Happy Birthday, Parent/Guardian!

Today is my father’s 60th birthday and tonight is a BIG party to celebrate. In honor of this auspicious birthday, I’ve decided to write about birthday parties for parents/guardians.

It was a STRUGGLE! I could’ve sworn there were more than I found. Here are the shows I found with parent/guardian birthdays: Bob’s Burgers (2011-present)DuckTales (2017-present),  Hannah Montana (2006-2011), Jonas (2009-2010), Malcom in the Middle (2000-2006), Married… with Children (1987-1997), Phineas and Ferb (2007-2015), Roseanne (1988-1997, 2018), That 70s Show (1998-2006), The Simpsons (1989-present), The Worst Witch (2017-present)… I’m sure there are more that I am not aware of/couldn’t find.

[Note: I reference episodes of shows where the main characters are not solely the adults/parents.]

So, why am I talking about parent/guardian birthdays specifically? Well, because they often take time to reflect and demonstrate appreciation for what can be thankless work. As a teacher, I get paid for my work, but it often feels like both students and parents underestimate the amount of work that goes into teaching. For parents, most have to balance parenting and a paying job, and children don’t really understand what that means.

barely understand what that means…

I am a professed fan of Children’s Television, so I’ve chosen a few great examples below. I also like these episodes because they demonstrate or teach something to viewers. It also shows characters appreciating the adults in their lives.

 

Phineas and Ferb 1×19 “Mom’s Birthday” (Aired: Feb 29, 2008)

The concept behind Phineas and Ferb is that the brothers are determined to make the most of every day of vacation. In their quest to make every day the best day and live life to the fullest, they pursue outlandish projects. Some examples include: time travel, going to Mars, being one-hit wonders, turning their backyard into a beach, and turning their backyard into a ski resort in the middle of summer.

On this glorious day of summer vacation, it’s Mom’s birthday! And big sister Candice is desperate to come up with the perfect gift, but her brothers thwart her every attempt. Shenanigans ensue and the episode ends with a lovely tribute to Mom (one I think a lot of us can relate to).

 

DuckTales 1×13 “McMystery at McDuck Manor!” (Aired: May 25, 2018)

DuckTales is a revival of the beloved cartoon which originally ran for 100 episodes from 1987-1990 and a movie. The program depicts the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his great nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The revival both harkens back to the original comic book and provides a twenty-first century update. It features the voice talents of Danny Pudi (Community), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live), and Kate Micucci (Steven Universe), with Scotland-native David Tennant (Doctor Who) playing the role of Scrooge himself in what can only be described as perfect casting. Like Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, this Scrooge is quick witted and physically agile, always searching for a new adventure.

In this episode we learn that Uncle Scrooge hasn’t wanted to celebrate his birthday since the death of his beloved butler– and the best party-planner– Duckworth (a dog…). Huey (red shirt), however, takes this as a challenge and is determined to top him, against Scrooge’s wishes. The disastrous party devolves into a whodunnit, with Huey now determined to prove himself the “best party planner slash detective”. In the end, a lesson is learned about being considerate of the wants of others… And that Duckworth is literally the best butler anyone could ever have ever– including Alfred.

 

The Worst Witch 2×08 “Miss Cackle’s Birthday” (Aired: Feb. 26, 2018)

I included this episode because she is the headmaster of a boarding school, and therefore serves as a pseudo-guardian during the school year. The Worst Witch is based on a book series by the same name and has previously spawned other adaptations, including a TV movie featuring Tim Curry. In the series, Mildred Hubble attends Cackle’s Academy, a magical boarding school for girls, where she is continuously demonstrates herself to be both the worst and best witch at the academy.

In this episode, Mildred’s best friend, Maud Spellbody, is directing a talent show in honor of Miss Cackle’s birthday, but isn’t happy with how it’s going. In an effort to help Maud, Mildred’s spell once again goes awry, with the help of her other best friend, Enid Nightshade. While Mildred and Ethel try to fix things, Mildred’s nemesis, Ethel Hallow, takes over the show, trying to make it more polished and less campy. What the students don’t know, is that Miss Cackle is facing a personal/professional crisis and is looking forward to the girls’ best, most campy efforts. Miss Cackle embodies the idea that it’s the thought that counts and in the end, her spirits are lifted.

 

Obviously if I’m talking about these shows that must mean I like them, but in case that wasn’t clear, I do highly recommend them. Currently, DuckTales is currently airing on Disney Channel while The Worst Witch can be found on Netflix. Phineas and Ferb is a little harder to track down, but worth the effort I assure you. All three programs have rich characters and demonstrate creative storytelling. (And who DOESN’T want to see a Platypus secret agent??)

