Let’s Talk About: Luisa

To avoid confusion, this is Luisa:

Luisa hugging Mirabel

I avoided talking about Encanto on my blog thus far because this is not a movie review blog. But “slice of life” goes only so far.

In my opinion, Encanto is one of the most relatable movies that has ever been made. Hard not to relate to film where the central theme is generational trauma. That’s a heavy topic! I have never been able to see something of myself in so many characters in one film.

Luisa is my absolute most favorite. Prior to seeing the film, I expected Isabela to be my favorite because she’s all about flowers, which are the most gorgeous things in the world to me. But she was a jerk until roughly the last twenty minutes of the film, and I don’t like mean characters. Stoic, standoffish, “mean but they really care”, sure. But not purely mean, and while we get the reason for it, it doesn’t really explain her behavior. But I’ll talk more about Isabela in another post.

A glance at my left sidebar will reveal the video of Surface Pressure to your eyesight. This is Luisa’s signature song, where she musically explains the tremendous pressure she feels and weight she carries. Since this is Disney we’re talking about, the visuals are dazzlingly magnificent – nothing less expected from Disney – but the only song that has ever hit me the way Surface Pressure does is Show Yourself from Frozen 2. It took four re-watches before I stopped crying to that.

For me, the most hard-hitting line in this song is:

“I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service!”

I… just… I… damn! I was not prepared for that when I first watched Encanto. Holy cow! Did Disney really sum up my entire existence in one line? Did… did they really do that?
But if it stopped there, I wouldn’t have more to say. The best way I can sum it up is this: Who gave Disney permission to put my life in a song? Who did it?!

“Who am I if I can’t carry it all?”

“I hide my nerves and it worsens, I worry something is gonna hurt us”

“I think about my purpose, can I somehow preserve this?”

“Line up the dominoes, a light wind blows, you try to stop it toppling, but on and on it goes”

“Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt and see if she handle every family burden”

“Who am I if I don’t have what it takes? No cracks, no breaks… no mistakes… No pressure!

Alright, Disney, you can stop now! I’ve had physical pain that hurt less! I do not attend films with the expectation of being crushed by feelings!

Some of the lyrics in the Spanish version are more heartbreaking.

“Something troubles me and it’s getting worse, I must save everyone”

“The picture of me I display shatters in a moment”

“Can I ever get rid of this cruel weight?”

“She will hold all our foundations”

“See if she can hold even our grief”

“What if I fall down and can’t be the one I must be? Without pressure, without weight?”

I said that’s enough, Disney! Goddamn! Therapy is not as hard hitting! I did not ask for my trauma to be personified on the big screen, let alone in an upbeat, seemingly innocuous song in a family film.

Show Yourself hits me hard because it’s a powerfully uplifting ballad about self-love, whereas Surface Pressure crushes me for tearing apart just about every facet of my being and putting it into words. Disney really decided, “You face your demons today.” They could’ve asked permission at the very least.

Outside of Surface Pressure, Luisa continues to be an overall precious character. I love how Disney portrayed her. She’s big and she’s proud of her strength, but she’s not dumb – a common stereotype of strong characters in media – she’s not ugly, she’s loving, and she’s emotional. It’s kind of glossed over, but the movie shows the problem is not Luisa’s supernatural strength, but how it’s taken advantage. That is definitely an important distinction to make. Nothing is wrong with Luisa, and her gift is not the problem. What’s wrong is how she’s treated.

I hated being the older sibling, but I would kill for a big sister like Luisa. The scenes where she gets hysterical are supposed to be funny, but they only make me sad for her. She is that precious. There is a part of the fandom that imagines Luisa as shy and non-assertive, and I love that idea!

Encanto is intended to become a series, similar to how Frozen became its own franchise, and whatever happens, I really hope Luisa doesn’t turn into a caricature of her muscles. Disney really has good characterization for her in the movie. I pray they keep it. Let her have character development (like learning to assert herself when necessary), but keep her the same at heart.

Experimenting

DuoLingo, Rosetta Stone, Mondly, Babbel, Busuu, and now, Memrise. I think I’m done!

