Mary Poppins vs. PL Travers

So one of my favorite films growing up was Mary Poppins. The colors, joy, and plot was one that I loved when I was a kid. Needless to say, I should’ve read the Mary Poppins novels long time ago and never got to it, until now! I just finished the book this morning and wanted to write a quick comparison of the film to the book. Then move on to pulling from the film “Saving Mr. Banks” to explain why there are drastic differences between the Disney film and Travers’ novel.

Lets start off with the fact that the novel is NOT represented by the film. Some of the chapters are similar to the subplots in the film such as the art on the sidewalk and laughing Uncle Albert. However there are lots of differences, like how Jane and Michael have twin younger siblings. Moreover, there is very minimal reference to Mr. Banks’ bank and his colleagues as well as the ending of the film is one of happiness, whereas the book just ends with the wind changing to the West and Mary Poppins leaving. It was odd, for the biggest difference had to be the personality of Mary Poppins. In the novel, she is cold and bossy always saying spit spot. And when Jane and Michael try to get close to her, Mary really is quite standoffish. In the film, Julie Andrews is a bit cold but not to the same extent as the character that Travers wrote. Let alone she sings and smiles quite a bit.

Now, on the topic of the coldness of the novel Mary Poppins, Travers wanted her to emulate the nanny that came to the outback when she was a little girl. Also, the character of Mr. Banks in the novel is similar to that of Travers’ own father and that was her major driving force for writing the novels. Yet, I find it curious that Mr. Banks was not a major character in the novel. He was mentioned heavily in the first chapter, but throughout the book he said a quote here and there, but never really had any major contributions. Why did Travers take such offense to Disney’s portrayal of him when she didn’t find it important to put him as a full character?

Additionally, the film takes the novel and adds some major “happy” elements to the Mary Poppins plot. This may be corny, but I think in order for the story to be a true Disney film, there needed to be the injection of childhood joy. But, this begs to question what the theme that Travers wanted to establish with the novel. Travers did not have a great childhood growing up with a very depressed mother and a drunk for a father. Her saving grace in a way was the nanny that came to help with their family. Through the film, this time of Travers’ life had to be the saddest part of her life. From this, it is understandable that the novel was not supposed to be joyous, but a sense of reality in a family that needed help.

Regardless of how the novel doesn’t align with the film, I still think it is a worthwhile adventure to read the novel, watch the Disney film, and then watch Saving Mr. Banks. They are all very thought provoking as well as enjoyable!


The Goldfinch

Of late, I’ve noticed a trend of reading novels that are way too long. Between Imperial Requiem and now The Goldfinch I have been reading a ton, but very little quantity. Most people know that this novel was the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and from the reviews that I have read in various magazine and newspaper readers either really enjoyed the novel or thoroughly despised it. I am more in the “really enjoyed” camp, but there were many issues with the novel that I wish Tartt was a bit wiser to.

The Goldfinch tells the tale of a young boy’s life through his teenage years to his early adulthood. Theo Decker is his name and within the first part of the book suffers the largest loss that anyone can suffer: the loss of his mother. Most terrifying, she is killed in a terrorist plot while visiting the Met Museum. Theo after the bomb causes devastation in the museum and steals the painting: The Goldfinch. From there, the novel follows him on his travels from living with a friend’s family in the upper echelons of society in New York City to Las Vegas, Nevada with his father (who left him and his mom months before his mom died) and then back to New York City.

The greatest aspect of this novel would have to be its scope and its thorough description of each of the novel’s characters. The reader could feel as though they were a character in the book and lived amongst the characters, knowing each and every one of their eccentricities. These descriptions can only be written by the most gifted of authors, and that is what Tartt is. To think that each of these characters came from her mind is truly awesome; perhaps she had someone in her life that resembled Hobie or Boris. But, I feel as though her imagination created these characters to further describe the story and add to its richness.

Speaking of Hobie and Boris, the juxtaposition of these characters added so much to this novel. Hobie was a lower class individual whose partner was also murdered in the museum bombing. That is how Theo was introduced to Hobie. Hobie was a truthful, caring, and honest person. He wanted nothing more to sell his furniture at a regular price and use the proceeds to acquire new furniture and refurbish them. Boris, on the other hand, was Russian boy who Theo met in Las Vegas in high school. He was a troublemaker and introduced Theo to a range of illicit drugs. After this, Theo was forever addicted to drugs and their feeling which would forever cause Theo to have personal issues with people and relationships.

