Without Great Power Comes Great Opportunity Aug20

Without Great Power Comes Great Opportunity...

It’s the ultimate nerd personality question: what superpower would you want? I wonder whether people’s answers are actually an indicator of personality—like healing powers for a nurturing person—or whether it’s about the side benefits, like using telekinesis in a magic act to make lots of money. I’m not sure I want a superpower at all. Some of the most beloved characters in the geek world are the non-gifted teammates on a team of heroes. Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Marvel’s Agent Coulson, and Tolkien’s hobbits are “weak” and unskilled compared to other characters, but their deficiencies give them experiences other heroes don’t have. As someone without superpowers, those experiences are pretty familiar. When I’m not the strongest or most efficient person at home, at work, or with friends, I can learn how to value my unique attributes and use them well, focusing on what I can offer. Sokka and Contentment All Sokka ever wanted was to become a great warrior, protect his tribe, and find his father. “I’m just a guy with a boomerang,” he says when he and Katara discover Aang and meet Appa. “I didn’t ask for all this flying and magic!” But he agrees to help Aang, and becomes a valuable member of the group, even though he’s the only one without bending powers. Sokka rarely complains about feeling useless, but in the episode “Sokka’s Master,” when he can’t help put out a forest fire, he begins to despair. “All you guys can do this awesome bending stuff, like putting out forest fires and flying around… I can’t fly around, okay? I can’t do anything.” To encourage him, his friends suggest he train under a sword master, and he hones not just his fighting skills, but his creativity, resourcefulness, and...

8 Anime Characters Who Crush Archetypes Aug17

8 Anime Characters Who Crush Archetypes...

Archetypes are a defining feature of anime. They’re part of what makes the medium familiar to fans and what separates it from western animation. These archetypes include characters, like student council presidents and goth girls, portrayed differently than they might be in American television shows, and chuunibyou, hikikomori, and magical girls playing major roles when they don’t even exist here! But even though fans generally know what to expect of these types, every so often, a character will break from the mold and reveal herself to be deeper—and ultimately more interesting—than what viewers originally expected. These are eight of my favourites. 1. Minori Kushieda, Toradora Archetype: Genki Girl At first, Minori seems to be a typical genki girl, the phrase used to describe a character with never-ending energy and enthusiasm: she captains the softball team, works a half-dozen part-time jobs, and says and does the craziest things. But as the classic romantic comedy, Toradora, progresses, Minori demonstrates that her outward cheerfulness is a veneer. Feeling guilty about an attraction she develops toward her best friend’s love interest, Minori acts out in strange ways, even hurting others as her bitterness and jealousy grows. This unexpected arc helps drive the plot of Toradora forward and, as Minori learns to be more genuine with herself and others, becomes one of the most fulfilling parts of this classic series. 2. Kyubey, Puella Magi Madoka Magica Archetype: Cute Mascot Kyubey looks the role of a traditional magical girl mascot—he’s a little white creature that appears to be a cross between a cat and rabbit, and spouts wisdom while resting on the girls’ laps. But in one of anime’s most surprising twists—spoilers ahead—he reveals himself to be the central villain of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, continuing to look the part...

Rethinking Fanfiction and its Role in Gender Inequality Aug15

Rethinking Fanfiction and its Role in Gender Inequality...

When I was a fourteen, I was a member of a Lord of the Rings forum website, where I started reading fanfiction and, eventually, wrote my own. A year and a half ago, I turned to the forums again when I was breastfeeding my daughter; I needed something to keep me awake and engaged during those 2 a.m. feedings. Fanfic gets a bad rap. It is usually derided as something for teenage girls or trashy romance, or it’s silly and a waste of time. It’s also mostly written by women and LGBTQ folks—a factor I don’t think we can ignore when we examine the bias against it. As with everything, women have had to fight for their place as legitimate writers. In the Victorian era, women’s writing was seen as vulgar and taboo, and was never taken seriously. Writers whom we laud today as trailblazers, like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, had trouble getting their manuscripts published because of their gender. The work of a little-known playwright named Aphra Behn was completely erased from existence after her death because it was too “scandalous” for her time. Even J.K. Rowling’s publisher suggested that she hide her gender so that her book would “appeal to boys and girls.” We also know that LGBTQ representation in mainstream media hasn’t grown very much in recent years. Thor: Ragnarok, for example, came under fire when it failed to include any mention of Valkyrie’s sexuality, even though she is canonically bisexual. Today, shelves are lined with books written by women, but stereotypes still persist. A study by The New Republic, which examined 10,287 book reviews from the Sunday Book Review of The New York Times, found that reviewers adhere to the notions that women are sentimental and men are...

