going to the village

GUYS I FIGURED IT OUT

Okay so you know how in Beauty in the Beast…

This lady can’t afford six eggs, which always struck me as a little odd but I figured maybe that was normal in a poor French village. I mean, look at all the little kids she has; she probably struggles to afford any kind of food that would feed all of them… Right?

But later we discover something interesting about Gaston:

Gaston eats five dozen eggs every day. That’s 60 eggs. SIXTY. Which adds up to 420 eggs per week. No wonder this poor village doesn’t have enough of them to go around!

Gaston, who is very well-respected and successful and probably makes good money from his fabulous hunting skills, is cornering the entire egg market. To feed his addiction, he probably has to constantly go around and buy out every farmer’s supply of eggs, which causes the price on any remaining eggs to skyrocket.

Gaston is singlehandedly destroying the town’s economy.

Way to go, Gaston. You may be popular, but I’m sure that at least the chicken farmers were relieved when you fell to your death.

Small things I love about Moana
  • There is no talk of finding Moana a husband. SHE is going to be chief of her village. No one can take that from her.
  • How Moana is a competent leader before she even sets out on her journey.
  • The village seems to have more or less a hereditary monarchy that disregards gender and the matriarchal influence is clear: Moana is mostly inspired by her grandmother and the major deity in this movie is a Mother Goddess.
  • “Crazy” does not mean worthy of ridicule.
  • The central questions: “Do you know who you are? How do you know who you are?” Those cut deep.
  • The sibling relationship between Moana and Maui.
  • The vision about the ancient wayfinders. And “Know the Way,” which makes the entire sequence a million times more emotional.
  • This might be a Disney Princess movie, but it is also solidly an action movie.
  • Moana doesn’t like being called “princess”.
  • The goddamn gold-plated glow-in-the-dark giant crab. Who sings well.
  • Forehead touches. Between a human girl and a goddess.
  • The fact that Heihei manages to do ONE USEFUL THING in the entire movie.
  • Moana is so sturdily built. She managed to clock Maui, of all people.
  • Nature has agency.
  • How Gramma Tala’s passing is quietly understated. Her last words to Moana are those of sincere encouragement and her death is not explicitly shown. But you see the huge luminous manta ray a couple minutes later and you just know.
  • The entire sequence at the beginning that depicts island life. And Chris Jackson’s singing. Everyone’s singing, really.
  • Moana gulping deep lungfuls of air the first time her canoe overturned is so realistic, I could feel myself choking on ocean water.
  • The coconut pirates. They are VICIOUS little fuckers.
  • Moana earning a place among Maui’s tattoos.
  • Gramma Tala’s spirit is solid enough to hug. No more “LOOK INSIDE YOURSELF SIMBA” from the clouds.
  • Disney smashing the fourth wall and throwing shade at their own Princess story formula.
  • Romance is never ever ever even hinted at. Because Moana is all of 16 years old and she has bigger things on her mind.
  • All the songs. ALL OF THEM. They hit just the right emotional cues.
  • How culturally rich Disney managed to make this movie.
  • The sheer vividness of the animation. The wealth of expression on the faces of these characters. The colors.

There’s a bit in Wonder Woman that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s the part where she walks towards General Ludendorff at the gala. He see her and starts walking in her direction as if to attack, then surges towards her and grabs her in a kind of dance hold. She’s stunned, frozen. It’s probably the only time in the film where Diana looks afraid. 

Why? 

Because she was attacked, but in a way she’s never encountered before. She’s been trained to handle “honest” attacks, where the attacker makes their intentions clear. But here she is attacked in the way women in this world are so often attacked. It’s an unwanted, unwelcome intrusion, a man putting his hands on her without her consent, intruding into her personal space in an aggressive, obtrusive, threatening manner. But to bystanders, they are simply dancing. She doesn’t know what to do. She’s trained her whole life to deal with honest, open attacks, but faced with the sneaky, faux-polite attack of this kind of man, she’s completely lost. 

I thought this was a great moment. It reflects the experiences of so many women so well. 

On a side note, I mentioned it to my (male) partner afterward, and he hadn’t even noticed Diana’s reaction in that moment. He’s a great guy and a good, kind person, but his obliviousness to her confusion and fear speaks volumes about the different experiences of men and women in our society. 

6

Disney’s Beauty and the beast cast Is Gaston a villain or misunderstood?

I see him as the biggest villainous threat in any of the Disney films. He has no special powers. He’s not Jafar, or Ursula, or Maleficent. He’s a human being! He’s an arrogant, narcissistic, bigoted, chauvinistic, self-absorbed man who, once he’s told no, is driven by jealousy and revenge to fuel the fear of quite an idiotic group of villagers to go kill something they’ve never seen before. I mean, it resonates massively to what’s happening in the political climate throughout the world now. Luke Evans

On Avatar’s Portrayal of War, Child-Soldiers, and Privilege

Sometimes I think about the fact that there is exactly one time that we hear someone express surprise at the fact that Aang–the Avatar– and his companions are children. And it’s in the second episode, from Zuko: 

From an out-of-universe perspective, this makes sense. And it wasn’t something that surprised me when I was a ten-year-old in 2005 when A:tLA first aired. One of the tenants, I think, of adventure children’s television is that there is a degree of wish fulfillment. Children want to be taken seriously as agents, and so it makes sense from that vantage point, that everyone takes the Gaang seriously as agents except the person portrayed as an antagonist.

