lunes, 18 de septiembre de 2017

ONE BAD BILBERRY - PART TWO

Kirakira Precure à la Mode
Episode 32 - My Own Review
ONE BAD BILBERRY (SPOILS THE WHOLE BUCKET)
PART TWO


The Cures wind up in Taisho-era Ichigozaka, a century before our time.

There is a lack of kirakiraru in the past, but there is one person who fights against the darkness.


Elsewhere, Bilberry finds herself in a familiar place. Thanks to this little trip back to the past, she realises the person responsible for making her end up alone (as a homeless orphan) was Noir himself.






Bilberry appeals for help, tears in her eyes.

After discovering that Noir was just using her, Bibury flees from the darkness. She ends up running straight to the Precures and asking for their help, in tears. Noir then attacks, so Lumière transforms to confront him.


Lumière protects the past; she entrusts the others to do the same for the future

As she goes to confront Noir, Lumière has the current PreCures return to their own time. Before they go, Lumière tells them that the shape of their crystals is the shape of their new power.

Everyone may have their differences, which is why everyone helps each other out

The others try to offer some solace for Bilberry, but that is short lived as Noir still possesses Iru. The girls transform and try to defeat it with their usual finisher, but it proves to be too strong for that.

Like in the Princess Cures' battle against Lock, the usual Finishing Move is a no sell on the final enemy of the arc/cour.

Bilberry is trapped within Iru. As the Cures reach out and tell her that they want to bake and share food, she is swallowed up by the kira-kiraru. Pekorin arrives with Lumière’s icing pump, and it transforms through the power of their crystals into the Kirakiraru Creamers.


The Cures get one Creamer each.








The new Finishing Move looks pretty spectacular, and it is able to eliminate the darkness of Noir. Iru disappears afterwards.

Bilberry is free of Noir’s power


Bilberry collapses, exhausted, but the next episode preview has shown she’ll be back on her feet soon enough.
MY OWN HUMBLE OPINION:
We finally got some backstory -involving Cure Lumière- and the heel-face turn of Bilberry I had prophesized last week!
Against Master Noir (Darkness), there once fought and vanquished him one Cure Lumière (Light). I see what they did there, and it's pretty clever (aside from basic-level French). Her advice to the Cures that they already had their powers within them all along reminds me of The Wizard of Oz -the Scarecrow's brain, the Tinman's heart, the Cowardly Lion's nerve, and Dorothy's way home-. Lumière is also an inspiring role model, gathering as many refugees as possible under the roof of the KiraPâti, of which she was the original Taisho-era owner. Sheltering the helpless as she fights a losing battle.

The journey to the past made Bilberry also realize that Noir had been corrupting human hearts and taking advantage of her (wink wink), not before leaving the poor girl a homeless orphan, estranging her by force from her home and parents, to make her more vulnerable. This also means that she is 1) from Ichigozaka, and 2) really over 100 winters old. She tries to reform herself, but her muppet clings to her Facehugger style, and in an instant she gets trapped inside a berserk Iru (which, like the monster in Frankenstein, turns against his master).
With the knowledge that the power was within them all along, and that the McGuffins were merely symbolic, the Cures can activate the Creamer and try out a new Finishing Move (as per the norm in every arc finale).

An unconscious Bilberry, restored to her original self.
What better way to crown this story arc? What better way than this crowner, indeed. The new Finishing Move, it appears, will serve the Cures well until their inevitable confrontation with Noir...



IN NEXT EPISODE (33):


The KiraPâti welcomes, thus, a brand new pâtissière,
yet Bilberry's past life is haunting her, still over there!
These dragons that appear now from her childhood she'll remember...
This arc finale gets more exciting throughout September!

