The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

Disney Princes: Brom Bones

brom bones sleepy hollow

Brom Bones

First Impression: He races through town on a horse (foreshadowing) terrorizing the townspeople, but evoking laughs from his friends. He pops the top on a keg so they all can drink, but also makes sure the dogs and horses get a taste. Talk about a Save the Cat/Pet the Dog moment. One gets the impression that, in this village where how well you can run a farm is valued, Brom is top of the pops. How much consideration he has for the fellows around him is variable though.

Appearance: He’s got the sinewy biceps of Gaston and the silky voice of Bing Crosby and the lantern jaw of a superhero. Might need to update his haircut though.

Intelligence: Above expectations, as one would expect for the musclebound. There’s not much evidence of book-learning, so don’t expect to bring him to Shakespeare in the Park on your date. But one hopes he doesn’t dismiss aspirations of wisdom.

Job/Source of Income: Don’t discount the fact that he’s a blue collar worker. This was a valued occupation in this time of America’s youth. And I fully expect him to make something of himself, if not through who he knows than through hard work.

Sense of Humor: He’s a brute, but he’s jovial. Loves a good practical joke. Problem is, that kind of humor is antiquated. But he can spin a good yarn.

Critical Fault: Good ol’ boy. He’d be the first to dodge a statutory rape charge. It’s not a terribly feminist film.

Dat bustle tho

Quality of Sidekick: This cartoon’s too short for Brom to get a proper sidekick. Everyone in town’s a little bit his crony, so maybe if you lump them all together? Or maybe you can call Katrina Van Tassel his sidekick? Except instead of a toady, she’s playing with his heart? I dunno, I’m reaching here.

Relatability: Hard to judge. The only other female in this short is a stuck-up rich girl who doesn’t speak. So if you’re a sorority sister, consider this an all-points bulletin. On the other hand, he does get into some hapless shenanigans and slapstick, and that’s always good for sympathy.

Talent: Stay close by him to make friends and advance your influence among the little people while you use your money to ensnare the elites. I have no doubt Katrina and Brom went on to control the town after their marriage.

Does he have a name? First and last. Above the median for Disney princes

The Books I Read: May – June 2017

bookshelf books

goodnight stories
The Book of Goodnight Stories by Vratislav Stovicek
(reread)

I got this book a long time ago because I had it as a kid and I wanted my kids to have it. There are 365 stories, one for each day of the year, although a lot of them are multi-parters, and each day is only about 250 words.

I have fond memories of this book, but on the re-read, it started becoming hard to get through. The stories I remember as a nine-year-old weren’t as full of whimsy and wonder. The tales weren’t diverse and magical. They started getting samey (right around August, I believe) and it’s not as much a compendium of fairy tales as I thought. Some are downright strange. There are no paragraph breaks and little dialogue. I wonder if I returned to my nine-year-old self, reading this volume for the first time, I’d feel the same way. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do understand now why my kids haven’t cracked it open.

astonishing x-men joss whedon
Astonishing X-Men, Volumes 1 & 2 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

Comic books. Is there anything they can’t do? Joss Whedon’s applies humor and heart-wrench, the same as any other work, to another group of motley misfits with superpowers and lack of understanding. And it works. It works so well. You don’t have to know more than a periphery of X-Men lore, but it helps. There’s past history–like where Colossus is and Emma Frost’s backstory–that’s hard to understand if you only know the MCU. But that’s why fan wikis are around. All the Whedon wit and charm is there. It feels like the best Buffy episodes.

Every panel of art is beautiful and makes you think, whatever John Cassady was paid, it wasn’t enough. At times I felt like I wasn’t paying enough attention to the panels so I was sacrireligizing the work. Some of them look like they should be wallpapers. However it does suffer from a common sickness of “too much content” in an image to tell what’s going on and too many spreads.

The writing is not all it’s cracked up to be. I always wonder how much the studio dictates and how much the writer does. I always imagine the studio’s saying “you gotta refer to this, this, and this that happened fifty issues ago” and “you gotta bring your characters to this point by issue 25 because that’s when we have our big crossover tie-in” and “Wolverine’s getting a six-issue run with some new title we’re trying to promote so don’t write anything with the most popular and interesting character for six months.” There are plot threads that cease developing, like a mutant cure, and the Breakworld aliens.

Nonetheless, this run is beautiful. It’s all beautiful.

street cat named bob
A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets by James Bowen

I discovered this book when the trailer for the movie came out. I love cats, but you rarely see them in movies — they’re difficult to train. And if you do see them, with terrible CG. But then I discovered it was based on a book.

When I was in middle school, I went through a phase where I read every book, fiction or non-fiction, about cats that my library had. The Cat Who Came For Christmas, A Cat Named Norton, The Tiger on my Couch (cat psychology), books by Lilian Jackson Braun. As such, I expected much the same thing. Except this had something a little different–the cat was “owned” by a homeless heroin addict. Well, as it turns out he’s not so homeless, and doesn’t really “own” the cat. But he is a busker and has to deal with making his living around that sort.

I didn’t expect much from the writing style, given the protagonist’s background, but he actually pulled off something eloquent and interesting. I’ve mentioned in reviews of a few past memoirs how the author hasn’t lived long enough or interesting enough to fill out a complete book. This one has. And it’s nice to see that same kind of masculinity exhibited by Newt Scamander in real life. It’s cozy and it’s heartwarming without being schmaltzy. And it feels like a real-life “a boy and his X” story.

kingdom keepers disney after dark
Kingdom Keepers I: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson

I barely finished this one. Thirty-three percent through and I was speed-reading just to get to the end. I really should have just stopped, but the idea sounded too good not to follow through, like Kingdom Hearts. But it’s not worth your time.

The concept is ideal for any Disneyphile-evil lurks in the park and five kids have to stop it, going on rides after close and exploring cast member tunnels and doing all the things you’re not allowed to do. Walt Disney World goes from a place of joy to a battleground. Anyone who’s been to a Disney Park at least once should be intrigued.

But you shouldn’t. It’s so poorly executed and poorly written. Like it was a rush job. The characters have no depth. They don’t even get the depth of stereotypes. No one has a personality. I could not tell you the difference between the two girls of this five person team. And they’re barely in the book as it is. Anyone who’s not the “team leader” gets barely any screen time. The two other boys are “the big guy” and “the computer guy” but “the big guy” occasionally feeds information about computers and “the computer guy” acts weak and nerdy. No one has internal goals or distinguishing characteristics. Power Rangers had better characterization.

