Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: mickey mouse

YouTubevotional: Fair and Square

YouTubevotionals are designed to be used in personal devotion time, with small groups, youth groups, or Sunday school classes. To see other YouTubevotionals, click here

Introduction

We have heard the phrase, “fair and square,” and “cheaters never prosper.” We usually hear them in the context of sports or in education.  Remember playing a pickup game of baseball in the backyard and someone, maybe you, telling your friends that something was “fair and square?”

It can speak to a sense of justice and integrity.

In the Mickey Mouse short below, Mickey is faced with the challenge of cheating (like everyone else) or being faithful to the spirit of fair play.

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YouTubevotional: Locked in Love

YouTubevotionals are designed to be used in personal devotion time, with small groups, youth groups, or Sunday school classes. To see other YouTubevotionals, click here

Introduction

In 2013, Walt Disney began releasing new Mickey Mouse shorts. It all started with the Mouse. Mickey came into being in the late 1920’s and started in some brilliant animated shorts for years. The animation of these new Mickey Mouse shorts are nothing like the originals though, and take a little bit of getting used to, at least for me it was. The animation is similar to what you might find on Cartoon Network, for better or for worse.

In the short below, Mickey and Minnie are having a romantic evening out, and plan to place a lock on the bridge, like so many others, as a symbol of their love for one another.

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Mickeys_Christmas_CarolMickey’s Christmas Carol is one of my favorite Christmas specials for a number of years. It is the retelling of the Charles Dickens’ classic short novel, “A Christmas Carol.” It has a large number of cameos from various Disney characters. It is one of those rare animation specials where all these characters from different Disney-Verses show up in the same place. And, the animation is incredible. It is one of the last great animation specials with hand-drawn animation. It feels like a lost art today.

Obviously, Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge, is the main character. McDuck was actually based on Dickens’ Scrooge. Scrooge’s home was in the comics, but was in an animated film once prior to this one: 1967’s Scrooge McDuck and Money. Scrooge is a grouchy, old man who is more concerned about his money than he is the welfare of others.

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Book Review: 52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843, is now a classic. The short novel tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, the wealthy man who despises the Christmas holiday and all of its cheer. The book has been reborn in various film versions throughout the decades. My favorite version is Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

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School Lunches

In Mrs. Flakes’ first grade classroom at Rural Point Elementary, the most embarrassing  thing that could have happened happened. I was sitting in the last desk in my row. I slowly began to feel hot. As my head warmed and I began to sweat, I had an uncomfortable feeling in the bottom of my stomach. No, it wasn’t butterflies of nervousness about something that we were about to do in class. It was lunch.

I had gotten a few dollars from Dad that morning so that I could go through the cafeteria line and get pizza with my friends. Unfortunately, after lunch when we were back in the classroom, the pizza returned. I quickly turned in my seat, and like a scene from Family Guy, it seemed to not stop. I vaguely remember standing up and not knowing what direction to go. I felt awful! Mrs. Flakes tired to steer me away from the throw-up and out the classroom door to the nurse’s office. From there, my parents were called and I went home.

I made a decision that day that I held to until my senior year in high school. I would never eat cafeteria food again! From that day on Mom packed me a lunchbox (until high school when the Alf lunchbox was replaced with a brown lunch bag.)

And I still have it! My mom thinks it was Superman or Mickey Mouse before Alf.

And the lunch was always the same. There was my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread. There was an off-brand ziplock bag of potato chips, a Little Debbie dessert, and a drink. Mom remembers me using the thermos that came with the lunchbox in elementary school with either milk or apple juice in it.

Even in the first grade, I was a creature of habit. I would empty the contents of my lunchbox and arrange them. When I graduated to the brown lunch bag, the drink was always in the bottom, followed by the sandwich, and the Little Debbie cake, and the chips. I would eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich first. Then, the chips, and lastly the Little Debbie cake. And then, I would drink my drink. Why I did it this way, I have no idea. But that was my lunch routine.