domingo, 17 de septiembre de 2017

OF CASSIO AND LEWINSKY

We’ll get to Monica Lewinsky in a second, but if we’re going to talk about shame we have to start with “Othello.” It’s Act II, Scene 3. The Venetian Army is on Cyprus, and in festive spirits: the enemy Turkish fleet has been conveniently destroyed by a tempest, and the Venetian general, Othello, just married and feeling great about it, declares an evening of feasting. Iago, inflated with spite, skulks around, looking to stir up mutiny against his boss. He finds his target in Cassio, a handsome young lieutenant and Othello’s protégé. In one of the Western canon’s great deployments of peer pressure, Iago plies Cassio, who has confessed to “very poor and / unhappy brains for drinking,” with wine, and tricks him into initiating a violent fight with the former governor of Cyprus. Othello appears, furious, and puts Cassio—sputtering, pitiful—on speedy public trial. Iago craftily testifies against him. “But men are men,” he says, making a show of his reluctance to crush his prey. (The next time you hear the “boys will be boys” excuse, remember that it was invented by the slimiest villain of them all.) “I love thee,” Othello tells Cassio, “but never more be officer of mine.” Humiliated before his peers, out of a job, his life in ruins, Cassio crumples:
Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost
my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
Iago, my reputation!
These are lines that lodge in the ear and burrow deep into the heart. Could the distress of a disgraced lieutenant—an affectionate, vivacious youth whose impetuous behavior has cut his career short, who has confided his weakness in an older, trusted friend and been betrayed for it, who has been embraced and then abandoned by the man he admires most in the world, a charismatic national leader with plenty of enemies looking for a way to bring him down—have echoed in Monica Lewinsky’s mind, a vestige of some long-ago high-school English class, as she prepared to take the stage at a ted conference in Vancouver last Thursday? The talk that she had come to deliver—viewed online, as of this writing, more than a million and a half times—is called “The Price of Shame.”

There stands Monica, forty-one years old, square jawed and sleekly coiffed, the discreet wireless mic of motivational speakers and Broadway stars hooked around her right ear. Her feet are firmly planted, her hands mobile and expressive, her eyes open wide. She enunciates like a pro, and chokes up once. Seen from a wide angle, the auditorium, with its red stage ringed by seats bathed in blue light, resembles an ancient Greek theatre decorated in the garish colors of US politics—Lewinsky the heroine of the national tragicomedy, reading at last from her own script. More to the point, the room looks disconcertingly like a dartboard, with Lewinsky at the center of the crimson bull’s-eye.
“In 1998, I lost my reputation and my dignity,” she tells the audience. “I lost almost everything. And I almost lost my life.” She recounts the humiliation that she experienced after the news of her affair with Bill Clinton broke: the mortification of being required to listen, in Ken Starr’s dingy, windowless office, to twenty hours of phone calls recorded without her knowledge by her friend Linda Tripp, in which she described her encounters with Clinton and her feelings for him, and the unbearable amplification of that humiliation by the subsequent release of the Starr report.
Still, the worst abuse didn’t come from public authority figures like Starr, who was outmatched in his sickly blend of prudishness and prurience only by the members of the federal grand jury, who made Lewinsky retread the same sad ground in their own interrogation of her. (“When you look at it now, was it love or a sexual obsession?” one juror asked. “Did you think that the President was in love with you also?”) The worst abuse resulted from the widespread, and unprecedented, distribution of those materials online, and the ensuing spectacle of derision that has continued, with radioactive endurance, for a decade and a half. Clinton’s escape from pointless impeachment ended up seeming like a golden boy’s feat, the stunt of a daredevil pilot who takes his plane into a nose dive only to swerve up just before hitting the ground. Not so for Lewinsky. “Overnight, I went from being a completely private person to being a publicly humiliated one worldwide,” she says. When it came to her shame, Starr was only the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg was the rest of us.