 

Side note: In my October 27th post, I mentioned my intention to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and that I would share my final tally in today’s post… Welp, things did not go as expected. My final word count is not even close to 50k. Like, less than 20k. Yeah… I’m a little disappointed, but also remind myself of three important factors: 1. I’ve also been trying to stay on top of my blog entries. 2. This has been the busiest fall I’ve had in ages. 3. I’ve never actually written a novel before without a time limit. I’ve had something to do almost every weekend, which is incredibly rare for me. So, while I’m disappointed, I’m trying to look at this as a learning experience. Since I’ve never finished a novel before, that’s my new goal without the time pressure. And to write creatively more often.

National Novel Writing Month

In just four short days we will be in what has become known as National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, and this year I plan to participate!

According to their website, “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” The idea is that those participating begin a novel at 12:01 am on November 1st and work towards a 50 thousand word novel by 11:59 pm on November 30th. The idea began with a small group in 1999 and has grown into a world-wide event and non-profit organization. It has also lead to the publication of over 600 novels (both professionally and self-published), including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

NaNo doesn’t just promote adult writing, they’ve also created a Young Writer’s Program. YWP provides age-appropriate support as well as educational materials for teachers. There are workbooks for Elementary, Middle, and High School and lesson plans that are in line with national curriculum standards.

Overall, a very cool event, one designed to provide support and a friendly competitive atmosphere.

So, why am I writing about it? Well, firstly, because I plan on doing it this year– and properly! In the past, my goal has been to just write 50k (and to write every day in November), but not necessarily on a single project (I’ve done something similar with Camp NaNo, which is 30k in July). This year, I’m going to try to write a novel! And, I’ve heard that if you tell people you’re going to do something, you are more likely to actually do it– plus I’m putting my intention out into the universe….

 

Yeah.

 

Second, because it’s a great event. It promotes writing of any kind, including FanFiction. In the past my feelings towards FanFiction have been negative, but in recent years, I’ve come to see its benefits (especially when it’s better than the work it’s based on– DON’T ASK). Also, while competition can turn into something ugly, this event has you competing against yourself with resources and support from other writers trying to do the same thing you are. It promotes a community and competition that could easily turn toxic, but doesn’t. They keep it positive and supportive, with events all over the world where writers can get together and just write. It’s bringing together people who share a common passion and goal.

Third, because while my focus thus far has been on TV/Film, I do have a passion for written works and, especially, for adaptations. Adaptations are hard. People think it’s easy, but finding that balance between staying true to the original and not only keeping the pace up, but appealing to people new to the work. I can, and most likely eventually will, talk about adaptations at great length, but the point is, you never know what can come out of this event. I chose to reference Water for Elephants and Cinder because the first one has been adapted into a film, while the second is a personal favorite and one that has already been optioned. Any of the over 600 works could be something we’re talking about at length in the future. Also, I do eventually plan on writing about written works, novels, graphic novels, mangas… There is so much out there to spark creative and analytical thinking, to make you question the world around you!

So, this week’s post is a short one. I still intend to post every Saturday in November (and I will not be counting them as word count!), and probably should’ve saved this for then, but I wanted to provide an opportunity for participation. (And because it will make me stick to my goals.)

I’ll provide a final tally of my word count in my December 1st post. You can find more information about National Novel Writing Month at https://nanowrimo.org/.

Animated Matrimony

My mother is getting married today! In honor and respect of this, I have written a post about weddings in some popular cartoons.

Weddings are great! They are happy, festive events that bring people together. The same is true for TV shows. In TV, weddings are useful plot devices that bring together a lot of characters to interact in a way they don’t usually (if at all). This can create interesting and unique situations, as well as drama. While weddings are happy events, they can also be high stress. We’ve all heard horror stories about bridezillas or crazy family members. The same can be true in TV (probably more so).

When thinking about this post and brainstorming cartoon weddings, a few came to mind right away. The first, Ruby & Sapphire of Steven Universe, who married over the summer. There’s also Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig from Adventure Time, who married in 2014. Finally, there have been two weddings in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Princess Cadence & Shining Armor in 2012 and Matilda & Cranky Doodle Donkey in a 100th episode special in 2015.

(Note: I’m looking at episodes where the wedding is a main focus of the plot.)

All four weddings approach the big day differently and use the event in different ways.

 

Adventure Time 5×44 “Apple Wedding”
(Aired: Jan. 13, 2014)

In this episode, secondary character Tree Trunks (an elderly mini green elephant) and Mr. Pig (a pig who typically walks on his two back legs) get married. In typical Adventure Time fashion, this wedding is used for random comedic effect and is the least stable of all the relationships discussed in this post. It satirically demonstrates how weddings can become incredibly selfish events. At this wedding, everyone has a selfish agenda that has little to do with the wedding itself. In the end, it becomes clear that weddings are about two people coming together to celebrate their love for each other. That supersedes anything else and has the ability to bring everyone together in the end.

