One Lovely Blog Award

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled discussion about fairy tales for a brief digression.

When you start writing a blog, you wonder if anyone will ever read it. At least I did. I’ll admit I started it because I wanted a platform for my book after being told by a certain literary agent that without an on-line presence I was dead in the water. After burning off my righteous indignation, I decided that he wasn’t entirely wrong and blogging seemed the least self-indulgent. Still, I had to rack my brain to find a topic I thought would be interesting enough for me to write week after week with the possibility of sending my thoughts into the void without a response.

I took pleasure in small victories. Random people checking out my thoughts was great. Having my tenth follower made me happier than was probably appropriate. Now I have another reason to cheer…I’ve been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award!

One Lovely Blog Award logoAccording to the rules, I’m supposed to list 7 things about myself and nominate 7 other blogs among other things. First, I want to thank AP Roberts of the blog AP Roberts’ Stories for nominating me for the award. (See the other nominees here)

Now, here are the 7 little known facts about me from the random and weird to the informative…and also random. Enjoy!

  1. My blog about fairy tales is really a platform for the YA fantasy series I’m writing called Rhymes & Misdemeanors, about a teenage detective in the land of Mother Goose.
  2. I’m 32 and I’m still not on Facebook. I also prefer paper to my computer (sorry Cooper), but draw I the line at stone tablets and a chisel.
  3. My dog doubles as my security detail when I go to the bathroom because, I think in his mind, the toilet is dangerous.
  4. I’m married to my high school sweetheart and have one daughter, and reading her fairy tales is what incensed me enough to start a blog discussing and updating fairy tales.
  5. My sense of smell is almost nez caliber and I considered making perfume a career when I was in high school (but I never told anyone).
  6. Despite the nose thing, I have a BA in international relations and a MA in history, both which qualify me to write in complete and coherent sentences.
  7. Favorite/Least favorite words: in English my favorite word is quotidian and my least favorite word  is funky. My favorite word in Spanish is ambos (meaning both) and my least favorite is jugoso (meaning juicy). In Italian, my favorite word is nuotare (to swim) and my least favorite is boato (meaning rumble).

I also want to take the time to nominate other blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award.

  1. SurLaLune Fairy Tales: A blog discussing fairy tales in popular culture which also sends out alerts for upcoming books on bargain buys in fairy tales.
  2. Something to Read for the Train: Reviews of the faerie, the sinister and writing.
  3. SophieBowns: Seralized fiction stories as well as flash fiction.
  4. Rebecca Hains: A media studies professor and author focusing on girls and media.
  5. A-faerietale-of-inspiration: Really gorgeous arts and crafts based on fairy tales, myths, and nature.
  6. The Art of Polemics: An unbiased view of history in a straightforward, yet intellectual way.
  7. Coffee Stained: A site with a unique voice that discusses topics ranging from  storytelling to video games

Thanks for supporting the blog!

Motherhood in Fairy Tales

There’s no greater antithesis to celebrating the role of Mother than fairy tales. In most, the biological mother is usually dead and in her place is a step-mother of dubious nurturing abilities. Fairy tales have a way of reinforcing the main female archetypes, virginal innocent or power-hungry witch. But what if the virgin was a bitch and the witch used her power for good? I’ve never had a step mother nor have I ever been one, but I feel that this much maligned position could use a modern fairy tale revamp.

The Witch (written in fairy tale style)

Once there was a woman of great power and simple needs. She lived in the woods learning the ways of the flora and fauna that surrounded her from her own senses and her wise mother. She grew past a marriageable age, but thought little of it happy in her home.

One day, a man happened upon their cottage with a heavy heart. Taking pity on the man, the woman brought him into her sanctuary. He told both women of his heartbreak brought on by the death of his wife and his motherless daughter. The woman was moved by his story and offered what comfort she could, but felt powerless to bring him any relief. He thanked them both and continued on his way.

Days passed and the woman could not stop thinking about the man and his daughter. Her mother, who had taught her compassion, cautioned her taking on other people’s problems was often a thankless task. The woman agreed, but still she mused and moped feeling helpless in the face of such bald sadness.

It came to pass that on a particularly beautiful day the woman made an important decision. Leaving a note for her mother, she searched for the home of the man and his child. What she found was a grand home far different from her own, lacking plants and wild animals. It made her uneasy, but she reminded herself that she was not here for herself. She was greeted at the door by a girl on the verge of womanhood with a face that revealed her disdain for the visitor. Looking down at her clothing, she noticed the patches and stains for the first time. In contrast, the girl at the door looked elegant and beautiful. Soon thereafter her father appeared and the look of contentment on his face told the woman she had made the right decision.

As always happens in these stories, the two had a short courtship followed by marriage and soon a child of their own. In the meantime, the man’s daughter grew more beautiful by the day, but also more vain and unpleasant. She spurned the love offered her by her step-mother and refused to learn the lessons her step-mother tried in vain to impart. The girl took to calling her step-mother a witch and word of it spread throughout the town. Because her step-mother was plain and a stranger, the townspeople believed the beautiful girl. Her father became withdrawn and was reluctant to defend his new wife, especially to his vain daughter.