A frightening, terrible thing about shame is how difficult it is to dispel. Guilt, at least, can be absolved through action. You apologize to the friend you gossiped about; you donate ten per cent of the million cash bonus you got as C.E.O. to charity. Guilt is the discomfort that comes from recognizing that you’ve done something wrong, or failed to do something right. It’s an emotional accountability mechanism—the way that the self takes itself to task.
Shame, on the other hand, is a social feeling, born from a perception of other people’s disgust, a susceptibility to their contempt and derision. You see yourself from the point of view of your detractors; you pelt yourself with their revulsion, and as you do you begin, like Cassio, to lose track of the self altogether. Someone else’s narrow, stiffened vision of who you are replaces your own mottled, expansive one. As Lewinsky listened to the recordings of her phone calls, she tells us, she heard her voice as if it belonged to a different person: “My sometimes catty, sometimes churlish, sometimes silly self being cruel, unforgiving, uncouth.” It was “the worst version of myself, a self I didn’t even recognize.”
That dread is the fear of it happening to you. What to do when it’s your head on the chopping block? One solution is to follow the advice of Hillary Clinton, who is to shame what cockroaches are to Raid, and “toughen up.” Nice work if you can get it, and there’s something to that apocryphal Eleanor Roosevelt line about no one being able to make you feel inferior without your own consent, but not everyone is built to endure reputation battles that seem to grow more vicious by the day.
Which brings us back to Lewinsky. In her ted talk, she speaks of her anguish at watching other young people suffer through experiences like hers, with more drastic consequences and for behavior far less risky than having an affair with a sitting President—young people like Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide in 2010 after his roommate captured him on a webcam kissing another man. “We need to return to a long-held value of compassion—compassion and empathy,” Lewinsky says. “Online, we’ve got a compassion deficit, an empathy crisis.”
You might be inclined to find this argument soggy. I was so inclined, at first. I was ten when the Lewinsky scandal broke, and by the time I reached the age that Lewinsky was I sympathized with her situation, but not with her. Yes, the way she was thrown under the bus by Clinton and his Administration was outrageous, but how could she enter into a situation like that and expect it to end well? She didn’t deserve the brutal treatment she got, but she seemed too naïve to be taken altogether seriously. Lewinsky’s latest call for compassion seemed to me a slice of classic ted optimism, packaged to go down easy—soft sentiment where there should be unrepentant ferocity.
Then, looking over the transcript of Lewinsky’s second appearance in front of the grand jury, back in 1998, I found something extraordinary. It comes at the very end of the hearing.
Foreperson: Basically what we wanted to leave with, because this will probably be your last visit to us, I hope—I hope I’m not going to have to do this any more and I hope you won’t have to come here any more—but we wanted to offer you a bouquet of good wishes that includes luck, success, happiness, and blessings.
Lewinsky: Thank you. (The witness begins to cry.) I appreciate all of your understanding for this situation and your—your ability to open your heart and your mind and—and your soul. I appreciate that.
This is who Monica Lewinsky was then, and it’s who she is now. Raked over hot coals, she thanked her torturers for their understanding. She was compassionate enough to expect that, like her, her interrogators could be moved by a human sympathy that trumped politics to see the complex, confused, affectionate, hurting person underneath the caricature. Lewinsky, back in the public eye, is tough enough to admit that she’s still soft—that she’s not only a thinking person but a feeling one, too. We should be tough enough to expect the same of ourselves.

jueves, 14 de septiembre de 2017

LITERATURE REWIND: THE SNOW QUEEN

This post will be the review of the Andersen tale as presented in the version by Fairytale Fandom, with my own comments here and there...

Well, it’s summer and the temperature out there seems to keep climbing.  So, maybe it’s a good idea to find a tale to cool off.  How about Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”?  Now, I’ll admit that I’ve never been a big fan of Andersen.  When it comes to the great fairy tale writers, I gravitate more towards the earthy, rustic tales of the Brothers Grimm or the courtly wit of Perrault.  Something about Andersen’s tales always left me cold (you might want to prepare yourself, because these puns are probably going to keep coming).  However, I figure that no one can write a fairy tale blog without talking about Andersen eventually.  Also, I remember thinking “The Snow Queen” wasn’t so bad the first time I read it.  Actually, I’ve wanted to do something regarding this tale ever since Disney’s Frozen came out, seeing how this story and the movie it inspired are so completely different.  If there are any huge Frozen fans out there who would have a serious problem with how different the title character in this story is from Princess Elsa, may I suggest before continuing that you just . . . let it go (I swear, I am so awful sometimes).

Anyway, let’s start with some information on the author.  Hans Christian Andersen was born in OdenseDenmark on April 2, 1805.  Andersen was a product of two towns and two lives.  His youth was spent in the provincial town of Odense.  His adult life was spent in the up-scale literary circles of Copenhagen.  So, for most of his life, Andersen was kind of a man of two worlds.  In some cases, he was even at war with himself.  This feeling of being “between two worlds” has become a feature of most of his stories (one notable example being “The Little Mermaid”).  He even stood between the worlds of folklore and literature. In his youth, he would often hear tales from the elderly female inmates of the Odense Hospital and Retirement Home (it was really more of a workhouse), including his own grandmother (and many of his tales feature a "bedstemor" as the wise old mentor, to highlight this inspiration). This would provide the basis for his adaptations of popular folk stories like “Little Claus and Big Claus” and “The Wild Swans”.  However, many of his most popular tales like “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Little Mermaid” and this story were his own invention.  Another big influence on Andersen’s writing was his religious faith, which was what has been described as a sort of “undogmatic Protestant Christianity”.  This is just a brief overview.  

Now, “The Snow Queen” is a tale split into seven smaller stories.  So, I’ll try my best to give a brief gist of the story without spoiling it and give my impressions. 


