Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Doing What You Love: What A Seven Year Old and Sailor Moon Taught Me

Today, a student inspired me. It was pretty unexpected.

I was teaching an after school session to 1/6. I gave the students a worksheet (I've found six and seven year-olds have a hard time doing anything else after 5pm) and told them that when they finished they could fill in one of two coloring sheets. One was a picture of a cartoon dragon and the other was Sailor Moon, a girl anime character. As you might expect I chose these sheets based on an assumption that the boys would prefer one and the girls another. When I showed the two different pictures to the students, they got excited. A boy in the back raised his hand and when I called on him he smiled and said 'Teacher, I like Sailor Moon!'.

I don't usually teach 1/6. In another class, with another boy I knew better, I probably would have assumed he was joking. But somehow, this kid's energy and enthusiasm seemed very genuine.

I waited at the front as the students worked through their exercises. After about thirty minutes of writing and circling, they started to finish and grab their coloring sheets. In time, the boy who raised his hand came up and turned in his work. As soon as I gave him the ok, he grabbed a copy of the Sailor Moon sheet and returned to his desk.

Some of the other students quickly noticed which sheet he had picked up. Though the kids I teach are only six and seven, they've already been programmed according to gender roles. All the other boys, as far as I could tell, had grabbed the dragon sheet. All the girls (save one) had grabbed the Sailor Moon sheet.

As I walked to the back of the classroom, I started to hear comments from other students directed at this boy. I couldn't understand enough Thai to know every word but I think anyone can recognize ridicule, no matter what language it's spoken in. Words like khatuy (ladyboy), pooying (girl) slipped from these children's smiling lips.

I worried the boy would get upset. I was afraid I'd have to deal with a fight or a sobbing break down. Both these things have happened in other classes of mine over smaller issues.

As I sat down next to the boy and his classmates though I was surprised to see that he was still happy and smiling. He sharpened his colored pencils calmly and smoothly, seemingly oblivious to any of the comments swirling around him.

While he shaded in Sailor Moon's air, I talked to the other students in a combination of broken Thai, English and pantomime to try and make a defense for the taboo the boy had broken.

Interestingly one girl who had been making comments had chosen to color the dragon and seemed to have missed the irony that she was also breaking a barrier.

I took her sheet and held it up to her, getting the attention of some of the other students.

Our conversation went like this:

Me in English: (Do you like Dragons?)

She beams.

Her in English: (Yes, I love Dragons!)

I point to her.

Me in Broken Thai and English: (You a boy? Yes/No?)

Her in English: (No)

I turned to the other students, showed them her dragon all while pointing at her.

Me in English and Thai: She likes Dragons. She is a girl (pooying) She is ok. This is ok.

I turned to the boy, who was still smiling and coloring and held up his paper. I told them he was okay for liking Sailor Moon too.

As a foreign teacher in a Thai school, your ability to have more meaningful conversations with pupils is often very limited. I consider myself lucky if a third of my kids can understand basic instructions. Yet judging by the looks that some of my students gave me I knew at least a few got the gist of what I was trying to say.

Others didn't, and throughout the rest of the period I heard more comments, eventually prompting to give another short, broken sherade filled speech to a couple boys.

In the end though, I wondered if I really needed to do any of this at all. As I took a step back and watched the boy fill the empty outline with more and more vibrant colors, I saw that his enthusiasm didn't diminish because of anything I said or they said. He colored, he shared his pencils with other students, he showed part of his picture to a classmate who smiled with him not at him. By the time the session was over and I walked out of the classroom he was still coloring away.

Despite drawing odd looks and questioning words from his peers, this boy continued to do something he loved and enjoyed. I envy the assurance and certainty this child displayed. I admire how his enthusiasm for something he loved eclipsed the doubts of others and perhaps even prompted a few of his classmates to accept that passion.

As a teacher, your students teach you as much as you teach them. I feel honored to have been taught a lesson by this boy.

