One of the most validating experiences a child can have is when adults recognize and validate their emotions. It has the power to affect the rest of their lives and hopefully prevent future mental illness.
The 2015 Disney/Pixar animated film Inside Out follows a young girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). Her life is turned upside down when her parents move the family from the Midwest to San Franciso. Her emotions are guided by Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).
I was blown away by the film. I recognized myself in Riley, having also moved as a young woman, and understanding what it means to start over in a new school and a new community. I have vivid memories of feeling very awkward, unsure, and a little scared.
Instead of getting on the proverbial soapbox on the importance of mental health, the narrative guides viewers of all ages into the conversation of emotions and how important it is to talk about how we are feeling.
The nature of any democratic government is disagreement. But at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that political violence of any kind (i.e. January 6th) is wrong.
Last Friday, a man broke into the San Fransisco home of Nancy Pelosi. Instead of finding the Speaker, he found her husband, Paul. As I write this, Mr. Pelosi is in the hospital, recovering from surgery. As many others have pointed out, he is 82. His age brings up questions of how quickly (if at all) he will be able to return to a normal life.
This morning, the U.S. Congress suffered a despicable and cowardly attack. My thoughts and prayers are with Whip Steve Scalise and the others wounded, Capitol Police and staff, and their families. We are profoundly grateful for the heroism of the Capitol Police, whose bravery under fire undoubtedly saved countless lives. On days like today, there are no Democrats or Republicans, only Americans united in our hopes and prayers for the wounded.
One of the podcasts I listen to (I forget which at the moment) asked the following question: if the victim had been Kevin McCarthy’s wife instead of Nancy Pelosi’s husband, would the press and the politicians reacted differently?
This is how we should all be responding. We should see past the politics to see that an innocent man was nearly murdered by someone who has been indoctrinated by a false narrative.
If nothing else, this is a reminder that we should all be voting blue next week (if one has not voted already). If we don’t, this may the first of a long list of civilians wounded or murdered simply because of their political beliefs.
The book is an autobiography and the story of Angelou’s childhood. Born to a poor African American family, Maya and her brother Bailey spend the first years of life living with their grandmother in a small town in the American south. Though she is dealing with abandonment issues and the pervasive prejudice of the time (which unfortunately still exists today), Maya still finds joy and pleasure in learning.
Her life is forever altered when she is assaulted by a much older man after returning to her mother in St. Louis. Later, as a teenager who by then is living in San Fransisco, she discovers the power of literature and the strength that comes when you learn to love yourself.
Why I have never read this book, I don’t know. But I am glad I did.
Her experience as a girl is both universal and powerfully specific to the era she grew up in. Finding confidence, especially after a hard girlhood, sometimes only occurs long after we have grown up. Looking back at my own teenage years, I wish I would have had the ability to develop that same self-belief that Angelou was able to manifest at that same age. Perhaps some things might have turned out differently.
I can only imagine the emotional digging it took to excavate the crap from her youth and put it into a narrative that we can all find something in common. It takes courage to do that. When it is done well (as she obviously has accomplished), it opens the door for readers to possibly do the same with their own lives and emotional baggage.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is available wherever books are sold.
Movies and/or television shows that are based on comic books have been part of our modern entertainment era for decades. What is important is the balance between the source material and the enjoyment of the audience.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was released into theaters a few weeks ago. Based on the comic book of the same name, we are initially introduced to twenty something Shaun (Simu Liu). Living in San Francisco, he and his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) earn their living parking cars. Reality intervenes when Shaun’s ancient warlord father Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) send his goons to bring his son back to China. On the plane, Shaun tells Katy that his real name is Shang-Chi and the truth about his family. Meeting up with his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), they have to come together to defeat their father and prevent an even greater disaster from occurring.
I loved this movie. Though I have no knowledge of the narrative or the character arcs within the books themselves, I can say with certainty that the film adaption is superb. I loved the balance of the comedy and the action. The female characters who surround Shang are not sitting in the background, waiting to be rescued. They are as important to the action as the male characters. The one role that stood out to me was Xu Wenwu. He is akin to Anakin Skywalker in that his intentions are good, but his actions are not exactly on the up and up.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently in theaters.
When rewriting a classic novel for the modern age, it takes more than merely transplanting the narratives and characters from one era to another. It is the writer’s job to ensure that the emotions of both the characters and the reader is equally transplanted.
In the Sense and Sensibility reboot, Jane if Austin: A Novel, by Hillary Manton Lodge, the Woodward sisters Jane, Celia and Margot have dealt with quite a few upheavals in their lives. First their mother dies in a car accident. Then their father is accused of a business scandal. Jane and Celia must take care of themselves and Margot, who is a few years behind her elder sisters. A few years after they have rebuilt their lives, the upheaval happens again. When the rent is raised on their tea shop in San Francisco, the sisters find a new home in Austin.
While temporarily living with a cousin, the sisters have their fair share of issues with their love lives. Celia’s relationship with Teddy ended just before she and her sisters left for Austin. Jane is infatuated with Sean Willis, an up and coming musician. Meanwhile Captain Callum Beckett, a retired Marine is watching Jane from afar while dealing with his own past.
In terms of Jane Austen fanfiction, this one is well done and extremely enjoyable. While it was still Sense and Sensibility, I felt like the author was able to weave her own voice in the story as well.