Personal Experiences · writing

To Be A Writer, One Must Actually Write

Note: if you were following me for my faith-based posts, those have moved to another WordPress: All Things That Grow. Also, apologies for lack of replies to the comments on my Doris Day post. Depression hit hard, but I will try to get to those shortly.

Some time during my second college degree, I stopped writing. Original fiction. Poetry. Songs. Fanfiction. I just stopped. Insecure and depressed and more, I stopped. A few years ago I started writing fanfiction again, but I kept it to myself. Then, I started publishing some of my fanfiction again and have been doing that again for going on two years. I get a lot of wonderful feedback, including comments insisting I work on my own material for publication (some from people actually in the industry which boggles my mind). In spite of that, I have remained largely insecure and have let that – and my ongoing depression – prevent me from trying my hand at original fic on a serious level. I’ll start to write, nothing will happen, and I’ll skitter back to fanfiction where it all comes much easier to me (which I guess makes sense seeing as the heavy lifting has been done and I adore the characters I’m working with most of the time).

It’s time for that to change.

Now that I’ve settled on a pen name that I adore, and now that I’ve been looking at some long term goals I have for the next two years, including moving to a new place while juggling student debt on my current salary (that whopping 2,000 dollar lump payment on one of my loans I just made has me seeing a few stars), I realize it’s time to stop hem-hawing and start creating content. Even if it’s like throwing darts at a dartboard and I end up with a whole lot of nothing before I end up with something, it’s like that old motivational poster: You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. I can’t be a writer if I never write.

So, a couple days ago, I opened up a new package of loose leaf paper – God knows I have more than enough laying around my room – and started drafting a story idea that’s been in the back of my mind (originally intended as an au fanfic in one of the fandoms I’m in) for about six months.

This is horrible, extremely rough, sure, but I know if I don’t share it I won’t stay motivated. So, I present you with the initial draft first section of what will hopefully be the first completed original fic I’ve written since college.

And I’d like to dedicate this little post to Simoa, whose perseverance as a writer has inspired me and made me dare to try again ♥

Continue reading “To Be A Writer, One Must Actually Write”

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Classic Film · Film

April In Paris

 

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“It’s no use, Philippe. I’m in love with the man I married, and he’s not even my husband.” “Even in Paris, that is an unusual situation.”

Some stories I’ve heard/read suggest that Ray Bolger was an egotistical ass. And, unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the good looks and notoriety for people to swoon over him the way they do other egotistical asses (and Hollywood, then and now, is chock full of them if we’re being honest). I have come across Doris fans who write off this film simply because they can’t stomach Bolger, hate the treatment she endured during filming, etc. before they even get to the actual flaws the film might (and does) have. I understand that if a movie’s been tainted, it’s been tainted, but it always makes me a little sad that this charmingly saccharine little film gets left out a lot of times.

For me, I’m not here to see anyone or anything other than Doris Day making the sun shine brighter than anyone else can (sorry, Wham!, but nobody can top Doris). That’s a common thread for me in all of her films. With the exception of The Man Who Knew Too Much (blog-a-thon post by Crimson Kimono) and Please, Don’t Eat The Daisies, because I love Jimmy Stewart and David Niven respectively, the leading men are pretty much all nonexistent when I’m watching a Doris Day film because I only have eyes for her. That’s not to say I don’t have soft spots for her team ups with some of the other men by any means, (Rock and Tony come to mind since I’m no sacrilegious Doris fan!) just that it’s often been a case of needing a few viewings to even appreciate the male leads or costars if I wasn’t already in love with them.

tumblr_n3fvzqzg3a1qdrqovo4_250So because I couldn’t care less if Bolger was in this film or someone else – if it were the same film (and not an actor I abhor) – and because I find Bolger entertaining regardless of the moments I’m applying face to palm, I love April In Paris and urge everyone to at least give it a shot if they want to see a bright and sunny young Doris (her 12th film, and towards the end of her first five years in movies). I would urge everyone to at least give it a shot simply for Doris’ rollicking number, “I’m Gonna Ring The Bell Tonight”.

