Monday, April 16, 2018

Monthly Finance Post (with emotional state info, as a preface, too)

Yesterday something, which I cannot remotely explain, happened.

I checked on the status of money and was left with a profound feeling of deep and inescapable sadness.  Like, depression deep.  (Though not Major Depressive Episode[tm] deep.)

Now, to be clear, it's not that my finances are so good they should be making me happy.  I said last month that it would take ten thousand dollars, more or less,to get me free of the mess I'm perpetually in and it is most definitely not the case that I got that.  But you all, and Ana, and Ana's twitter following have done more than I thought possible.

Thus, when taken in context, things are better than I believed they could be.  Things shouldn't be making me sad because the are indicative of massive improvement.  They're better than they have any right to be.  I've filled my heating oil.  I'm settled with my mother/landord (for the moment) all of my bills are paid through the end of the month, everything is rosy and golden and shit.

Now, profound feelings of deep and inexplicable sadness are sort of par for the course.  Many times they hit out of nowhere with no source or no apparent source.  (Just one of the joys of being me.)  But this had a clear cause.  I checked on money, I got inordinately sad.

The only thing I can think of is that I really thought I was going to fully pay off a debt that I'm not able to.  I did some math wrong.  I had all of the figures and everything necessary to get the right answer, but I must have left one of those figures out of the calculations.  And, yeah, I was totally excited when I fucked that up and therefore thought I could pay the debt in question off completely, but I really don't feel like the loss of that false hope should have laid me so very low.

So, where things stand:

As I said, everything paid through the end of the month.  (I think.)

The next major non-monthly is $635.40 due on May 10th.  When the time comes I'll probably be unprepared because paying down high interest debt is generally more useful than the peace of mind that comes from knowing I'll be able to cover a bill two months from now.

(Of course, being asked, for two months straight, whether or not I'll be able to pay it when the time comes is really stressful.)

The ballpark for what it would take to put all of this behind me has dropped to closer to seven and a half thousand (like I said, I got more help than I imagined possible. thought realistically possible.)

If I include the student loan, my total debt is currently $12,431.21

A bit over one thousand of that is not currently gathering any interest at all and I have about a year to pay it off before interest is retroactively applied.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Not keeping it a secret (urban fantasy hero story)

[Entirely original.  Something I've been thinking about on and off in various flavors since the munchkins started watching Trollhunters.]
[Notes for depiction of depression, discussion of potential accidental gaslighting, and discussion of the potential for true accounts to be misinterpreted as delusions.]

The door opened and Julie looked up to see Justin walking into the kitchen with his head hanging in a way that she hadn't seen since his doctors had found an antidepressant that worked.  She wasn't just worried for her son, she was surprised.  Everything had been going well for Justin lately, and given that his closest childhood friend had recently moved back to town, it seems like things should be even better.

She waited a while to to see if Justin would say something on his own, but he just went to the fridge and poured himself a glass or orange juice.  That he didn't shake the jug before pouring was a bad sign.  Given how much Justin loved pulp, he had to be very bad, be it apathetic or straight down emotions, to just fill a glass with whatever remained at the top after the juice had had a day to settle.

When he sat down across from her, never even raising his eyes to look at her, and completely ignored the orange juice he'd just poured, Julie decided that she'd have to ask.  She never liked it.  She preferred to wait for him to tell her things on his own.

She sighed, stood, took the glass of orange juice, got a funnel, and asked, "Did something go wrong with Emily?"

"No," Justin said in a completely flat voice, head and eyes still pointed downward.  "Everything is great."

Julie poured the glass of orange juice back into the jug.

"Maybe everything's great with Emily," Julie said, and that was a relief --the two had been so close before Emily's family was forced to move away to find work, and Emily had been the only one who could break through Justin's depression and bring out real, honest, joy-- "but something is most definitely not great."

Julie closed the jug, shook it, and re-poured a glass of orange juice.  In that time Justin said nothing.

Julie put the jug away, set the glass of now-pulpy orange juice on the table in front of Justin, and went back to sit across from him.

For a bit Justin didn't react at all.  Then he picked up the orange juice, carefully in both hands as though he was afraid he'd drop it or thought it would be extremely heavy, and slowly took a drink.  Then he carefully placed it back on the table, let his arms slide off and drop to his sides, and said, "Thanks."

"No problem," Julie said.  "Could you please tell me what's wrong?"

