Tag Archives: Disney

Proofreading Under There

MLP unders

I found a typo on my underwear this morning.

It was a new pair of underwear, as yet unwashed and unworn—a just-because present from my wife, who found the last pair of My Little Pony men’s boxer briefs at our local Target yesterday. I suppose that some people might call me Brony, a designation I’ve been able to fend off for quite some time thanks to the fact that I have two young daughters.

Every parent knows that children make for the best excuses when it comes to open consumption of entertainment directed at 4- to 8-year-olds. I mean, the only reason I can name the residents of Pixie Hollow, sing most of Phineas and Ferb’s catalog, discuss the Fire Nation’s tactics, and explore the mythology of Ninjago is because I have young daughters. Right?

Sorry, I couldn’t hear your response. I was humming “Everything is Awesome.”

I watch these shows and movies with my girls because I want to see and hear what they’re seeing and hearing. I watch for “teachable moments” to use as springboards for bedtime talks about ethics and morals. (“What would you do if an enemy came to you, asking to become your friend?”) And I watch, admittedly, because I get a bit invested in the characters and plot lines.

Let me put it this way: I’m not regularly agreeing to “just one more” episode of Caillou.

Pegging my own developing fandom on my children only goes so far, however. I mean, my local comic-book store owner might believe me when I say that I’m picking up the latest serialized issue of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for my girls, but there’s no spinning a pair of men’s boxer briefs. That’s all on me.

I will be wearing these with a bit of irony. Rainbow Dash isn’t even my favorite pony. Plus, there’s the aforementioned typo:

Image

Dear underwear label writers: The word “it’s” is a contraction, smashing together “it” and “is.” An apostrophe does not make it possessive. But you already knew that, since you used the correct spelling earlier in the same sentence.

I obsess about grammar and word use way more than I obsess about pretty much anything else. But aside from Word Girl, there aren’t many shows for kids about the subject. I’ve yet to see a cartoon that addresses the Oxford comma and saying “champing at the bit,” not “chomping at the bit.”

I haven’t seen much in the way of grammar-based underwear, either, come to think of it.

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Identity Week: By the Pricking of My Thumbs

Identity Week: By the Pricking of My Thumbs

A good friend of ours is throwing a pre-Halloween Halloween party tonight, so—yeah—we’re pretty excited.

My wife and I each brought a costume box into our marriage, and we’ve made good use of the combined fantastical wardrobe over the years. There’s no portal at the back of our closet; Narnia exists within the confined space itself, all corsets and vests, scarves, gauntlets, and boots. We’re equipped for any Renaissance faire, theme party, or theatrical production (not that we find our way into many of the latter, but still), and the collection only continues to expand through thrift shop and garage sale finds.

We have wigs of the powdered, anime, and Rapunzel variety. We each have a cloak. We have items that lace, buckle, snap, and tie, and we like to make use of them.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere in the Shallows that thoughts of trick-or-treating yet to come prompted us to avoid Halloween itself as a wedding date, but we still wanted an excuse to dress up. So we had a masquerade ball a couple of weeks earlier, justifying the theme—not that we needed justification—as a celebration and exploration of identity, considering our debut as a new Us. We chose an overarching appropriate Bible verse to reflect the idea: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” We encouraged our guests to dress however they felt. There were Victorians and Edwardians, pirates and wizards, some medieval folks, and others.

The idea of a new identity, one not worn every day, is so appealing to me. I love acting. I recently began playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends, which involves roleplaying a character. When I write fiction, of course I try out fresh voices coming from my own throat. And I love dressing up for Halloween. Why is all that?

In years past, I’ve been Hagrid from Harry Potter, Strider (not Aragorn) from The Lord of the Rings, and Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. My wife and I have aimed for literary-related costumes since our first child was born (that year I went out as Edgar Allan Poe, my wife was a pallid Lenore, and our baby was a raven with a “Nevermore” speech bubble Velcroed to her), though the more kids we’ve had and the older they’ve gotten, the more will they’ve exerted when it comes to costume decisions.

Last year, my firstborn chose to be Superwoman, my younger daughter chose Clark Kent, and my baby son was Kal-El (i.e. Baby Superman, being raised by the bucolic Mrs. and Mr. Kent, played by my wife and myself, respectively). As a geek at heart (and every other part), I wasn’t arguing. And we were even still characters from a printed medium, if not literature.

My favorite costumes include the set from three years ago, when we co-hosted a Steampunk Mother Goose party and dressed our eldest as Little Miss Muffet. My wife was a Victorian lace spiderweb wearing our then-baby daughter as a clockwork spider. I was the tuffet.

And two years back, we aimed for Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is as wonderful a book as you could hope for. Ray Bradbury—my favorite, favorite author, from whom I once managed to get a signature on my vintage typewriter—was a master of language in a way that leaves me adoring and jealous, and his story of a dark carnival descending on a small town and the two boys who learn about boyhood, manhood, fatherhood, friendship, life, and death is an amazing seasonal read. It’s an amazing anytime read, but Bradbury particularly breathed October into his tales, and you can smell the woodsmoke and falling leaves on these pages.

The carnival at the heart of the story is dubbed Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, and Mr. Dark is a man with images of his circus performers and sideshow acts inked up and down his arms. He uses the tattoos to manipulate his subordinates.

For the party we threw two years ago year, I obtained photos of many of the expected guests and printed them out on a special tattoo paper my wife had found. Then I transferred their faces onto my arms and hands. My wife was Mr. Dark’s carousel, which bent the age of any rider depending of the direction it spun. My girls were its passengers. We were pretty proud of this one.

