Friday, March 30, 2012

The Soap Box - Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions - Childfree Edition

Anybody who knows me well knows that I don't want to have children. Ever. Neither does my boyfriend. I don't get why it's viewed as a stupid, selfish thing to choose not to have children. Yes, I'm selfish because I'm not over-populating the planet and using up our precious resources, and because I want to live my life for myself and with my partner instead of with tiny humans that I need to raise from the ground up for 18+ years. I'm not that good a role model, people.
There are so many different responses I get when I tell people that I don't have kids. My parents just kinda smile and give me the "okay, honey" look, knowing that it's just my youth talking and they'll get their precious grandkids eventually. *rolls eyes* Don't worry, Mom and Dad. You had three other kids, I'm sure one of them will pop out some grandkids for ya. Just because I'm the oldest doesn't mean it'll be me.
So, without further ado, here are some of the various responses I've gotten about choosing to be child-free:
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"But you don't know what love is until you've had a child!"

Where do I start with this one? Okay, just because I don't want kids, doesn't mean that I hate them or hate people who want to have them. I wholeheartedly agree that being a mother changes you. And maybe you experience a different TYPE of love when you become a mother, but that doesn't mean that a child-free person such as myself does not know what love is or cannot show love.
Yes, it's impossible for me to know what love is. Apparently the love I've had for my family, friends and boyfriend was so empty and hollow! How could I possibly know what it is I'm feeling without pushing something painfully out of my vagina?
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"But don't you and your boyfriend want to have a family?"
To this, I simply look them square in the eye and say "We ARE a family." This usually shuts them up and makes them realize what a dick they're being.
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"Why would you get married if you aren't going to have kids?"
....buh? Uh, you know that whole 'love' thing that usually leads to marriage? Yeah, I kinda think that's a more important to marry rather than children. It's weird, I know.
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"Maybe you're not trying hard enough to have kids."
This one is just plain insulting. The people who give me these responses are usually people I've just met that hour, and it's impossible for you to know my entire medical history in that amount of time. Let's say just for the sake of argument that I was infertile. Wouldn't that be a horrible thing to say to someone desperately trying for a kid?
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"But your life won't be fulfilled without children!" or "What do you do with your time?"
I can do anything I want with my time, thank you. For instance, I like to lounge around in my underwear and eat things that are bad for me and stay up and watch internet shows until 4 AM. And then sleep in well past noon. Isn't it great to not have kids to deal with and try to be a good role model?
And as for fulfilling, I can spend time with my boyfriend, read, write, study, travel and do all sorts of great things with my life without feeling like I need to have annoying germy things crying and whining all the time! Weird, I know.
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"What, do you HATE kids?"
Maybe I do, maybe I don't. Just because I don't want to be responsible for the care of a walrus doesn't mean I hate them, it just means I don't want one.
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That covers pretty much all of them, so far. I can't wait until I'm older and get the same thing from my family too. I know some people might think me odd because I don't want to have children, but really: if I know I'm completely unprepared for the responsibilities of having children and would do awful at it, would you want me to try anyway just to prove it? You'll have to deal with the grown up result eventually. I don't think you'd want that. And neither would I.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

D52 Review - Cinderella

While Cinderella is one of the, if not the most popular of the sugar-coated, give-girls-unrealistic-expectations Disney Princess franchise, this is probably the movie I've been dreading watching the most out of the Disney feature film line-up, and I'll tell you why.

It's not a bad movie by any means, the animation is gorgeous, especially after the previous films during the war, and I do enjoy the songs a lot. (I'm a sucker for that old time sound.) As a film, I can't think of anything that I dislike, the main problems I have with it come from the characters and the plot itself.

Here's the #1 reason I did not like to watch this movie as a kid: it really pissed me off. Lady Tremaine has got to be my least-favorite villain. I don't love-to-hate her, I simply hate her. Child abuse has always been a huge button of mine and this movie is pretty much all about that. The treatment Cinderella gets from her stepmother and stepsisters pretty much ruined it for me as a kid, since I couldn't enjoy the film while constantly screaming at the haggard old witches to get off her case.

So, I settled down to watch this with my boyfriend Jesse (which I know sounds romantic, but there are so many other Disney films that I find more romantic than this one) knowing that I was probably going to react the same way I did as a child. And I was right, I still hate the antagonists just as much as I did earlier in life.

