Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"No Beast So Fierce" by Patrick Garson (Article on Telling & Re-telling Fairy Tales)

From "Beauty and the Beast: An Old Tale New-Told"
illustrated by Eleanor Vere Boyle

Here's an article I caught a few days ago at on writing fairy tales by Patrick Garson, a regular poster at Tor. He also wrote his thesis on Disney's Beauty & the Beast and highly recommends Marina Warner's "From the Beast to the Blonde".

In his article, Mr. Garson uses the way we visualize the Beast (via illustrations old and new) as a great symbol of how we tell and re-tell fairy tales, among other points. Here are a couple of excerpts:

One of the things I adore about fairy tales is their malleability. The wonder and frisson you get from someone playing with and reinventing well-known tales is a truly unique, very special feeling (when it’s done well, that is…). And yet, we often assume that this reinvention is purely the prerogative of modern writers. Not so, I cry! We have been playing around with fairy tales, bending their archetypes to our will, for their entire written history (and there’s no reason to think the oral pre-history would be any different).

From "Beauty and the Beast: An Old Tale New-Told"
illustrated by Eleanor Vere Boyle

Later Patrick writes:

When you take a look at this visual history,(edit FTNH: of how illustrators over the years have portrayed fairy tale archetypes and classic story scenes) that malleability I mentioned—of themes, characters, atmosphere—becomes quickly and deliciously apparent. Especially in stories where what’s described is something ambiguous and variable, something that changes over time, something embedded into much of our communication and latter-day stories. Something like beauty, or beastliness.

The whole article (and all the links) are very interesting, whether you read, write or study fairy tales and worth your time to check out. You can read the whole article HERE. And don't forget to check out the illustrations he's chosen for his article. They're a variety of Beauty & the Beast illustrations - all of the story beat where Beauty's father meets the Beast.Apart from being integral to the discussion they're also quite a different collection from the usual. An extra treat!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Making Roots

Thank you SO much to all who've commented and emailed in support of our situation here. I really didn't expect any feedback but the number of kind and supportive responses have been amazing and really helped keep our spirits up. Every single comment, note and mail is truly and greatly appreciated by me and mine here. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort.

Update: There really aren't any new developments regarding our living situation except to say the pressure is still on and the clock continues ticking but we are making sure we are pro-active in some way every day, being thankful for the good things. We have high hopes that things will be resolved soon (in the next few weeks) and that we'll leave this chapter behind. I'm just thankful I don't have to relocate an entire shoe's worth of children and convince possible buyers to see (sniff?) beyond the old sock smell!

Thank you again - to everyone - for the support. I hope to be making more regular news posts from here on out until the actual move happens, though there are bound to be a few missed days here and there still - especially on the day I make my toddler that cardboard box castle I've promised him, when everything is unpacked again! Thank you again for your patience and continued readership. This is an awesome and special community.

The lovely paintings in this post are by Kathleen Lolley. She has a wonderful collection of mythic art at her site HERE and at her Flickr account HERE (a must-see if you like owls), including a number of home themed images that take on new meaning for me at present. "Making Roots" particularly exemplifies our current feelings: our house is up in the air but our roots reach beyond that little detail, growing daily stronger as we work on building our Home.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Once Upon A House...

My apologies for the sudden lack of posts and for not answering emails the past couple of weeks (at least!). I've decided to share what's been happening for me and mine in the hopes that others having difficulties will be encouraged that they are not alone. So here's the most personal post I've written for Once Upon A Blog so far...

I have houses on the brain.

You see, to put it bluntly, we are losing ours. I almost wrote 'home', but in the days since finding out that this was not only a possibility but an actuality it's become very clear that home will be wherever my little family ends up. It's not dependent on a building or a location, or even our 'stuff'. As long as we're together, we will be Home and everything will be OK.Everyone knows the economy in the US is in a terrible state but it's not till it starts affecting people you know (and your own family) that you realize how widespread it is. We've known the possibility of moving was there for a while but facing it, especially under these circumstances (which are complicated and personal) as the 'thing that has to happen' was shocking - devastating even. Once we started talking about the difficulties we've been having though, lots of people began to confess they were in hardship too. And I do mean LOTS. All the secrecy, shame, the hiding heads in the sand and the fear are contributing to people not learning what they should about their situation and what their options truly are. This is the main reason I want to share. No matter where you are in your troubles with finances, jobs (and the lack of them) and housing, you always have a choice.