The story is all event. And they throw in some BS about how these kids are “holographic cast members” and that gives them the ability to be in the park after it closes. This is a thing that doesn’t exist in the park, and I had to try explaining to my kids five times. It’s rooted in science but acts like magic and has no rules around it. It just happens. Once they’re in the park, they have to do some lame The Da Vinci Code style sleuthing, because Walt Disney knew that his movies were going to come to life and imprison the guests in dungeons down below. That’s a sentence I just said. This fetch quest accomplishes its job of filling out pages by making every obstacle the same–you get on a ride, the ride malfunctions, but you succeed anyway without any lasting consequences. Goalposts are never pushed back.

Kids deserve better than this. The only highlight is seeing the things you saw in Disney World, and only in the “hey I remember that” way.

This is no Percy Jackson or Wimpy Kid. I did not care whether the characters lived or died. And there were too many of them anyway. In addition to the Team of Five, there are two girls with ambiguous motives but the same non-personality, an Imagineer mentor, and “the adults who know nothing”. The author can explain the Utilidor under the park, but not why these kids matrix-jump into their holograms when they fall asleep nor how that works. That’s like Benedict Cumberbatch doing the mocap for Smaug, then going to sleep and finding himself IN the film. It feels like the author was writing to a deadline or to the specifications of investors and focus groups. Pick up a Travel Guide instead.

lamb christopher moore
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

It’s a long one, but it’s good enough that you don’t tap your foot. After reading this I now have better knowledge and understanding of the New Testament. Furthermore, despite being an atheist, this book brought me closer to embracing becoming a Christian and identifying Jesus Christ as a philosopher to follow. It’ll never happen, but it got me closer.

Since there’s nothing in the bible about Jesus between when he’s born and when he’s the prophet, this book helpfully fills in the gaps. And it’s all from the perspective of Biff. They start from the beginning when the two boys meet, as Jesus (called Joshua in the book) is doing a trick for his younger siblings of killing a lizard, then putting it in his mouth to resurrect it (he’s only four or so). The nice thing about this scene is that it’s a gatekeeper for any fundamentalist who can’t take a joke. And that’s important because, well, look what I said in the first paragraph.

The book leads us all the way around Roman-occupied Jerusalem, and keeps (as far as I can tell) historically accurate. Although that’s hard because cultural records from that era are spotty at best. But there’s never a dumbing down or overly-smartening the text. It’s a fine adventure, fine to read, and has diverse characters. Characters whom you care what happens to them. It’s the story of Jesus accepting his position as the son of God, but not getting the answers on what to do with it. So he goes on a journey to find those answers, and meets the three wise men who sought his birth. It’s from these people he learns the blend of Western and Eastern philosophy he uses to become the orator we all know and love.

So yes, even though it’s long, it’s worth your time. Especially if you need something non-heavy that’s not a romance or mystery.

tender wings of desire colonel sanders
Tender Wings of Desire by Colonel Sanders

Needs more chicken.

Okay, so this is a free novella put out by KFC for Mother’s Day, as a “thank you” to all the hard-working moms who bring dinner home in a bucket sometimes. This must have been the most bizarre bit of marketing that didn’t involve goat sacrifice or racist tweets.

The problem is, this book is played straight. It’s a basic Victorian regency story about a high-class woman conscripted to marry. She runs away from her English mansion and becomes a waitress in a pub, working for a tough-talking but heart-of-gold barmaid. She falls in love with one of the patrons, a sailor. But the cover is Colonel Sanders embracing a suburban mom holding a fried chicken leg. So you can understand my confusion. I mean, it’s CALLED “Tender Wings” and there’s not even so much as a drummie within. I think it takes place before fried chicken was invented, if that’s irony for you.

I was expecting something more tongue-in-cheek, something with more humor. Because come on, the whole concept is ridiculous. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it just turns out that the beau she falls in love with is named “Harland Sanders”, and we only learn that through a letter calling him back to America for his “chicken empire”? I guess it’s too subtle for me.

But it’s competently written. More than I expected for a free eBook coming from one of the lesser fast food chains (seriously, I haven’t seen a KFC around my parts for years. The nearest one is twenty miles from my house). I have fond memories of KFC — my mom WAS the person bringing it home for dinner on nights she couldn’t cook (although she didn’t read bodice rippers). So, just like the food this place delivers, my expectations were met.

hannah hart buffering
Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart

Hannah Hart should not exist.

Her presence in the world defies natural order to things. Because there is no way a woman from this background–a background of foster families, drugs, mental illness, international fame, fundamentalist parents, schizophrenic parents, self-harm, social services, and such and so forth–becomes as positive and optimistic and a generational leader as she does. There’s no universe where that computes.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I get apprehensive around memoirs by people under thirty years old. You never really know if their life is interesting enough for a whole book. But I had no doubts about Hannah Hart.

I watched Hannah in her early days. She only ever released little tidbits about her life in her videos. She was attracted to Scarlett Johanssen in one, that she was emancipated from her parents in another. It set up a bizarre puzzle for viewers. But little did I know this was no five hundred piecer. This was a two-thousand. With no border. And it’s all Persian cat faces.

This book answers the questions of that mystery. But there’s so much to unpack that you never truly understand it all (which is the sign of a good book). None of the terror that must have been present in Hannah Hart’s life comes through in her videos. So how can she function as a human being?

As far as the book itself, her talent extends to the written word. It’s full of wit and humor, but also pathos and drama. There is sufficient ups and downs that it’s never tonally consistent. But that’s a good thing, because the palate is always cleansed and the meal never takes too long to cook. Hannah goes from talking about being homeless to how to be a good traveler. It’ll leave an impression on you.

dead wake
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
(unfinished)

I’m just not in a place to be reading non-fiction history books right now. Let alone history books that are doorstops. Like I’ve said before, my writing has suffered in the last year because I’m not reading books that excite me and inspire me to write. I need to read books in my own genre and this is not one of them. Just how much detail does this book need? Do I need to know every little particular? Do I need to know what the captain ate for breakfast? Was that part of the u-boat attack?

Maybe there is a story behind the Lusitania but I’m not sure it needs to be this many pages. I was hoping for something like Unbroken but there isn’t a main character to hang a hat on. It feels very much like the author is spitting back research, not creating a narrative.

unsould
Unsoul’d by Barry Lyga

The main character is SUPER unlikable. He’s a douchebag that fucks multiple women, is vulgar, lazy, does stupid adult things. There’s a lot of sex, to the point of being porn-like. And the things he does don’t justify the ending.There’s an underlying technique of “is this actually all in his mind?” that distracts from the text.

The central idea is “what if a down-on-his-luck author actually did make a deal with the devil for a bestselling book”. The problem is that this is a character book. And the kind of character who would make this deal is a douchebag. Like if Stephen King drank a Jekyll-and-Hyde potion and all we saw was Hyde. Sad to say, Barry Lyga is no longer one of my favorite authors. I probably wouldn’t have finished it if it hadn’t been so short.

save the cat blake snyder
Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

I sought this book to learn more about the monomyth and a “formula” for a winning story. This book has that, but it’s important to be a filter and not a sponge when reading it.