Be who you are, love what you want to love. Have the courage to raise your hand and say 'I like Sailor Moon!' if that's what you feel. 

The Sailor Moon Coloring Sheet

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Nine Ridiculous Yet Strangely Awesome Ideas for Reimagined Films and TV Shows

Apart from number 4 and 6, all the other ideas on this list are unoriginal. I've come across these crossover and reimagined concepts in memes and Youtube videos and just thought I would share them for fun.

  1. The Downtown Dead

    You know what a sophisticated drama about an upper-class English family at the turn of the 20th century needs? That's right; a zombie apocalypse.

    If you really think about it, the abbey would be one of the best places to survive if the dead ever popped out of their graves and started gorging on the living. High walls, isolated country location, big stores, a large number of people to help with security. Add in the sophisticated company of English aristocrats and a lot of brandy and you've got a recipe for some great, worldly drama in the midst of World War Z.



  2. The Lord of the Rings Christmas Special

    The fellowship (minus Boromir) must unite once more to defeat the forces of darkness from ruining Christmas. The wizard, Nicholas the Red, who's task it is to spread joy to all Middle Earth's children has been besieged in his snowy castle by orcs and trolls. It's up to Aragorn, Gimli Legolas and Gandalf to rally an army to rescue them while Frodo and the hobbits take over delivering the toys.

  3. Hogwarts: Compton Edition

    A lot of Harry Potter fans have wondered what wizarding and witching was like in other parts of the world besides the UK.

    Well, this gritty, hard hitting show about a school of magic in inner city America can show you. Deciding to bring the magical teachings of Hogwarts to the Hood, leads to challenges for a group of dedicated teachers and their magically endowed students as they try to navigate between their harsh reality and the powers they could posses.

  4. (Harry Potter the Bollywood musical) Hari Putar and the Prisoner of Azkabataban

    Yes, the Harry Potter universe gets two. That's how amazing the world is to me. It's the story of Harry Potter as performed by Bollywood. The plots the same, the characters are more or less the same except for their names (Hari Putar, Herumariman etc.). The only major differences are in the settings (Hogwarts is a Mogul era fortress), the accents, and the out of nowhere musical numbers and synchronized dance sequences.

  5. Titanic 2: Jack is Back

    This one comes with a trailer (courtesy of another person's awesome talents). Some time after Jack bids adieu to Rose at the end of James Cameron's Titanic, a team of explorers on a submarine revisits the wreck of the ship of dreams.

    Jack, frozen for decades, is found, thawed and brought back to life. Initially a prisoner of a government agency he escapes in pursuit of his true love while being chased by his captors.

    Does it sound utterly stupid? Yes. Would tons of people go see it if it was made anyway? Absolutely.

  1. Game of Thrones: Pride Rock

    The magic of Walt Disney comes together with the enchanting dark politics of Game of Thrones. Set some time before the events of the first Lion King, Game of Thrones: Pride Rock, is a 2d animated film about the intricate, complicated and backstabbing world of politics in the animal kingdom. Here, we find that Scar wasn't the first lion to betray his family in the name of power and that other predators (from leopards, cheetahs and yes hyenas) were always vying for control of the Pride Lands.

  2. Twilight Remake with Blade Twilight: Lights Out

    This one has been a meme bouncing around the internet for years. Imagine it, Bella and Edward meet, stare awkwardly and fall in love as before. Only this time, Edward is pursued by the legendary vampire slayer and daywalker Blade. Try as they might the pair of star-crossed lovers can't outrun Wesley Snipes and his arsenal, leading to the tragic (pffff hehe) demise of our two characters.

  3. Brokeback Pirates of the Caribbean (On Queerer Tides)

    Now admit it, if Jack Sparrow came out and admitted he plunders booty as well as treasure, would you really be surprised? This new installment of the pirates franchise would have Jack chasing down a legendary, mysterious object, fighting an array of magical creatures and...discovering a whole new side to himself in the form of an alluring male shipmate.

