impossible to visit that many kids in one night because the day's simply not long enough. So, how do I counterattack this? Well, my assistants and I visited Dr. Dodo Bird, Animal Adventures Inc.'s psychiatrist (he does other stuff as well) to offer a few theories as to how this could be done. “First of all, a lot of people believe that Santa can't deliver presents to all the children of the world,” Dr. Dodo says, “but many people forget that not everyone celebrates Christmas in the first place! So if you count out those kids that don't celebrate Christmas, you still have a lot of kids left to visit. That's where the Time-Continuum Theory comes in!” Dr. Dodo explained that in the Time-Continuum Theory, Santa Claus could travel in his sleigh in the direction of the setting sun. So if he leaves the North Pole at 12:00 pm. he would start in Australia, in the earliest time zone, and then fly west. As he passes through different time zones going westward, he gains an hour each time he enters a new time zone. Dr. Dodo is quoted for saying, “Even though this theory is quite popular among Santa-believers, it's probably not enough time for Santa Claus to make his delivery. That's why I invented an all-new theory of my own: meet (*drum roll*) . . . the Time-Travel Theory!” According to the Dodo bird (who isn't much of a dodo after all!), Santa would have to travel extremely fast and thanks to a presumably reindeer AND jet-powered sleigh, this can be done. Dr. Dodo explains, “If Santa could travel extremely fast – say, jet-airplane-speed – strange things could happen. Going at extremely fast speeds could possibly result in the ability of time travel! (It might seem weird, but flying at light-speed might actually accomplish time-travel) And if Santa is time-traveling, he might be able to travel back in time and therefore add time to his time limit!” So much for this argument!

Argument #2 – Reindeer can't fly

Obviously, most reindeer can't fly. So how would Santa's Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Doner, Blitzen and Rudolph take to the air? Since it turns out we already covered this article last year in an article all about Santa's best buds, I'll just sum it all up: it's theorized that the reindeer gain their power of flight by consuming a special type of corn (called Magic Feed Corn) that fills their bodies with gas (not the rude kind of gas) and they can float into the air. By kicking their legs while in the air, they can move quite gracefully through the air. If you're thinking about trying some of this corn, I wouldn't advise it – side effects may include throat rashes, hair loss and strange hallucinations and dreams concerning Santa Claus and the North Pole-themed shopping centers.

Argument #3 – The North Pole's in the middle of the Arctic ocean

It's true, if you look at a map of the world and look at the North Pole, you'll realize that it's smack dab in the middle of the deep, blue ocean. How can Santa Claus's workshop be in the middle of the ocean? Well, it turns out that up in the pole, it's obviously bitterly cold, so icebergs often floats in the ocean all year round. My sources have led me to conclude that Santa Claus might have special techniques not only to keep the icebergs the size they need to keep the workshop floating, but also to keep the iceberg in the same location so we don't find Santa's workshop floating somewhere in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Many have also wondered why we don't find satellite-imaging evidence for Santa's existence, but perhaps his workshop's inside instead of on top of the iceberg? Something like in the Santa Clause franchise? Then we might never know he's there (which is kind of the point). While doing my research, Lizzy brought up another suggestion: “What if he's not in the North Pole at all?” “What do you mean?” I asked. “What if we think he's in the North Pole? He could be living in the South Pole for all we know, and we'd never know to look there because we think he's up north!” Then it hit me – Lizzy's got a point! So in summary, Santa's workshop could be either in or on top of an iceberg in the North Pole or at the South Pole in Antarctica.

Argument #4 – “I saw my parents putting 'presents from Santa' under the Christmas tree.”

One of the most common arguments of all is that kids claim to have witnessed their parents putting “Santa's” presents underneath the Christmas tree. How on earth can we argue against this? Well, my assistants and I thought long and hard about this . . . and we finally thought of an incredible solution! Santa Claus needs to be kept secret, right? And nonbelievers in Santa wouldn't be so inclined to find him, especially if they remember putting presents underneath the tree for their kids. What if Santa has an ingenious invention to ensure people don't make serious searches for him by causing them to forget with – what else? – an amnesia-inator? If this supposed amnesia-inator exists, one of Santa's elves could easily press a “global-extent” button and people would not only forget not-putting presents under the tree and “remember” doing just that, but (some) kids might “remember” seeing their parents doing the deed. Isn't it ingenious? Of course, it must not effect everyone, or we'd have one too many unbelievers and that's not good.

