Why Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is not about Stockholm syndrome

I have no idea whether this started as serious feminist critique or as comedic satire, but if you’ve read any Disney-related stuff on the internet in the last five or ten years, you’ve probably heard someone asserting that Beauty and the Beast is about Stockholm syndrome. I’m not going to bother with links. This stuff is everywhere. If you’re one of the three people who hasn’t heard it before, just Google it. Now, I don’t mind acknowledging problematic elements in childhood favorites, and I don’t mind “lol, your innocent childhood faves are actually The WORST” satire. But today I’m going to talk about why this particular criticism of this particular movie is seeing something there that wasn’t there before.

To begin, let’s establish what Stockholm syndrome actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, it is:

the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor

Beauty and the Beast fails this basic definition right out of the gate. Belle isn’t a hostage, and the Beast isn’t her captor. Maurice breaks a law, namely trespassing on royal grounds, and is imprisoned for it. Sure, it can easily be argued that he received an excessive sentence without trial and that the dungeon conditions weren’t humane, but “Don’t trespass on royal property” is a pretty reasonable law from a security POV. This would be like finding some random person camped out in an unused corner of the White House, claiming it was because they got a flat tire.

So, anyway, Maurice is in jail because he broke a fairly reasonable law. Belle comes to find him of her own initiative. She knows her aging father won’t last long in the dungeon, so she volunteers as tribute to serve his sentence for him, also of her own initiative. The Beast does not in any way manipulate or intimidate Belle into that choice. He doesn’t expect or consider that she would make such a choice at all. But he decides it’s a fair exchange. He doesn’t care who pays for Maurice’s crime as long as someone does. Sure, the Beast later admits that he considered the possibility that Belle was an eligible spell-breaker, but apparently that didn’t matter enough to him to actively force or coerce her to stay for that purpose. Because he didn’t. In fact, he dismisses the idea that Belle could fall in love with him out of hand. The servants have to badger him into making an effort (a futile one in his eyes) to get Belle to like him.

And the Beast’s efforts are futile at first, because Belle has no reason to trust him. She’s glad to get out of the dungeon, but the opulent bedroom, the wardrobe full of fancy gowns, and the invitation to dine at the Master’s table don’t impress her. She’s not fawning with gratitude that her warden moved her to a better cell.

Belle only starts warming up to the Beast after he’s followed her example and risked his life to save her. I mean, yeah, he was following her because she was running away from his castle (where she was under house arrest because she was serving a sentence for a trespasser, and then she went and trespassed herself). But he could’ve left her to the wolves and saved himself, and he didn’t. And Belle takes this for what it is – an act of basic human decency. She isn’t swooning over her captor because he’s tossed her an extra crumb. She thanks him for saving her life, while maintaining that her life was in danger in the first place because he had frightened her into running away.

What most establishes here, imo, that this isn’t a Stockholm syndrome case or any other kind of abusive relationship, is that when Belle tells the Beast he should learn to control his temper, she gets the last word. The Beast doesn’t retort that Belle shouldn’t have made him lose his temper, nor does he faux grovel and shower her with assurances that it’ll never happen again. They’ve been arguing over whose fault the incident was, and “You should learn to control your temper” is what makes the Beast stop, silently acknowledging that there is no good counter-argument.

And we see over the course of a full season that the Beast does start controlling himself and acting more human. We don’t see a cycle of the Beast losing his temper, Belle threatening to leave, the Beast winning her back only to lose his temper again. We see consistent, long-term change. Belle sees it, too, and that’s when she starts falling for him.

Oh, yeah, we’re going to talk about the library scene. 

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I’m going to guess that, if you were a kid who loved Beauty and the Beast, this was the scene that made you believe in true love. This was the tale as old as time. This was the impossible standard against which all future suitors would be judged. This was the true fantasy. Not being kidnapped and falling in love with your captor. Not finding a “beastly” man and being the one to reform him. Not being given outrageously expensive gifts.

THE BEAST LOVES THAT BELLE LOVES TO READ.

