Happy Valentine’s Day – I think

Trashed Roses

Broken Heart, or Dead Flowers?

I am really not sure who today’s holiday is for.

Girls/women over the age of 16 who are otherwise well adjusted get upset if they aren’t part of a couple.

Boys/men over the age of 16 who aren’t dating rejoice that they don’t have to participate in this “commercial holiday.”

Couples who have been married a while don’t want to deal with the hassle of going out on the most crowded night of the year. My husband and I fit that category.

Women in relationships over a certain length of time have hope there will be a proposal today, but invariably they are disappointed because that’s just too overdone.

Guys trying to impress that new girlfriend spend way too much money or rack their brains to do something different or non-cliche.

So, to sum up, best I can tell, the only people that enjoy the holiday are little kids before puberty (because the candy) and women who have been dating less than a year who don’t expect a ring but whose boyfriend still wants to impress. So, for that subset of the population, enjoy your day. (Another exception is couples celebrating their anniversary on Valentine’s Day — they have a different excuse, right?)

For the rest of us, celebrate love in your own way, whether you are single or married or divorced or widowed or whatever. My husband says he is cooking dinner, which works for me as long as he cleans up after. :)

Remember that romantic love isn’t the only kind of love, and the legend is that St. Valentine sent handwritten cards. Not diamonds or rubies or flowers. The big consumer machine got you good on this one.

Christmas Songs that Aren’t – “Same Auld Lang Syne”

Christmas songs are here!!!! Some of the radio stations in my radio market started playing them November 1, but I promptly changed the channel. Now, I’ve finally given in, and I’ve started listening to Christmas music. Have you noticed that some Christmas songs aren’t?

One song often played during the Christmas season is “Same Auld Lang Syne”, by Dan Fogelberg. Today, I had to explain to my eleven-year old daughter what the song was about. It is a great song, poignant, about first love that might have been, but it’s not very upbeat.

Now, as a mom, married for more than 16 years, I have to ask what the architect was doing at home, on Christmas Eve, while his wife is drinking a six-pack of beer in the car with Dan Fogelberg? Like most families, Christmas Eve is hectic for us. We usually drive to see my family, we go to church, we have to get home and get everything ready for the next day. Now granted, this was back in 1975, before cell phones, but even then, you’d think the husband would be wondering where his wife is for a couple of hours when she made a quick run to the store. She’s not divorced in the song.

I went to the source, and asked wikipedia, and here’s what I learned.
Yes, the song was autobiographical. Dan Fogelberg did run into his old girlfriend in the grocery store on Christmas Eve. He never identified who she was, and he did change some details about her to protect her identity. But, according to Wikipedia, the girlfriend has since come forward.

According to Wikipedia,

As Fogelberg said on his official website, the song was autobiographical.[5] He was visiting family back home in Peoria, Illinois in the mid-1970s when he ran into an old girlfriend at a convenience store.

After Fogelberg’s death from prostate cancer in 2007, the woman about whom he wrote the song came forward with her story. Her name is Jill Greulich, and she and Fogelberg dated in high school when she was Jill Anderson. As she explained to the Peoria Journal Star in a December 22, 2007 article,[6] they were part of the Woodruff High School class of 1969, but went to different colleges. After college, Jill got married and moved to Chicago, and Dan went to Colorado to pursue music. On December 24, 1975, they were each back in Peoria with their families for Christmas when Jill went out for eggnog and Dan looked for whipping cream for Irish coffee. The only place open was a convenience store at the top of Abington Hill where they had their encounter, located at 1302 East Frye Avenue. Today, the store is still in business and named Short Stop Food Mart. They bought a six pack of beer and drank it in her car for two hours while they talked.

Five years later, Jill heard “Same Old Lang Syne” on the radio while driving to work, but she kept quiet about it, as Fogelberg also refused to disclose her identity. Her main fear was that coming forward would disrupt Fogelberg’s marriage.

Looking at the lyrics, Jill cites two inaccuracies: her eyes are green, not blue, and her husband was a physical education teacher, not an architect, and Fogelberg was unlikely to know his profession anyway. On the line, “She would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn’t like to lie,” Jill will not talk about it, but by the time of the song’s release, she had divorced her husband.

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same_Old_Lang_Syne

So, there you have it. As Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

So, did that evening go something like this:

I’ll use the name Martha, since I’m not writing about the actual person in the song… and I’ll use Phillip for the husband. That’s a good name for an adult in 1975.

Martha parked her car outside the garage, not sure she could navigate the tight fit to squeeze in beside Phillip’s Buick. Between the couple of inches of snow in the driveway and the couple of beers she had had, the last thing she wanted to do was hit the side of the garage. She grabbed the container of egg nog, lukewarm by now, and started into the house.

Phillip was talking on the phone when she walked in. “Here she is. Thanks. We’ll see you in a little bit.”

He put the receiver on its base with such force it wobbled in the cradle. “Martha, where have you been? I have been worried sick. My parents have been calling, wanting to know when we’re coming over to decorate the tree. You’ve been gone two hours!”

Had it really been that long? Two beers. She guessed so. Dan had drunk four. “I had to go to a couple of stores. Everyone was out of egg nog.” The lie came easy. What else could she say? She ran into an old lover in a grocery store and talked to him in the parking lot? Sometimes the truth hurt more than a lie.

