Update: Still decluttering around here. This happy joy joy life changing process is taking a while, because there’s so much stuff and I rapidly vacillate from wanting to throw it all away in a blaze of glory, to wanting to gather my stuff in my hands and spit “My preciousss!” into imaginary cameras.
I’ve seen a lot of complaints about Marie Kondo (see that older post) and other organizing gurus and how this whole minimalism concept and the idea of throwing out extra consumer crap is only for rich people because poor people can’t afford stuff. The writers of these articles have clearly never met a poor person. As if you have to have money for stuff! I’ve never had a great deal of money, but I’ve always had stuff. People love giving you stuff, because they redecorated or they just watched Netflix and now they have a spare entertainment center, or couch, or bed, or recliner, or T.V., or child. And yes we’ve gotten every one of those things given to us – except the child. Our children were DIY projects.
But I digress. Time to begin.
Step One: Clothes
We’ve also been given hand-me-down clothes – so many clothes – by well meaning people. Thing One gets clothes, and Thing Two gets clothes, then Thing Two gets the clothes that Thing One just outgrew. So she gets twice the clothes, and guess what? They almost all spark joy in this kid, so she doesn’t like giving them up. It’s hard to complain since my children have dressed like I spent hours in the dark searching Ambercrombie and Fitch when in fact I shop at Walmart where I can get shirts for a dollar. One dollar shirts, guys. Did I need the shirt? Did they? Well, not exactly, but hey you can wait a month to do laundry!
Maybe not the best plan. I honestly thought I didn’t hold on to clothes that much before I started all of this, but it turns out I don’t really hold onto clothes so much as I just lose them in various places. I have also changed size over the years, so I have clothes in various sizes because I might lose weight, or I might gain it. You just never know. The forties are fun! I’ve gotten rid of bags of clothes, though, and lots of extra bed linens because there is no way I’m folding more than two sets of fitted sheets. I’m also not using Marie’s cute little vertical napkin folding technique because it takes too damn long and I hang up most of my stuff. Unless it’s a fitted sheet. Then I properly cram it into my bottom dresser drawer in one giant wad, the way God intended.
Our town has made giving stuff away much easier by installing lots of dumpsters painted bright colors that are marked for the Children’s Home. This is awesome because I can drop my junk off and not have to show my face or talk to anyone. It’s just like I’m throwing it away, only I’m not, I’m doing a good deed just like all those people did for me! The only problem is that you can only dump clothes or shoes into it, not appliances or electronics or children – which you’d think they’d want being a Children’s Home and all. I do wonder if they get unwanted stuff dumped in there anyway. For instance, I heard that someone once dumped a live chicken into the book drop at the downtown library. It sure sounds like a hilarious idea – I mean a terrible thing to do. Thank goodness they now have cameras to keep people from this kind of mayhem.
So I’ve gone through my clothes once, and Thing Two volunteered a bag of clothes in exchange for four new clothing items at JC Penny’s where we were supposed to be shopping for dress shoes for her sister’s prom. I wasn’t going to let her get them, but then she showed me that they were three to five dollars, marked down from forty dollars, so of course I was suckered into it. She’s smart, that Thing Two. There isn’t a thing in her closet at the moment, but the clothes make a nice, comfy carpet, so there’s that at least. You are not supposed to “Konmari” someone else’s items, unless you can be super crafty about it so they don’t find out. So I still have the kids’ clothes left. My husband has few clothes, so that’s not a problem. The extra cars and car parts might be, since I can’t lift those into dumpsters. Not super crafty like anyway.
So does my house look better? Not a whole lot, but I’m making progress. Of some sort. While waiting for your house to transform you, I invite you to check out a different perspective on cleaning. Jennifer McCartney (author of “The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the House”) is the real deal. She is sarcastic and funny and gets paid for it, which means I should hate her on principal, but I still enjoyed her books. If only I could get my parodies to market faster. Maybe if I marked them “Twilight Sexy Times Declutter Wars”.
Anyone else spring cleaning in April? Let me know. Also, do you want some stuff?
“You say eether and I say eyether
You say neether and I say nyther
Eether, eyether, neether, nyther
Let’s call the whole thing off!”
– “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”
I’ve considered writing about this whole shutdown thing for – what is it – 30 some odd days now. CNN had a handy timer right down to the second, cause they are useful that way. I’m pretty sure most of the world knows how stupid we are by now, but just in case our government shut down for 35 days because well . . . here’s a quick summary:
Trump blarts, “We need a wall cause caravans and criminals and my red hats are mad I didn’t do it yet.”
Rest of Gov’t, “No big deal. You haven’t accomplished anything you promised. Have a hamburger and sign this saying you won’t shut down the government because you didn’t get millions for your petty little pointless project.”
Trump, “Okey dokey, oh lookie Fox News.”
Fox News, “Blah blah Trump is a wiener for signing yadda yadda.”
Trump, “I am NOT a wiener! No sign! Want wall!”
Government shuts down.
Ah, right, that’s it. But don’t worry, they said. It’s temporary. Even if it’s right before Christmas. I mean – who needs a government? We get anarchy with government anyway, so let’s call the whole thing off!
Now it was up to the Democrats, or rather Nancy Pelosi with the rest of the Democrats staring at their newspapers, to try to negotiate a deal with Trump. The first meeting went like this:
Trump: Am I getting my wall?
Trump stomps out.
35 days later . . .
Yeah, so maybe not so much fun. Turns out we do need a government for a few minor things to get done like:
Paying 800,000 government workers. (Billionaire Republican Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says “They should just take out a loan”. Or maybe sell one of their yachts, Wilbur? “How about making a deal with the grocery store to pay later?”, dumbs Trump. Yes, he really did say that.)