I heard of this book from an Imgur post when Blake Snyder died. It laid out the steps of every top-grossing Hollywood movie. (This poster applied it to Frozen.) I’m always up for anything that makes writing easier so I kept it favorited until I had a chance to really break it down.

But there’s more to this book than just “the formula”. It’s also making sure that you have everything needed to sell a script. Like log lines, a catchy title, and things that don’t matter so much in the book-writing world.

And the biggest reason you need to be a filter is that this guy makes claims that he’s made hundreds of thousands in residuals, been in the industry long enough to know the keys failures and successes, like he’s Ron Popeil selling a juicemaster. He’s been called “Hollywood’s most successful spec screenwriter”. The problem? Check out this guy’s IMDb page. His claim to fame is Blank Check which was harshly lampooned by The Nostalgia Critic. Second place? Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Occasionally he uses, as examples, older movies and movies I’ve never heard of. I would think if you want to be successful, you want to keep your case studies as current and outstanding as possible.

So this makes you think “why should we listen?” The answer is because, sometimes, people are better at teaching than doing. And while there are flaws in the technique, the content is solid. Well, I don’t know if it works or not, but if you’re wise, there’s things inside that I believe can help you with writing.

lovecraft country matt ruff
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
(unfinished)

I reached 63% before I decided to stop. Many times in the past, I would have told myself to keep going just to finish it. But that was the old me. Each time I picked it up, I’d sigh and look at how much more I had to go.

The anthology format doesn’t work for me. It usually doesn’t. The racism part is what intrigued me. I heard about this book from Scalzi’s big idea, and the excerpt hooked me in. Lovecraft monsters + the soft racism of Driving Miss Daisy. I love that genre-mixing. But if you came to this looking for Cthulhu, you’ll be disappointed. There is little horror and the social commentary becomes its own character, overshadowing the already shadow-thin cast therein.

They aren’t interesting enough for me to want to continue. True, they have more depth than just “they’re black”, but I also couldn’t care whether they lived or died. Maybe it’s because of the format. Each story focuses on a different person in this family that’s connected to another family of cultists. None of them are distinct or sympathetic enough. The writing style is blah too. Descriptions of physical environments are mechanical and go on too long. The author describes each step a character takes instead of summarizing it.

The big idea is great. It just needed to be executed better. Needed some condensing or editing to give more pressure per square word. But I look forward to seeing Jordan Peele’s take on it.

ella enchanted gail carson levine
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Fantastic. Beautiful. It reminds me of Wren’s Quest by Sherwood Smith, one of my formative books. It’s what I wish Diana Wynne Jones had written like. My only quibble is that the style is functional to the extreme. You won’t find any beauty of prose here. But in my opinion, that’s a good problem to have. It keeps tension high and still uses vocabulary to keep you in a world (like “sparrowgrass” for asparagus).

It’s a version of Shrek for the intellectual. Less in-your-face and fart joke-laden. More for those who’ve read original versions and appreciates guilty pleasures. People who like “Into the Woods”. Plus all the characters are likable. The most negative part is the predictable ending. Not that you know what’s going to happen (you do), but you’re bored waiting for it to play out.

But I gave it five stars. However, those looking for twee elfin phrases will be disappointed.

Disney Princes: The Beast

beauty and the beast disney

The Beast

First Impression: Ooh… it’s very hard to recover your rep when you A) skulk in the shadows, wearing nothing but a cloak and pants like The Hulk B) lock someone’s father in a tower. But the whole point of the story is turning from monster to man, so…

Wait, my image search came up with more results. Is this the Beast?

Appearance: Resembles a giant buffalo/gorilla/bear/wolf-thing. And despite this, more people prefer his beast form to human, which resembles a French aristocrat with long flowing locks and big blue eyes.

Intelligence: Sources are sketchy on this. On one hand, he’s got a huge-ass library. On the other, if you believe the deleted scenes, Belle has to teach him to read. There are all kinds of intelligence–kinetic, spatial, musical, logical–but he really doesn’t demonstrate any of these. He’s just a schmoe adapting to life with a pretty girl in his house.

Ah, hang on. This looks closer.

Job/Source of Income: Inherited. But waning fast. I can’t imagine anyone is out collecting the taxes.

Well, this one looks pretty close too.

Sense of Humor: Little to none. His sense of humor comes from the way he does everything “wrong”. Some guys just aren’t funny.

Huh, this one looks pretty beast-like. And a little Klingon.

Critical Fault: Verbally abusive and violent. The trope namer of the fixer-upper boyfriend.

But this one’s all handsome and Phantom-of-the-Opera-brooding

Quality of sidekick: Despite the fact that his best friends are products from Pier 1 Imports, they stay by his side. But not because they have to, because they could have left his employ before he was cursed. But they didn’t. Something to be said for that.

But wait, the image search says this is the Beast. But it just looks like a fat gray guy. Love the Long Fall Boots though.

Relatability: He starts out representing the dark side, the side you wish you could use when someone cuts you off in traffic or brings you into a pointless meeting. And by the end, he’s a fine respectable gentleman, and women want to date him.

Is this the Beast too? Geez, so many iterations

Talent: Jumping, climbing, clawing, roaring. Can lick his own balls.

I searched for “number of beasts” and this is what I got — more beasts!

Does he have a name? No. Still no canon source have given dear Beasty a name. Not even the live-action film took the opportunity. Tsk tsk.

Disney Princes: Flynn Rider

Flynn Rider tangled

Flynn Rider

(a.k.a. Eugene Fitzherbert)

First Impression: A selfish cad who we’re supposed to sympathize with because “this is the story of how he died”, which is a cheaty way of creating intrigue. His first line is “Guys, I’ve made up my mind. I want a castle.” This didn’t endear him to me because one of my pet peeves is not staying on task during a crucial time. And it’s compounded by betrayal of his companions immediately after. Arrogant, deceitful, and trouble-making are not qualities you want in a protagonist.

Appearance: Slender, muscular, handsome, fair skin, dark brown hair and goatee, light brown eyes. Also, watch out for the smolder.

Crap, typo…
Ah, there we go

Intelligence: Street smart, but let’s face it — he grew up at an orphanage. Can he read?

Job/Source of Income: None. I mean, like literally, he is a thief and has no steady job. Now after he gets married, he has a job as Prince Consort and trainer of guards, but really… I mean, come on girls, do you want a man who gets his job after and because he gets married to you?

Sense of humor: Fantastic. I especially like it when he has to drop his facade and realize how out of his shit he his when he sword-fights a horse with a frying pan.

