Understanding a kid like Jake

What do you get when you put the stars of Homeland, The Big Bang Theory, and Insurgent in the same movie? Two parents and a preschool director.

Claire Danes and Jim Parsons play Alex and Greg Wheeler, parents of four-year-old Jake, who doesn’t really understand what’s wrong with playing dress-up and wanting to be a Disney princess for Halloween.

I can’t say I blame the kid though. I mean, who doesn’t want to play pretend? Heck, I’m 24 and I play pretend all the time when I’m writing. The conflict in the movie presents itself when family friend and preschool director – which now that I think about it seems like it would be a conflict of interest – Judy (Octavia Spencer) suggests that Jake’s parents use his nonconformity to try and get Jake into a good elementary school.

They walk a fine line between wanting Jake to be himself and wanting him to fit in with his classmates. I know that line all too well. Seriously, it might as well have been my shadow growing up.

I was listening to “The Other F Word” podcast recently, and I had an epiphany of sorts. On the podcast, the hosts and their guests talk about failure (or situations that can be perceived as failures) and how they dealt with them. This particular episode was about parenting.

Before I listened to it, I was skeptical. I am nowhere near ready to be a parent, although I have considered the idea. But they actually ended up discussing ADHD for the most part, which is one of the conditions I have. They talked about how ADHD manifests itself differently in different people, so it might seem like someone is lazy or just not trying when in reality they’re not stimulated enough.

I really identify with this. In elementary school, my teachers watched me like a hawk. This eventually turned me into an anxious people pleaser. The last thing I wanted was anybody to be mad at me.

In high school, I remember times when all I wanted to do was write, but homework consumed all my time outside of school. My creativity was suppressed as a result. And believe me, it sucked.

Even today, I still feel really suppressed sometimes. I’m working on embracing my own nonconformity, but it’s hard when the people around me don’t appreciate it and think I’m weird.


Sorry, but polarization isn’t in my nature

image: writing

I was talking to my friend Kaitlyn the other night, and we were discussing the other post that I sent to her so she could read it. She liked it, but she said it would’ve been better if it were a bit more polarizing.

Honestly, I’m still not sure what to do with that comment. I’m grateful for the feedback of course, but polarization just isn’t in my nature. Journalists -a group of people that I hope to be included in someday – aren’t supposed to pick sides. I like to think I’m able to see both sides of an issue, though some people would say otherwise.

Not all of my content here is impartial. Sometimes I write about what I’m going through, which is okay as long as I can keep myself in check and not vent all the time. And sometimes I respond to some of the pieces that I read with my own opinion. So I guess those can be called opinion pieces.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not even sure what some of my opinions are. Every time I try to voice them, I get shut down. There’s no such thing as a civil discussion about politics in my house. But I digress.

Even when I respond to an article, I can usually see where the author is coming from. I don’t immediately start seeing red if I disagree with something. At least I don’t think I do. It’s hard to tell.




I’ve been watching Future Man on Hulu recently – hence the photo – and because I’m a nerd (and trying to be proud of it), I turned on the Spanish subtitles. It’s also a way to ease myself back into Spanish.

It’s really cool to see how certain words are translated into Spanish. Sometimes, they’ll use a phrase instead of just one word. Because realistically, not everything has an English equivalent; translation is never going to be exact, and that’s okay.

But I also have a bit of a problem. Either I’m too busy focusing on the subtitles to pay attention to the action, or vice versa. I wish I could focus on both at once. But is that even possible?


Spain seems to be confused


I’m still working my way through Harry Potter y el prisoner de Azkaban. It’s actually my New Year’s resolution to finish it. However, there seems to be a translation faux pas.

Let’s break it down, shall we? Here’s a passage from the book in Spanish:


Si recuerda a los clientes que hasta nuevo adviso los dementores patrullarán las calles cada noche después de la puesta de sol. Se ha tomado esta medida pensando en la seguridad de los habitantes de Hogsmeade y se levantará tras la captura de Sirius Black. Es aconsejable, por lo tanto, que los ciudadanos finalicen las compras mucho antes de que se haga de noche.

Felices Pascuas!

This is the same passage in English:


Customers are reminded that until further notice, dementors will be patrolling the streets of Hogsmeade every night after sundown. This measure has been put in place for the safety of Hogsmeade residents and will be lifted upon the recapture of Sirius Black. It is therefore advisable that you complete your shopping well before nightfall.