Keeping poor people alive through programs like Food Stamps and WIC. (What poor people? Ask your neighbors for help! Like that government worker guy next door!)
Ironically, security for stuff other than the Mexican border like TSA, the Coast Guard, the FBI (they do stuff other than investigate you, Trump):
But good news, a few days ago the government reopened (expect the news on time, none of the time on the Alice network) but only for a few weeks. Fox News continues to say that Trump got a great deal. After all, the government opened back up after over a month, and he didn’t get a wall. Or anything else. So since this was such a success, it only makes sense that he would ask for exactly the same thing in a few weeks.
I think I can guess what Nancy’s answer will be. But what is our answer? How are we going to stop this ridiculous gridlock in our political system? Maybe we should ask our mother country, the Brits! They’d know.
So much of this Poppins chick, and so little time before people get bored with me and go fly a kite. I have spent time reading Mary Poppins Comes Back by author P.L. Travers (the book Mary Poppins Returns is based upon) where our dear nanny continues to terrorize the children while admiring herself in every reflection. Oh, sure, there are a lot of adventures, and once she even goes into a Royal Doulton bowl to rescue a child she abandoned, but don’t expect any hugs or sentiment, kiddies. What does she look like, a human or something?
As I mentioned briefly last time, the books are definitely a departure from what are now two Disney movies, though both movies pull from the books, Returns taking more than the former. Last weekend Thing One and I watched a matinee of Mary Poppins Returns. We literally had the entire theater to ourselves which is just as I like it. People do so ruin a movie theater experience.
What I find strange are the reactions to this sequel. Some people seem downright offended by it, as if Disney were trying to replace Julie Andrews or Dick Van Dyke, both of whom are still alive, though a wee bit old for the parts now. (Dick Van Dyke did play the role of an old banker man in the sequel as he did the first time, though they didn’t need as much old man makeup this time.) So you end up seeing online magazine and Youtube reviews with headings like this: “‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Review: A Truck Full of Sugar Can’t Make This Uplift Go Down.” Thank you, New York Times, you big snots. We also find pics pitting Julie against Emily in what must be a fight to the death.
The above picture came from The Guardian which asked the question “Is Mary Poppins a feminist?” because . . . that was what the movies were totally about? No, the real issue is the supposed competition. It’s clearly not okay to like both versions, for different reasons. Yet they are going to be compared anyway, so I’ll try a comparison between both movies and the book, from specific scenes. If the second movie is a repeat of the first, it is only because the second book is also a repeat of the first, as you’ll see.
Sweeps vs Leeries: The original Mary Poppins movie had lovable Bert, the chimney sweep who stayed positive no matter what degrading job you gave him, or how many times Mary Poppins put him in the friend zone. He sings the songs “Chim-chim-cheree”, an opening number later reprised, as well as the show (and heart) stopping number “Step in Time.” The amount of dancing, acrobatics, singing, and insane never-ending chaos is quite impressive, especially considering Dyke had no formal dance training. It’s surprising no British families expressed annoyance at their constant dancing on their rooftops, but then again, there was a scary amount of chimney sweeps in London at that time.
Mary Poppins Returns gives us Jack, Bert’s former apprentice turned lamp-lighter (or Leerie) played by Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame. Instead of a Chimney Sweep mafia, now Leerie gangs roam the streets, lighting lamps while flying upside down on anachronistic bicycles. Or so they say. I bet Mary Poppins just invented the bicycles herself and gave them to the Leeries on the condition that they attempt to kill themselves for her entertainment just like the sweeps did. They do a fine job trying with “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”, the sequel’s answer to “Step in Time”. He also opens the movie with “The Lovely London Sky”, which might be more of an anachronism than the bicycles since I’m fairly sure that London’s been polluted a long time. One disturbing detail: a commenter on one review I read said “It makes sense that Jack was Bert’s apprentice as a child, since the kids could slide down in small places easier”. Nice thing to think about, Bert dropping Jack down chimneys with a reassuring “Chim-Chim-Cheerie, kiddo!”
The Books: While Bert does appear in the first book, it’s only for a chapter, and it’s just Mary Poppins and him, no kids. Bert is actually a combination of several characters mentioned briefly in the books, and I imagine Jack must be as well, though there is no Jack in the book Mary Poppins Comes Back.
Bird Lady vs Balloon Lady
The Bird Lady appears in the first Mary Poppins movie along with the heart-breaking song “Feed the Birds”. Mary summons her through a snow globe, and the kids see her later on the steps, but never get to give her their tuppence, which goes to the bankers who outright take it from little Micheal who throws a fit about his money being stolen. This leads to people going insane and withdrawing money, even if they weren’t in the building while the child was yelling. Later when the father walks by the steps, she isn’t there, leading you to believe she’s probably dead, though luckily I missed this as a kid. I still say she could have taken a day off, you know.
Fun fact: Walt found this 90 something year old lady and dragged her onto the set to play the Bird Woman just before she died.
Mary Poppins Returns gives us the Balloon Lady, played by Angela Landsbury who can just do anything she wants, and you will love her. She hands out balloons that take people up in the air as she sings the song “Nowhere to Go but Up”, sort of the theme song of this presidential administration. It’s much like the song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins as it ends the movie on a happy high note. Returns gives us more than one answer to the tear-jerker “Feed the Birds” with “The Conversation” where a now grown Micheal talks about his dead wife (yes the dead mom Disney curse is present here) as well as “The Place Where the Lost Things Go” a lullaby that Mary Poppins sings, also about dead mom who is apparently in the same place where Mary lost her favorite spoon. Even though I love both these songs and they made me cry in the theater, I still wonder: does that mean my socks are in Heaven?
