Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Big Bang Theory - Why We Love It

Scroll down to the end of the article for Fun Features.

I’ve been planning for a while to blog about what I think are great TV shows and what specifically I think makes them so great – so to start with, I will be discussing the CBS TV show The Big Bang Theory created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady.

According to Wikipedia, this show is “about two fictional Caltech geniuses, one an experimental physicist (Leonard Hofstadter) and the other a theoretical physicist (Sheldon Cooper), who live across the hall from an attractive blond waitress and aspiring actress (Penny).” It continues, “Leonard and Sheldon's geekiness and intellect are contrasted for comic effect with Penny's social skills and common sense. An aerospace engineer (Howard Wolowitz) and a particle astrophysicist (Rajesh Koothrappali) are their equally geeky and socially awkward co-workers and friends."

In other words, this is a show - like many - about a group of friends; except this group-of-friends consists of stereotypical geeks. The only non-geek in the group (also the only girl in the group) is Penny, and it is partly through her eyes that we see the other characters. So, this said, what sets this show apart from other sitcoms.

1. Most sitcoms like Friends insult your intelligence. This one definitely does not!

Personally, this show has made me more interested in science, particularly physics. But apart from that, it is informative, often teaching the audience various topics without the audience even realizing it. For example, Sheldon’s odd food habits made it possible for him to inform his friends, and thus the audience that when eating Tai food it is not necessary to use chopsticks because Tailand has had the fork for the latter half of the nineteenth century. He further explains that they do not use it to put the food into their mouths, but use it to put the food on a spoon which then goes into their mouths!

I wasn’t sure if others besides myself and my mother agreed on this quality of the show, so I searched for The Big Bang Theory on Yahoo!Answers to see what people thought of it. Someone who goes by the name of Jeff G asked 8 months ago, “Why is the TV Show The Big Bang Theory so popular?” One replier who goes by the name Entropy replied,

“I'm pretty nerdy and I love it. It is the only sitcom on TV whose jokes are occasionally smarter than slapstick about the stupid person. The fact that alot of the reference gags focus on nerd culture (sci fi, comics, etc) further personalizes it for me. But the science jokes where they don't completely dumb it down for the lowest common denominator...that's what attracts me to it. 99% of sitcoms are the same. This one is a little different.”;_ylt=AsuPm1FOFcnakYgfrd1NwQ3pFQx.;_ylv=3?qid=20091216171952AAaZGHr

2. The characters are definitely more diverse than the typical group of friends on a sitcom ...

Raj is Indian and a Hindu, Howard is Jewish, Sheldon comes from a Christian family, yet seems to be an atheist, and Leonard was raised in what appears to be an atheist family as well.

3. Instead of main characters who are physically fit, athletic, and who are so conventionally attractive that they could be models – these guys are skinny, more average, and goofy-looking ...

... having said that, despite any skinniness, lack of biceps, short stature, glasses, and anything else one might associate with the geek, it’s obvious that these guys are still pretty attractive. So what if they’re not macho like Penny’s ex-boyfriend Kurt (who appropriately dresses up for her Halloween party like a cave-man)? It’s obvious that the Kurt-type characters need their physique to distract girls from the fact that they have no sense of humour, intellect, sensitivity, etc ...

4. While shows like Sex and The City and Friends feature stylish characters with the latest clothes that viewers will eventually want to buy to be hip, these guys are geek chic!

Not only do they wear T-shirts with super-hero logos, molecules, and other scientific concepts that go right over my head, but these guys are criticized for their fashion sense by non-geeks like Penny and yet they continue to wear the clothes that they love anyways! And why shouldn’t they? Their clothes rock! And I’m not the only one who thinks so ... Check out the following website where you can buy T-shirts featured on the show!

Along with T-shirts featured on the show, fans can purchase T-shirts with characters and famous quotes: 5. While most sitcoms show women like Penny - conventionally attractive - as successful, desirable, and as having healthy sex lives, The Big Bang Theory shows some less conventionally attractive women who are also successful and desirable while having active dating and sex lives ...

