Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Disney Still Works

I had an interesting childhood.  Instead of being a child of the early 80s, it seemed as though I grew up in some sort of Pleasantville, Leave It to Beaver throwback time with a rather traditional Italian Catholic father who lorded over what affected and influenced his daughter like the all-encompassing eye of Big Brother.  That included what was and was not allowed on our old cabinet-embedded tube T.V.  Cartoons and musicals were allowed; everything else was not.

But then as I entered my third and fourth year of life, mastering the human language way too early according to my mother, my parents realized that some of the musicals I watched, might not be appropriate.  I would sing "Sodomy" from HAIR not knowing at all what the words meant, but thinking that pretty blonde boy had a nice voice.

What's Pederasty?

But it was after I walked around in my little pigtails, perfectly annunciating, "Keep your filthy paws off my silky draw's" that my parents had to then censor the musicals.  All that was left was Disney.

The chicks will what??

This engrained in my heart a special place for all things Disney.  I watched The Dumbo Show and Disney music videos while I tearily swallowed down my Cream of Wheat before school every morning.  Disney's movies ran on repeat.  I grew up thinking one day I would be like one of those Disney princesses, singing through a magical forest of friendly little woodland creatures and flittering blue birds.  

I confess all of this because us Hands were discussing writing about movies we love that everyone hates and that made me think of T.V.'s shows of the same.  Yes, I am a thirty-six year old woman who loves to watch Disney's Austin & Ally, but here's why.  This is why Disney has always worked for me.  I love that each episode wraps up so easily at the end.  There's no Lost-esque mystery and wonder at the end.  It's wholesome and, yes, cheesy, but ultimately it's a break from the realities that replace our castles and Prince Charmings.  It's an escape from the dreary world in the most extreme way possible with fun music and dance numbers, outrageous escapades and zany misadventures, complete with requisite Canadian comedian actor (just ignore them after they grow up and leave the Magical Kingdom to "twerk" all over You Tube.) 

No songs about Sodomy here!

 There's not much depth and that's great.  That's what T.V. is sometimes supposed to be--entertainment; good old-fashion, unapologetic entertainment with a poppy song and a happily ever after.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Girl's Proposal for the Hands

(This is a repost from

Last night Sharif and I watched the first half of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA with Gary Oldham, Keanu Reeves, and Winona Ryder.  I had never seen the movie before and also admitted to not having read the book.  It’s on my Kindle, as are a number of many other books I still need to get to.  Sharif was surprised by my admission and asked if I’ve read Frakenstein either.  I haven’t, but I do know the story behind its creation, being the Byron fan I’ve been for so long.  I know that it began on a rainy day in Italy, where the poets and philosophers – Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley – met with friends and babies’ mamas and out of boredom, decided to all write a monster story.  Byron’s Vampyre was tossed in the trash to be later resurrected and published by his physician friend and Mary Shelley’s was turned into FRANKENSTEIN: or The Modern Prometheus.

Anyway, we watched the oddity that was that movie for awhile until Master Chef had recorded long enough to watch without commercials and so we switched over.  It was too late and DRACULA too heavy of a movie for me to commit to on a school night.  But as I was getting ready for bed later that evening, a thought occurred to me.  Wouldn’t it be fun for us Hands to have a rainy day Lake Geneva moment?  If the four of us met in an imaginary lake house in the digital rainy Italian countryside of the Four Hands website and each offered up an original monster short story of our own.  We can set parameters – it must be SHORT, like maybe two pages or so and create a new sort of nightmare or night terror.  We each post on a different day.  We give ourselves time to write, what with writing and reading and life to attend to, and then we share our works with each other.  There would be no competition, just fun and creation and who knows, maybe the next Frankenstein will be raised on a silver lab table again.

Since this was posted on the Hands site, all three male hands agreed so expect some horror stories your way.  Now that I've made this agreement, I have to come up with a new "monster."  So far I've been writing random words and thoughts in a notebook.  This won't stop me from working on the fourth Arethane book, but will afford me a needed break, writing something else.  As Neil Gaiman said, even if you stop to work on something else, keep working, keep writing.  It all leads back.  So stay tuned.