Fun fact: Micheal’s tuppence plays a role in the conclusion of Mary Poppins Returns, so, um, without too many spoilers, it’s basically good thing he didn’t give his money to that Bird Woman after all! So – not giving to charity is good?
The Books: There is a short chapter in the original Mary Poppins about the Bird Lady, and interestingly, this is not a lesson that Mary teaches at all. Surprise! Mary hates birds and unlike Julie, she sure as heck doesn’t sing to them. The children give tuppence to the Bird Woman in order to feed the birds all on their own. The birds swarm Mary and steal a flower from Mary’s hat and put it on the Bird Woman’s hat. Mary gets seriously ticked off about this whole thing, and waves the birds away while snapping “You ought to be in a pie – that’s where you ought to be!”. I’m kind of surprised she didn’t assault the Bird Woman for her flower back.
The Balloon Woman does appear in the book’s sequel, though she gives balloons that lift people to the skies to Mary Poppins and the children only and not the father as well. They do get their names printed on them magically, so that’s cool and all.
I could go on forever with the comparisons, but I’ll try to sum up the rest quickly. While Mary and Bert and kids jump into a drawing for “Jolly Holiday”, a number filled with 2-D animation, Mary, Jack and kids jump into a china bowl for “A Cover is Not the Book”, a number filled with 2-D animation, and a surprising amount of innuendo as Mary changes into that chick from Chicago. The drawing is in the first Mary Poppins book, and the bowl in the second, though the stories are different. Mary goes into the drawing with Bert alone in the book, while in the movie she just abandons the kids for some alone time with Bert. In the book Mary Poppins Comes Back, Jane is kidnapped into the bowl and rescued by Mary Poppins while in the movie – okay the kids are kidnapped again but save each other. Mary Poppins also has insane relatives in both movies and the books, so at least in some ways she’s kind of like us. Well, us if everything in the universe, including us, thought we were fantastic.
Mary Poppins vs Mary Poppins Returns
What are the major differences between the Marys? Tone definitely is different, as the mother is dead in the second version rather than just a dim wit that leaves the children with a dirty chimney sweep she has never met (Bert) so that she can get to her suffragette meeting. The sequel also takes place 30 years after the first, and involves Jane and the widowed Micheal and his children. No word on Mr. and Mrs. Banks, so I suppose they were six-feet under too. Time passes much more slowly in the books which always involve the same Banks children, though there are five children instead of two. The mother is still incapable of parenting though. Judging by the memories of the mother in Mary Poppins Returns, that mother was actually competent, which was probably why they had to kill her.
The stakes are definitely higher, for while there was no real villain in the first movie – unless you count the father’s bosses who sack him only to rehire him hours later – there are villains in the sequel. The boss of the bank is a rather over-the-top evil Colin Firth who personally wants to repossess the Banks’ house because having a dead wife was not enough punishment for poor Micheal. The children’s fantasy land even gets a villain at one point in a wolf representing the banker, so no relief there, kids. Mary only has to get the parents to pay a little more attention to the kids in the first, while she has to drag Micheal out of depression (Pish posh, she’s been dead a year, codfish!), get him to better appreciate the children, and help him keep his house. She sends poor Jack on top of Big Ben at one point to stop time when she could have easily done it herself. That’s Mary Poppins, for you. Prove your love to me that I may treat you crappy and leave!
Still, I do love Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins. No, she’s not Julie Andrews, but she isn’t trying to imitate her. She has a delightful way of employing a constant use of sarcasm with the children, while artfully rolling her eyes. What kind of mother figure does that? Shut up, Thing One and Thing Two. I did enjoy Mary’s relationship with Bert more than her relationship with Jack. Lin Manuel Miranda is a great showman, and I enjoyed his numbers, but there was just a greater chemistry between the two leads in the first, in my opinion.
What about the songs? I loved every song in the first Mary Poppins. I’m not completely taken with every song in the second, though they grow on me as I listen to the soundtrack. One has to remember that the first Mary has had since 1964 to shove songs into our brain. My favorite so far is “Can You Imagine That?”, a song she sings to the children who have tried to become mini adults in the wake of their mother’s passing. The oldest boy says he doesn’t take bubbles in his bath, and Mary snarks “Well I guess you’ll just have to a-vooooid them then.” Cue eyeroll.
I guess the best thing about both movies, and even the book, is that they encourage people to use their imagination and find the child, and the joy, they once knew. And here I was thinking that maybe I should be more adult like other moms and vacuum and cook and stuff instead of playing dolls with my kids, but it turns out I’m really just well-adjusted according to Mary Poppins. And Mary Poppins is never wrong.
Growing up, I had certain ideas of what love should be – and a lot of these ideas came from Disney movies. Yes, I know, I act so cynical, but deep inside I wanted romance, to be swept off my feet by a handsome knight, and to have my own Ever After. Whatever that meant – the movie usually ended at that point.
I was twelve when the Little Mermaid came out in theaters, starting the Disney Renaissance of “princess movies” that I would watch with a guy friend I hoped I’d end up with eventually since we both were good artists, and liked musicals and Disney movies and singing together, and dressing up for prom, and . . . I probably should have seen some of the signs earlier. But at the time, I thought it must be me, and that I must be some reject who would never find real love cause here I’d finished high school, and most of college, and had never had a real boyfriend.
If you want to know what I thought a romance should be like, you can just watch the movie Enchanted, specifically this scene. It makes fun of Disney tropes, but Amy Adams is so adorable you have to love her or you’ll die or something.
