Celebrating Power of Story in Books & Movies

25 10 2010

I was just poking around the PBS site because of the new Sherlock Holmes series that started airing last night.

Young Son is a huge fan of everything Holmesian and he’s put together a Sherlock Holmes costume for this Halloween (last year he was Inspector Javert from Les Miserables but that was more about the singing than the detecting, I think) — point being, they are both book characters. As I always say, our unschooling is mostly “power of story” and seeing the same characters and story in different interpretations is an important part of the learning and fun.

The website has a short video of the new young Holmes, who said it was on record that Holmes is the single most often re-interpreted literary character.

The exhibition items have not changed since they were first installed, and are now complemented by an interesting and nostalgic collection of television and film stills, featuring the famous actors who have played the Great Detective and his trusty sidekick, Watson, down the years.

I can’t vouch for Holmes holding the record, but it was interesting and while I was waiting for Young Son to wake up so I could show him, I was thinking we sort of have our own book club mentality around here, not formalized of course, but that’s what we talk about and how we have fun.

Anyway, all that led me to this and I thought I’d share — Read the rest of this entry »

Talk About Strange Bedfellows, Where Better Than PARIS?

28 07 2009

en route

“Just Another Day in Paris”
Posted by both kiki and FavD under France, Paris

[Kiki starts]
After a thoroughly enjoyable night with our fellow travelers from around the world, we were rejuvenated in our desire to explore Paris. So we set off this morning after getting our fill of crusty baguettes and confiture at the free breakfast at our hostel. Our first stop was Père Lachaise Cemetery to see all of the incredibly famous people who are buried there.

After walking around aimlessly in the labyrinth of mausoleums and sepulchres that is Père Lachaise we finally decided that a map would be a good idea. We got a free map at an office in the cemetery, helpfully labeled and annotated so that one could find the famous graves.

[Mer taking over]

The graves are many and surprising, so our first move was to make a list of the specific ones we wanted to visit. We made an ambitious list that included, on my end, Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein, and Oscar Wilde, and, as far as Kiki was concerned, Jean de la Fontaine, Edith Piaf, and Fredéric Chopin. Kiki was moved in particular by Piaf’s grave and the many holocaust memorials, and I was thrilled by the tribute paid to Oscar Wilde – fans have taken to adorning his grand headstone with lipstick kisses. It seems to have become something of a tradition.

To continue our dead people tour, we went to Napoléon’s tomb, which is also a war museum. We were impressed by the comprehensive WWI/WWII exhibit, which included an army-issue coat from the WWI still covered in the mud of the trenches.

[Her brother the budding military historian will be thrilled by THAT!]

Napoléon, let me assure you, is Read the rest of this entry »

Is Love Despite All Differences Moral, As Moral of Story?

17 11 2008

Love despite differences is a quote from a new family movie for the holidays, along with “love transcends boundaries.” Free to love despite our differences and boundaries — what a concept.

Unschooling transcends boundaries too, like school schedules for instance. We love being different as a family, which in this case means we’re free to love new movies together as a family whenever we want, even if other families can’t and would vote to prevent us from doing it if they had the power to impose their story script on us. This time we went Thursday noon of opening week.

I’m sure Favorite Daughter, Young Son and I would’ve enjoyed Madagascar 2, without the poignant love story despite differences, marriage transcending boundaries.

We enjoyed it WITH that power of story, even more.
We cheered for the dear giraffe and the sassy hippo; such a marriage could never happen in real life but in an animated family movie, why not?

Even as caricature, the “moral of the story” comes through:  when two characters love each other that way, in any movie with a happy ending, they’re free to marry and find happiness together as family, with or without children.

Hey, Shrek’s donkey-dragon love story wasn’t controversial, was it? — nor was their marriage barren btw (do people still use that biblical word, casting a female as passive soil made to receive some male’s seed and nurture it to fruition, else be abandoned as useless to anyone for anything?
(Talk about immoral ideas to teach kids. . .)

The donkey and dragon “love-despite-difference” marriage surprised us in the next movie with a whole family full of adorably deviant “dronkey” babies. Did any conservative evangelical group boycott the Shrek franchise for this?

