How Fantasy Points to a Future World Nov20

How Fantasy Points to a Future World...

I am an escapist. I spend my time thinking about other worlds, dreaming about impossible things, and playing make-believe with my friends. But it’s hard to admit that I enjoy escaping. It only takes checking my Facebook feed to see all the pain and devastation in the real world. Just when I finished absorbing the details about the truck attack in New York City, I heard about the church shooting in Texas, and my heart breaks for everyone involved. I feel guilty setting those events aside for fantasy. If I really cared, shouldn’t I live in reality? As a Christian, shouldn’t I be focusing on how to make a difference? But one of the greatest Christian thinkers of the 20th century was an escapist too. C.S. Lewis wrote a children’s fantasy series, an adult science fiction trilogy, and several other speculative fiction works. The main characters in The Silver Chair, a later volume in Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (I’m still waiting for the movie), are forced to believe in a reality that stifled imagination. Maybe stories like Lewis’s provide a glimpse into something new and fantastic. English children Jill and Eustace have been sent by Aslan to find Prince Rillian, who was kidnapped years ago. Aslan gives them instructions and sends them on their quest, but they miss and ignore the signs they’re supposed to follow. Their thoughts wander even more when they slide down a tunnel to the underworld and are taken by gnomes through cavern after cavern, down farther and farther until Lewis writes, “And the worst thing about it was that you began to feel as if you had always lived . . . in that darkness, and to wonder whether sun and blue skies and wind and birds had not...

Reading Grimm: Selfishness begets Fear Nov17

Reading Grimm: Selfishness begets Fear...

People in fairy tales really don’t trust each other. Husbands assume their wives are lying and listen to the advice of murderous mothers-in-laws, a bird believes his housemates’ are overworking him, and a father plans to kill his sons for fear his daughter won’t be taken care of—just to name a few. Oftentimes, selfishness lies at the heart of this mistrust, and characters try to hold on to their desire so tightly they are constantly afraid of losing what they have. In the fairy tale “The White Cat” (the Grimm version is known as “Cherry” or “The Frog Bride”), a king has three sons “so clever and brave” he is afraid they will take over his kingdom before he dies, so he gives them an impossible task to perform. Whoever succeeds will receive the crown. I can’t help wondering why the king is so scared about losing his throne. If people in power are so constantly afraid of losing it that they spend all their time worrying, what’s the point? He’s actually inviting resentment from his sons by pitting them against each other, though they don’t seem troubled by his decree. While the youngest son is on his quest, which is to find the smallest and most beautiful dog in the land, he stumbles upon an enchanted mansion in a forest and there he meets a talking white cat. He decides to stay with her because he likes spending time with her so much. When the year is almost up, she reminds him that he still has a task to complete, then provides him with a dog tiny enough to fit into an acorn. The son presents it to the king, who has nothing “to say against the beauty of the little dog.” But...

Reading Grimm: Don’t Follow the (Blue) Light Nov10

Reading Grimm: Don’t Follow the (Blue) Light...

Making a deal with darkness never seems like a good idea, but in Grimm’s “The Blue Light,” the action is rewarded and even considered praiseworthy. “The Blue Light” is a fairy tale about a soldier whose king releases him from service due to his “many wounds.” Unable to earn a living, the soldier requests lodging at the home of a witch. She agrees—if the soldier does as she wishes, giving the story a deal-with-the-devil spin reminiscent of Esau in the Bible, who sold his birthright for a meal. The witch sends the soldier down a well to retrieve a magical blue light, intending to trap him there once he hands her the lantern. The soldier guesses her scheme, however, so the witch releases the rope and drops him into the well, light and all. The soldier, assuming his end has come, sulks for a while before deciding to smoke his pipe. He uses the witch’s lantern to light the pipe, again demonstrating his folly by using the resources of a witch. In a strange twist of fate, his smoking summons a magical dwarf, much like a genie in a lamp. The dwarf tells him, “‘I must do everything you bid me,’” and the soldier doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of the situation. Not only does he use the dwarf to escape from the well, but he also steals the witch’s gold and has the witch hung. Apparently, the Brothers Grimm didn’t consider theft, forced servitude, and revenge to be wicked. Fairy tale tradition might justify theft and revenge aimed at an evil person, but the soldier doesn’t stop there. Blaming the king for his problems, the soldier has the dwarf kidnap the king’s daughter while she’s asleep and makes her clean for him, thinking...