The film opens up with Bolger’s character, S. Winthrop Putnam (the S is for Sam). He’s a ‘politician’, specifically the “Assistant Secretary to the Assistant to the Undersecretary of State.” Of course, the joke here is that he acts more high-and-mighty than he ought when, really, he’s just an easily manipulated, graveling peon in the ridiculous bureaucratic system of Washington D.C. If anything, he’s only put up with because of his fiancé Marcia Sherman, the daughter of his boss, who has high political aspirations that she’s willing to achieve vicariously through her spouse – it seems whoever she marries will be in the White House if she has her way.

Underneath Sam’s rigid exterior isn’t a regulation-obsessed, power-hungry rich man, rather a whimsical Everyman into the arts who’s worked his way up from the son of a janitor and would like to give into his carefree whims and enjoy life. But he’s simply so entangled in the politics of following rules, pushing pencils, and pleasing older, regulation-obsessed, power-hungry rich men that he doesn’t tend to give into those whims. Fortunately for Sam, he makes a terrible mistake. An invitation intended for Ethel Barrymore to act as an American representative at an art festival in Paris is sent instead to a chorus girl named Ethel “Dynamite” Jackson who’d applied for a work permit for Montreal at the same time, Doris Day of course.

tumblr_n3fvzqzg3a1qdrqovo2_250In the opening act, before Sam learns of his mistake, we also meet Philippe Fouquet (ah, the little middle fingers that were given to the production code are sometimes very amusing), a Frenchman played by Claude Dauphin. He’s a Parisian night club owner who’s stranded in America, trying to get home, but being put through the runaround by the government – going through the “usual channels” which is essentially code for being tossed from one agency to the next because none of them are willing to help him. (Funny how 65 years later, things operate generally the same in that regard.) Philippe acts as the guiding force of the film, and narrator; he even breaks the fourth wall.

Sam rushes off to un-invite Ethel Jackson and finds her in the middle of a chorus line, singing “It Must Be Good.” Naturally, Sam is bowled over when he sees just how drop-dead gorgeous (hence, “Dynamite”) Ethel is. Sure, “what a built” may be entirely sexist, but aren’t we all guilty of having to pick our jaws up off the floor upon seeing Doris Day for the first time, and every subsequent time? I certainly can’t say I wouldn’t be right there with him if in a similar situation. tumblr_n3fvzqzg3a1qdrqovo8_250

What I love about Doris Day characters is that even though Doris is absolutely stunning and feminine, she’s not some picture of frail womanhood (no offense to the actresses who are, by any means, since we all need representation). Ethel Jackson is no exception. She’s a woman who will sock you if you tell anyone she’s been crying, who pushes back when she’s being pushed around, who gets angry, who rebels, who stands up for her dignity, and generally displays a wonderful range of human emotions and reactions while on her little adventure in the movie.

Sam breaks the news and, naturally, previously excited Ethel is heartbroken and singstumblr_n3fvzqzg3a1qdrqovo3_250 the beautiful Yip Harburg and Vernon Duke classic, “April In Paris”. I love this song, generally speaking, especially performed by Ella Fitzgerald – one of Doris’ biggest influences, and of course love what Doris brings to the table. It’s a moment of vulnerability for her, in the film, and her sedate performance, her emotional voice and tear-glossy eyes are simply mesmerizing. Doris always has this natural charm that pulls me in and it’s true when she’s being emotional too. For all of the “affectedness” that could be (and has been) wrongly attributed to her sunny, ultra-blonde, girl-next-door routine, for me, I’ve never seen that in her acting. I mean, she always breathes life into her characters just by opening that lovely mouth of hers whether to speak or sing or simply smile, but then she taps into the character’s emotions even deeper and shows off her acting chops and it’s like icing on an already delicious cake (seriously, Doris, you’re giving the rest of us unrealistic expectations!).