This is one of the very important lessons I've learned from fairy tales. Bad things happen. Sometimes it's your fault, sometimes it isn't. No matter what, you DO have choices. Maybe they're not nice choices or easy choices BUT it's empowering to actively choose, instead of just having everything happen to you.
For us, the choice has been to proceed with what's called a "short sale". It's not what we wanted but we believe it's our best option at this juncture. It's tricky with banks changing the rules every few weeks (and incredibly frustrating when you've been trying to negotiate a loan modification for over half a year) but being active in what happens to us in the future makes us feel less like victims and more like we're managing a bad situation for a better outcome. Knowing we are doing everything we can to put things right means we can move forward with fewer regrets and reduce our chances of ever being in this situation again.I will continue to post at Once Upon A Blog when I can during these challenges but please forgive the lack of daily fairy tale news until the changes are complete and the dust settles.

To all those facing trouble of all kinds, hang in there. You're not alone. We're right there with you and we're determined to make it out the other side. Yes, we're trudging through a very dark part of the woods and yes, there most definitely are wolves (they come in all shapes and sizes). The worry continues and the stress is high (we are human after all) but we now know there's a way through and that there's a 'they lived happily' in our future to look forward to.


PS The fun pictures in this post are from a Photoshop challenge called Bizarrchitecture, by Worth 1000. You can see these and lots more fun, fantasy houses HERE (you'll need to scroll down past the welcome at the top of the page).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jack Zipes to Speak on "De-Disneyfying the Fairy-Tale Film"

Professor Jack Zipes, a well known and respected powerhouse in fairy tale studies, is set to speak in Vancouver on March 24th on the subject of fairy tales and film makers, specifically Disney's versions vs other treatments.

From The Grapevine:
Our contemporary concept and image of a fairy tale has been shaped and standardized by Disney so efficiently through the mechanisms of the culture industry that our notions of happiness and utopia are and continue to be filtered through a Disney lens, even if it is myopic. It seems that myopia has come to dominate both reality and utopia, thanks to Disneyfication, or that we are conditioned to view reality and fairy tales through a myopic pseudo-utopian lens. Despite the domination of the fairy-tale film by the Disney Corporation, however, it would be misleading to consider the Disney productions as constituting a monopoly of fairy-tale films, or that they have totally twisted our views of reality and utopia, for there have always been competing films that offer a different vision of fairy tales and social conditions. In this talk Professor Zipes will explore the different endeavors of filmmakers to develop fairy-tale films which essentially propose alternatives to the standard Disney fairy-tale film.
Event details are HERE.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gowns Made Of the Sunlight, Moonbeams & Sky

Do you know which story these garments are inspired by? It's "Peau d'Ane" or "Donkeyskin".

And one clever designer, Valerie Lamontagne, has not only created three dresses inspired by the fairy tale but she's created them in such a way that they capture the essence of sky, sun and moon - literally. She calls them 'climate-reactive' dresses.

Each garment responds, in real time, to a particular aspect of the weather, thanks to a little tech-couture.

Here's a description of each from

Lamontagne gamely rises to the princess’s challenge*. Her floaty “Sky Dress,” made of pocketed parachute fabric, contains 14 tiny fans that are linked to a weather station. The packets of air expand and contract in response to variations in wind speed and direction.

The “Moon Dress,” designed to reflect the “lyrical intensity of the moon,” according to Lamontagne, features 14 glowing flowers that change color according to the phase of the moon.

And for the princess’s third task, to create a dress as radiant as the sun, Lamontagne interlaces fabric with conductive threads that pipe electricity through a series of circuits. Reacting to fluctuations in ultraviolet and solar radiation, the 128 LEDs on the “Sun Dress” flicker on and off, mimicking the shifting intensity of the sun.