YouTube for the Fandom Loving Soul, Vol 2: Harry Potter Nov03

YouTube for the Fandom Loving Soul, Vol 2: Harry Potter...

New from the Geekdom House Records! Four explosive hits from original stars! It’s the YouTube for the Fandom-Loving Soul, Volume Two, featuring the Potterverse. The Second City, Neil Cicierega, Broad Strokes, and the much anticipated TheDCTVshow all make the cut in this once-in-a-lifetime combination that will knock your socks off. All for the low price of FREE. Money back guaranteed. Don’t wait. Watch now. 1. HOGWARTS: Which House Are You? 2. Potter Puppet Pals 3. The Greater Good – Dumbledore and Grindelwald Honourable Mention: VOLDEMORT: Origins of the Heir...

Facing Your Demons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fear Nov01

Facing Your Demons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fear...

If you’re not afraid of heights, riding to the top of the Empire State Building isn’t bravery. Facing someone else’s fear because it doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean you’re courageous. It’s when you confront your own fear, and it looms above you like a giant, horned demon, that you truly understand what it means to be a hero or a coward. In the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Fear Itself,” Buffy and the Scoobies wander through a frat house during Halloween, encountering cobwebs, spiders, and knife-wielding skeletons. But then the fears start to get real. And personal. Xander becomes invisible and unheard, because he’s afraid his friends don’t care about him and are moving forward with their lives while he’s standing still. Oz starts to turn into a werewolf even though it’s not a full moon; he runs away from Willow because he’s afraid he’ll hurt her. Willow conjures a light to show her the way out, but the spell backfires, harkening to her fear of being useless. Buffy fights vampires that erupt from the ground and tell her she will forever be alone. . . Read the rest of this article on Christ and Pop...

Reading Grimm: It’s Always a Woman’s Fault Oct20

Reading Grimm: It’s Always a Woman’s Fault...

You’d think if you learned your father wanted to kill you, you’d be a little upset with him. But in the Grimms’ fairy tale, “The Twelve Brothers,” the boys aren’t mad at their dad when he builds twelve coffins in preparation for slaughtering his sons. For some reason, that’s what he decides to do if his thirteenth child is a girl, so that “her riches may be the greater, and the kingdom fall to her alone.” Since their mom isn’t completely behind this plan, she warns them of their sister’s birth and they flee to an enchanted house in the woods and live there for ten years. The misogyny is clear—since they love their father, they’d rather blame the sister for being born. In fact, they’d rather blame all women, saying, “Shall we suffer death because of a girl! We swear to be revenged; wherever we find a girl we will shed her blood.” The inequality doesn’t end there, though. After they meet her and let her live, her goodness is demonstrated through housekeeping and her ability to keep everything “beautifully white and clean” (if you remember from my last post on “The Maiden Without Hands,” cleanliness equals goodness). Then she decides to pick twelve lovely lilies to give to her brothers as presents, but upon plucking them her brothers are turned into ravens. Thus, their horrifying fate is her fault. Again. You’d think if you learned your father wanted to kill you, you’d be a little upset with him. In order to transform them back, she has to stay silent for seven years. In fairy tales, it’s always the women who have to stay silent and still (e.g. “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty”). And it’s always the men who are turned into animals (e.g. “The Princess...

Zombies Among Us: iZombie Chows Down on Dehumanization Sep18

Zombies Among Us: iZombie Chows Down on Dehumanization...

In iZombie, zombies aren’t just mindless, shuffling corpses with skin rotting off their bones. Not if they have access to a regular supply of brains, anyway. The series’ main character, Liv Moore, is a member of Team Z, and she does the best she can, not only to survive in her new life but also to help others. She gets her meals by working at a morgue where she can sneak brains into her stuffed gnocchi on a daily basis. And because eating a brain allows her to see the dead person’s memories, she helps a police detective solve crimes by chowing down on murder victims’ cerebrums. As iZombie progresses, though, it becomes apparent that Liv isn’t alone. Seattle’s zombie population is surprisingly high, though most have learned to hide their presence (and ghoulish appearance) with hair dye and spray tans. This is a fact that Liv’s ex-fiancé, Major Lilywhite, learns through a traumatic series of events that ends with a zombie attempting to murder him. “I wasn’t crazy,” he tells Liv. “Zombies are real… And don’t worry, ‘cause I’m gonna kill them. I’m gonna kill them all.” Major automatically assumes all zombies are evil, and you can’t really blame him when brains are the main item on their menu. After hallucinating that Major accepts her zombie status, his announcement of a zombie hunting spree is shocking news to Liv. She continues to hide her true nature because she’s afraid he will hate her for it; she’s afraid he won’t think of her as a person any more. Not surprisingly, he’s less than happy when he does learn the truth. Read the rest of the article on Christ and Pop...