Then I had a whirlwind romance at what was basically a Renaissance Fair, which didn’t play directly into my fantasies at all, and he was pretty, and he thought I was pretty, and this was surely going to be Ever After. But I happened to be on vacation at the time, and so it was a long distance relationship, and we didn’t have texting but long distance phone calls. So it was on one of those when I asked him once if I was worth it. And he didn’t respond.
I was 21. And as the relationship crashed and burned over the fall of 1997, I figured I would never find love again, and boy was I angry I was cheated. Then in the spring of 1998, a friend, who was about twice my age and really as much a mentor as a friend, took me to church. I didn’t care much for it since women were told to be quiet occasionally and respect their husbands and also you had to get up way too early. Then she told me there was was this guy who asked about me, and yeah I was just that easy to convert, so sue me.
My friend happened to invite us both over to her house and set us up, and I said to heck with convention and asked him to exchange phone numbers. And I called him first, because I wanted to tell him all about my birthday. We saw Mulan on our first official date, and I talked about how much I loved it that a Disney princess finally got to kick butt like a man! Much later, when I asked him if it was okay that I was not the good church wife Susie homemaker type, he reminded me of that first date.
It finally occurred to me why I had so many first dates in conservative Texas.
He didn’t seem like a knight except for all that rusted metal he liked to play with, but he wrote me poetry (not great poetry, but poetry staring me – he has not done this since we dated), and he was kind, and a good guy, and we had fun together on our dates. Since he went to church much of the week, I knew he wasn’t out drinking and partying. He too had given up on love at the ripe age of 25, and bought his own house. In his neighborhood, all these little boys would follow us as we rode our bikes around the block. So kids loved him too.
I thought that was enough for an Ever After, but I really had no clue at the time. It wasn’t until we had years together and had experienced so much and gotten through it, that I understood just what love was, and what made a real, steadfast knight. I have depression and anxiety, which is not easy to live with- I know as I have relatives with it as well. But he has stayed through it all, and I have stayed with him and his quirks (our yard is filled with rusted car parts for one) as he yelled and I cried and we made up again and again.
Now it’s been TWENTY YEARS today, and I can answer the question “How do you know he loves you?” It’s not matching his clothes to your eyes either, sorry Amy. It is:
Repeatedly rescuing you from yourself without getting angry, like when you get lost in a city you’ve lived in or near all of your life, or you lock your keys in your car with it running in the rain in a city fifteen minutes from his work.
Reminding you why you should wait for babies, then upon finding out you are pregnant after nine months of marriage, staying calm and saying “Well, we’re having a baby” while your wife runs in circles, screaming and shouting.
And four years later, doing this all again.
Holding your hair back when you throw up from morning sickness.
Yelling about money, or how much time you do or don’t spend together, or any number of other heated arguments, storming out of the house – and coming back.
Taking the baby out with him alone, and not just because she got him “More attention than a dog!”
Going out after a long day of work and picking up your many prescriptions, and sanitary products, and even extra yeast control medication because “it was on sale”. Okay, the last part’s a little weird.
Confronting a doctor when he’s really an introvert because the doctor missed a strep throat diagnosis on your little girl.
Listening to you cry over nothing, letting you lay your head in his lap, and though he has no words or understanding of what is going on with you, just being there. And when he can’t be, encouraging a daughter to actually stay home from church to “Keep Mommy company.” I never knew he did that till later.
Giving indirect compliments to someone else like: “You should see her draw with chalk on the sidewalk like it’s pen on paper! She makes these girls with all this flowing hair and it’s amazing!”
Voting for the opposite political party but not caring about politics to the point that you smile and say “That’s one happy Democrat” after she comes home from a Bill Clinton speech. Then putting up with the same liberal politics from two daughters.
Living with three hormonal women.
Working hard for years for a low salary that slowly builds up until finally your annoying bosses that never want to work leave and you get to be the boss of annoying kids that never want to work. And never quitting.
Being proud of your wife’s many academic degrees even if they seem to do little for the family money-wise.
Staying calm and loving with each job your wife loses, because “Your most important job is being a mom, and you’re such a good mom to those girls.”
Putting up with your Disney doll collection even if they are all over the house. I mean everywhere. At least they aren’t clowns?
Taking lots of time off work to take you six hours to get expensive ECT treatment for depression, for weeks at a time, in the hope that maybe you will finally get better. Keeping you from falling out of shuttles after you have anesthesia from that treatment and are sure you can walk just fine.
So many more things I didn’t name and finally . .
Still loving her after all these years, and willing to do so for more years to come.
I love you, Mr. Alice. Here’s to another twenty years.
Once again, WordPress, I do not want to learn about your new editor, and you can’t make me. Not until you take away the old one, like when the librarians took away the physical card catalog and I had to use the computer one.
Yes, there were physical card catalogs, shut up.
So I sort of missed telling anyone about what to buy for Christmas, and I’m super sorry because I know you were all bereft without my helpful shopping lists. I like the word “bereft”. I also missed Christmas day, but then I have had other Christmas specials if you want to check them out. Come on, you have nothing better to do but work and I know you’re on WordPress right now.
My best gift this Christmas was Tramadol. I contracted another sinus infection (I can get them from pure air I think) and my head was going to explode and I told the doctor that regular Tylenol and Ibuprofen had not helped so could he give me a shot of the good pain stuff? The doctor asked why I didn’t just take regular pain meds? Yeah, he did. Then he looked at ME like I was your average druggie. I am not average, you jerk. He gave me the shot. I felt so much better. Thanks, Tramadol!