So there you have it! Four evidences against the four most common arguments against Santa's existence. So you readers can now scream to your unbelieving friends, “Ha! Mr. Smiley told me evidence that Santa does exist!” Now that you've read this article, I have a question: do you (now) believe in Santa Claus? My assistants and I know our answer full and well, and it was the same one given to a certain young girl who asked about Old St. Nicks existence: “Yes [Virginia], there is a Santa Claus!”

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan, Joy Hammond

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Next Issue: Rerun Article: Reindeer Girl Power

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rerun Article: A Gobbler's Protest

Disclaimer: The views presented in the following article do not represent the views of Smiley’s News. Please note that they are merely the views of the interviewee.

Thanksgiving is rounding the corner. Wait, I’m wrong, it’s here! Oh the joy! A lot of people will be doing special things for Thanksgiving this year. Some will be watching football, some will be doing something special with other family members, some will go over to a friend’s house. But no matter where you are, there’s one thing we probably all will be doing this Thanksgiving - eating turkey! Turkey is prepared in dozens of different ways, most will probably just lay it out on the table, others will be putting their turkey in sandwiches, others will have turkey slices, others will eat theirs right off the bone, and some will even be eating it inside Apple Pie like my grandma does. Boy, she makes her pie weird too. Take her crust for instance. In order to get it just perfect, she takes her false teeth out and . . . wait a minute, I’m getting off topic here! Anyways, this Thanksgiving, some citizens will be going to turn Thanksgiving upside-down! At Animal Adventures Inc. (AAI.), in Riverville, New York, a fowl by the name of Dr. Turkey Curkey wishes to (naturally) change the Thanksgiving tradition of, you guessed it: turkey hunting! He’s quoted for saying, “I don’t like turkey season. Never have. I mean, I’m safe here at AAI., but I have to be careful where I go when fall comes because it’s not often that you see a turkey just walking on the sidewalk. I have to be careful in the spring too.” Dr. Turkey has PhD. in psychology and human behavioral studies and views turkey season as just a chance for humans to go crazy. Recently, he had a speech in which hundreds of regularly hunted and eaten fowl (along with myself and my trusty, junior photographer Daniel P. Smithwater) gathered to hear him. On the issue of turkey season (and fowl season in general), he said, “I believe that the hunting of fowl has gone out of hand. I mean seriously, turkeys and other fowl are living things just like humans. We may not be made in God’s image, so it would make since that we are not treated the same, but still, I firmly believed we are undertreated.” He also went on to say that even living conditions for turkeys and chickens on farms are not satisfactory. He believes they should be cleaned out much more often and they should not be fed that GMO stuff. “Turkey’s hate the taste of GMO and growth hormones,” Dr. Turkey says, “but the only reason why we eat it is because that’s all we’re given.” Dr. Turkey isn’t really for the eating turkey on Thanksgiving, but he understands that humans just have a habit of doing that. Not only that, but he also recalls God’s words to humans in Genesis 9:3, “” On Thanksgiving Day though, he recommends another thing to do instead of killing “poor and innocent” turkeys. “Instead of killing turkeys,” he says, “humans should be generous and adopt a baby turkey for a Thanksgiving tradition. I mean, compared to animals such as dogs and cats, turkeys require much less care. Humans don’t have to brush them, pay for weekly visits to the vet, pet them often, play with them often, buy toys for them and etc. Turkeys, chickens and other fowl make much better pets than food. We turkeys are generally looked down on, but it wasn’t always this way. As a matter of fact, Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird to be a turkey instead of a bald eagle. Here, check out this quote from a letter he wrote to his daughter named Sarah Bache on January 26, 1784. He wrote:

‘Others object to the Bald Eagle, as looking too much like a Dindon . . . For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labour of the fishing hawk[Osprey]; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him. . . . he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: the little king bird not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the king birds from our country . . .
I am on this account . . . displeased that the figure is . . . known as a bald eagle . . . For in truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original Native of America. . . He is besides . . . a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.’

So as you can see, I firmly believe the turkey, and all other hunting/eating birds, need more respect than they are getting.” Wow! What a powerful speech for such an . . . amazing bird. So why not get a pet turkey? Look around the area where you live for farms that sell turkeys. Before the interview, I had no idea how game birds felt. I guess Dr. Turkey really is a motivational speaker . . . or is that gobbler?
Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan, Joy Hammond

Weekly Cartoons

Next Issue: Rerun Article: The Mysteries of Saint Nicholas

Monday, November 16, 2015

Rerun Article: Mac Dee Dee's First Harvest

Here is a section of Mac Dee Dee's farmland. Corn is very popular this time of year!

