Happy [Belated] Mother’s Day!

So originally, I had wanted to write about Classic Film/TV Moms for Mother’s Day. Then I was going to write about why I think there are so many Mother’s Day TV specials. But ultimately, I decided to do something completely different. This Mother’s Day, my mom was kind enough to talk to me about her favorite movies. (And now I know what I’ll be doing for Father’s Day!)

So, full disclosure, I currently have 3-4 moms: my biological mother, two step-mothers, and my future mother-in-law. This year, I am just focusing on my biological mother.

When I asked what my mother’s favorite movie was, two immediately came to mind:

1. Clue (1985): Stars include Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), and Martin Mull (Sabrina the Teenage Witch). Based off the classic boardgame, this film takes place in 1954 when a group of strangers are invited to a secluded New England mansion. Once there, they learn they’ve all been brought there for a specific reason and when other people begin dying, they need to find out who-dunnit, and where, and with what.

My mom said: “This movie still makes me snort out laughing.” This is still her favorite comedy nearly 34 years after it’s initial release. Although it didn’t do well at the box office, it has since become a cult classic. At the time of its release, each movie theater received a different ending, however all three are available in the home release, and Tim Curry shines in every one of them.

2. Life of Pi (2012): Directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Yann Martel. In both the book and the movie, Pi survives a shipwreck on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger in the Pacific Ocean. It is a story of survival against some really impossible odds.

My mom: “The prettiest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s also intellectual. It’s a movie that is visually pretty and makes you think.” I have not seen this movie or read the book, but my understanding is that it is a very philosophical movie. My mom said this is her favorite movie that makes her think. 

3. Recent releases: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), A Star Is Born (2018), The Post (2017).

My mom loved Bohemian Rhapsody, but said that she felt like that had a lot to do with the music, since she loves Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody is a bio-pic starring Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) as Queen lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Since it’s release it has been nominated for 57 awards and won 21 of them, including Oscars for Best Actor, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.

She felt that A Star is Born was great, really well-acted, and was really impressed with Lady Gaga’s performance. Star is the third remake of a 1937 film of the same name and stars Lady Gaga (American Horror Story: Hotel) and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover), who also made his directorial debut here. It too received several accolades including 218 award nominations and 65 wins. The film depicts a musician struggling with addiction who falls in love with and helps launch the career of a young woman.

The Post is a film my mother really enjoyed due in part to the fact that she actually remembers when the Pentagon Papers were released and the accompanying scandal. The film stars Meryl Streep (Kramer vs. Kramer) and Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) and directed by Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark). It was nominated for a number of awards, including Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actress. The film follows the first female publisher of a major American newspaper and The Washington Post‘s attempts to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified government documents regarding the Vietnam War.

4. Groundbreaking films: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), The Wizard of Oz (1939)

She described both of these movies as films she could watch again and again. She remembers when A New Hope was first released. At the time, it was unlike anything she’d ever seen before and began what is now a major media franchise and saga that has spawned movies, books, TV shows, video games, and more. The first film depicts Luke Skywalker after he encounters a message for help from a princess inside a robot. That is the most basic summary of the first film and any Star Wars fan will tell you that if you’ve never seen any of the movies before, that’s the one you want to start with.

The Wizard of Oz was already a classic when my mom was born, but at the time it’s use of color film was unprecedented. She described it as a movie she could sit down and watch any time.

5. Old Classics: My mom also listed a series of classic movies that she still loves: Gone with the Wind (1939), old musicals such Holiday Inn (1942), The Sound of Music (1965), and Fred Astaire classics such as Shall We Dance (1937) and Top Hat (1935).

Gone with the Wind to this day remains the most successful movie in box office history (when adjusted for inflation). It is a whopping 221 minutes long or 3.7 hours long (without overture, intermission, exit music, etc.). It’s based on a 1936 novel by the same name and takes place in the south during the Civil War and subsequent Reconstruction era. 

Holiday Inn is considered a holiday classic and is best known for its original song “White Christmas”, which won an Oscar. It stars Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

The Sound of Music is an adaptation of a musical by the same name, composed and written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (Rodgers & Hammerstein), which is based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers written by Maria von Trapp about her family in Salzburg, Austria and their escape from Nazi-invaded Europe. It stars Christopher Plummer (The Insider) and Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins), the latter of whom was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film.

Fred Astaire was an American singer, actor, dancer, and choreographer. From 1934-1938 he made a series films with Ginger Rogers, who was an American actress, singer, and dancer: The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Top Hat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936), Swing Time (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), Carefree (1938), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). The films featured revolutionary choreography and were big money makers for RKO. They were also responsible for a number of classic songs including “The Way You Look Tonight”, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1936.

My mother described a lot of these movies as “comfort food movies, like mac & cheese”. This is an idea I think worth exploring. Everyone has that food that you eat when you want to feel good/better. There are movies (and in the age of streaming, I’d argue TV too) that do the same.

St. P, TTG, and DBZ

What’s fun about Teen Titans Go! is that this show can make an episode out of anything. Seriously. There have been episodes on rental property, quantum physics, and even labor day. As a result, it’s not surprising that there is a holiday special for almost every holiday. In addition to yearly Christmas and Halloween specials, TTG has also done two St. Patrick’s Day episodes. As a show meant to poke fun at the superhero genre, St. Patrick’s Day takes it up a level but parodying the anime classic, Dragon Ball Z

For those who are unfamiliar with the franchise, Dragon Ball Z began as something of a fairy tale in the form of Dragon Ball. The manga upon which both are based is just called Dragon Ball for the seven magical stones that, when brought together, can grant a wish. Though it has fairy tale elements, it’s also a technologically advanced society, which is why characters are able to use the dragon radar to find the dragon balls more quickly than the would otherwise. In the latter half of the manga, the Dragon Ball Z anime, alien species and planets are introduced, with some of the characters being retconned as aliens.

So, what does an Irish holiday have to do with a Japanese program? Well, let me tell you…

The first St. P’s special revolves around the superstition of someone wearing green pinching someone who is not. Beast Boy argues that since he wears his skin, that counts and doesn’t hold back on the pinching. When the other Titans retaliate (while not wearing green) they are cursed with Bad Luck and must find a leprechaun’s gold to free themselves from the curse.

So, do they have to use some kind of leprechaun gold radar? Nope!


Robin reveals himself to be a leprechaun! Which therefore enables him to power up and utilize leprechaun attacks, which look at lot like DBZ moves. For those who are unaware, one thing that classic DBZ is known for is the countless power ups. (We’re talking episodes spent yelling while the ground is shaking.) The primary alien race, the Saiyans possess the ability to ascend to a more powerful Super Saiyan form, during which their hair gets spikier and turns gold. Here, as Robin powers up his hair turns orange and a beard manifests along with green leprechaun garb.

Teen Titans Go!’s Robin (left) and Dragon Ball Z‘s Goku (right)

His most powerful attack is a parody of DBZ main character Goku’s attack, the Kamehameha Wave: the Shillelagh Wave. As Robin and the other leprechaun battle, they also parody the constant back and forth of evenly matched characters moving at extreme speeds, but instead of trading punches and kicks, they trade pinches. In the second St. Patrick’s Day special, all of the Teen Titans come together for the most powerful attack. Parodying Goku’s Spirit Bomb, they perform the Spirit Clover.

While there’s a lot of humor in this Irish-Japanese parody, both episodes poke fun in other ways as well– a common feature of TTG episodes. Although the show is aimed at children, it’s very aware of its older audience, something that is evident in both of these specials. In another post, I hope to go deeper into the commentary I believe Teen Titans Go! is providing. 

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.

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.





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.