Sunday, July 09, 2006

Look Sharp Me Mateys: There Be Spoilers Ahead!

I have decided that:

1) The final scene with the Kraken is a total shout-out to the Sarlacc - for obvious reasons

2) It's very sad that so few people have read or even seen Treaure Island - as evidenced by the occasional person admitting that they didn't get the whole black mark thing at first.

3) Luke is going to get the girl this time - or heads will roll!

4) All those critics are going to eat it in another ten years, just like they did with Empire. I'm just not sure how much crow they'll have to eat.

5) The whole cannibals storyline was only slightly less offensive than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

6) This series will have (very tiny) spoilers for Pirate's 3 inasmuch as it seems to be about how Jack became a pirate and how he first heard about the Aztec gold.

7) Elizabeth is not sad at the end of the movie because she thought she made the wrong choice (or decided she loved Jack more), she didn't tie Jack up to save herself, and she has so remained true to character. She has always been fascinated by pirates and has always been one at heart plus one of the first lines in the first movie is when her father tells her to watch over Will; every choice she's made in the movies has been made with that goal in mind.

8) All the people who are confused about Elizabeth's actions need to read House of Mirth and A Doll's House. In other words, Elizabeth is not confused about who she loves, but what she wants - not the same thing. She's also quite willing to sacrifice herself and her honor for the people she loves. She sacrificed Jack and her honor for Will's life, and now she's expects to have to sacrifice her hopes and Will's love for Jack's life.

9) The whole water wheel thing was a bit much. Not because it was too long, but because it was really hard to follow. Maybe repeated viewing will help. (checks gift card for Krikorian)

10) "Where's the rum?" = "I have a bad feeling about this."

11) "Savvy?" = "May the force be with you."

12) Do you know how I know Luke's going to get the girl this time? Because Jack and Elizabeth didn't kiss during the whole "my hands are dirty" scene. At the very least the writers would have given us more time to adjust.

13) Besides - Jack settling on one woman? Please.

14) Ok, well, considering #8, Will might not get the girl either. I might be ok with that. But I don't think most of America would be, so he probably is. Going to get her, I mean.

15) When we first see everyone in Pirates 3 one or more of the characters will be in disguise.

16) Davy Jones will ultimately help to break the East India Company's hold over the Kraken.

17) I am a freakin' idiot because it took me this long to realize that Pintel and Ragetti are R2-D2 and C-3PO

18) Jack became a pirate because he had a bad run in with the East India Company. (yeah, I know they already gave that one away)

19) Will will be much more interesting in the final chapter - or I'm going to be very mad.

20) Pirates 3 will be absolutely fantastic! (knock on wood)

Oh Yes It Is!

I seem to be having problems posting to monkeycrackmary's journal, so I'm replying to this entry here.

This is freakin' AWESOME.

And anyone who says otherwise will have to walk to plank!

I just finished this today during lunch - look for a review here later this week!

From Now On, I'm Just Handing Out Copies of "Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook"

OMG - yes! times, like, a thousand.

I will go through the following conversation at least once a day - often several times a day on the weekend:

"I need a book for a boy."

Sometimes the parent will go ahead and add the age without my having to ask - but they rarely leave off the gender.

"What grade is he in?"

"He's six."

If the child is standing beside the parent, he or she will usually simply gesture to the child. Because booksellers, like animators, can tell not only the ages of children, but their reading level as well, just by standing in their presence.

This is, of course, where I want to say "First of all, that isn't what I asked, and secondly, I hate recommending books to six year-olds through their parents, so I'm afraid you'll have to come back either with your kid or after the next shift starts."

Instead I say:

"What grade is he in?"


I love the parents who will still simply say "first grade" betwen the end of June and the beginning of September. Are they aware their child is not in school at the moment? (Yeah, yeah, we have year-round schools, but the majority are still on traditional schedules - it's dangerous to assume that their kid is one of the few who have already begun the new year.)

"Is he starting first, or leaving first grade?"


(Just my luck.)

"Is he reading already?"