On 7, 2013, Mac Dee Dee and his family opened a farm in Riverville, New York with a mission – to use “old-fashioned” and organic methods of farming to grow and produce food that wouldn't harbor evil growth hormones and would also be a good place for the animals and plants they grow to spend their lives (until the day they're butchered of course). Remember that Bible verse that explains how we “shall reap what we sow”? Well, Mac Dee Dee did just that – that is, his first major harvest – on the 17th of September. My trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, and I went to get an exclusive interview with Mac Dee Dee himself to learn more about the operation. He's quoted for saying, “I've always been so excited about this day! Of course, we've been harvesting vegetables, fruits and animal meats and animal products since we opened. But as everyone knows, most of the things farmers grow and produce (corn for example) are harvested big-time in the fall. So this is our first major harvest! I for one am so excited about event.” Mac Dee Dee went on to explain that their farm is approximately 50,000 acres of land and is the perfect place for growing all sorts of food to feed a large population of people. Many health food stores, organic grocers and local buyers have already started buying and (in the case of stores) reselling his products and, in Riverville at least, he's becoming quite popular. While my photographer and I were at the farm, Mac Dee Dee and the others were harvesting potatoes in one part of the farm, cantaloupes in another and corn in yet another. It looked like a lot of work to do! “You have to be so careful when you're doing potatoes,” says Mac Dee Dee. “When we harvest potatoes, we use a large hoe-like piece of machinery and drive it pull it across the potato fields using a tractor.” He went on to explain that they plant the potatoes in long rows. Earlier in the season, they had dug out long trenches and placed the potatoes in each trench. Then they cover the trenches with soil. As the season wears on, the potatoes they planted (called Mother potatoes) sprout baby potatoes of their own and since they grow outwards instead of straight down into the dirt, Mac Dee Dee and the other farmers pile more and more dirt on to keep them covered. “A green potato is a bad potato,” Mac Dee Dee explains. “Green potatoes are toxic, so we don't pick them for consumption and put them in compost instead.” Finally, during the harvest season, Mac Dee Dee and the other farmers work together and use the hoe-like machinery to pull the potatoes out of the soil and remove the top soil-layer. After this is done, they grab the potatoes and place them in their crates to prepare them to ship out. Compared to potatoes, harvesting corn, cantaloupes and the rest of the lot sounds like a piece of cake! (I think I'm going to make some cake this afternoon by the way . . . wait, I'm getting off topic!) Apples are also among the fruits to be harvested during this time of year. While we were at the farm, Mac Dee Dee let Daniel and I eat one, and boy was it sweet! I would have loved to share it with you guys, my readers, but it's kind of hard to do that in writing, sorry about that! In yet another part of this large farm, Mac Dee Dee's farmers were butchering cows, turkeys, chickens, pigs and other animals and gathering the eggs of chickens, geese and others. “We plan on selling a lot of turkey this year,” Mac Dee Dee tells me. “We all know how much people like to eat turkey during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it's also organic. That's why we're produced hundreds and hundreds of turkeys in addition to the other animals we produce. But unlike most farms that keep them all cooped up, our animals are free-ranging within a (REALLY big) fenced area for them to live and feed naturally – that's why we need 50,000 acres of land.” We also checked out the milking area for the dairy cows. It's a huge place to house their hundreds of milking cows when it's milking time. While I was there, I got to hear the deafening sound of Mozart's music playing from large speakers. Mac Dee Dee says, “There's a rumor that cows produce more and better milk when Mozart music is playing, so we figured we might as well have it playing just in case it proves to be true!” But after milking time's over, not only is it a great relief to my eardrums, but also it's time for the cows to go back out to the pastures where they can graze, just like their ancestors did before the big commercial farms that keep cows locked up in tiny stalls all day long came about. Mac Dee Dee's farm is part of a growing movement to make America's eating habits better and therefore in prove better lives. “Our farm is so big that we're rivaling other non-organic farms. And that's a good thing, because it's time that we as farmers turn this eating thing around and get people to eat a better way, especially during the upcoming holiday season – to eat organic!”

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan, Joy Hammond

Weekly Cartoons

Next Issue: Rerun Article: A Gobler's Protest

Monday, November 9, 2015

Rerun Article: Pie in a Glass and Turkeys?! Oh My!

