My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Brain Freeze

Yes, I know, I know... I have a LOT of catching up to do, but since I spent most of last Saturday somehow involved with the theme of the global mega-juggernaut that is Disney's "Frozen" movie, I just had to share the following with y'all...

1) The Cardboard Cutouts

While at work one night a little over a week ago, I received a text messagesfrom AJ that read in its entirety something like, "Yikes! They're big!" Attached was a photo of Miri standing in front of the newly-arrived cardboard figures of Anna and Elsa in that familiar back-to-back pose. Miri's head didn't even come up to their waists. AJ even added, "Elsa is taller than me!" in response to my semi-serious, "They grow 'em tall in pseudo-Scandinavia" reply. I had already encountered the "life size" Olaf figure (stashed in AJ's guest bathroom to keep him safe from the chewing-prone kitties), but I have to admit that these two make the majority of our Nursing staff at work look short. AJ's biggest concern now is where the heck to put the girls -- she's already had one late-night scare when, after forgetting she'd moved the cutout to the hall, she encountered their silhouette on a bathroom run in the dark. I'm about 5'10-1/2" tall, maybe that'll help put them in perspective in the photo. I know Elsa's supposed to be wearing heels, but... Yikes! They're big!

3) Let It Go (and Go and Go and Go and...)

Don't get me wrong; this is a lovely song. Idina Menzel did an amazing job on the English-language version, and the few examples I've found online of the non-US versions quickly show Disney still attracts truly top-notch talent to its projects[1]  However, to quote Monty Python, there is one small problem: I've heard it, like, eleventy-seven billion times. Maybe twice that many times. Miri sings it in English. Miri sings it in Mandarin. Miri is learning, entirely on her own, to sing it in Spanish. [insert sound of the JiuJiu whimpering here]  I'm looking forward to a time when we can... well... let it go!

4) The Figurines, Part A

While recovering from eye surgery at my folks', I began short forays onto the Internet both to test my eye's healing and to see if I could find a good birthday gift for the Pipsqueak. I very quickly settled on a  set of small figurines of all the major characters. (All except poor Marshmallow[2]. He doesn't seem to be considered "major"). For reasons outside the purvey of this blog, I felt I couldn't have the package delivered to Mom & Dad's and thus had to wait to place an order until I knew "for sure" when I was going to be home to accept delivery.

In the interim, the Disneyana collectors took over.

Don't get me wrong; I've wandered in & out of collecting various series of books, figures, etc. over the years, so I can appreciate the desire of Frozen-iana collectors to have a nice boxed set of these small (3" or less) figurines in their showcases... but in the two weeks that I helplessly watched the listings on Amazon, the price soared from about $20 all the way up past $70 for the same product. (Yes, that's seventy freakin' dollars for a set of six very small painted plastic toy figurines.[3]) I soon gave up hope and began searching for other ideas when Mom mentioned a friend had gotten Miri's gift on eBay for a very reasonable price. (Dude, you're supposed to be the family Internet expert, how did you forget they do more than just auctions?!)

To make a long story short, the set of figurines was shortly sitting on my dining room table, happily ensconced in their display package (which collectors value but I suspect my niece will utterly and totally destroy in three nanoseconds to get to the actual toys), and my wallet was only $21.99 thinner -- and that includes the online donation I made to an international charity as part of the transaction. I know Miri liked them because later in the evening she plopped down on the couch next to me, gave me a big hug, and said, "Thank you for the people, Uncle Brian!" before running back to play with them with the last couple of remaining party guests.

4) The Figurines, Part B

I have to admit to laughing out loud when I first began looking over the "Frozen" figurines' packaging. The artwork front & back was "real" images from the movie or its trailers... save for one figure, apparently Elsa, on the far right side of the back. It didn't look anything like the picture of Elsa just 4-1/2" to its left; the dress was a darker blue, with a different pattern; her hair wasn't the same shade of blonde and her 'do was less windblown & voluminous; the famous over-the-shoulder braid was missing; and the nose... gah! That nose!  I looked almost like someone downloaded fan art from the Internet, or maybe even just color-shifted a drawing of a Na'avi and stuck it in a long blue dress.

But wait, there's more...!

On the front, on the "pedestal" area under the figurines, on either side of the big "Frozen" were the statements, "NEW ARRIVAL!" (half a year after the movie was released) and "A WORLD OF ICE AND SNOW!" (which really doesn't fit the story well if you think about it).

And it was even better on the back.

In the middle of the package was a big, "COLLECT THEM ALL!" which is kinda weird, since they are all in this one package. There was also a list of safety warnings, the choicest of which I've reproduced below EXACTLY as they appear on the package:

Choking Hazard-Not suitable for children under 3 if there is any presence of small parts.   (There are no removable parts of any kind on any figurine, although Olaf's only about 2" tall.)

Be careful of the potential entang  ement hazard with neck, hair of fingers if there are string, wire, wheels or rolling parts in the product.  (I'm assuming "entang ement" was supposed to be "entanglement" but who has finger hair long enough to make that a concern? And why mention string, wire, wheels or rolling parts if there are absolutely none in either the packaging or its contents?)

Do not shoot towards human body if the product consists of shooting function.  (The product consists of plastic. None of the plastic parts include a shooting function. And did you notice how this infers that pets and fragile home furnishings are acceptable targets?)

All the above taken into consideration, I've saved the best for last. Reproduced below, verbatim, unedited, uncorrected, without any form of rewriting or JiuJiu-created typographical errors, is the description printed prominently on the back of the package. Read it and weep... or laugh... or at least send an English teacher to the factory...
Anna's sister -- cold snow queen to her under a curse, let her kingdom in eternal winter. In order to remove the curse, Anna and adventurous mountaineer Kristoff as well as the snowman a corner of the reindeer, bad set foot on North Road, want to melt the snow queen cold heart, let her remove magic.
Let's just say we're using other material to help my niece develop her reading skills. And on that (unintelligible) note, 'til next time...

[1] The Disney organization has posted a great version of that scene in the film to YouTube in which Elsa switches seamlessly through no fewer than twenty-five different languages during the course of the song. In addition to being interesting to hear, it's an example of some of the highest-quality sound editing I've come across online. There's even an official Disney-posted video that shows you the various artists singing in each of the languages. Just do a YouTube search on "frozen let it go multilanguage" and "frozen let it go behind the mic" and enjoy. (And if you're wondering, the movie was actually released in a total of 42 languages -- check out the list here.)

[2] Yes, that giant snowman "Snow Monster" created by Elsa to help defend her ice palace is indeed named "Marshmallow" -- just right for my slightly off-kilter sense of humor.  :-)

[3] The last time I bothered to check Amazon, the price had fallen back into a more "reasonable" $50-$55 range. Gaaah...!

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