This scene is in such stark contrast to Gaston’s statement that “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas…thinking…” The Beast gives Belle ALL THE BOOKS! so she can get ALL THE IDEAS! and think ALL THE THOUGHTS! Not only that, he invites her into a dark corner of the castle, in contrast to shutting her out before. I’m trying not to stray too far into speculation and subtext here, but I think it’s a reasonable extrapolation that the Beast had been utilizing the library himself over the last ten years, and that a love of books (or at least literacy) was something he and Belle had in common, unlike pretty much everyone else in Belle’s poor, provincial town.

After all this, Belle asks to leave for the same reason she originally asked to stay. Her father is in danger. The Beast lets her go. He doesn’t force her to stay or manipulate her into “choosing” to stay, despite the fact that he’s fallen in love with her and that his curse is on the verge of permanency. Later, Belle returns to the Beast, not because she misses the (non-existent) abuse, or because she can’t live without him, or because she can’t function as a free person. She does what she always does. She risks herself to save someone she loves, and who loves her.

I can’t wait until the live action Beauty and the Beast comes out next month, and I’m interested to see what inevitable changes are made to the story. I just hope Disney doesn’t try to “fix” the Stockholm syndrome “problem”. In the words of a wise clockwork butler,

If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.

Discourse in the Garden of Eden

“An Apple” by deviantART user Nazegoreng

When I was a teenager, I heard a preacher whose name I’ve forgotten say that Eve fell prey to the Serpent because she tried to reason with him. The preacher’s point was that Eve shouldn’t have relied on foolish things like logical discourse, and should’ve shut the Serpent down the second he dared to debate God’s command at all. Silly women, trying to be all rational and stuff.

While I am still a Christian, I hope it goes without saying that this “check your brains at the door” approach to religion or any other aspect of life goes against everything I now believe. I believe it’s vital to apply critical thinking to everything, even things that come from the people we trust most. Even things we understand to come from God. I believe “Hath God really said…?” is a question theists should ask themselves daily in a sincere search for truth.

But I’ve been thinking back to this long-forgotten sermon a lot lately, and realizing there was a good seed buried beneath the piles of fertilizer. Eve would’ve done well to shut down the Serpent’s discourse from the start, just not for the reasons that preacher stated.

See, the “discourse” between the Serpent and Eve wasn’t really a discourse at all. It’s the tale of humanity’s first bad faith argument. The Serpent didn’t really approach Eve in a desire to verify what God said. His whole purpose in engaging her was to get into her head, get her to question whether she could trust her own sense of reality, and get her to do what he wanted. And it worked. Not because Eve was weak or foolish or amoral, but because she accepted a bad faith argument in good faith. She engaged the Serpent rationally, philosophically, treating his questions like a sincere search for truth when they were really a premeditated attempt to get her to accept a lie.

It gets more interesting when you consider how often Jesus was faced with the same situation, and how he responded to it. There are many times in the Gospels when religious leaders came to Jesus the same way the Serpent came to Eve. They presented a seemingly philosophical question deliberately designed to trick him into revealing himself as a blasphemer, traitor, or fraud. Jesus would respond by exposing them with a counter question, telling a story that he admitted he didn’t expect them to understand, or blatantly calling them out. In any case, Jesus never treated a bad faith argument like a good faith discourse. 

The moral I’m seeing here isn’t one of faith vs. skepticism. I don’t even see this as an issue that specifically applies to people of faith. What I’m seeing is that, if you have every reason to believe someone is only asking you questions to get into your head, gaslight you, trick you into betraying your own principles, or even just troll you for their twisted idea of what constitutes lulz, you are under no obligation to give them a rational answer as though they were asking for a sincere exchange of ideas.

Let’s try this weekly recap thing

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much these days. Or maybe you haven’t noticed because you’re one of the many people who doesn’t read blogs that much anymore. Which is no big deal. Internet culture changes fast, and it’s an internet creator’s job to keep up with it.

So that’s why most of my posts have been on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. lately. I’ll write up original content as a Facebook post and literally get ten times the views I would have if I’d written the same content as a blog post and shared the link on the same Facebook page. It makes sense to put my writing where the most people are going to see it.

But on the other hand, I don’t want people to stumble upon this website and find a bunch of tumbleweeds, so I’m trying something new. I want to do weekly recap blog posts where I link to my favorite things that I’ve shared on other platforms throughout the week. Might be original stuff, might be other people’s stuff that I’ve linked to. Here goes.