Another thing I noticed is that the mice tended to bother me at times. Normally I like the small furry creatures in Disney films, but these mice kinda grated on me. Also, why do they always insist on making fun of the fat one? And, as my beloved pointed out while watching the film, why is it such a huge joke that he couldn't fit into people clothes? We should be surprised that ANY of them could fit into tiny clothes with human-meant designs on them. They barely fit the other male rats either, they practically hang off of them.

I got very little joy out of this film. "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and "So This Is Love" are the only two songs I really enjoy from this, but once those were over, I was just hoping and praying for the film to finally be over. The scene where Lady Tremaine locks Cinderella in the attic to keep her from escaping her abuse and finding a better life with someone who cares about her is probably the most awful scene I can remember. (Though where they tear her dress to shreds and she just sits there and smiles is a close second.)

There are other nitpicks that I made, like how Cinderella's dress is initially silver yet somehow changes to blue (and is blue in all the merchandise) or why the slipper only fits her foot out of all the women in the kingdom (maybe it's the fact that she lacks digits there for some reason) but I really didn't have a good time watching this film. It's a very overrated story and one that I wouldn't see myself watching again for pleasure.

Sorry, guys. Call me unromantic, but I just don't get this one.

FUN FACTS THAT YOU'LL NEVER NEED TO USE AND THAT INTEREST NOBODY BUT MYSELF:

  • Cinderella was the first full-bodied animated feature since Bambi in 1942
  • In the original screenplay, the prince played a larger role and was supposed to be shown hunting and playing with friends in the opening
  • There was supposed to be a "Cinderella Worksong" after Lady Tremaine says she can go to the ball if she finishes all her work
  • Bibbity Bobbity Boo became a hit single four times, with people like Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters

Friday, March 16, 2012

D52 Review - Ichabod and Mr. Toad

After being out for a good portion of the beginning, I have finally jumped on the D52 bandwagon! The first movie that I view in preparation for my reviews was none other than Ichabod and Mr. Toad! I had not seen the film previously to this, and except for being able to say that I’ve seen it, there’s really no other point to it.
The Wind in the Willows
The film takes place in two separate featurettes, as was common with Disney in the 1940s. Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby are apparent guest stars (which were probably big for its time) and the theme song is the usual sprightly Disney choir. A rat, a badger and a mole (walk into a bar) are apparently the best of buds with the fantastic Mr. Toad. The badger is the least amused with his antics since he’s the executor of his estate and has to pay out lots of money for property damage about the town.
The first thing I really notice in this movie is that humans and talking animals of varying ethnicities live together in (somewhat) harmony without batting an eyelash at it. Usually in Disney films, animals such as these only appear to some random character, and misunderstood by the rest.
Mr. Toad and his best friend, a singing horse (it practically writes itself!) are clopping down the road when the toad spots his first motorcar. Naturally, in his adventurous excess, he must have it for his own. So, naturally, instead of using something like money to buy one, he’ll offer up the deed to his house for it! …wait, what?
Aside from the fact that it’s a very stupid trade (what, did you plan to live in a small car with no roof?) Mr. Toad is put on trial where Mr. Winky (the man he traded for the car with) testifies that Toad tried to sell him a stolen car (which was actually stolen by his own posse of weasels).
I’ll pass over the obvious innuendo of a short, bald, mustached man being named Mr. Winky (said the actress to the bishop) and continue with the story. And that took significant restraint, believe me. Apparently grand theft auto in those days constituted a twenty-year stay in lockup, but his rodent-ish friends decide to break him out.
They manage to help him escape from prison, break into Toad Hall to retrieve the deed from Mr. Winky and his weasels (and the innuendos just keep on coming) and somehow manages to redeem his good name in the process. He promises his friends that his wild oats have been sown and will start anew, which of course lasts only a few seconds.
So, there you have it! Breaking out of prison and breaking into a place that – in the eyes of the law – didn’t necessarily belong to you is not a re-jail worthy offense, and lying to your friends is A-OK as long as you’re having fun! Isn’t friendship great?
The Adventures of Sleepy Hollow
The second short in this film is based on – naturally – Washington Irving’s story of terror about the headless horseman. As you watch the contrast in the animation here, it becomes evident that this film was made after the war started and thus didn’t have all of its animators or materials in one boat. The main character in this is Ichabod Crane, a gangly schoolmarm voiced by Bing Crosby, who for some reason is quite the ladies man.
But of course, no film like this would be without its bewitching blonde love interest, Katrina Van Tassel, who never speaks a word but for some reason has the entire male population of the town wrapped around her parasol. The town bully, Gaston – er, I mean Brom Bones – is also courting Katrina and doesn’t like the competition of a guy who looks like a stick figure with clothes tossed at him.
Despite the fact that Brom could grind Ichabod’s bones for his bread (stealth pun in there somewhere) the schoolmarm continues to make the man look absolutely ridiculous, and just like Mr. Winky in the previous short, there are some delightful raised ponytail euphemisms to be had! (And if you’ve got a long-haired boyfriend like I do, it’s doubly grin-inducing).
Everything comes to a head when Brom, Katrina, Ichabod and several other guests attend a party held by Katrina’s wealthy father. After dancing and dining, Gaston – I mean BROM – decides to take advantage of Ichabod’s superstitious nature (if you look at some of the subtext in the movie you’ll find that out, check for it when he’s walking through the town with a book) and succeeds in freaking him out more than pre-teen girls doing Bloody Mary at a slumber party.
Naturally, the party has gone on so late that he must ride through the woods during the witching hour (or 3 AM in layman’s terms) and the Headless Horseman chases him through the forest. After a chase scene that succeeded in being somewhat spooky for the viewer, Ichabod crosses the Dutch bridge – which the Headless Horseman can’t pass for some reason – but it doesn’t stop him from tossing his fiery Jack-O-Lantern head at him.
After it fades to black, it’s revealed that all that were found were a smashed pumpkin and Ichabod’s hat. Gaston – fuck it, I’m just calling him that from now on – ends up marrying Katrina, which I found surprising since it’s a rare Disney film where the underdog doesn’t end up getting the main love interest away from the bully.
Ichabod ends up marrying a heavy, rich widow with close to half a dozen kids, though the townsfolk insists that’s a lie and he was merely spirited away – or let’s just say killed – by the headless horseman. And isn’t it not suspicious at all that the townsfolk don’t think there’s any possibility Ichabod could’ve lived? And that the possibility of Ichabod being happy with a family is something that they don’t really want to believe? People are just wonderful, aren’t they?
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Both films aren’t bad by any means, but I did enjoy Mr. Toad more for the animation and general whimsy of the story. Sleepy Hollow wasn’t bad either, but I couldn’t get into that one as much. Plus, Bing Crosby’s voice just didn’t fit the character at all. Sure, it would’ve been nice if he had just done a song for the movie, but not for the actual voice.
FUN FACTS THAT YOU’LL NEVER NEED TO USE AND INTEREST NOBODY BUT MYSELF
· After its initial release, the two films were separated, screened, aired, and sold separately beginning in 1958
· Mel Blanc is the singing voice of Cyril Proudbottom, but was uncredited
· Golden Globe Winner for Best Cinematography Color