Yes, Penny is adored by Leaonard and has many other admirers, but she seems to be unhappy in her love life, as well as in her professional life – though an aspiring actress, she currently waitresses at The Cheesecake Factory. Other women characters, however, seem to have more successful love lives and careers.

Dr. Leslie Winkle, for example, is a physisist like Leonard and Sheldon,and in some ways a stereotypical geek as well. Visually she is a sort of female counterpart to Leonard - unlike blond, tanned, curvy, perky Penny, Leslie is skinny with brown, curly hair and glasses, and could not be characterized by happy/perkiness. In fact, she slightly mocks girls like Penny after making dates with Leonard by saying in a high, girly voice, “Call me!” Unlike the stereotypical geek, however, Leslie has a very active sex life. She is also not shy when it comes to making dates like other female geek characters. On the contrary, she is very confident.

There is also Dr. Stephanie Barnett, a highly distinguished surgical resident. Also unlike Penny, Stephanie is a tall, plus-sized character with short red hair. She doesn’t look like the typical medical doctor you’ll see on TV – for some reason they are all physically fit and have obvious model-like sex appeal – but we see that she too has an active dating and sex life. Not many TV shows portray plus size women as having success in these areas, let alone as being desirable to more than one man to the point of jealousy, but The Big Bang Theory does!

6. While most TV shows and sitcoms centre around perfect men who get lots of action, The Big Bang Theory centres around men with some obvious flaws and challenges that are realistic and often unacknowledged ...

Dr. Leonard Hofstadter can be described as love shy. According to Wikipedia, love shyness is “a severe chronic shyness that inhibits intimate relationships” making it difficult to impossible to be assertive in informal situations involving potential romantic or sexual encounters.” In other words, Leonard – and perhaps some of the other guys as well – is too shy to initiate romantic relationships and sexual encounters. Unfortunately, this is a real phenomenon more common among men and women than most people realize.

Dr. Sheldon Cooper is believed by many viewers to have Asperger’s Syndrome. According to Wikipedia, Asperger’s Syndrome is “an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interactions along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.” Particular qualities symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome that Sheldon seems to have are lack of empathy, impairment in social interaction, intense preoccupation with a narrow subject. Sheldon could also be considered a savant – a person with a developmental disorder who has one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance that are in contrast with the individual's overall limitations.

Howard Wolowitz, characterized by his skinny build, has a condition called transient idiopathic arrhythmia which is responsible for his only having 3% body fat. According once again to Wikipedia, arrhythmia is “a condition in which there is abnormal electrical activity in the heart.” Furthermore it explains that while some arrhythmias can be minor and may simply have annoying symptoms such as awareness of the heartbeat, “some arrhythmias are life-threatening medical emergencies that can result in cardiac arrest and sudden death.” Whatever the severity of Howard’s condition, what we do know is that he is proud of only having 3% body fat! Apart from this, Howard also has a severe, life-threatening allergy to peanuts, and was shown to have fallen in a deep depression after being rejected by Penny, during which he missed work and seemed to remain secluded in his bedroom.

Dr. Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali could also be described as love shy, yet in addition to this he suffers from selective mutism. According to good old Wikipedia, selective mutism is “a communicative disorder in which a person is unable to speak in given situations, or to specific people” and in Raj’s case, he is unable to speak to women, particularly attractive women. Since it occurred to me that viewers could find this to be a stereotype and an offensive one at that, I looked into the development of this character and found that one of the show’s creators actually knew a young man with this same pathology – he was unable to talk to women due to severe shyness. So, like love shyness and Asperger’s Syndrome, selective mutism is a real phenomenon, and possibly a little-known phenomenon, as some feel the need to raise awareness of selective mutism by wearing turquoise wristbands that display the phrase “breaking the silence.”

7. Despite many character flaws, the show seems to centre around the personal growth of the characters in a way that reminds us of the fairy tale The Frog Prince ...

