Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Disnerd Birthday Adventure, part 1: Decorations

My birthday party was AWESOME! I'm still kind of on a high from all the fun I had that night. Actually, I can't really think of anything that would have made the party better, other than having my family and other close friends there. In fact there is so much epic-ness to cover that I need to break this up into a few posts.

First we will begin with my favorite element of the party: decorations! (This is a long post but it's mostly pictures.)

Those of you who know me or who have been following my blog have probably figured out that I'm a bit of a craft nerd. So I held nothing back at the challenge of creating a Disnerd-ified space on a budget.

Here's what I came up with!
Everyone at the party kept asking me, "How did you come up with all of this?" Well, part of it was my own creative genius, obviously. But the other part was lots of time on Google. The Internet is pretty handy, I must say. ;)

I started with the idea that I was going to use Disney children's books purchased at Goodwill as my materials. I bought these 14 books for a steal, $25! (Sorry to Goodwill shoppers, there are no longer any Disney books in stock.) From these books I made garland, ornaments and coasters.
Materials needed: 2-inch hole punch, string, scotch tape

Basically I punched holes out of the paper and taped them along the string. It was pretty simple though admittedly took a very long time. In the end I think I must have made, oh I dunno, maybe 250 feet of garland? That's a rough guess. Before I put them up I laid it all out across my living room. But this is actually only a portion of it here.
I had planned on just making garland when I bought the books, but I realized I had so much paper than I should probably do some other stuff with it as well. After some Googling and browsing on Etsy, I found these two ornaments that were pretty easy to make.

Pinwheels (from here) 
Materials needed: paper trimmer, stapler, hole punch, string

I used two pages each cut in half lengthwise after trimming the ripped edges. I folded each of the 4 halves into twelfths, accordion style. This was the most time consuming, but I fell into a rhythm by first folding in half, then fourths, to make my folds even. Then I stapled one end together to make a fan.

After all four halves were folded, I stapled the non-stapled ends together to form a circle.

Then I punched a hole through it, tied a piece of string on, and voila!

Lantern balls (from here)
Materials needed: paper trimmer, hole-poker & self healing mat, brads, string
These were a little easier, though it took me a while to figure out that I needed to start with a square shaped piece of paper instead of a rectangle.

I sliced the square into 8 even strips.

Then I pierced two holes through all strips lined up together, about an inch or so away from each end. I fastened the strips together by putting a brad through each hole.

Then I spread out the strips and formed them evenly into a ball shape.
Then I tied string around the top brad, and voila!

I had a few board books (for babies) as well as all the hard book covers leftover. So I cut them into 3.5-inch squares and made coasters out of them! Since they have glossy surfaces I didn't need to laminate them. I did add cork board ($3 for a sheet) to the bottom of a few thinner pieces. These coasters were used at the party but I also gave them away as favors for guests. I still have a bunch left if anyone wants some!

A few extra things
I also printed out a small poster of my logo and made people sign it at the party, so I could record who came. And I put up the Tangled birthday banner that I got last year at my work birthday celebration.
The bottom line
Total cost for decorations: approximately $36. Not bad, I say! 

Total hours spent: unknown. :) I did this over the course of about 2 weeks. So yes, it took a long time. But seeing the impressed reaction of all my friends made it totally worth it!
Next up: food!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#51: In Conclusion

Winnie the Pooh, 2011
watched September 15, 2012

I'm still in shock that I made it here. My final review.

Last August when I began this crazy journey, I don't think I could have ever expected what this project would become. It's been amazing, enlightening, surprising, and a whole lot of fun.

But I still have this last review to get to before I talk about all of that. It does seem a bit anticlimactic to end on Winnie the Pooh. Had I done this a year earlier I could have ended with Tangled, which I love even more now after having watched it no less than five times since its 2010 release. Winnie the Pooh, in contrast, feels somewhat trite and insignificant. The Many Adventures collection of episodes produced in the 70s far outshines this newer film.