Thanksgiving centers around food . . . and so does today's article! Read on to learn from Lizzy the Lizard how to bake some yummy Thanksgiving-themed treats!
Hey there everyone! Lizzy here! Thanksgiving is just around the corner and here's a recipe that will definitely make your mouth water . . . if you like pumpkin pie. It's practically like a smoothie!
  1. Gather 15-ounce can pumpkin, if you can't get a fresher form of it (not pumpkin pie mix!)
  2. 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  3. 1 cup of vanilla yogurt
  4. ¼ cup of sugar
  5. ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  6. whipped cream
  7. cinnamon
Here's what needs to be done to create this treat:
  1. First pour the canned pumpkin and evaporated milk into a bowl
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight
  3. Second, combine pumpkin, milk, yogurt, sugar, and spice into a blender
  4. Blend until smooth
  5. Then pour into a cup
  6. Lastly, top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.
Wait, don't go yet! This lizard's got another recipe and this is a fun one for kids. TURKEYS!
  1. Gather 4 tablespoons (½ stick) of butter
  2. 10-ounce bag of marshmallows
  3. 6 cups of Rice Krispies
  4. Chocolate sandwich cookies (you can use Oreo cookies if you like)
  5. Chocolate frosting
  6. And candy corn.
First . . .:
  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan
  2. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted
  3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in cereal
  4. Let cool for 10 minutes
  5. While the mixture is cooling, twist apart the cookies and removing the filling (this is easier if the cookies are warm)
  6. Now you butter you're hands and shape the gooey cereal into 1 ½ -inch balls
  7. Next, make the tail by frosting the inside of the cookie half and pressing three candies into the frosting to make a fan shape
  8. Create the body by frosting the other cookie half and sticking it to the bottom of the Rice Krispie ball
  9. Add a little frosting below the candy corn and stick the tail onto the body
  10. Then stick another corn on the front of the Rice Krispie ball to make a head
You can use them to decorate the table and after dinner you can gobble them up! Happy Thanksgiving from Lizzy the Lizard!

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

Weekly Cartoons

Next Issue: Rerun Article: Mac Dee Dee's First Harvest

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rerun Article: The Great Pumpkin - Myth or Reality?

The Great Pumpkin spotted walking back to the pumpkin patch.

One character surrounds Harvest Day more than any others, and that character is no doubt the Great Pumpkin. Who’s the Great Pumpkin? Well for those of you who don’t know who the Great Pumpkin is, I’ll tell you. The Great Pumpkin supposedly a large pumpkin that spends most of his time sitting in the pumpkin patch until Harvest Day night when he rises out of the pumpkin patch and gives toys to all the good little children. There are a group of people known as the Great Pumpkin Foundation (GPF) who are determined to prove that the Great Pumpkin exists. The president of this group is none other than Linus van Pelt. You know him well, remember that kid on Charlie Brown who’s always carrying a blanket? Yep, that’s him. He has always been a strong believer in the Great Pumpkin. Every Harvest Day night, he still waits by the pumpkin patch hoping for his arrival. When asked how long he’d believe in something that supposedly wasn’t true, his response was, “When you stop believing in a fat man with a white beard in a red coat that says, ‘Ho, ho, ho!’” He also is famous for saying, “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” The Great Pumpkin tale has been around for a long time, but there has been no firm proof of the Great Pumpkin’s existence . . . until now! Another advocate of the Great Pumpkin, Jack Stevenson has got firm proof of the Great Pumpkin, so he says. Jack Stevenson is the son of Dr. Steve Stevenson who appeared in our paper a few weeks ago. “I was merely taking a walk by myself one day,” he recalls, “When suddenly I saw something big and orange walking by. I almost didn’t believe my eyes, it must have been the Great Pumpkin!” That is when he took the picture you see above. There are basically two views of the Great Pumpkin, one of course is that of Linus and Jack, they firmly believe in him (they even suggest singing pumpkin carols). But others, such as Lucy van Pelt believes that the Great Pumpkin does not exist but instead, people such as Linus and Jack are confusing the Great Pumpkin and Santa Claus. Anyway, to continue the story of Jack and the Great Pumpkin, Jack says, “So I took the picture and the Great Pumpkin dashed back over to the pumpkin patch. I followed him but by the time he reached the patch, he was already camouflaged with the other pumpkins.” This is the first actual recorded appearance of what could be the Great Pumpkin. We also had a brief interview with Sarah Bus Stop Guy, a 13-year old that lives here in Riverville, near the Great Pumpkin sighting and has the same point of view as Lucy. Sarah doesn’t believe in the Great Pumpkin at all (even though a supposed picture of the Great Pumpkin was found), when asked what her opinion on the Great Pumpkin was, she was quoted to saying, “I think Jack and Linus . . . [have] got the Great Pumpkin mixed up with Santa Claus, cause he’s a myth. Ok, that’s it. You said this was the last question, goodbye!” (She then erupted from her chair and ran to her room) Unfortunately for the GPF, many other people believe that the picture is counterfeit. However, because of Jack’s picture, many scientists, called cryptozoologists, are starting to have greater studies of the Great Pumpkin to see if this vegetable really exists or if instead of a Great Pumpkin, it is really just a Great Fairytale.

