The Simpsons Have Outdisneyed Disney

Disney+ launched Tuesday, and I subscribed on the first day. (A pretty easy decision, since I have a Verizon Unlimited plan, and they offered a free year of Disney+ for free to me.) I would have subscribed anyway, because I’m a self-confessed Disney junkie. I grew up on all the old Disney movies, and I’ve gone about buying them up on Blu-ray over the years as well.

I sat down with Tomas for a while yesterday and we looked over everything the service has to offer. We watched a few things: the first episode of the X-Men cartoon, the first episode of the old Ducktales show, and the first episode of The Simpsons. (Verdict? Ducktales and the Simpsons stood up marvelously well. X-Men? That was . . . pretty bad. Disappointing, since in my memory it was completely awesome. A highlight of Saturday mornings. The writing, the character introductions, the plot . . . all very weak now. Not sure I even want to give it a second shot, honestly. And that’s sad.)

But one thing I wasn’t expecting (though I really should have) was the content disclaimers they attached to some of the shows. The original Mickey Mouse Club, Dumbo, Aristocats. (No sign of Song of the South anywhere on the service, which should surprise absolutely no one.) The disclaimer wasn’t for language or sexuality. Instead, it reads “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

“Outdated cultural depictions” is a very tame way of saying “things that are blatantly, offensively racist,” but it’s still interesting they put in the disclaimer. (They didn’t go as far as old Tom and Jerry shows, which have a disclaimer admitting that such depictions were wrong then and are wrong now, but . . . I’m not really surprised by that, either.)

Of course, to a family-friendly studio like Disney, they’re in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. You’ve got a ton of Disney-philes who demand their Dumbos and their Peter Pans unaltered, but then you have to admit that those movies are flagrantly racist. As soon as you admit that, however, you’ve got people who will clamor that they *weren’t* racist “for their time,” or rather that “Everyone was racist back then,” which is a weak claim at best, and an outright lie at its heart. People weren’t all racist, but racism was much more acceptable by the mainstream back then.

But to make a long story short, I don’t know of a way Disney could have handled those shows without upsetting someone. So they chose this route, which is better than no disclaimer at all.

What really caught my eye, however, was the lack of any such disclaimer for The Simpsons. Yes, you could definitely have a conversation about Apu and other depictions of race on The Simpsons, but let’s be real: the way race is handled (or mis-handled) on that show pales in the face of the way it’s handled in the Siamese Cat song.

The thing is, growing up, I remember Bart Simpson being produced as Exhibit A for everything that was wrong about current media trends. The Simpsons was verboten for many families. Families who no doubt would have preferred their kids to watch something wholesome like Peter Pan or Lady and the Tramp.

So it was surprising to see we have come to a point where the wholesome and unwholesome have switched places. I know there are those who will object to this. Who will say that the Simpsons remains rude and irreverent, and people decrying Disney are being “too PC.” But I watched the Simpsons last night. It’s TV-PG for a reason. There was nothing there I was worried about. Not in the same way I’d want to have a conversation with my kids about racial stereotypes after they watch “Why Is the Red Man Red?”

Thoughts?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Mistrust of Authority

I’ve been watching some of the impeachment hearings when I’ve had time (which, admittedly, has been not often today). And of course they’ve devolved into the political turf war we all expected, but I was able to watch the opening statements of the two witnesses, and I found them to be quite credible, particularly the second–the US Ambassador to Ukraine for the last while. When you look at his resume and see who he’s worked with and for how long, it becomes difficult to attack him as a political beast. He worked under Republicans and Democrats. He seems like an excellent expert on this topic.

And so of course he’s viewed with mistrust.

I find it discouraging that more and more, people are choosing which facts to believe. Which experts to listen to. As if the truth is nothing more than a round of voting on American Idol. Sure, the “experts” can weigh in, but what really matters is how many people believe your side is right.

I was speaking to a colleague the other day, and they’d been teaching a class on campus. As part of the class, the issue of climate change had come up. The class agreed that the vast majority of experts have concluded climate change is real and man-made, but the class also said it was important to have both sides represented in any public debate on the matter.

Typically, I’m all for informed debate and decision making. However, I’d like to think that there are some areas where we can acknowledge debate is over. For example, there’s a group of people out there dedicated to the concept that the earth is flat. There are also people who still believe immunizations cause autism. This is in the face of all medical and scientific evidence. Out of 1,000 experts on a topic, 999 can say one thing, and as long as there’s 1 saying something else, people would argue we need to give a platform to that 1 person.

I don’t think that’s how it works. If 1 person believes something no one else believes, they don’t have a right to equal representation on a national debate. To earn that right, they need to go about convincing others of their findings. In science, this doesn’t come down to opinions. It comes down to verifiable facts. Experiments. Studies.