The Dark Tower Demonstrates the Power of Pain and Suffering Sep04

The Dark Tower Demonstrates the Power of Pain and Suffering...

“I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye. I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I shoot with my mind. I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart.” This is the creed of the gunslingers, a blend of old west sheriffs and holy knights, who have been charged with defending the Tower and the people of the realm. Their word is law and their bullets strike true. They wander the realm defending the weak, caring for people and championing justice—or at least they used to before they all died. The Man in Black, a malicious sorcerer, has made it his life’s goal to destroy the Tower and end the humans’ reign. Two things stand in his way: Roland, the last of the gunslingers, and finding a child with the perfect “shining” (telekinetic-type force of mind that can see into the past and future, defeat demons, and contact people telepathically). Roland, for some reason, is resistant to the Man in Black’s magic so the sorcerer cannot kill Roland personally. But as the Man in Black does the next best thing: kills everyone Roland loves. Roland is left wandering, alone and distraught. This is where Jake Chambers, the missing piece of the Man in Black’s master plan, finds him and hears him profess, “there are no more gunslingers.” Only when Roland truly embraces a vulnerable, loving heart is he able to defeat his foe. Roland has ceased to care about the world around him and is obsessed with destroying...

The Uncomfortable Racism of C.S. Lewis Aug30

The Uncomfortable Racism of C.S. Lewis...

Since childhood, I’ve had a strong attachment to C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. My aunt gave me a set of the books, which currently sit in a place of honour in my office. I’ve read and reread the series throughout my life with a sense of wonder and delight. As my critical reading skills developed, and as I began to understand systemic power dynamics, my naïve love of Narnia gave way to a more complicated and nuanced relationship with the stories. I realized they could be almost heavy-handedly allegorical at times. The characters, particularly in the final novels, are overly broad, almost parodic. And don’t get me started on Lewis’s class assumptions or Susan and Lucy’s exclusion from battle. But the most troubling aspect of the series came to light a few years ago when I was first teaching a class on Lewis and Tolkien. Most of the students, like me, had been introduced to Lewis’s novels as children. A few had passed the series on to their own children, even grandchildren. One student, however, had taken the class to fill an elective and had no prior knowledge of Narnia or Middle-earth. In our conversation about The Horse and His Boy, this student commented, “Well, I found this one a little bit racist.” The other students jumped to Lewis’s defense with well-meaning but well-worn excuses—“He lived in a different era with different attitudes about race and other cultures.” Too often we’re afraid to question ourselves, afraid that if we acknowledge something troubling we open the door to undermining our whole belief system. I, too, a lifelong fan, found myself parroting this same line of thinking: “We need to read this in its historical context.” After class, however, I went back to the text,...

Beren, Lúthien, and Overcoming Prejudice Aug21

Beren, Lúthien, and Overcoming Prejudice...

Ages before the romance of Aragorn and Arwen, Middle-earth was home to a Man named Beren and an Elf maiden named Lúthien Tinúviel. The story of their romance became one of the pillars for J.R.R. Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth, as well as a foreshadowing of the love between Aragorn and Arwen. The most well-known version of the Beren and Lúthien story exists in The Silmarillion, but Tolkien wrote several versions of the tale—not all of them complete—and this past June, these versions were released in a single compilation, edited by Tolkien’s son, Christopher. In the earliest version of the Beren and Lúthien story—entitled “The Tale of Tinúviel”—Beren is not a Man, but an Elf of the Noldor race. Like Aragorn and Arwen, much of the tension in the Beren and Lúthien story we know comes from the fact that he is mortal, while she is immortal. You would think that, in a version where Beren is immortal, Lúthien’s father wouldn’t mind Beren courting his daughter. Think again. As it turns out, being immortal doesn’t help Beren’s case at all. Long before his time, the Noldor Elves made the journey from Middle-earth to Valinor, but later betrayed the Teleri (another Elven clan) in order to steal ships and return to Middle-earth. Luthien’s people, the Sindar, are related to the Teleri. By the time “The Tale of Tinúviel” takes place, solid prejudice exists between the Noldor and the Sindar. Lúthien’s people thought the Noldor were “treacherous creatures, cruel and faithless.” In turn, “the lies of [Morgoth the Dark Lord] ran among Beren’s folk so that they believed evil things” of Lúthien’s people. These two clans should have been allies, but instead, they mistrusted each other, hardly better than enemies. In my own life, I’ve seen prejudice...

