Did you have a favorite coming-of-age movie? There are so many to choose from so your favorites will likely depend on your age, background, and interests. Popular titles include The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls, Grease, and 10 Things I Hate About You. While there are many movies and musicals that wound their way deep into my heart, only one powered its way into my imagination so deeply that it still holds a sizable chunk of my heart. One night at a friend's sleepover birthday party someone pulled out the newly released to VHS movie Newsies. We watched it, and watched it, and watched it, and watched it. Literally. We watched it four times that night. I barely slept and as soon as I was picked up I was on a mission to get the soundtrack. The music, by Alan Menken, is catchy and thrilling. It starts out with Max Casella's unique voice, "In 1899, the streets of New York echoed with the voices of Newsies . . . " and tells the story of the newsboys strike that year. I even went to the library to research the story but was disappointed to learn that Disney had added to the story, so while it was based on a true story, the based is what should be emphasized, not the true. (I quickly learned that this was normal after seeing Disney's White Fang then reading the Jack London book.)
I look back on the movie with cringy delight. I was SOOOO into it. I was team David and my best friend was solidly team Jack, but that didn't stop us from going gaga over the story together. My parents never let me get too over the top in my obsessions, but they did tolerate a lot of talking about New York, The New York World, and Newsies in general. (Thanks mom and dad.) Newsies first introduced me to people like Joseph Pulitzer, and William Randolph Hearst. Since then I've read several Pulitzer Prize-winning books and I've visited Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. No, the stories weren't entirely accurate, but they whetted my appetite for more. And, just like in so many things, I found new words.
Today's Word: Conflagration
Four syllables. Pronounced [kon-fluh-GREY-shuh n] Noun- defined in the OAD as a large and destructive fire.
After striking a business deal, Jack is trying to teach David and his little brother how to sell papers. Jack adds drama to the story about a small trash fire on Ellis Island that scared seagulls by saying, "Big conflagration! Thousands flee in panic." The way he (Christian Bale) yells out CON-FLA-GRAY-SHON in his New York accent was just enough to draw me to Team Jack momentarily. David had been reading literal headlines and selling nothing, but with Jack's hype, the papers sell quickly. Incidentally, if you think that "fake news" is a 2016 thing, you are sadly mistaken.
Keep listening for those amazing words that connect with you because they are all around us. And remember, it is absolutely possible to say big fire instead of conflagration, but which will sell more papers?
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