 

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic 2×25-26 “A Canterlot Wedding”
(Aired: Apr. 21, 2012)

This episode served as a two part season finale for season 2. The previous season had ended with a single episode in which the characters go to a party that had been referenced throughout the season. They go to the party and shenanigans ensue but they learn a valuable lesson. This episode is significantly more dramatic and has an impact on future episodes.

We are introduced to new characters including, Princess Cadence (one of the initial three rulers of their homeland, Equestria), Shining Armor (Captain of the Guard at the castle and brother to protagonist, Twilight Sparkle), as well as a new villain who reappears more than once throughout the series.

Here, the wedding ups the drama because it means that multiple characters are about to become family. It also brings together a huge portion of the cast, allowing for higher tensions as well as more characters involved in what occurs.

 

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic 5×9 “Slice of Life”
(Aired: Jun. 13, 2015)

I LOVE this episode! It is truly one of my favorites. It is MLP:FiM’s 100th episode and focuses on background or secondary characters. Two characters, Cranky Doodle Donkey and Matilda, were brought together after a long separation in a previous episode of a prior season. There is very little impact moving forward, and the main protagonists (known as the “Mane Six” by fans) only appear peripherally.

This episode is a lot of fun because it looks at characters that have previously only appeared in the background, some of whom never had speaking parts. It is really an episode dedicated to the rabid fanbase, however. For example, one background character somehow developed a huge backstory as a spy thanks to fanworks. This is made canon in this episode.

Here, a wedding is used to demonstrate how the actions of one character can carry over as well as bring together characters that are not typically seen together. The wedding plot point is used to highlight how these events bring people together and looks at the comedic mishaps can occur, but how ultimately weddings are happy events.

 

Steven Universe 5×23-24 “Reunited”
(Aired: Jul. 6, 2018)

This special event concluded a number of plot lines.

 

*SPOILER WARNING* Scroll to skip

 

 

 

In this 22 minute episode, Ruby and Sapphire get married and reform Garnet after a longterm separation. Following the wedding, Blue Diamond and Yellow Diamond arrive to awaken the Cluster, a geo-weapon that Steven helped to bubble during season 3. This episode also brings together not only the residents of Beach City, but a number of gems, including Bismuth (who returned in the previous episode) and marks the return of Lapis Lazuli. During the attack, Steven reveals some important truths to the Diamonds while Beach City enacts its emergency plan, something discussed at length in previous episodes. “Reunited” demonstrates how weddings can bring people together and be happy events, as well as the more dramatic aspects. Because weddings are a way to bring so many people together, they are also useful for tying up plot threads. Another episode aired after this to follow up and help set up the next season, which was officially renewed last weekend for 32 episodes. Of all the weddings listed in this post, this one has perhaps the greatest significance and impact.

 

 

 

*END SPOILERS*

Weddings are Special Events. They carry huge emotional weight and bring people together. They bring out the best and worst in people, have the potential to be the perfect start to a ‘happily ever after’ or be complete disasters. This is why they are so useful as major plot points. You wouldn’t think weddings would be taken so seriously in children’s programming, but they are treated as the emotionally charged, life-changing events that they are in real life. The couples above are all very different, and they each go through there own unique challenges. However, at the end of the day, each couple finds strength in their relationship and each other setting an example we can all hope to follow.

Hello world!

Hi, my name is Julia Henken and this is my blog! I’m a native of the Greater Boston Area with a deep love for sci-fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction. I grew up watching Toonami on weekdays and alternating between FoxKids and KidsWB on Saturdays. (For those of you who may not be familiar, this equates to a huge amount of anime and superhero cartoons.) Though I’m now an English teacher, I’ve never lost this passion– I even got my Bachelor’s Degree in TV/Film (with a minor in English, of course!). I look forward to using this space to provide reviews as well as intellectual analysis or commentary on some of my favorite titles.

I was inspired to create this blog during a summer course entitled “Superheroes in Film” where I have had the opportunity to view and discuss a number of superhero titles (with someone other than my poor fiancé). With homework that consisted of reading and writing about some of my favorite topics, it’s been a great deal of fun and something I am eager to continue doing.

My first official blog post will take a look at Avengers: Infinity War— whether it’s my students or my local pharmacist, everyone seems to be excited about Marvel’s culmination of TEN YEARS and EIGHTEEN MOVIES, even months after its release.

This is just a quick introduction, but stay tuned, and thank you for stopping by!