The Wonder Twins and Undervaluing Our Children...

It’s not easy feeling small and undervalued; not in real life, and not in heroic stories. Being overlooked is the constant lot of sidekicks, a reality they probably expect—they’re still in training, after all. The Wonder Twins have to deal with this underwhelming attitude in the 70’s cartoon, Super Friends, and other DC shows they appear in. Most of the time, it seems like they are tagging along with the real heroes, even though they are part of the team. They’re kids, they’re only effective if they’re within physical reach of one another, and by most accounts in the fandom world, they’re fairly lame. I’ll be honest; if I was in need of a hero and the Wonder Twins showed up, I’d try to be polite, but I’d be super disappointed. And worried. If Children Believe in the Impossible, We Can Too Like the Wonder Twins, kids in general are sometimes overlooked or undervalued. They are small, weak, and needy. They can’t do a lot on their own and need almost constant supervision. They’re not the kind of people you’d send out on big missions, much less to the grocery store on their own. But, kids also have a lot to offer—even when they’re little. Just by being themselves, they have value. Their parents love them because they are theirs. They reflect truth on such a pure, unfiltered basis, that if they were listened to more frequently, they could teach adults a ton. Their imaginations make them as super as the Wonder Twins. As shapeshifters, the Twins can become anything from an elephant to a bucket of water, and if you ask a little kid, so can she. Nothing is impossible for little ones. Children inform my faith, too. God says that nothing is...

7 Pieces of Wisdom from Fire Emblem Warriors...

Too many stories include words of advice or life lessons in a heavy-handed manner, which leaves me feeling empty. I wonder how I am supposed to apply such black and white advice in a life full of greys, but I was inspired by the tidbits of tangible wisdom in these conversations between classic and modern characters in Fire Emblem Warriors. Though it’s a battle game, these optional Support Conversations, which are exclusive dialogues between two characters, provide insight into characters’ struggles that remind me of my own. Warriors provides applicable life lessons packaged in only three minutes. Here are seven that impacted me the most. 1. Working Too Hard Can Lead to Failure (Takumi and Xander) This scene opens up with Takumi, prince of Hoshido, discouraged about his less-than-perfect archery practice: “Only 90 out of 100 bull’s-eyes today. Pathetic. . . I’m not leaving here until I hit 96 or more.” Xander, the eldest prince of Nohr, finds him and is surprised to see him working so late; however, Takumi says he won’t take a break until he is satisfied with his performance, since he doesn’t have “the luxury of rest.” Xander explains how he, too, used to train to excess like Takumi: “I was proud of my efforts, until I realized I was in fact setting myself back. I spent almost as much time bedridden from exhaustion as I did actual training. . . If you train too hard, you will get hurt.” When watching this scene, I was reminded of my days as a student, always aiming for that perfect A and not satisfied with a 90. I’ll never forget when one of my friends studied so hard for an exam that she bombed it out of exhaustion. Although it’s hard for...

Ellen Ripley’s Path to Avoiding Friendships because of Past Hurt Aug08

Ellen Ripley’s Path to Avoiding Friendships because of Past Hurt...