But, I think this also makes sense, heart-breakingly and unlike other children’s adventure television, from an in-universe perspective. This is a world ravaged by bloody, bloody war for a hundred years. A world in which child soldiers are commonplace. We see countless examples of this throughout the series:

  • When we meet Sokka–fifteen-years-old and in-charge of security for his village–he is training small children to be soldiers. This is played off as something of a laugh, but if Aang hadn’t returned in the second episode, I think we’re supposed to think that Sokka very much would have tried to lead these little boys into battle.
  • Jet and the Freedom Fighters, who practice guerrilla warfare (fairly successfully) and regularly raid Fire Nation outposts, are children. Jet, who I think we are supposed to assume is one of the eldest of the group, is sixteen when he dies (according to the Avatar wiki).
  • The Kyoshi Warriors are one of the elite-most fighting force in Avatar World, eventually taken seriously by the Earth Kingdom military and given military jobs. And the general of the Kyoshi Warriors, Suki, and the eldest member of the group (again according to the Avatar wiki) is fifteen. She can’t have always been the eldest member. I’m willing to bet the older women are sent off to war, and Suki becomes the eldest member and the leader by default. (Much like Sokka–probably why they connect so well).
  • In Zuko, Alone, the soldiers in the village threaten to send Lee off to join the army at the front, and based on the mother’s reaction, and what we see of him when he’s tied up, this doesn’t seem like an empty threat, and it’s probably not the first time this has happened to children in the Earth Kingdom in villages like these.

I could go on. 

So of course, after living in a world of child soldiers like these, no one is going to bat an eyelash to learn that the Avatar–perhaps the ultimate non-Fire Nation soldier–is twelve-years old, and his companions aren’t much older. When Aang starts to bring this up himself to Yue, for instance, Yue doesn’t seem to understand. He’s the Avatar, he has to save them, she insists. Who cares if he’s a child?

But the Fire Nation Army isn’t filled with child soldiers. It doesn’t need them. Fire Nation children are in school. It is adults that make up the Fire Nation Army. 

And, (with the exception of Azula and her gang), when we do see a Fire Nation child attempting to take on the role of an adult member of the military, he isn’t taken seriously. (E.g. Zuko, and the way Zhao brushes him off.)

So of course it is only Zuko, who grew up in the absolute center of the Fire Nation, and, though he is banished, hasn’t really seen much of the reality of the war until he meets Aang, that looks at the Avatar and remarks in surprise that he is a child.

(If anyone is interested, I wrote a fic that deals with a lot of these themes. It can be found here.)

  • Belle: Papa, do you think I'm...odd?
  • Maurice: My daughter, odd? Now where would someone get an idea like that?
  • Belle: oh gee Papa
  • Belle: I dunno
  • Belle: Maybe it's the fact that every time I go into town literally the entire fucking village, including the children and the fucking criminals, performs a perfectly synchronized, highly choreographed number about how much they all hate me and think I'm weird
  • Belle: every fucking morning
  • Belle: I just want to get some groceries Papa
The 8 Steps of a CHARACTER ARC

You know that moment as a writer, when you’ve been charging through the story, high on how fantastic it is, and then suddenly…it all STOPS.  The next scene doesn’t form in your head. You’ve got nothing. 

Behind your characters, a string of bright and captivating scenes mark the trail of that rocket of inspiration; ahead of your characters, a foggy expanse, stretching to who-knows-where, a few shapeless blobs that should be scenes floating in the nothingness. The rocket is dead, and not refueling any time soon.

Well, to everybody who’s suffered this, or is currently suffering it, there’s a way to navigate through that fog. A map. Directions and a destination.

Or, more specifically, events that form the underlying structure of the story. 

This post is going to focus on one facet of story structure: character arc. Structure is something people subconsciously recognize and expect, and if the story doesn’t match those expectations, they feel cheated (though usually can’t explain why). Every good story follows a structure. So if you know structure, you’ll always know where to go next, and won’t get lost in the fog. 

So here are the 8 steps of a character arc:

1) Hero: Strength, Weakness, and Need

This happens in the setup of the story, when the main character’s ordinary world is being introduced. First, the main character’s strengths must be displayed; we must be given a reason to like them, or if not exactly “like” them, empathize with them, and be fascinated by them. The reader needs to bond with the character, feel concerned about how it all turns out for them. Or in other words, feel that the main character is worth experiencing the story. There are easy traits that do this: courage, love, humor, being in danger, being unfairly treated, being highly skilled at something, having a powerful noble goal. (Courage is the one they all need. If the character doesn’t have the gumption to actively pursue what they want, they are automatically a background character.) 

After this, still in the beginning of your story, let the character exhibit what needs to change. Show their weaknesses of character and self awareness.
And lastly, hint at what they NEED to learn. Sometimes this is even stated to the character, and they don’t understand it, refuse to believe it, or condemn it. Like “A Christmas Carol”, when Scrooge’s nephew says his speech about Christmas and how wonderful it is, and Scrooge replies “Bah Humbug!" 

2) Desire: This is the moment when the character knows what they need to pursue, in order to obtain what they inwardly want. It is not the inciting incident or catalyst, the event in a story that disrupts the ordinary world and calls the hero on an adventure. This is a separate step entirely, occurring after that catalyst has shattered life as the main character knows it. They believe obtaining this goal will calm whatever inner turmoil or conflict they’re battling. And always, they’re not quite right.
Think of Mr Fredricksen: His goal is to get the house – a  symbolic representation of Ellie and the life he shared with her – to Paradise Falls, which he believes will heal his grief and guilt. It won’t. Once he obtains it, the achievement feels hollow. But I’m getting ahead of myself. So on we go! 