Take vaccines and autism. One study found a connection between the two. The study had a sample size of 12. It has since been completely debunked by multiple studies with samples sizes in the tens of thousands. And yet, ironically, because that original now-debunked study appeared in a prestigious journal, deniers use that to dismiss other studies in prestigious journals.

That’s just not how science works. It’s not how facts work. But there’s been a huge backlash in some circles against facts and science and experts in general. I find that incredibly disappointing and disheartening. If we can’t even agree on the same fundamental truths . . .

I don’t know how we can hope to ever solve anything.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Many Stages of a Snow Day

It’s November 12th. I’m sure some of you are still enjoying autumnal weather. You might even still have leaves on your trees. But up here in Maine, it snowed and then turned into a wintry mix today, so the whole fam got a snow day. (A moment of silence, please, for the many Mainers who don’t get snow days at work, and they are legion. But one of the huge perks (in my book) of working in education is that I continue to get them, and Denisa does as well, since she teaches at the university. I do feel somewhat guilty whenever I post about my snow days, knowing I’ve got lots of neighbors who don’t get the same luxury, but . . . I can’t help myself. Sorry.)

I thought I’d take a minute to go through the many stages of a snow day, tracing the arc they go through as they enter your life and then leave it. This will make more sense as I go through it.

First: Awareness. A week before a storm, you first begin to hear rumblings that a storm might reach critical mass, culminating in a day off work and school. This is very early on, and you recognize that the odds are still stacked against you, but you begin to hope. To dream. And that helps even the dullest day shine brighter. (It’s true that sometimes snow days completely skip this step. Stealth snow days, we’ll call them, where a storm materializes ex nihilo. But almost all of them give you some heads up before.

Second: Denial. As the storm approaches, you begin trying to convince yourself that there’s no way it’s actually going to happen. You couldn’t get that lucky. The storm will be a whiff. You build up protective layers around that hope, preparing yourself for disappointment. Often, this ends up being important, as the snow storm you thought would be so awesome gets downgraded into just a few flurries.

Third: Preparedness. At this point, you’re beginning to face the fact that this storm is going to come, and there’s a very real possibility you won’t have to go to work or school. Despite your best efforts to remain in Stage Two, you begin to toy with the many things you might do if you were to get the day off. The chores that could get done. The way you wouldn’t squander that gift of time. If you had an extra day . . .

Fourth: Anger. Your hopes get to the point that you begin to feel entitled to that snow day, and yet you realize it might still be snatched away from you. What if it snows, but the Powers That Be don’t give you the day off? What if they just don’t understand the sort of risks the entire town will be taking if the streets are flooded with cars and busses on the way to work and school? What if they make you come in out of sheer spite or ignorance? Surely they can see a major storm. Still, you go to sleep the night before a potential snow day, nervous as a naughty kid the night before Christmas. Hopeful. Fairly optimistic. But still cognizant that it could all vanish in a puff of flurries.

Fifth: Fitfulness. You wake up multiple times, checking the clock and your phone to see if there are any alerts. 4am. Still nothing. 5am. The kids’ school gets canceled. 5:30. Still nothing about your work. You try to keep sleeping, but you’re bouncing back and forth between all the earlier stages. Anger. Awareness. Denial. Preparedness. But your snow day has turned into Schrödinger’s Cat. It is both present and not present at the same time, and until that final alert comes in, you have no idea how your day will be.

Sixth: Euphoria. The alert comes through, and there is much rejoicing. You bask in the glow of the knowledge that your dream came true, and you vow you will accomplish All the Things.

Seventh: Nap. Exhausted from your fitful sleep, you slip into a real rest at last, comforted by the knowledge that the world is your oyster today. You deserve more sleep. You’ve earned it, after all. This snow day happened because you willed it to happen.

Eighth: Wakefulness. Realizing you’ve slept longer than you intended, you get up at last and vow to get some of that To Do list done. Right after you have a nice breakfast. And do the crossword. And maybe read for a while. And check the news.

Ninth: Concern. The day is slipping away from you. You’ve had fun, sure, but there are only a few hours left before you’d have been home from work anyway, and that To Do list is still a mile long. You begin to wonder if someone didn’t sneak in and steal some of your time when you weren’t looking. After all, you had the whole day. Where is it going?

Tenth: Acceptance. So you’re not going to get everything done. So you got almost nothing of your list done, actually. You still had the day. You still had fun. You check the weather forecast, hoping another storm might be somewhere on the horizon. You go back to the first stage, and repeat the cycle again.

Where am I right now? Well, I skipped the nap stage, because this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m churning through my to do list quite well, actually, and I’ve plenty of fun in the morning already. Do enough snow days, and you can actually break free of the cycle and have fun and be productive. But that’s for the advanced course . . .