... but not The Frog Prince you probably heard as a child in which a kiss transformed the frog into a prince. In the original story of The Frog Prince, the spoiled princess reluctantly fulfilled the creepy bargain with the frog, but became disgusted when the frog wanted more than to just sleep on her pillow. The frog desired a kiss, and what would happen if the princess complied ... would he want even more? In her disgust, the princess asserted herself and threw the frog against the wall, and it is this action that transformed the hideous frog into an attractive human prince. The princess ultimately deserved the prince because she bettered herself through assertion, and the frog ultimately deserved the princess and was thus transformed because he learned that he could not impose or take advantage of others. Thus, both characters grew and learned important lessons.

Why is this fairytale significant in relation to The Big Bang Theory? You might say that Penny is like a spoiled princess, in the sense that she has no problems imposing on Leonard and Sheldon upon first meeting them – just as the princess imposed on the frog to retrieve her golden ball, Penny imposes on Leonard and Sheldon to retrieve her television set from her bullying ex-boyfriend who inevitably steals their pants, making them return home in their underwear.

Not only does she do this, but she imposes once more when having furniture delivered and, though she barely knows Leonard and Sheldon, she trustingly gives them the spare key to her apartment. Though her neighbors do carry the package up to their floor and into her apartment, they violate her trust later that night by entering her apartment while she slept to clean! While this is incredibly creepy and uncalled for, one could argue that Penny had no business trusting complete strangers with a spare key to her apartment in the first place! Penny certainly learned her lesson for being so trusting, and Leonard and Sheldon learned theirs for being so intrusive. One could claim that Leonard and Sheldon are both like the frog – both have a prince inside them somewhere but both have a lot to learn about people in order to grow and be worthy of anyone.

Raj and Howard also exhibit frog-like qualities in that Raj got drunk on a date with Penny, behaved rudely, and introduced her to his parents as his girlfriend, while Howard took advantage of her consoling him in another episode and tried to kiss her. Penny forced Raj to verbally apologize despite being too shy to talk to women, and punched Howard as he tried to kiss her.

I would say that the male characters have a positive effect on Penny in that she is learning to be less naive, more empathetic, less spoiled, and that her general view of the world is broadening overall. Furthermore, Penny’s effect on the male characters is also positive in that they are learning to behave more appropriately when it comes to women, and are perhaps broadening and expanding socially overall. I would even say that before Penny, their whole universe was in hot dense state, but once she moved in, expansion started (... in other words, Penny was the BIG BANG!).

Fun Features

25 The Big Bang Theory Buttons from Ebay

The Big Bang Theory Theme Song

"The History of Everything" by the Barenaked Ladies

Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,
Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait...
The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall (we built the pyramids),
Math, science, history, unravelling the mysteries,
That all started with the big bang!

"Since the dawn of man" is really not that long,
As every galaxy was formed in less time than it takes to sing this song.
A fraction of a second and the elements were made.
The bipeds stood up straight,
The dinosaurs all met their fate,
They tried to leap but they were late
And they all died (they froze their asses off)
The oceans and pangea
See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya
Set in motion by the same big bang!

It all started with the big BANG!

It's expanding ever outward but one day
It will cause the stars to go the other way,
Collapsing ever inward, we won't be here, it won’t be hurt
Our best and brightest figure that it'll make an even bigger bang!

Australopithecus would really have been sick of us
Debating out while here they're catching deer (we're catching viruses)
Religion or astronomy, Encarta, Deuteronomy
It all started with the big bang!

Music and mythology, Einstein and astrology
It all started with the big bang!
It all started with the big BANG!

Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock

The Friendship Alogrithm

The Big Bang Theory Official Website

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory Fan Website

Sheldon Shirts

Big Bang Theory T-shirts (from TV Store

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Practical Magic Blog Party - September 25th - Hoseted by La Boheme Magique and Frosted Petunias

Right when I finish one blog party post and promise myself that I will not be participating in another blog party I discover another one that I would hate myself for missing!

To visit the Practical Magic Blog Party page, see the list of rules, and sign up, click the button on my side bar, or copy and paste the following address into your address bar:

Though not a huge fan of the movie itself – I apologise, for I am a self-proclaimed detester of most chick-flicks – I would certainly consider reading the book.
And though I am not huge fan of the movie, I am still a sucker for all things magical, witch-related, supernatural, etc ...