Critical fault: Conceited and steals your stuff

Quality of sidekick: Has a true bromance with Maximus. If your guy’s best friend is a horse, why would you ever mind when they go out with his friends. No such thing as a third wheel there.

Relatability: Despite what the first impression is, his charm supersedes it quickly.

Talent: Thief things like breaking into places, escaping from those places, escaping, spending ill-gotten gains. And like all medieval thieves, he has a +1 in Agility and Athletics.

Does he have a name? He has two. As we’ll soon see, I wish he would give one to one of the other princes.

The Disney Princes

disney prince line-up

This was inspired by Pocket Princesses, a fan comic by Amy Mebberson, which was an inspiration for “Reprise”. Everyone makes a big deal out of the Disney Princesses, but where’s the love for the princes? It’s with the princesses. Duh. That’s why they’re together.

Ahem.

Well, I’ve got to have something to make blog posts from.

So these won’t be as comprehensive or analytic. There also won’t be as many of them since, while most Disney movies contain a villain, not all include a prince. Also, there’s a big difference between “prince” and “male protagonist/deuteragonist”, and that’s key. Not all Disney princes are of royal lineage, but they have to be involved with the female protagonist. These are the movies that won’t be covered.

  • Pinocchio
  • Fantasia or Fantasia 2000
  • Dumbo
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • 101 Dalmatians
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Aristocats
  • Lady and the Tramp
  • Robin Hood
  • The Rescuers
  • The Fox and the Hound
  • The Great Mouse Detective
  • Oliver and Company
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Dinosaur
  • The Emperor’s New Groove
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  • Treasure Planet
  • Brother Bear
  • Home on the Range
  • Chicken Little
  • Meet the Robinsons
  • Bolt
  • Brave
  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Big Hero 6
  • Zootopia
  • Moana

You got a problem with any of these decisions, cash me outside. How bou dah?

Princes will be judged subjectively on the following material:

  • First Impression
  • Appearance
  • Intelligence
  • Job/Source of Income
  • Sense of humor
  • Critical fault
  • Quality of sidekick
  • Relatability
  • Talent
  • Does he have a name?

Check for updates to see who’s the first to take the stage.

Arguing Against Tony Goldmark re: The Emoji Movie

emoji movie poop poster

So I love Tony Goldmark, but he said something on Twitter today that didn’t sit right with me.

“Glad they finally opened that Friendly Argument section.”

I swear I’m doing this out of love for the guy. Signal-boosting. And since I can’t access Twitter at work, here’s his statement.

Okay, hot take of the decade, but it’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it:

Y’all motherfuckas ain’t giving THE EMOJI MOVIE a chance.

The trailer looks no worse than the other kajillion CGI kids movies released in the last few years. You just hate it already because emojis. And why? WRECK-IT RALPH took place in video games and everyone loved it. Why not a phone?

“Well, exactly! It’s a WRECK-IT RALPH rip-off!” I guess… in the same way SLEEPING BEAUTY was a SNOW WHITE rip-off, I guess. It’s only the second “what if lines of code had feelings” movie. The premise hasn’t been done to death. There’s room to play in the sandbox. No, I know EXACTLY why everyone who gave WRECK-IT RALPH a chance is hating on THE EMOJI MOVIE without seeing it.

WRECK-IT RALPH was based on nostalgic shit from your childhood. THE EMOJI MOVIE is based on shit from children’s current childhoods. And because it’s based on some NEW dadblasted millennial contraption that didn’t exist when you were a kid, it has no right to exist, right?

I promise you, if RALPH had come out in the 80’s, it would’ve gotten that same reception. Hell, no critics took TRON seriously at the time. Instead, RALPH came out in 2012, when it didn’t make a lick of sense that kids would still be hanging out at arcades. So it was brilliant.

Will THE EMOJI MOVIE be good? I don’t fucking know, I haven’t seen it. But it MIGHT be. There, I said it.

First, my counter-arguments. I don’t believe the timeliness or “millenniality” is a contributing factor. Yes, Wreck-It Ralph leaned heavily on nostalgia for appeal, but it used video games from a variety of generations. Its three main pastiches (“Wreck It-Ralph”, “Hero’s Duty”, “Sugar Rush”) were “Donkey Kong” (1981), Halo (2001), and a Candy Crush (2012) skin of Mario Kart (which is timeless).

I don’t think people older than millennials hate emojis. They use them as much as kids. Commercials feature them for a variety of products (no Viagra ones yet, but there’s still time). I would welcome a hard-hitting drama about a YouTuber or a Tinder-based romcom or The Minecraft Movie (in the vein of Lego). Those situations are rife with good story elements and drama. And nostalgia has the advantage that the good is remembered and the bad is forgotten (i.e., no pog movie yet).

And I’m not questioning the premise either, though I think the “what if X had feelings” is just a flavor of anthropomorphizing. That’s been in entertainment since the wee days — animals, furniture, nature. There are similarities, but those are superficial. It’s pretty clear it’s not trying to duplicate the essential parts of Wreck-It Ralph.

HOWEVER… based on its most recent trailer, its plot points have a lot in common with INSIDE OUT. 1) The protagonists exist in a sub-world of the human world. 2) This sub-world exists for the benefit of a single human who “owns” it. 3) Beings of this sub-world are archetyped to single defining emotions 4) The main character is being forced to feel an emotion he doesn’t want to 5) (and this is the biggest) The main plot is “I’m lost”. The character falls out of his home and must journey through “weird-land” with a reluctant sidekick. Hey, I’m just calling them like I’m seeing them.

Finally, context. I think it’s unfair to compare Wreck-It Ralph to The Emoji Movie and not just because it’s Disney against… well, any other animation studio. More on that later. But while one could argue that games like Q*Bert and Tapper and Donkey Kong didn’t have stories, they DID have context. They were basic bad guy vs. good guy situations, but they existed. And the movie expands on that. That’s its very theme–what makes a bad guy bad?

Brings a tear to my eye every time

But emojis do not have context. They are hieroglyphics. It’s like making a movie based on letters. Video games have a rich history to draw from. Emojis are symbols to which meaning must be derived. This movie is adding context to something that’s not there. And while there’s no monopoly on the “what if X had feelings?” story, you’re only ever going to be seen as scavenging Pixar’s trash bin unless you really have an original idea.

No, my prejudicial hate for The Emoji Movie is based on entirely different reasons.

Like I said, it’s unfair to compare anything to Disney. On the other hand, this is Sony Animation Studios. Their last five animated releases were Smurfs: The Lost Village, Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania (featuring the voices of real WWE wrestlers), Open Season: Scared Silly, Goosebumps, and Hotel Transylvania 2.

Titanic. The Musical. With talking animals. It had a rapping dog. Someone thought this was art.