3) Plan: Once in Act Two, the character is going to scramble for a plan of action. The inner want has solidified into a tangible goal, but they need a strategy to achieve it. This also spells out for the reader what to expect in that second act.  

4) Conflict: What’s going to try stopping them? A hero with a goal is one thing, but to make it a story we need something that stands in the way. An obstacle. A force of opposition. If we didn’t have obstacles, books would be as interesting as "Harry Potter and the Trip to the Grocery Store.” (Although honestly, I’d probably read that.) After the catalyst has changed everything, after the character crosses the threshold into Act Two, everything from here on out will be laden with conflict. This is usually when enemies, or more accurately forces of opposition, begin to appear. Everything is accumulating to complicate the main character’s pathway to achieving what they want. The forces of opposition come from not only the villains, but from the actions that have to be taken to achieve the desire. Whatever this action is, it’s exactly what the main character is not suited to do, an action that pressures their flaws, exposes them to exactly what they need to become but can’t right now. 

Like Stitch being forced to be the family dog. He’s not suited to this task.

5) Battle: The forces of opposition are amping up, growing stronger, fighting with greater intensity. The main character is taking the punches and working around them, relentlessly plowing forward. Hero and allies are usually punching back too.

6) Midpoint: This is the event where they first encounter what they need to learn, what they need to become. Something happens that forces them to behave in this new, life-saving way. But once they’ve seen it, they don’t know what to do with this knowledge. 

7) Dark Night, Revelation, Choice:
This is always the darkest point in the story, where all seems lost, and death – of a literal or spiritual nature – is in the air. And in this moment, something usually happens that makes the main character wake up to what is wrong, and what they need. More often than not, this revelation will arrive from the “love story” or relationship of the plot, and will be the thing that helps them pull themselves out of despair and see the light. And once this is uncovered, once the revelation of the truth about themselves is recognized, they are faced with a choice. Of course, they’ve been faced with choices in every beat of every scene, but this is the big choice that is going to determine if their story has a happy ending or a tragic one. The choice is this: “You are being faced the truth that you need to heal. Are you going to choose what you need, let your old self die, and become someone better?” And always, always, always this is a hard choice. The revelation must be significant to them. And it’s never easy. It can’t be. We don’t write stories about heroes who make easy choices. Villains have it easy. Are you going to adopt this new way of living, adopt this truth, and let your old self die? Or are you going to stay the way you are (which feels safer and is much less challenging) but end up stuck in a sort of living death? Most of the time, of course, they choose the right thing. 

This moment is usually always the saddest scene in the thing. Like this scene with Stitch.

8) New Life: This is their changed life. After experiencing the trials of the story, after realizing what they need and choosing to be reborn, they are going to be different people – and are going to live a different life. This is what follows the statement “And every day after …” What has changed? Show the audience how things are different, how things are better, because they want to see that. This is the resolution, the wrapping up of everything we’ve been through with the main character, and having this in the story is often what gives that feeling of satisfaction after seeing a really well-told story. 

So! To show off how this works, I’ve chosen the character arc of Carl from Up. 

1) Hero: Strengths, Weakness, Need

Strengths: Reasons to like Carl are packed into that heartbreaking opening sequence. By the end of it, we love him, love Ellie, and are crying our eyes out.

Weaknesses: Now Carl is curmudgeonly, grumpy, cold, and won’t pay attention to a living soul. He’s also plagued by grief, regret, guilt, and loneliness. (Which we are all 100% okay with, because we already like him.)

Need: He needs Russel. The statement of what he needs to learn isn’t outright said (as it will be later) but Russel represents it. 

Step Two: The catalyst was when a truck knocked down Ellie’s mailbox, Carl hit a construction worker in the head with his cane, and for this a judge declares him a public menace and orders him to go to Shady Oaks Retirement Village. The DESIRE is this moment. 

Carl escapes in a flying house, thousands of balloons lifting him skyward. He even says the desire of the whole story out loud, “So long boys! I’ll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!” The tangible goal is “live out the rest of his days in his and Ellie’s house, on the edge of Paradise Falls, South America.” (“It’s like America … but South.”)

Step Three: The plan and the conflict overlap, as they are wont to do. We have a scene where Carl is unfurling sails, setting a compass, and settling back in his chair for a smooth journey. But later on, after some conflict has arrived, we have Russel figuring out how to actually make it there. And after even more conflict has arrived, we have him telling Russel “We’re going to walk to the falls quickly and quietly, with no rap music or flash-dancing.”

Step Four: The moment he settles back into his armchair, high above the city, and here’s a knock on the front door, nothing is going to be easy for Carl. First, we have opposition in the form of Russel. Then we have a storm. Then the house lands miles away from the Falls, so they’ll have to walk it. Then we have Kevin, the giant bird. Then we have Dug. Which means they’re also being chased by a legion of talking dogs. Which brings us to Muntz, the main villain, and Carl’s shadow – the representation of Carl’s flaws, and the consequences of refusing to let go of the past. 