Since the party for tonight is Disney (and therefore also Marvel and Star Wars) themed, this year, we’re going the comic route again, per my daughters’ request. Since the oldest wanted to be Firestar and the middle wanted to be Spider-Man, we figured we’d round out the cast of the 1980s cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends by making the baby Iceman. My wife and I are doing our own thing: She’s the evil queen from Snow White, and I’m her mirror. As I’ll be standing next to her, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to lose me now, I’m expecting to get some Justin Timberlake jokes.

Perhaps the best thing about costumes is being able to take them off at the end of an agreed-upon appointed time. It’s like a low-risk identity trial period—not that a costume wearer is necessarily seeking a new permanent identity (especially an evil one). There’s some comfort in wiping off the make-up, unlacing and and unbuckling and unsnapping and untying everything to find yourself still you underneath it all. Kids know that. We should too.

So what are you dressing up as this year?

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Identity Week: It’s in the Cards

Identity Week: It's in the Cards

Just a couple of days ago, a Facebook friend put out a general question: What was the first CD you bought?

I answered honestly: “Soundtrack to The Little Mermaid.”

His response: “Your Man Card has been deducted by 2 points.”

He was joking, of course, and even leavened his words with the admission that he bought the Aladdin soundtrack when it came out.

Of course I didn’t feel like my masculinity was genuinely being insulted. In fact, I responded once more: “Meh,” I wrote. “Man Cards aren’t worth the frilly pink paper they’re printed on.”

And I meant it.

A Man Card, if you don’t know (or do know and just want to hear my own brilliantly concise definition), is a theoretical document that jokingly certifies your manhood and can be revoked if other men feel you’re not being manly enough. In their opinion. I’m not sure when it started, but it’s been around for several years, at least.

There’s even a website, officialmancard.com, where people can submit reasons to revoke their friends’ man cards, with offenses ranging from one dude crying when Beth gets her piano in Little Women to a guy being unwilling to sleep with a prostitute who had already been paid. Seriously.

For my 34th  32nd birthday a couple of years back, I took my then-foursome of a family to Disneyland on Super Bowl Sunday, because I’d heard that was one of the least-attended days of the year. After seeing the lines for myself, I don’t think that’s true.

My parents, my wife’s parents, and my wife’s siblings and their significant others came along, too, and at one point I went with my in-laws to find a fast ride while my wife took the kids to something more child friendly. (She was pregnant, so she couldn’t ride anything that would jostle her around. Otherwise I totally would have reversed the roles. Plus I later sent our daughters away with their grandparents and surprised my wife with a visit to the Blue Bayou for lunch, so stop judging me.)

Anyway, when we settled on an attraction, I texted my wife to let her know—except I entered the wrong number and ended up messaging some random stranger who had no idea why I wanted him to know I was about to go on Space Mountain. He suggested that I give up my Man Card for choosing the Happiest Place on Earth over watching a football game. (Apparently, Disney-related activities and purchases aren’t manly.)

The idea of a Man Card is ridiculous. It’s meant to be jokingly and good-naturedly insulting in that way guy humor can tend to be. And I get that. I don’t care if someone takes a dig at me, because I can take it. Casual insults happen, and in fact I often feel more accepted if a friend can hurl them at me, because that means he’s comfortable enough to not worry about being mistaken for someone who genuinely has something critical to say.

The Man Card concept specifically, however, is insulting to men and women in what it’s saying about our respective roles. Men are supposed be this way, not that way. Do these things, not those things. You’re not a man if you don’t fit society’s (or some section thereof’s) definition of one, and, unfortunately, people who joke this way are denigrating empathy, sympathy, respect for women, honesty, sensitivity, and responsibility. They’re saying real men prize getting their way over cooperating or compromising. Real men don’t care what their girlfriends or wives think. Real men do what they want.

This is dangerous. I’m not saying that joking about the Man Card is the downfall of modern masculinity, but it’s certainly not helping in a culture that blames the victims of sex crimes for leading their attackers along. It reinforces the already warped attitudes of men who believe they’re entitled to a woman’s body because, hey, men are men and everybody should know there’s only one reason a guy is interested in a woman. It’s right there on the card. Or it’s implied, anyway. And you wouldn’t want your buddies to think you weren’t a real man.

Wow. That got dark quickly. Sorry.

Bottom line: I don’t want my daughters growing up in a world that tells the men in their lives to treat them like objects. I don’t want my son feeling pressured to conform to a stereotype of brutish idiocy masquerading as a coveted brotherhood.

This is why I make no secret to my children, or the world, that:

I cried at the end of Cars. (Seriously, Disney again?!)

I cried at the end of A Walk in the Clouds.

I have acted as a living dressmaker’s dummy for a bustle my wife was creating on a gown.

I enjoy playing Halo.

I know what ruching is.

I am obsessed with gadgets.

I know what ruching is from watching Project Runway.

I grow and maintain a thick beard.

I know what ruching is from watching Project Runway and enjoying it.

I drive a mini-van.

I hate stopping the mini-van for any reason after I’ve started driving on a road trip.

I can name all the Disney—yes, them again—fairies.

I drink scotch.

I know more ballet positions than my 6- and 4-year-old daughters.

I list pink as my second-favorite color (it just can’t beat grey), and I wear it regularly.

I don’t think the things listed above are manly or unmanly. They just are.

So, do you think I’m overreacting?

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