And as the generation who experienced this wave first hand–the wave of poorly written, poorly produced films to sell toys (My Pet Monster, Care Bears, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, G.I. Joe, even my beloved Garfield … heck, just look at the first year of Nostalgia Critic videos), I can see the signs like I am a friggin’ prophet. Studios are mass-producing CG schlock to make a few bucks or fill out their schedule. Cheap animation, no story, and movie-makers who just don’t care. And nothing’s worse than art made by people who don’t care.

And let’s look who’s working on it. The director’s other movies were Igor, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, and Kronk’s New Groove. The writers were responsible for two of those, plus School of Rock and Big Hero 6 (I’m skipping all their no-names). The first-credited stars are Anna Faris and T.J. Miller — fine actors and comedians, but arguably two of the most annoying voices in Hollywood today.

We are living in a world of The Boss Baby, Norm of the North, Storks, Trolls, Minions, and Sing. And God help you if you start perusing the bowels of the Kids’ Animation genre on Netflix. The way they’re marketing has the same feel of that crap too, the feel of The Angry Birds Movie and Pixels (as in “hey, you recognize this! Now watch the movie!”). Just garbage where the main selling factor is pop culture, either old or new, standing on the droppings of giants. They’re clearly capitalizing on a fad. So why shouldn’t I pre-emptively hate it, when it’s got all the earmarks of those movies I just mentioned.

The jokes are low brow and dumb. The characters have no personality or thought put in. The story is a rough draft. Every piece of marketing makes sure to mention that one of the characters is poop. That tells me the intended audience is the lowest common denominator. Even the name! “The Emoji Movie” That’s not a title, that’s a pitch. It’s not named after the main character or the theme or setting. It’s a clear indication that no one behind the film cares.* This pisses me off because the money that went towards this movie could have gone to the new Labyrinth or Pulp Fiction or even a Men in Black. Something with a little risk. Something without an existing IP.

The Emoji Movie has a high bar to jump to distinguish itself from all the other junk being released these days. And it sure doesn’t look like it’s going to clear it. I’m not denying it has a chance. If you drop a fork, it has “a chance” that it’ll float instead of falling on the floor. But given the evidence, would you take that bet?

*It occurs to me that The Lego Movie had the same thing, and it was awesome. One of my all-time favorite movies. So that may be a point in Tony’s favor. However, I’ll point out that The Lego Movie did it first, and I believe others are copying it. So this one’s a push.

Ranking the Disney Princesses

disney princesses ranked

Now I could be real fancy and do the same thing I did for the villains, using all kinds of nuanced criteria, calculated factors, and science theory. But fuck it, I’m just going with my heart. After all, that’s what the princesses did, right?

From bottom to top:

Princess Aurora

She only has seventeen minutes of screen time. And she spends that either in a trance or dancing with owls and other vermin. Maybe that’s why Maleficent gets all the reviews, because it’s so easy to overshadow the protagonist.

Pocahontas

If it wasn’t for Aurora being such a piece of cardboard, she would get the award for worst. She’s preachy, hypocritical, and does nothing within her story arc. Her whole thing is “running from the steady path”, but she gets right back on it. Refusing the smoothest course gets people killed. Nice job breaking it, hero. People applaud her for her bravery, I call it not knowing risks, like playing with a bear cub, or getting right in front of a gun (or anything that happens in Wild). Oh, and Meeko’s a jerk too.

Snow White

She just looks like a creepy kewpie doll. I give a little credit that this was Disney’s first princess and she started many of the tropes (cleaning, woodland animals, singing, princes), but she looks like a mannequin and acts like a RealDoll. And the alabaster skin isn’t helping.

Cinderella

I give points for not falling into some of the more subtle trappings of the grouping. She’s not all sunshine and happiness with a kind word for everybody. She gets irritated at the clock, potshots the cat for ruining the clean floor, comments on her sisters’ “music lesson”, and broke the rules to get to the ball. (In my head canon, Cinderella pulled a Tyler Durden and actually coach-jacked someone to get there). She didn’t even go searching for a prince, she just wanted to have a good time.

Jasmine

Most people give Jasmine credit because he helped bloom their burgeoning sexuality. I don’t give points for that. It’s nice that she has enough self-worth to consider herself not a prize to be won… but she doesn’t do anything to distinguish herself to that end. She’s still the ball that Jafar and Aladdin are bouncing back and forth. A bare midriff does not a princess make.

Anna

She just had a Five Guys burder. “DAMN-DAMN-DAMN!”

The classic little sister. All hyper and plucky and clumsiness and adorkability. But after a while, wouldn’t that just grate on you? Yeah, she’s funny, but she can only accidentally hit you in the eye so many times. Thankfully, the point of Frozen is about her maturing, but her older sister makes us forget that she still exists.

Mulan

A tight little warrior. She’s not good at being a marriageable girl, but she’s a fine knight-in-shiny-underpants. But her lack of self-confidence gets annoying. Along with her stupid donkey-dragon that won’t shut up. Why couldn’t her and Pocahontas have switched sidekicks? And, look, I’m just gonna say it — she’s not that pretty. I like her resourcefulness, but her arc still hinges on refusing the steady path. Is she just a Chinese Pocahontas?

Tiana

I might have ranked her lower, but Doug Walker’s Top Ten Hottest Animated Women introduced me to a few factors I hadn’t thought of. Most of all that she’s such a workaholic (to the point of ridiculousness). And workaholics get shit done. I bet she’d still be baking beignets as a frog if she hadn’t changed back. And even though she has no relation to the bad guy, I like the Faustian bargain she’s faced with at the end. Plus her friend Lottie is hilarious.

Rapunzel

I consider Rapunzel an artsy version of Tiana. Whereas the queen of New Orleans learned business and food services, Rapunzel honed her art skills. If they went to college, Rapunzel would have gotten a B.A. and Tiana a B.S. The long hair is cool, but it would have been cooler if it moved on its own like Spawn’s cape and chains (the first trailer implied this was going to happen — maybe I just feel lied to). She has some of the same adorkability and clumsiness that Anna has, but it’s not as obnoxious. Maybe because she’s got Flynn to temper her out.

Belle

It’s hard to say no to a Disney princess who encourages reading. She wants to escape from the tiny town she’s in and she gets just that and more. But she’s a little snooty about it, both in the town and the castle. Even when the Beast allows her access to the castle, she still gets waited on hand and foot. It’s the servants trying to manipulate the two of them to get together. She doesn’t feel like she’s the avenue of her success. Her “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere…” sounds so cheesy now, especially that her entire character arc takes place in not that.

Moana

I think she needs more time to simmer and let us all contemplate her place in the context of Disney’s animated canon. Right now, we’re being blinded by the fact we’ve got a princess that’s shiny and new.

No, I was not talking about you.