I even missed Boxing Day! It’s a real holiday for the UK and Canada and I’m not sure who else. Maybe UPS. I was just thinking about boxing day because my highly cultured 14-year-old brought it up, since she is in debate and thus reads way too much about politics, other cultures, and critical thinking skills. She once wore a shirt with a UK flag to a 4th of July celebration, and no one noticed. Question: Do you guys celebrate independence from us Yanks?
Also I found a snotty article in the New York Times about what Boxing Day is in America – hint: she’s snotty about how dumb we Americans are. I mean sure, we are, but like I need this chick to say it. I’m pretty sure she’s not British cause I didn’t see any extra “u’s in there or anything. She said in the UK you guys give out canned goods and stuff to people right after Christmas (like how much charity to you NEED, sheesh), but that we Americans just stare glassy-eyed at our empty Christmas-present boxes. My family did NOT, Ms. New York Times, we stared at our our still full Christmas bags. They are festive and much easier than all that wrapping crap that my aunt insists on continuing to do, with ribbon so tight you have to saw it off with a knife.
The bags are still full because we haven’t figured out where to put the stuff away yet. I know, first world problems right? Where to put that pregnant mermaid ornament (an earlier gift from the same aunt)? As far as cardboard boxes, I do have a lot of those because I shopped from Amazon this Christmas. It is my hope that my small contribution will help them take over the world of merchandise, if Disney does not get there first. I should also point out I shopped too much from the Disney store so . . . healthy competition, guys.
I did get a new computer since the one I’ve had for many years, which was a gift from a friend who had it for years before that, was conserving its last breaths of life by repeatedly turning itself off at random times. My husband bought my new-to-me (refurbished!) computer with money from his extra job guarding the media gate (with his mere presence!) during the first half of the fall football games. I think I’ll keep him, especially since in two days we will have been married for twenty years. It seems just yesterday I was the 22-year-old clueless, glassy-eyed newlywed staring into the camera with no idea what I was doing. I mean, I still don’t, but I’ve gotten better at hiding it.
Anyway, a new computer meant that I had to remember my old passwords which are usually saved on my computer because I can’t remember them. I kept mashing the same words in, since I really thought I knew them this time, only to realize that I was trying to get into wordpress.org instead of wordpress.com. I didn’t know there was a difference. Once I got on the right one, wallah, I did get into my own blog and there I found a list of blogs to read, and one of those was anupturned soul’s, and guess what she was talking about? Boxing day! And she’s like certified British!
I think we may be Time Life books connected sisters, anupturned soul (can I call you soul? Up? Got a nickname?) because I also like Dr. Who, or I did before this latest one and I totally got your reference to Amy Pond. I think she is one of the best companions and I felt very sad when her baby melted. For those who don’t watch, you had to be there. Thank you for your childhood definition of Boxing Day “. . . a day when everyone put on boxing gloves and punched each other openly, freely, without legal repercussions.” I can get behind this holiday. Like the Purge, only friendlier and not quite as bloody.
I do still plan on finishing my review of Mary Poppins. I am currently reading her second book, Mary Poppins Returns (also a new movie go watch now says Disney counting their money bwahahaha!) and the kids are still going on adventures and Mary Poppins is still being a jerk, so business as usual. I haven’t seen Mary Poppins Returns yet, but I did watch Saving Mr. Banks, a movie about the author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, and Walt Disney, who tried to get the rights to those blasted books for about as long as I’ve been married. Also I saw Before the Mouse, a movie about Walt Disney’s early years and struggles to get started with animation. Say what you will about him, but Walt Disney was freaking determined. He also made his fortune without a “small loan of a million (or 600 million give or take) dollars”.
So now that you’re all caught up with me, what’s up with you guys? Guys?
Note: I realize Mary Poppins is not a fairy tale, but it is Disney (sort of) so it fits with my “Behind the Fairy Tale” series. For more Disney-fied tales, see the Disney tab up top.
Mary Poppins. I know I saw the movie when I was a kid, but before all this anniversary stuff, the only thing I really remembered were the songs that never leave your brain (SPOON FULL OF SUGAR SING ITTTTT!!!!) and, of course, those animated penguins. They were the first things I mentioned when my Things informed me that their high school would be doing a production of the Mary Poppins Broadway musical. I asked if they would be playing penguins. I continued to ask this long after they repeatedly informed me that there were no penguins in the musical.
And that’s in spite of this being based on the Disney movie, which was based on the book by P.L. Travers. If you didn’t realize Mary Poppins was a book, you aren’t alone. I didn’t either, and I am an English major and worked in libraries for years. Once I figured this out, though, it led to a rabbit hole of research since before the musical there was a movie and before that there was a book and before that there was a grumpy old lady that Walt Disney pestered for, I’m not kidding, twenty years before finally allowing him to make a movie. I used to get paid for this sort of research, but then they told me what to research and I didn’t even get to choose what my exhibits were called. Or take credit. So get ready cause this is gonna be a doozy.
The original book was based upon the early 1900s and written in 1934, the Disney movie was released in 1964, and the Disney theatrical musical created in 2006. In honor of the anniversary of Mary Poppins, Disney has released a bunch of merchandise as well as a sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, due for release on December 19th. Believe it or not, Disney didn’t just pull this sequel out of their . . . mouse hats, there is actually a series of these books. I’m a bit confused as to what anniversary we’re celebrating here, though, since neither the book or movie has an even-numbered anniversary, according to the dates I’ve found. No matter – nothing dampers Disney’s spirit. I mean NOTHING.