I have also always had very wiccan/pagan leanings ever since I was a child attending a Catholic grade school! Perhaps my blog post can center around this experience, for I can certainly relate to the main characters of the film being thought strange for their beliefs and practices!

If you are attending this Blog Party and are willing to share your ideas I would love to hear them - not to steal them of course, just for some extra inspiration.

Until September 25th, I plan on posting another installment of Spectacular Socks, as well as an article about one of my favourite TV shows, The Big Bang Theory. I hope they will both be fun, informative, and enjoyable and, as always, I welcome comments and constructive criticism - or any acknowledgment so that I know I am not wasting my time.

Random Thought: Blogging with so few followers is like writing letters, putting them in bottles, and casting them out to sea hoping they will be found.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Conversation With Tinker Bell: Second Star To The Right Blog Party

First of all, I should say that I’m glad that someone has chosen to host a blog party with a Peter Pan theme. I think Peter Pan is one of the greatest stories of all time, and that it should be placed alongside Alice In Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. For some reason, I think Peter Pan often gets cast aside, and yet I think everyone should read this book.

This was a particularly influential story for me growing up - partly because it made me never want to in the first place! The Disney cartoon version is partly responsible for developing my artistic talent. As a child I would draw constantly! I would draw out all off my day-dreams during the day, in the car, and at restaurants on the paper placemats. But what took me from drawing like a child to drawing more cartoon-like images was what I learned from watching Disney’s Peter Pan. At age 6, when I watched the film, I would carefully press pause at just the right moments during the Mermaid Lagoon scene and attempt to draw various mermaids. This was before home-computers with internet access, mind you, so if one wanted to attempt to draw a cartoon character, it was not possible to do a Google search for pictures of the character and print them out at home. Here are some of the mermaids I would attempt to draw, (in case you would like to do just that):

After copying the mermaids, I would continue to draw my other characters’ faces with the same shapes as those of the mermaids, and thus Peter Pan helped me develop my drawing abilities. But that is not all ...
Mostly, Peter Pan inspired me to want to visit Neverland myself. And so, like any logical person, I carefully watched the Disney’s Peter Pan as well as the 1960 Peter Pan starring Mary Martin trying to determine what made Wendy and her brothers so special that Peter chose to take them to Neverland, or even visit their nursery window for that matter. I came to the following conclusion:
Peter Pan – and the Lost Boys as well – love stories, and Peter chose to visit the Darling household because Wendy’s mother and Wendy herself told stories! Therefore, this is what I would have to do to attract Peter Pan to my bedroom window and eventually be taken away on an adventure of my own. This, ladies and gentleman, was the beginning of my life-long hobby of writing stories, my current aspirations to write a novel, and my decision after high school to major in English Language and Literature in university.

And it worked!

Well, sort of. It didn’t work exactly as I had planned.

One day, I noticed a Faerie Ring in my front yard. A Faerie Ring, for those of you who do not know, is a circle of mushrooms which can only form from faeries having danced in a circle on the very spot where the mushrooms occur. Legend has it that one must never step into the circle of mushrooms for fear of being taken away by the faeries.

Well, that’s all very well I thought, but what if one wants to be taken? Surely if one wishes to be taken by the faeries then stepping into the circle is a rather good idea! And so I did. Unfortunately, nothing that very moment happened.

And so I went back in my house and went about my business. I decided to do some mending that evening in the living room and thought nothing more of the mushrooms just outside the living room window. Perhaps this was a mistake ... mending. When Mrs. Darling first encountered Peter Pan, she had fallen asleep sewing something for Michael for his birthday in the nursery while the children slept. Later, after Peter came to retrieve his shadow, Wendy demonstrated her sewing ability by sewing the shadow back on for him, and at the time poor Tinkerbell was trapped in the drawer with the sewing supplies! And what does Peter want Wendy to do for the boys as their mother? Other than tell stories, of course, Peter wants so much for Wendy to sew pockets for himself and the boys!
Why the constant references to sewing, and why does it seem to occur just before something magical and new happens in the story? My belief, is that it all has to do with the Three Fates - as Fate, or “Fata” is where we get the word “faerie”! These three characters of Greek Mythology were the personification of destiny who guarded the metaphocial “threads” of human lives.