Now, obviously, the movie would end there if it were as simple as Ethel Jackson having her hopes and dreams of being spirited to Paris dashed for good. Fate, and popular politics, intervene when “the people” voice their joy at having a common woman represent the U.S. at the art festival and Sam’s boss responds with voter numbers in his eyes instead of pupils. Sam, after trying to fix the problem, has to hurry off to fix the problem again by making sure Ethel comes along, but not without performing a song and dance number with himself dressed as two different presidents, which gives us a little insight into his truer artistic and imaginative personality while also giving us another example of how he’s let Washington go to his head (honestly, he’s not overly likable as a stuffed shirt politician, and less so when I rewatch the film now following this past election cycle). Ethel doesn’t go without throwing a wonderful fit over the incompetency and runaround, but she goes.tumblr_n3fvzqzg3a1qdrqovo1_250

What follows is your standard fare: girl and boy fall in love, but it’s complicated. And it’s the madcap complication that makes it delightful. Some of the highlights for me include, aforementioned “I’m Gonna Ring The Bell Tonight” sequence (a song that gets stuck in my head for days at a time), Doris’ song number with Claude: “That’s What Makes Paris Paree” toward the end, and a humorous scene in the middle that is nearly completely impossible outside of its 1952 context – that is, it’s literally all about preserving sexual virtue prior to marriage and is an example of how the production code was literally played with for humor. One thing can be said for the production code, and I may talk about more of my feelings on the subject in another post, and that’s it sometimes gave us unique storytelling, creative jumping through hoops and witty satire we don’t see anymore (for better and worse).

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There are hearts in my eyes. Doris is heartrendingly mesmerizing.

April In Paris certainly isn’t the most nuanced film. It’s not Doris Day at her best (although that’s a false statement because she’s always at her best). It’s probably not even all that memorable unless you’ve managed to form some kind of attachment to it like I did early on. There are some misses, objectively and subjectively (I don’t love the jealous women trope by any means). But, overall, it’s still a cute little movie and a pleasant enough excuse to fawn over Doris Day for an hour and a half. I wish more people could see that and appreciate it for what it is! Cheesy has been thrown at this film as a description, but I say pop open a bottle of wine get a French loaf and enjoy it! And if you don’t want to watch the film, at least do yourself a favor and watch some 2e5o7jpclips on YouTube!

This post is part of the Doris Day Blogathon hosted by Michaela at Love Letters To Old Hollywood, and just in time for Doris’ birthday! For more entries, click on the banner and if you enjoyed my post, you’re sure to enjoy the others even more!

XOXO Elinor Anne James

(Featured Image Credit: MoviePoster, Gifs made by me @ Tumblr.)

Mental/Emotional Health · Personal Experiences · To Do

To Do: March

Nine days into March, I suppose it’s as good a time as any to outline some goals I have for the month.

March, in the past, has always been a difficult month for me. It’s a month where depression either tries to sink it’s claws in deeper following some January and February lows or it’s a month where I start to climb out of January and February funk only to fall back down harder. Thus, I’m trying to be as proactive as I can at the moment. Staying on top of things. Avoiding triggers. Not stressing too much. Taking steps back from things. Focusing on healthy habits. So on. So forth.

Thus some goals I’ve set for myself in 5 key areas are as follows:

Health

I’ve let myself get lax with my walking and general physicality thanks to 1. winter and 2. emotional health. So I’m currently in the middle of a 2 week restart, getting myself back up to walking 10,000 steps (at least) a day. I’m doing this by using this guide from MyFitnessPal. I’m utilizing the off-the-couch one since even though I used to be able to walk/jog 3 miles a day, my body quite literally feels like it’s back to square one so I’m just going to ease into is as if I am. Today was day 5, so I walked 5,000 steps today! Half way there! But, boy, oh boy, was it a doozy. I don’t work in at a place where I feel comfortable getting up and walking (although many of my coworkers do so maybe a later goal is to deal with my insecurity in this respect), so finding a way to squeeze in more and more steps has been a challenge. If the weather were nicer, it would be no problem, as I can walk a nearby trail after work. So I’m thinking I’ll need to readjust my typical daily schedule to fit in logging some minutes on the treadmill – which is a bonus since I’ve been trying to get myself to use it more!

