Saturday, April 12, 2014

Letting Go by Sevainen Terdannis

Nothing like dropping a pop culture reference five weeks after its occurrence, but here goes anyway.

I experience vicarious public speaking anxiety whenever I watch awards shows for some reason.  Can’t explain it.  Maybe I pretend that I’m the person who is giving the speech and I don’t want him/her to mess up.  Thank God I wasn’t watching the Oscars when John Travolta committed his now infamous gaffe when introducing Idina Menzel as Adele Dazeem.  Oh how I cringe so painfully any time I see footage of that video.  My stomach grows a pit every time.  In any event, this post’s by-line was an homage to Vinny Babarino and a nice segue to the meat and potatoes of today’s discussion.

For those without children or grandchildren under nine years old, Frozen is Disney’s latest epic fairy tale animated feature that recently eclipsed $1 billion in gross ticket sales worldwide.  The big song from the movie is “Let it Go” as performed by Menzel, which won an academy award for best song.  Menzel is the voice of Elsa who is one of the protagonists in the story.  The co-lead character is Elsa’s sister, Ana, who is played by Kristen Bell.

The movie is pretty cute.  And the soundtrack’s music is catchy to the point of flu contagious.  In fact, my family cannot escape listening to the album anytime we enter the kitchen.  All three of my kids are obsessed.  And THE WIFE is just as bad as the little ones.  I can’t explain it.  No children’s film has captured  our family’s attention in such an all consuming fashion.

To make things worse, I’ve been singing the fucking songs in my head while I type up reports at work.  I find myself humming the crescendo of “Let it Go” just before Menzel belts out the climactic portion of the chorus, followed by my walking out of the copy machine room re-enacting Elsa’s movements firing clouds of ice crystals to construct her snow castle.  It’s pathetic.  My only hope is reducing my inspiration to a post that may help to exorcise the demons of Frozen from my subconscious. 

Song 1: “Frozen Heart”

For the record, this winter sucked.  Lots of snow.  Lots of cold.  It ended unofficially, I think, about three days ago when the thermometer finally went into the forties.  I realize that complaining about the weather is about as entertaining and uplifting as watching a national Fox News broadcast , but the observation merited a discussion nonetheless.

Being cooped up indoors with the three kids was a challenge to say the least.  The nadir of my winter occurred during a puke bug attack about two months ago.  I caught some of Gus’ vomit in my mouth during a futile effort to carry him mid-blast during a sprint to a toilet.  Let’s just say that playing outside has an upside in many ways, not the least of which is fewer colds and illnesses for all of us. 

Song 2: “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

Listening to Tilly re-enact the lines from this scene in the movie is priceless.  She starts off the song, Gus takes her cue and joins in, then Greta takes over and re-creates the choreography.  Once THE WIFE chimes in, all three generally complain and beg her to stop.  Great stuff.

Songs 3 and 8: “For the First Time in Forever” and the reprise

Here is a perfect example of my biggest gripe with fairy tale movies.  Why is it that every parent with a child who has some type of stigma (super long hair, turns into an ogre at sunset, turns into a peasant at midnight, shoots ice out of hands when upset) locks up their kid in an isolated castle or tower?  Kind of an extreme solution, don’t you think?  Why don’t these parents just address the “embarrassing” issue with an open dialogue among their family or friends?  I mean most of these parents are the rulers of their kingdom, so they could just execute or imprison anyone who makes fun of their kid because of their particular abnormality if push came to shove.

In Frozen, the king and queen (surprise, surprise) shutter their entire castle and lock up their eldest daughter indefinitely because Elsa accidentally shot her sister Ana with a snow beam while they were horsing around an ad hoc living room ice skating rink.  Fortunately, a friendly tribal elder of trolls cures Ana’s injury.  However, he has to erase Ana’s memory so the little sister doesn’t goad the older one into creating a zamboni that goes haywire and injures Ana again. 

As a result, Ana grows up with a complex that she has no friends or social life with no one providing an explanation why the castle is locked off from any outsiders.  So when Ana and Elsa host a party after years of isolation, Ana feels happy “for the first time in forever” even though she’s had a silver spoon in her mouth her entire life.  Ana occupies the highest rung of her kingdom’s upper class, yet she still needs more.  Talk about an entitlement complex.      