Anyway, I like her as a combinations of Elsa and Anna + a dash of Lilo. If she’s got the chops to get the respect of her village at her age, then she’s all right by me. But she’s also got a demigod in her pocket and an ocean helping her out. Oh, don’t mind me, I’ve only got three-quarters of the world with my back. My only quibble is with her “chosen one” saddle she keeps melancholy over. Not even Harry Potter was this maudlin.

Elsa

I mean come on, can I say anything that hasn’t already been said? Sure you could make an argument that she’s a queen, not a princess. But she’s power and character flaws. All the adorkability of Anna plus all the struggle of a hero. She needs to find redemption. It’s her constant goal not to give into her power, her villainy, like the dark side of the force.

Merida

Poor Merida suffered from a clash of directors and production companies, but still managed to become a memorable character. I could watch her curly red hair fly around all day, it’s so beautifully animated. There’s bears, three little brothers, thick Scottish accents, swords, differing relationships with mothers and fathers, and independence.

Ariel

I had a “Little Mermaid”-themed party for my ninth birthday. And need I remind you I’m a boy. Nuff said.

Oh, you want more? She’s got it all: free-spirited, bright, pretty, young, curious, artistic, musical, selfless, protective, loyal. She’s got great sidekicks, great theme song, high intelligence, high relatability. If she was a D&D character she’d be overpowered.

Still not enough? Fine then, let me show you Exhibit A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and most damning — I. You ain’t gonna convince me otherwise.

The Books I Read: January – February 2017

bookshelf books

geek love book cover
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

I wasn’t aware of this novel until the author died, which was recently. Neil Gaiman and a few other writers used this as their parting memory–a particularly influential book (Kurt Cobain cited it as an influence). I looked it up and found the summary intriguing — a married couple engineers their children to be circus freaks for their literal “Family Circus“. It sounded horrific and darkly bizarre, like all those dark carnival/clown tropes I love.

The accolades are not dismissible. Whereas a book like “Stranger in a Strangeland” is tainted by anachronisms (like the hippie counter-culture and there being actual life on Mars), this one has no such compunctions. Although it has the sensibilities of the mid-seventies (published in 1980), it’s not steeped in that culture, adding to timelessness. It’s basically the family story the husband and wife traveling carnival owners and their four circus freak children — one’s a dolphin-boy, one/two are Siamese twin girls, one’s an albino hunchback who’s our POV character (because she’s just a run of the mill abnormality). The main plot thread involves the dolphin-boy who gets hungry for fame. So he grows his mild audience of curiosity into a migratory cult of amputees.

But this is just one–it reads like a rise and fall of an empire as jealousy and ignorance lead to destruction. There’s also a strange framing device about the hunchback keeping a stalker eye on the daughter she gave up for adoption, and this starts in the beginning but doesn’t come back until the end. I think that’s the novel’s biggest flaw.

I can honestly say I’ve never read a book like this. Like “Freaks” crossed with “East of Eden”. The characters are well-developed and evolve over the course of the story. Even the infodumps are fun to read, assuming you like reading “top five miscarriages I keep in glass jars in our trailer”. Is this book for everyone? Definitely not. It’s for the subset of people who like Rob Zombie and Alan Moore. It contains elements we take for granted now that made big booms on the 1980’s video shelves, like surgical horror and deformity. For some reason, it seems to resonate with females more than males, maybe because of the “freaky but family” vibe. The shock value has a pay-off.

Now… all that being said, this is the book that made me re-evaluate my criteria for selection and sticking with a book on the “to-read shelf”. It’s really good, but it’s JUST SO LONG. I felt trapped by it at a certain point, like I was in book jail. Reading the same set of characters in the same plot forever on, never coming to an end. Is there such a thing as hate-reading? Like hate-fucking? Where you’re enjoying the act on a base level, but your forebrain is motivated by spite or malice to continue? That’s what it felt like. Maybe I’ve got a short attention span, maybe I’m the MTV generation, but this book didn’t need to be as long as it was. I am of the mind that editing is a golden gift. As crucial as knowing what to put in is what to take out.

dishonored book cover
Dishonored: The Corroded Man by Adam Christopher
(sampled)

I’m glad I didn’t start this. It starts with a long prologue to communicate a whole bunch of exposition with minimal dialogue, minimal character development… ALL of which is condensed 100% in the four-line epigraph at the start. Nothing happens that isn’t repeated a hundred times.

It doesn’t feel consistent with the games. The games have high speech, Shakespearean plotlines, and compelling characters. Nothing is told, everything is shown–in setting, dialogue, and logs you find. Not so here. It’s like fanfic–all narrative and description. The author forgets to the make the characters speak once in a while. I counted half a dozen places in the prologue alone where dialogue could have been used to exposit, let alone making the story INTERESTING.

Then I remembered out the author was the same as “Made to Kill“, which I gave two stars (meaning I wouldn’t even take it with me to a desert island if I could take any and all books I wanted). That was the final nail in the coffin (even though I had already buried the book). So even though I’ve never read a video game tie-in that was any good, I place the fault of this tie-in entirely on the author. There is great material to work with and he botched it with poor writing techniques. Have someone talk once in a while, Christopher.

flowers in the attic
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
(sampled)

Everyone makes a big deal out of this one, mostly for the incest, but I liked the idea of children being forced to live in an attic while waiting for an old man to kick off so they can inherit his fortune. However, the writing style is entirely too Gothic. Maybe I wasn’t in the right headspace for this one at the time, but I don’t think I ever will be. The composition is too flowery, too overtly elaborate with vocabulary rooted in mystery, gloom, and atmosphere. Full of gender stereotypes too. I guess the problem with stuffing kids in an attic is that there isn’t a lot for them to do. A Series of Unfortunate Events is much better at making the kind of cheerless ambience without being depressing. This book is for good girls to read when they want to feel naughty.

not one damsel in distress book cover
Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls by Jane Yolen

Ah, here’s some bread and butter — folk tales and female protagonists. This isn’t exactly “Rejected Princesses“, but it’s a nice change from all the fairy tale compilations I’ve read in the past (Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Book of Goodnight Stories) where, if the hero is a girl, her objective is to learn some kind of domestic skill (like Rumpelstiltskin) or how to stop being a bitch (like The Frog Prince).

In this book, sometimes the female hero is just a substitute for a boy (there’s a very Jack and the Beanstalk-like tale at the end), but several remind me of Mulan. There’s marriages, there’s fighting, there’s monsters, as there are in most folk tales. Nothing new there.

Like any short story collection, it’s a mixed bag, and it’s hard to judge stories written nine hundred years ago. I don’t know if there are better collections out there, but this seems like a good one to start with. It’s a breath of fresh air from Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and if you liked Brave, this will accompany the coffee table nicely.