Bishop looks like any other member of the Sulaco, a ship carrying space marines on a mission to investigate a colonized planet that hasn’t made contact lately. But when a thick white liquid spills from a wound on his hand, Bishop reveals himself to be an android. The others aboard the ship already know about his identity, but once Ellen Ripley discovers it, she doesn’t mince words: Bishop is not welcome anywhere near her. Ripley’s hostility is influenced by the events of the previous film, Alien, where she was betrayed by the android aboard her old ship. She’s only recently awoken from hypersleep, the only survivor of an alien attack on her crew. The events of Alien are fresh in Ripley’s mind—as she accompanies the marines to the same planet where her crew took on the alien lifeform. She won’t make the same mistake and let an android betray her again. Ripley’s hostility is influenced by past betrayal. Ripley’s response makes sense. We learn the principle of cause and effect from a very young age; it keeps us safe and helps us learn. Despite Bishop’s insistence that he is programmed specifically to keep humans from harm and explanation that Ash’s older model was “twitchy,” Ripley keeps her guard up around the android, at one point even asking a marine to hold him at gunpoint. To her, humans may run the spectrum of good to bad, but all androids are potential enemies. But Ripley has it all wrong. There is a betrayer among the crew again this time, but it’s not Bishop. Instead, it’s a human who betrays them. Bishop, on the other hand, is a hero, putting himself in great danger to save the others. He even rescues Newt, the little girl that Ripley...

Android Soup for the Soul: How Robots Model Humanity Aug06

Android Soup for the Soul: How Robots Model Humanity...

From the panicky, nameless robot in the original Lost in Space (reminding me to always warn others of danger) to the much more sophisticated hosts in the newest incarnation of Westworld (suggesting I should know myself and look for a way out of my loops), characters who are human-built offer a great way to explore our own issues. Comparing my humanity to various robots has certainly given me pause for thought. Unhappily Duty-Bound When I was in high school, I discovered The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I devoured the novels—there were only two at the time—and listened to bootleg cassette recordings of the radio programs over and over and over until I could perfectly quote every word. Douglas Adams’ off-beat sense of humour matched my own, as did Arthur Dent’s constant low-level frustration at life. My favourite character, though, was Marvin the Paranoid Android. Although Marvin spent a lot of his time in the background, I couldn’t help but identify with him. Nobody seemed to understand how brilliant he was and they were always giving him chores when he could be doing something more useful. I felt exactly the same! Maybe I didn’t have “a brain the size of a planet,” but I was pretty sure I was smarter than just about everyone around me. My memory is a little fuzzy at this point, but I have a terrible suspicion that I quoted Marvin under my breath—or possibly out loud when my parents told me, again, to take out the trash, or when my teachers assigned homework that I considered busy work. Looking back, I can’t imagine expressing my inner Marvin did much for my popularity. “Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you to...

Call for Writers Aug03

Call for Writers

Do you want to write for us? Area of Effect magazine, published by Geekdom House since 2015, offers faith-based opinion and commentary on geek culture and topics like addiction, violence, abuse, mental health, identity, community, and more. The purpose of the magazine is to inspire people to think deeply about the themes and issues that are present in video games, sci-fi and fantasy stories, anime, and comics, and to encourage a dialogue between people of different backgrounds and beliefs. We’re looking for a few new writers who are excited about combining their faith, morality, philosophy, social justice, and more with their geeky interests. As geeks we tend to (over) analyze the fandoms we love and our goal for Area of Effect is to take those same conversations we have with our friends, dig a little deeper, and publish them. Requirements: a willingness to put beliefs, ideas, and biases on the table for discussion professional writing experience—your work has been previously published at least three times in print or online an understanding of Area of Effect‘s writing style and content a commitment to a Christian faith (we do not require any specific denomination but look for an affirmation of the basics: a forgiveness of sins through the death of Christ, centrality of the word of God, and the Triune nature of God) a commitment to write at least one  700-1000 word article every other month (1001 words is too many and 1005 is RIGHT OUT) specialization in a geeky subjects we haven’t covered much is an asset (we’re especially looking for more video game writers!) creativity and sense of humour ability to write thoughtful, intelligent articles preference given to those who’ve beaten Undertale‘s pacifist run What contributing writers get: to become a part of a community of passionate, geeky folks who love writing...

MCU Watchalong – Captain America: Civil War...

Say goodbye to your Asgardian android, because the one we’ve all been waiting for is here! Join Jason and Dustin as they wade into the murky morality behind one of the most impactful storylines in Marvel history. Revisit what makes Captain America: Civil War one of the most memorable movies in a memorable series. Download and subscribe to Infinity +1 on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play Music now! RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/geekdomhouse/infinitypodcast Jason’s Twitter: @VorpalJason Dustin’s Twitter: @PDschellenberg Geekdom House on Twitter: @GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on Twitch: OKLetsPlay Buy original Geekdom House merchandise from...