Song 4: “Love is an Open Door”

I swear I’ll move on from the spoiled brat theme, but Ana’s line about her whole life having involved “doors in her face” is a joke.  You’re a princess, God damn it.  Get over yourself.  Imagine how the chamber maid feels. 

Anyway, Kristen Bell deserves kudos for her singing prowess.  I was totally impressed by Veronica Mars’ pipes in this flick.  She really surprised me.  And if Bell could do a nude scene in House of Lies some day, I think I speak for every warm blooded straight dude that Christmas will have arrived early.  Sorry, but it needed to be said.

Song 6: “Reindeers Are Better Than People”

Perhaps, Hans, you are correct that reindeers are better than people.  However, Sven should’ve been a Siberian husky in my opinion.  Just saying.  On second thought, though, “Husky’s Are Better Than People” doesn’t quite have as good of a ring to it.  Moving on.

Song 7: “In Summer”

Olaf is the comedy relief character in the film.  I thought he was voiced by Jonah Hill but the actor is actually Josh Gad who nailed the character.  (Re-reading that last line made me realize how much of a tool I sound like, but I’ve gone this far so why turn back?)

The instrumental accompaniment in this jingle is exactly what I imagine a traditional musical’s “funny song” to be.  And I generally detest musicals, especially those that have jazz hands dance numbers involved.  But the lyrics are clever and entertaining enough to win me over.  Josh Gad’s big finish at the end is a perfect exclamation point.  Well done, Josh Gad.  Well done.

Song 9: “Fixer Upper”

The damage inflicted upon our house is well documented.  I’ve threatened to start deducting from college funds, but the kids haven’t budged.  Paint is peeling from walls.  Wood floors are dinged on the daily.  I take toys with wheels that crash and gouge into moldings  and huck them out the front door like Olympians throw hammers and shot puts.  But how many people can actually say they have ducks falling in through their roofs?  I mean seriously.

Songs 5 and 10: “Let it Go”

For the last two years, I’ve basically walked around at various times in a hazy stupor of sleep deprivation, grumpiness, seasonal affective disorder, unpredictable extreme highs and lows, temporary insanity, and/or frustration.  I repeat myself at least four or five times telling somebody not to (fill in the blank) pinch their sister, get out of the pantry, take off their pants, etc. until my voice escalates into a yell and expletives under my breath.  I hate myself about five minutes later.

Somehow, THE WIFE has stuck with me through it all as a spouse and a co-parent.  And the kids’ love and affection for me persists even after moments when I don’t deserve it.

Driving home from work the other day, I think I had an epiphany.  I need to grow up.  I need to be stronger.  I need to be less selfish. 

One of the (many) things that other parents didn’t tell me before I got into this whole having kids business is that the experience forces you to confront your selfishness.  The compromises a parent must make on a regular basis aren’t simply just sleeping less, suffering through an excruciating tantrum, or taking 45 minutes to put shoes on three kids’ feet.  It’s much deeper than that.

I’ve stated many times half-jokingly and half not, that I’m an 18 year-old stuck in a 38 year-old body.  The mantra was well intended as a reminder to be young at heart.  Be playful.  Stay fun.  Don’t age too fast.  The philosophy can be a blessing in some ways, but equally a curse as well. 

I’m quick to criticize THE WIFE when she dwells on something and refuses to move forward.  But I realize how hypocritical that is of me to gripe.

I’m not 18.  I’m not single.  I’m not an unemployed college student who can live off of loans and a monthly stipend from my parents.  I can’t just sleep in tomorrow, jet off to Europe for the weekend, jack up the credit card, and come back home whenever I feel like it.

I am 38.  I am married.  I am a father.  I have a job and a mortgage and responsibilities.  By the way, I asked for all of this.  And you know what?  It’s a pretty freaking good life.  Even with all of its challenges.  So I need to deal with it already!   

I don’t know why it’s taken so long for all of this to set in.  But I think, and I hope, that I am ready to move on.  In other words, Elsa, I’m going to let it go.  Let it go.  Let it go.  Here I stand.  And here I’ll stay.  Let the storm of ducks falling in through my roof rage on.  I’m never going back to 18 years old.  The past is in the past.  In the light of –

Alright enough already.  Can someone please get that damn song out of my head!