However, there's a good reason why Pooh endures. (Hah! I just realized what I did there. No pun or irony intended.) The endearing Hundred Acre Wood serves as the perfect venue in which to tell simple stories accessible to all ages. Though, to be honest, I felt less charmed by Pooh's selfish search for honey this time around. And I got pretty annoyed at Owl's verbose conceit. I found myself relating best to poor Rabbit, clearly the 'get it done' character of the bunch. I know how it feels, dude. (Is anyone else weirded out that Rabbit is male? I don't know why that always surprises me. Piglet, too.)

In this adventure, Christopher Robin's friends find a note at his home which is grossly misspelled. (What do you expect from a seven year old? Or however old he's supposed to be.) Jumping to the wrong conclusion, they set out to find this "Bakson" monster they believe has captured their friend. The gang finds themselves in all sorts of predicaments as they follow, well, rabbit trails and winding forest paths. It's both bemusing and slightly maddening. Maybe I've lost a little patience for these toddler-targeted Disney characters.

But the story still contains a valuable lesson: Read carefully. Make good observations. Understand the context. Only then should you draw conclusions about what's true, and what your plan of action might be. For Winnie the Pooh and friends the results were harmless, but in reality the consequences could be quite grave.

So perhaps this short and sweet film does serve as an appropriate end to this project. In my aim to tell the stories of these fifty-one movies truthfully, I've had to apply this principle to my writing. Yes, I came in with an agenda. I knew I wanted to find echoes of the Gospel narrative in these films. But my process of discovery was certainly one that involved careful observation and interpretation. Each week as I sat down to write, I never had any expectations of what would come out at the end. In that way, I've delighted in the surprises I've found in these films: messages of hope, freedom, sacrifice and redemption.

Winnie the Pooh will not become a classic, but as I wrap up this yearlong project I can't help but reflect on its commentary on how we approach all narratives. Whether it's a note written by a child, or a timeless film that endures through the ages, how you draw your conclusion matters.


Wow...this is the end!

But not quite! Stay tuned for updates coming on my EPIC Disnerd birthday party, results from a year's worth of polls, and more concluding thoughts on this entire Disnerd Adventure.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Disnerd Fashion: A Little Mermaid Family

Since she can't be at my big party this week, my longtime friend Lindsay dressed herself and her family in Disnerd fashion for my birthday! Thanks Lindsay, these pictures make me so happy!

Check out their amazing and adorable Little Mermaid outfits! Descriptions are directly from Lindsay's email.
Lilly, Mia, Lindsay & Dave
Lindsay - Ariel: green gaucho pants, modest purple tank with a cream (or pearl-y) colored sweater, pink flowers in hair, necklace with bronze/gold colors and pearls, and red shoes to represent Ariel's red hair. I chose Ariel because I had the right clothes... just ignore my big preggo belly.

Dave - Sebastian: red shirt and red oven mitts. [note from Laura: I loved the oven mitts! Hilarious!]

Lilly - Flounder: couple shades of blue, blue tank has some ruffles that remind me of ocean waves or sunlight glistening on the water, yellow skirt and a yellow headband.
Mia - Max (Prince Eric's dog):  white dress, white leggings, furry sweater vest, white headband, and a grey and black scarf to represent the grey fur on Max and his black nose.
Haha! We had fun getting dressed and taking the pictures. I'm attaching two pics from our photo shoot but check out Flickr to see the rest:

This whole Disnerd thing has been fun to follow and fun to participate in too! :)  I'm proud of you for finishing and just in time to have a big celebration on your birthday. It's like the grand finale!

Happy Birthday!!!
Love, Lindsay

Wanna celebrate my birthday with me? Take a picture of your Disnerd fashion outfit and post it on my Facebook page

Sunday, September 16, 2012

#50: Disentangled

i find this image both hilarious and creepy...
Tangled, 2010
watched September 9, 2012

As much as it is tempting to write this as an ode to my current celebrity crush and the voice of this film's hero Flynn Rider, I've decided maybe that's not the best way to use my second to last (I know, right?) review. Plus, I can always do that in another post later this week. hehe. ;)

After several years of wandering, Disney animation has finally arrived back at their sweet spot. Though Princess and the Frog was successful in its own right, it's Rapunzel and her flowing locks of hair that has won our hearts over. Flynn Rider too, of course. And his flowing locks of hair. And his smoulder... And... oh! Ahem. Excuse me.