Oh Look, Someone Else Has Porphyria

I have a rare disease. Like, it’s been featured on House and I’m usually surprised to find that real-life doctors have heard of it. I’m even more surprised to find that someone on YouTube has come out with a porphyria-related vlog that’s informative, accessible, and entertaining. I really hope this vlogger is able to finish the series, and that his condition doesn’t get in the way of his work too much.

 

So, Yeah, Brexit Is A Thing

The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last weekend. President Obama addressed it by saying “One thing that will not change is the special relationship between the US and the UK.” To which I had this to say:

 

Do You Like Piña Colada (Wraps)?

I threw stuff in a pan and put it on flatbread and it was really good. I call it a piña colada wrap.

On Underage Marriage and Sexual Ethics

Preface: Earlier this week I posted a rant to my private Facebook page about a retreat in Kansas for Christian parents to arrange marriages for their underage children. This retreat was being hosted by Let Them Marry, an organization that promotes teen marriages and describes “youths” (people under 20) as being ready for marriage when they’ve developed “all forms of full secondary sexual characteristics”. I encourage you to click the links in this paragraph and evaluate Let Them Marry’s beliefs in their own words for yourself.

The next day, I found out the conference had been canceled because the Wichita branch of the Salvation Army withdrew the use of their facility. What follows is a slightly edited version of a note I posted to my private Facebook page about why I think this is a good thing even though I’m against laws that allow discrimination against same-sex marriage.

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Ah don’t understand ze patriarchy…

Continue reading “On Underage Marriage and Sexual Ethics”

Do You Suffer From Limerence? You Are Not Alone

It was a dark, cold, sleepless February night upon which I found myself clicking through a black hole of Recommended Articles on various clickbaity websites. I don’t even remember what random Facebook share began this vortex. But I remember happening upon a snippet that said if you still get sad feels about a romantic rejection years after it happened, you may have a serious psychiatric condition that requires medication and other professional treatment. Its name: LIMERENCE.

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I checked out the Wikipedia link because this was a completely foreign word to me and because asking for a friend. Wikipedia defined limerence as

a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person and typically includes obsessive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship with the object of love and have one’s feelings reciprocated.

This made me a little nervous, since I had first experienced these symptoms at a young age. The article further defined this condition as

an involuntary potentially inspiring state of adoration and attachment to a limerent object involving intrusive and obsessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors from euphoria to despair, contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation.

Limerent object. This term, at once so mellifluous and so clinical. I couldn’t deny there had been a few. I had to know more.

Limerence involves intrusive thinking about the limerent object. Other characteristics include acute longing for reciprocation, fear of rejection, and unsettling shyness in the limerent object’s presence. In cases of unrequited limerence, transient relief may be found by vividly imagining reciprocation from the limerent object.

How did they know?

A limerent person may have acute sensitivity to any act, thought, or condition that can be interpreted favorably. This may include a tendency to devise, fabricate, or invent ‘reasonable’ explanations for why neutral actions are a sign of hidden passion in the limerent object….What the limerent object said and did is recalled with vividness. Alternative meanings for the behaviors recalled are sought. Each word and gesture is permanently available for review, especially those interpreted as evidence in favor of reciprocated feeling.

There was no mention as to whether these symptoms were contagious, or whether they could be spread via group messages.

When objects, people, places or situations are encountered with the limerent object, they are vividly remembered, especially if the limerent object interacted with them in some way.

I had to expand my research beyond this simple Wikipedia article.

My starting point was Dr. Dorothy Tennov, whom Wikipedia cited as having “coined the term ‘limerence’ for her 1979 book, Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, to describe a concept that had grown out of her work in the mid-1960s, when she interviewed over 500 people on the topic of love.” It was much more difficult than one might think to find verification of Dr. Tennov’s theories from her colleagues. But my searching paid off, dear readers. I’ve listed some of the most insightful expert quotes I found on this rare, misunderstood condition below. Read on, and take hope in the knowledge that you are nowhere near alone.