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographed by: Jack Stevenson
Edited by: Christian Ryan

Weekly Cartoons

Next Article: Rerun Article: Pie in a Glass and Turkeys?! Oh My!

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's Colombus, I mean...Leif Erikson Day?

What if I told you that everything you knew about Christopher Colombus was wrong? Well, thankfully that's not the case, except what you learned about him discovering America!
In the August of the year 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus left the docks of Spain and set sail for the west. His mission was to find an easy route to Asia. People had warned him not to go on this voyage because it was common knowledge at the time that the earth was flat – if Columbus sailed too far west, he'd sail right off the earth! Thankfully, Columbus proved everyone wrong when he landed on the shores of the America's. He was the first person ever to discover it. So we celebrate his discovery every 12th of October to commemorate his voyage of adventure and exploration.

That's the typical story we've all heard in school, but I found out something very interesting this Columbus Day: most of the story is a flat-out myth! While it's true that Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who sailed from Spain in 1492, he didn't discover the Earth was round and he wasn't the first one to reach America. After learning this, I felt betrayed by all those history books I read during grade school.

To learn more about the truth about Christopher Columbus' “discovery”, my trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater and I went to Animal Adventures Inc.'s very own historian (and newest resident) Aanisah the Aldabra giant tortoise. Her species naturally can get to be quite old; indeed, quite possibly the oldest known reptile on earth is named Jonathan. He's believed to have been born in 1832, making him 183 at the time of publishing. Aanisah doesn't break the record, at only 150, but she still has required quite some knowledge about the world in her time. (We'll be doing a full article about her in two weeks, so stay tuned!) Upon asking Aanisah about who first discovered North America, she was quoted for saying, “Many people believe Christopher Columbus was responsible for making that revolutionary discovery, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, the first people to make it here were clans that arrived here during the Ice Age, about 4,050 years ago. They came here from from Russia, migrating across the Beringia land bridge that formed when the water level was several hundred feet lower at that time. They were probably following the herds of animals they commonly hunted – reindeer, musk ox, woolly mammoths...just to name a few species. These were the ancestors of modern Native Americans.”

So we know Native Americans (well, not Native Americans themselves because they weren't “native” to America yet, but their ancestors) were likely the first people to reach the Americas. But Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover it, right? “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!” Aanisah exclaimed as I tried to jump to conclusions. “Christopher Columbus wasn't the first European to reach America either, not by a long shot! A much better candidate for one of the first European to find American shores is Leif Erikson.” Aanisah explained to me that Leif Erikson was an Icelandic explorer who was born in 970 in Iceland of Erik the Red, founder of the Norse settlement Thjodhild in Greenland. “He and other vikings around his time sailed to and explored Vinland (that's the area of coastal North America and Newfoundland) around the year 1000 AD, some 500 years before Columbus 'discovered' America. Other vikings are known to have explored the area as well. Other Europeans might have landed in America before Erikson, but Leif Erikson and his crew are the first ones that we know for sure walked upon American shores.”

“And Christopher Columbus didn't make the discovery that the earth was round, not flat, either,” Aanisah added. “A round earth wasn't news to the people of that day. Even people back in the days of Aristotle, during the 4th century (quite some time before Jesus entered history), it was well understood that the earth was shaped like a sphere.” It turns out that the myth of the flat earth myth seems to have come about from Washington Irving's 1828 biography about Christopher Columbus. In the biography, Columbus' trip was viewed as extremely dangerous by people at the time because they believed in a flat earth. In truth, there wasn't a single knowledgeable person of Aristotle's time who didn't believe in a round planet.

So this year, I learned that the old wisdom rings true: don't believe everything you read. Having learned that Christopher Columbus didn't really discover America, I have to wonder, is it worth celebrating Columbus Day at all?

“Indeed it is,” Aanisah assured me. “Christopher Columbus did one thing that the vikings failed to do: he shared the knowledge of the New World to the other Europeans. And that's why we celebrate Columbus Day all these years later, and will continue to do so for a long time to come.”

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan
Weekly Cartoons

Next Issue: Rerun Article: The Great Pumpkin - Myth or Reality?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Rerun Article: Candy...How I Love Thee!

Brownies are one of my all time favorite desserts! Read today's article to learn how to make these tasty treats, straight from the lizard's mouth . . . literally!