"It's just . . ." Justin started, but after a while it became clear that there was no end coming.

"Well, if you can't talk to me about it," Julie said, "maybe you can talk to Emily."  One of the things that Julie was hopeful for regarding the return of Emily was the possibility for Justin to have a normal human bond that wasn't tied to all the things associated with 'Mother and Son'.

"You two were always so close," Julie said: "the inseparable 'Em and Sam', which I've never understood by the way."

Pretty much the only thing Emily or Justin had been willing to say about why Emily called Justin "Sam" was that it wasn't because Justin disliked his given name.  That had been a relief to learn because, at the time, kids at school had been teasing Justin over being "the little J" of "J and J".

"'Justin' doesn't have a one syllable form," Justin said.  "We couldn't very well be 'Em and Jus'."

The statement had been delivered in same flat tone as everything else, Julie was confident it wasn't a lie, and it doubled what she knew about the whole 'Sam' question, but she knew that Justin was still dodging the primary reason.  So she said so:

"That might be part of it, but you're still hiding the lion's share."

For the first time, very slowly, Justin started to look up.  For all the wrong reasons.

"I'm not trying to pry," Julie said quickly, raising both hands in a gesture of 'Wait, let me explain.'  "I was just making a comment.  You're under no obligation to tell me everything that goes on in your life, and I trust you to tell me the things I need to know."

And his head began to return to its previous, limply hanging, state.

"I'm just saying . . ." what was she saying?  "You say things are going well with her now, and you've trusted her with things you keep from me.  So, maybe, if whatever's wrong is something you don't feel comfortable telling me, you could talk about it with her."

"That's the problem."

That was completely uninformative, but at least they'd reached the point where he acknowledged there was a problem.

"What is?" Julie asked.

Then, like a switch had been flipped and Justin transitioned from 'Power Save' mode to 'Overpowered to the point that electricity is arcing in places it ought to never arc' mode, Justin was looking up, speaking quickly, loudly, and with clear frustration, and animating his emotions with gestures:

"I can't figure out how to tell her!  How am I supposed to just drop, 'Hey, while you were gone I discovered that magic was real and somehow stumbled into the role of super-powered protector of a thriving colony, which sits at the junction of three of the most important magical North American trade routes, of mostly mythological beings and assorted magical people' into a conversation‽

"She and I are getting along great, it's like the time we were separated never happened, which pretty much makes her my best friend in the whole world, and I'm hiding this huge part of my life from her and I don't like it but I don't know what to do about it!"

Julie wanted to ask if he'd considered a direct approach, but couldn't get a word in and soon found her question answered anyway.

"If I tell her without proof she'll think I'm insane.  If I tell her with proof she might think she's insane.  I consider it a stroke of incredible luck that you didn't immediately go to the doctor and demand to be put on antipsychotics after how badly I bungled telling you!"

Given how upset . . . no, wrong word.  Tormented?  Maybe, maybe not.  Given how bent out of shape Justin clearly was about the whole thing, Julie knew she had to bring out the big guns.  Fortunately she knew just what kind of ammunition to use in situations like this.

"Badly bungled," she said, "but better butchered babbling," Justin actually smiled a bit, in spite of clearly trying not to, "than deceitful disinformation demanding damning designs of distortions and," Justin laughed, which was good because Julia was approaching her alliterative limit, "deceptions."

Justin looked down again, but this time he was so visibly alive and had a smile on his face.

"Thanks," he said.

"Always," Julie said.  "It's what mothers are for or some such."

Justin drank some more orange juice.  Julie thought for a bit.

"So, basically," Julie finally said, "all we have to do is figure out a way to introduce Emily to the unseen world without unintentionally gaslighting her, right?"

Justin nodded.

"I'm sure we can think of something," Julie said, "and if we can't do it on our own, it's not as though there's no one who would help us think it over."

There were trolls, fae, witches, wizards, wer- and wif- and non-binary mennwolves, imps, no less than seventeen spirits vying for the right to become the spirit of the house Julie and Justin were currently sitting in, hobs, and other things she had trouble keeping track of who would all be willing to offer ideas, some of which would doubtless be good, though not all of them would to it for free.

That Justin was the first outsider chosen as sentinel in almost two hundred years made many of their new acquaintances wary, and some downright hostile, but being sentinel also brought a degree of social and institutional support that had allowed Justin to actually handle the responsibilities of defending a hidden colony from a civilization he'd never known existed and allowed Julie to look out for her son while he occupied that position.

