Tag Archives: love

WH: Not So “Strange Magic”

I ended up seeing the film “Strange Magic” yesterday because my best friend wanted to see it. It’s a CG animated film about fairies and other similarly small mythical creatures who live next door to the Dark Forest, full of small, evil mythical creatures. I went in totally blind, I hadn’t even heard of the flick and according to a review on the IMDB page, the trailer wouldn’t have given me the correct impression of the film. It has some story elements that I want to talk about, but I’m going to talk a bit about the other aspects of the film first. That way if anyone who wants to see it and hasn’t yet can be spared spoilers while getting a bit of info on the film.

First off, it is a musical from start to finish. After our brief and somewhat vague opening narration, the first song begins. Although it is presented more as a character simply singing rather than a musical number. The musical numbers are predominantly older pop songs, with at least two representatives from the 60s. I’m not actually sure if any of the songs are original or not. They are all catchy, well sung and largely inoffensive. The film is rated PG solely for action and scary images.

The cast is solid, although I recognized only one name, Alan Cumming, who was in X2. I didn’t know he could sing, but he has some pretty solid chops. The rest are all similarly good. The only weird bit of casting is Roland’s voice, Sam Palladio. He’s not bad, but there is something really weird in the choice of casting a British actor to play a character with a Southern accent. Which the choice to give him that accent still escapes me, the only reason I can think of is that they wanted to play on the stereotypical idea that Southern white men are racist (and dumb). Because no one else in the kingdom has that accent in the slightest. Another odd thing is that this is (at least) the second role in which Elijah Kelley (Sunny) gets together with a blonde girl of a different race, who has a racist parent who has an over the top emotional reaction to discovering their romance.

The animation is absolutely gorgeous, although they decided to skimp on hair animation and texturing on the fairy wings. They have a nice variety of creatures and settings. The world is extremely well realized and the atmospheres of the fairy kingdom and the dark forest are nice and distinct. AS far as CGI goes it gets an A+.

Now for the story, those fearing spoilers should leave now.

 


 

The story is incredibly predictable. You’ve seen it before in part or all in Sabrina, Enchanted, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, and Legally Blonde.

An overview:

Our female lead, Marianne is madly in love with the dashing knight Roland. We open on their wedding day, mere hours before their vows. She discovers Roland is cheating while trying to deliver a “Buttoneer” (a sort of male corsage worn in the buttonhole, a fairy tradition I guess?). She calls off the wedding and a strong bond between her and her (seemingly levelheaded) younger sister, Dawn is eluded to. She enters a manhating phase and learns to wield a sword.

All the while the king of the neighboring dark forest, (the) Bog King is continuously ordering his minions to cut down all the primroses growing on the forest border, to prevent them from being used to make love potions. He’s also staving off efforts by his mother to get him hitched.

Dawn turns out to be such a hopeless flirt she can’t concentrate on one guy, much to the chagrin of her friendzoned elf, (with a Troll doll hairdo) Sunny. They are attacked by a lizard and saved by Marianne. They go to the spring fairy ball, where Roland is waiting (puzzlingly, with the King’s full endorsement) to try and win Marianne back. She doesn’t buy it and shoves him out of the dance hall. There he meets the forlorn Sunny, who he manipulates into acquiring a love potion. Sunny acquires a primrose petal and begins his long journey into the dark forest to the Bog King’s castle, where the Sugar Plum Fairy (the only one who can make these) is locked up. He’s helped along by an imp (a cutesified opossum, basically), who will cause issues later. He acquires the potion in exchange for freeing the fairy. The fairy gets recaptured and Sunny makes his way back in time for the elf spring ball. Marianne attends after her fat father begs for help looking after her sister Dawn. Sunny prepares to use the “potion”, just as the Bog King arrives very angry with his trespassing. Despite Marianne’s efforts, the Bog King kidnaps Dawn just after the potion has been administered and demands the potion (just stolen by the imp from earlier) be delivered to his castle by moondown. Marianne flies after him, Sunny is sent after the imp, and Roland leads an army into the forest.