I’m Still Mighty—Depression, Anxiety, and All Aug01

I’m Still Mighty—Depression, Anxiety, and All...

I feel like I’m composed of two parts: the actual me and the depressed or anxious me. Actual Me is diligent, light-hearted, and brave, but  Depressed Me procrastinates, is fearful and sad, wanting to hide at home forever. When I watched My Hero Academia and saw All Might struggle between his two personas as a career superhero and an ailing man, I finally found a character who I can relate to in regards to mental illness. All Might is a powerful superhero and the symbol of peace for the super-powered futuristic earth in My Hero Academia. He is heavily muscled, always smiling, and brings hope to everyone. But behind the scenes, he suffers daily with an old battle wound that causes his lungs to hemorrhage whenever he strains himself. Often he’ll be in the middle of talking about his strong desire to help others and push forward despite his challenges, and then blood spurts out of his mouth as he reverts to his weaker, human form as Toshinori Yagi. I don’t like people seeing me weak, but like Toshinori, I’ve been met with understanding and love. I relate to these sudden attacks in a metaphorical way. I’ll be in the midst of saving up for a trip, or boosting my novel’s word count, or being more active in the pro-life community, or any other plans, then next thing I know I have a “blood-spurt.” These episodes are bouts of anxiety that keep me up at night for hours or depression that drags me down into a slothful, weepy stupor. All Might can only keep up his muscled form for so long. One day, on his commute to teach the students at UA High School, he decides to help others on the way. Though I...

Pokémon Toys Are for Boys: Gender as Disability Jul30

Pokémon Toys Are for Boys: Gender as Disability...

“Do you want the boy toy or the girl toy?” the McDonald’s employee asked over the drive-thru intercom. “I’ll take the Pokémon toy, please,” I replied, eying my little girl bouncing in the back seat. She loved Pokémon, so when I heard that McDonald’s decided to add the franchise to their toy rotation, I was excited to bring her there and surprise her with something special. “You want the boy toy? How old is your little boy?” The employee’s attempt to be friendly backfired, as my daughter heard this exchange and, when the meal came, refused to play with the plastic Kyogre. She wanted nothing more than to trade it in for the miniature stuffed teddy from some franchise that I don’t recall. There was enough pink in its design to clearly indicate this was intended to be the girl toy. As a parent, I feel like it’s my job to shield my children from the bumps and bruises of life. It’s easy to teach lessons like, “No, a bedsheet will not work as a parachute. Get off the roof.” But I can’t protect my children from damaged hopes and dreams. It was that moment, sitting in the McDonald’s drive-thru, that I realized some of my daughter’s dreams will be crushed simply because she’s female. It’s easy to wonder if she would have an easier life if she had been born male. In episode three of The Orville, “About a Girl,” this issue is brought to light when the first officer, Bortus, hatches a girl out of the egg he’s been brooding. Bortus belongs to the Moclan race, which had been previously referred to as a single-gender species. But we learn here that female births are possible and considered birth defects, much like a...

Eowyn Defines the Church’s Restrictions for Women Jul27

Eowyn Defines the Church’s Restrictions for Women...

As the niece of Rohan’s king, Eowyn is a leader of her people, one who is loved and respected. When their city is under attack, it is her responsibility to lead the people to Helm’s Deep for safety. Shouldn’t this be enough responsibility for her? Shouldn’t she realize how much her uncle and brother value her leadership by putting her in charge of the people, and how much they value her life by forbidding her to ride into war with them? But Eowyn was born for battle. She is destined, through an ancient prophecy, to defeat the Witch King in defense of Middle-earth. Sheildmaidens are an actual thing in Rohan; they are a part of the culture and history of war in this kingdom. Her entire society is centered on defending their kingdom from the ever-nearing enemy that looms over their land. Everything in Eowyn’s life points to her taking her place as a Shieldmaiden, except for one thing: the men in her life. Her brother and uncle don’t want to risk her death, taking the decision out of her hands. But, their loving care—though they didn’t know it—would have prevented her from turning the tides of battle in the war against Sauron. They would have kept her “safely” in a cage, where she couldn’t live out her passions and strengths. When many people are invited to question what they believe, they may reconsider their actions. I work for the Catholic Church, an institution that loves and respects women. We seek to protect the dignity of women, recognizing both genders as equally made in the image and likeness of God. We believe women are uniquely able to participate in God’s creative action on earth and celebrate that gift. I love the Church, and feel...