“[My limerent object] talks to me, I laugh ’cause it’s so damn funny
That I can’t even see anyone when he’s with me
He says he’s so in love, he’s finally got it right,
I wonder if he knows he’s all I think about at night

He’s the reason for the teardrops on my guitar
The only thing that keeps me wishing on a wishing star
He’s the song in the car I keep singing, don’t know why I do

So I drive home alone
As I turn out the light
I put his picture down and finally get some sleep tonight”

– Dr. T.A. Swift 

“Baby, I’m so into you
You got that somethin’. What can I do?
Baby, you spin me around
The earth is movin’ but I can’t feel the ground

Every time you look at me
My heart is jumpin’, it’s easy to see

Lovin’ you means so much more
More than anything I ever felt before

You drive me crazy
I just can’t sleep
I’m so excited, I’m in too deep
Oh… crazy,
But it feels alright
Baby, thinkin’ of you keeps me up all night”

– Dr. B.J. Spears

“Walkin’ the streets with you and your worn-out jeans
I can’t help thinking this is how it ought to be
Laughing on a park bench, thinking to myself
Hey isn’t this easy

And you’ve got a smile that could light up this whole town
I haven’t seen it in a while since she brought you down
You say you’re fine
I know you better then that
Hey what you doing with a girl like that

Oh, I remember you drivin’ to my house in the middle of the night
I’m the one who makes you laugh
When you know you’re about to cry
And I know your favorite songs
And you tell me about your dreams
I think I know where you belong
I think I know it’s with me”

– Dr. T.A. Swift

“I still hear your voice when you sleep next to me
I still feel your touch in my dreams
Forgive me my weakness, but I don’t know why
Without you it’s hard to survive

‘Cause every time we touch, I get this feeling
And every time we kiss I swear I could fly
Can’t you feel my heart beat fast,
I want this to last
Need you by my side”

– Dr. C. Ascada

“Now, listen, honey, I just want to be beside you everywhere
As long as we’re together, honey, I don’t care
‘Cause you started something, can’t you see
That ever since we met you’ve had a hold on me
No matter what you do, I only want to be with you”

– Dr. D. Springfield

“Nothing compares
No worries or cares
Regrets and mistakes
They are memories made.
Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

Never mind, I’ll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you
Don’t forget me, I beg
I’ll remember you said,
‘Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead'”

– Dr. A.L.B. Adkins

“I walk along the city streets, you used to walk along with me
And every step I take reminds me of just how we used to be
Oh, how can I forget you, girl, when there is
Always something there to remind me”

– Dr. N. Akedeyes

“Just don’t tell my heart
My achy breaky heart
I just don’t think it’d understand
If you tell my heart
My achy breaky heart
It might blow up and kill this man”

– Dr. B.R. Cyrus

This post, nay, this entire blog, doesn’t have the space for every pop song, country western song, romantic comedy, romantic tragedy, sonnet, couplet, and cave painting created since the dawn of time, so I’ll leave you with this final quote. Happy Valentine’s Day, my fellow limerents!

“We’ve know each other for so long
Your heart’s been aching but
You’re too shy to say it
Inside we both know what’s been going on
We know the game and we’re gonna play it

I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling
Gotta make you understand
That I’m

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you”

Marny Finally Gets A Feyguard Book

If you’ve been following my reviews of indie YA author Anthea Sharp’s Feyland and Feyguard books, you might remember this aside from my review of Royal:

Marny continues to be everything. I really hope she gets her own Feyguard book complete with a worthy love interest, because she’s one of my favorite things about this series. Although one of the best things about her is that she’s happy and confident without a boyfriend, I want to see someone love Marny as much as she loves herself.

Well, dreams do come true! Now that the holiday madness has died down, I am happy to bring you a review of the third Feyguard book, Marny. (Disclosure: Anthea sent me a free advance review copy, which I was not able to follow up on nearly as soon as I’d hoped.)

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Continue reading “Marny Finally Gets A Feyguard Book”

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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It was 1944. Against all odds, Frank had made it home for Christmas. Lord knew how many strings he’d had to pull for that one. We spent every spare moment of those few days together, not that we had many to spare since work wouldn’t let me off.  It wouldn’t have been practical to take the time off, anyway. We were saving money to get married, move out of the city, and have a real home. We’d talked about getting married four years ago, but the War got in the way. I didn’t want to be a wartime bride like so many of my friends – a courthouse wedding followed by months or years without my new husband at best, or an early widowhood at worst. Not to mention the war babies I was watching on the weekends for my girlfriends. I was nowhere near ready for one of my own.