The Bog King arrives back at the castle and releases Dawn from her bag, making him the first person she sees. The potion takes effect and she begins tormenting them with love songs and makes a buttoneer for the Bog King. The imp is busily spreading the potion around at random, causing a lizard to fall in love with Sunny (and Pare his companion), they use the lizard to capture him and get the potion. They then catch up with Roland. Marianne arrives at the castle, battles with the Bog King until they come to an impasse, and then has it revealed to her that Dawn is under the effect of the potion. The Bog King demands a cure from the Sugar Plum Fairy. Marianne and the Bog King bond over hating on romantic stuff. Except the buttoneer Dawn made, the Bog King is oddly attached that. It turns out the only cure for the love potion is real love. It’s revealed the Bog King hates the potions because he used one on a woman and it didn’t work. The romance between Marianne and the Bog King officially begins with a moonlit flight through the not-so-dark forest. Roland arrives, the romance is jeopardized, Sunny sneaks into the dungeon again to free everyone (those under the love potion’s effects had been rounded up to be cured). Roland sends his henchmen to destroy the castle on his signal and goes to meet the Bog King. He ends up battling both Marianne and the Bog King, before signaling to his men. The castle begins collapsing, the Bog King seemingly sacrifices himself to save the sisters. He survives (as does everyone). Roland pops back up and uses the potion on Marianne, it doesn’t work because she loves the Bog King. Dawn is healed of the potion’s effects when she hugs Sunny and immediately announces she loves him. Her father faints. Roland gets potioned and shoved off a cliff. Dawn encourages Marianne to admit her feelings (because she’s suddenly sagely again like at the beginning of the movie). Marianne and the Bog King sing “Wild Thing” to admit they love each other. Mid-credit role we see Roland making out with an ugly fly creature seen earlier in the film. The end.

The TL;DR version is “Pretty girl trades in useless pretty boy for the less conventionally attractive ugly, but much higher status guy after finding herself.”

There are some pretty major storytelling issues here, mostly revolving around presenting Marianne as a healthy character during her anti-love manhating phase (that lasts most of the movie). Dawn goes from seemingly levelheaded in the first few minutes of the movie to a girl with zero self-control when it comes to boys. The only reason she doesn’t have a long list of exes is because she can’t focus on one guy for more then fifteen-twenty minutes. No one can keep up with who she is crushing on. The father is a poor parent who is bizarrely attached to the idea of Marianne marrying Roland, despite the fact he cheated on her and he would realistically be extremely angry about that. Roland is practically a caricature of scummy, racist, cheating man with a tiny ego that one finds in too much media. All this to make  I’ll-marry-the-first-guy-I-don’t-want-to-punch Marianne seem like a good role model. There is also the puzzling dearth of other men vying for crown princess Marianne’s hand. Another thing, it’s not really a story issue, but it does strike me as odd that the Bog King gets so attached to the buttoneer Dawn made for him, and that Marianne returns it to him after they’ve fallen in love. Finally, at the end, there is the fact that Roland would have no way of knowing how the Bog King’s castle was constructed, so there was no way he could have come up with his plan to destroy it. Since his plan revolved around using the cages in the dungeon as wrecking balls against the main strut that held up the castle.

The story was obviously attempting to mimic Frozen with sisters saving each other and the pretty boy being the bad guy, it was also trying to subvert the princess marries prince charming idea by pairing Marianne off with the Bog King. Instead all they did was play into a typical Game narrative of a girl being attracted by status and aloofness. That subversion they were attempting has been done better in other films, and while I don’t like Frozen all that much, it is the superior movie here. I also spotted where the movie was going to go as soon as Roland’s scumminess was revealed, and I don’t generally predict where plots are going to go.