One was named Clotho (where we get the word “cloth”) and she was responsible for spinning the thread that was a human life.
The second was named Lachesis who measured the thread, or measured the lifespan of each individual.
The third was Atropos who cut the thread. She was responsible for choosing how each person would eventually die.
Together, these sisters were called the Moirae. Moira literally means “a part or portion, and by extension one's portion in life or destiny” and if you recall, Wendy’s full name was Wendy Moira Angela Darling.

Well, perhaps stepping into the Faerie Ring and spending my time afterword sewing determined my fate. Before I could finish my project I fell asleep. When I woke, I expected to find myself in the living room of my home, right where I fell asleep in the first place! But when I woke, this was what I saw:
Not only did I fall asleep inside my house and awaken outside, but I woke all alone in a place that I had never before been! In addition to everything I saw around me, I saw the following purse hanging from its strap on a tree:

I thought this was strange of course, for I had never before seen a purse in this style, and I could see nobody to whom the purse could belong.

At first of course, I assumed that someone had hung the bag temporarily and left, but would return to retrieve it, so I did not bother to touch it. But I started to grow impatient and rather nervous, to be honest, and my curiosity got the better of me. I took down the purse and opened it. This is what it contained:

On the back of the map were instructions explaining just how to determine which direction to go to Hangman's tree based on my surroundings, but being curious about the pirate ship, I decided to hike in the opposite direction! I replaced the items back in the purse and carried it over my shoulder, all the time wondering just what was in that pouch, and what would happen if I did in fact "use its contents" as Tink warned against. I was desperately hoping it was Fairy Dust, and that it would allow me to fly!
Luckily I was no longer afraid. Normally I probably would not have journeyed to the pirate ship alone, but I remembered that Peter defeated Captain Hook, so I made the dangerous assumption that Hook would not be present at the ship.

When I reached the Jolly Roger – Captain Hook's ship – I was impressed by its size and beauty. Naturally I was tempted to climb aboard, and did so after seeing nobody on deck.
Most of the ship appeared abandoned, as if nobody had been living aboard it for a very long time, but eventually I came to a particular room, that seemed to be a very sophisticated, but creepy study:

I examined the gold-jewelled plate and was convinced of their authenticity.

I would have examined the wine goblet closer, but to my surprise, it still contained a small amount of red wine!

Perhaps the ship was not completely abandoned after all! And perhaps I came very close to encountering the slimiest slime in the world, the sleaziest sleaze of the seven seas himself!

I examined the room a little further and found the following:

Poison ... could this be the same poison that Hook used to poison Peter's medicine ... the same poison that Tink eventually drank to save his life?

I would have to ask her about this when I finally meet her.

Since chills were creeping up my spine and I was worried about being late for tea with Tink (thus making her realize that I disobeyed her advise) I quickly left and hiked back to where I awoke. Once there, I sat to take a break and reviewed my map and note before continuing West to Hangman's Tree.

While hiking West, I continued to wonder what was in the small pouch, and what would happen if I used its contents ... after all, if it was Fairy Dust, wouldn't I be able to reach Hangman's tree much faster?

I started to think I was getting close to reaching my destination but I did not yet see any trees that I thought could provide a significant hideaway for Peter and his Lost Boys. I did however, spot something pink on the ground amid the leaves and plants in the distance. Upon coming closer, this is what I found:

A magnificent pair of Faerie Slippers made of flower petals and leaves! I had hoped that they were left for me, and I was desperate to try them on. I looked around to see if I could see anyone because, like the purse, I did not want to violate someone else’s belongings. Since I did not see anyone, I did try them on and they were in fact just my size!
I continued walking with them on my feet, but I did not have to walk far, because there it was ...
A large tree – one of the largest I had ever seen in fact. It was magnificent, and I circled around it, assuming it must be Hangman’s Tree and that there must be some kind of door or entrance. When I finally did come across a door, it was shocked by how small it was. Even if I was a child, I would have to have crawled on my hands and knees to enter!