Happy snow day, and thanks for reading!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Deerslayer

I’ve never really been much of a hunter. Never fired a gun that wasn’t powered by air. Never sat in a tree stand. I’ve fished plenty, but when it comes to hunting, I just haven’t seen the appeal. It’s cold. It can be wet. And you’re killing something at the end of it. I don’t mind other people hunting, but for me, hunting is a lot like ballet. I get that it’s a thing for many people, but it’s not really a thing for me.

That said, deer hunting season did just open in Maine a few days ago, and my Facebook feed has been filled with shots of various successful hunters. Maybe all of those pictures somehow made me jealous. Perhaps deep inside of me was a hunter just waiting to bust out. But when a hunter wants to hunt, and doesn’t have a rifle, what’s he supposed to do?

I had to improvise. And really, which takes more skill: sitting in a tree stand for hours on end waiting for a deer to show up, and then using a deadly weapon specifically designed to kill that deer . . .

Or go hunting the deer on your own, using a weapon no sane person would choose to use?

Like, say . . . a Toyota Prius.

And before any of you naysayers claim there’s no possible way I could successfully hunt down a deer with a battery-powered hybrid vehicle, allow me to remind you of a certain incident seven months ago. The deer got away that time. It wasn’t so lucky this time.

I was just getting in my car for a drive to Waterville for a church meeting, and not a quarter of a mile away from my house, a deer popped up in the road. I’d like to say my killer instincts took over, throwing little things like “fiscal responsibility” to the wind so that I might have a chance of bagging a deer, but in reality, it was all over before I could do much more than try to slam on the brakes.

My headlight was broken. The deer was dead.

In Maine, you’re supposed to arrange for someone to take the deer. (You won’t find any roadkill by the side of the road up here. People take it and eat it. Not after it’s rotting, obviously, but for that deer last night, nothing was wrong with it (other than a lethal blow to its head by my right headlight). The meat was all still good. Why let it go to waste?

I called a friend, called the cops, and forty minutes later, I was back on the road. I’d reloaded, however: I took the Prius back to the house and proceeded out in the Civic.

Would I recommend hunting with a Prius? Not really. At this point, I now have to deal with insurance and repairs, and I’m going to have to pay for a deductible and all that fun stuff. But I can at least say with authority now that if you’re really hard up for a deer, if you just drive around the streets of Maine long enough, chances are you’re going to find one.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Are You Still Going to Movies in the Theater?

Growing up, I was always heading to the movie theater. I loved the whole experience. The big screen. The crowds. The snacks. It was a real event for me. And I’ve always thought of myself as a movie-going person.

Except today it occurred to me to consider how long it’s been since I saw a movie in the theater. I think the last one I went to was Avengers: End Game. Before that? Maybe another Marvel movie? Or a Star Wars movie? The fact is, the only reason I actually go to movies these days seems to be if I’m worried I’m going to read something about the movie online before I can get around to watching it.

Why is that?

Some of it is no doubt due to the fact that my home theater setup is so strong. Why pay to watch a movie when I could just see it at home and have mostly the same experience? Often a better experience, even. I don’t have to worry about having to go to the bathroom and missing some of the film. I don’t have to worry about any idiots being loud behind me. I don’t have to fuss with getting seats, or getting there early, or buying tickets. The only thing I miss out on is the shared experience of watching something with a bunch of other people.

Though don’t get me wrong. I definitely think there’s something to be said for that. Seeing a movie in the theater is like watching a football game live in a stadium, or at least it can be. Sure, there’s the risk of things going wrong, but when it goes right, it’s a ton of fun.

At last year’s Oscar’s, I realized I hadn’t seen hardly any of the films, and I wanted to change that this year. But here I am, already in November, and I’ve gone to the theater twice. Maybe.

Part of the reason is also no doubt due to how busy Denisa and I are right now, but I generally don’t look at busy-ness as a real reason. It’s an excuse for why you don’t do things that aren’t as important to you. Ideally, going to movies would be a great weekly date night activity that Denisa and I could get in the habit of doing. I think I would enjoy that, though that also brings up the question: if we stay at home and watch a movie together, is that significantly not as good from a relationship-building experience as it would be if we were to go out to a movie?

I’m a bit more undecided about that last one. On the one hand, we’re spending time together one way or the other. On the other . . . I think there’s something to be said for the ritual around going out. Making sure you look presentable. Being away from any potential distractions. Carving out time to make sure you can both really be there. It’s not a question of funds at this point; it’s just a question of scheduling.

What do you all think about movies and date nights in general? If you’re able to watch a movie with your significant other at home, alone, is that an equal substitute? Why or why not? I’m genuinely curious to see what you all have to say.

And the more I think about it, the more I think Denisa and I need to start scheduling actual date nights . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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