Monday, March 12, 2012

Top 12 Most Depressing Songs of the 1970s

The 70s are definitely known for music. I’m a big fan of songs from that era, in fact. There’s nothing better than settling in and listening to old songs that my parents grew up with and possibly conceived me to.
However, after listening to my archives, I noticed a consistent theme in 70s music: it’s really depressing. Not “oh, that’s sad” depressing. But “oh my god life is horrible my heart is shattering” depressing. And this list had to be narrowed down a bit, so figure that one out yourself.
In order to lessen my depression by sharing these songs with everyone else, I give you the Top 12 Most Depressing Songs of the 1970s. (Just a forewarning, listening to all of these songs in succession may be a bit wearing. Have some ice cream handy.)
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12. All By Myself – Eric Carmen (1975)
We all know this one. Either the version sung here or the grating cover version by Celine Dion. (I bet some of you out there reading didn’t even know that was a cover, but I digress.) It’s a common form of depression. Loneliness is all it’s cracked up to be. This is pretty melodramatic, but it still rings true to a lot of us, so it’s a good fit for my number twelve spot.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Any death in a Disney movie.
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11. Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain – Willie Nelson (1975)
This song gets me teary-eyed (if you’ll pardon the pun) but not for the reason you might be thinking. Sure, it’s a sad song, of course it is. But there’s something else I think of when I hear it that makes me cry even worse. Anybody who’s seen this show knows what I’m talking about.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Any "A Very Special Episode".
(Sadly, I don't have the exact clip of the scene I'm talking about, so here's a similar one.)
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10. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) – Looking Glass (1972)
This is a song about a girl who is a bartending waitress for a bunch of sailors, and everyone says she’s wonderful and they’d love to marry her but the sea is much more important, including the one she’s set her heart on. This is pretty much a big catchy ballad of the “nice girl” excuse, which we’ve all heard before. Maybe he’s just not that into you.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Depressing chick flick.
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9. I’d Really Love to See You Tonight – England Dan and John Ford Coley (1976)
This is a song about two exes who meet up and decide to spend some time together. Which depending on what romantic comedy you’re in, either never goes well or at least gives you some very wacky hijinks. This one stands out because the guy is clearly trying to use any excuse to get the girl to spend time with him. “We could go for a walk, or a drive, or hey, if you just wanna watch television, which I can do alone anyways, that’s cool!” The desperation makes it cheesier, but that much more depressing, since you feel for the guy.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Anything sung at Lollapalooza in the 90s.
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8. Fire and Rain – James Taylor (1970)
James Taylor is the king of depressing, bittersweet folk rock music. This song was written after James Taylor had spend some time in a mental institution and befriended a woman named Suzanne. After leaving the institution he found out the woman committed suicide, and wrote this song in her memory. (There’s an urban legend that he wrote it about his girlfriend who died in a plane crash, but that’s not the case.) This song holds some personal significance for me after losing a friend to suicide, so it never fails to make me stop and think.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Any movie where the dog dies. (Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, Marley and Me, etc.)
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7. Where are the Clowns? – Judy Collins (1975)
This song plays like a eulogy. It’s pretty much about some washed up old performer who nobody’s going to see anymore, and remembering and regretting a love that might have been. That combination certainly doesn’t do your tear ducts any favors.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Finding out you missed a guy you’ve been dying to see live when he came to town for a concert.
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6. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight – James Taylor (1973)
Again, James Taylor is still the king of this. Anybody who’s ever had a friend with benefits solely for the purpose of having human contact knows how this feels. Not wanting them to stay but not wanting them to go either, it’s loneliness to the nth degree.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: M*A*S*H Series Finale.
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5. On and On – Stephen Bishop (1977)
This song never fails to make me at least tear up. Just the way he sings it makes a difference in it, he’s pretty much singing that all these people are heartbroken and hiding it and it’s not something that should really be cared about. He sings it like it’s just a matter of course. I don’t know why that makes it sadder, but it does.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Dying scene in Charlotte’s Web.
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4. Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels) – Jim Croce (1972)
If James Taylor is the kind of depressing, bittersweet music, Jim Croce is at least the duke. He’s very underrated, and didn’t gain any sort of musical popularity until after he died. But a lot of his songs and especially his lyrics are poetic and meaningful, and this one definitely stands out. About a man who’s trying to get in touch with a woman who ran away with his best friend, but eventually decides he doesn’t really want to talk.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Littlefoot’s Mom dying in The Land Before Time.
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3. Vincent – Don McLean (1971)
Anybody who thinks of Don McLean as just “the guy who sings American Pie” needs to go out and find the rest of his music right now. He’s yet another underrated singer who comes up with poetic, meaningful lyrics without fail. That was eventually his downfall, as so many people came to his concerts just to hear American Pie, then left as soon as the song was over, he stopped playing the song at shows altogether, effectively killing his career. (Fun Fact: the song “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack was written about him.)
This song was naturally written about Vincent Van Gogh, and it’s very haunting and beautiful. This song gets to me even more than Fire and Rain does, again, due to personal significance.
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Bambi’s Mom dying.
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2. Rainy Days and Mondays/Goodbye To Love – The Carpenters (1971)
I know this looks like cheating, but this is technically a medley. The songs tie into each other. But to be fair, any Carpenters song could’ve gone on this list. They have so many depressing, heartbreaking, haunting melodies it was hard to narrow it down. But I picked this one because it’s the one where she pretty much flat out tells you “I’m giving up.”
Karen Carpenter has one of those voices you never forget, which makes her tragic young death from anorexia nervosa even more tragic. Nobody can make you tear through a box of tissues like she can.
DEPRESSION LEVEL:  Sarah McLachlan Animal Abuse Commercial.



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1. Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan (1972)
Holy crap.
No, seriously…holy crap.
Dude. Did you TRY to make this as soul-crushing as possible??
It was very easy to determine what the number one would be on this list. Seriously, this song makes you feel like you’re getting punched in the gut with how sad it is. I mean….DAMN.
Where’s my homemade Prozac?!
DEPRESSION LEVEL: Jim Henson's Funeral.