First Story.  Here, we find out about a very specific magic mirror.  This magic mirror was created by a terrible troll.  That troll was called Satan (in some versions; in others, he's the headmaster of a wizarding school; sometimes “troll” is translated as “sprite” or "goblin").  The mirror had the ability to cause anything good or beautiful reflected in it look ridiculous or repulsive.  Through a series of events, the troll’s mirror gets shattered and little shards of it spread throughout the world.  Some are no bigger than a grain of sand.  The mirror will become important later.  However, what I find interesting is the combination of Judaeo-Christian mythology with Scandinavian folklore.  I would have never thought to characterize the arch-devil as a troll before. I suppose it should come as no surprise, though.  These things dovetail together all the time. In Islamic folklore, ghouls are both described as evil djinn and as demons or fallen angels.  Also, in Scottish lore, the fairies supposedly owe a tithe to the Evil One.


Second Story.  Here we are introduced to Kai and Gerda.  They’re two innocent little children who are close friends and share a garden.  It’s also here that we’re introduced to the idea of the Snow Queen.  The Snow Queen in this story doesn’t seem to be so much a character as a force of nature.  She’s described as someone who flies right in the center of fierce snowstorms and returns to the clouds when it’s all over.  The snow flakes are described as being “white bees” and she is the queen.  She’s essentially the mother of the storm.  Now, all seems to go well until little Kai gets a little piece of the trollmirror caught in his left eye and another little piece caught in his heart. As a result, Kai changes.  He becomes mean and only sees the flaws and everything. He teases the old grandmother who tells him and Gerda stories.  He even stops playing with Gerda and would rather go play with the other boys, especially the bullies. Essentially, what we have here is a metaphor for pre-adolescent cynicism.  It’s age 10-13 for boys with a magical twist.  If you’ve ever had to deal with male secondary-school kids, you know what I’m talking about (I don’t blame them, it’s a hard time).  Anyway, Kai goes off to play with the bad boys but ends up getting led away by the Snow Queen.


Third Story.  With Kai missing, little Gerda decides to go out in the spring and look for him.  This is actually kind of awesome for a little girl.  One little girl against the world to find her best friend!  She ends up staying at the house of an old woman who knows magic.  The old woman enchants her to forget she’s looking for Kai until she sees a rosebush in the garden (Kai and Gerda used to play near a rosebush in their own garden).  She then goes and talks to all the other flowers in the garden and they all tell their own story.  Honestly, I don’t really know what to make of their stories.  They’re all just little vignettes that seem like they should be part of bigger stories.


Fourth Story.  Having gained no help from the flowers, Gerda goes on her way.  She meets a wild male crow who tells her about a little prince who came to marry a nearby princess.  Gerda is convinced it’s Kai and has the crow’s tame fiancée sneak her into the palace.  One of the most interesting things in this one is that the shadows of dreams appear on the walls of the palace.  It’s just such a wonderful, fantastical idea.  It’s also kind of reflected in Andersen’s other story “The Sandman” (yes, that Sandman).  Anyway, it turns out that the prince is not Kai, so Gerda goes on her way with some new warm clothes and a carriage, courtesy of the royals, to ride in.


Fifth Story. In this story, Gerda meets the Robber Girl!  There’s not much to explain here.  Gerda gets kidnapped by robbers and meets a crazy little robber girl. Robbers are something of a fairy tale staple, even if a less mainstream one.  They kind of play both hero and villain, too.  There’s the dark and vicious robber of Grimm’s “The Robber Bridegroom” but there’s also the helpful band of robbers that take in the heroine in the Italian “Snow White” variant “Bella Venezia”.  Here, they’re a little bit of both.  They are violent and dangerous, but the robber girl does help Gerda in the end.  Anyway, Gerda gets a lead on Kai and sets off on a reindeer for Lapland.


Sixth Story.  In this story, Gerda and the reindeer meet two old women, one is a Lapp (Saami) and one is from the Finnmark, the Norwegian Arctic. They give Gerda advice as old women in fairy tales often do.  The Finn woman tells Gerda that she has all the power she needs to free Kai. We also find out that the northern lights are the Snow Queen’s fireworks, which is a fun little factoid.  Gerda also heads for the Snow Queen’s palace where she encounters some snowflake monsters.  However, here’s the strange part of this story.  When Gerda says her prayers, her breath turns into a legion of little angels with spears and helmets that fight the snowflake monsters.  Wiggy, huh?