Friday, April 13, 2018

But . . . It's not an Easter Story ("Jesus Christ Superstar" Live in Concert)

It's probably the case that no one else cares about this.

And honestly, while I do care about this, I'm probably more concerned that the Monday after Easter passed without me buying any discounted Caddburry Creme Eggs meaning that I haven't had any at all since I ran out of the ones someone sent me last year (thanks for that) because that had been a year without Caddburry Creme Eggs too, and someone took it upon themselves to help change that by mailing me some.  (Really, loads of thanks.)

Yet, I do care.  It bugs me.  It's been bugging me since Easter Fool's Day.  (April Fool's Easter? April Easter's Day?)

There are doubtless reasons for it being played on Sunday.  It's possible that other musicals are played on Sunday and that's just when it's scheduled, for example.  But ... but Jesus Christ Superstar is not a Sunday story.  It's not an Easter story.  It's a Friday story.

Like Godspell, created at about the same time, it ends with the crucifixion, not the resurrection.  Unlike Godspell it's got a narrower focus.  Godspell adapts the entire Gospel of Mathew along with bits of Luke and John (no love for Mark I guess), while Jesus Christ Superstar has a very specific focus on the events leading up to (and including) the crucifixion.

Jesus Christ Superstar is thus a Friday story.  It's about the events that led directly to what happened on Friday (not earlier, indirect, influences) and it ends in the culmination of those events on Friday.  This is not a story for Easter Sunday.  This isn't even a story for Holy Saturday.  It's composed of solid unapologetic Friday.

It's part of why I like "Could We Start Again Please" (something I didn't know was controversial, by the way.)  Probably not a coincidence that thus far, "Could We Start Again Please" is the only song from the musical I've used in a released work (unless I forgot something.)*

Anyway, "Could We Start Again Please" is about people, true believers who were invested heart and soul in the cause, recoiling at the fact that it seems to all be crashing down.  With the exception of a cryptic statement or two, Jesus never really warned anyone that the plan called for everything to end in blood and pain.

They're part of this powerful and growing movement that's all about love to the point that there are times where Jesus takes a stance of "Fuck Lawful, I'm Neutral Good!" in order to help (sometimes even save) people, and now what's happening is nothing like that.  They didn't see it coming and they want a do-over.

This is version that I've always known (and the only non-"Live in Concert" video I'll link to here):

(Not an important note, but for me this has always been Mary's song.  Peter's solo could have been sung by Mary losing nothing and quite possibly to the betterment of the song.)

This song doesn't work as an Easter thing.  On Easter, Jesus is back, Hell may or may not have been Harrowed, and, while the plan is still completely inscrutable, at least the whole "You're gonna get yourself killed" thing is no longer hanging over them all.

Things are no longer a matter of faith.  Jesus died.  He came back.  Things are happening on a cosmic level.  The song is very much on a human level.  It's not addressed to ascended God-mode Jesus.  It's addressed to [guy from Nazareth, with whom we've been hanging out] Jesus.

The song only works on or before Friday.  On Saturday things are a matter of religious faith and religious doubt.  (And ordinary grief.)  On Sunday things are a matter of, "Wait, has Ishtar knocked down the gates of the underworld‽" *pause* "Are you going to eat me?"

It's only on Friday that it's about friendship (and loyalty I suppose) and non-religious interpersonal connection.  It's only on Friday that Jesus is a person you're  Sorry.  Bad wording.  Gods are people too.  It's only on Friday that Jesus is a human being you're worried about because you care about him as a human being.

On Saturday it's a bit late for that.  He's dead.  No, we can't start again (please or no please.)

On Sunday everything is different.  He's been there and back again and is no longer the same hobbit you once knew.

This is not just about my favorite song in the musical though, nothing in the story is about Easter.  When Caiaphas and his underlings donned their (awesome) hooded sci-fi black-coats and sang a conversation live on NBC it was all about Friday and yet it played on Sunday:

And it's bothersome to me.

In part it's bothersome to me because we don't live in Easter.  Friday and Saturday are more relatable, just as Advent is way more applicable to one's ordinary life than Christmas.