Merry Christmas!

The difference between the two is that “Pascuas” means Easter, not Christmas. And at other points in the Spanish version, it mentions “arboles de Navidad”, or Christmas trees. But then in the dialogue, Harry, Ron, and Hermione say “Felices Pascuas”. How did the two holidays get mixed up in the translation, and why does it switch from talking about Easter to talking about Christmas? The only thing I can think of is that someone had a bit too much “cerveza de mantequilla”, or butterbeer, while they were translating.


Thoughts on Outlander’s accuracy


A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this article about Outlander. I know I said before that I was somewhat disappointed in this season because they changed some of the little things that I’d been looking forward to, but all in all, I’m actually quite satisfied with the television adaptation.

The accuracy actually makes it more fun for me, because I get to see the major storylines – including some of my favorite parts – come to life. And I know it’s going to be good, because all of the actors are amazing.

I may be picky about some things, but overall, I trust the writers because they consult Diana Gabaldon – she’s literally the first person in the end credits, which means they care about getting it right. And I don’t think Diana would let them get away with too many changes. If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

The best changes that they’ve made are the ones that blend in with the storyline so well that it’s not obvious they’ve changed anything. And if I find out that the writers did in fact change something, I don’t even care because it was so much fun to watch.

Blowing things out of proportion much?

This article, on the other hand, is a bit ridiculous. Yes, I noticed that Jamie wasn’t holding his grandson in the season finale. But is it really that much of a disappointment for some people? Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less.

Is “Why didn’t Jamie hold his grandson?” really something worth writing an entire article about? It kind of seems like the writer was grasping at straws to find a topic because they needed to meet a deadline.


I like that you’re broken

“You feel the things most of us run away from, the things the rest of us are too bottled up to feel”

Colin Firth, Arthur Newman

Picture this: Colin Firth and Emily Blunt’s characters are sitting by a motel pool.  Emily Blunt’s character (Mike) is having a panic attack like you’ve never seen because she’s afraid that she will end up schizophrenic like her sister.  Colin Firth’s character (Arthur) sits with her and says the above.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks; I don’t think I’ve ever related to anything more.  Because I’m the same way.  I feel everything so powerfully, especially when I’m trying to make sense of something.  

Hearing Arthur say that to Mike was liberating for me.  Someone finally said that it was okay to be overwhelmed by feelings some times.  It’s not necessarily fun, of course, but it doesn’t make me crazy.  And as long as I have a grip on reality — for example, I don’t start thinking fictional characters are real — it can actually be an asset as a writer.  If certain characters didn’t mean as much to me as they do, I wouldn’t be able to come up with my own stories about them.  My fan fiction wouldn’t exist.

However, there’s also another reason I love Arthur Newman.  And no, it’s not just because Emily Blunt is important to me, though she is the reason I wanted to watch the movie in the first place.  I was able to relate to the movie as a whole.  Colin Firth’s character was actually a man named Wallace Avery, a man who faked his own death to get a new lease on life.  He sees Mike in the aftermath of a car accident and takes her to the hospital.  

After she’s released from the hospital and she hitches a ride with him, Mike realizes Arthur isn’t who he claims to be — she find his real ID in his car, which he stole (or maybe he paid for it, I can’t remember).  Wallace/Arthur is obviously annoyed, but he doesn’t get mad or tell her to go away.  He’s not afraid his secret will be exposed.

As they spend the next few days together and get to know each other, Mike spills her own beans — her real name is Charlotte.  “Mike” is actually a nickname of sorts for her sister, Mckayla, whom she dropped off at a mental hospital and whose identity she stole.  She wanted a fresh start in life, too.

This next part gets a little crazy.  In the course of their whirlwind relationship, they break into people’s houses and … hang out, to put it lightly.  It was a bit triggering for me because I didn’t want them to cross the line and lose their grip on reality — that’s my own worst fear.  At the same time, I gave them the benefit of the doubt because I know what it’s like to want to be someone else.  Their brokenness and need for escapism brought them together, and that’s what really resonated with me.  They eventually went their separate ways and back to their own realities, but it was nice while it lasted.


Leerie speak

My favorite part of “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” is when Mary Poppins slips into “leerie speak”. The rhythm is soothing, and realistically, it’s probably the closest thing to rapping Emily Blunt is ever going to do.