Today I was originally going to talk about trees . . . but then I decided to talk about Halloween. That got me thinking about candy. Oh I love candy! That's right, this lizard loves candy; especially chocolate. Oh speaking of which, my little sister was trying to reach a cook book on the shelf. Being a little taller than her, I reached up to get it when somehow it ended up hitting me on the head and landing on the floor. Miraculously the cook book had opened to a certain recipe. Well my sister and I decided to make the recipe and it was delicious. Oh sorry, I forgot to tell you what it was! Haha! Here it is: Fudgy Brownies by Mary Ellen Cooper.

You'll need: 
  • ¾ c. cocoa
  • ½ tsp. Baking soda
  • 2/3 c. vegetable oil
  • ½ c. boiling water
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. Salt.
First, stir cocoa and baking soda together. Then stir in 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Add the boiling water and mixture thickens. Add the sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup vegetable oil and mix well. Put in flour, vanilla, and salt. Then mix until it's smooth. Finally pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 25 to 40 minutes. That's what I call a tasty Harvest Time treat!

Written by:Lizzy the Lizard
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan, Joy Hammond, Mr. Smiley

Weekly Cartoon

Next Issue: It's Columbus, I Mean...Leif Erikson Day?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dr. Steve Creates Biblical Leviathan? AKA, Super Croc!

Seti the Sarcosuchus is the newest creature to come out of Dr. Steve's lab! Continue reading to learn about the surprising discoveries surrounding this creature. (Photo Credits)
Over the past several years, Dr. Steve Stevenson has cooked up some strange and bizarre creatures in his lab in the Animal Adventures Institute (AAI). Like in 2012, he brought the saber-toothed mammal-like reptile Inostrancevia. I didn't even know there were other animals with saber-teeth other than the famous saber-toothed cats! Another instance was in 2014 when he and his assistants cloned the strange semi-aquatic fish-eating Suchomimus. But all that pales in comparison with the creature accidentally released last Saturday!

It was a normal day (isn't that how most bizarre or really unusual days start?) in Animal Adventures Inc. when some loud noises were coming from AAI. Confused, my trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, myself, Lizzy the Lizard, one of my reporters, and Jack the Jack Rabbit, our intern, and some other Animal Adventures Inc. residents headed over to the institute to find out what was going on in there! “We've heard strange noises coming from the institute before,” says resident vet Elizabeth Sorkin, “but nothing like we heard today!” We were shocked by what we found!

After reaching the building, the doors to the entrance were being hammered against by something inside, and it was big...really big. A few seconds later, the doors flung off their hinges and mist poured out of the lab as a large reptile came out into the open. With a long toothy snout, scaly hide and a long flexible tail, the creature we saw was a crocodile, but this was no ordinary crocodile: it was longer than a school bus! The crocodile released a loud intimidating bellow and Dr. Steve and his main assistant Oliver Oviraptor followed the beast out so they could explain to everyone what just happened. When asked what was going on, Dr. Steve was quoted for saying, “We're sorry for the inconvenience everyone. He was a bit too determined to get out.” Later, he explained what this monster crocodile was: “He's a Sarcosuchus imperator, meaning 'flesh crocodile emperor', and his name is Seti, after the ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Some people call Sarcosuchus 'Super Croc', because of its size. I guess he really wanted to get out of the institute, so he barged out the door. He's one of the most powerful animals we've ever cloned in this facility.” Fortunately, Seti had been “tamed” so that he wouldn't start attacking people. I then asked him why Seti was released so early (Dr. Steve usually releases his animals from the hatchery sometime in December or January). He is quoted for saying, “It wasn't really up to us. For some strange reason...”(he glared at Oliver)“ appears someone, and I'm not saying who, but someone fed Seti the wrong amounts of organic growth enhancers, allowing the animal to grow quicker and mature faster. Our other cloning projects haven't left their eggs yet!”

One of the residents present last week was Dr. Samuel Adamson, the company's chief paleontologist. He was astounded by this impressive beast. “I'm glad to see the Sarcosuchus specimen we brought back not long ago contained usable Sarcosuchus DNA,” he said. I asked the paleontologist what information he could give me about Sarcosuchus. He said, “Sarcosuchus is the largest crocodile that ever existed and its fossils have been discovered in northern Africa. It lived in the world before Noah's Flood, about 4,350 years ago and grew over 40 feet long and weighed 8-10 tons! It's simply a huge beast! This crocodile lived in the same environment as many African dinosaurs that we've discovered; and unlike many of Sarcosuchus' Cretaceous crocodilian cousins, it didn't walk with dinosaurs, it ate them! This was a reptile capable of taking down medium-sized dinosaurs!”