Now, before we go any further, I have to give people a chance to get off this ride.  You see, I have to talk about the ending and there are SPOILERS a-coming.  If you don’t want to hear about the ending and the subtext of said ending, you should leave now.  Everyone ready?  Good.



Seventh Story.  Gerda finds Kai, who is turned blue with cold.  He’s playing a game called the Game of Reason in which he puts together shards of ice to form the word “eternity” and/or the shape of a sun.  However, he can’t remember what the word is.  Gerda runs to Kai and her tears melt the glass shard in his heart.  She sings part of a childhood song and Kai cries and the tiny piece of glass is cried out of his eyes.  Gerda kisses him and his warmth and colour are restored.  So, everything is restored and they return to their happy lives... or do they?


Here’s the thing, I’m not entirely sure Kai and Gerda survive this encounter.  They do seem to go back home to the grandmother.  However, Kai is frozen close to death already.  Also, Gerda had lost her boots and mittens and hood, and was exposed to the elements as well.  Also, right before they leave, the Game of Reason rearranges itself to spell out “eternity”.  Two children, cold and exposed to the elements find eternity.  Now there’s a chilling thought (I knew I had another pun in me).  It wouldn’t be the first time Andersen has depicted heaven as something earthly and comforting.  In “The Little Match Girl”, the titular character sees heaven as a warm, cozy room.  The lines of the psalm at the end seem to hint at this too:

Our roses bloom and fade away
Our infant Lord abides always.
May we be blessed his face to see
And ever little children be.

This may be why I never cared much for Andersen’s tales.  I’ve never really been religious.  I’m more of a secular humanist, really.  However, in the world of many of Andersen’s stories, reaching Heaven is the ultimate happy ending.  For him the Ever After is actually The Ever After.  I can’t blame a man for building his beliefs into the stories he created.  However, as someone who sees death as more a sad ending than a happy new beginning, you can’t be surprised that I find his endings leave me cold.

Update: Well, we've been having some lively discussion in the comments section.  And the more I've been reading, the more I think I've been reading into things a little too much.  Kai and Gerda probably just went home rather than... passing on.  I'd say it was subtext but upon looking at some of Andersen's other works, I've noticed that he doesn't really do subtext (other than maybe how the themes in his writing reflect his own life.  If they had gone on to meet their maker, he'd have just said so.  I usually don't do much in the way of interpretation for these stories, but I chose to with this one and came up with something kind of surprising.  But that's what's so great about interpreting literature, two people can see two completely different things in the same story.



WAIT FOR IT (YUKAKIRA FILK)

Had to do this filk, I felt. Yukari's POV and her feelings for Akira... this could also be a nice songfic bunny for my Pretty Cure latest continuity OTP, right? So I told myself, allons-y!








She's worried sick about her sister, fearing Miku's life is on the line...
But, though she may keep her sister, dear Akira's mine...












Love doesn't discriminate
between the sinners and the saints...
it takes, and it takes, and it takes,
and we keep loving anyway,
we rise, and we fall, and we break, and we make our mistakes...
And... If there's a reason I'm by her side,
while so many have tried...
I'm willing to wait for it...

  











 





My grandmother is a stern tradition preacher...
but there are things that the right stroke order never would teach you...
my mother was a genius... my father commands real respect...
they have never left me instructions; just a legacy to protect...







Death doesn't discriminate
between the sinners and the saints...
it takes, and it takes, and it takes,
and we keep living anyway,
we rise, and we fall, and we break, and we make our mistakes...
If there's a reason I'm still alive,
while everyone has pushed me to strive...
I'm willing to wait for it...












 








WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT!
I am the one thing in life I can control...
WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT!
I am inimitable, I am an original...
WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT!
I am not falling behind or running late...
WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT!
I'm not standing still; I am lying in WAIT...















Wait!!
Akira faces an endless uphill climb!
She has nothing to prove, she has nothing to lose...
Akira faces relentlessly waste of time...
what is it like in her shoes?


























Akira doesn't hesitate,
she exhibits no restraint,
she takes, and she takes, and she takes...
And she keeps winning anyway,
changes the game,
plays, and she raises the stakes...
And, if there's a reason she seems to thrive
while so few survive,
certainly,
I'm willing to wait for it...




Life doesn't discriminate
between the sinners and the saints...
it takes, and it takes, and it takes,
and we keep living anyway,
we rise and we fall, and we break, and we make our mistakes...
And, if there's a reason I'm still alive
while so few survive,
certainly,
I'm willing to wait for it...