Spirituality

I’m not Catholic, but I during this season of Lent – and thanks to the inspiration of Simoa – I am trying to spend my Friday’s separating myself from the things that I tend to give too much time to or fixate on which for me is negative media (like social media, news, etc.) and writing fanfiction. The latter one may sound silly, but I sometimes find myself writing 10,000+ words a week and latching onto unhealthy behaviors with it (like writing instead of sleeping, not wanting to do work around the house because I’m writing, obsessing over updating, not focusing on my own original stuff which would probably be of more merit, etc.). While fanfiction is an outlet for me to let the pent up creative energy flow, sometimes I need to reel it in or find multiple ways to release that energy instead of “stemming” so much with it.  On Fridays throughout this season, I will be spending as much of the day as I can focusing on prayer, meditation, etc. I feel like this is especially needed right now as I’ve been so disengaged spiritually due to fatigue from the election and my ongoing break away from Evangelicalism.

Social

This is a huge trigger point for me so I’m simply trying to stay positive and not put any undue pressure on myself. Updating this blog alone is quite the exercise in itself. My goal is pretty much the same as it always is: engaging without getting stuck inside my head. I typically engage and then stress out over it after it’s done or stress out prior to engaging or stress out when it feels like nobody wants to engage with me.

Self-Improvement

I really do want/need to start working on my own original fiction writing again. So even if I have to pull a few teeth in the process, my goal is to write at least 5000 words, be it a short story,  a few short stories, some outlines or something of a greater work. 5000 words. If only I knew where to begin. Sigh. I have another post about this topic coming soon.

Interests/Hobbies

I haven’t been reading much lately and I really want to get back in the habit of it. So I may pick up a few quick (guilty pleasure, campy) reads from the Amazon Kindle store to read this month which will also get me back on track with my Goodreads goal for 2017!

Identity · Personal Experiences

What’s In A Name?

My stomach fluttered with nervous energy as I waited in line to order my grande white hot chocolate. When the time came I gave the desired drink order with well-practiced ease, but took a deep breath in as I awaited the barista’s inevitable question: What is the name for the order? For the first time in my entire history of going to Starbucks I didn’t talk myself out of giving a fake name. And to my delight I got a positive response of, “Oh, what a pretty name.” For a few short moments I was able to be the person I’ve always wanted to be – that is, someone with a different name.

Now, this is no uncommon thing for people to do at a Starbucks. You get all sorts of funny or outlandish stories regarding fake names given out, such as character names or the recent hullabaloo of people giving out the name of the current U.S. President. But for me, and for others who have been in my position, it’s about something more than just a little fun. It’s genuinely about identity.

In fact, I got this idea quite a while back from a forum of people discussing adult name changes. Someone suggested using Starbucks as a tool (just one of many, mind you) to help a person considering a name change, in that he or she can give the desired name when asked and then hear what it sounds like/feels like when called. Seeing as I have a short list of different names I would love to find the nerve to legally change to, I thought why not? Only, I chickened out far too many times prior to the experience described above.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I won’t be heading to the local courts Monday morning now that I’ve finally managed to give a fake name at Starbucks, but it was definitely an enjoyable moment of “what if” while it also gave me quite a bit to reflect on.

The biggest thing is that the name I gave was immediately deemed pretty by the barista. I can guarantee you that this has never, ever once happened to me with my real name and I’m not entirely sure it’s a common thing at all, really. Which is precisely one of the reasons I’m not sure I’d change my name to my most desired name if given the chance.

On the one hand I fully recognize that my desired name would probably be considered pretentious by others since it’s not common for women, to my knowledge, of my age group and since it would be a legal name change to said name, making it seem like I was trying to brand myself as something I’m not (in this case, elegant or pretty). On the other hand, I fully recognize that all of my desired names have been chosen to some extent because, thanks to ingrained social cues, they sound more elegant or pretty to my ears and I do long to have that sort of pride in my name – which in turn could mean I’m just inherently pretentious and that criticism is valid. (That’s not to say that I don’t consider a lot of names, some others deem plain, pretty because I do!)