The last night before Frank shipped out, we were together on the only chair in his tiny hotel room. I felt so warm, safe, and protected in his arms. We’d been sitting that way for hours, talking about everything and talking about nothing at all. I glanced at the clock. Was it after eleven already? I had to get up early for work. Besides that, if anyone saw me coming home from a man’s hotel room past midnight and word got back to my boss, I might not have a job to get up for. No one wanted a woman of ill repute on their staff. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want a single thing to change. I didn’t want to be so gosh darn stinking practical.

But I was. So I lifted my head from Frank’s neck and said, “I really can’t stay.”

Frank knew me well enough to recognize my reluctance. He glanced toward the window, his gaze inviting mine to follow. “Baby,” he said in his good-natured manner, “it’s cold outside.”

He was right. While we’d been distracted, the evening’s gentle flurry had turned into a white wall. But would my boss take that as an excuse? Would my parents take that as an excuse? I couldn’t risk it. “I’ve got to go away,” I shook my head in resignation.

“Baby, it’s cold outside,” Frank persisted, though he relaxed his embrace.

I stood up and clasped his hands, knowing I had to leave, feeling I wanted to stay forever. “This evening has been so very nice.”

Frank rubbed my cold hands between his warm ones. “I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice.”

I laughed and leaned back toward the door, pulling Frank out of the chair with me. “My mother will start to worry,” I chided.

“Hey, beautiful, what’s your hurry?” said Frank, putting an arm around my waist.

“And father will be pacing the floor,” I laughed, putting mine on his shoulder. “Really, I’d better scurry.”

“Beautiful, please don’t hurry,” Frank said, spinning me away from the door. I willingly followed.

“Well, maybe just a half a drink more,” I conceded. Could one more really hurt? It wasn’t even midnight yet. I could still get home in plenty of time.

“Put some music on while I pour,” Frank agreed.

I turned on the radio, then slipped into my coat as Frank got the eggnog and bourbon out of the ice box. I knew if I sat down again, I’d never get up this time. “The neighbors might think…” I worried aloud.

“Baby, it’s bad out there,” Frank reminded me as he handed me the tumbler.

I took a sip. That was definitely an extra shot of bourbon. Just the way I liked it. Just the way only Frank knew I liked it. I didn’t want to risk a reputation as a hard-drinking dame. Not until the war was over and I didn’t need a job, anyway. “Say, what’s in this drink?” I raised an eyebrow.

“No cabs to be had out there,” Frank reported from the window. He turned back to me and stared. I shot him a questioning look. “Your eyes are like starlight now,” he said. It was such a cornball line. So ridiculous, but so perfect. So Frank.

“I wish I knew how to break this spell,” I said with a sigh of contentment. But the spell had to be broken. I set down my empty glass and reached for my hat.

Frank intercepted me. “I’ll take your hat; your hair looks swell,” he said. He knew I loved it when he ran his fingers through my hair like that. He knew it would always lead to a kiss.

I took my face out of his neck for a moment. “I ought to say no, no, no, sir,” I laughed, thinking how scandalized my parents would be.

“You mind if I move in closer?” Frank grinned. It wouldn’t be the first time. I tugged on his shirt collar as he slipped his hands under my coat.

“At least I’m going to say that I tried,” I said with mock indignation. Why did women have to say that they tried? Why did my reputation – my viability in the job market, my standing in the community, my relationship with my family – rest on whether or not I adequately pretended I didn’t want to do something everyone wanted to do? I wanted that drink, extra shot of bourbon and all. I wanted Frank’s hands exactly where they were. I wanted to stay with my fiance until morning, and not just because it was cold outside, dammit. Why would it be the end of the world if I just said so?

“What’s the sense of hurting my pride?” Frank replied, matching my mocking tone.

I caught another look at the clock. Darn. How was it midnight already?

“I simply must go,” I said, pulling away. Frank let go easily. I didn’t.

“It’s cold outside,” he reminded me, searching for my hat.

“The answer is no,” I mourned with my eye on the clock.

“Baby, it’s cold outside,” Frank said as he put my hat on for me. He took my arm with great formality and escorted me the five steps to the door. “So lucky that you dropped in,” he said with a put-on accent.