Anna Kendrick scrappy little nobody book cover
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Very average. The style is like her tweets — hilarious and offbeat — but there isn’t enough content to write about. She talks about her start as a child theater actor in New York, going to Hollywood, living like all new actresses do, being starstruck by fame, yucky guys she met, and so on. The big thing is that she suffered no obstacles on her road to stardom. No ill effects. Amy Poehler spent years struggling in improv, Tina Fey was responsible for bringing SNL out of the lean years of Norm MacDonald and heralded the coming of the SNL Women (Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, Ana Gasteyer, etc), and then THE maker for a nine-season TV show. Lindsey Stirling failed America’s Got Talent, had an eating disorder, and tours the world without a major label backing. Felicia Day was homeschooled, addicted to WoW, and became an actress after graduating college at 18 as a classical violinist. But nothing bad ever happened to Anna Kendrick (besides the standard new-to-Los-Angeles-living-hand-to-mouth stuff) because she was cute and spunky. And Hollywood loves cute and spunky. She’s never been rejected — she got handpicked for the biggest money-maker of the decade (Twilight) PLUS the most critically-acclaimed (Up In the Air).

I had a hard time deciding how many stars to give this one. Two means it doesn’t make it to my desert island (where I don’t bring anything I wouldn’t read again, but no limit on the number I can bring), but three feels like too much. It’s got great humor, but she’s too young for even a memoir. You got to have SOMETHING interesting in your life, something with CONFLICT, before you should consider committing pen to paper (or fingers to keys). I would love to see a book by her about something other than herself (like Aziz Ansari did for Modern Romance). But in this one, the stakes are no bigger than unwashed hair.

Peregrine library of souls book cover
Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3) by Ransom Riggs

Much better than the sequel. I’m glad I stuck around — I was very close to giving up series completion after that tepid book 2. This one fixes the mistakes made in the last. It’s much more action-oriented, and stays focused on the two main characters (and their talking dog) instead of an entourage of children. New characters add new obstacles, both of which have dynamic identity. It gives the villain some personality and motivation, develops him and his desires finally. The settings are creative and original. The plot is a bit by-the-numbers (the “quest to stop the bad guy”), but the brush and art painted on the framework are lovely.

It reminded me of The Golden Compass, but it’s much easier to understand. Given that, the peculiarity becomes more of a gimmick. But I believe this can be a modern near-classic, like “The Great Brain”. It’s trying to emulate Harry Potter, with larger-than-life characters and settings, and though it misses the moon by a mile, it’s still among the stars.

return to the isle of the lost descendants book cover
Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

I expected better out of the sophomore effort. This is too much like the last one, maybe even a little worse because of that. The first third is spend tooling around the school, doing NOTHING. It’s even more cutesy than the Wicked World shorts, and spends too much time dwelling on things the audience already knows (no one is going to read a Descendants novel without knowing the Descendants universe). Then another third tooling around the isle. And the last third is the SAME four quests, one for each character.

It doesn’t even expand new characters. The deus ex magicka is overplayed. There are plot threads that were super out-of-character (if they don’t drop away into irrelevancy/forgetfulness), like Yen Sid being a Dumbledore wizard instead of a Samuel L. Jackson don’t-fuck-with-my-hat motherfucker. The “twist” is viewable from a mile away. I have a bad feeling I won’t be able to complete the third one.

Random Thoughts

question marks

Are the “It” from “It Follows” and “It” from “It” related? Asking for a friend.

OMG, I think The Rescuers and the Rescue Rangers are somehow related. Maybe they’re like rival companies? The Rescue Aid Society is the big business and Rescue Rangers is the offshoot startup. I think I’ve got my next Disney crossover.

What would happen if you ate the One Ring? Would it just pass through your system or could you digest it? I know stomach acid isn’t lava, but still, I don’t know what’s special about Mount Doom’s lava. Or would it just stay there? And would it make you invisible? You’re not wearing the ring but the ring’s wearing you.

A Disney Blog Survey

disney survey

I’m pretty much done with the Disney Villains analysis. Unless I somehow catch “Bolt” or “Treasure Planet” in a moment of drunken weakness, the list is complete. So how about a little Disney survey I found on some blog.

Favorite villian?

Well, this is a hard one to choose. After scrutinizing them all, I’ve got so many that tickle my cookies.

I like Hades just because he’s so funny and “out-there”. Sure, lump me in with the fangirls if you must — I like what I like. Plus he fits in neatly anywhere — the “Hercules” TV series, Kingdom Hearts, House of Mouse — he’s good in any situation. Yzma‘s much the same. I bet they could make a solid duo.

I also have to give props to Prince Hans. People still talk about how this Prince Charming fooled them all, and I count myself among that group of fools. Kudos to you, Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, and Shane Morris. It takes a strong story to pull me away from my super critic. And Ichabod gets the same credit. Seventy years later, who thought this lanky fool was the movie’s bad guy?

Madame Medusa is an underrated villain because… damn, girl, she’s just mean. Who kidnaps an orphan to shove into a well to mine for diamonds? At least Cruella just messed with puppies. And the Queen of Hearts is memorable for the same regard, though it’s more for bark than bite. But what a bark!

But if you got to make me choose, I’ll pick Ursula, for purely personal reasons. Not to say she’s not a good villain. She’s spot on for motivation, powers, henchmen, and personality.

Scene that always makes you cry?

 

I thought the part where Anna and Elsa’s parents die in Frozen was a particularly good bit of filmmaking — in that it made me feel an emotion. It’s unexpected, it’s early in the film, and it’s done without words. I mean, yeah, Disney’s known for killing off parents, but not usually after establishing character.

If I was younger, I probably would have said “Baby Mine” from Dumbo — at that age, I couldn’t think of anything worse than your mother behind bars, unable to be touched but for the trunk she can just barely stretch out the window. And this is “circus prison”, not no comfy Orange is the New Black holding facility.

But my favorite is in Wreck-It Ralph. The whole movie speaks to me and not just because it’s about video games. Ralph’s whole life has been labeled as a villain. But he’s not really a bad guy — he’s a necessary part of life. The other side of the coin. The yang to the yin. Without him, there’s no game. Us cynics and analysts can sympathize — no one wants to hear what we have to say because we’re always right.

Throughout the story, he struggles to be “good”, to “earn that medal”, but ultimately fails when he has to return to his role as the heartless villain to save the girl he’s bonded with. At the end, the only way to save everyone is to sacrifice himself by plunging into the volcano to set off a giant Diet Coke-Mentos explosion. And as he plummets with his meaty fist outstretched, he repeats the video game villain’s mantra to himself for strength and resolve: “I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

Best multi-movie series?