Now, this is one of the subject matters that I despised in this book. Drugs in Theo’s life caused so much problems. You would think that he would learn to get clean, but no! He always returned to them. In a way, perhaps Tartt wanted to enlighten the readers to what effects drugs can cause in life. But this overarching theme is clear and doesn’t need a 771 page novel to illuminate. Furthermore, I really hated the character Boris. Boris was annoying and never made any sense. Whether him not making sense was caused by his extreme drug abuse, I’m not sure. He never followed through on a coherent thought, it was always “move on to the next subject.” This was very hard to read and really detracted from the overall novel. Lastly, on the topic of novel dislikes, I really hated the ending. Twenty pages or so of stream of conscious thinking and then just ending really was not a terrific ending. It was neither happy nor bad. Just an ending. This story deserved a more deserving and fruitful ending.

Even though I didn’t like some of the characters or the ending of The Goldfinch it is still a worth while novel to read. Very hefty and thick to carry around while on a commute, but definitely work the read. Take time and enjoy it. It’s one of those books you must pay close attention to all the details, even if they are about drug abuse. So, buy it, and go for a read. It’s a heavy (in more ways than one) read for the summer, yet is thoroughly enjoyable. Gobble it up!

Safest place you’ve ever felt

As I stare  at my research project I clearly am a bit bored so I thought why not enact a stream of conscious writing prompt (literally, watching a minute droplet). This one is dedicated to the safest place I’ve ever felt. So, this might be corny, but the first place I thought of (and subsequently will write this blog about) is my bed.

I must say that the one place that I truly don’t ever want to leave is my bed. It is warm, cozy, safe, and welcoming (not in that way) regardless of size, shape, or amount of sheets and blankets on it.

If you think about it: Where do you go when you are sick? Bed. Where do people always enjoy reading a book? Bed. Snuggling usually happens in bed. The glorious thing called sleep usually happens in bed. It’s one of those places that no matter who the person, there is a loving affiliation with their bed. If it’s big and fluffy or a twin-size and modest, it is still your bed. There is some level of refuge, safety, and comfort in one’s bed.

I guess, I’m one of those people who really loves crawling in bed at the end of the day, it’s one of the little things that I enjoy to come home to. I also usually say “I have a date with my bed” on a Friday night for example. I really do have a randomly amazing relationship with my bed.

Where are your safe places? I thought of a place where I go to to feel safe, but I couldn’t find any outside of my home and home is the basic definition of where one is safest. I’m curious to know what other people think.

The Kennedys: History Channel

I’ve been on a real documentary kick via Netflix, especially Historical documentaries.  My logic is as long as I sit on my butt I might as well be learning something that’s interesting and insightful. The Kennedys documentary was added to Netflix recently and I added it to my queue and I recently watched all eight episodes (but not all at once, I refuse to binge watch anything) in about a week. This show was so well done, so interesting, and not like a classical documentary. There was no narration, only actors reliving all of the famous historical events that happened throughout the Kennedys’ lives.

This series was so enlightening, I think I learned a substantial amount more than in my AP US History class back in high school. The way the actors portrayed all of the characters was so life-like, it really felt as if you were a part of the events. Moreover, the viewers could feel all of the emotions that the family felt as a whole. In this fact, this was an amazing documentary to watch and learn about.

The series began when JFK returned from the War injured and his older brother Joe was about to be shipped off. From there, the series jumps forward to when JFK ran for Congress. Then if fast forwards again to when JFK ran for the White House.  Once in the White House, the rest of the series had to do with all of the events that occurred during JFK’s presidency and his relationship with Jackie. The last episode ended with JFK’s assassination, what happened to Jackie and the kids, and finally RFK’s assassination.

I can’t even begin to say what an amazing cast the series had. Greg Kinnear had JFK’s mannerisms and way of speaking down to a science. Katie Holmes was a great Jackie as well, just she was a little too tall for Kinnear. Barry Pepper had to be my favorite actor out of the entire cast for his portrayal of RFK was stellar. My third favorite was Tom Wilkinson’s rendition as Joe Kennedy Sr. That man was so full of himself and thought he could buy anyone off.