In my last post on this topic, I said:

I don’t intend to continue paying for Busuu at the moment, so after my subscription expires, it seems I’ll return to Duo and RS.

My one-month subscription expired yesterday… so I paid for a 24-month subscription at a fifty percent discount.

I’m not good at sticking to my own words, I see. But out of all of these apps, I found Busuu to be the best for me, so I want to stick with it. I only sincerely dislike two of the apps and Busuu is not perfect (no app is), but to sum up my thoughts of each:

DuoLingo: Kids’ game. I keep up the streak with it. In other words, it’s semi-addictive for the sake of the streak, and that’s it.

Rosetta Stone: I actually like RS a lot, but I got lost after I finished all the plans. I like that while it’s not ugly, it’s also not cute. Plain is fine sometimes. I wish answers weren’t marked wrong for lack of accents, though.

Mondly: I don’t like this one at all. It’s too cluttered, and the difficulty levels don’t seem to be different. Tried it multiple times. I’m convinced I could do it in my sleep.

Babbel: I’m fine with Babbel, but their microphone/voice recognition is not good. I try it every so often and it’s still ridiculously finicky. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. I prefer not to bother.

Busuu: Again, best one for me. I find it challenging, and the difficulty levels really are different. However, while it’s forgiving of misplaced or lack of accents, it’s not forgiving of typos.

Memrise: The other one I dislike. I paid for a one-month subscription to test it out, and I think, unlike Busuu, I will stop using this one after it expires. It’s not bad, I suppose, but if I didn’t already hate flash cards, I certainly would after this. It’s nothing more than memorizing a random collection of words and sentences. They have an “immerse” section, which is merely listening to short videos in Spanish with subtitles. Which is fine, but I can do that on YouTube and with music (which I do; for example, Mucho Más Allá (Into The Unknown), and Muéstrate (Show Yourself)). The words and sentences get harder, so there’s that, but it’s still endless matching and fill-in-the-blank. I chose “Spanish 7”, the last of the course, despite I’m nowhere near advanced and, yeah, I’m very bored. The voices aren’t bland, and that’s the nicest thing I can say about it.

To clarify, I don’t think any of these websites are bad. Different things work for different people. Memrise, for example, happens to be very popular and is considered a great resource, so long as the user understands it will not get them to fluency. Meanwhile, as I said, I don’t like it at all. I’m reminded of being four years old and playing with addition and subtraction flash cards.

As fun as it is to experiment with these apps, I think I’ll stick to what I have for now. I plan to buy a Kindle and order a few basic Spanish books (my town’s library is not open due to lockdown). In the meantime, Busuu and the beginner “how to learn Spanish” book I have are doing it for me. And DuoLingo once in a while.

I may try RS again, if only to complete some of the sections.

DuoLingo VS Busuu

I recently realized I’m spending more time fiddling with language learning apps than I am playing with my Sims games, despite I’m sticking solely to Spanish.

I have tried DuoLingo, Rosetta Stone, Memrise, Babbel, Mondly, and the newest to my experiences, Busuu. Of them, DuoLingo, Rosetta Stone, and Busuu are the only ones I stick consistently with, though Busuu replaced RS for me because I got a bit lost when I finished all the plans RS offers. Seems I prefer being led than being in a sandbox when it comes to learning.

I liked Babbel, but their voice recognition is awful. I tested with other apps. My phone isn’t the problem. Changing the sensitivity doesn’t help. Babbel‘s mic apparently finicky, and that’s it.

Annoyingly, Busuu is a paid learning site, as most of them are (this is one of the biggest reasons DuoLingo is extremely popular), so I purchased a monthly subscription ($10) to try it out, and cancelled so it won’t auto-renew. Price aside, I found it some conspicuous similarities to Duo. Leaderboards, scores, a daily goal, cuteness. However, it does something for DuoLingo doesn’t: challenge me.

A complaint I made in my last post about language apps is that DuoLingo isn’t hard for me, despite supposedly being on level 14 at the time. I’m now at level 24 and it’s still not difficult. Apparently, the levels are meaningless, and only in relation to how many XP points a user has collected. Level 25 is the highest and happens at thirty thousand points, which I’m very close to. At this point, I use Duo only to keep up my streak. I still learn some things, but it really is little more than a game for kids in my eyes.