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other would still smell as sweet.

But is it true? Artists change their names – even if not legally – on a regular basis so as to stand out or to be brand-able. Even writers face the daunting task of selecting pen names that will give them a boost in the market. Consider Potentilla, also known as Cinquefoil, which is part of the rose family. You don’t hear a lot of children with either of those names, but you do hear Rose. You don’t buy a dozen Potentilla for Valentine’s Day. You don’t stop and smell the cinquefoils. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do those things, for what it’s worth, but we generally accept that Rose is the pretty name of a pretty flower that we give to our lovely little girls.

The fact is, names seem to be quite powerful things once given. If they weren’t people wouldn’t have the need to care one way or another. We wouldn’t link names to gender for one thing, and for another we wouldn’t make rash judgments based on names. If the way society-at-large viewed names was as simply markers for people to know us formally by then a barista wouldn’t even make comment one way or another on the prettiness of a name nor would we be talking about the Oscar prospects of Meryl Streep rather of Mary Streep.

So, no, I don’t think it’s true. Should it be true? Probably. But be it given names, chosen names, nicknames or else, names are a big part of our society and culture. And we seem to make a very big deal about them in general beyond just how they roll off the tongue, how they’re spelled, etc.

We tell daughters they should automatically take the last name of their father and then husband later if they should marry a man. We tell sons they should take their father’s last name to pass along to his wife/children. In fact, in modern Western society, all of us are given names at birth 1. without any choice in the matter and 2. before anything is known about us and whether or not we do, we are at least expected to hold onto those names as an identity for the rest of our lives regardless of if they’re practical, professional, or otherwise. Consider that even in cases of adoption, parents often change their child’s name, further emphasizing the purpose of names as an identity given to us from our parents.

I’m not saying necessarily that this is a bad thing or that we should just call children by their social security numbers until they’re old enough to have some say in the matter. I’d go as far as to say I doubt most people even share my sort of fixation, or complex, on this matter. And those who do typically seem to have similar negative experiences with their name that stem from childhood. That said, it may be better if we weren’t so rigid with names.

The reason I haven’t changed my name legally is because I’ve met with resistance. I’ve met with the likes of: Wouldn’t that be weird? How do your parents feel about that? I’d hate it if my child changed his/her name after the time I put into picking it. I like your name, why don’t you? It’s just a name.

It’s just a name and yet we make such a big deal about it if someone decides it’s really just a name and thus changes it. It’s just a name and yet artists change their names so that we’ll notice them better. It’s just a name and yet one is considered plain, another is considered old-fashioned, and then some are considered trendy. It’s just a name and yet we say some are suited for biological males and others for biological females. Then, to muddy the waters further, we designate some as unisex even if we don’t actually reserve them for intersex children the way we try to reserve boy names for boys and girl names for girls (ignoring feminism-based trends of calling girls with traditionally male names like James, John, Mike, Pat, etc.).

It’s just a name and yet a barista at Starbucks was struck enough by one to offer me an undue compliment over it.

True, a name is not the end-all of an identity, and I would hazard that I have a lot of other identity issues to work through that wouldn’t be fixed by the superficial change of what I’m legally allowed to call myself, but I quite seriously question that we have no right to consider the role our name does play in our identity and in how that identity is received by other people. In a perfect world we could name a son Rebecca and a daughter Joseph and they would never have to face any kind of backlash or undue scrutiny regarding their character.We just don’t live in that perfect world yet.

Personal Experiences

One Lovely Blog Award

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I was nominated by Simoa. She is a dear friend who has encouraged me time and time again over the years. She’s been a strong presence in my life since the moment we met online. She’s had a great hand in helping me become more confident in myself. Honestly, I’m still imperfect because of all of the baggage, but without a few people in my life such as her, I don’t think I’d have reached the place where I want to stop pretending I’m okay and just be me. GO VISIT HER BLOG BECAUSE SHE IS A TREASURE.