Seti the Sarcosuchus was certainly an impressive creature, but there was something else about this crocodile that amazed us: it actually breathed fire! Yes, you read that right! Sarcosuchus is a giant fire-breathing crocodile! I was blown away and speechless (thankfully, no one caught on fire that day!). Of all the animals I've seen in my life, I've never seen one that breathes fire! It was almost like Dr. Steve had brought a fire-breathing dragon of ancient myth and lore to life. That's not the only incredible thing Dr. Steve and Oliver discovered about the crocodile they cloned. Oliver is quoted for saying, “We found Seti unusually tricky to manage. He didn't try to eat us or anything, but when he was a youngster, we had to keep him in a designated area so he wouldn't accidentally burn down the place or our other research. Thankfully, Sarcosuchus seems [to have] a limit on how much fire it can dispel at one time. We're still looking for what part of its body this creature uses to create fire, however. In...addition to the discovery that the animal can breathe fire and smoke, we also discovered its hide is extremely tough. The Sarcosuchus has almost impenetrable scales, or osteoderms, on its back that act like shields. Even its underbelly is protected with tough scales, unlike the underbelly of modern crocodiles. Most of this we'd never know if we hadn't seen the live animal.”

Upon observing Seti, Dr. Samuel Adamson quickly realized that Super Croc was very similar to an animal described in the Bible, specifically Job chapter 41. “In the book of Job,” Dr. Samuel explains, “God is talking to a man – who's name is Job – about many of the animals He'd made. The last creature He discusses is a creature He calls 'Leviathan'. Now the Bible says that Leviathan was a semi-aquatic monster that terrified even the mightiest and bravest men. Its mouth was ringed with fierce teeth and its body was covered in tough scales (some Bible translations actually describe them as shields) that were so closely-knit that not even a sword or javelin could pierce through it. But...what was unique about this creature was that it could actually breathe fire and smoke!” I asked the scientist what most people identified Leviathan as. He is quoted for saying, “Most identify Leviathan as being a modern crocodile. But no crocodile today breathes fire! So Leviathan must have been a creature that's now extinct. Some creation scientists have proposed that Leviathan is a marine reptile such as the pliosaur Kronosaurus or the giant sea-going lizard Tylosaurus. However, the Bible talks about Leviathan leaving trails reminiscent of potsherds in the mud – meaning this animal was able to come on land. The creature I believe Leviathan may have been was the giant crocodile Sarcosuchus. Super Croc certainly fits the bill!”

As Sarcosuchus is essentially a large crocodile, it will move into the crocodiles' apartment room in the Animal Adventures Inc. main building, which features a pool, underwater tunnel that connects to the property's lake and a heat pad so the cold-blooded reptiles can warm themselves easily. Of course, it will be substantially larger than the now-second largest crocodile on the property, 16-foot Dylan, the Nile Crocodile.

“We might have to make some adjustments to the crocodile apartment room to account for Seti,” Dr. Steve Stevenson said. “But I think we're all glad to welcome this creature to this property, because Sarcosuchus imperator – Super Croc – is, simply put, a beautiful and awe-inspiring reptile!”

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

Weekly Cartoon

Next Issue: TBD

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rerun Article: Dinosaur Park: Invader...Is It Worth It?

A screenshot from the game Dino Park: Invader, a game which could have been one of the best games ever created.
Several weeks ago, I wrote an article concerning a new game that just came out on May 21, 2014 called Dino Park: Invader, created by the computer game company Unimaginable ©. As I said in the previous article about the Dino Park: Invader, it's supposed to be an action-packed dinosaur adventure game where your character has to try and make it off the island alive. I especially was excited about the game because . . . you guessed it: the dinosaurs! Dinosaurs are awesome! Well, the game has been released and people were so excited about it, that they bought a copy of the game in droves. They knew they were going to love it!

My trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, Lizzy the Lizard and I also bought a copy of the game. I was so excited to finally be able to play it . . . when my computer crashed! So I rebooted my computer and tried it again. But it crashed! So I tried it a third time and it crashed again! I was getting really disappointed. So I had our Animal Adventures Inc. computer specialist, Mango the orangutan come and take a look. He figured out that I couldn't press any of the keys on the keyboard for the first few seconds while the game was loading up. Go figure!