Friday is when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

Saturday is when the people in charge are openly discussing how many poor people should have to die so the rich could get even richer (remember the whole "Let us cut Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for people who are already paying way less than their fair share in taxes" thing?)  Or when . . . just turn on CNN, you'll see plenty of fucking Saturday.

Sunday never seems to come.

And it's not that I particularly want a bunch of depressing shit dumped on us all**, but if you're going to make a "Things seemed to be going good and then the leader of a (mostly) peaceful movement was executed by torture" production . . . why put it on the wrong day of the week?

"From now on we shall only show Friday the 13 movies, Freaky Friday, and other things with 'Friday' in the name on Sundays!" would get you some weird looks, I think.

- - -

And, going back to the whole "Friday is more relatable" thing, Jesus himself is really at his most vulnerable in the garden when he's begging God not to have him die, or at least give him a better understanding of why he has to die.  (Not an invention of the musical to humanize Jesus, remember.  It really is in the Bible.)

On Sunday he's back and presumably has a decent understanding of the grand plan.

Not that Gandalf the White is a horrible or uninteresting character, but Gandalf the Grey is . . . I don't know, more there.  (And I wasn't planning this many Tolkien references.)

- - -

So, yeah, there's my "You played it on the wrong fucking day" rant.

Why this long after Easter?  Kim Possible.  Today (or was it last night?) I was thinking of a scene that'll be for Part III of Life After (presently only the three chapters of Part I exist) and the thing is, music is a huge part of who Jacob is, and Shin's gotten good a picking up when he's saying something he's lifted from a song (even when it's a totally innocuous or commonplace phrase), so thus this happened:

Jacob: How did you ever beat me?

Shin: Anything's possible for a--

Jacob: Then sprout wings and fly, grow a second head, levitate, summon a stir-fry, (♫) change my water into wine (♫), or--

Shin: What are you quoting this time?

Jacob: (♫) I only ask what I'd ask of any superstar:
What is it that you have got that puts you where you are? (♫)

*Ghost of Nanna Possible joins in with Jacob*

Both: (♫) Oh I am waiting, yes I'm a captive fan.
I'm dying to be shown that you are not just any man. (♫)

*Shin has face-palmed by now*

Shin: Don't encourage him.

- -
- - -
- -

* I used "Could We Start Again Please" in one of the very few scenes from the Band Story that I've actually written.  The scene is simply entitled, "_very_ late middle" and definitely contains spoilers for the story, but spoilers are only a problem if you actually expect me to write the whole story (I'd certainly like to, perhaps even love to, but I don't give it high odds) and are willing to wait until that actually happens.  If it happens.

** Lonespark will doubtless remind me to write up the post about why this is emphatically not the time for dark and gritty reboots but instead a time that calls for the light and fluffy utopianism of things like the original Star Trek.  (Which hasn't aged well, because they were sexist racist schmucks, but we're flawed so whatever we make won't age well either.  This, though, isn't about posterity, it's about what we need now.)

The short version is that while art does reflect life and can certainly be employed to great affect to draw attention to bad things the powerful/comfortable don't notice or refuse to notice, mainstream art also serves as a counterbalance.

When times are good, things get dark and gritty.  When times are bad, things get light and fluffy.  Fiction serves to provide you with what life does not.  If your real life is dystopian, then the time has come for a Utopia with no dark underbelly.  If your real life is utopian then crank up the tragedy.

So it has been for thousands of years.  (At least two and a half thousand.)  Thus we don't need asshole entitled man-child Kirk and Vulcan getting blown the fuck up.  We need, "Things are bad, but somehow, someday, we will make it to a better place.  A world without racism, or sexism, or homophobia, or transphobia, or any kind of institutional oppression.  A world without poverty or want.  It looks terrible, but let me show you a vision of the good things to come."

And sweet fuck I just described the meta commentary of the original Star Trek as an Advent narrative which was never part of this line of reasoning before.

And, yes, this has been the short version.  There's a reason that It's been months upon months and I've yet to write up the full version.

The short short version just hit me.  Pop-fiction, artistic styles, and so forth exist (in part) to say: "This, too, shall pass.  Here's what it will/could/might look like when it does:"

Sunday, April 1, 2018

KP EBE -- Models can't be role models. (series bible -- cover and summary pages)

There are various interviews about conception and creation of Kim Possible,  but the earliest primary source available is the pitch-era partial Kim Possible series bible released by Bob Schooley (one of the co-creators) on twitter on the 18th and 19th of April, 2016.