So here are 7 unusual things about a girl who hasn’t done much with or in her life (last chance to turn back – unless you stop reading halfway of course):

i.
According to Ancestry (and other genealogies that have been done) – so take this with a grain of salt obviously – I am a direct descendant of Pocahontas. Although I know there are a lot of horrific things in history that has allowed me to be one of her great-granddaughters, it’s still something about my heritage that I’m grateful to have an idea about.

ii.
I’m working on a handful of books that span a couple of genres. Aside: However, I’m timid of ever publishing even under my pen name (which would still be J.M. Anne) because then I would run the risk of being discovered by my family – especially given the nature of a few of these books. I know for a fact that I have two choices if I were to ever publish: Either publish Christian fiction and keep everything else to myself or finally part ways from my parents, and potentially my sibling.

iii.
I am not a well-traveled person, but I want to be. So much so that the past year I’ve saved up money to begin taking weekend trips to other cities and states – as well as funds for either traveling or moving overseas! – as a start. I realized how I’ve barely seen much or done much in my own state and I just decided I can’t be that person anymore. So beginning next month I am going to start doing things! Just in time for my favorite season of the year  🙂

iv.
I have been to Washington D.C. once in my life, however. That was a really neat thing. So neat I could never do it justice in words. I wish I would have been a little older when we went and I wish we’d had more time, but I got to go to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum which was what I really really wanted to do.

v.
An odd, and slightly embarrassing one, but one I’d like to get off my chest… I have a fake persona elsewhere online. Only one friend in real life knows of it because she’s long been my enabler; she’s the one who helped me come up with it. This persona has always been for the purpose of publishing fanfiction without fear of it being linked back to any online presence my mother was aware of. It started years ago when fanfiction wasn’t allowed in my house – for reading or writing. But you see being the rebellious thing I was, I wrote it anyhow for my friends at school. And from there it spiraled into this ridiculous thing where my friend even has a fake persona she has maintained to help keep the trail from ever leading back to me (and to a lesser extent herself; her family was never as strict).

It’s… really neurotic when I stop and think hard about it and it shows just how much secrecy ends up being fostered in strict homes (when you fear ever little move being judged or punished, or every single thing being banned/taken away from you, you figure out ways around it; I’m not even surprised when things come out about people well known in Christian circles). And, you know, it’s not that I ever harm anyone with this persona – something I feel very inclined to point out – and have ever set out to mislead people rather just misdirect. But it’s still just, weird. Not to mention a boldfaced lie, compiled of other vague lies, I’ve told over the years. And even weirder that no matter how strange – and perhaps even skeevy – I know it is logically, even at my age I still feel inclined to use that persona and not just, I don’t know, out myself or break off from it (although this is a goal I’ve set for myself as a part of my journey). Then again I’ve written quite a few ‘popular’ enough fanfics over the years, and amassed readers I enjoy interacting with and connected with other fanfic writers, so I feel that it’s probably such a tangled web at this point that people would think I’m crazy no matter my justification of it and I’d lose that ‘safe place’ I’ve created – either if I tell or walk away completely. I feel like even owning to it here is risky enough! But it is in keeping with the theme of this blog so there’s a confessional fact about me for you.

vi.
According to family members, I sang before I could talk. In the sense that I vocalized along to music/singing. And much of my vocabulary is owed to songs because I learned new words, how to pronounce them by singing along as soon as I could start actually talking.

vii.
Piggybacking off of that… While writing is something I enjoy, singing is my passion. I have performed in various ways. I was in choir, accepted into – but unable to be part of – a prestigious children’s choir, have performed solo, have performed with others, was the youth worship leader at my previous church, have been offered to demo (at a price parents couldn’t afford), have been involved in music workshops, have performed a few anthems, and a few other things involving music in my life. The kicker? I can’t play an instrument to save my life – and believe me I have tried time and time again to learn various instruments and it just doesn’t take.

And there you have a weird little bit about me.