Moving on.

It's a similar story to the last one, actually: a girl with a dream who meets a guy with a perhaps less admirable dream. They take a journey and in the process not only fall in love but discover that they have a new dream. Been there, done that.

But this film features another element missing from the past several films: a captivating villain. Rapunzel's relationship with Mother Gothel is deliciously complex and fascinating. Never have we seen this kind of villain, undoubtedly evil but with the capacity to feign kindness and care in a disturbingly manipulative manner. Though the audience is aware of her schemes, Rapunzel remains in the dark until the last few scenes. It's heartbreaking to see our heroine repeatedly fall prey to Gothel's deception.

And yet, this relationship strikes a familiar chord. The villain in our Story does not wear black robes and saunter around casting spells in broad daylight. (coughJafarcough!) Instead, like Mother Gothel, he pretends to be our friend, our confidant, the only one who truly knows what's best for us. He makes us value comfort and safety, as if that's how we were meant to live. When things don't go the way we think they will, he drives us back to him, promising he has answers. He hides us from the reality of a world where we bear the image of our Parent, where we are not only loved but given a place of honor. But all along, these are complete lies.

Even when Rapunzel at last sees Mother Gothel for who she is, she cannot break free from her grasp alone. That's where the hero comes in. His sacrifice enables her to finally be released from Gothel's bondage. He destroys the enemy even in his own death.

Like Rapunzel we live entangled in deception, in a tower of falsehood. But we also yearn for truth. Deep inside stirs a longing for more. Just as Rapunzel knew that the light of floating lanterns would somehow show her the truth, we also need to be exposed to the light. When we see that light--in the one who gave his life for us--the villain's power over us is lost. We're finally free.

I guess this still ended up being an ode to the hero. The Hero.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#49: You Must Be Dreaming

Favorite line of the movie: "Just...ONE kiss?" "Unless you beg for more!" Never fails to crack me up.
The Princess & the Frog, 2009
watched September 2, 2012

This film brings us back to familiar territory in the best way possible. We've gone a full 16 weeks since our last princess story, undeniably Disney's most popular genre. The Princess and the Frog also marks a return to traditional hand drawn animation. I can safely say this film redeemed the last one! Thank. The. Lord. Also, we haven't had a full-on musical (where characters actually sing) since Mulan. I am thrilled we're back in a place reminiscent of the Renaissance.

Now that Disney is a decade removed from that wonderful era, have they made any alterations to the formula?

Tiana stands alone amidst the princesses as someone who knows exactly what she wants at the start of the film, pursuing it with complete abandon. Her parents (both of them!) instill in her not only to dream big but to also work hard. Whether or not she actually achieves her dream as she had imagined it, well, that's where the story unfolds.

The story's prince stands out as well. Rich, spoiled Naveen, who spends most of his time in this movie as a frog, appears not to possess a heroic bone, or frog leg, in his body. Additionally, Naveen and Tiana begin their relationship at odds. She's practical, he's a romantic. He loves music and dancing, she'd rather be working. They see each other as obstacles in the way of what they want. Their witty banter and embodiment of "opposites attract" make them refreshing and engaging characters.

One thing Disney hasn't changed, however, is their emphasis on dreaming. "Dreams Come True" is unabashedly thrown all over glittery bedazzled tshirts for girls (and okay, women too. Not that I own one or anything). There's some truth here. Dreamers are compelling because they are driven by something beyond themselves. Their resilience and hope inspire us because we're built to live and hope for something beyond ourselves too.