Busuu, on the other hand, has shown me just how little I learned from Duo. Their placement test puts me at A2, which is apparently elementary school level and let me skip the first section (A1, beginner), yet I feel like I’m below that. While Busuu has text exercises, it seems to be more audio-based. You’re expected to listen to dialogue first, and answer questions about it, and there are very few hints. Mercifully, Busuu does not have a penalty system (hearts), so mistakes don’t frustrate me as much. It also seems to be more focused on giving examples that are applicable to everyday life versus the often silly sentences Duo uses.

However, I don’t intend to continue paying for Busuu at the moment, so after my subscription expires, it seems I’ll return to Duo and RS. While I like Busuu more than Duo, I don’t think any app or site is worth consistently paying money or a high price. Even as much as I like RS, I don’t think it was worth $200 (lifetime subscription). Of course, education in general is a business, but that’s a different subject entirely, and one I refuse to dive into.

I Can’t Speak Spanish

I can read Spanish. I can write Spanish. I can understand Spanish if I’m spoken to slowly.

But I cannot speak Spanish. Nor will I ever.

Let me be more specific: I’m afraid to speak Spanish.

The farthest I go is a random phrase or term of endearment (mi amor) to my boyfriend. But I will not speak to him regularly. I refuse to let him hear me do lessons with the apps I use.

I am embarrassed.

I try. But I always forget:

  • Which conjugations are appropriate
  • The exceptions to the rules (and there are several)
  • Which order is appropriate
  • Which freaking word is appropriate for context
  • What the heck imperative, subjunctive, and preterite mean (Granted, I don’t know the difference between “past tense” and “part participle” either, but my native tongue is English, so I don’t need to)
  • If what I’m trying to say will come out as I intend it to
  • How to finish what I want to say (more than once, I’ve tried to say a sentence, only to realize I don’t know a word I need)

Ultimately, I spend more time thinking of how to say what I want to say than saying anything out loud. The person in front of me doesn’t have time to wait for the gears in my head to finish turning, so I speak English before my thought processes can finish.

Naturally, every time I think it’s right, it’s wrong.

I reached the conclusion fluency simply will not happen for me. I never needed it. My reason for picking it up again (after years away) was my boyfriend’s family’s background, but only his mom doesn’t speak English, so it was never a necessity so much as something I merely wanted to do (because my difficulties aside, I genuinely like learning languages; I suck at it, but I like it).

I will continue playing with apps – literacy and chat – because it’s fun, but “bilingual” won’t be on my resume at any point in my lifetime, and “polyglot” is reserved for my long forgotten fan fiction characters.

 

TS4: Best To Worst

Here’s a topic I swore to never discuss again, but I think it’s evident by now I’m bad at keeping my promises to myself.

Sadly, the problems I had with Sims 4 years ago still exist today for me. While I haven’t rejoined the fandom, I’m aware it’s currently divided over those who are ready for Sims 5 and those who Sims 4 to continue. I’m in the camp of “the series needs to end”. Prior to Sims 4, the same complaints happened when Sims 3 was nearing its end. I’m not convinced Sims 5 will cure the issues so many players have with Sims 4, nor do I understand the expectation another iteration will prove better if it’s made by the same team. In my opinion, it seems it’ll be an endless cycle.

For me, the biggest problem with Sims 4 is no matter how much content is added to the game, the characters themselves still have less depth than a one-foot pool of water. After six years (9/2/2014), it’s clear that’s an issue that isn’t fixable.

In spite of all of the above, I can’t say I haven’t gotten some enjoyment out of Sims 4, despite Sims 3 is still my top played games of the series. The most recent pack, one themed around Star Wars, is the first I have no intention of buying. Seven years ago, I made a “best to worst” list for Sims 3, so I figured maybe I can do the same for Sims 4. And I’m really, really bored right now.

However, no pictures this time. In total, Sims 4 has thirty-five packs. Minus the stuff ones, that leaves eighteen. No.

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