Step Five: This is the trek to the Falls. It’s also the battle with every complication that arises. And it’s also exactly what Carl is not suited to do. He’s a curmudgeonly old guy, bent on living out the rest of his life alone. Well, the story says “Nope, Carl, that’s not how it’s going to be” and promptly gives him a surrogate grandson to take care of, a dog who adores him, and even a giant mythical bird. And he has to lead them all, if he’s going to get to the Falls. 

Step Six: The moment when Russel invades Carl’s heart. Which is what he needs, but he doesn’t understand. (I have the scene beated out in the previous post.)

Step Seven: Finally, he gives in to the worst of himself and chooses his goal of living in his broken house on the edge of Paradise Falls. But somehow this doesn’t feel like victory. He’s still alone, next to Ellie’s empty chair, and she is still beyond his reach. 

He picks up her adventure book, and leafs through the photographs, missing her; he pauses on the page scrawled with the words “Stuff I’m Going To Do”, lets his hand rest on it, grief and regret overwhelming him. He begins to close the book, and the page shifts … revealing the edge of another picture. Surprised, he turns the page. It’s their wedding picture.

Ellie added picture after picture of their happy marriage, the whole wonderful life they shared, all the things she did. And on the bottom of the last page is her last message to him: “Thanks for the adventure! Now go have a new one! Love, Ellie.” Exactly what Carl needs. He doesn’t need to be guilty, he doesn’t need to regret the past. The past was beautiful, and she will never truly leave him. 

Choice: So, Carl can make the choice to throw everything out of the house to go save Russel. 

New Life: Sitting on a curb, eating ice cream with Russel.

In the credits, we see a whole new life – or new adventure – with Carl, Russel, Dug, and even a bunch of new puppies.

So, it’s actually pretty simple. And once again, it’s fun to develop your own stories like this, but it’s surprisingly fun to analyze movies and books with it too. It improves your storytelling ability, I’ve found. Practice makes perfect.

I hope this post helps somebody out. It’ll make the ten times I cried while writing it, while watching scenes from Up, worth it.

look at me - i will never pass for a perfect bride

so i know i already made a retold mulan post but i just LOVE MULAN SO MUCH so here’s another

in the original myth mulan isn’t really a clumsy fish out of water. she’s strong and smart and the reason she goes to war is because she’s the most qualified person in her family to fight, regardless of gender.

so how about this: mulan’s a fighter. she knows exactly who she is, like in the original myth, she’s knows how to be the blossoming flower and the great stone dragon. she’s still mulan though, so she still doesn’t memorize the silly ways she’s supposed to be a good wife and has little patience for appearing graceful while pouring tea. she’s innovative and courageous and beautiful, but no one is under any illusions about what kind of wife she’ll be.

and the matchmaker is the matchmaker for the li family as well, for this great big part of china. and general li wants his son to be married before he goes off to war, wants his son to have a reason to fight to live, like a wife waiting for him. and the matchmaker reads the stars and the tea leaves and the astrology charts, and no matter what all the signs point to one thing: the honorable li shang is destined to marry the insolent, arrogant fa mulan.

the matchmaker isn’t going to let that happen, she refuses to be responsible for that disaster of a wedding. so she sends her most beautiful girls, the ones that are obedient and quiet and know their roles, the ones that are eager to marry into the li family.

and each of them are entertained and met and sent back. shang is many things, but smooth isn’t one of them, he has nothing to say to these quiet girls who smile at him, feels large and awkward around their polite smiles. so he and his father go to the matchmaker’s village, shang reluctantly and his father to demand she stops messing with them and provides a proper bride.

it’s on the day that mulan and the other girls are parading in the street. shang sees a girl - mulan - hurry into the end of the line, jumping over a bench and darting around a careening wagon to get there, and stifles a laugh.

then there’s no reason to laugh at all, because a group of huns have decided that this village is in their way, and attack.

everyone scatters, women hide, children hide, and most of the men do too. shang and his father join the fight with some of the other men who hadn’t hid, and these men are starved, clearly not with shan yu, so even though they’re outnumbered they’ll likely win.

shang sees a hun go to attack the girl he’d seen earlier, the girl for whatever reason hadn’t run and hid. the hun raises a sword above his head to strike her down, and shang is so sure he’s about to see this pretty girl lose her head.

but she doesn’t. instead she rolls out of the way, and pops up, headbutting him in the stomach. she takes his sword from his now-slack grip and plunges it into his chest. without hesitation or pause the girl joins the fight, swinging the sword expertly and cutting down every man who stands against her. soon they’re fighting back to back, and shang has never felt more in sync with another person. she cuts off the head of the last hun, and shang has never seen anyone more beautiful than this girl, dress ripped and make up smudged and covered in blood that isn’t hers.

“mulan,” one of the other girls says, peaking out of a store front, “is it over?”

the girl, mulan, looks out over the dozen dead men and says, grimly, “it’s barely begun.” she searches the crowd, finding and old man and yelling, “gather the bodies, we’ll burn that at dusk outside of the village. everyone else,” her eyes sweep across the gathered people, and shang is struck by the fact that this girl isn’t well liked. there’s anger and disapproval in many of the faces, but they’re listening. these people don’t like her. but they do trust her. “let’s clean this all up. these were bandits, not soldiers. there’s nothing more to fear.”

“what if there are more?” the other girl asks, arms wrapped around herself.

mulan raises her stolen sword and says, “then i will slice them to ribbons. this is our village, and this is our country. any who would try to take it from us - from me - will suffer the consequences.”

and it shouldn’t be comforting, hearing words of violence from this young girl, yet everyone around them relaxes, and gets moving, gather the bodies and tending the wounded.