Series bibles can come in various forms depending on what the person or people making them are prioritizing and what role they're intended to serve.  The thing that links them all is that they record salient details of the series.  Sometimes it's so that these details are kept straight throughout the run of the show, sometimes it's so that the details can be communicated to the people deciding whether or not to make the show in the first place.  As you might have figured out from "pitch-era", this is the second.

The show didn't exist, and wouldn't for another year and eight months, so there weren't any canon details to keep straight yet.  Additionally, I'm reasonably sure that they never bothered with keeping details straight while the show was in production anyway.

This is all about what Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle wanted the show to be and what they were marketing it as (internally) to the executives who would decide whether or not this was something Disney wanted to make.

- - -

I'm not going to dwell on this too much, but it's worth pointing out that Kim Possible was incredibly significant in terms of the history of Disney animation, particularly television animation, because it was the first in-house Disney Channel original animated series.  (If Nickelodeon hadn't passed on The Proud Family, it would have been the first Disney Channel original animated series, of any kind, ever.)

The Disney Channel and Disney Television Animation had both been around for almost, but not quite, 20 years at this point but they'd never produced something together and Kim Possible was the first foray in making a episodic cartoon for Disney by Disney on Disney.  As such the decision wasn't just "Do we want to make this?" but also "Do we want this to be our flagship property in this area?"

The answer was, "Yes."

With those paragraphs over, I'm done dwelling on that.  Let us dwell on something else.

- - -

First, have a picture:

It's a cover page; there's not a lot to take apart or glean.  To me the most significant part is the date: October 2, 2000.  The first episode (Crush) aired on June 7th, 2002.  While it is certainly possible that at some point an earlier thing will be made public, it's probable that this is as far into proto-show as primary sources will ever take us.

The biggest other thing to note is that while the picture certainly evokes the idea of Kim, that's very much not the Kim we eventually got.  Most notably the hair, clothes, and grappling hook launcher which are all Kim-esque without actually being Kim.  That's a very appropriate note start to this with.

I will touch on the title before we go inside.  The words "Kim Possible: she can do anything" were, as recounted in various interviews, the beginning of the idea of the show, and they very much stick around throughout.

- - -

This is something that we can look through piece by piece.  So, starting with the first line and going one step at a time:
[...] a billionaire Japanese electronics mogul [...]
Looking at a list of Japanese billionaires has taught me that Cyberdyne, the corporation responsible for the Terminators(TM) who will exterminate most of humanity by order of Skynet, has now been founded in the real world.  Thankfully, they don't make killing machines.

The point in the looking up, though, is that this doesn't feel right to me.  The Japanese electronics industry is quite large and has historically been the source of significant innovation, but the sentence reads to me more like something coming out of blatant stereotyping than any kind of understanding of Japanese electronics.

Thus the looking up of Japanese billionaires.

I'm seeing construction, retail, holding companies, real estate, alcohol, eCommerce (not the same as electronics any more than air shipping is the same as airplane design and construction) and more or less the standard slate of stuff you'd expect (which, yes, does include electronics.)

This . . . isn't just me picking on an errant sentence.

Tick Tick Tick has Kim getting a (plane) ride from Gustavo of the Amazon in thanks for saving his village from a piranha infested flood.  In Bueno Nacho she gets a dog sled ride from an indeterminate First Nations individual whom she had saved from an iceberg.  In Monkey Fist Strikes she loots a Cambodian idol that was prized by ninja (Japan =/= Cambodia) who practiced Kung Fu (China =/= Japan or Cambodia) because it granted magical oriental martial arts powers (because . . . fuck.)

Kim Possible runs on many things (it's a hybrid) and one of them is blatant stereotyping.

The more it does it, the more you pick up on it, which in turn leads to giving it less benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, context:
The son of a billionaire Japanese electronics mogul is kidnapped.
The eventual show never dealt with anything like this.  People got kidnapped, sure, but Kim never stooped to rescuing people lesser than the billionaires, scientists, and Ron Stoppables themselves.  She will (very) occasionally deal with the children of important people, but if she's rescuing someone it'll be Mr McGuffin, not his second cousin.

That . . . might be an intentional choice to have Kim Possible and the show of the same name only deal with "important" people, rather than wasting time on lesser beings.  Quotes around "important" because in actuality everyone's important.