Is it a fun movie? Certainly. The music is good and the jokes are on point. There are worse movies you could show your kids. Is it a great movie? No. It is rife with issues, particularly with the characters and message. While it comes out pro-love at the end, most of the running time is spent being very, very anti-love and pro-you-go-grrrl. Also it spends a lot of time endorsing the idea of not rushing in love, only to portray Marianne and the Bog King’s love as strong enough to resist a love potion. The idea that people are stronger together than alone is thrown out there, but by a character who is implied to be racist and obviously lacks good character judgement. Therefore undermining that idea. What the movie does best is illustrate that character is more important than appearance, but that’s hardly an unusual message.

It’s a good rental movie and certainly fine for kids. You may want to discuss with older kids why Marianne’s distrust and even hatred of an entire group because of the actions of one person is unhealthy, but that is of course up to you as a parent and depends on your kids. The soundtrack is worth a listen if you like pop music. I doubt I’ll see it again, but I’m quite critical of movies.

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WH: She Makes Him Wait Too Long

A lot of the interpretations of this animated short revolve around the man idealizing a particular woman and then leaving her because he can’t handle the real her. However, that doesn’t take into account their respective body language. She flits, flies, and leaves him to fall on more than one occasion. He is tired, angry, he leaps to catch her and desperately wants her to just stay. Then she becomes real as he fades, and she expects the dance to go on as it has, while his frustration finally causes him to bow out. She made him wait too long, she assumed he would always be there and he was for a long time. After awhile though, his own needs pushed to the forefront and he left to try and find what he needed. It is only then that she realizes her mistake and grieves the life they could have had together, if she had simply prioritized what was actually important.


MS: Setting a Pattern of Joy

Yesterday, Margery wrote a post about two videos about Fighting Bitterness, which you should check out because they are really great.

It got me thinking about how everyone says that the early stages of marriage are really awesome because you’re still high on all of the emotions and hormones (which, so far seems to be 100% true), and how you should make a point of making good memories to fall back on when times get tough.

I think married couples should be encouraged to make more than just good memories, but good habits as well. I mean, when we get a new car or a new pet, or move into a new place we make a point to go through certain motions everyday to be sure everything is done properly until we make them into a habit. It’s easier to do it at that stage because it is new and exciting, it doesn’t yet feel like an obligation. Much like you don’t wait to start looking behind your car when you back until after you run over something, you shouldn’t wait until times get tough to learn to forgive and appreciate your spouse. Make a point to associate tasks with good memories, so you’re more inclined to do them. This is also the best time for candid discussions about things that legitimately do bother you, so they don’t keep building until you blow over it. If you do suddenly explode, your spouse will be confused and hurt, and you will be angrier than will seem logical to anyone other than you. Ask your spouse about things you do that bother them and make an effort to work on them now, when you naturally tackle their every request with enthusiasm because you love them so. Also make a point to weed out friends who don’t respect your spouse now, rather than later. They will poison you if you don’t. They can’t hate your spouse and love you, the two of you are one flesh now, if they hate your spouse, they hate you too.

Reinforce these habits whenever you can, so it is easier to fall back on them even when times are bleak.

At the Catholic Engaged Encounter we attended, the priest told us a story about a couple who had been married a long time and got into a big fight. The wife left the husband a note saying something along the lines of, “I hate you and I’m going for a walk. Don’t forget to pack yourself a lunch, I love you” then signed with her name. She wrote “I love you” despite being incredibly angry with him. Another couple he knew had been married fifty years and people always assumed the marriage had been all roses. They surprised people with stories of hardship and heartache. When they were asked if they thought of divorce they would respond, “Murder, yes, but divorce, never!”

You’re in this for the long haul, be sure to pack the right attitude and habits.

As a bonus, here is a video sure to make you smile. It’s not simply funny or cute, but legitimately joyful. You’ll especially like it if you’re a fan of Singing in the Rain.

I promise it isn’t an AMV set to a terrible pop song.