“who are you?” his father asks, and someone who doesn’t know him might think he was angry, but shang can tell he’s impressed.

mulan turns to them and bows, “my apologies. i am fa mulan, daughter of fa zhou. thank you for helping us.” she stands, and shang meets her eyes for the first time.

he swallows, and blurts out, “you - you fight good.”

his father coughs to hide his laughter, but mulan’s eyes crinkle at the corners. “thank you. you do as well.”

and they just keep standing there smiling at each other until his father claps his hands and is like okay - they’ll have to report this to the emperor, no time to dawdle, have to go now.

so they take their leave, and shang thinks this is the last time he’ll see fa mulan.

except there’s still the draft, and this time mulan doesn’t take no for an answer, won’t hear of it. her father is injured and old and she is young and fit to fight. she will go in his place.

so she arrives at the camp, prepared to pretend and lie - except she goes to meet her commanding officer and it’s him, that boy who had fought with her. shang’s eyes widen, but they’re in front of too many people. he can see it on her face, her fear, and she hadn’t shown any fear when she was facing down over a dozen huns, but she does now. so he makes his choice and says nothing, pretends he buys her story.

she tracks him down that night and demands an explanation. he says this war is too important to kill good warriors, whatever gender they are. he swears to keep her secret. mulan is his best soldier from the beginning, and means to treat her like anyone else, but it’s impossible. she isn’t like anyone else, is strong and smarter and braver than them. they argue tactics, and she’s the only one who can give him a workout in hand to hand, and he doesn’t have trouble finding his words with her. he finds himself falling in love with her, but doesn’t say anything. she’s not here for love, she’s here for a war. he vows to say something if they survive this, but it’s unlikely that will happen.

they head to the front earlier. they get there in time to provide back up for his father and his army, and it’s a loss but not a slaughter. his father is too distracted to notice ping is the girl from the village. all he knows is this soldier had led the second wave of attacks, and it was thanks to her any of them were alive at all. they prevent half of the huns from getting through the pass, but that’s still an army heading for the imperial city. the general is injured, so mulan and shang lead the army after him.

they find him at the mountain, and just like before mulan uses the cannon to destroy the army. she knew it would spell their death, but it was worth it, for her people, for her country, for her family. this time it’s shang that won’t accept her death, that tries to drag her unconscious body to safety. only he fails, and mulan becomes buried under the snow.

they return to the city, and shang is besides himself - the woman he loves is dead, she saved them all and she’s gone, and he’ll never recover from this. only he can’t tell his father this, their friends. they think he mourns a friend, not the woman he wanted to make his wife.

except mulan survives, and sees the other huns as well. only she kills them there before they can get to the city, and decides this is for the best. fa ping dies honorably in battle, and fa mulan is free to return home to her family.

so general li decides that it’s time to go to that matchmaker again, and demand she stop playing games. the matchmaker confesses that she thought the bride was unsuitable, and the general demands she send her anyway.

so mulan has barely had the chance to settle back home when the matchmaker shows up at her door saying she’s sending her to see a potential husband, but not who. so mulan shows up all made up to li household and shang drags himself into the room, already resigned to a loveless marriage, when they see each other. “mulan?” he demands, and his father is all pleased because it’s the fighting girl from the village.

but then his son starts crying and they run to each other. shang picks her up in his arms and she clings to him, and shang is babbling about how he thought she was dead, and mulan is so overjoyed that she’s with shang, and shang wants her, that she kisses him without explaining.

except now shang’s father demands an explanation. so they give it to him, the whole story comes tumbling out, and he stares hard at her, and remembers her as ping, the brave soldier that had saved them all. he’s not upset - he ecstatic. he goes to the emperor and tells him everything, and the emperor officially offers mulan an officer position in the army. she accepts, as long as shang is by her side. shang seconds this, and they set in motion the plans for the wedding.

fa mulan and li shang get married and lead armies and live happily ever after, just like the stars intended.


read more of my retold fairytales here

So like I have one big question about human weirdness.

How did we figure out we can eat what we can eat?

Like who was the first guy to figure out if you boil those weird sea bugs (lobsters are arachnids I know i know) that runny gunk under their shells firms up and is edible? And delicious!

How many people did one village go through before they figured out which part of the pufferfish won’t kill you? And also WHY?

How much experimentation did it take to go “Okay that mushroom is really yummy and tastes like chicken and is safe but that mushroom that looks almost exactly the same will kill you dead.”   ?

Who was the first person to look at an alligator - that ancient and terrifying descendant of legit dinosaurs -and go “Imma gonna eat it!”  ?

Like how did we figure that out?

Good Things that Happened in 2016

·         New chemotherapy breakthroughs have increased the 5-year survival for pancreatic cancer from 16% to 27% (and is getting better)

·         Scientists figured out how to link robotic limbs with the part of the brain that deals with intent to move so people don’t have to think about how they will move the limb, it can just happen.

·         Child mortality is down everywhere and it keeps going down.

·         Thanks to the ice bucket challenge the gene responsible for ALS has been found, meaning we are closer to an effective treatment. Let me rephrase that: we are close to getting a treatment for a very bad disease because a lot of people (including really hot celebrities) got wet.

·         A solar powered plan circumnavigated the world.

·         Michael Jordan donates 2mil to try and help bridge connection between police and the community.

·         Tiger numbers are growing.

