How My Fair Lady Should Have Ended

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Here I go again, wading into truly controversial territory.  That’s me, fighting the good fight.

Eliza should have married Freddy.

Perhaps a little background is required, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the musical.  My Fair Lady was written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.  In it, Eliza Dolittle is a poor flower girl (meaning someone who sells flowers) with a thick Cockney accent, which in London means she’s little better than a beggar.  Henry Higgins is a phoneticist who encounters Eliza in the street.  On a dare from Colonel Pickering, Higgins decides to take on Eliza as a student, to transform her language and make her pass for a fine lady in London society.

He succeeds.  Meanwhile, Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a young socialite, has fallen in love with Eliza, and has professed his love to her.  In the end, however, Eliza decides to continue living with Henry Higgins.  Eliza made a serious error.  She should have married Freddy.  I shall now present the reasons why.

First off, Freddy is devoted to Eliza.  Granted, his song “On the Street Where You Live” is a bit of a stalker song, but Freddy seems much to innocent to really understand that.  Freddy is unashamed to admit to Eliza herself that he loves her.

On the other hand, Henry Higgins won’t even admit to himself that he cares about Eliza.  In his song “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” which he sings to himself, it is apparent that he does care about her, but he will only admit to being “accustomed” to her.  Ah, yes, that’s what every woman dreams of in a relationship with a man: to be with someone who is used to her.

Secondly, Freddy is kind and respectful, even deferential, to Eliza.  Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is rude, irascible, and tyrannical, and doesn’t appreciate the things she does for him.  He doesn’t recognize her achievements, claiming all success for himself, as seen in “You Did It.”  He excuses has appalling behavior by saying he treats all women that way.  Ultimately, Eliza is going to be happier with someone who treats her well.

Additionally, as Freddy’s wife, Eliza will have a place and future in society.  As a married woman, she will be respectable.  Living with Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is a very ambiguous position.  When he first introduced her to society, she was a charming novelty.  As others get to know her and her situation, however, she will not be so welcomed.  An unmarried woman, who is not a servant, living with an older man will not be a savory role in society.  Furthermore, Eliza is going to tire of being a novelty and will want a life with meaning, such as she could have as a wife and mother with Freddy.  I mean, Eliza isn’t going to sleep with Henry Higgins, is she?

You might say that Freddy will end up wasting his estate, and leave her for someone else.  We also have no evidence for that except for Henry Higgins’ assertion, and he’s jealous, so we can’t really trust what he has to say on the matter.

Finally, what will happen to Eliza when she grows old?  As Freddy’s wife, she would be entitled to an inheritance when he dies, and any sons she has would be obligated to care for her.  With Henry Higgins, she would have no official status.  Since she is an unmarried woman who is not part of his family, there is no assurance that she won’t be thrown out into the streets upon Henry Higgins’ death.

In summary, Freddy loves Eliza, treats her better, Eliza will have a better role in society with Freddy, and has more assurance of being taken care of in old age.

Also, Freddie is a much better singer.

Top 10 Disney Animated Musicals

If you are familiar with this blog, you know that I’m no stranger to controversy.  Today, however, I venture into truly contested territory: ranking Disney musicals.  Here, I rank them primarily based on the quality of their music as a whole, with story and animation considered only as tie-breakers.

These musicals were really hard for me to rank, because there are so many great Disney musicals, but if I’m going to make a top 10 list, then they have to be in some sort of order.

*Trigger Warning*

You may find I rank musicals lower or higher than you believe is warranted.  You may find that your favorite Disney musical has been snubbed.  You have been warned.

10. Tarzan – I put this one at the bottom since it’s not a proper musical, since the characters aren’t actually the ones doing the singing.  But Phil Collins and his songs are amazing, aren’t they?

9. Hunchback of Notre Dame – This is a seriously under-rated musical, both as a musical and as a movie, perhaps because it doesn’t have a princess or because it’s pretty dark for a kids’ movie.  If you want pathos, Hunchback has it in spades.  Granted, the singers aren’t as good as those in some of the other Disney musicals, but what songs has Disney ever created that are more emotive than “God Bless the Outcasts” and “Out There”?

8. Pocahontas -Pocahontas herself is clearly the star of this score, though the white settlers have some interesting songs.  This musical is also one of the few Disney musicals to get a memorable end credits song, “If I Never Knew You.”

7. Mulan – The songs are fresh and classic at the same time, with plenty of clever lyrics, as well.  The score has a good blend of silly and serious.  Plus, Donny Osmond.

6. The Little Mermaid – What teenager can’t relate to Ariel?  “Part of Your World” was my anthem.  Sebastian and his blues-y “Under The Sea” and “Kiss The Girl” are also crowd pleasers.

5. Frozen – Mind you, Frozen only made it onto this list on the strength of its music.  This movie was so overrated, and there are plenty of potholes in the story.  But you can’t deny that the music is really good, though fairly unoriginal.  The score is in a decidedly Broadway style.  Idina Menzel is always amazing, so Frozen was bound to sound good.  (Tangled is still a better movie!)