The Home We’ve Made

It’s been about a year since NSR, my mother, and I drove across the country to move him here. It’s been over six months since we were married in front of a small group of people in an unrehearsed ceremony. And, it’s only been a few months since I was baptized, confirmed, and received my first communion. In an equally unrehearsed ceremony. Our priest doesn’t seem to like rehearsing.

Life around here is good, even if it isn’t without its struggles. No life ever is.

In honor of us passing the six month mark, I wanted to write up a little post with some thoughts about how NSR has enriched my life and what I would lose if I was dumb enough to leave him.

Some of them are really simple, small things. He introduced me to my favorite band and an entire genre of music I’d never heard. Music I probably never would have heard. [This is a much gentler song than their usual fair and contains no swearing].

What started as a joke totally revolutionized my music experience.

NSR likes to tease me that I married him for his Amazon Prime account, while that isn’t true. I have to admit, I really enjoy being able to finally watch Deep Space Nine and explore the Original series as well. I had to throw that in since we’re on the topic of media at the moment.

As I mentioned in a previous post, his presence has revitalized my artwork. He’s given me a new enjoyment of it. Art for art’s sake. So it isn’t nearly as depressing that my art isn’t selling at all and I can’t get an art grant to save my life. It doesn’t matter because it is something we do together. We sit in coffeehouses and draw like a pair of beatniks.

He gives me the power to wear slightly unconventional styles and not feel sheepish or embarrassed. If he says it looks good, well, that’s all that matters. No one else’s opinion matters as far as my looks are concerned. The same goes with my weight. All you people out there who accuse me of being anorexic, who look down on me for not being overweight? You no longer have the power to drag me down, no power to shame me (If anyone knows how much I eat, it’d be NSR).

He compliments my homemaking efforts and encourages me in my new endeavors. He finds my container gardening endearing.

I can sleep at night. I can’t properly emphasize this for anyone who isn’t me. There are very real, legitimate, terrifying reasons I used to be unable to sleep. Even heavy duty sleep medication couldn’t knock me out. Now I sleep soundly every night with him by my side.

I have a mother in law who adores me. NSR is convinced that if we lived in the same town she’d probably go out for lunch with me at least once a week. She sends us a card every holiday and sent me a beautiful rosary after my baptism.

Speaking of my baptism, my faith is growing by leaps and bounds, nurtured by the church. I’m actually reading the Bible for the first time in my life. Yeah, I was one of those Christians who had never read the Bible. I’m working on rectifying that. Also, I probably never would have gotten baptized if not for NSR. My old church never suggested it was anything other than symbolic. A crucifix, a wedding gift, hangs from the wall behind me, reinforcing the spiritual integrity of our home and reminding me of my walk as a Christian. If I left NSR, I’d have to leave God too. I’d have to leave our church, I’d have to pack away the crucifix, my new Bible, the rosary, my baptismal candle and our engaged encounter candle. To break with him is to break with God. That is true in all divorces. Our situation simply makes me more aware of that truth, actually it makes that truth unavoidable. I can be under no illusions about that reality.

Finally and very personally, he has given me the opportunity to pursue my greatest dream, the dream of being a mother. The dream that no one bothered to ask me if I had. Who knows when God will decide to bless us, but needless to say, without him I’d never be able to receive that blessing.

Many thanks to my love, may we spend the rest of our days together, just as we vowed to.


EG: Ladies, Stop Demanding Compensation

My Engagement Ring

My Engagement Ring

That picture is of my engagement ring. It’s way too big and it came out of one of those hand-crank toy vending machines at a local pizzeria.  And you know what? I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for a ring encrusted with diamonds, because the man I love more than anyone else gave it to me.

