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Archive for March, 2013

Dumping Cinderella – or – Why I need a New Fairy Tale.

As a kid Cinderella was my favorite Fairy Tale – – – by a LONG shot (though I’ll admit I have not seen the Disney version).  I never thought about it too much – certainly not for years – until last week.

The metaphors in Cinderella are huge and diverse; it’s a story that permeates our culture.  We ALL KNOW IT!  For some it’s going to be about the overwhelming power of love, for others it’s about finding and acknowledging your true inner worth, for others it’s a story about finally getting a makeover.  Last week (it was a LONG HARD week) I realized why I love this story:

For me, Cinderella is about someone who’s living life at a 2 when they should be living at a 10…and (here’s the part I don’t want to admit) SOMEONE ELSE comes along and puts her where she should be.

I’ve realized My Fairy God Mother’s not coming.  I think she’s off in the Caribbean sipping rum with some hot guys.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wonderful people in my life who have helped me in ways I can not begin to thank them for, but that all powerful woman with her magic wand who makes it all better has not arrived yet.  It’s time to start doing for myself – getting my own darn dress (Ok not a dress in my case) and if I don’t get invited to the ball, I’m going to throw my own and YES, you’re invited.

I think my new favorite Fairy Tale might just be Jack and the Beanstalk.  Here’s an active hero who grabs adventure by the beanstalk and gets what he wants.  Though I do feel a bit sorry for the Giant…maybe I need to keep looking – I’m open to suggestions, but for now, I’m looking for someone who wants to trade some magic beans.

What is it with this Painting? or How Mona Got her Buzz Back

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Paris is still on my Bucket List, so I have not seen the original, but a lot of my friends have.  Here are the comments I generally get:

– She’s small. (77 x 53 cm)

– The crowds are insane, you can’t get close to her.

– Ummmm What’s the big deal.  After all that wait, and all these crowds, I’m a little underwhelmed.

This last point has caused many people to question their tastes, If she’s the great masterpiece and I’m underwhelmed, then where does that leave me?

Her’s what I think, because I know you’re dying to hear my opinion.

Mona is the Paris Hilton of her day.  Seriously, she’s famous for being famous.  Here are some cool facts:

Leonardo had a reputation for having a GREAT sense of humour – one more reason to like him – – – and feel inadequate beside him.

She’s called La Gioconda roughly translated – the one who laughs.  Look again at this face.Image

She’s NOT LAUGHING – so who’s laughing?

I think Leonardo is.

Leonardo was a superstar celebrity when he painted her.  After she was finished he was know to carry her around with him.  I wonder if people had to set an extra chair at the table. While he was still alive people were already asking “What is it with this painting?” They’re still asking that question.

He created a buzz…and it worked.

Over the years, she fell out of favour – even a Leonardo buzz can only last a couple of centuries.  Eventually she’s hanging on the wall of the Louvre with a lot of other paintings.  One more pretty face in a sea of pretty faces.

THEN —– on August 21, 1911 she was stolen by an Italian Nationalist who thought the French had no right to have her.  He took her to the Uffizi in Florence who promptly returned it to the Louvre – OK not so promptly, they toured her around Italy first.

SUDDENLY Mona’s got her buzz back and she’s famous again.

Let’s take a lesson from one of the great marketing geniuses of all time (one more reason to feel inadequate around Leonardo).  Let’s LOVE the work we create.  Enjoy it and talk about it.  Start your own buzz, blow your own horn, LOVE your own masterpiece.

It’s all the same ugly crap … isn’t it?

I heard it again this weekend “It all sounds the same”.  This time it was a symphony conductor regarding Turn of the Century (1900) ballads.

It’s one of those things that has ALWAYS driven me nuts.

I’ve heard it about Rap Music, Symphonies, Classical Music in general, Opera, Rock, Jazz, Anime, Disney, Rembrandt, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock, Shakespeare, Reality TV and Orange Juice.

I’ve also heard it about Racial, Cultural, Gender and Age stereotypes…they all look/act/think/are the same.

When we consciously or unconsciously, choose to diminish a type of art or a group of people, we don’t diminish them as much as we diminish ourselves.  We lose the opportunity to enjoy the art or to be enriched by the people.

Some of the art styles I’ve listed above are NOT my personal favorites (don’t try to guess, you’ll probably be wrong) but they all have value, they all seek to express the human condition and connect to an audience in a way that is authentic and real.

When we make blanket statements about art styles, we show our own ignorance and stubborn unwillingness to look (or feel) outside our comfort zones.

Take another look at the art you don’t like…it’s trying to teach you something too.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is ugly.

Lettin’ Go with Daddy Crood

Saw the advanced screening of The Croods tonight.