(Ok, so obviously, I need to stop asking so many yes or no questions. I'm a bit afraid anything more complicated mught scare them away, though.)

"What kind of book are you looking for?"

I really don't know why I ask this question - they pretty much never have an answer.

"Do you want a book for him to read - or for you to read to him?"

"Oh - for him to read."

Again, I don't know why I ask this question, because they all give the same answer. Does anyone continue reading to their child past age five? Parents, a word of advice: my mother is a first grade teacher and one of her biggest regrets is not reading aloud to us after we learned to read. I really hope you won't have the same regret and that it's just that you have all kinds of cool read aloud books picked out already.

"How well is he reading?"

"He's at a level 1 / level 16 / level (insert random meaningless number here)."

Like this actually tells me anything - besides the fact that you bother to show up for parent-teacher conferences. Every single damn school has pretty much their own system and every single publisher has their owm system as well. I wasn't asking for a lottery number, I was asking for actual information. Can he barely read "cat" or can he manage a whole chapter in one sitting? Does he understand only basic phonics or can he manage some of the more complicated stuff? Does he still need to sound everything out or does he have a decent number of sight words stored in his head?

After asking the same question again and again in various forms ("What is he reading at school?" "Which reading group is he in?") we finally determine his approximate reading level and I take the parent to the Beginning Readers section and point out the right level of books for the main publishers and warn him or her that all the publishers use different systems, so a DK Readers level 1 will be very different from An I Can Read level 1.

"So what's good for a boy?

"Well, what does he like?"

About half the time the parents will actually have a decent answer, but half the time they really don't - and that's just very, very sad.

And then - even when they do have an answer, it's often something that ends up not being helpful.

"He likes karate."

Yeah...there's just such a huge demand for karate books for kids that are able to read "cat", but still struggle with "balloon". Did I mention that I hate recommending books to six-year-olds through their parents?

Friday, July 07, 2006


I found a scrap with the name of my old friend and roomate written on it just lying amid the mess on our coffee table - along with a a phone number. We haven't spoken in years (mostly my fault) and the area code is for a state that, last I heard, she wasn't living in.

No one is around to ask how it this scrap of paper found it's way on our coffe table! Is it myEm? Is it a different Em? Why is she trying to contanct me now? Is she trying to contact me now?'s a good thing I'm off to see Pirates, I need something else to obssess about or I'll go crazy.

Color Blind vs. Civil Rights Activism

Tekanji is right, this is a must read.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What Teen Angst Novel Are You?

(quiz created by E. Lockhart - hat tip to "he who collects last words")

I am Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Which is really funny because Catcher in the Rye, like Charlotte's Web, is one of those rare kid/teen classics that I've never actually read.

I own a copy - because I thought it was really sad that I had never read it. I planned on doing so....really.

I bought it just over a year ago now and I've never really been in the mood to read it.

Now I know why. It's me - and I find me rather boring most days.

(I am so bummed I wasn't cool enough to get Tithe.)



1) I went shopping today and I didn't have to pay for (all of) it because I got some gift cards for my birthday. Retail therapy works - when you're not the one footing the bill.

2) The award-winning John Green dropped off a comment the other day.

3) I discovered a site with Westmark fanfic the other night while rummaging through my SiteMeter stats.

4) Not only are there a handful of open positions for librarians in my area - but a couple specialize in children's books and reading programs!

5) Uglies is going to be a movie!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pirates, Gluttony, and Wenches

(Ed. note: I started writing this back in March, but got sidetracked. I thought it would be fun to revive it and polish it off in time for the opening of the new Pirates movie.)

My brother and I took his girlfriend to Disneyland this week. She had been to Disney World once before, but never Disneyland. The first and (almost) last ride we went on was Pirates of the Carribean.

It's always fun to go on Disneyland rides with people who have never been on them before. It's nice to remember what it was like when I was little and going to Disneyland meant going to Disneyland and not just riding the same fun but familiar rides for the ten billionth time. It's also interesting to see, on rides like Pirates, what newcomers notice and what they don't.