Faith, Self-Harm, and Depression in Far Cry 5...

It’s no accident that Far Cry 5’s fictional district in Montana is named Hope County. The game features many people looking for hope, reminding me of North America’s current political landscape, changing values, shifting economics, and fear of war. In Far Cry 5, you play as a deputy tasked with arresting a charismatic cult leader. His cult, one that hijacks many Christian themes and practices but warps them into something sinister, has slowly been taking over Hope County. Though the game features several characters with tragic stories, John Seed’s journey of “faith” is perhaps the most horrendous to me. Introduced as he makes a speech reminiscent of contemporary televangelists, complete with electric guitar music, bright lights and even a catchy slogan, John tells his “testimony” of abuse, addiction, and seeking escape, until meeting “The Father” (the cult leader—Joseph Seed). John says, “I spent my whole life looking for more things to say yes to . . . then Joseph showed me how selfish I was being, always taking, always receiving . . . the best gift is not the one you get, it’s the one you give.” He has experienced tremendous trauma over the course of his life and done things that haunt him. On the surface, his words sound nice. But the hope he offers turns out to be false. I am often angry at myself for not being able to overcome depression. For one thing, his method of atonement is tattooing the names of his sins on his body and then cutting them out—a practice he encourages others to partake in. Freedom is experienced through self-torture and suffering, according to John—an idea that is not all that foreign in the real world, though not always to this extreme. Inflicting pain on ourselves can...

Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Shrinking Seriousness Down to Size...

For some reason, our society equates responsibility with seriousness. Humour and light-heartedness are often seen as marks of irresponsibility or childishness, undesirable in a mature adult. It’s true that too much play and too little work can be harmful, but I’ve found that making time for some fun is essential. I have a hard time giving myself permission to take a break. I enjoy working hard, but I feel like I can’t relax unless all the work is done—and there is always more work that could be done. Once I wake up in the morning, I start planning ways to make my day “productive,” and I end up disappointed at night if I didn’t accomplish everything I planned. Stress, low self-esteem, and anxiety are just a few of the drawbacks that can result if I don’t put on the brakes occasionally. I love that the Ant-Man movie is plain fun, and it doesn’t neglect great action scenes or engaging characters to be that way. Ant-Man and the Wasp continues this tradition, and for those two hours in the theater, I felt like the movie gave me permission to take life a little less seriously. Ant-Man and the Wasp’s jokes are reminders that, while we’re desperately “adulting” through life, humour is not a luxury; it’s vital for creating a healthy balance of work and play. Surviving “One of Those Days” After receiving a new, “work-in-progress” Ant-Man suit, Scott struggles to get the size regulator working properly. When he and Hope sneak into Cassie’s school, the regulator malfunctions and Scott is stuck at the size of a small child. Instead of giving up, Scott grabs a child’s jacket from a Lost and Found box and uses it as a disguise, allowing him and Hope to reach...

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings Jul20

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings...