However, I’ve been thinking about it recently, and something doesn’t quite add up. When he’s explaining “leerie speak” to the children, Jack says

Kick and prance – it means “dance”

It’s Leerie speak. You don’t say the word you mean

mean; you say something that rhymes only –

Here, I’ll show you how it works. Angus …

Give us your weep and wail

To the rest of ya, that means: “tale”

Leerie speak uses words to mean other words in the same language. How does one Leerie know what another is talking about? From the little information in the movie, it seems like you’d always need a translator.

I know it’s a movie, so it doesn’t really need to make sense, but that’s the language nerd in me rearing its head.


Where do we draw the line?


So, I came across this article by way of another article that Google shoved in my face. Somehow it knows I’m really into Mary Poppins and Emily Blunt lately. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but it still feels like my guilty pleasure is on display or something. It could be worse, I suppose.

Anyway, the essay argues that Mary Poppins is “flirting with blackface”.

 When the magical nanny (played by Julie Andrews) accompanies her young charges, Michael and Jane Banks, up their chimney, her face gets covered in soot, but instead of wiping it off, she gamely powders her nose and cheeks even blacker. Then she leads the children on a dancing exploration of London rooftops with Dick Van Dyke’s sooty chimney sweep, Bert.
This might seem like an innocuous comic scene if Travers’s novels didn’t associate chimney sweeps’ blackened faces with racial caricature. “Don’t touch me, you black heathen,” a housemaid screams in “Mary Poppins Opens the Door” (1943), as a sweep reaches out his darkened hand. When he tries to approach the cook, she threatens to quit: “If that Hottentot goes into the chimney, I shall go out the door,”she says, using an archaic slur for black South Africans that recurs on page and screen.

Daniel Polack-Pelzner, The New York Times

It’s obvious that if Mary Poppins were published today, it wouldn’t go over well at all. But we can’t always examine history through a modern lens. Sometimes, it has to be looked at in the context of its own time period. If these slurs were a problem in the 1940s, there’s no way P.L. Travers would have been published. But she was; society didn’t recognize these words or sentiments as slurs.

And I really don’t think Disney was trying to be controversial either. But there’s more:

The 1964 film replays this racial panic in a farcical key. When the dark figures of the chimney sweeps step in time on a roof, a naval buffoon, Admiral Boom, shouts, “We’re being attacked by Hottentots!” and orders his cannon to be fired at the “cheeky devils.” We’re in on the joke, such as it is: These aren’t really black Africans; they’re grinning white dancers in blackface. It’s a parody of black menace; it’s even posted on a white nationalist website as evidence of the film’s racial hierarchy. And it’s not only fools like the Admiral who invoke this language. In the 1952 novel “Mary Poppins in the Park,” the nanny herself tells an upset young Michael, “I understand that you’re behaving like a Hottentot.”

Daniel Polack-Pelzner, The New York Times

I mean, Mary Poppins has a friend who’s a chimney sweep. What do you expect? No one was making fun of anyone at all. And anyway, it’s just a story, and fiction at that. It’s not meant to offend anyone. I’m not trying to absolve P.L. Travers or Disney of accountability or anything like that. I’m just trying to point out that if we view everything through today’s societal lens, we lose important context, and we risk sucking all the fun out of both Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Returns.


Tripping the light fantastic


I was watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel the other day, when I noticed something. In the episode I was watching, the Maisel family is on vacation in the Catskills, and Moishe asks his wife, Shirley, to dance with him. He says

Shirley Maisel, it’s time to trip the light fantastic, you big winner.

Which, of course, reminded me of this scene from Mary Poppins Returns:

So, I looked up the phrase to find out its significance. Actually, my mom initially looked up, if we’re going to get technical. This is what we found:

To “trip the light fantastic” is to dance nimbly or lightly, or to move in a pattern to musical accompaniment. It is often used in a humorous vein. As early as 1908, it was viewed as a cliché or hackneyed phrase


I know, I know. It’s from Wikipedia. But at least it provides a basic definition of the phrase.


Jack’s rap game

It would’ve been a waste of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s talent if Mary Poppins Returns didn’t have Jack rapping at some point. I didn’t mention it in my movie review because I couldn’t remember if he did or not. After I saw the movie, my head was spinning, so I couldn’t really think straight when I wrote the review.

Anyway, please enjoy Jack’s rap.