We talked a lot about how Disney alluded to the ride throughout the movie (it was on our minds already because Pirates will be closed soon for updates in conjunction with the new movies). For those of you who have never seen the movie and/or the ride: the screenwriters did an awesome job of using the ride as inspiration while not letting themselves be constrained by it. In fact, the stories mirror each other so well we're all more than a little worried about what they plan on doing to the ride. Aside from the issue of messing with a classic, how are they going to be able to change the ride without changing it so that no longer matches the first movie? (Ed. note:I've been on it since they made the changes, and I can tell you how they did it, but I don't want to print any spoilers for another few weeks at least.)

We also talked a little bit about the "pc" changes that happened in 1995. I always thought the changes were stupid. These are pirates - the whole point is that they are bad people, so how much sense does it make to have them act in a "pc" way? As we were riding past the auction the second time, though, the girlfriend made some disparaging comments about the appearance of the women being auctioned off and I suddenly had an epiphany.

For those of you that have never been on Pirates, the "controversial" bits were the auction and chase scenes that make up the pirates pillaging a captured town. The auction scene comes first and I must admit has always annoyed me a bit. It consists of about five women lined up for auction (yeah, right - like real pirates would bother) - supposedly for marriage (ha!) - and all in various states of distress. Some are almost pretty, some are not at all, most have their faces partly hidden. Two more women await buyers a little bit apart from the main line. The woman who is second in line to be auctioned off is a ravishing redhead (yes, just like the one that slaps Depp in the movie). She is preening as the pirates make catcalls. The first woman to be auctioned is a relatively nice looking but extremely fat lady who also stands preening as the pirates instead make fun of her and ask for the redhead. The chase scene is just around the bend and used to consist the new "husbands" chasing their "brides" - except for the fat lady, she is the one doing the chasing. Now, however, the chasees carry food, so supposedly that is what the chasers are after. It's ambigious whether the fat lady is simply protecting her property or is acting out the tired stereotype of the fat person with an absurdly insatiable appetite. The scenes are funny (and more than just the women or the fat lady gets made fun of) but they also rely on cruel, adolescent jokes.

I think the reason the "jokes" never bothered me too much when I was younger was because it was obvious the real "joke" was one the pirates - they were so busy being naughty that they never even noticed the town burning to the ground around them and trapping them inside. To a certain extent, I still think that's true. The fat lady's gluttony is the most obvious punchline, but it's the pirate's gluttony that deals the harshest "joke" of all.

So what's the problem? The problem is not that the ride creators showed pirate's being well, pirates. It's not even just that they made juvenile fat jokes. The problem is that by setting up the scenes the way they did, they used her and the other women to perpetuate the cruelest "joke" of all - one that is both dangerous and unneccesary to the storyline. The real "punchline" of the auction scene (and the original chase scene) is not that the fat lady is absurd, but that the weeping women are. The fat lady's size would not be as much of a punchline if she were a man (several of the pirates are rather stout themselves) and neither would the joke be as obvious if the redhead was either not there or not preening. Both the fat lady and the redhead are needed to set up the joke, because the joke is not really that the fat lady is pathetic, but that the weeping women don't know how good they have it. The main point of the scene is that women can protest otherwise all they want, but in the end what they all really want is a man. The women are not weeping because their situation is dire, but because they are not pretty enough to have the "power" the redhead has nor are they so desperate that they must admit the "truth" as the fat lady does. Those wenches just don't know how good they have it - they're lucky they aren't so ugly* that they have to chase men down instead of the other way around.

Just as they keep Song of the South hidden deep within their vault (even as they built a new ride based on it) Disney made the changes to Pirates to protect themselves from public opinion. By adding food to the chase scene, they fool themselves - and try to fool us - into thinking that it's now about food and property, not sex. By putting more of the focus on the fat lady, and less of the redhead (who has always been notably absent from the chase scene) they are trying to pretend that the "joke" is now - and perhaps was always - all about fat people, and not at all about sex and rape. Since the auction scene remains unchanged, the changes they did make only end up highlighting the sexism of the original creators and the end result makes it quite obvious that the changes weren't really made in order to make the ride more palatable to feminists. "PC" was just the cover story. All the changes do is make the reference to rape (and therefore sex) that much more ambigious - the scenes certainly aren't any more respectful of women than they ever were. The real intent was yo make the ride less frightening to overly protective parents - but they could hardly admit to that.