Recently I ran across an ad from a jewelry company that said something along the lines of “If you get her the right ring, she’ll say yes!” I didn’t keep the ad and I don’t want to advertise for the company in any fashion. I thought to myself that if a man has to buy a woman a fancy ring to convince her to say yes, he should probably dump her, not marry her. Heck, if he has to get her a ring at all when he asks, he might want to reconsider. Another fun fact about my ring, he gave it to me around six months after we got engaged.

Honestly, the selfishness of some women and the fact that society encourages them to be selfish really flabbergasts me. They want fancy proposals, fancy rings, and “push presents”. While NSR and I joke once in awhile that I married him for his Amazon Prime account, his Dark Knight Trilogy blurays or whatever, we don’t actually mean it. He didn’t propose to me in a fancy way. I was sitting on his lap in the computer room of my mother’s house. He didn’t get me a fancy ring (though my wedding ring is gorgeous). He won’t be getting me any push presents, because there’s no reason for him to and I’ll be so gaga over the baby I won’t care anyway. Being married to him and eventually having his kids is not some sort of duty I have to be convinced to do or compensated for. It’s something I want to do.

It’s like I tweeted during ROK’s #backtothekitchen week.

backtothekitchentweet

If you aren’t willing to do a basic task for your man, if you aren’t willing to marry him if he doesn’t give you a fancy ring, if you aren’t willing to have his kids unless he gives you a fancy present, why are you with him? Examine your heart and remember that if you’re married to him, you can’t leave him. You have to get your heart in the right place and stop demanding compensation. A good way to start adjusting your attitude towards him is to look for his good qualities and what he does well.


WH: “Leaving the Party at 9:30”

Given all the discussion recently about how the world in general views marriage as the “Game Over” screen of life, I remembered that I had saved this image for future commentary:

That first person there represents what the world, especially the younger folks, think about marriage. That it means the fun is over and that a life of responsibility, drudgery and general dullness is all that ever comes of it. We live in a world of spoiled brats who think that responsibility is a terrible thing and that drunken hookup sex is somehow the best thing that happened to society. I exaggerate a little, but not as much as you may think.

The second and third people have it (mostly*) right, getting married young means that you get to spend the rest of your life and the majority of your experiences with the one you love. While everyone else fritters away their youth on stuff that doesn’t matter and eventually suffers the consequences.

And for me, just like I don’t understand the appeal of the average booze and hookup riddled party, I don’t understand the appeal of spending my most fertile years sleeping around with men I have no intention of marrying. Oh, and for those girls who think it gives you valuable “experience”, I have news for you. I’ve never heard any man say, “I wish my wife had slept around more before she married me”. The majority of men will not value your previous encounters and no amount of screaming “misogyny!” at them will change that. You have your preferences, so do they.

Anyhow, everyone is allowed to make their own choices and if you want to party til you hit the wall, have at it. But don’t come around here and complain that your choices have consequences and don’t bother trying to tell me I’m missing out on something. Because I most definitely am not missing anything.

*Getting married doesn’t mean you get free rein to look ugly and let yourself go.


With This Man I Chose to Make My Home

It’s well known now that NSR and I got married, and I have to thank everyone for their well wishes.

Also, I wanted to take some time as a newlywed young woman who is getting more credit than she deserves, to praise my new husband and create a monument, as small as it is, in thankfulness to him. Because he’s done more for me than I can ever repay or even successfully express, but here goes.

He took a girl who rarely smiled and made her smile all the time. The kind of smile that reaches all the way to eyes and will leave a legacy around their corners. The kind that when I’m old, people will be able to look at my face and say, “There is a woman who has led a happy life”.

He gave me the strength I needed to complete college. I was carrying a heavy class load, had three capstone projects to complete, was rehabilitating an injured horse, had suffered the death of a beloved pet and was still recovering from the death of my grandmother. Without him being there on Skype nearly every night to talk me through and let me unwind, I probably never would have managed it.

He allows me to rest easy at night. After a decade of insomnia and nightmares, I can finally sleep at night.

