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    Why is it wrong to be happy?

    We caught the last 40 minutes or so of “Singing in the Rain” on TV the other night. A couple of things really struck me about Gene Kelly’s performance, his body language, and his actions.

    The first bit that caught me was when they’re dubbing the vocals for the film-within-the-film. Debbie Reynolds is singing, and Gene Kelly comes to sit at her feet and gaze up at her adoringly. It’s completely sappy, goopy, delightful, and sweet.

    I cannot imagine seeing it in a modern film. I can’t imagine seeing the male lead sitting at his partner’s feet, gazing up at her in what we today would likely see as submissive, feminine regard.

    And then there’s the titular dance number, which, holy beans, guys, if you haven’t seen it lately, go watch it again. It’s really just the most extraordinarily open, honest, joyful expression of love imaginable…and again, it’s almost impossible to envision a modern male lead performing it with no hint of self-consciousness. I mean, nevermind the actual skill necessary to do the dance: I can barely fathom a modern movie actor opening himself up and showing that kind of pure *joy*.

    Misery, yes. It’s not that actors don’t present vulnerability, but they almost exclusively do it in sorrow, rage, desperation, tragedy. It’s all misery, never joy. And I was just talking about this to Mom, who said, “I don’t think happy is lauded much. We’re very much into being pleased with others’ pain so we can feel better about ourselves. “At least I’m not as badly off as THAT guy.””

    And she’s completely right, of course, and I know it, but seriously, what is wrong with being happy? What’s wrong with working toward being happy, with applauding others’ successes and taking joy in them, in seeing what someone else can do and being inspired by it? What’s wrong with being joyful and open and being willing to show you’re excited or in love or want to dance?

    I mean, forgive me for going all John Lennon on you, but imagine if people spent half as much energy on being happy as they do on being miserable. It frustrates the hell out of me that we *don’t*. The world needs joy a lot more than it needs any added misery, so why, for the love of frogs, don’t people focus on that?

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    Children’s books piss me off.

    We have a baby book called “Time for Christmas”, starring Duck and Goose. It has rather charming paintings, each depicting a wonderful, fun activity–building snow forts, making snow angels, having snowball fights, skating on the frozen pond, sledding, etc–

    –and the text for every page is “It is NOT time for sledding/skating/building snow forts”, until finally you get to the last page and it’s TIME FOR CHRISTMAS.

    What kind of stupid book tells children not to play? Because that’s what this does, as far as I’m concerned. And no, I do not read it the way it’s written, I read it so after all the wonderful playing and fun, *then* it’s time for Christmas, because ARGH HOW STUPID

    There’s even a Dr Seuss-approved sort of thing (not by Seuss; Seuss never ever falls into these traps) called “Ten Apples Up On Top”, in which rather than working cooperatively, up until the very end there is a nasty “Neener-neener, I’m better than you!” air to the three animals who are trying to balance more and more apples on their heads. Seriously, what the hell. It says in the copyright information that that one’s been adapted from an earlier version of the same text, and I really want to know if the 1968 or whatever version was less unpleasant.

    And don’t even get me *started* on the Sandra Boynton books, which are probably the worst offenders. There’s “One, Two, Three”, which makes mockery of the person who comes in last in a running race, and which shows a family car trip where everybody starts screaming at each other and is miserable. Right. Because those are really good ideas to present to baby minds. After all, we want to indoctrinate them good and early that this is not only how it is, but how it has to be. Or “But Not the Hippopotomus”, which is about a variety of animals having fun and leaving the hippo out, until they all come back and say “Well come on then!” And she goes with them, all happy: “But YES the hippopotomus!”

    Which would be great, except the last page is a miserable, sad armadillo standing all alone and the text says “But not the armadillo.”

    What. The. Hell. What is that? A promise that don’t worry, there’s always someone sadder than you are? A guarantee that down the road there’s always going to be someone left out? Because YEAH GOOD PLAN, TEACH THAT TO BABIES.

    There are obviously many examples to the other side of this, but the ones that stick are the negative ones. They make me so sad and angry. They’re templates for HI I HAVE ISSUES LET ME SHARE THEM WITH YOU, and I think they’re horrible, horrible things to read to babies.

    And before you say “Write some of your own!”, I have. I am. But anybody reading this blog should know by now it’s not that easy. Writing them is one thing. Getting published is another.

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    Repeat Rant

    I have another climate change/politics/green rant building, but I do not have time to write it, so I went and looked up my Temper Tantrum Rant of a few years ago and discovered it…

    …fails to apply to many of the things I want to say, but also manages to, so just go read that and assume I’m still as livid, or possibly more so, than I was that day. The follow-up political manifesto also still applies.

    The infuriating thing, the really infuriating thing, is that I have no doubt at all that we as a people/nation/world are completely capable of fixing our problems only we had the will to do so. And it is typically governments which have the will, and ours are failing us. Failing us everywhere, failing our current generations, failing the future generations inutterably, failing at everything we might expect of them, and we the people, the ones who have the power to change the governments, are failing at that. I believe in the power of the people, but fucking *hell* I wish it didn’t take actually being on fire to get them to move.

    I swear to God I’m going to Kickstart that climate change trilogy just as soon as I have a goddamned minute to breathe.

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    apparently this is that health care rant I’ve been storing up

    I started this post to say I’d just checked my Walk to Rivendell mileage sheet. I actually only have the last two 150-ish mile bits of Aragorn’s journey to complete for all the outward-bound stuff. I’ll finish that this /year/! But then I got dragged in another direction, which may be largely preaching to the choir. Perhaps I’ll put it behind a cut tag, to spare the masses.

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