Darth Vader and Beauty’s Beast: Loving the Unlovely Aug16

Darth Vader and Beauty’s Beast: Loving the Unlovely...

I missed the original release of Star Wars by a decade and the first printings of Beauty and the Beast by several centuries, but both stories have marked me with their retellings and reiterations. Fairy tales are famous for being re-imagined, but “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” has more in common with “once upon a time” than one might expect. The same stories keep getting retold despite an endless appetite for novelty. I believe it’s because people ache to be rescued; humanity keeps telling stories about how we can be saved. The stories of the Skywalkers, Belle and the Beast evoke a slippery mixture of loss and longing that is difficult to articulate but all too easy to identify with. Much like Darth Vader, the Beast lives in a tortured silence; neither is what they once were and each lives a half-life. Vader is the emperor’s weapon, more machine than man, and the beast hides in angry shame. Both villains live with longing, and so Vader disobeys orders and spares Luke’s life while the Beast risks his life to save Belle from ravenous wolves. At the heart of both stories is a tale of redemption, about how the unlovely can be loved better—and become something beautiful. In both cases, these villains choose redemption, not because they were heroes all along, but because of sacrifice. Growing up, I naturally identified with both Luke and Belle. I was an imaginative, bookish kid who longed to go beyond the backyard that was my moisture farm, my little provincial town. As I’ve read and lived more I realized I wanted to be them not because I saw myself in them, but because I wanted to see myself in them. Ever since I discovered...

Living in the Fire Nation Aug09

Living in the Fire Nation...

Imagine that you lived in a world where all nations got along. Then, your nation suddenly attacked the rest of the nations, attempting world domination. According to the opening of Avatar: The Last Airbender, that was what happened in their world. The Air, Water, Earth and Fire Nations lived in harmony, “then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” Now, a world that didn’t know strife was in need of a saviour—an Avatar, a master of all four elements. It takes a special kind of person to think that world domination is a good idea; and I don’t mean special in a good way. It’s an expensive proposition—it costs lives, money, comfort, safety, and identity. More importantly, it costs your soul. Because, if you are so full of hubris that you believe your way is the only right way, that you are so much better than everyone else, that you should rule all, that other people’s rights and dignities are negotiable according to what suits you… if you have placed yourself in the position to judge others, then you have set yourself up as God and that’s always a losing proposition. We are emperors of our own little worlds, oppressing others not by force, but by indifference. When Firelord Ozai gathered up an army and sent them to take over the world, there must have been some confusion among the people. I have often wondered how the average citizen in such a regime would feel about what was being done in their name. What did the average Roman feel during the rise of the Empire, or the Canadian and American settlers as indigenous people were being relocated or wiped out? Did they believe the Manifest Destiny (or whatever that particular group called it) rhetoric,...

Worse Games to Play: Katniss’s Gratitude and Depression Jul31

Worse Games to Play: Katniss’s Gratitude and Depression...

When you go through a deeply painful and life changing experience, how do you move on? The stories I love answer this question again and again through characters like Frodo from The Lord of the Rings and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games—protagonists who go through traumatic experiences. They lost people they loved. They sustained mental and physical injuries that will never fully heal. Frodo could never completely move on, so he had to leave his world for the Gray Havens to find peace. However, Katniss didn’t have that option of escape and had to find a way to be at peace in her own world. After Panem’s revolution had been won, Katniss married Peeta Mellark and together they had two children, something Katniss swore she would never do at the beginning of The Hunger Games. The Girl on Fire has watched countless people die and even caused death by her own hands. She’s seen her friends tortured and severely injured. Katniss has gone through so much, yet somehow she finds peace. At the end of Mockingjay Part 2, when her son cries as he awakens, she explains to him and the audience what has changed in her heart: Even if I can find one thing to be thankful for that day while everything else seems dark, I count that as a win. “Did you have a nightmare? I have nightmares too. Someday I’ll explain it to you. Why they came. Why they won’t ever go away. But I’ll tell you how I survive it. I make a list in my head of all the good things I’ve seen someone do. Every little thing I can remember. It’s like a game. I do it over and over. It gets a little tedious after all...

