I Have a Bone to Pick with Disney

So lately (and by that I mean like within the last five years or so) people have been giving Disney a pretty hard time about setting up kids to have warped views of romance.  You know, the whole thing about how the princesses are too passive and how everybody meets for like 30 seconds before they get married and stuff.  Which, granted, Disney took a stab at fixing in later years.

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Frozen: When Disney responded to the public’s complaints.  Sort of.

But to be honest with you, none of those things have ever seemed like that big of a problem to me.  So Disney has some unrealistic representations of romance.  So what?  Disney, and LITERALLY EVERY OTHER MOVIE EVER MADE.  It’s nothing unique, and with a little counseling we’ll all be fine.

My beef with Disney is a little different.

 

You see, while the rest of the world is crusading against “Someday My Prince Will Come”, I’m just over here like why can’t I clean my house with magic.

But actually though. Every Disney movie I watched as a kid portrayed cleaning as some sort of fun game where all the little animals help you dust things and everyone sings and it’s like a giant party.

 

I mean, look how much fun they’re having!  The dishes are all dancing around and the mops and brooms just do everything themselves and it looks like a grand old time.

BUT NO.  In real life, actual cleaning is the literal worst thing.  Little woodland creatures do not help you, and no matter how many spells I cast, my broom remains stubbornly immobile.

Mary Poppins lied.  A spoonful of sugar does NOT HELP the medicine go down. (Also actual sugar + meds = probably gross).

Also, I think we should take a poll of the number of kids who tried snapping at things to put them away after watching this movie.  What I would give to be able to just snap everything back in place. I even got desperate enough to try it once or twice in college.

I also remain excruciatingly disappointed that Merlin has NEVER ONCE appeared to magically enchant my dirty dishes into washing themselves. This was especially dismaying during the few years I lived in an apartment without a dishwasher.  My kitchen actually looked like the beginning of this video.

 

AND, as many times as I have sung a happy working song, still no animals have appeared to help me.  My cat just stares.  Though, to be fair, at least in Enchanted Disney’s poking fun at themselves.

Or possibly just poking fun at this specific Snow White scene:

 

But anyway, my point is, if you want to get pissed at Disney for misrepresenting things, don’t waste your time with that whole romance thing.  Disney’s real problem is the systemic portrayal of cleaning as a fun, and enjoyable experience.

NEW FLASH, KIDS.  It’s not, cleaning is not fun.  If you want an accurate portrayal of the nightmare of cleaning, there is only one Disney movie that even comes close.

If you want the truth, here it is.  Cleaning is like being chased by an endless supply of unstoppable demon brooms. The end.

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Oh Hai, 2017

It’s a been a rough year.  The internet is pretty united on that front.  Like a zillion famous people died, and then there’s this whole election thing, and yeah.  Things are maybe not the best.

But hey, now we have a whole brand new year in front of us.  And I was thinking, maybe it’s time to change some things about how we do this whole “resolution” deal that everyone seems so fond of.

Not that I’m against resolutions.  It’s a new year, obviously let’s decide to do some things differently.  But I feel like so many people resolve the same things every year.  We all want to exercise more, eat better, work harder, be nicer, whatever.  Blah blah blah.  And while these are all good things, they’re so, um, boring.  In fact, they are so uninteresting that most people forget they’ve made them within a matter of hours.

So if you want to lose weight or start eating kale or whatever in 2017, that’s great go ahead and do that.  If not, I’ve compiled a short list of some slightly more interesting resolutions you may want to consider.

 