It was then that I remembered the small pouch from Tink – I had almost forgotten it entirely! She instructed in her note not to open the pouch or used its contents until I reached Hangman’s Tree and, well, there I was! So I carefully opened my purse and took out the pouch. I loosened the strings and poured out what was inside:

Could this be what I think it is? Fairy Dust?

Only one way to find out .... I sprinkled the glittering powder all over myself and searched for happy thoughts; but before I could find any, I found everything around me growing strangely larger! I was becoming frightened very quickly, but when I turned toward the door at the foot of Hangman’s Tree, I realized everything was not growing bigger, but I was growing smaller! The dust was not Fairy Dust – I didn’t think. Otherwise I certainly would not have shrunk in size, but would have been lifted into the air ... Suddenly I realized why Tinkerbell did not want me to use the dust until I had reached Hangman’s Tree. To think that during my journey I had assumed it would help me arrive there faster but, being the size of a small bird, in truth it would have made my journey much longer!

I entered the rustic hideaway and looked around, hoping to find the boy who wouldn’t grow up himself, but unfortunately, the home was empty. Like the Jolly Roger, this home looked like it had not been lived in for a very long time. But as I continued to explore, I spotted something interesting in a corner ... a kiss!

Well, two kisses, to be exact. One was a thimble, no doubt the thimble that Wendy gave to Peter after sewing his shadow back on for him! And the other was an acorn – this must have been one of the buttons on Peter’s clothes! Peter gave Wendy a kiss as well, and chose a button from his shirt; and since his clothes are made of leaves, his buttons must be made of nuts like acorns! I came to the conclusion that this hideaway was not abandoned, that it was The Lost Boys who were no longer living here as they had returned to grow up, and that Peter himself was still residing here.

Then I spotted something else in another corner ... teapots! Teapots that were just big enough for me to drink use, which was odd considering my currently miniature size! I knew right away that it must be the workshop of Tinkerbell, whose job it was to mend the faerie pots and kettles!