He changed my artwork for the better. I no longer care about the academic expectations or adherence to agreed upon reality. I paint what I want to paint, draw what I want to draw. And guess what? People love it. He also reminded me why I love it.

A bad cellphone pic of my most recently completed work.

He’s one of only a few people in my life who treats me like a human being, complete with flaws, weaknesses, strengths, and areas of ignorance. So many people in my life have held me to ridiculously high standards and been disappointed when I was incapable of performing as expected. I’m still learning how to cook and I can’t do math, like at all, and he loves me anyway.

He took a girl who’d only been told she was pretty five times in her life and not only made her believe she was beautiful, but made other people believe it too. In the past I could count how many times I’d been called pretty or beautiful on one hand, and now I can’t even keep track. Strangers compliment me, the older ladies at church say I’m pretty like an angel. The only thing that happened is he walked into my life. My maid of honor said during her toast that when she first saw us together, I seemed to glow, that she’d never seen me so happy.

He’s given me the freedom to actually live my life the way I want to. He’s lifted so many crushing burdens from my shoulders. I’m finally pursuing the life I want to live, which of course, is the life that no one assumed that a smart girl like me wanted and never would have encouraged me to pursue. All the stuff that I ever wanted to do, I finally have the courage to do those things now that I’m by his side.

The simple act of kissing me hello and goodbye. After living with a family who never cared where I was going or when I would be back, this is revolutionary. I can’t be mistaken about whether he cares about me or not, about whether he cares when I return or if I return. The evidence is there every single time.

He’s given me someone to share experiences with. Watching a meteor shower or going to the beach is great, it’s even better when you’re sharing it with someone else, especially if the experience is new for one of you.

I appreciate the fact that he’s older than me, because it shifts my mindset and forces me to be less selfish. Instead of saying to him, “Where were you when I needed you?”, I am compelled to say, “Where was I when you needed me?”. I can’t mess around and think to myself, “I’ll be fertile for awhile, I can wait awhile to have kids”. No, he deserves to be able to see his children grow to adulthood and be part of their lives. So I won’t be following the advice to wait until I’m thirty to have kids. Sure, we’d still be able to have kids, but neither of us would be able to enjoy it as much.

His kindness and patience towards me and everyone else is truly wonderful. Even at times when he’s had every right to be very angry, he’s been calm and collected. For me, who can be crushed by a sharp word, this is a precious quality.

He helps me weather my storms, regardless of their origins. He doesn’t express annoyance with my tears or accuse me of emotional manipulation. He just holds me and listens as I choke it out word by word. Even if he would prefer if I just spat it out.

He made Christmas mean something to me again.

He makes me want to dance and sing. I no longer just listen to songs in the car or merely look forward to the monthly square dances. These days I have a life worth celebrating and he’s the one who gave it to me.

He found us a wonderful church where the people care about us and I’m actually learning something. We’ve had complete strangers congratulate us on our marriage and it was one of our church friends that first introduced me as “Mrs”.

He’s taught me the importance of smaller things. Like photographs, traditions, calling family and sending thank you cards.

He touches me, hugs me, kisses me, picks me up and carries me around, and generally takes every opportunity to show me he loves me via touch.

He looks after me and shows concern for my well-being. He’s already popular with my doctor. He’s not clingy or nosy about it though.

He’s willing to introduce me to new things or explore new things together. I know more about where I live than I did before he came here, and it really has been a glorious adventure to me.

Most of all, he loved me enough to give me a home and the promise of a family. There will be no more lonely wandering for me, as long as we are both alive.

With all of these things in mind, I have dedicated myself to him. I’ve promised myself that no matter how long or short our time is together, that I will make it my goal to fill his life with love and joy. I will remain by his side no matter what and do my best to submit to him. I will make his house a pleasant place to live and raise up our children with him. I will encourage him, support him, and care for him. I will remember the blessings that he has brought upon me and I will seek to do the same. Because with this man I chose to make my home, before God and man.