NO SPOILERS – READ AWAY

I’ve got a few people I want to meet before I die.  Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco  are two of them.  Tonight I was going to meet them – OK me and a couple of hundred other people – at the Toronto preview of The Croods – I had my ticket, I had a baby sitter, I was ready to kick another item off my Bucket list.

Then it decided to snow in Chicago and they couldn’t fly out.  The weather disappointed, the film didn’t.

First a quick review – for you poor suckers who are going to have to wait ‘till March 22nd.  I have to be honest, it probably won’t push Shrek out of my #1 spot, but it might come very close.  Funny, warm, cool social satire, AMAZING environments, GREAT acting and a great story – go see it.

Now, on to the “animatingyourlife” take on it.  How’s this one going to help me grow?  Or is it?  Is it one of those pieces I look at and go “That was great…what’s for lunch” or is it going to stick with me for a while?

The Croods might just be getting under my skin a bit – sooooo, what’s it saying to me?

There are a lot of themes subtly and not so subtly woven into this one: loyalty, security vs. freedom, physical strength vs. intellectual strength, romance, but the thing that pulls me in is Dad.  Here’s a guy having a HARD time letting go of the past and the safety he knows.  Can’t blame him, it’s a rough world for this Caveman, but things are changing and he’s a bit slow on the uptake…Palaeolithic guys are like that sometimes.  He can’t move forward because he can’t let go.

I’ll be honest.  There’s comfort in the familiar – even when it doesn’t work anymore.  Papa Crood has is Stone Age baggage, I’ve got mine, and I have a hard time letting go…for me, it comes out in resentments, especially when I was right and they were wrong and they just didn’t appreciate me the way they should have and why couldn’t Sanders and DiMicco make it, it always snows on my parade.  Oh dear, that does sound pathetic.  I’m working on it; if a bunch of Neanderthals can change then so can this nerdy art addict.

I promised no spoilers, so I won’t tell you if Papa Crood makes the change or not – Don’t assume it all works out just because it’s DreamWorks, Sanders and DeMicco take it somewhere I did NOT think it would go, made me cry a bit, but just a bit ‘cause I’m tough…like a cave man.

Aside

Accepting My Inner Ogre – ridding the world of Ographobia

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Shrek?  Why yes, yes I did. – Check out my other posts on Shrek.

Making it Real with Shrek

Breakin’ Out With My Favourite Ogre

This morning I was talking to a student about Fiona and how she changes…her arc.

Here’s a princess with a VERY dark secret…SPOILER ALERT…SPOILER ALERT She’s an ogre by night – only true love’s first kiss can break the spell.  Her’s a princess with some serious shame – she hates something she is – something she has no control over.  She’s got some serious Ographobia going on…that’s a nasty thing when you are an Ogre.

Her arc – from shame to acceptance and on to celebration.  Go Fiona!  Pretty awesome stuff here – how does it happen?  I’m sooo glad you asked.  I’m going to tell you how she starts…

She MEETS AN OGRE.  She comes face to face with her biggest fear and she finds out – – – wait for it – – – he’s not the baby eating, virgin violating monster she’s been led to believe.  He’s a grumpy, curmudgeon, but he’s not a monster.  It takes a while, (about half the movie) to fully accept it, but being an Ogre just isn’t so bad…it can be kind of fun actually.

One of the best way to combat prejudice is to actually meet the people we judge – the people we make assumptions about.  When we do, we’re going to find out that some of them will TOTALLY confirm our preconceived ideas, but most of them will not.  Any group regardless of how we try to pigeon hole them – race, sex, sexuality, language, culture, hair colour, financial status, clothing, ogreness – will have its share of good and evil, caring and selfish, givers and takers.  It is always the same.  Fiona learns to accept herself by meeting an Ogre – the very thing she hates and fears the most – when she does, she finds that he’s not that horrible – – – and neither is she.

Something else occurred to me this morning.  Fiona’s arc isn’t just about shame, it’s also about arrogance and pretention.  She thinks (and acts) like she’s just a wee bit better than the rest of us…OK maybe a LOT better than the rest of us.  Over the course of the film she realizes that those two extremes are both false, she is neither more monstrous, nor superior to anyone else.  She’s just a woman/ogre…when she discovers and accepts this she is finally happy, loved and content.

The times in my life when I was most pretentious and most arrogant (I know, I know you can’t imagine me being arrogant of pretentious, but yes my friends, I’ve been there, done that and picked up a T-Shirt that was WAY better than yours) have all coinsided with my most insecure, and shameful times, times when I struggled the most with self esteem and self acceptance.  What do you say we all just accept ourselves – warts, green skin and all – and at the same time accept that our strengths and our weaknesses don’t make us better or worse than anyone around us – they make us human – or Ogre as the case may be.

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