Part of the rules was to post the rules for the award and then nominate other blogs. I’m still new here and haven’t had the ability to connect with many yet so I’ve been given a reprieve on this rule thankfully! But I love doing blanket nominations with these kinds of things – as in, if you want to do this please! Spread the love!

As always, there are rules for these awards:

  1. Write a blog post accepting your nomination.
  2. Show the blogger who nominated you how much you love them by thanking them in the post and linking to their blog.
  3. Tell us seven things about yourself.
  4. Nominate other blogs that you think are totally rad.
  5. Let the bloggers you’ve nominated know about they’ve received an award.
  6. Post the rules again to let those bloggers know how it works.
Disney · Faith · Film · Personal Experiences · The Lord of the Rings

The Disney Dozen; and a few other ramblings.

So this morning I didn’t get up to go to church. My mother’s response was to state that she feels I’ve been behaving more and more like a heathen, not reverencing God. I could talk about that in this post, but I feel I still need to digest that accusation in order to speak about it better. I need to sit on it a little bit so that it’s not just a knee-jerk reaction post.

Instead I’m going in the opposite direction with something much more light-hearted and therapeutic and that is a Disney meme snagged from Kids Riding Bicycles via Champagne for Lunch.

When it comes to fictional-based things that have shaped me, in spite of everything, Disney is one of them. The only thing that is comparative is The Lord of the Rings. (I cannot thank the authors of Finding God in The Lord of the Rings enough – no matter how controversial the book or topic of allegory has been among Tolkienites – because it opened up the dialogue regarding the faith of J.R.R. Tolkien, and finding religious themes in secular literature/media – so that my mother allowed me to watch the films, and then read the books, which began a love affair for all things Middle-earth and Tolkien that has been unwavering; well, it wavered with The Hobbit films, because NO, but that’s inconsequential.) And because Disney was one of those hard-fought-for allowances at times in my my youth, I think that makes many of the films even more special to me. They are something I have a bit of a deeper connection with. And as a highly imaginative and creative person, they spoke to me and inspired me then and continue to do so.

So without further ado, here are 12 questions about Disney and my responses as best as I can articulate them:

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1. What’s your favourite Disney film and why?

This is always a little like picking a favorite child. The massive catalog of films makes nearly impossible and I tend to overthink and categorize things. Of the animated canon Aladdin has long been my standing favorite. I connected with it when I saw it in the theater as a kid.

And a lot of my love for the film has to do with the fact that Princess Jasmine, although second (by a margin) to Ariel as my favorite princess, has always appealed to me in so many ways. The moment she freed those birds from the cage because she knew they deserved better was the moment I fell in love with her and the film. Jasmine, to me, was an inspiring and feisty princess who demanded that she be given the respect and freedom she deserved and then even when she fell in love and had a chance at a happy ending, she supported Aladdin in doing the right thing making her so much more than the token prize in my personal opinion. She gets to choose Aladdin, for who he is, not be given to him as a fake prince. Above all that she is clever and cunning, often figuring things out and so on.

2. What was the first Disney film you ever saw?

There’s some disagreement on this one. Some family members insist it was Bambi. Others Cinderella. It is likely one of those two. And those are the first two I remember so I can’t say for sure which. But I like to think, or hope, that it was Cinderella seeing as that film, and the tale in general, has been such a guiding light in my life. Whether it be the various Broadway adaptations, films such as Ever After, or very importantly the 2015 live action film from Disney (which I will spiel about incessantly on this blog), it all began with 1950 Cindy and her faith in her dreams. I know there is a lot of complaint about the themes of Cinderella and what they teach modern little girls about agency, but I’ve always viewed Cinderella, the character, and the film as having to do with someone who has every reason to give up continuing to press on. It’s the ever-hopeful, “it gets better” message. She’s an abuse survivor who doesn’t let that abuse or the difficult-to-change circumstances crush her spirit, her humanity, her ability to love and be loved. It may be unrealistic or idealistic, but there’s nothing wrong in taking inspiration from it anyways.