  4. The Watchmen Saturday Morning Cartoon Show

    Alan Moore's gritty dark realistic tale of superheros in an alternate history of America comes to life once again as...a Saturday Morning Cartoon Show.

    That's right kids, join your favorite characters from 7-730 every Saturday for a ton of new, family friendly, adventures.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Game of Thrones- Ten Things From the Books to Look Forward to in Season 4

Recently, I finished the 5th book of a Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance with Dragons. So far, it has been an intense but captivating journey navigating George R.R. Martin's dark and complicated world. Like many people, I picked up the books after watching the critically acclaimed Game of Thrones series based off them.

Now that I know what to expect in the upcoming fourth season I'm all that more excited for April 6th (the premiere date) to role around.

The end of season 3 gave viewers the shocking, horrifying conclusion to Robb Stark's rebellion and story arc known as the Red Wedding.

The fourth season, which will probably cover nearly all of the second half of the third book Storm of Swords, will be even more intense. If you're skeptical you need only check out the new, incredibly awesome teaser trailer released a few weeks ago (Above).

So, as the Realm, prepares itself to dive into the game once more, I'd like to take some time to list off 10 events from the books that we can probably look forward to seeing in Season 4 of Game of Thrones.

(10) Reek

Unlike the books, where Theon Greyjoy's torture at the hands of Ramsay Snow was mostly implied, the series went out of its way in the third season to show us why the Bolton's sigil is a flayed (skinned) man. A few clips from the trailer seem to indicate Theon will make some sort of appearance in Season 4...and chances are he'll have completely fallen into his alternate, post Ramsay, personality Reek.

In the books, Theon's suffering at the hands of Ramsay completely transformed him into a docile, broken person. It also altered his appearance, making him deformed.


While the trailer clips seem to show Theon in the same sort of state at the end of Season 3, I'm still curious to see how the series will treat the personality of Reek and how well Theon's actor Alfie Allen will do slipping into the skin of a new character...don't read too much into that. 

(9) Bran's Journey Beyond the Wall

While it took Bran until Season 3 to connect with his traveling companions Meera and Jojen Reed, (in the books they met before Theon captured Winterfell), I've enjoyed seeing the chemistry between the three on screen. Each of the actors plays their roles superbly. Now that they're finally going beyond the wall, we can probably expect a closer encounter with the White Walkers, the wights and Bran continuing to discover and utilize his warging powers.

(8) Jaime and Cersei's Relationship 

I should say, changed relationship. Jaime Lannister is without a doubt one of the best characters in the books and the TV series. Many readers and viewers, I think, can agree. It's a testament to the writing skills of George RR Martin that Jaime often goes from being a fan's most disliked characters to being one of their favorites. 


The transformation he undergoes in the third book and the third season after losing his hand and developing a strong bond with the noble Brienne, is remarkable and endearing. 


In the fourth season, having finally arrived in Kings Landing and reuniting with his family, Jaime's change of personality will only be more pronounced. This will be especially true with Cersei, his lover and sister, who in the books doesn't understand her brother's change of heart. This difference causes a deepening rift between the two which I don't doubt will be shown wonderfully by the actors who play them.

(7) Jorah Mormont's Disgrace

One of the performances from the series I've loved the most as been Iain Glen's portrayal of Jorah Mormont. The actor is just perfect in the role. Whenever he's on a screen I see Jorah Mormont I don't see Iain Glen. The chemistry between Glen's character and Emilia Clarke's Daenerys is also very real. The two actors work off of each other so well and have made the complicated relationship between their characters authentic.

This chemistry is the reason why I think the impending schism between the two in Season 4 is going to be one of the most memorable events in the TV series. As readers of the books might recall, Jorah Mormont's spying of Daenerys on behalf of Varys and the Iron Throne is revealed to her in A Storm of Swords. Though the circumstances of this revelation will be very different in the show (Barristan Selmy's Arstan Whitebeard subplot having been dropped) it will still be very dramatic and have far reaching implications for Dany and Jorah. 