I figured I would start with the musical, as it was the latest one released. My beautiful daughters naturally got starring roles. Thing One was a doll, and Thing Two a table. Well, to be technical, Thing Two worked as crew, and got to animate the table as she was the only one small enough to fit inside of it. She sat under that table on stage for thirteen minutes while waiting for her chance to make it collapse, then magically straighten on cue. I heard this took a few tries since according to Thing Two, actors are really clueless about how to do their jobs. Like not get seen until they are supposed to be seen (if you can see the audience, they can see you). As for crew, they are never supposed to be seen, yet accomplish so much detail. The special effects were very impressive, and included that table repairing itself and dishes flipping back to their spots (usually) on Mary’s command, a flying kite, music and lights on cue, smoke that sort of worked, and much more.
So I got a look at both backstage and on stage this time, as Thing One performed her swan song performance as a high school senior (I have no idea how this happened, or how her sister got to be a freshman. I guess I slept a lot.) Unlike the years she played a part in the chorus (you probably remember her as the famous spoon in Beauty and the Beast), she didn’t have to rehearse nearly as much, and yet got her name in the main cast as a china doll that Mary Poppins brings to life, along with some other toys, in order to scare the living crap out of the children who don’t treat their toys well. Between this musical and Toy Story, I’m starting to wonder if I should keep my doll collection.
Anyway, she got a lot more noticed this time (her doll zombie act was unparalleled, unless you count that incredible table), and she got to play another small role as a banker. The father in the story is a banker named, wait for it, Mr. Banks and he sings a lot about order and precision as well as constipation, judging from his attitude for much of the play. He also has a wife with the awesome responsibility of finding a nanny so she can host dinner parties, and two fairly awful children. They can’t seem to keep a nanny long, so Mary Poppins flies in on her umbrella to help them straighten up their crap.
I realize I am biased here, but all the students did an amazing job of carrying out this production. The many musical numbers have unbelievably complicated choreography, including a ton of lyric memorization, hand motions, tap dancing, singing, jumping around, and generally encouraging heart attacks in the very young (and old just watching them). You probably remember these songs (“Spoon Full of Sugar”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, “Chim Chiminy Bang Bang”, etc.) but did you remember “Step in Time”? Cause that one went on for like fifteen minutes of Chimney Sweep frantic tap dancing and singing. A few times the audience thought it was the end and tried to do an ovation, since surely these kids were going to drop right on the stage, but nope, it just kept going. This is especially impressive when you consider that chimney sweeps had a high rate of lung disease.
Yet the songs never seemed pointless, and all flowed seamlessly along with the story. A spoonful of sugar helps unpleasant stuff like medicine, cleaning, and national news go down easier. Supercali- you get the idea – means you can do anything in Scrabble and win, cause creativity man. Mary Poppins and her pal Bert use these moments to teach the children how to be more human in imaginative ways. I joke about “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, but it’s actually a very moving song, sung throughout the musical both as a happy tune and a somber melody about making the most of your lot in life, even as someone stuck cleaning out chimneys, and seeing beauty through the smoke and ashes. It is also a reminder that these people exist in the shadows, helping the rest of us with what we take for granted.
My favorite song, “Feed the Birds”, is the most real, though, and sung by the old, homeless Bird Woman who comes to the steps of the cathedral everyday to sell bread crumbs to feed the birds. Don’t just walk by her! Give the woman some tuppence, you jerks! Yet we do walk by, don’t we? Mary Poppins encourages the children to see the dirty old woman and chimney sweep as real people, deserving of our attention. It was reportedly Walt’s favorite song as well, and even the original author liked it. The soft, pleading melody makes me cry every freaking time.
Mary Poppins brings the children into an imaginative world that exists right inside our own, whether they are jumping into a painting or flying up a chimney or just watching her drag coat racks and more out of her purse, just like a real mom. She teaches them kindness and morality, but not in a didactic, sickly sweet way. She is still proper and firm, and knows how to get the kids, and adults, in order. She does things just as she wants them, always in control of every situation. When the mother asks for references, she says “I make it a point never to leave references” (a line used in both the movie and the book) and her confidence just stuns the mother into silence. I’d love trying that at an interview. When the kids continue to act bratty, she even leaves for a while, letting them try it out with the father’s former nanny, whose references included gulags. The kid actors did a great job of showing absolute terror and begging for forgiveness. Mary returns, of course, and banishes the old nanny in a singing contest, as one does.
It isn’t only the kids she’s trying to reform, though, but the father. This story is rather old hat by now (think “Cats in the Cradle”), but was newer back when the movie was first produced. Even the book, while wildly different in areas I will later show, points out that time is fleeting. Children grow, imagination dwindles, life sets in, and cynicism grows. The usual work ethic encouraged in adults, especially fathers, keeps them from the joy of knowing their own families and home lives. Mr. Banks figures this out when he stands by his principals, nearly loses his job, but finds his family in the process. He even sings and dances at work, proving that Mary Poppins’s songs can warp anyone’s brain cells.
The ending is bittersweet, as Mary Poppins has to leave, having accomplished what was needed. Also, she promised to leave when the wind changed direction. As she travels by umbrella and wind, she probably has to catch it at the right time to get where she’s going next. It’s cheaper than airline fare at least.
The musical ends with one last song, “Anything Can Happen if you Let It”, and then a rousing chorus in which every kid gets a chance to come back on stage (including my doll), take a bow and once again dance like wild maniacs. Crew does not get acknowledged on stage, something that may change by senior year if my Thing Two, who is a star of Debate, has any say, though that might be difficult as they are supposed to also control the lights, etc. It was a great time for all, though, and prompted me to see what was behind this musical tale. Since I’ve gone on a long time already, stay tuned for more “Behind Mary Poppins”.