4. Aladdin – The score of Aladdin is playful, fun, and jazzy.  It has lots of clever wordplay, and is where I learned the phrase “nom do plume.”  Aladdin will also always be remembered, of course, for the beloved Robin Williams, who brought a lot of the fun to this musical.

3. Moana – These songs just keep moving.  You can’t help but be caught up in them.  The melodies are catchy and singable for the layperson but still complex enough to be interesting

2. Beauty and the Beast – (The original, not the shameless money grab that is the live-action remake) This is the classic Disney musical.  The songs are an integral part of the plot, both setting the scenes and showcasing character development.  Every subsequent Disney musical gets compared to this one, and for good reason.

1. Hercules – Hercules has everything you could want from a musical.  It has a stirring ballad, a sassy but poignant song from the leading lady, a funny character song, and an energetic and jazzy chorus.

What do you think the best Disney animated musicals are?  Ready…Set…Debate!

Upon reviewing my list, this article could also be appropriately titled “Alan Menken writes most of the best movie musicals.”

On a side note, here’s an interesting article about how Disney Saved Musicals for a New Generation.

Blogging Your Friends Away

I like to post about a variety of things.  My blog is kind of all over the place.  The posts that always get the most views are the ones that are controversial in some way.  Sometimes I choose controversial topics on purpose in order to get more views.

But a lot of things that seem like no-brainers are controversial now.  Things like “camel toe is inappropriate for work” and “holding Republican politicians to one standard and Democrats to another is hypocritical” have gotten me some very strong backlash, both on WordPress and on Facebook.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to say them anyway.

So far as I know, only one person on Facebook has unfriended me over the views I express in my blog.  But I have noticed something interesting about some of my Facebook friends: they only comment on my posts when they disagree with me.  Not on my posts about travel, movies, the funny things my students say, or any of my other benign topics.  Nope, only (or almost only) the political ones, and only to disagree.  It’s very disagreeable.

Granted, there aren’t very many such friends.  I don’t plan at this time to unfriend them, but it does make me wonder why I friended them in the first place.  I think the lesson from this is that quality matters over quantity, and I’ll only friend people on Facebook that I truly connect and want to keep in touch with.

More On Grace and Works

I often worry about whether or not I’m good enough.  I know I mess up a lot.  I’m not as patient as I should be, I act rudely to my husband, I don’t always keep the Sabbath holy, I forget it’s fast Sunday, and on and on.  It’s really easy to put myself down as I think about all the ways I fall short.

That’s why my husband suggested I listen to this particular talk from the Saturday morning session of the October 2016 General Conference.  It’s titled, “Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?” from Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy.

This talk was exactly the message I needed.  In this talk Elder Cornish showed that he cares about and understands the feelings of the members as we try to do the right things but just can’t.  If you have ever felt that discouragement, you should go read the whole talk.  Here I’m going to give some of the highlights and my thoughts as well:

“Sometimes when we attend church, we become discouraged even by sincere invitations to improve ourselves. We think silently, ‘I can’t do all these things’ or ‘I will never be as good as all these people’…Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others.

We sometimes compare ourselves to other members of our ward, believing that they are successfully doing all the things we feel we can’t.  I think it’s also important to note that we don’t necessarily know what other members are struggling with.  They may look like they are doing all the right things and that we can’t compare with them, but they make think the same about us.

Salvation isn’t a competition.

I also really struggle with the idea that I have inherent worth.  I think of my worth as being dependent on my productivity.  If I’m really smart or a great teacher or really good at keeping a family history, then I must be worthwhile.  That’s what goes on in my head.  Instead, I need to remember that my worth comes from being a daughter of God.

“If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.”

This one is so hard for me to remember.  Discouraging thoughts about how I’ll never be good enough don’t come from Heavenly Father.  Those come from Satan.  Heavenly Father encourages us, rather than discouraging us.

Elder Cornish focuses on what direction we are facing, rather than on where we are.  If we keep trying to be like Christ, then that is enough.

“Our Heavenly Father intends for us to make it!”

I really love that.  Heavenly Father didn’t send us here with the intent that we would fail.  Like every good teacher, He doesn’t set us up for failure.

“If we will sincerely repent, God really will forgive us, even when we have committed the same sin over and over again. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: ‘However many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made …, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.'”

“None of us will ever be ‘good enough,’ save through the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ, but because God respects our agency, we also cannot be saved without our trying. That is how the balance between grace and works works.

I forget this sometimes.  I don’t have to do it alone.  It was never intended that I do it alone.

I’ve bookmarked this talk, because I think I’ll be going back to it again.  I don’t always feel like conference talks are especially relevant to me, but this one feels like it was given directly to me, about the things I need to hear.  I know that the church leaders are inspired by the Lord, and knowing that helps me keep going.

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  –2 Timothy 1:7

Why Don’t We Just Teach Men Not to Rape?

It never fails.  On every article, video, etc., of safety tips or techniques for women on self defense, someone will say something on the variation, “Why don’t we just teach men not to rape?”

Oh my goodness, what a brilliant idea!  I can’t believe no one ever thought of this before!  Why stop at rape?  We’ll just teach everyone not to do bad things.  We’ll include character development and ethics in schools, and pretty soon we won’t have to worry about crime ever again.  We’ll be able to spend all day holding hands and singing Kumbaya and we’ll have world peace.