·         And manatees.

·         And pandas.

·         Pakistan has made strides toward outlawing honor killings.

·         70,000 Muslim clerics declared a fatwa against ISIS.

·         Pokemon Go players went insane with placing lure modules near hospitals for sick kids.

·         California is now powering over 6 million homes with solar power, a record in the US (and that is the tightest shit)

·         Volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours.

·         Apparently world crime as a whole has drastically declined as a whole in the last couple of decades.

·         Coffee consumption has been proved to help curtail cancer and suicide rates.

·         Speaking of coffee Starbucks figured out how to donate perishable food in a food safe way.

·         500 elephants were relocated to a better, safer and bigger home.

·         We made massive strides in Alzheimers’ prevention (my grandmother literally told me that scares her more than getting cancer this is very good news)

·         The ozone layer is repairing itself and all the work we did to get rid of those aerosol chemicals was actually worth it.

·         A new therapy developed in Israel could cure radiation sickness.

·         The Anglican church resolved to solemnize same-sex unions the same as opposite-sex unions which required a super majority of all three orders of the church (lay, clergy, bishop).

·         The Rabbinical Assembly issued a resolution affirming the rights of transgender and non-conforming individuals.

·         Precision treatments for cancer are hitting clinical trials and WORKING (as someone who’s had relatives with cancer this is the best news)

·         Dentists are once again providing free care to veterans who need it.

·         The Orlando Shakespeare Festival showed up with angel wings to block funeral-goers for the Orlando Pulse victims, view from anti-gay protesters

·         Rise Women’s Legal Centre opened

·         Death by heart disease has decreased by 70% in the United States

·         Two brothers saw color for the first time thanks to specially-designed glasses

• Portugal ran its entire nation solely on renewable energy for four days straight

·         A retiree is launching a project to transport 80 endangered rhinos to an Australian reservation to save the animals from poaching

·         An Afghan teacher has been delivering books via bicycle to villages that lack schools

·         Harriet Tubman is going to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

·         200 strangers attended the funeral of a homeless WW2 veteran with no family

·         A teen battling cancer married his sweetheart

·         Bank firm pays for college tuition for the children of employees who died in the 9/11 attacks

·         New medicine has been shown to increase melanoma survival rate to 40%

·         Over 800 Boko Harem Hostages were rescued by Nigerian Army

·         Toys R Us is Offering Quiet Shopping Hour for kids with autism this holiday season

·         Volunteers made special tiny Halloween costumes for NICU babies

·         A 4-year old befriends a lonely man and helped him heal after losing his wife

·         Families grew

·         People survived c ancer

·         People overcame depression

·         Any kind of victory, even if it affects only one person,  is a victory

·         Now for the pop culture good news

·         LEONARDO DICAPRIO WON AN OSCAR! EVERYONE READING THIS LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO SEE LEO FINALLY GET WHAT HE DESERVED

·         There’s a new Harry Potter book

·         And a movie

·         Harry Potter has no plans on vanishing with time

·         This sweet father gave candy to passengers on a flight so his little girl could trick or treat on Halloween

·         LET ME TALK ABOUT ALL THE KICK ASS MOVIES WE GOT THIS YEAR OH MY GOD

·         Kung Fu Panda 3, this franchise is still going strong despite that its about a panda played by Jack Black

·         Jungle Book. The amazing remake none of us saw coming

·         Finding Dory. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard good things

·         Kubo and the Two Strings. Haven’t seen that yet as well but its Laika so I know it’s a masterpiece

·         Deadpool. The beautiful and super accurate R-rated marvel film

·         Captain America: Civil War. Seriously is the best marvel movie yet in my opinion I need more.

·         Zootopia. Oh don’t mind me I’m just a movie that tackled the issue of racism and not only game changed animated films but also made a billion dollars

·         The Hamilton Mixtape is coming out. Which is a bunch of artists singing songs from the musical (Sia, Usher, Regina Spketor, etc.) I’m excited.

·         A personal victory for myself, I joined Tumblr and met angels in blog form so…that’s uplifting.

·         And I met my favorite voice actor at a con which was a bucket list accomplishment.

Good Things that have yet to happen this year

·         Birthdays

·        Thanksgiving

·         Black Friday

·         Moana

·         Christmas

Good things that have nothing to do with the year but will hopefully make you feel better

·         Puppies

·         Chocolate

·         Rainbows

·         Rain (I like listening to rain it’s one of the most calming sounds)

·         Cartoons

·         Kissing

·         Music

·         Friends

·         FF: If you are a religious person you are an imperfect masterpiece

·         FF: If you are not then you are a splendid coincidence

·         Any year spent with loved ones be they family or friends is a good year. Trust me.