When both Mom and Dad worked, I would stay at Mrs. Rice’s house. Later, when I got older, she would tell the story that whenever it was lunch time, she would ask me what I wanted, and the answer was always the same: “Peanut butter and jelly.” I image when I got older and into high school, I may have veered off that plan. But, for the most part, it was always peanut butter and jelly.

Today, whenever I’m hungry and there seems to be few options, I will make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – either strawberry or grape. It brings me a level of comfort. It reminds me of my childhood and the security of always knowing that peanut butter and jelly would be there for me.

And the best part is, I never got sick at school again.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Saving Mr. Banks received nomination for Best Original Score.

Ponderings - Saving Mr. Banks reviewIn 1961, P. L. Travers, the acclaimed author and creator of Mary Poppins, spent two weeks at the Disney studios in Burbank. Walt Disney had courted her for twenty years for the rights to make the Mary Poppins film. Travers had consistently said no. She came to Burbank as a last-ditch effort to put this project to rest, either by making it or destroying any hope of its existence.

Emma Thompson plays P. L. Travers to Tom Hanks’ Walt Disney. Hanks’ Disney is warm and welcoming. He insists on being called “Walt,” not “Mr. Disney.” Thompson’s Travers is cold and critical. She will not allow anyone to call her “Pam” or “Pamela.” They must call her “Ms. Travers.” Travers, herself, was a bit of a shock to screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and the Sherman brothers (Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak).

The film does an amazing job of recreating what it was like to work with Travers and the mostly unknown difficulties the filmmakers had. Many of the conversations held in the studio were taken directly from over thirty-nine hours, which by the way, you should stay through the first set of credits, where the original recordings are shared. This provides a glimpse into how cold and difficult Travers was, but also how well Emma Thompson portrayed the author.

Despite what the trailers communicated, you quickly figure out that this film is about so much more than the making of Mary Poppins. More than once, Mrs. Travers tells Disney and his team that the Banks’ are like family to her. The flashbacks to her own childhood suggest that the Banks family is really her own family. Colin Farrell plays the father, Travers Robert Goff, and he’s good at it. Farrell’s Goff is a loving, playful father who loves being around his children. Unfortunately, he does not love to be at the office so much. He struggles with his own dark side, all while seeking the bottom of a bottle.

Travers’ Aunt Ellie (Rachel Griffiths) comes to save the family when Goff gets sick. From the moment she appears on the screen, you know that Travers based Poppins on her aunt. Aunt Ellie gets to work on empowering the family to clean the house and to get things in order. The only thing that Aunt Ellie is not able to fix is Goff. Travers was extremely close to her father. She had left to go get him pears and when she came back, he had died.

The death of her father would shape Travers. The life she as aspired to as a child no longer seemed possible. The carefree, imaginative world of her father only led to death. As she worked with the Disney team on the film, these memories come flooding back to her. In one heartfelt scene, Travers goes outside the studio, sits in the lawn, and begins to construct a small house out of sticks and leaves. Her driver for the week, the only fictional character in the film played by Paul Giamatti, comes over and helps her. Here in the lawn, these two adults recall and reclaim childhood.

Travers finds it hard to break free from the past. While Walt Disney and Travers are at odds on so many things, this they have in common. Disney can relate to having a less than perfect relationship with his father. Our pasts can haunt us, but they do not have to control us. Travers, through the two-week film making process, claims her past as part of her story. And it is her story to tell.

Ponderings - Saving Mr. Banks review - Disney and Travers

It is in relating his father to Mr. Banks, that Disney realizes that Mary Poppins comes to the Banks family not for the children, but for the father. It is figures like Poppins, Aunt Ellie, and Walt Disney to help point us in the direction of reconciliation with our past. We too can wrestle with our past, claim that part of us, and tell our stories.

There is a lot of Oscar buzz around this film. Tom Hanks will undoubtably get a nod, but my money is on Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers. The film is really her story and Thompson frustrates us, makes us a laugh, as well as makes us cry. I also think Colin Farrell should get a shout-out as supporting actor.

© 2017 Jason C. Stanley

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