A nuclear arsenal in a breakaway Soviet republic goes missing.
This is sort of mission was, I think, tossed for an entirely different reason.  The threats Kim deals with in the actual show are very Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated-esque.  Certainly no one in Las Vegas particularly wants a black hole the size of Nevada to suddenly appear in their hotel, but death rays, freeze rays, hypnotic disco balls, spinning tops of doom, monkey ninjas in space, and the potentially-Nevada-destroying Pan Dimensional Vortex Inducer all have different connotations than, you know, the threat of a nuclear holocaust.

When the show went to dark places it seemed to be because the people making it utterly failed to notice that those places were dark, and when it was self aware things stayed in much lighter territory.  Territory which is harder to be in when the people around you are stocking up on potassium iodide, Prussian blue, and diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid.
World weather patterns mysteriously reverse overnight.
This is the kind of thing that will survive to the final form of the show.  Not a big part of it, but it's the only thing in this introduction that will actually show up.

Anyway, that's all set up for this:
Fear not.  Kim Possible is ready for action.

Yes, Kim Possible -- High School sophomore, Junior Varsity cheerleader, and the world's last hope.
This all makes it into the show's title sequence.  It makes it there with such force that Kim continues to be listed as a high school sophomore throughout her junior year.

We previously discussed, in May of 2015, the inclusion of these things in the title sequence.  It makes more sense now that we have it in an actual context.

I'm of two minds on this.  On the one hand "High school sophomore [...] and the world's last hope," really captures what the show aspired to but never really delivered on.  Ordinary person forced into extraordinary role and all of the things that come with that.

This, apparently, was actually what aspiration was before there was anything else.  I'm focusing on the series bible, so just the one quote here, but before Schooley and McCorkle learned there was a desire for a new show, Disney had already decided that they were "looking for a show that showed ordinary kids in extraordinary circumstances".

So that's the one thing.  Ordinary kid in extraordinary circumstances is full of potential, though it's also full of potential for failure (which is probably why it usually gets screwed up.)

The other thing is this:
Junior Varsity cheerleader
At this point they had yet to cut Kim's characterization back to just "cheerleader" (she's still leader of the debate team during this stage of development) and yet only one part of her high school career makes it into this description.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with being a cheerleader, but it's notable that they specifically picked out the single most traditionally femininely coded extracurricular.

Shots of Kim's room will show that she has baseball and basketball equipment but it's important that she got her world saving athleticism via a stereotypically-feminine values-voter-approved 1950s-wholesome route.

This isn't an "I'm saying it's important" thing.  The show makes it important.  Kim credits cheerleading.  Time is taken to give Drakken a "Why did she have to be a cheerleader?" lament where it's made clear that he too thinks that Kim came to be superhero-capable only via cheerleading.  Those two are on opposite sides of the board, so that mutual agreement makes it across the board already and I'm only two examples in.

But that's for later.  What about now?

Well,  here we are: at the beginning, a year and eight months before the first episode hits the airwaves, the show is but a pitch.  What's important about Kim in this one page summary of everything you need to know?  Cheerleader.  A bit later: babysitter.

And that's the push pull for me.

Ordinary kid somehow in a unique position to save the world (repeatedly) and thus having that become their life is definitely interesting and full of potential.  It will never come up with Kim because she isn't ordinary (and it coming up with Ron is watered down severely by how quickly he got a magical upgrade.)

Also, there's definitely nothing wrong with the hero getting their athletic conditioning from their time on the cheer squad.

Yet, at the same time, it definitely seems to be the case that cheerleader was chosen for a very specific reason.  In a show that leans so heavily on stereotypes they picked the most feminine of the go-to high school stereotypes to build their character around.

You, female audience member between the ages of nine and fourteen (inclusive), can be a hero too.  (Yay!)  Provided that you make sure that it's all built upon a sufficiently girly foundation.  Wear a skirt, bare your midriff, wave some pom-poms, and never once consider that maybe you'd be more comfortable, for example, on the track team.  (Not-yay.)

It could have easily been that Kim is a kid who happens to be a cheerleader, instead it's more the case that she'a a cheerleader who happens to be a kid.  It goes from accidental (she is this but could have been anything else instead) to essential (this is who and what she is.)

That seems painfully limiting to me.  What if you're not the kind of girl who wants to be a cheerleader, or you are but you don't want it to the point that it would become the central aspect of your identity?  Does that disqualify you from being a hero?