(6) Daenerys Taking Over Meereen 

Another thing I'm excited to see, especially after watching some of the fantastic trailer footage, is Daenerys taking over Meereen and finally establishing herself as a ruler. For the majority of the books and show Daenerys has been a migrant 'beggar' queen with only a small group of followers around her. Now, she has a real army, the credentials of having led that army to victory against two powerful city states, the prestige of having freed thousands of slaves...oh and three growing dragons that can breath fire.

However, winning battles and ruling are very different and in Season 4 as she settles into a new role as a queen, the complicated and convoluted nature of governing will present a new test to the last Targaryen. 

(5) The Battle of Castle Black

After surviving the wildlings and finally making it back to Castle Black in the last episode, Jon Snow will have to prepare himself for an even bigger ordeal as the wildlings and Mance Rayder close in on the Wall and prepare to smash their way into the Seven Kingdoms.

The Assault on Castle Black and the Battle of Wall, are going to be two of the biggest highlights of Season 4. Why? Three words 'Giants Riding Mammoths'! Who doesn't want to see that? I just hope they have the budget to make it look great.

(4) The Purple Wedding

Now, fans of the show who were devastated by the events of the Red Wedding should be reassured. There's another eventful wedding of a different color on the way. Readers of the books will know exactly what I mean. 'A Lannister Always Pays His Debts' and in Season 4 the most loathed member of that house (And I think we all know who I mean 'cough, cough') will pay...very dearly.

That's all I'll say.

(3) The End of Shae and Tyrion's Relationship. 

This plot point of Season 4 is of particular interest to me because of how the TV series has treated Shae and Tyrion's relationship. In the books, I never got the impression that Shae cared about Tyrion in any meaningful way. There were never any true moments between the two where they shared deep feelings or concerns, never any times when Shae seemed to particularly care about her lover or other characters she interacted with. In the show, she is a far more complex and nuanced character. The producers have gone out of their way, it seems, to show that she has genuine affection for Tyrion as well as a fondness for Sansa, his wife and her mistress.

In a Storm of Swords, the aftermath of the Purple Wedding eventually causes Tyrion and Shae's relationship to end in betrayal. This was predictable in the books. In the series though, it has the potential to seem forced and out of her character. Still, I'm confident the show will be able to handle it and present it in a believable way.

(2) House Martell 

Points one and two are closely tied together. When I started watching the series and reading the books, every mention of the land of Dorne and it's ruling house, Martell intrigued me. Both were very played up as mysterious, exotic and distant, yet both were also connected to the history of events that occurred before the first book and first season. When the Martells finally did make their appearance in the third book, they were even more fascinating. Why? They were so different. To me they injected a Middle Eastern, desert inspired culture into a world largely influenced by Medieval, Western European society. It was refreshing, and added a new color to the mix.

Now, the Martells are finally coming to the silver screen. Oberyn Martell, (The Red Viper) and his paramour Ellaria Sand, will arrive in Kings Landing and play a pivotal role throughout the fourth season. Oberyn, especially was a character I loved being introduced to in the books and I'm hopeful Pedro Pascal will do a superb job playing him.


(1) The Mountain vs the Red Viper

 We've seen a lot of epic duels throughout Game of Thrones. In Season 1, Ned Stark took on Jaime Lannister in the streets of King's Landing. In Season 2, Brienne of Tarth bested the Knight of Flowers in a Tourney. In Season 3, the one eyed Beric Dondarrion fought the Hound with a flaming sword and died, only to be mysteriously resurrected by the Lord of Light.

The best is yet to come though. In Season 4, we'll get to see one of my absolute favorite moments from the books: the duel between the Mountain that Rides (Gregor Clegane) and the previously mentioned Red Viper of Dorne. In A Storm of Swords, this fight was written wonderfully. The physical contrasts between the two men, the differences in their fighting styles, and the personal history between them makes it a truly epic event. Seeing it come to life is going to be fantastic, though I suspect we'll need to wait most of season before we see Dornish justice.