While Mango was checking out my computer, Lizzy phoned a few friends who had also bought the game; some of Lizzy's friends were having trouble with their computers too! Mango told me that my computer wasn't the problem – the CD-ROM itself was. Oh well. Fortunately, I was able to play the game . . . finally! I wasn't able to finish it before I had to get the article you're reading done, so I'll summarize the game experience based on what I've played so far, what other people have told me and what the game's head developer Tyson Cortes has to say.

First of all, you might recall from the previous article we wrote about the game was that the game was originally pitched to have 16 exciting levels. Well, there aren't quite as many levels as initially planned! You can look at the list of the levels supposed to be in the game by clicking this link, and below you can see the levels that made it into the game:
  • The Beach
  • The Open Woodland
  • The Jungle
  • The Jungle #2
  • The Worker Village
  • The Laboratories
  • The Mountain Forest
  • The High Cliffs
  • The Communication Center
  • The Race to the Helipad
Six levels were taken out! Many levels were combined in the game's final cut. For instance, a level known as The Sauropod Valley was mixed into the Open Woodland level. Also, I and many other people had to work through a few more computer crashes to play! Fortunately, I didn't have any more after I finished The Beach level.

The 3D environments in the game are very nice, but you can't always enjoy them. In one level – The High Cliffs – there's this overlook where you're supposed to be able to look over the edge of the cliff and admire the view. I didn't get to that point in the game yet, but for many people, their computers crashed when they tried to look!

Each level also has a certain amount of puzzles to solve; some are cool, but others are so many and close to each other that they get kind of annoying.

Some of my friends who played the game found it hard to move Annie (the only playable character in the game) around without killing her. Sometimes a fall of only three feet would drop her health level to zero. I never had that problem though.

Sooner or later, I just had to mention the dinosaurs that the game features. The original pitch for the game was for there to be 27 dinosaurs that you'd have to encounter throughout the game. You can see that list here. And you guessed it, the number of dinosaurs is far less in the actual game:
  • Tyrannosaurus rex
  • Velociraptor
  • Triceratops
  • Brachiosaurus
  • Parasaurolophus
  • Acrocanthosaurus
  • Albertosaurus
  • Stegosaurus
  • Sinornithosaurus
  • Spinosaurus
  • Ceratosaurus
Only 10 of the original dinosaurs remain in the game. A new one – Parasaurolophus – was added, however. Now, according to Tyson, the different dinosaur individuals were supposed to have different “emotions”; I'm not talking about emotions like happy, sad or embarrassed though, I'm talking about ones like: hungry, territorial, placid, sleepy and etc. But there are only two in the game: a combination of territorial/hungry (for carnivores) and placid (for herbivores).

Now about the graphics of the dinosaurs – they move pretty unrealistically. Most of them walk almost as if they're on stilts! Their legs are stiff and there's no knee to speak of. However, there are some positives concerning the dinosaurs in the game: they can surprise you when they're on the hunt. Raptors will work as a pack to bring you down, Ceratosaurus ambushes from the shadows, Sinornithosaurus tries to attack you from the trees and Tyrannosaurus and Acrocanthosaurus are better at strategy hunting than you might expect!

So why was the game so buggy and worse than it was supposed to be? Well, I put that question to the game's developer, who's quoted for saying, “Dino Park: Invader was supposed to be one of the greatest games ever created. It was supposed to combine great storytelling with wonderful graphics. As we kept telling the public about the game to get their expectations high, we realized that we needed to continue pushing the envelope. It turned out that we'd pushed it too far; the deadline was close and we bug issues to resolve. Unfortunately, time wouldn't permit and we had to release a buggy game to the public.” He went on to explain that he wasn't too happy with the results, but he had no choice, as he didn't want to keep the public waiting. And concerning why so many levels and dinosaurs were missing, he said, “We were having more computer bug problems with those dinosaurs and levels than the ones we included in the game.”

I then asked him if he considered improving the game any and if he thought it would help the games now-infamous reputation. He smiled and shook his head. “I'm afraid not,” he explains, “you see, the game's already been officially released. The critics have said their final words and that's how the game will likely be remembered. However, we do plan to release patches for people to download. These patches will help fix up the game so it's less buggy.”

Despite his failure, Tyson doesn't feel as if it's a total loss. “Sure I wanted the game to be a success, but it wasn't. We failed. There's no denying that. I like to look at this as a learning experience. Unimaginable © learned from its mistakes and will do better with its next game.”

In closing, I decided to ask what game his company was going to create next. “The Lost World,” he says, “based on Arthur Connon Doyles book and the 1925 movie version and 2001 television version inspired by it. We're going to do something with dinosaurs once again, and this time we'll get it right!”

Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

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