As I said before, prior to watching this series, I knew very little about the Kennedy family and the events during JFK’s presidency so I learned a ton of historical facts through watching this show. What I didn’t know was what was happening behind the scenes with JFK and Jackie. I heard rumors of JFK’s philandering ways, yet I never thought it was the truth. Plus I recently watched a biopic on Marilyn Monroe so it was interesting to juxtapose that documentary on this series (Monroe and JFK supposedly had a fling). Lastly, the whole controversy surrounding Dr. Feel Good providing shots to both JFK and Jackie was rather interesting. I had no idea!!

As with every series however, there are some aspects that I wasn’t a huge fan of. One specific example was the speed at which the last episode went through with JFK’s assassination followed by RFK. It felt as if the directors lost gas and just needed the series finished. Sadly enough, RFK’s death was just another death and that’s it. “Oops, he died. The end.”

Other than that, I cannot speak highly enough of this series. I really enjoyed it, it was enlightening and informational all the while being entertaining. The entire cast was a success and so talented. Just amazing. Watch it!

St. Louis, MO

While it is fresh in my mind, I am going to compose this post about the city of St. Louis, MO (note how I did not use a descriptor).

Oh, where to begin? Wait, I know! Ten minutes after getting off the plane at Lambert Airport my colleague and I walked to the metro station. Yes, you have to walk through a parking garage without walkways to the metro station. Then, we boarded the metro trains, which were clean and did not smell (unlike NYC). The first 2 stops were fine, then the third began the interesting tale of our travels into the city. A whole bunch of individuals boarded the train and this guy broke out his wad of cash containing mostly $20s, but also $100s. He then started betting train goers on a card game. Queue shakedown warnings. I finally got to the metro station that I needed in downtown St. Louis and it was pretty empty, but by then I was fearing for my life. So, I speed-walked 5 blocks to my hotel: Hyatt at the Arch. The hotel was overall pretty nice, and I had a lovely view of the Arch.

I arrived on a Sunday so many of the usual restaurants in the area were not open. Thank the Lord for Starbucks in my hotel, allowing me to have a coffee in the afternoon so I could make it all the way to the convention center. Hyatt is about six blocks away from the convention center, and while the walk wasn’t too terrible, it didn’t feel too safe, especially to walk at night as a single, young female. Once at the convention center, I felt very comfortable for the center was pretty safe and clean.

The conference that I attended was a full week long and probably my biggest complaint about the downtown area was that there really weren’t many places for a quick bite to eat. I found some lovely places however that were not fast food, but you could easily grab and go. I didn’t discover Stefano’s (right across the street from the convention center) until my last day at the conference. It had a variety of Italian fare, from sandwiches to Italian pasta dishes, and gourmet salads. I had an Italian panino that had provolone, banana peppers, lettuces, and three different types of Italian meats over a warm French baguette. It also came with a side salad. All for $7.50. OMG, this had to be the best place out of everywhere I ate in the city.

On to the tourist places of St. Louis. Wait…what tourist places?! Seriously, there is only the Arch, and of course there is a whole bunch of construction being conducted on the arch. I went up to my hotel’s 18th floor to get a full view of the Arch and its grounds and of course it was a bloody mess. The ground everywhere was all dug up and looked ugly. The traditional way down to the arch was blocked so visitors had to take a detour. Across the street from my hotel was the old Courthouse, which was very pretty inside. I spoke to a tour guide and she said that that dome was the “practice run” for the Capitol dome in Washington, DC. Fun Fact! That was probably my favorite part of the visit. Other than that however, there was very little to do. The St. Louis Cardinals stadium was a few blocks from my hotel and they did play while I was in town, but I couldn’t go. I should have! It felt like St. Louis is a huge sports city and not very cultural. The tour guide I mentioned above said that there was a lot to do that was cultural, you just need a car to drive to these places unfortunately.

I guess, after five days of visiting the city, I was not exactly wowed. If you have a car and want to see the Arch, I would say that the city is decent to stop in for like a day. Any longer than that would just be boring. Not sure I would ever go back. Been there, done that. Didn’t leave a complete sour taste in my mouth, it was just bleh. If you have had a different experience than myself, please leave a comment for I am willing to give the city the benefit of the doubt, but out of all the places that the conference has been held, I find this the most boring.