WordPress just warned me that they have a new editor planned. WHY? I just now figured out this one and it’s been . . . a while.
Speaking of WordPress, long ago in blogland we used to pass around these blog awards and I would collect them obsessively and call them “blog bling”. I also considered stealing a certain one, since all you have to do – technically – is copy / paste it off a more fortunate person’s blog. That would be the Freshly Pressed award that I eventually got by insulting the editors of WordPress in a post. There’s a bit more to it than that, but no matter now since it is passe because they have Editor’s Choice or something like that. I don’t know much about it since I don’t have a lot of blog friends competing for it. So big deal, cause this award’s name is not nearly as stupid, (I do not think of a mammogram when I hear it) so I reject it, unless some editor wants to give it to me. I’m RIGHT HERE guys, and you know WordPress I noticed when you never responded to my suggestion that my booger post be given an award. Do you not read your tweets? I find this unprofessional, WordPress.
I was getting somewhere, oh yeah, I was given the Liebster award by blogger anupturnedsoul. I forget who or what a Liebster is, but this one award is super cool because it asks lots of bizarre questions and I love answering questions that concern myself. (You should check her blog out cause she likes me, which makes her amazing and crap.) So here goes!
What is a question? What does asking questions mean to you?
A question about a question? It’s like an English major wrote this. Or a philosophy one, since it was taken from The Philosopher’s Magazine.
What is a question? That’s easy. A question is the answer on the game show Jeopardy. What does asking questions mean to me? Asking questions is a great way to learn something new and / or annoy another person. Like when I asked this nun in my college class repeated stupid questions like “Do you have more than one color of habit, like for special occasions?” She was very patient.
What is an answer? What does an answer mean to you? How far will you go to get an answer?
Haha, I did not see this one coming. Naturally an answer is a question on Jeopardy, which I almost never get right. Like who cares where Monaco is, it’s like the size of Dallas or something. An answer means someone has actually solved something, like say the Trump investigation. There are no more answers, only questions like WHYYYYYY? How far will I go for an answer? Wikipedia. See above for question definition.
What would you do first in this situation?
Each option has an interpretation attached to it which you will find by clicking over to : What Would You Do First in This Situation? The Result Can Reveal a Lot About You – there are additional questions asked by the site which are: How accurately do these characteristics describe your personality? Do you agree or disagree with all the descriptions?
This one annoyed me, because how can it be a personality test when most answers just mean you’re kinda dumb? If you do anything besides go to the tea kettle (does anyone still have one of these?) you are risking a fire. The baby’s fine in the crib another minute, the dog has already ruined your furniture, and the corded phone (we still had one of those until recently) call is probably a telemarketer cause those are the only people who call on a home phone.
But these guys say “If you’ve chosen the kettle, it can mean that you’re a passionate and rather quick-tempered person. You make decisions quickly without doubts, and nothing will stop you from achieving your goal. You can quickly get bored with monotony. You care about your safety and don’t like surprises. It’s easier for you to follow a clearly defined plan without unexpected twists and turns.”
Yeah, I care about safety, like not having the surprise of a fire, though you know not having things on fire can be rather monotonous so maybe I should have let the kettle go after all. Cause I cannot decisions to save my life, which is why maybe I should have chosen the baby because then I’m a calm and resourceful person who sacrifices myself for others (like in a fire) and enjoys quiet evenings with my family which I should note does not include a baby. Yet if you pick the baby up first and then go to the kettle and the dog, you burn the baby and get its head chewed off by the dog. I’m assuming you’d still be holding the baby since it’s not going to just get calmed in its crib fast enough for you to escape the fire, the rabid dog, or that relentless ringing.
It’s possible I have overthought this question. Nah! Okay so if I choose the dog it means I’m a material girl who doesn’t like a mess, and if I choose the phone I’m a great communicator who can multitask (not likely with a corded phone) in which case why didn’t I grab the dog, the baby, the kettle, and then answer the phone? The answers have no questions and the questions no answers and we’re right back to question one!
How would you convince me that you are real and not in my dreams? (borrowed from Philosophy Cambridge Interview Questions)
I’m not real. This is a dream. Or IS IT?
What is your favorite word? (Q borrowed from English Cambridge Interview Questions) Why is it your favorite word?
Once upon a time, whence I covered 50 Shades of Crap, my blog’s top search word for the year according to Google was “crack whore”. This is not my favorite word, though, nor is crap, no matter how many times I use it. It’s a tough choice, but I think my favorite word is “stabby”, as in “I feel stabby today”. It may not be in the Oxford English Dictionary yet, but if they added “hangry” I think they can add “stabby.”
Also, since this is borrowed from interview questions, what kind of interview asks what your favorite word is? Are they wondering if you will blurt out “stabby” like I just did, so they know you’re a serial killer and can casually mark through your name on their list? I’m so curious.
What does the following illustrated story mean to you? If you’re not sure – What was the first thought which popped into your mind about it?
Oh, wise Tarzan, er Tanzan, teach me more about how to avoid sexual harassment lawsuits! I mean, the first thought that popped into my head was “Oh like that monk is so great.” cause that’s how my mind works. Actually, though, I think it’s trying to say that the student was worrying about the teacher mucking up his mind cause his was mucked up – ie get the two-by-four out of your eye before you pick at mine, you brat. I count people who go through youth books line by line looking for subversive material among these.