“This welcome has been so nice and warm,” I curtsied. Frank opened the door for me. We both jumped back a little as we were hit with a blast of icy air.

I shut the door and leaned back against it. “Look out the window at that storm,” said Frank. He was maintaining a light-hearted manner, but I could tell he was getting genuinely concerned. So was I. If ever there was a legitimate excuse not to go back to my own house for the night, this was it.

But would my family accept it?

“My sister will be suspicious,” I said. Betty was only sixteen. I was supposed to be an example for her. If I didn’t go home tonight, would she think it was just fine and dandy to do whatever she wanted with that boy she’d been going steady with? Would she end up in a girls’ home because her twenty-five-year-old, engaged sister stayed out of a blizzard one night?

Frank gently fingered my lips, trying to take my mind off my worries. “Your lips look delicious,” he said.

“My brother will be there at the door,” I laughed. Johnny was only seventeen, but he still thought of himself as my protector. He’d already given Frank the “What are your intentions?” talk.

“I ain’t worried about your brother,” Frank laughed with me.

“My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious,” I said, a little more seriously. Now, Aunt Minerva was someone to worry about. Sometimes I truly wondered if she had any idea what it was like to have feelings for a man. As far as I could remember, she never kept company with one. Come to think of it, neither did her housemate. They seemed determined to be old maids together forever.

Frank distracted me with a kiss. I happily let myself be distracted. “Gosh, your lips are delicious,” he said.

“Well, maybe just a cigarette more,” I conceded, teenagers and old maids be damned.

It was well after midnight when our empty cigarettes sat in the ashtray with their burned-out tips touching. Frank and I were wrapped around each other in the chair again, just as when this whole song and dance had started. “I’ve got to get home,” I murmured, making no effort to act on my resolute words.

“Baby, you’ll freeze out there,” Frank murmured back.

“Say, lend me a comb,” I said, leaning into his chest. My hair didn’t exactly speak of a sedate, ladylike, respectable evening.

“It’s up to your knees out there.” He did have a point. But I couldn’t shake the fear of dealing with my family in the morning if I stayed over. Once again I forced myself to stand up and took Frank’s hands.

“You’ve really been grand,” I said.

“I thrill when you touch my hand,” he said, standing with me.

“Oh, but don’t you see?” I said.

“How can you do this thing to me?”

I couldn’t resist anymore. Not in the name of practicality, anyway. Sure, my family would be furious in the morning, and I might be facing an unpleasant conversation with my boss. But if they couldn’t see that it was better to stay overnight with a kind, caring, gentleman I trusted with my life than to walk home in a blizzard, then there was just no pleasing them. I gave up. I was a practical woman. That would never change. And the most practical thing was to stay in for the night.

“There’s bound to be talk tomorrow,” I said as I took off my coat. “At least there will be plenty implied.”

“Think of my lifelong sorrow if you caught pneumonia and died,” said Frank. He still kept up his teasing façade, but I could tell he was truly relieved.

“I really can’t stay,” I said with a dramatic flourish, mocking the protest I’d have to tell everyone I’d given tomorrow.

Frank took my hand and spun me into his arms. “Get over that holdout,” he laughed. Together, we declared, “Oh, but, baby, it’s cold…out…side!”


Lyrics to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Frank Loesser. Headcanon by Amethyst Marie.

#PMJSearch and #ThaliasMusings

You know Postmodern Jukebox, the band that makes all those awesome 1920s – 1960s covers of top 40 pop hits? They’ve been running a promotion for their new karaoke album So, You Think You Can Sing? in the form of a month-long online talent search. I do think I can sing, so I covered their 1940s torch singer arrangement of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.”

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people have been uploading these covers all month. Check out the #PMJSearch tag on YouTube and Facebook to see some of them! And, hey, there are still a couple days for you to add your own B-)

In other news, I continue to have limited time for writing, and I’ve still mostly been picking manuscripts over blog posts. The good news is, Thalia’s Musings 4 is coming along! I’m really excited about how it’s been going lately, and I can’t wait to start rolling out release timelines, teasers, and title reveals.

The Unauthorized Review of The Unauthorized Full House Story

I totally didn’t mean to take the summer off from blogging. Life got busy, and when I did have time to write, I picked novel-drafting over blogging. But, the comedy gods have summoned me back to my blog with a cheesy TV movie about a cheesy TV show from my childhood.