Although each fandom has its share of brothers and sisters, the dividing lines between franchises have prevented many sibling relationships that should have been. Here are some characters that definitely belong in the same family: Wonder Woman and Lady Sif Not only do Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif look like sisters, but they share the same skill on the battlefield and the same passion for protecting other people. They even carry the same weapons: a sword and shield. Westley and Jack Sparrow In The Princess Bride, Westley begins as an unassuming farm boy and ends up taking the mantle of the Dread Pirate Roberts with such gusto, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an actual pirate in the family. Although, Jack would be the awkward brother whom Westley doesn’t talk about, but demonstrates an uncanny habit of showing up at the worst times. Elrond and Spock They may be from totally different times, places, and races, but Elrond and Spock share the same pointed ears, black hair, and affinity for calm logic. Plus, they’re also both downright scary in a fight. Mantis and Odin’s children (Hela, Thor, and Loki) Odin’s bombshell in Thor: Ragnarok—that Thor has an older sister, and she’s intent on conquering the universe—is apt to make anyone a bit paranoid. Many fans have joked that Thor should suspect Mantis of being kin, due to her clothing’s green-and-black color scheme and her horn-like antennae (characteristics shared by Thor’s other siblings, Hela and Loki). Add these hints to Thor’s tendency to adopt everyone—even strange rabbits—and it makes total sense for Mantis to join the family. King Thranduil and Lucius Malfoy Same long blond hair, haughty attitudes, and penchant for strutting around carrying a staff. Definitely related. Amy Pond...

If Thor and Loki Can Reconcile, So Can We...

It’s an understatement to say that Thor and Loki have a strained relationship in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Loki stabbing Thor during their childhood, after luring him in by transforming himself into a snake, seems like nothing after his later betrayals. After they became adults, Loki tries to steal Thor’s birthright as King of Asgard, and let’s not forget the continual lies and manipulation by the trickster god. I’m no stranger to sibling rivalry, but my brother and I never moved much beyond the “Mom! He’s bothering me!” stage. Though neither of us were in line for a kingship like Thor and Loki, their motivations feel familiar. Thor is the older brother. For his whole life he’s been told that he’ll be the one to take the throne and rule the kingdom. He may not be a born leader, but he was born to lead. I identify with that—a responsibility I didn’t ask for. Older than my only brother by six years, I tried to notice him as little as possible. If ever I turned my attention to him, it felt like I had to slow down so he could keep up. What ten-year-old is interested in playing games with a four-year-old, after all? Thor’s Inattention When we’re first introduced to him, Thor avoids any responsibility for others, including his younger brother. How might his first film have been different if he had treated Loki like an equal from the start? Against the wishes of his father, Odin, Thor takes his friends to attempt the conquest of Jotunheim—and Thor just assumes Loki will follow without complaint (he does, but not because of the loyalty that Thor assumes). Loki’s actions are his own, but Thor could have looked outside of his own interests. Focused on...

Why I Envy Simon Tam’s Patience Jul16

Why I Envy Simon Tam’s Patience...

When it comes to my younger sister, patience is not my strong point. She and I are the exact opposite in every possible way: I’m tall, she’s short; I’m blonde, she’s brunette; I love science fiction, she loves chick flicks; I’m introverted, she’s extroverted. I haven’t been close to her since we were little and we’ve gotten into big fights because of our differences. It’s been hard for us to find common ground. I’ve always admired strong sibling relationships in fiction, the kind where the characters have a lot in common and will do anything for each other: Al and Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist, Ruby and Yang from RWBY, Fili and Kili from The Hobbit. But perhaps the relationship I admire most because of their closeness is River and Simon Tam’s from Firefly. Simon comes to accept all the parts of River and learns to live with who she is now. Even though River is a child prodigy and can probably school Simon at nearly everything, the flashbacks to their childhood suggest that Simon admires and loves his younger sister. He could easily have let jealousy get in the way of their closeness, but he doesn’t. Simon is, in fact, the one who notices something is wrong in the letters she writes home from the prestigious academy for gifted children she attends; he realizes she’s using phrases that don’t sound like her and talking in codes. When his parents don’t believe him, Simon risks everything to free his sister from her captors, but by the time he reaches her, she’d taken severe brain damage from the experiments she’d endured, leaving her unstable. “That young man’s very brave,” says Shepherd Book. “Gave up everything to free his sister from that place. Go from being a...