RWBY Chibi and Escaping into Fiction Jul24

RWBY Chibi and Escaping into Fiction...

When I became a fan of the show RWBY, I couldn’t get enough of the characters, their hilarious one-liners, and their epic fight sequences. So, like other RWBY fans, I was delighted last year when a spin-off series, RWBY Chibi, hit the web. Full of goofy scenarios, lots of laughs, and more screen time for the characters I love, RWBY Chibi became a favourite of mine and I eagerly awaited its new season this summer. One of the best parts of the spin-off is that it reverses some of the heartbreak that occurs in the original show. In Chibi, the characters are still attending school at Beacon (which remains standing), the few enemies that appear are easily and comically thwarted, and even characters that perished in RWBY reappear in Chibi. The episode “The Vacuum” includes my favourite example of “character resurrection.” The JNPR team reintroduces Pyrrha, their fallen comrade, whose tragic end in Volume Three of RWBY caused a lot of trauma for fans. When Pyrrha walks onto the scene in this episode, the members of Team RWBY are shocked and start to question her presence. But Nora, a member of JNPR, shouts down any insinuations about Pyrrha’s death, emphatically stating, “NOPE! Never happened! . . . Everything’s fine. Pyrrha is fine. Nothing bad ever happened. EVER.” If I allow myself to become addicted to escapism, I miss all the beauty and adventure that real life has to offer. While the reappearance of Pyrrha and other departed characters is a wonderful element of Chibi, I find myself wishing these unrealistic resolutions occurred in the regular RWBY show, too. Although good stories can’t occur without conflict, I’m the type of fan who wants everything to turn out perfectly at the end. I want the rosy, Disney-princess...

Why Severus Snape Would Make a Great Therapist Jul07

Why Severus Snape Would Make a Great Therapist...

Ol’ Severus gets a bit of a bad rap in the Harry Potter books. Maybe it’s the way he bullies any student who’s not in Slytherin, or his former status as a Death Eater, or just his scathingly sarcastic personality. However, there’s far more to Severus Snape than first appears. While Snape may not have the sensitive bedside manner of most professional counselors, he does have many other qualities that suit him for such a role. Here are 10 reasons why Sev would make a fantastic therapist: 1. He’s not afraid to tell you the hard truths: “It may have escaped your notice, but life isn’t fair.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 2. As an accomplished Potions master, he’s sure to have something helpful. Need a little Veritaserum to fix compulsory lying? Maybe Draught of Living Death to cure some insomnia? Snape’s got you covered. 3. Snape sympathizes with your problems, even if he can’t fix them. “Unless you wish to poison him—and I assure you, I would have the greatest sympathy if you did—I cannot help you.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 4. His speeches, especially to first-year students, have been known to inspire greatness. “Hermione Granger was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate to start proving that she wasn’t a dunderhead.” —Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (book) 5. Snape gets what it’s like to have a rough past. Former Death Eater? Lost the love of your life? Sev knows the struggle. 6. Sev will push you until you get it right, even if he has to use Legilimens a million times. “Control your emotions. Discipline your mind.” —Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) 7. He’s uncannily good...

The Selfish Games of Littlefinger Jul05

The Selfish Games of Littlefinger...