“Lilly?” I head. “Lilly, is that you?”
And then I saw her ... Tinkerbell herself!
“Come on in, the tea’s starting to get cold.”
“I can understand everything you’re saying! How come? I thought that your voice sounded like the tinkling of a bell?”
“It does. To normal-sized humans. But now you’re my size, so you can hear everything I say
just as you could understand everyone else you know!”
I was so glad I could understand her.
“I see you found your slippers. I do hope they are confortable?”
“Yes, very,” I answered quickly. “These are for me then? Thank you so much; they’re beautiful!”
We sat at a lovely table and drank tea that tasted like nothing I had ever tried before!
“Wait a minute - if I drink this, will I be trapped here forever?”
Tink smiled. “I see you’ve done your research about Faerie-lore. Don’t worry; once our time together is up you will be returned to your home and you will wake right where you fell asleep. Normally we would not be so generous, of course, but the usual rules do not apply to those who wander into Faerie Rings on purpose.”
I felt embarrassed. It seemed she was implying that I should know better.
“Now, since you seemed to have wanted to meet Faeries, I take it you must have some questions for me?”
“Actually, yes. I don’t know where to begin. I’ve wanted to visit Neverland and meet Peter Pan almost all my life. You know him best ... what is it about him that is so intriguing?”
“Where do I begin? Part of his intrigue could be the fact that he never ages. Not only does everyone wish to remain young forever, but when a character never ages, he or she is usually some sort of god! If not, they usually have god-like or super-human powers. Think of vampires like Bill Compton from Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries ... the character Richard Alpert from ABC’s LOST ... and Doctor Who! All of these characters never age and have many other traits in common with Peter Pan!”
I was amazed. It was true.
“Also, his last name is Pan. Pan is a very famous god in Roman and Greek mythology. If you look him up, I’m sure you’ll find many of his qualities similar to those of my good friend Peter.”
I knew this was true.
“I should add that the stories written about him by James Matthew Barrie are intriguing as well. They have much wisdom within them.”
“Wisdom? I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Well, we’ve inspired you to take English at the university, did we not? In your time there you must have studied Carl Jung’s theories about archetypes ...”
“Yes,” I said, “but what does that have to do with Peter?”
“One of Jung’s archetypes was the Anima or Animus. The Anima is a set of unconscious feminine attributes in men, while the Animus is the set of unconscious masculine attributes in women. In other words, the anima is the feminine side of men, and the animus is the masculine side of women. Well, if you studied the James Matthew Barrie novel Peter Pan in university, your professor could argue that Peter is really the animus of Wendy – her unconscious masculine side whom she dreams into a human character while she sleeps!”
I was very impressed. “Wow ... I don’t know. I agree with what you are saying, of course, but I doubt the professor I had for my course in Children’s Literature would have been smart enough to come up with all that.” Tink laughed. “But if the Peter in the book is Wendy’s animus, what does that mean exactly?”
“It means that, if the Wendy in the book develops her animus (male attributes) or comes to terms with the masculine side of herself, she becomes more internally aware of what she feels and believes, and is more capable of expressing those thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.”
“So, it means she learns more about herself!”
“So, is that all there is to it then? The book I mean. Is that why it is so intriguing?”
“Not quite. There is the issue of Peter’s shadow. Carl Jung said that ‘everyone carries a shadow ... the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it gets.”
“So, again, what does this have to do with Peter’s shadow in the book?”
“Well, for Carl Jung, the shadow represented repressed weaknesses and shortcomings ... the bad things about ourselves that we refuse to acknowledge but can plainly see in others. Negative traits.”
“Okay ... but Peter’s shadow is ‘embodied.’ He has it with him and when he loses it he searches desperately to find it.”
“Exactly!” Tink declared. “If only we could all be so brave. If only we were all willing to search for the negative things about ourselves, acknowledge them, and remember them always. Peter expected that he and his shadow would merge together like drops of water. This is what Jung believed we must try to achieve in order to become stronger, and more whole. People must accept their shadows – the bad things about themselves – to become more conscious of themselves.”
“Wow, that makes sense. Here I thought Captain Hook represented the shadow figure.”
“Well, you’re not completely wrong. Captain Hook has a lot of negative things about himself that he has not acknowledged. Of course, he is fully aware of his wickedness and revels in it. I would say that, unlike Peter, Captain Hook is an individual who has let the shadow – the dark side of his personality – take over. He is motivated by nothing but revenge.”
“Well, I agree with you there. But Tink, I think I might be too if someone cut off my hand ... especially if that person fed it to a crocodile who wanted to eat the rest of me!”
“Yes, a lot of people would want revenge, and be unable to move on with their lives. I think Captain Hook’s missing hand is a good example of what we were talking about before when we were discussing the shadow ... our weaknesses, our shortcomings, the things about ourselves that we are ashamed of, that make us feel not-good-enough. Missing a limb, having a disability, being sick, not having a very good education, low social status ... these are all examples of things that can make people feel not-good-enough. And some people, like Captain Hook, cannot move on with their lives and feel that they need to prove something or make up for their weakness to feel happy. And very often, they bully others who have what it is they feel they are missing.”
This confused me a bit. “But doesn’t Captain Hook ‘bully’ Peter because Peter is the one who cut off his hand in the first place?” I asked.
“That is what Hook says. But Peter and Hook were duelling when his hand was severed in the first place. Duelling is dangerous. One takes a great risk of getting injured when sword-fighting. If he didn’t want to get hurt, he should not have fought with Peter in the first place. And now, as he grows older he still refuses to let the past go and move on. When he hears the ticking of the clock that the crocodile swallowed, instead of remembering that life is short and that he should use his time wisely, he remembers the loss of his hand to the crocodile.”
“When you put it that way, it sounds like we all have a crocodile with a ticking clock following us ... reminding us of our mortality ... reminding us that we need to do the things that are important.”
“Exactly! And speaking of ticking clocks, I believe our time is up.”
“Already? But I still have so much more I need to ask you.” I was so hoping she would answer more of my questions. She seemed to know so much.
“I understand, but I simply must return you to your home. Perhaps we would have had more time to chat if you had not wasted so much time exploring the Jolly Roger – a very dangerous pursuit, I might add.”
I was hoping she didn’t know about that. Still, I got the feeling that she was not mad – just disappointed in me.