*because, after all, in this day and age, is anyone really considered uglier than a fat person?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: In Which Miss Lucinda Abernathy Begins to Understand the Difference Between Being Self-Sacrificing and Being a Doormat

Although I think Ampersand's question about feminists liking Y: the Last Man deserves a more lengthy answer than the pithy one I gave him (if for no other reason than because the title of my post suggested that it would contain such an answer) my thoughts on that subject are still as jumbled as they obviously were when I wrote the post in question.

So, instead, I give you one of the many reasons I read romance novels. Er, well, why I read Julia Quinn, anyway. The quote below is from the latter part of On the Way to the Wedding.

Our hero, Gregory, and heroine, Lucy, are sitting on a park bench feeding pigeons and discussing Lucy's upcoming marriage to another man, his bad luck wooing her best friend, and other trivialities.

"I'm sorry," she said.

He turned. Regarded her with a contemplative curiosity. "You say that quite frequently."

"I'm sorry?"


"I...I don't know." Her teeth ground together, and she felt quite tense. Uncomfortable. Why would he point out such a thing? "It's what I do," she said, and she said it firmly, because...Well, because. That ought to be enough of a reason.

He nodded. And that made her feel worse. "It's who I am," she added defensively, even though he had been agreeing with her, for heaven's sake. "I smooth things over and I make things right.'

And at that she hurled the last peice of bread to the ground.

His brows rose, and they both turned in unison to watch the ensuing chaos. "Well done," he murmured.

"I make the best of things," she said. "Always."

"It's a commendable trait," he said softly.

And that, somehow, made her angry. Really, truly, beastly angry. She didn't want to be commended for knowing how to settle for second-best. That was like winning the prize for the prettiest shoes in the footrace. Irrelevant and not the point.

Monday, July 03, 2006

"Where Are We Going Guys?"

I don't know how she picked up this particular phrasing, but my niece has been asking this nearly as often as "Where we at?" (my sister insists that Precocious know asks "Where are we at?" but I have yet to hear the "are" except when the question is phrased "Whose house are we at?")

Yes, Precocious and Cuddles are back in town (along with my sister and brother-in-law) and my goodness have they changed in just a few months. Little kids tend to do that, I guess.

Cuddles, now that he is old enough to recognize faces, is much more clingy (to Mommy) than he is cuddly (still adorable, though).

Precocious has been slightly less daring lately than the name might imply (largely owing to the fact that we decided it would be a good idea to take her on some of the dark rides in Fantasyland - turns out it really wasn't). I suppose though, that having such well developed fears may in and of itself be considered precocious after all, since it's much more of an early preschool thing than a toddler thing.

Needless to say, they have both been cracking me up and wearing me out.

Cuddles is terribly proud of his ability to throw things - even though he's still rather confused on the mechanics of the process. He thinks that biting the furniture is hilarious, probably because we have a hard time not laughing when we tell him to stop, and he makes funny faces a lot. I think he thinks they sorta go hand in hand with talking - I can't imagine where he would have picked that idea up.

Precocious currently thinks that flies are the funniest things in the entire world. Don't ask me why. She also spent most of one evening running around my grandmother's house yelling "All aboard the circus train!" again and again and again. Yes, Disneyland was a big hit - despite not liking Pinnochio at all and becoming quite hysterical when Mommy and Daddy got in line for Pirates.

I should also warn the world that she is already quite the negotiator. When my parents were passing out gifts, she explained to us that she should get the bigger (stuffed) puppy and not Cuddles, because she's the big girl. When that didn't work she informed all of us that she and Cuddles had decided to trade. Earlier that same day she tried to convince me that the butterflies we were looking for lived a few houses down - directly after I had explained that we had to stay in great-grandma's front yard.

Silly, silly kids.