  1. Resolve to disregard a meaningless social norm.  Just pick one.  For example, you could resolve to say hello to every person you walk past, or you could resolve to turn off your phone every time you’re eating a meal with another person.  Or you could resolve to start answering the question “how are you?” honestly instead of just saying “good” in response.  Dance to the music in the mall.  You get the idea.
  2. Resolve to DO things with your friends instead of “hang out”.  People want to get together?  Say “yeah” and then suggest bowling or laser tag or hiking or a picnic.  Make NEW memories instead of rehashing old ones.
  3. Make a list of people you love who live at least an hour away to randomly  send snail mail too.  Resolve that by the end of 2017 you will have written each of those people one letter, just because.
  4. Find one societal issue that really bothers you, and resolve to do something about it.  Whether it’s by donating money, materials, time or all of the above.  If you’re having trouble thinking of or finding something, here’s a link to this cool charity social media app that’s getting released soon. http://www.pointapp.org/
  5. Find one or two other people and resolve to explore new music together.  Take turns finding new albums and spend one to two weeks listening to each one.  By the end of the year, you could potentially have found up to 52 new artists.  The best part is you can do this even if your music group is crunched for time – discussion can easily happen over group text.
  6. Resolve to discover the ways the people around you give and receive love.  Think of concrete ways you can change the way you love others based on their primary means of giving and receiving love.  If you’ve never heard of the 5 love languages, you can read more about them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Five_Love_Languages
  7. Google the tourist attractions in either the city where you live now, or the city where you grew up, (funny how we never really get to know our own homes).  Visit at least one in the upcoming year.
  8. Resolve to eliminate the words “maybe” and “we’ll see” from your vocabulary.  Either say yes, or say no.  Be the one person who isn’t afraid to make decisions.
  9. Take something that you love, and find a way to enjoy it differently.  For example: I love Mario Kart.  I think it’s great.  You know what’s also fun?  Blind Mario Kart.  One person (blindfolded) drives, another person gives verbal directions.  It becomes an entirely new interaction.
  10. Think of something in politics that you actually care about.  (I know we’re all pretty fed up with politics but…if we don’t participate nothing will change).  Actually write a letter to your congressman about it.  Or heck, you could write the president I guess.  But really.  Write a letter.

 

There you have it.  A list of 10 interesting things that you might choose to do with your new year.  Happy resolving!

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” – G.K. Chesterton

The Jimmy Kimmel Halloween Prank – (Why, Parents – WHY?!?)

Yes, I am writing about the Jimmy Kimmel Halloween Candy Prank, also known as That One Time A Year When Apparently It’s Ok To Lie To Your Kids Because A Talk Show Host Said To.  The second title was too long, that’s why they don’t use it on the show.   Just, you know, if you were wondering.

You see, I don’t like the Halloween Prank.  It was funny-ish the first time it happened, mostly because of that one gem on the end (you sneaky Mom!).  But really, that was it.  The rest was just screaming kids, and who really wants to watch five minutes of temper tantrums?  Nobody, that’s who.  So, as incentive to not have children, I guess the prank works.  It also works as incentive to never trust parents.

 

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But really, here is why it’s a problem:

1)  I’m sorry, but these kids are too young to take that kind of joke.  You get kids that are 12, 13 and up then yeah, they are capable of understanding the humor.  But children younger than that (children of trick-or-treat age) are not developmentally ABLE to understand the complexity of this joke.  They live in a black and white world people, concrete operations period, or didn’t you study your Piaget?  All they know is a) my parents took my things without asking, something I am not supposed to do because it’s bad  (is it any wonder they’re upset?) and then later b) my parents lied to me, another thing I am not supposed to do because it’s bad.

Is it just me or are there some mixed messages happening here?  And no, saying “I was just kidding” does not make it all better.  Do your kids still have consequences when they lie to you and then say “just kidding”?  You bet they do.  The logical conclusion of this experience, if you are a child is a) my parents cannot be trusted and b) my parents do things that they say I am not allowed to do because they are bad.  News flash: neither of these is a good conclusion if you’re looking for a harmonious household.

2) Let’s examine the reactions of these kids.  Yikes.  I mean, alright, a couple of them are pretty sweet and forgiving, but GEEZ the overall stunts are um, terrifying.

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However, how are the parents supposed to address these angry outbursts?  Can you discipline a kid for having a tantrum because you lied to them?  But are you just supposed to let the words “I hate you, Mom” slide under the table?  It seems the general consensus is to videotape it and then move on.  But one wonders, what seeds of dysfunction are being sown by this “good-natured practical joke”?  And why create such a parenting paradox in the first place?

3) Why on earth do people watch these?  It’s just children screaming and calling their parents names.  No thanks, I’ll pass.  Also, I’m very concerned about a generation of parents that has no problem having a laugh at the expense of their child.  It’s one thing to involuntarily catch something cute or weird or hilarious on film, and quite another to manipulate your kid so that you can have three seconds of youtube fame.

In conclusion – please never do this to your kids.

Thanks.

What Poetry Made Me Wonder

I’ve always harbored a certain fascination for poetry.  I’m not one of those people that can sit down and just read poetry for kicks, but there’s something about the occasional poem that hits my soul a certain way.  Times when I just read a few lines and marvel about the staggering meaning or simplistic beauty they contain.

I am not an English major, I don’t analyze them, I do not read T.S. Eliot for fun, (though I did try to read Dante once on a whim.  It didn’t go well).  But every now and then Robert Frost or Oscar Wilde or Pablo Neruda and I will hang out together and enjoy some well-written words, and I will marvel at the genius and artistry hidden in the carefully spaced lines.