But while dreams produce passion, if too small, they can also make us single-minded. They can become a reason to act selfishly in disregard of others. What I love about this story is how both Naveen and Tiana learn that their dreams are too narrow. Tiana spends so much time working and saving money to open her restaurant that she doesn't have time to enjoy life. Naveen, conversely, squanders his time and wealth, only to realize it leaves him empty and restless. As the two spend more time together (never mind that it's only two days), they learn the possibility of a bigger view of the world, a bigger dream, leading them to give up their own for something better.

I've had specific moments in my life where I've come to realize that my dream is too small. My idea of what happiness or success is can't be defined by myself. I need others to show me that there's much more than my own view of the world.

There's one Person specifically who can expand our dream. He helps us to stop wandering aimlessly like Naveen and pursue our calling. He helps us to not take life too seriously like Tiana and see beauty and joy in the world. Most of all, as we willingly give up our own dreams, he gives us one that's even better.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

#48: Power Pedigree

Bolt, 2008
watched August 26, 2012

Okay, even though this movie may never become a classic, Bolt definitely makes the list of top 10 cutest Disney animals. Right up there with Dumbo and Baby Simba. I think it has something to do with the head to body ratio. And you thought Disney's human characters were disproportionate.

Bolt is a dog who has been led to believe he has super powers, allowing him to give a genuine performance as the star of a hit television show alongside his "person," a teenaged girl named Penny. Trouble is, when he's not on set, he remains locked in his trailer, never able to experience real life.

The cute canine never thinks twice about this way of life, that is, until he accidentally gets shipped to New York. Suddenly Bolt is thrust into an environment where he is most definitely not super. Slow to realize this, attempts to jump onto a moving train and other such feats leave him physically and emotionally bent out of shape. He's so overwrought that he believes the Styrofoam packing peanuts have some kind of weakening effect on him.

Clearly this dog needs a dose of reality.

Fortunately, Bolt befriends Mittens, an alley cat who unwillingly gets brought along for the trek back to Hollywood. Over time Mittens shows him what real life is like. She teaches him how to use puppy dog eyes to beg for food, how to stick his head out of car windows, and the joy of running through the sprinklers. For the first time, he feels truly alive, and truly himself.

Sometimes when we get too comfortable, we begin to think we're invincible. After all, with God on our side, what can happen to us? While belonging to God does give us access to great power, it's also true that we are not the source of that power. We are not superhuman; we're susceptible to pain, difficulty, and failure. Refusal to admit this, like Bolt, makes us not only frustrated but also completely deluded. Bolt's delusions seem inconsequential and even amusing within the comfort of his Hollywood home. But out in the world, his inability to grasp reality makes him a danger to himself and others.

Without a proper view of our own fragility, pride and spiritual delusion seep into our hearts, leading to sin and destruction. Not only that, but we're prevented from living the way we were meant to live. We can never be completely ourselves when we don't understand that we're prone to sin.

Once Bolt sees himself as a normal dog, he understands his relationship to Penny, his "person," more fully, knowing he is forever bound to her. This gives him a sense of belonging and direction beyond his television role. As we understand who we are, we see that we are not only fragile and weak, but also deeply connected to our Person, through whom we have power and purpose.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The end is near...

My birthday party/end of blog soiree is just around the corner! It's time to celebrate, cry, do a funny dance, yell at the top of your lungs: "IT'S OVER!"

That's how I feel about this blog. And turning 30.

If you are reading this, you are invited! Check the Facebook event for more details. Those of you following this blog that aren't in my neck of the woods or can't make it, I want to invite you to still participate and celebrate with me!

This is definitely the first time I have ever created a logo for my own birthday. Also, maybe the first paper invitations I've made since grade school!

I'm requiring everyone at the party to come dressed in an outfit (not a costume) inspired by a Disney animated character, much like I did for my fashion project. I'd love to see out of town friends and blog followers send in pictures of their Disnerd fashion creations! Email them or post them on my Facebook page. Remember: be creative! I'll post photos of everyone's outfits here after my birthday.
Get ready for some epic Disnerdy fun!

For ideas, feel free to check out the Tumblr site that inspired my fashion project: or of course, my own fashion posts. :)