From the Night King to Gregor Clegane, there’s no shortage of physically intimidating characters in Game of Thrones, but the ones that are most terrifying aren’t the biggest, strongest, or most brutish – they are the those like Tyrion, Varys, and Cersei, who connive and maneuver themselves into positions of authority, often with ruinous effect on those they perceive as enemies. Perhaps the most dangerous of these thinkers is Petyr Baelish, better known as Littlefinger, a master puppeteer who is always several steps ahead of even the most intelligent and powerful players; he manipulates and eliminates “pieces,” as he calls them, on his path toward the throne. When we first meet him, we realize there’s more to Littlefinger than meets the eye. There has to be. He’s a slight man with only a low noble background, but has risen to an important rank as Master of Coin in the small council. As the series progresses, we see that Baelish is involved, sometimes as the mastermind, in so many of the major events, including the deaths of Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, and King Joffrey. He later takes Sansa under his wing, demonstrating to her how he manipulates people and proceedings by issuing bribes, placing his people in positions where they can influence outcomes, and even making “moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you” for a greater purpose. I don’t particularly like Littlefinger, and I know exactly why. He reminds me too much of myself. During my adolescence and into college, I was constantly scheming to figure out how I could use people to get ahead. Like a high school version of Game of Thrones, I plotted and used friends, family, teachers, and acquaintances to gain popularity, increase finances, and achieve...

RWBY’s Yang: Shaping Identity from Disaster Jun28

RWBY’s Yang: Shaping Identity from Disaster

“Death feels like a roller coaster,” I remember thinking during a heart-stopped moment. I had rushed out the door, ten minutes late to a Master’s class, brushed off my mom’s hug—too busy to waste three more seconds—and sped out of the driveway with speakers blazing. A few minutes later, the car in front of me stopped—a bit too quickly. I ground to a halt behind it. An instinctive glance in my rearview mirror revealed an F250 twice as tall as my little Buick Century barreling toward me. I tore my gaze away from the mirror, determined to ignore the impending disaster. I thought, “It’ll be fine. Bad things only happen to other people—!” A sonic boom exploded inside my car. Howard Shore cut off mid-crescendo. My seat hit the floorboard, then threw me against the steering wheel, along with a rain of glass. The moment the world stood still again, I forced my jammed door open with a kick fueled by adrenaline. Taking stock of myself for injuries, I realized I was fine. Everyone else involved in the accident was fine too. The next day, I drove to college, just a little more cautiously than usual. Whimsically reflecting on the harrowing incident as I headed for class, I made myself laugh at the way I had been worried about the wreck ruining my “cosplay face” and how my old “Tank” had remained true to its namesake to the very end. It’s easy to get comfortable wearing the blinders of guilt and fear. Then someone nearby slammed a bathroom door. Hard. In the space of a blink, I saw that F250 racing up behind me at 45mph, felt the blood rush to my gut in panic while euphoric vertigo flipped me heels-over-head, and heard a crash like a mountain collapsing in my ears. At the time, I had no idea it would be my only flashback of the incident, just that it was my first. And that worried me. In RWBY Season 4, Yang has a similar experience when she accidentally shatters a glass, triggering a traumatic flashback from the Season 3 finale. Unlike the other three members of her war-torn team, Yang’s developmental arc features no physical fights with fanged monstrosities or deadly assassins. Hers is a battle of the mind, where suddenly her reliable fists hold no sway—largely, because she’s lost one of them to a villain’s blade. I’ve always related to Yang’s tomboyish mannerisms and physical strength, but especially to her golden optimism. She powers through every setback on a smirk and a glimpse of a better tomorrow. In Season 4, though, as Yang idles away in front of the TV and numbly occupy herself with chores, it’s clear that she can’t see a moment beyond her next footstep. “Sometimes bad things just happen,” Yang tells her sister, in an excuse to keep unbearable blame from crushing her broken spirit further. No doubt Yang replays the fatal fight in her mind, wondering if a moment’s thoughtful preparation (or even running away like her best friend Blake) could have helped her survive the battle unscathed. It’s a trap I found myself looped into for days after the wreck—wondering if I could have avoided it if I hadn’t looked down from my mirror like a coward. Yang’s understated anger is all that keeps her moving during her steep depression, and her excuses are the fuel it thrives on. Even when gifted a priceless prosthetic arm of cutting edge technology, Yang refuses to accept it and move forward. “I lost a part of me. A part of me is gone, and it’s never coming back,” she finally tells her father. While Yang’s arm had been replaced, her security was gone. Similarly, I didn’t feel safe behind the wheel of a car anymore; I lost the confidence I had that the next truck to pull up behind me would stop short,...