3. If you could ask Walt one question, what would it be?

I would probably ask him how he feels about Disney owning so many subsidiaries and sticking their foot into everything. Does Disney need to own Marvel? Star Wars? ESPN? FREEFORM? Etc. If that question could lead to a discussion, I would follow it up by asking him if he would prefer the company get back to its roots and focus on creating works of art (and awful live action films to support those works of art) that have the potential of breaking the bank a la Sleeping Beauty rather than focusing so much on the bottom line with ‘soulless’ blockbusters.

Actually, I would probably just ask him if he would have at least stepped in and stopped the horror of a Bruce Banner/Natasha Romanoff romance and if for any reason he even implied he liked said romance I would be forced to consider my life and my choices before throwing out every single Disney movie I own.

4. You’re asked to create an attraction at Disneyland based on a Disney movie. What do you create?

I am not really familiar with the parks or if anything along these lines has ever existed, but I’d like a Treasure Planet attraction. Maybe like a simulator of the RLS Legacy voyage complete with an immersive IMAX-like screen that makes you feel like you’re in the galaxy and then maybe it progresses to a chase by the pirates or the escape from Treasure Planet (I think I’m imagining it something like the immersive feeling of Philharmagic only with an actual boat ride that could simulate physical feelings. Physics-wise this is probably all but impossible?

5. What fairy tale that Disney haven’t yet adapted would you like to see them make?

I want Disney to do The Nutcracker.I know it’s not like your standard fairytale, but it has fairytale elements and I would love to see Disney take the whimsy of it, see how they change it as they do with everything, and turn it into a gorgeous animated film.

6. Gaston is excellent at most everything. But what are you better than Gaston at?

Self-deprecation. His down in the dumps scene is amateur hour.

7. What’s your favourite Disney song?

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Part of Your World (Reprise). I know that Part of Your World is her iconic song, but for me the reprise is that moment where all of her yearning for something turns into real, fierce determination. Eric is the closest she’s ever gotten to the human world and it fuels her longing so greatly that she says not matter when or how she’s going to go for what she wants. It’s foolish and reckless and passionate and powerful and leaves me breathless.

Honorable mentions to For The First Time In Forever (Reprise) which has come along in the recent canon and blown me away, Not In Nottingham for being the little forgotten jewel that tugs at my heart and speaks to me when I’m feeling blue, and I’m Still Here for being the ultimate, and rawest, want song of all the canon in my opinion.

8. What’s your least favourite Disney film?

I dislike a lot of Disney films actually. Not fond of too many of the live-action films to even name. I’m not fond of Pinocchio or Fantasia (I like the 2000 version though) or Alice In Wonderland or Sword in the Stone or The Black Cauldron among the ones that I typically name off the top of my head when someone asks. So pick one of those I guess. Oh and Brother Bear. I don’t think I ever want to sit through that film again, thank you very much.

9. You can live in any Disney film. Which one do you pick?

Um… I think Meet The Robinsons would be pretty fun. An imaginative future with retro leanings seems rad.

10. You’re the eighth member of the Dwarfs. What name do you go by?

Ditzy

11. Disney make a new Fantasia. Which musical pieces would you like to see them include?

Probably a lot of things, but especially Boléro by Maurice Ravel with the animation being a quick Disneyfied retelling of The 12 Dancing Princesses.

12. You can invite five Disney characters to a dinner party. Who do you choose and why?

I’d hang with the Big Hero 6 crew. Wait… that’s 6. In that case, how about:

ariel

Because she’s my girl.

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Because she’s my other girl and she could totally bring Rajah with her.

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Because Anita can teach me how to serve up my aesthetic 🙂

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Because I’ve always wanted to be Mulan’s best friend. I’ve always felt like she and me would get each other. Like we’d understand family pressures, not feeling like our parents understand us, wanting to honor them but also wanting to find ourselves, being sort of awkward, not overly feminine, etc. and I’d just love to have a heart to heart with her I guess.

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Because if you’re going to invite an obligatory male to this little dinner party Wasabi is the only one who makes sense 🙂 At least to me 🙂