How cool is that?

You can find out more about the materials and tech at Ms. Lamontagne's website HERE.

* In order to stave off her father's advances and delay nuptial plans, the princess asks for three impossible-to-make dresses. Unfortunately he also 'rises to the challenge'. It's then that the familiar donkeyskin is asked for, provided then used as a means to enable escape.

"True Love and Fairy Tales" Pt II (Article)

Part II of my article "True Love and Fairy Tales" is live at Supernatural Fairy Tales.

Part I takes a good (raised-eyebrow) look at Cinderella and Part II untangles Rapunzel (sorry, couldn't resist!).

True love in fairy tales isn't quite what most people think it is - it might actually be better. ;)

Part I is HERE and Part II is HERE.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"The Secret of Kells"

This post was set to go live on Sunday before the Oscars but I didn't have time to finish it. I'm completing and posting it late anyway because this movie is worth watching (doubly so if you're interested in Celtic tales and myths) and is continuing to have incredible impact, including selling out to audiences in New York this week and breaking records for an Indie release.

The official website is HERE and includes resources for schools, wonderful music and much more (including even more images than are shown here).Now that Oscar nominated film "The Secret of Kells" (titled "Brendan and the Secret of Kells" in the UK and Europe) is opening in theaters in the US, a whole lot of people are being wowed by the visuals and story telling of this Celtic story, that's already received multiple awards and continues to garner critical acclaim. All the designs, including the characters, are based on the actual Book of Kells, making for a stunning and very different family animated film.Today, collected for your enjoyment from all over the web, I'm posting a variety of scenes from the movie.And if you don't know anything about the movie, here's a synopsis from Andrew O'Hehir of

A haunting blend of history, fairy tale and pure invention, Moore's film follows a young student monk named Brendan, who has spent his whole life inside the fortified walls of the Abbey of Kells, whose forbidding abbot (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) has built it as a sanctuary against the Viking raiders who are pillaging and burning Irish villages at will. (It's somewhere around the year 800 A.D., give or take.) Into Brendan's cloistered life comes a playful monastic wanderer named Aidan (Mick Lally), who apparently studied with the legendary St. Colum Cille (aka St. Columba) on the Scottish isle of Iona, and carries with him perhaps the single greatest treasure of medieval Ireland.

That treasure is neither gold nor jewels but a book -- a lavish illustrated manuscript version of the Gospels that in centuries to come will be known as the Book of Kells. (Today it is considered Ireland's most important single cultural artifact, and can be seen under glass in the Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin.) Brendan's yearning to help Aidan complete the manuscript, and safeguard it from Scandinavian marauders, leads him outside the walls of Kells into the magical forest around it -- and also out of the then-new Christian world into the pagan past.

Borrowing a wide range of illustrations and motifs from the Book of Kells and numerous other medieval and indigenous sources, Moore and his team of Irish, Belgian and French animators send Brendan on a mystical voyage. He is aided by an irrepressible forest sprite named Aisling ("ASH-ling"), but must go alone to face the terrifying Crom Cruach, an ancient and perhaps demonic Celtic deity who -- at least in some legends -- required the sacrifice of first-born children to ensure the harvest.

Want to see more? There's a blog HERE which has chronicled the production since it began and is refreshingly personal and positive (as opposed to a selection of marketing releases). And here's the new trailer for the current US release:

And here, at a glance, you can see how it all works together. Just gorgeous!
There's a special film story book released too, in which they've made an effort to capture the sense of style of the film, rather than just show images from the movie with text.Here are just a few of the pages (not in order):
You can find that book HERE. (Note: Amazon is currently selling this book for over $100 but you can find it in non-US stores, who ship to the US, for much, much less.)

Moving art full of myths and tales. This film is enough to make me consider going back into animation. I hope there are lots of extras included on the DVD and I can't wait to see how the next feature "Song of the Sea" turns out (think selkies and Irish folklore - see development pic and conceptual trailer below)!