The Gift of Story May31

The Gift of Story

Sometimes it can seem like moms are made for missing. Any child who has ever lost their mom in the mall knows this; those who have lived through the death of a mother are also familiar with that feeling. While I’ve tearfully lived the former experience and it’s unlikely I’ll avoid the latter, The Song of the Sea reminds me of the hope I share with my mom, a gift she gave me through story. Come away, oh human child to the waters and the wild with a faerie hand in hand for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand. The Song of the Sea tells the story of Ben, a young boy who must deal with the loss of his mother. Ben is the son of Conor, a soft-spoken lighthouse keeper, and the storyteller, Bronagh. She paints stories of selkie and the giant Mac Lir on the nursery walls Ben will soon share with his sister. Bronagh is also a singer of songs and she introduces him to the song of the sea on their last night together, playing it on a seashell horn. Ben cherishes the horn and guards it jealously after Bronagh’s death giving birth to Ben’s baby sister, Saoirse. Bedtime was actually one of my favourite times growing up. I remember the stories and the songs—and I hope my mom does too. This nightly ritual of storytelling lasted through several Harry Potter books, and even though I could’ve read them myself they were something we enjoyed sharing. We visited enchanted lands, invented voices, and turned pages with anticipation. And whenever I was scared or sad, she had a song and a prayer ready for me. I can’t claim to understand a loss like Ben’s, but by experiencing...

The Mothers Grimm May26

The Mothers Grimm

I have heard it said many times that, until you become a mother, you can’t imagine the love that you are capable of for your child. Sure, you love your spouse a ton—obviously enough to decide to spend the rest of your lives together, but the love a mother has for her child is fierce. Fierce because of the intensity, fierce because it changes who you are and the way you experience the world, and fierce because you would do anything to protect that little thing even if you had to face the very gates of hell to do it. And speaking of the very gates of hell… the TV series, Grimm, just had its finale a few weeks ago. True to what the name suggests, the show’s faerie tales are dark, gruesome, and highly entertaining. The premise of Grimm is that the creatures from the faerie stories we all love are real—and they live among us. We’re talking werewolves, talking foxes, mice, lizard creatures, the Krampus—all manner of “monsters.” They’re called Wesen. Most of the time, they look like us, but when they become frightened, or angry, or want to be in their natural element they “woge,” and take on their animalistic appearance. The Grimm family has, for centuries, been hunting, killing and recording the stories of these creatures. From the moment pregnancy takes hold, our bodies become something of a living sacrifice. The finale revolves around a Portland police detective named Nick Burkhardt and he only discovered that he was a Grimm in his adulthood. It had been hidden from him for his own protection. Unlike many others, Nick’s more open to judging Wesen by their actions rather than by their genetics. He befriends several Wesen, and seeks justice for and protects good ones....

True Villainy in Once Upon a Time: Captain Hook vs. Rumpelstiltskin May17

True Villainy in Once Upon a Time: Captain Hook vs. Rumpelstiltskin...

Of all the fights, feuds, and fisticuffs in ABC’s hit show Once Upon a Time, the private war between Captain Hook and Rumpelstiltskin is the stuff of vengeance legend—and just as remarkable as their quest to destroy one another is the blame-game they play while doing it. Their troubles begin in the Enchanted Forest, when Rumpelstiltskin is no more than the crippled village coward. When the dashing pirate, Killian Jones—later known as Captain Hook—passes through town, he takes Rumple’s wife, Milah, away to his ship. Desperate to retrieve Milah for their son’s sake, Rumple limps his way to Killian’s ship to beg for her return. Killian agrees—if Rumple can best him in a duel. Rumple, unable to handle a sword or even walk unaided, is forced to return home without his wife. Years later, Rumple gets the chance to face his enemy again, this time with the deck stacked in his favour. During those years, Rumpelstiltskin became the Dark One, an incredibly powerful sorcerer. He originally sought the dark magic to protect his son, but over time he became obsessed with his own power. After all those years of being called a weakling, he loves feeling unstoppable. I have been blessed with plenty of my own talents, but physical strength is not one of them. The thought of being able to defend myself when I feel wronged is alluring. Rumple thought his dark power would defend him and his son, but it became a disguise for his cowardice, a mask that made him a worse monster than those he fought. Sometimes, I let pain turn me into a villain, and I hurt the people around me. Had Rumple been truly brave, he would have let Killian go when he encountered him again. Instead, he...