7 Best Sibling Conversations from Geek Culture Jul13

7 Best Sibling Conversations from Geek Culture...

From Luke and Leia to Sansa and Arya, there are some truly captivating sibling relationships in geek culture. Since the family dynamics are different with each of them, I enjoy watching those contrasts play out in banter or discussion with each other. These are some of my favourite conversations between siblings from video games and TV. 1. Firefly Simon: Did you do anything today? River: Played with Kaylee. The sun came out, and I walked on my feet and heard with my ears. I hate the bits, the bits that stay down and I work, I f-function like I’m a girl. I hate it because I know it’ll go away! The sun grows dark and chaos has come again. It’s… fluids. What am I? Simon: You’re still my beautiful sister. River: I threw up in your bed. Simon: Yep, still my sister. 2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi Leia: I know what you’re gonna say… I changed my hair. Luke: It’s nice that way. 3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [After drinking polyjuice potion to look like Harry] “Fred and George turned to each other and said together, ‘Wow, we’re identical!’ ‘I dunno though, I think I’m still better looking,’ said Fred, examining his reflection in the kettle.” 4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Elysia Hughes: [Pointing at Alphonse] Big brother… [pointing at Edward] little brother. Edward: Nice to meet you… My name is Edward Elric… this is my younger brother Alphonse Elric… get that? Youn-ger brot-her…. Elysia: But younger means little. You’re little. Edward: WHERE DO YOU GET OFF CALLING ME LITTLE?! YOU LOOKED IN A MIRROR LATELY?! I’M TALLER THAN YOU ARE! Alphonse: Just let it go, Ed. These people are being nice to let us stay here. 5. Undertale Papyrus’ Note: SANS! PLEASE PICK UP YOUR SOCK! Sans’ Note:...

Totoro Recommends Leaving the Beaten Path Jul11

Totoro Recommends Leaving the Beaten Path...

I read once that most of our earliest childhood memories are emotional and sometimes traumatic. That’s certainly the case for me. My first memory is of crying uncontrollably, hopelessly lost as I had meandered out of my yard and to a place I didn’t recognize. Thankfully, my mother quickly ushered me across the street and back home. It didn’t take long for her to find and return me—I had toddled the whole of 50 meters from my house. For a skittish 3-year-old, that experience was like the apocalypse and my mom was the knightly hero, rescuing me from danger and the unknown. In My Neighbour Totoro, the classic Studio Ghibli anime, a similar event occurs. Four-year-old Mei Kusakabe moves with her sister and father to the countryside while their mother stays in the city to receive treatment for an illness. Disappointed by news that her mom won’t be able to visit after all, Mei gets into an argument with her 11-year-old sister, Satsuki, and decides to go visit her mom on her own. On the way, she gets lost. As darkness begins to overtake the rice paddies and farmland that surrounds her, Satsuki searches for her sister and finds Mei’s shoe among the watery fields. Panic begins to set in. Even in the pain of family issues, job transitions, and all the other things that can make life hard, it’s only when I get lost that I can grow as an explorer. This story has a happy ending, though. The mystical beast, Totoro, summons Catbus, which takes Satsuki to Mei, reuniting the sisters in a moment of euphoria. Just as when I wandered off all those years ago, perhaps the danger in being lost was overstated, but the jubilation in being found was real....

Words of Encouragement for You Incredible Parents...

When Elastigirl says she has to “save the family by leaving it,” her words hit me right in the feels—my heart broke every time I left my kids to go to work when they were small. Of course, that was mostly because they would stand at the window screaming and crying. I later found out that as soon as I was out of sight, they would go about their business like I never existed. Little monsters. But, that’s what kids do. Elastigirl knew that in order to make a path for herself, her husband, her children, and all supers to have the option of a super future, she needed to be away from her kids for a time. And that’s where Mr. Incredible comes in. Mr. Incredible and the Stay-At-Home Parent When my family and I were discussing Incredibles 2 after seeing it in theaters recently, my boys felt that it was the “Elastigirl Movie” because she did all the heroic stuff. They saw Mr. Incredible as having a very minor role in the whole thing. I couldn’t believe it. Yes, Elastigirl was shown in superhero garb fighting bad guys more than the rest of the family, but to me, what Mr. Incredible did was far more heroic. Parenting is heroic, even if our children don’t see it that way. My kids don’t have an appreciation for the challenge that being a stay-at-home parent brings. And I know why—they think they’re an absolute dream to be with. Of course, I think they’re right; there’s nowhere I’d rather be than hanging out with them (most of the time). But, they only remember the nice times from the children’s perspective. They have no sense of parental angst, the terror of not knowing what you’re doing—most of...