In light of this, when I moved into my first apartment I decided it would be a good idea to print out some of my favorites and tape them to the insides of my cupboard doors.  The thought behind this was that this way I would be reading poetry every day, because every time I opened a door there it would be, an invitation to experience beauty.

For the first few weeks it worked pretty well.  I remember that Frost’s “Stopping By The Woods On a Snowy Evening” was in my silverware drawer, that I would read Pablo Neruda’s “If You Forget Me” if I went to find some tupperware, and if I needed my crockpot I’d read Billy Collins’ “Litany”.  But then something happened that I should have been prepared for.

I simply stopped seeing them.  I stopped seeing the words, the paper, (which is tough, because I’d mounted them on all kinds of bright colors).  I forgot they were there.  The poems, the beauty, became everyday, mundane, something I’d grown so used to that it no longer registered as existing.  Perhaps I would have missed them if they’d been suddenly gone.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed. Life had grown too fast to take time to read poems while I was making dinner.  Life had grown too fast to read poems at all.

My point to all this is to say that I think I do the same thing with God.  His poetry, His beauty is around me every day. All the time.  He’s put things in my path, in my day, in my routine that should remind me of Him.  Things that I should see, and stop, and consider and read and love and admire.

Poems that I should savor.  Beauty to enjoy.

But life has grown too fast to notice God.  His beauty, which once stood out to me, has become normal.  Things that should still inspire and awe me have faded into the scenery of my life.  Something I glance at, but don’t really see.  They are no longer new and different, and so they are forgotten.

I am not sure what to do about this problem.  Or really, what I can do, besides pray.  Pray that God will jolt me out of myself.  I have no power to fix this failing in me.  But He does.  And so I will work to see with newer eyes, read with a more careful heart.

And perhaps to slow down a little bit, so that I can hear God speaking to me, perhaps through the words of a poem.

“If you’re a dreamer, come in.

If you’re a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hop-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer,

If you’re a pretender, come, sit by my fire.

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

Come in! Come in!”

– Shel Silverstein, Invitation

I Have Bunk Beds

My family has a tradition that we practice on every family vacation.  We always go to the same vacation site (a cabin near a beach in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and we always take a few hours during the week to visit the local thrift store.  It’s run by volunteers, and full of interesting castoffs – everyone always finds something fun or odd or downright perplexing to take home with them.  Over the years our visit has transformed into a sort of contest to see who can find the most outrageous item.  As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

It’s actually a matter of pride for me that I bought one of my favorite black dresses at that shop,  People say “wow, cute dress!” and I say “thanks, it cost me a quarter at a thrift store”.  Then I smile sort of smugly, reveling in my ability to save money.  But that’s neither here nor there, nor is my purchase (though a riveting story) the point of this entry.

That same trip to the thrift store, my father found a t-shirt that is arguably the best thrift store find any of us have ever made.  It was an ordinary, solid red t-shirt.  But stuck haphazardly across the front of it was the phrase “I HAVE BUNK BEDS”.

And that was all.

No indication of why this person had bunk beds, what they were for, or why the world needed to know about it.  The shirt was clearly homemade, the letters had been ironed on, and a few were beginning to peel.  The words slanted downward, spaced unevenly.  I suppose they were as confused about their purpose as we were.  The shirt was like a pointless social media update that had happened way ahead of its time.  Like someone in the 1980’s had decided that he needed a way to tell the world inane things about his life.  Maybe this same person also had shirts that said “I LIKE TOAST” and “ON MY WAY TO WORK”.  We’ll never know.

My dad bought the shirt, of course.  He wears it, every now and again, just for fun.  We came up with a few theories about why it had been made and who may have owned it, but none of them really made sense, because the shirt doesn’t really make sense.

But that’s the charm of the shirt, really.  It doesn’t make sense, but it makes us smile.

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So I named my blog after my dad’s shirt.  Because I’m not entirely sure that this blog will make sense.  I don’t really know what I’m going to write about.  And I don’t really know why. I just want to write.  There is no clear goal in mind, no social platform to push, no personal advancement to be gained.

I do hope that I will make you think, though. I hope to invite you to wonder, and question.  I hope, at least, that you will come with me to see what happens on this journey that I’ve started on a whim.

And I hope that, like a old, red t-shirt, what I write will make you smile – and that, maybe, you’ll find a few treasures to take home with you.