Yet in love-barren real life, my state just opened a new feature in our constitutional story’s shooting script, voting decisively to ban marriage that transcends same-sex boundaries — the lovers are too similar, not different enough from each other, thus too different from the rest of us! — and take a few legal sideswipes at different-sex couples who dare to love without marriage, just to punctuate public power over private story. Two-thirds of the voting citizens in my state believe the moral of this story is moral: put marriage in a cage, cultivate a controlled habitat bounded by one view on all sides to “protect it” and tell ourselves that’s love and free will and a happy ending.

Maybe next election, or the next, we will vote to ban all movies that deviate from our moral script, not just the families they seem to cultivate.

And not just Hairspray — putting the “moral” back in moral outrage imo — and Juno — see teen pregnancy redefine love, marriage, freedom and family in so many ways — as Snook has pointed out before. I’m talking real kids’ movies too! Read the rest of this entry »

Home Education Real Because It Can “Break the Chains of Childhood”

14 10 2007

As proud unschooling mom of singer-dancer-actor kids to whom I seldom give answers much less orders, I couldn’t wait to share this excerpt about home education, but maybe the REAL story is further down and harder to define, so keep reading:

. . .If you meet Ryan Gosling in person, you will immediately notice that he is mature beyond his 26 years, focused, engaged, very present in the moment. His parents, working-class, were Mormons, though the young Gosling rejected the faith early, as he rejected school.

“I didn’t really want to be a kid,” he says. “I didn’t like the idea that people could arbitrarily tell me what to do because they were adults and I had to listen. I was very anxious to start working and take care of myself.”

This attitude, predictably, did not endear him to school officials, and by the time he was 10 or 11, Gosling was being given home education by his mother.

He initially trained as a dancer . . . moved to Florida, then to Los Angeles, and lived for two years with Justin Timberlake’s family.

Performing, it turned out, “was a way to break the chains of childhood.”

. . .”It had never occurred to me that you could have a job that you liked. My father never had a job that he liked. He worked in a paper mill, then in sales.”

His success, Gosling says, is finally enabling him to take on assignments that are meaningful to him, and “to get to a place that will allow me to make my own decisions.”

“Just as you wanted to do as a kid?”


. . .but the real power comes to life in rest of the story, about his hot new film, “Lars and the Real Girl”

larsandtherealgirl_200708081650.jpg— in which his quirky definition of his own life is so meaningful and real to him that the whole community accepts it, and him, AS real (homeschoolers definitely could learn something about supporting each other’s reality from this kid!) Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Beyond Belief Goes to the Movies

29 05 2007

Yes, yes, the book including the essay by Penn Jillette is out, and I have it on my list to read.

But did you know “Parenting Beyond Belief” is a blog for Thinking Parents, too? Both are from a writer dad named Dale McGowan, who apparently heads a (get this) critical thinking consultancy. 🙂

Today’s entry is “The Relaxed Parent Film Festival” and it’s my kind of Power of Story –movies with my family and all of it our free choice, for our own reasons. Although hmmm, I choose much the same movies he does, for similar reasons, so our memes might be kissin’ cousins. . .
Favorite Daughter happened to love the Disney princess movies growing up but not as forcefeeding or any restricted diet. She says Disney movies can shape a child’s self-image and beliefs about the world just like religious stories do–not at all what fundamentalists might BELIEVE they are teaching with the Disney-only movie diet!

Read the rest of this entry »

How the Oscars Offended Me Today

25 02 2007

MORNING UPDATE – in thinking more on this, I think I’ll go with Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Language is the archives of history…Language is fossil poetry.”


I am offended!

FavD has been watching the Turner Classic Movies channel all this rainy day. It’s an Oscar marathon of winners, and before Gone With the Wind started, they interviewed black historians about black actress Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) winning the 1939 best supporting actress. How Olivia de Havilland felt robbed but was told to suck it up, that it was McDaniel’s one chance and America should have this race history moment.

Then the overture started, and we fondly threw the syrupy, dated lines of dialogue back and forth until I wandered off to play chess with the boy. I could still hear the movie even though I wasn’t really listening, the movie I know so well that if ever in solitary confinement, I’d likely choose GWTW to replay scene by scene in vivid and excruciating detail in my mind, to keep from going insane.But suddenly a disturbing note, something was wrong.

Read the rest of this entry »