Lost in Cultural Translation: Aesop’s Fables, Fairy Tales and Disney Movies

Every plan has a hole.  Every ship has a leak.  Every internet session is insecure.  These are the new universal writs of living in the new ancient world.  I learned that lesson in an especially troubling manner that forced me, in an instant, to reassess my role in the world as a Midwestern White Man teaching at-risk minority undergraduate students at a major New York City university.

I thought the assignment was simple and universally understood. I’d used a similar teaching plan at other universities with great success; but, in reflection, I realize most of those successes were found in mainstream classrooms with well-schooled students who were taught that learning was a priority in the home.

In my new teaching role in the inner city, many of these students working on a B.A. did not come from the same font of mandatory educational opportunities. They scraped by to earn understanding. They fought for what they grasped while others around them had learning handed to them.

There was a great divide of the mind and cultural experience that I quickly had to bridge or the entire end of the semester was at risk of failing, and the blame would solely be mine as the instructor for not being able to quickly re-adjust and move the field lines to be fair to my students so they could find success.

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Upsherin: Why Strangers Think My Son is a Girl

Imagine the following — my wife, my son, and I were enjoying the Peter Pan ride, one of the featured rides at Walt Disney World which gets extremely lengthy lines and was considered worthy of getting the Fastpass feature. As our carriage came around to the end, the Walt Disney World cast member spotted us, smiles on our faces. He looked at my son and made eye contact and then asked, “How’d you like the ride, Princess?” I quickly chimed in, “Actually, he’s a prince.” He quickly apologized, but my speed in response came because he wasn’t the first person to mistake my son for a girl, nor would he be the last — although I thought we had done a good job of “boying” him up by putting him in blue jeans, R2D2 sneakers, and an R2D2 hooded sweatshirt.

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Eight Below for the Eighth Time

Last night I was watching “Eight Below” again – probably for the eighth time in last two years. Paul Walker rightly summed up “Eight Below” by saying, “If you’re a dog lover, you’ll get it. If not, you won’t.”

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Darth Disney: Life Beyond Lucas for Star Wars

Last month I wrote about what I felt was a betrayal of the deathbed wishes of Charles Schulz — that his comic not be continued after he passed away. Publisher extraordinaire David W. Boles posited as a comment on that article that art should move on beyond the life of the artist. I agree in principle, although I still think that a well respected artist should get his wish if he explicitly asks that nobody attempt to make original art based on his or her designs after death.

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Healthy Eating Endorsed by Mickey Mouse

As a child I read pretty much every book written by Beverly Cleary that I could find at the library. In one of the books I recall reading a side storyline about how there was advertising on television for something for children, and how much the television advertising directly influenced the requests that the children made for products at the local store. The more junk that gets peddled to kids, the more they want. If there were advertisements for only healthy food on the channels they watched, they would not be so driven toward the junk food. Seems like a far fetched fantasy, doesn’t it? Now the Walt Disney company is going to be making that dream a reality.

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A Homoerotic Moment with Peter Pan at Disneyland

When I was probably eight-years-old or so, my family travelled from Nebraska to California to visit Disneyland for the first time.  We were in the Golden State to visit my aunt, uncle and two female cousins and, of course, to also inhale the acreages of Disney and score some fun rides.

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3D Movie Glasses Deliver Pink Eye

I used to make fun of advertisements for cleaning products that promised to keep your home sterile, based on lessons I had learned from my late grandmother about how over-sterilization leads to more infection. More and more doctors are coming on board and agreeing that a sterile environment ultimately weakens the immune system. When you go abroad and everyone is just fine but you suddenly get sick, it’s precisely because of this over-sterilization. However, I have come to have second thoughts about this but particularly to one aspect of life — going to see films and presentations where you are given 3D movie glasses.

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