“Oh. Well, I was worried.” He glanced at her bluejean skirt and the red pullover sweater. “Are you going to change to go to my parents? You know they like to do the Christmas pictures tonight.”

“I don’t think I’m going. Tell them I have a headache.” That wasn’t far from the truth.

“Martha, you have to go! If you don’t, they will worry me to death about what you’re doing, why you’re not there.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t do it. You’ll just have to go on without me.”

And that summed it up more than he knew. She trudged up the stairs, deciding she would lay down for a while and hopefully he would get the hint and believe she had a headache.

Later, she heard him leave. Christmas wasn’t the time to break up a marriage. She would tell him after the new year. She would find an apartment, and start over. She drifted to sleep listening to the sound of the rain on the window.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Frozen–A Plot Critique

If you’ve not watched Frozen and you intend to, then read no further. Bookmark this page and come back after you’ve seen it. Spoilers follow, so consider yourself warned.

Copyright Disney 2013 All rights reserved

If you’re interested in finding out more about the movie, including such things as who wrote it, who the voice actors are, and who directed it, check out Disney at http://movies.disney.com/frozen/

This blog approaches the movie from a plot perspective, so I’m not going to get into the glowing animation, the funny scenes. All in all, the movie is visually stunning, and there were parts that I truly enjoyed. But I had a few issues with the end result.

Personally, I feel like Disney doesn’t know what it wants to be any longer. They have a long tradition of passive female heroines, and they have received quite a bit of criticism in the past few years for the passive princesses. Even if the princess movies were based on fairy tales from old, their modern versions have the women remaining just as passive. Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty all focus on the princess waiting for her prince. So I will give them points for trying to do better.  They are just not there yet.

To me, Frozen is a movie that started on one path and wound up on another, and the leap it took to get there left me hanging in thin air. So let’s deconstruct the plot elements and see what we have.

The movie starts with two sisters (Anna and Elsa) who are growing up together as princesses in a kingdom. They have fun playing together as princesses do. But the oldest, Elsa, has a secret power that allows her to freeze things, or to create ice out of nothing. When Anna is injured in play, her parents separate the two girls and force Elsa to go into hiding with her powers. So the theme, of conceal, don’t reveal, begins here. Two sisters grow up separately in a palace, each very alone. Other than a five minute scene where they played together, I didn’t see the writers develop that relationship much.

Then, as they do in most Disney films, the parents died. So the loving hands that would have guided them in an uncertain future are gone. The princesses basically raise themselves until Elsa comes of age, when they open up the castle to have a large ball. You never see servants, or older relatives or anyone. you just see two children growing up, each alone, in a castle. Again, I wasn’t sold on the relationship, but I get they are sisters.

Big ball. fabulous party. Elsa ignores her sister (as she always has since the accident), and Ana goes out and falls in love with a young prince from a neighboring kingdom, Hans. He proposes, and when they ask Elsa for her blessing, Elsa refuses, saying that they haven’t known each other long enough. In a nutshell, Elsa rushes out over the fjord, accidentally freezing the lake with her powers. Ana goes after her, leaving Hans in charge.

So I guess in a fairytale land you would leave someone you just met in charge of the kingdom. Okay, buying that, he seems to do a good job, working at keeping the townspeople warm by ordering blankets, warm beverages, etc.  Cue the Disney trumpets: this is the love interest. He’s cute, has a kingdom, and he appears to be a good guy. He does nothing in front of the camera to show that he is anything but a good-hearted prince trying to do the right thing.

So far we have a  conflict between sisters, and we have a love interest.

Ana goes after Elsa, and we meet Olaf, a snowman, and Kristoff, a goofy ice salesman who appears to slot into the best friend role. But the longer the movie goes, the more uncomfortable the viewer is in placing him in that role. Kristoff is developing a crush on Ana. Now we are torn between Hans, who is the good guy keeping things going at the castle, and Kristoff, who is the cool best friend helping Ana during her journey.

Now what? Now we have a conflict between sisters, a love interest, and a story of unrequited love. But who is the villain?

The bad guy is a minister from another land who is trying to steal the riches of the Elsa’s country by having Elsa killed and developing unfair trades, whatever that means. He’s pretty obviously the bad guy. Hans goes against him in trying to care for the people. The complexity keeps going.

Yada yada yada fast forward through ice and snow escapades. Elsa injures Ana a second time and she is almost dying. Elsa is imprisoned for hurting Ana by Hans, who it turns out is not a good guy after all.  Ana is dying, and she will allegedly be saved by true love’s kiss, but Hans tells her he doesn’t love her.  Swerve!

What is that all about? Sigh. My daughter, 11, was confused. She didn’t know who to root for.  I was irritated. Good music and animation can’t make up for a storyline that fails to deliver.

If the story is supposed to be about two sisters, then develop the relationship.  Why would Ana defending Elsa save her when they didn’t even have a relationship? How is that true love?

If the story is supposed to be a happy ever after, then give it a happy ever after. Kristoff goes back to being an ice salesman and Hans goes to jail. The sisters are living together again, but we still don’t see them interact except for a brief moment at the end when Ana makes it snow.

I enjoyed the animation and the music. I even liked the underlying theme that emotions held in can’t be good for anyone. But at the end, the kingdom still felt all frozen to me, and I didn’t see any real relationship warmth.

That’s my two cents. What do you think? Did the movie sell Hans as a villain?  Do you think anyone ended up happy?