- - -
It started innocently enough with Kim's webpage ad, "She can do anything."  She meant stuff like babysitting and watering neighbors plants.  But a weird thing happened.  The website got hits from around the world.  From people in trouble.  Take-over-the-world super-villain kind of trouble.
I quibble with the placement of "But a weird thing happened".

My dad was once the web designer/manager/person of a small restaurant chain.  He wasn't hired for this job (he was the head chef) he was just the only one who knew anything about computers or the internet.

The chain had all of three locations, which were in Maine and New Hampshire.  As the web manager he was getting emails from people in Europe asking if the chain could cater a local (to them) event.

That's just how it works.

You put something out there and it will get hits from around the world, even more so when this was written in 2000 as, back then, there was significantly less competition for those hits.

Quibble is over now.

- - -

So the set up is Kim had a Trixie-esque ad (The Great and Powerful Kim Possible can do anything!) and people with super-villain problems started asking for help.

We're back into the territory of things I like.  She didn't set out to be a hero, she stumbled into it by failing to specify what she was actually advertising for and now she's being introduced into a world that she might not have even known existed.  Faced with the (unstated) choice of helping the people or turning away, she chose to help.

Most kids would be in over their heads, and I'm actually interested in those stories a great deal.

It's been ages since I've read Sinfest, so I don't know where things stand now, but I loved Tange and Lily being in completely over their heads, never entirely sure what was going on, keeping each other positive, and always trying (and fighting) to do the right thing.

It was beautiful.

Realistically they had no chance whatsoever, but they didn't let it stop them and they muddled through somehow.  While they were very seldom (if ever) the heroes they did mange to be heroes.

That, however, isn't the direction they decided to take the show.
Tested by extremes, Kim found that she really could do anything.
She can't, that we know of, sprout wings and fly.  That said, for all that it's not literal, they're pretty big on the "anything" bit.

With the exception of ones the show seems to approve of, Kim almost never has a shortcoming that isn't solved by the end of the episode.  Certainly if there's ever something Kim encounters that she can't do, she will be able to do it soon.  (Or she'll decide it doesn't matter and isn't worth doing, but I can think of only one example of that.)

This, emphatically, not a function of the show being episodic.  Other characters have flaws that stick with them or difficulties that last (or at least linger.)  Kim is perfect.  If an imperfection is found it will be dealt with in 22 minutes or less.

- - -
Now Kim is a normal fifteen year-old
No.  No, no, no.  No.

When these pages were first released I had a concussion and was supposed to stay away from screens.  So I just linked to them and left it at that.  This is from depizan in the comments to that post, with some formatting added by me:
They really hammer on the whole "typical teenage girl, except totally not" thing.  I can't decide how I feel about that.

On the one hand, I do like the idea of someone discovering they're capable of a whole hell of a lot if people just give them the chance.

On the other hand, she's NOT a typical teenage girl (martial arts, ability to travel the world at the drop of a hat, detective skills, etc, etc, including, apparently, being model-pretty), and claiming that she IS doesn't sit quite right with me.

The more they say she's typical, normal, whatever, the more they're kind of unintentionally insulting both Kim (by minimizing her achievements) and all teenage girls everywhere (who probably aren't capable of most of the things she does).
This is huge.  Kim isn't normal.  Most of the X-Men are closer to normal than she is.  If Kim is just your basic average girl then what does that say about all of the girls out there who can't so easily balance school, family, friends, sports, activism, and everything else?

Or, to fast forward and use an example from the show, if this is average:

then what does it say about all of the girls who couldn't do that in middle school?  What are they?  Obviously they don't measure up to "average".

That scene, from the time travel movie, takes place before Kim got her first hit on her website.  That's what she was like before becoming a super hero.  Years later, after she's needed to improve on those skills massively to survive her new hobby of saving the world, she's still merely average, normal, typical, and so forth.

When Kim's saying it we can reflect on what it means that she never gives herself credit, but right here, right now, this isn't Kim.  This is one of the documents that went into creating the show and it's not saying, "Kim thinks of herself as normal," it's saying she is.

And the thing is, this:
Now Kim is a normal fifteen year-old, who happens to save the world.  A lot.
could have been done.  Given the right opportunities, resources, and support structure you could have a thing where a normal kid saved the world from super-villains.  Kim Possible is very definitely not anything like that.

It isn't like that because Kim is never allowed to be normal.