And just like that, it was over.

I woke up back in my house, in my living room right where I had fallen asleep amid my sewing project, and like Wendy I wondered if everything I had experienced was simply a dream. And I went about the rest of the day believing it was a dream too, until my mother told me to come outside in the backyard.
She led me out to her garden, and tucked between the lilies were the Faerie Slippers!
“Do you know anything about this?” she asked.
“I think so,” I answered.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sisters, The Art of Driving, and Ironic Signs From The Universe

My sister Claudia called tonight, and as usual when she calls I could hear Mom’s whining voice from the other room. “Claudia I do understand ... What do you think it was like for me?”
Naturally this was quite annoying to me and my brother, as we were both trying to watch BRAVO’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. We tried turning up the volume, asking Mom to talk in another room, turning up the volume even louder, then asking Mom to talk in an even further room ... as annoying as it was for me it was even worse for Geoffrey because he has a huge migraine. But regardless, the same ridiculous routine that happens every night was happening yet again:

Claudia was complaining to Mom about how hard it is to live on her own in another city without a car – or a driver’s license, for that matter – and is blaming Mom for her being license-less and car-less.

I should note that Claudia did take the written test and passed twice while living here in good old Windsor, Ontario, but that when it came time to practice in Mom or Dad’s car with one of them in the passenger seat, fights entailed the few times she did practice driving with them for the simple reason that they tried to correct her mistakes – some of them dangerous ones. And since Claudia doesn’t like being told what to do, it came to pass that she never practiced with either of them again, and thus never perfected the art of driving. The point I must stress and the conclusion you must come to, dear reader, is that Claudia’s predicament of and car-less-ness is her own fault and nobody else’s.

On tonight’s occasion, however, there was one small difference in the routine. Yes, Claudia was again whining, bitching, and moaning to Mom about not having a car and why it is Mom’s fault, but tonight the reason for this phone call was this:

Today while Claudia was waiting for the bus for 45 minutes in an unfamiliar area to go somewhere she had never been, she was FLASHED!

Yes, flashing would be a scary thing for a single woman all alone in a strange city to experience, but is it really necessary to blame one’s mother for such an assault?

It gets a little better. When Mom asked Claudia if she had her cell phone handy and dialled 9-1-1 after the (*ahem*) exposure, Mom was told no: Claudia did not have her cell phone. This is rather strange, I thought upon hearing this part of the story, as Claudia would constantly nag and harass me if I failed to bring my cell phone to school or neglected to turn it on. If she called me during the school day and could not reach me, when I arrived home she would then berate me, implying that I have some kind of responsibility to my family to bring my cell phone with me wherever I go now that I have it and that not doing so is irresponsible of me!
I should explain here that a cell phone is something I would not normally buy for myself; the only reason I have one is that Mom and Claudia picked it out for me as a Christmas gift during my first year of University. Frankly, I was perplexed upon receiving it. After all, why would I need a cell phone? Well, after forgetting it at home countless times or forgetting to turn it on – all the while enjoying the peace and quiet from my family – and receiving many lectures from Claudia about my responsibility to bring it with me and turn it on, I now know that it was purchased to be used as a homing device!


Well, now we know that Claudia also does not bring her cell phone everywhere with her. Furthermore, Claudia has an alarm that Mom wants her to bring with her and keep in her pocket for just this type of situation. Did Claudia at least have that with her? Take a wild guess.

I know, tonight’s rant might sound very blame-the-victim which is something I certainly know better than to do. But Claudia has always been a special case because, well, she frequently blames the victims herself and always has, especially when the victim is me or my brother Geoffrey. She has no empathy or compassion for anyone, and has nothing but contempt for anyone who gets themselves into a situation that demands these emotions empathy or compassion from others.

Final Thoughts

Since indecent exposure to a stranger has psychological implications, and my sister is residing in the city where this took place because she recently became a psychologist, is it possible that this incident, apart from being insanely ironic, was some kind of sign that she is in the wrong field?

Word Of The Day: Schadenfreude - pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.