Which god or goddess from mythology would you be and why? (Q borrowed from a comment on anupturnedsoul’s blog – Two Narcissists in a Relationship? – a personal story)
Ooh, I know this one! Nemesis. She’s not as well known as say, Zeus, but I like her cause she’s the Greek goddess of revenge. Her job is to exact revenge for “hubris” against the gods, or in valley girl speak “She like thinks she is like SO GOOD.” Some people say you shouldn’t want revenge and you should live well, blah blah, but I think that’s because they couldn’t get away with it and besides, if I was Nemesis, this would be my job. Like, nothin’ personal. Hey, did you just run over your neighbor’s cat and think nothing of it cause you are so special with your corvette? Sorry, but Whiskers is going to haunt you for the rest of your life, buddy. Turn around – Whiskers. Go to bed – Whiskers. Take home a date – Whiskers on the couch waiting with his red, creepy eyes.
Not that I’ve though much about this.
If you could be someone else, real or fictional, for a day, who would you be and why? What would you learn from being them? (Q inspired by Fandango’s Provocative Question #1)
Last question, you guys! I would be Donald Trump. No wait, hear me out! I would grab my buddy Mike Pence and we would travel to Antarctica to visit with the penguins and those Eskimo guys. We’d miss the plane back – I’d only have to tell Mike that there was a woman on there if he protested. Then I’d go back to being me, and Donald and Mike would learn to live with the Indigenous peoples until they kick them out within days and then they would learn to live with penguins. Sorry, Donald, you don’t always get to be in the middle. You have to share warmth like all the other Emperor penguins. And outside people would be all “Yay!” until we get someone else stupid in office. What would I learn? In Trump’s brain, I’d probably have lost information more than gained it. I am willing to take the risk for my country.
Okay, so that’s the end I promise! Anyone still with me? I am supposed to ask eight questions of someone else, but my brain is fuzzy. I don’t know eight bloggers, but anyone reading I would LOVE to see answer these questions cause they are so fun. I’m going to check out anupturnedsoul’s other nominees and their answers.
Stay tuned as I explore the many bizarre versions of Mary Freakin’ Poppins!
Hello? Is it me you’re looking for? Lionel Richie maybe? Where is he anyway? Alive, hopefully, or this is is awkward.
Good news, I am alive! I thought about making a post so many times. I had so many post ideas – they were great posts, wonderful posts. I was going to review stuff like hurricanes. I hear they’re wet. Or maybe just movies. I did review a few with the help of my Things and tiny wooden people. You can see them if you look back. Also, I got a lot of prep stuff for reviews like beauty masks (there are pictures I promise I will show one day including one with me wearing, I am not making this up, a penguin on my face) and make up and movies, etc.
The Things and I played with the prep stuff, but then did nothing with it. It takes time to take pictures of little peg people and we were like, busy. Or they were with school, and activities and staring at their laptops and stuff. I was busy contemplating the universe, or possibly hoping my meds would work and then we got Netflix along with Amazon Prime, and the streaming Roku thing we already had, and that was that. I’m not sure how Roku, or streaming, or Netflix works. I have multiple degrees, but those are in useful crap like liberal arts. So I figure it’s like electricity – little fairies carrying T.V. programs and such fly across invisible wires to my television. Well, sometimes. Sometimes the fairies get lazy and I have to call those Internet people. Freaking fairies.
I’m not actually stupid, I just don’t like researching electronics. Just in case you recently got here and don’t know me. Also the Things are my children. And I have mythical friends named Sad Pony and Squirrel. They say I’m sane.
What was I going to say here? Hang on, there’s a point, unless you’re my husband in which case you gave up a while ago. Oh, right, about the Things, and if you just got here, etc. I recently – I think it was 2018 – said that I should start over with a new blog because I had changed so much in the last year and blah blah pretentious blah. So I did start over, and then did nothing.
And then I realized that I hadn’t ever really changed after all. I’m still Alice, and as far as I can tell, I pretty much still have the same personality as long as I am taking the right meds, etc., that I did when I was twelve. Maybe this should have changed by now, I’m not sure, but I don’t really care cause I think it’s okay as it is. Also, the whole idea of trying to make a blog where I only review things because that would be more organized was a bad idea. I’m not organized. It’s just not happening.
I pondered whether I should give up the whole blogging thing cause I was no longer funny, or no one wanted to read it, or if after forty I should do stuff like normal adults. Whatever that is. Cleaning, I think, and working a normal 40 hour job in which I get roughly 3 hours of work done a week and spend the rest of the time wishing I was at home. Instead I am ferrying high school students (TWO of them) around and watching TV and buying health products cause I’m sure I’ll go to the gym if I have the right leggings.
But the blog posts never go away – I still write them in my head all the time. That’s why my counselor originally said to write it down, since my angst according to her was funny. Yes, this has all been a mental health exercise for me. Yay you, reader. I hope there’s a reader or two. But I guess that’s not the most important thing, since I used to write like crazy even when my only readers were my best friend and this Indian guy who liked very large American women in patriotic bikinis.
So I’m going to do that again! Uh, blog that is! And I’m going to do it back on Aliceatwonderland cause I’m Alice, and on this blog you just know I’m Alice and that’s why. Also I understand more of how to use this blog format. So I’m back here. If you followed the link, you found this post and a big sense of deja vu.
So I spent all that blathering to say I’m going back to my old blog and leaving Alice Reviews, though I’ll eventually transfer posts over before I abandon it, and I am going back to blogging. I promise I will post at least once every 3 months or so! Also, I will try to read blogs if they interest me. I have a short attention span (think reality TV) so I’ll do my best and all.
I hope to just have some fun and maybe get out some more angst and that sort of thing. If someone still wants to read, come on over. I might even wear a patriotic bikini.