If only someone had pulled young Adolf Hitler aside and told him that genocide is wrong.  Then the Holocaust never would have happened, right?

Wrong.

Bad people do bad things because they are bad people.  The want money, power, or that’s how they get their jollies, or whatever.  They don’t rob, rape, and murder people just because they don’t know any better.

Not to mention that saying we should just teach men not to rape assumes that every man is a potential rapist, which is both insulting and sexist.

Let’s look at the case of Brock Turner.  Turner was a 20 year old freshman at Stanford, when he was discovered by two other Stanford students sexually assaulting a young woman who was passed out, drunk.    Turner was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to six months.  Many people were furious that he got such a light sentence.  Even worse, he only served three months of that sentence, getting out early for “good behavior.”

Turner’s father had pleaded for leniency for his son.  He claimed that prison “…Is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 year life.”  “20 minutes of action” is quite the euphemism for rape.  Unsurprisingly, many people were livid and horrified by this casual dismissal of sexual assault.

Turner tried to blame it on the alcohol.  His victim explained in her statement “That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.”

Now let’s go back to the “just teach men not to rape” claim.  If it’s true that we just need to teach men not to rape, and then everything will be hunky-dory, then we would accept Turner’s claims about alcohol at face value.  He was confused and didn’t know any better.  Therefore, we should all be satisfied with his three month sentence, secure in the knowledge that now that he knows better, everything is fine.

But people aren’t fine with it.  Why not?  Because people don’t really believe that Turner just didn’t know any better.  Because rape is a heinous crime and should be treated as such, and not excused as “20 minutes of action.”

It makes sense, in a world that contains people like Brock Turner, to teach people how to protect themselves.  There is no magic wand to rid the world of evil.  No amount of education or “raising awareness” will eliminate people who prey on other people.  The best recourse is to take measures to protect yourself.  It isn’t sexist or victim-blaming or perpetuating rape culture to teach young women (or anyone else) how to not be victims.

Whining about how we should just “teach men not to rape” is fairy-tale virtue signaling that accomplishes nothing.  Meanwhile, in the real world, there are other people who are actually trying to help.

Don’t be a victim.  Fight back.

Resources:

Cows on Parade in SLO

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Cow Parade is an international public art event featuring cows created by local artists.  Some of the artists are famous, and some aren’t, both professionals and amateurs.

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The cows decorate the city streets.  The first Cow Parade was in Chicago, in 1999, and the second one in 2000 in New York City.

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I was fortunate enough to see both of them.  Since then, Cow Parade went international, with events in the UK, Portugal, Latvia, New Zealand, Brazil, South Africa, and many, many more.

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There has been a Cow Parade in 79 cities world wide.

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In 2016, I got to see Cow Parade a third time, in San Luis Obispo.  All of the cows pictured here were in SLO, photographed by yours truly (well, except for the ones I’m in, of course).

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At the end of the Cow Parade in a city, the cows are auctioned off and money is donated to various charities.  (All information provided came from their website.)

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Some of the cows are also made into figurines which people (including my mom) like to collect.

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I think this is a really cool project, and I hope to continue to see more cows on parade!

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The True Story of Donkey

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In the blockbuster animated movie Shrek, we are introduced to numerous fairy tale creatures.  They come from a variety of sources, including classic fairy tales (ex. Snow White) and nursery rhymes (three blind mice).  But Donkey’s origin remains a mystery.  Unlike all the other donkeys in the world, he talks, thus clearly making him a fairy tale creature.  But where did he come from?

You need wonder no more, for I have found the answer.

In the book of Numbers of the Old Testament, chapter 22 tells the story of a man named Balaam, a soothsayer.  The Moabites wanted to defeat the Israelites in battle, so they offered Balaam a reward if he would curse the Israelites, thus enabling the Moabites to win.  Instead of cursing them, Balaam blessed them.  Obviously, this did not satisfy the Moabites, so they continued to pester him.

Balaam invited the Moabite messengers who had come to see him to stay the night.  Balaam asked God if he could go with them, and God said Balaam could go with them, as long as he only said what God told him to say.

The next day, Balaam saddled his donkey to go with the Moabites.  God sent an angel with a sword to block the path.  Balaam couldn’t see the angel, but his donkey could, and she refused to go forward.  Finally, Balaam in anger started to beat his donkey.

The donkey says in verse 28: “What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?”

Without skipping a beat, Balaam replies “Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill thee.”

The story continues after that, but what always struck me as odd, besides the donkey talking, is that Balaam doesn’t find it strange that his donkey is talking to him.  However, it wouldn’t be strange in this instance if the donkey were are talking donkey.  It would also explain why Balaam was so quick to beat the donkey: even though she’s perfectly capable of explaining why she’s being unruly, she doesn’t.

Balaam’s donkey is indeed a she, which must mean that Donkey from Shrek must be her son.

Now that I have solved this mystery for you, share your newfound knowledge (and this blog post) with your friends on social media!