I’m lucky that all but the bad Disney movies have gotten direct-to-DVD sequels, so I can just pick my favorite, which is The Little Mermaid. The second one is awful and the third one is average, but no one said I had to sit through the others.

But if we’re disqualifiing the home videos, I’d say Winnie-the-Pooh is my favorite of the theatricals. It’s got the strongest characters and the most lovable story. I can’t believe that my kids never got into it.

But if we are including the DVD sequels AND I’ve got to count all of them together, I’d say Aladdin has the strongest showing. Tarzan is a close second, with the excellent Tarzan II.

Movie you wish there was a sequel to?

Big Hero 6 and Zootopia come to mind immediately, but I have to make exception for them since they are so recent, so there may be plans already in the works. I’d love to see what happens next in Zootopia with Nick and Judy working as police partners in a true buddy cop film. Watching them together was the highlight of the movie. And Big Hero 6? It’s a superhero movie — it was MADE to have a sequel, even if you don’t count the after-credits scene. I don’t care how they got their powers, I want to see everyone use their powers. Also, more fluffy robot.

If we’re talking entries in the past, I wouldn’t mind seeing a follow-up to Pinocchio. There’s a lot of material from the books that wasn’t used (most for good reason, let’s just say it), but there’s still a lot of angles to take. Even if we aren’t doing a midquel, and continue from when Pine-Eyes is a real boy, there’s still plenty of human exploration to go. Star Trek milked it for decades, why can’t Disney?

And personally, I want to see more of Merida from Brave. She’s got the strongest personality of any Disney princess, including the most recent ones. It shouldn’t have to suffer in obscurity because it had directorial problems as Disney and Pixar changed hands. Just look at Pocket Princesses and tell me you can’t cobble a movie together out of that.

Favorite animal character?

Does Beast count? He’s really kind of an amalgamation of animals. Or the bottom half of Ariel?

Well, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cheshire Cat, with his shit-eating grin and devil-may-care attitude. And as long as we’re talking retro, might as well mention Baloo. Also known as Little John. Also known as Thomas O’Malley. Also known as Humphrey. Also known as all the other schlumphy happy-go-lucky bears in Disney canon.

But I guess I like Maximus more than others — a combination of horse and Javert. He’s remarkably ethical, loyal, determined, and does it all without talking. I feel like Maximus is ushering in a new age for side-kicks, where they’re not just the Greek chorus, like R2-D2/C-3P0 or Sebastian/Flounder. Where they have a more deuteragonisty role.

Side note: Pegasus doesn’t get enough credit for his role. From when he’s a cute little baby to when he blows out Hades’s hair.

Last movie you watched?

Beauty & the Beast. With the kids. Probably inspired by the upcoming live-action film with creepy-looking Lumiere and Mrs. Potts with the wrong nose.

Rank your top 5 favorite princesses:

I’m planning this for a fuure blog entry, so stay tuned. Hopefully I’ll remember to link back to it when it’s done.

Which fictional Disney “land” would you like to live in?

Well, at first I thought “Lilo and Stitch” because they live in Hawaii. But then I saw “fictional” land. And besides I don’t like warm weather. And there’s too much fruit.

Wreck-It Ralph could be pretty fun. Heck, you get to live in all those video game lands. I do that anyway most of the time. I know the death rate is pretty high, but you’re neighbors with Aliens, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and Tapper’s bar.

But I’ve got to go with Lady and the Tramp for the same reasons Walt Disney had. It was designed to be THE idyllic, refined upper-middle class suburbia. Everyone’s got a milkman, a white picket fence, and a licensed dog. The men are men, the women are women, and all the children are above average.

Disney loved it so much he based Main Street, U.S.A. off of its design (or the other way around, I’m not sure). Maybe it’s because I’m a privileged straight white male (actually I’m certain it’s because) but it seems like a good place to retire to. As long as we can upgrade the technology by about a hundred years.

Have you ever named a pet after a Disney character?

At first I thought no, I’ve only had the chance to participate in one naming of a pet in my life (my two dogs, I didn’t get much say, given the kids). But then I realized — yes! Dinah! Dinah was named after the little red kitten in Alice in Wonderland.

Now given, she was in the book before the movie, but she was truly named after Disney’s bit player. I was surprised how quickly my sister agreed to this name (we were eight and six at the time). We never agreed on ANYTHING. Every little option was always a power struggle, because somehow we thought whoever’s idea was taken got some kind of authority points.

But I suggested Dinah, thinking it was a good cat name, and she said yes. So then it was decided. Now Dinah (our cat) looked nothing like Dinah (Alice’s cat). Ours was a black and white tabby with green eyes and no pink bow. I don’t even think their personalities were the same. But we named her while she was still in the humane society cage, so that wasn’t a factor.

If you were going to name your children with Disney character names, what would you choose? (First and middle, girl and boy.)

Alice Ariel and Taran Hercules

Make yourself a Disney family (e.g. mother, father, sister, brother)

Father – My first thought was Beast, because as funny as it was seeing him adjust to Belle, I think it would be thrice-so to see him do parenting stuff. But hilarity isn’t a good reason for selecting a father figure, especially since I wouldn’t be on the outside looking in — it’s not like this is a sitcom. So I choose Tarzan. Despite his loutish ways, he’s actually a wise and just man. He doesn’t eschew gentlemanly ways. He’s a protector and provider, and great for wrasslin’.

Mother – Slim pickings in this category, since Disney loves nothing more than killing off mothers — off-screen or on. Nonetheless, there are some ideal candidates here. It’d be easy for me to claim someone hot like Jasmine or Megara or Snow White (she’s only fourteen!). I think Aurora has a lot of potential. There’s no evidence, but having to deal with those fairies for sixteen years shows great patience. She’s a little dreamy, but she’s mature. However, I think Maid Marian would be a better mom. We see she has a strong rapport with kids, given the scene with bunny kids. She’s playful, brave, friendly, and she’s relatively safe from harm. Prince John doesn’t imprison her or kidnap her for his bride. She doesn’t even show up after the party until the marriage epilogue.

Sister – For a big sister, Moana. She’s new on the scene, but I love her daring nature and strong will. She’s the kind of girl who’ll help you sneak out of your house at midnight to go cruising with all her cool older friends. For a little sister, Alice. She’s so damn quirky you gotta love her. She’s like the precocious five-year-old on all the TGIF sitcoms. Highly suggestible, but too polite to complain. Yes, Alice, tell me all about the invisible cat and the deck of cards that chased you. And when she makes a billion dollars off her book, you can auction off her crayon drawings.

Brother – There’s only one choice here — Kuzco. Big or small, emperor or llama, there’s always a party where this guy’s going. He’ll throw you down a waterfall, but then feel bad and let you look inside his potions cabinet. And let’s not forget he owns a sweet, sweet waterpark.