·         ”A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have” –Roger Rabbit

#NeverForgetTheGood


*Plz feel free to add other good news (even if it’s something small like you ate cheesecake THAT is good news)

*at the end of the year I plan to remake this list with new things, fixed mistakes and links but will be posting from my side blog @iamrainbow

some stuff that would be cool in the next animal crossing:

having your other characters be active in the town while you play on your main (see them walking/fishing/talking to villagers, etc..)

being able to take pictures with villagers (think of the Sims 4 camera skill) and frame the pics

placing public works projects the way you place furniture in ACHHD

l o n g e r h a i r s t y l e s

official gyroid section in the museum!!!

being able to play the live version of KK’s songs in your house

a path building system that’s something more developed than placing patterns on the ground one by one

mean villagers that you really have to work hard to get to like you/having to work harder for friendships in general

you know how sometimes a villager is like “oooh I heard _____ and _____ were together on the beach” I want those things to be REAL. i want DRAMA. give me the hot gossip

being able to go in the river

placing villager houses (obviously)

bring back notes in a bottle, have them be something that you can receive from random players all over the world

seeing NPCs around the town when their shop is closed

ISABELLE GETS SUNDAYS OFF

6

zest??? zest!!! 

when i was seven the sea-witch cursed me.

she cursed my great-grandfather, actually, who had spat on the hands of the ocean and disrespected the beating heart of the earth - for what else are waves but a pulse - who was silly and violent and who tried to rip from the water what was hers by rights. we were wealthy, before that, a family of merchants. my mother says in her youth she recalls white horses, the gleam of candles, early mornings with bread baked fresh by a horde of servants.

he didn’t ask permission to cross her. that’s what my mother tells me while she spoons porridge with no flavor into the wood of my bowl. he had no faith in superstition, rode with boats that were more decoration than strength, the folly of a man who was cruel and vain and proud of his own gold teeth. the sky had been blue, so regardless of what the village witch said, he would sail that day. and when his boat sank; their lives turned blue like the sky that day.

my mother says she thinks the curse on the men of our family, even if they come in when they marry, is that they will forever be violent, too foolish to see the storm on the horizon. she whispers this to me on the eve of my seventh birthday, while father is his own storm, thundering around the house, looking for her. later, when i am cleaning the cut by her cheek, she tells me the curse is on the women to forever be unhappy, to wane until they are shadows, to walk into the deep like a sinking ship. 

we don’t burn candles often, they are too expensive. she tells me this in the silk of a dark room. the moon kisses her hair. 

in three days, my mother will walk into the ocean, and my father will be my own problem. the curse will pass onto me. 

my father does not believe in superstition, no curse to conquer him. when he is gone, and i am heartbroken, i go to the village witch. i ask her to teach me about magic, and other things, and about how the ocean can be coaxed, and how to save my father’s soul. 

and my hands rot too, keeping a house by myself with things i barely knew. i learn the art of a good scrubbing, keep my mind full of white horses while i endlessly clean, dream of candles in dark while i make the bread that he will not allow me to eat. he keeps me from the ocean, from visiting the place that took my mom, from following in her footsteps where the water makes women undone.

i am sixteen when i see her in the water of a bowl. she scares me so completely that i drop it, and my father comes in with his hands, and the curse, and i almost forget all about it. it isn’t until after that i realize she is beautiful, and young, which surprises me. 

i think about it every evening. her face becomes distorted to me. i can no longer remember the exact shape of it, only the impression of beauty. 

i turn seventeen and wait for the high moon. i pin safety to my vest in little witch herbs and runes. i put naked toes on the sand and slip closer, closer, to the avenue of my family’s doom. i find a little private beach, small and surrounded by rocks, hidden from my father in the event he ever thought to come looking. at high tide, it is barely the span of my body. at low, it feels empty.

the witch of the land has given me what i need to call in the witch of the sea, but i do not use it. it feels wrong, somehow, standing here in the wind and the quiet pulse of the world. i put down the incense and sage and i sit just close enough it feels wild, dangerous - but not close enough to get caught up in thrill. 

when nothing happens, i go home and i make bread that i will not eat.

for months i do this. i climb down to my beach. i learn to do it when the moon is half, and then when the moon is empty. i learn to do it so well that sometimes i go to sleep in my own bed and wake up by the water. i take to sleeping with warding runes to keep me from being pulled in the rip out to the waiting hands of a hungry sea-witch.

i don’t know when i start talking. more often i sing, because singing in my house is not allowed, and something about the way the rocks echo my voice feels comforting. the older i get, the more i can pretend i hear my mother’s voice, answering me, harmonizing gently. i sing songs about sadness and lullabies about curses. when i have exhausted every song i know, i write new ones about fathers who have never learned how to be kind, about the house i work in but do not love, about mothers who left, and about a sea witch.

i see her sometimes. in a puddle, in the drop of rain, in the strangest places. i never expect it, although i always hope. i am never able to see her for more than the length of a wave, breaking, and each time, it does something new to my heart.

at eighteen i am too much of my father’s burden. he tries to unload me onto other men. the land witch helps me with this. i rub hemlock, burn wolfsbane. we arrange so these men have other women to marry. the news of my curse is bad enough to scare most away. my father is not happy.

after a particularly savage night, i wonder how bad it could be. i could marry some boy from the village who didn’t quite bother me. i suppose they’re not ugly. timothy had always been gentle to me. i think about a life, and how i am cursed to be unhappy. my father would finally be proud of me.

i walk to the beach and i tell the waves about him and how i could convince myself it was love if i just never wanted from him. how i could be okay, if not content, how i could be free, how i already had learned life down on knees.

but i go home and i write a rune of warding. and the years pass and i find reasons each suitor is wanting. and the sea witch i see, sometimes, peeking out at me, staying long each time in the water, looking, watching. i see her in mirrors when my father storms against me. it is bad because he mistakes the cause of my smiling. it is better when she is there the next morning.

and i go to the ocean. when i am too sad to speak, it seems like the ocean is whispering for me. i picture my mother’s voice and tell myself i am happy. i am seven again and we are sewing. i am seven again and the curse has not been given to me. i am seven and she came home after she walked to the sea.