- - -
Sure, she's got schoolwork and chores and the occasional babysitting gig,
It might have been nice if we saw some of this stuff.  We will see her in school a lot, and it's probably unavoidable that we therefore know of assignments she's had.  I don't, off the top of my head, know of any chores she's ever had to do.  Her being a babysitter will be mentioned.  Her babysitting will never be shown.

I suppose that lets them avoid the question of what Kim does when someone calls or beeps her but she can't leave little Timmy at home all alone.
but what about the missing team of climbers on Mount Everest?  Somebody has got to help them.
Calling in the proper authorities is never considered, of course.  That's a missed opportunity.  The show would have been vastly different if Kim were helping the people whom the authorities ignored.

As it is, Kim has jumped into action to save the Billionaires' Club but I'm not really remembering any times she helped poor people.  She's done things that help everyone in a given area (a village, Wisconsin, Europe, the world, so forth), which logically means she must have helped any impoverished people therein, but working directly to help someone on the margins?  I'm drawing a blank.

Most of the times she's called in (which is not nearly as often as you'd think given the premise) it's a rich individual, a corporation, or a part of a government doing the calling.
And that's just what Kim does.  She helps.  Doesn't matter where.  Doesn't matter when.  Doesn't matter how dangerous.  When Kim gets an instant message from someone in trouble, she has just got to help.
I do think that there's probably something to be said about the difference between choosing to help and being compelled by your nature to help, but I'm not sure what that something is so I'm going to leave this alone.

Kim has let other people's problems become a central part of her life because she's the sort of person who won't turn away any request for help.  In real life, with real people, that's a recipe for total burnout, and we'd need to talk about the need for self care and all of that.

But Kim isn't your basic average girl (as noted above), so she doesn't face such problems.  She's only overwhelmed if an episode's plot demands it, and she never risks burning out.  Kim is perfect and therefore can help everyone with all the things all the time.

- - -
Tenacious.  Strong.  Resourceful.  Kim could be anything she wants to be.
This is the most description we've gotten of the title character, generic though it is, in this summary.

Also note the continued dissonance of actual-Kim vs. "We swear she's totally normal" Kim.

A normal high school student cannot be anything they want to be.  Sometimes they fail.  Sometimes their abilities don't match the task.  Sometimes someone else is better than they are and therefore gets the last opening.

"You can be anything you want to be" is useful in certain circumstances, but it becomes damning when someone like Kim shows up for whom it is literally true.

Usually it's said to encourage people to reach for their dreams instead of giving up before they even start.  It's said because while you can't be anything you want to be, you don't know what you can and can't be until you try.  Thus something that encourages you to try is often good, because without it "I can't be X," isn't a statement of what is actually possible so much as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The dark side of the sentiment is that it sets things up so that when you come across something you truly can't be, it tells you it's because you're somehow failing and deficient.  Or, at the very least, you're not trying hard enough.  Since you can, it's not like something else is preventing you from being what you want.  Since you're not, and we've already ruled out "something else", the blame can only lie with you.

Why aren't you a perfect, pretty, and popular student who makes her parents proud?  Must be your fault.  Kim Possible, who is merely basic, average, normal, and typical has pulled off all of that and so much more.  You could too, if you actually cared.

So the message seems to be.

- - -
It's like that time she saved a remote Pacific island from volcanic disaster, a photographer doing a swimsuit shoot offered to catapult her to cover girl status, but in her words:

Gee, thanks.  But why be a supermodel when I can be a super role model.
Right, because those two things are mutually exclusive.

Kim can be anything she wants to be.  Even a supermodel.  Models, on the other hand, can't be role models.  Because fuck 'em, amirite?

(If you're going to look into this woman, be warned that what she was standing up against was horrific, as in: mutilation-horrific.  Warning out of the way:)

In 2000, when this is dated, Waris Dirie was at the midpoint of her time as a UN Special Ambassador.

But, hey, trying to make a difference in the world --trying to make it a better place-- that's not role model material, now is it?

Or, maybe, we should have a hero that doesn't judge people and professions based solely on superficial stereotypes.

Kim is supermodel pretty, because she has to be feminine, but not supermodel willing, because we all know that models are *slams head into keyboard . . . figuratively*

Of course, this is just the-less-than-one-page summary.  As such it's an inherently shallow look at everything.

We'll start looking at character bios next.