Pictured: Not my old familiar friends.

I’ll be doing a “first impressions” style post like the one I did on Jem and the Holograms. Unlike with Jem, I am quite familiar with Full House. I watched it regularly back when the TGIF lineup was a new thing. I was young enough then (the same age as Stephanie Tanner) to find it legitimately entertaining. Nearly twenty years later, I binge-watched the whole series on TV Land while I was sick in bed. It brought back happy memories and gave me a lot of good laughs (at what my grade-school self had found legitimately entertaining). Today, I find myself looking forward to the Netflix release of Fuller House, half because I hope it’ll have as much unintentional comedy as its predecessor, and half because I’m sincerely looking forward to the nostalgia of predictability, the milkman, the paperboy, and evening TV.

In the meantime, my thoughts on this unauthorized portrayal of my old familiar friends is waiting just around the bend.  Continue reading “The Unauthorized Review of The Unauthorized Full House Story”

The Misselthwaite Archives: A Secret Glade in Portland

We had a trio of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books on the shelf from as early as I can remember – A Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and The Secret Garden. I read all three when I was pretty young, and saw at least two movie adaptations of each one. All three books feature child protagonists who’ve lost at least one parent. In A Little Princess, Sara Crewe is known for her brave forbearance and her devotion to princessly virtues throughout her riches-to-rags story. In Little Lord Fauntleroy, Cedric Erroll remains the sweet-natured, charismatic apple of his mother’s eye as he goes from being a street urchin in Brooklyn to an English aristocrat.

The Secret Garden stands out among Burnett’s works (and classic children’s literature in general) in that ten-year-old Mary Lennox, orphaned while overseas with her parents, is a total bitch. She’s unlikeable, and I love her for it. Mary has the kind of behavioral issues you’d expect from a kid raised by neglectful narcissists whose idea of “parenting” is giving the kid whatever it takes to shut her up. Not to mention this child has gone through the trauma of finding her parents’ disease-ravaged bodies and being the only one left alive in her home.

So, when I was asked to review The Misselthwaite Archives, I was pleased to see that #MisselArch’s Mary is traumatized, depressed, and a total bitch. Though, as you can see, she’s not ten.

Sophie Giberson as Mary Lennox. Image via The Misselthwaite Archives.

In this adaptation, 17-year-old Mary is sent to live at her widowed uncle’s home in Misselthwaite, a small, preppy town somewhere in Oregon. Teen angst and Portlandia snark suit this character beautifully.

As does the series’ framing device. Most of Mary’s talking-to-the-camera videos are letters to Dr. F.H. Burnett, the therapist she left behind when she moved to Misselthwaite. Others are study exercises with her perpetually cheerful tutor, Phoebe Sower (Martha Sowerby’s counterpart). Phoebe is the one who first introduces Mary to the legend of The Glade. She also introduces Mary to her little brother, Declan.

Dickon Sowerby was one of my biggest “How is a modern webseries going to handle this character?” characters. With his entourage of enchanted woodland creatures, Book Dickon is pretty much a boy Disney Princess. It’s easy and predictable to take him in a Manic Pixie Dream Guy direction. The 1987 film went full Purity Sue/Too Good For This Sinful Earth, telling us in an epilogue that Dickon died in the first World War. (I like to imagine that version of Dickon actually ran away with Walter Blythe and they lived feyly ever after, but I digress.)

#MisselArch goes the opposite way with Declan Sower. He’s a wildlife sanctuary intern who’s brilliant at ecology and animal care, but shy and awkward with humans. He’s as good-natured as his perky sister, but quiet and thoughtful in a way that connects better with Mary’s withdrawn snarkitude. In fact, Declan connects so well with Mary that every video he appears in is inevitably followed by “I ship it!!!!” comments. I have to agree. I’ve always loved Mary for feeling like a real kid, and for once, Dickon feels as real as she does.

Bryce Earhart as Declan Sower. Image via The Misselthwaite Archives.

My biggest question, though, was how #MisselArch would handle Colin Craven. I can’t tell you the answer without a ton of SPOILERS. You’ve been warned. Continue reading “The Misselthwaite Archives: A Secret Glade in Portland”