There was business to be conducted in a neighboring town, and so the man left his new wife, his baby, and his elder daughter at home. The woman took this time to go into the woods and visit her mother with her new baby. It also afforded her the opportunity to collect herbs for her garden. Left to her own devices, the elder daughter spent her time weaving a web of lies and fear in the townspeople against her step-mother. Calling her a witch and claiming to have been mistreated at her hands, the townspeople vowed to drive the evil woman away. The duke’s son, beguiled by her beauty, offered to be her protector and slay her step-mother.

Upon returning to her home, the step-mother found an angry mob restlessly patrolling the manor. One caught sight of her and alerted the others, who came running at her. For her part, she clutched her baby tighter and ran back into the forest never to be seen again. The townspeople congratulated themselves on ridding the town of such an evil influence. The girl soon married the duke’s son, leaving her grieving father alone.

The woman returned to her quiet home in the forest and raised her son teaching him all she had learned from her mother and for good measure warned him against the temptation of a pretty face. “Better a witch than a bitch.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

Princess Makeovers?

I’ve mentioned before that I like Disney. Besides their wonderful parks and the uplifting mantra that dreams really do come true, I enjoy the entertainment they provide for children in a world that has fewer G rated movies. I’ve also mentioned that I like the movie Brave despite the buffoonish male archetypes. Now, Brave’s Princess Merida is to become an official Disney Princess, an honor I’m sure. However, the approach has left me baffled.

It’s being called a “Barbie-style makeover” giving Merida a tinier waist, controlling her curly locks, exposing her shoulders and taking away her trademark bow and arrow. In its place they’ve added makeup and sparkles to her dress. Why?

merida full length

Courtesy Disney Pixar’s Brave

 

 

I’m not the only one who feels miffed at the transformation. A petition at change.org was started saying “No to the Merida Makeover”. Our modern fairy tale has opted to become a cookie-cutter princess which completely negates the character’s essence. She spunky and fights not only conventions, but also her dress and any attempt to control her hair. Yet Disney has decided that before she can wear the princess tiara she should take it easy on the dessert tray. Which image do you prefer?

new merida

Courtesy Disney Pixar’s Brave

 

Purpose or pretty?

Determined or dolled-up?

Natural or nymphet?

In honor of Mother’s Day I was originally going to write a post about the role of motherhood in fairy tales, but instead I wanted to take the time to remind us that today’s princess could be tomorrow’s President and lipstick should not be a requirement. (And on behalf of curly girls everywhere, stop trying to tame my hair!)

The Looney Tunes-Fairy Tale Conundrum

What do Bugs Bunny and fairy tales have in common?

There’s no punch line, although I’ll give points to anyone who can think of one.

Besides the obvious–animals and humans talking to each other without flinching–there is an answer. But first, some background.

I’ve been toying with the idea of allowing my daughter to watch Looney Tunes. I’ll admit I have some reservations about the matter. Bugs Bunny may be beloved, but he’s also disgraceful. He encourages belittling those with speech impediments, has a serious penchant for violence, and is rather found of racist humor. What do I do when she asks me about the decidedly politically incorrect material she’ll be exposed to in seemingly harmless cartoons?

Well, perhaps I can comfort myself in knowing that the Grimm Fairy Tales I read her are just as grotesque and amoral. Have we ever stopped to think about how stunningly violent most fairy tales are? Most characters die, are cursed, or are subject to years of slavery and servitude. And those are the good guys! The bad guys are certifiable, willing to risk life and limb to win against servant girls, princesses, princes and anyone standing in their way. Who tries to kill a baby because she wasn’t invited to a party? A nutcase with antisocial tendencies! Or in this case, a fairy who felt slighted. (Sleeping Beauty anyone?)

I came across this post, which wonderfully illustrates the parental dilemma of big and bad versus warm and cuddly.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/oct/13/adult-content-warning-fairy-stories

So, the truth is, neither fairy tales nor Looney Tunes were meant for kids. The gruesome descriptions and off-color humor were originally meant for adults, who are prepared to see gray where children see only black and white. Does the fact that we have made this material available to children make gratuitous violence acceptable in their TV and literature?

Maybe the answer isn’t so cut and dry.  As a parent, I worry that my daughter’s concrete way of looking at the world will be skewed by the things she reads and watches. As a parent who still remembers being a child, I know I watched way more TV and read books too mature for me. I turned out fine. As a matter of fact all those fairy tales, Disney cartoons, and Looney Tunes gave me more imagination than I can contain. It’s why I write.

Have you figured out the answer to my question? Fairy Tales and Looney Tunes were supposed to be for adults, but when I indulge in either I feel like a kid again. Probably because that’s when I first experienced them.

That’s all folks!