i grow silly, brave, unthinking. i leave behind the herbs and i wade deep. i teach myself the art of swimming. i am bad at it, at first, but something about it feels good to me. like the ocean wants to buoy me. in the day i think of it, guilty. what if there was a rip tide, and the water took me? who would care for my father if i stepped off the beach into a long drop? wasn’t i clever enough to know that the ocean is uncaring?

it is not this that does it. i go out after a rain and i slip on the rocks and suddenly i am in water above my head but without the moon i cannot see the up of it. i kick and i thrash and the water surrounds me. the tide pulls on my body and in the cold i feel my body grow weary. water spills into me. it punches through my body, up my nose and into my lungs and some part of me knows this is what mother felt before she was gone.

i kick ground by accident, reorient, drag myself heaving and spitting into the air. i lie there for a long time, half in and half out of death, enjoying the sensation of breathing and of life.

when i look up, i think i see her, watching me, her brows knit with something like worry. but we make eye contact and my heart leaps and then she is gone and i am left alone with nothing but the dawn breaking.

my father is furious when there is no bread. he finds my hair wet, and the salt of the ocean still smelling on me. and that is it. that day he goes out and pays someone to agree to marry me.

this feels right to me, i think. i’m twenty-one, three times seven, a perfect number for a curse to fully come down on me. i will be wed in three weeks.

the land witch comes to visit me. she looks like she’s sorry for me. she gives me a spell and tells me to put it under my pillow; i’ll dream of love and it will soothe me. instead i dream of the seawitch, and how wonderful she is, and the sight of her, out on the water, worried.

even though it is risky, i go down to the beach. i do not bother with protective spells, i have already seen that the water can kill me. fear alone keeps me from wandering. i sit on the beach and in the sand i draw runes for understanding and i make the small magicks i’ve spent years learning and i close my eyes and i ask the ocean “why do you do this to me.”

i fall asleep. i dream that the sea witch talks to me. i dream she is my age, that she is the great-granddaughter of the first to curse my family. i dream she has spent years watching, learning, finding the truth of me. that she just needs to get the courage to come and speak, that she has fallen in love with my singing, that she knows no curse but the one in her heart that brings her back to a human, to a creature of air and not water, to a mistake in the making.

in the dawn i know it is a dream and no more. i make bread. i pour water out before it can make mirrors. i do not look. i do not like the ache that has filled me, as if i’ve been looking for an answer and the answer only leads to longing.

the man i meet - my husband-to-be - is delighted by the house i keep. he believes a woman should keep in her place, and her place should be clean. he hears from neighbors that sometimes i sneak out to the land witch’s house. laughter barks out of him. not going to allow that behavior, not me. he does not believe in curses. he will pack me up and move me from the ocean to somewhere in the mountains, where i know nobody. and i will, he promises, learn to keep my place, and that place clean.

i tell myself i could love him. he is not ugly. he says i’m pretty enough after whiskey. my father mentions i used to sing. i refuse to perform for these men so instead i make them cookies. they laugh and talk about me, even when i am in the room, as if they cannot even see. they shake hands and talk about how useless a woman is for much else than breeding. it’s very funny. the man meets my eyes and promises he’ll put a baby in me. i look down and pretend the thrill i feel is excitement, not fear brewing in me.

the land witch comes by a week before my wedding. she is smaller these days, aging. her apprentice and i get along wonderfully. the two women stand before me, holding something. 

a small box, so tiny and lovely. “break the curse,” the witch whispers, “learn to be happy.”

i smuggle the box, take it everywhere with me. it is days before i have a moment to slip away, to open it by the sea. i take a candle with me, even though my father will notice and be angry.

by the light of fire i read the spell they have left me inside, and then i am so full of gratitude i cannot stop crying.

it must be a full moon, so i must wait. in the meantime, i walk home, and i bake. 

i do not see the seawitch, even though i look for her. maybe i have wounded her, getting married. my father asks why i keep smiling. i tell him it is because i am finally with a man. he grunts and says to stop looking so silly. 

the man kisses me. i let him. we are married on a night with a full moon, and i poison him and my father in the bread i did not eat. i think of how these men were cursed so they could not see a storm coming. i watch them as they lie there, dying, and then i put all of the things i own into a basket for the land witch. i leave it there with a song i wrote for her, a spell i know will make her happy, will stop the aging of her joints, will give her the kind of relief she gave me. 

i go down to the water. i find myself running, even though i am in no hurry. i know the way so well it is like i wake up there, panting. i ask permission first. i lay out the contents of the box, i organize and practice and when the needle and pain comes, i am ready for it. i am used to pain at night. i breathe into it and walk naked into waters that swallowed my mother.

i chew bitter herbs. i swallow fire. i feel myself drown as i change from land witch to sea witch. 

when it is done, i open my eyes in the deep of a moonlit ocean. and i see her. 

this time she does not flicker. this time when i reach for her, she is there, and she is pushing my hair out of my eyes, and we are kissing with the ocean rejoicing around us, and i am laughing, and i hear her voice as clear as bell inside me.

and we live like this, a whole world between us where white horses are the size of pinky fingers and swim with their thin snouts, where i need no candles because i was raised lightless, where we have no servants but the water takes care of us. i show her the magic of land and she unfolds the magic of water. together we are unstoppable. when i come up to the air to sing little girls a promise that they can survive the madness, she sings with me, and we make a beautiful harmony.