Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ask Baba Yaga: I Am My Own Worst Enemy

Baba Jaga by ~iphigen
This week is AWESOME! (Like pretty much every other week has been, but for a fairy tale person, it may be even more so this week...)

This week's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

The discussion among commenters are my top picks this week:
  • Such great advice! Uncanny! (adorable-eggplant)
  • Out-tricksied! (insert heart here) (fabel)
  • I feel I would try so much harder to follow advice that was given cryptically. Straightforward advice, all lies. THAT's the problem. Clearly. (Linette)
  • @Linette yes! another point for oracles over advice columnists. (harebell)
I think Linette is on to something! Gosh I love this one: thorned and starving paths, enchanted balls of yarn taking them to SECRET GRAVEYARDS. Yes! Clearly I need to lead my other self down other paths than the garden one. I think I have been too nice to date. :/ (Thanks Baba!)

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
There's now an email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.

Friday, August 30, 2013

"The Mirror: A Snow White Tale" (MOOC challenge)

I'm planning to do a highlights post on some of the fairy tale MOOC classes and discussions we've been busy with the past four weeks but thought I'd start with this.

Each week, we studied a different tale or tales, discussed, analyzed, compared and contrasted them and also had an optional "tech challenge"on the theme.

Although I'm late in uploading my "slideshow retelling", after having a few technical issues with the free online software, I really wanted to finish what I started and ended up reconstructing the slideshow offline. It's not perfect but I wanted to keep to the limits of the software we were supposed to use [which I did. Mostly. :) ] and was more pleased than I expected to be with how it turned out overall.

You'll notice my retelling has no male figures at all - not even dwarfs... (I'll leave you to consider what light that throws on the tale.)

The Mirror: A Snow White Tale
by Gypsy Thornton
(MOOC tech challenge: slideshow retelling of a fairy tale)
Running time: 2:19
Music: "Gone" by Ioanna Gika

(Note: the movie file is pretty big. If it's not running properly, let it load first then watch.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Snow White Hearts Art

From the Facebook page Artspiradora  - a very creative and inspirational page-project - in which they provide many examples of art, including unconventional methods of reproduction to educate kids about Art and the Masters. One example is a bento-box-like presentation of Magritte's The Son of Man, or a parody of Hopper's famous painting Nighthawks "rebuilt" in Lego.

A little while back they posted the image above which is a homage to both Disney and Frida (originally on display at the not-for-kids Disasterland* show by Mexican artist José Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Feliz, Los Angeles CA, in August last year (important note regarding this show at end of post - please read before clicking on links).

The point in the case of Artpiradora's Facebook page, however, was/is to use Disney and Snow White to teach kids about art, surrealism and Frida (and heartache). You have to admit, in matters of the heart, Snow White is a perfect Disney example to use...

The description from Facebook, translated from Spanish, is below:
BETRAYAL vs LOVEThe painting done by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, called "The Two Fridas" (1939) depicts how she felt after the divorce of the painter Diego Rivera: her only companion, was herself. See two facets in this table: Frida was loved by Diego, and one that was betrayed, the traditional versus the cosmopolitan, the strong and the weak. Symbolic objects as we see a photograph of Diego, scissors, blood ... they are easy to interpret. Some Frida Kahlo pigeonhole surreal, but she defends the title saying: "They thought I was a Surrealist, but I was not. I never painted my dreams. I painted my own reality "
Frida painting her two selves
If you're on Facebook, love art, creativity and being inspired by different (and generally family friendly) thinking, I recommend liking Artspiradora. You'll find yourself thinking and feeling out of the box - like hearts are meant to. ;)

Important Note: The show Disasterland depicts Disney characters in very adult situations (including some NSFW). The content is NOT meant for children (eg one of the pieces shows Bambi lying next to his obviously dead mother in the snow) but is supposed to be “a tribute to pop culture, fashion, animation, horror films and the undeniable attraction of celebrity.” While many of the pieces show a twisted sense of humor, they are NOT suitable for young eyes. Artspiradora chose to post the piece shown above out of this context, to good effect (and for which I a grateful).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Article: Red Riding Hood vs The Assault Weapon

No doubt you've seen this poster. With kids everywhere going back to school this week and last it's a topic on the minds of many parents (including me) and, frankly, this does a great job of pushing all my buttons.

It's designed to be provocative, hoping to get people to more seriously consider supporting gun control laws against assault weapons but the question is, will it help?

I've seen this surface periodically after one of the most recent tragic school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut ("most recent tragic school shootings" is an awful phrase to have to write).

This, however, is the first article I've seen discussing whether or not the banning of Little Red Riding Hood is a fair comparison to banning assault weapons and both subjects go under the microscope.

From PolitiFact:

The Little Red Riding Hood shown in the image has indeed been banned before. The version of the 17th century fairy tale was adapted by the late, Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Trina Schart Hyman and was originally published in 1987. According to media accounts, the volume became a target because one image showed a bottle of wine in the girl’s basket, a detail that had been included in the original version of the fairy tale. 
An Associated Press article quoted Culver City, Calif., assistant superintendent for instruction Vera Jashni saying that the inclusion of wine in the book "gives the younger ones the wrong impression about alcohol. If they should refrain, why give them a story saying it's okay?'' Jashni told the AP that she was worried about lines in the book that said, "The grandmother drank some of the wine, and ... after a while, the grandmother felt quite strong and healthy, and began to clean up the mess that the wolf had left in the cottage.''

The article goes on to further explain the objections to Red Riding Hood's basket contents, summarize a little more of her history in schools and then scrutinizes assault weapon bans as well.

The conclusions are surprising in that this (ad) is actually a shaky use of a comparison regarding "ban for ban" in the whole of the USA.

But the point has been made and the Sandy Hook Elementary parents have been heard. After a sullied reputation there for a few years it's nice to see Little Red working to keep our kids safe again, even if it's not the way she was originally intended to.

(I realize there's probably a lot more I could consider and analyze here regarding Red Riding Hood appearing in conjunction with these issues right now but this is too close to home for me so I'll leave you to do that yourself.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Real Life Glimpse Into Snow White's Revenge

From Camille Rose Garcia's Snow White
This post is NOT for everyone.
It discusses historical torture methods.
Skip this if you have a sensitive stomach.
At first she did not want to go to the wedding, but she found no peace. She had to go and see the young queen. When she arrived she recognized Snow-White, and terrorized, she could only stand there without moving.Then they put a pair of iron shoes into burning coals. They were brought forth with tongs and placed before her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead. (Grimms Household Tales 1857)
Although I've yet to finish this (and am late in getting it done), I'm working on putting together a slideshow retelling of Snow White for one of the tech challenges in the fairy tale MOOC. Since I'm focusing on how the Queen and Snow White affect each other, I did a little digging into history to see if I could make a little more sense of the "red hot iron shoes" the Queen was forced to dance in at Snow's wedding.
Dance to death - Kelly Mccracken
✒ ✒ ✒  ✒ (click the "Read more" link below this line) ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fairy Tale Beauties by Charlie Bowater

Looks like British concept artist Ms. Bowater has started a fairy tale series... (and we heart it!)

This is her second fairy tale piece and latest work from just over a week ago. (Check all the patterns and lace!)

Her previous work, which you've seen on many Tumblrs and Pinterest boards was her more-Grimms-than-Disney version of Snow White:

You can currently purchase a signed limited edition print of Sleeping Beauty (size A3/11.7" x 16.5") HERE.

If you like these you may also like her Fool's Gold, though it's limited color (black and white with gold).

We sincerely hope she stays inspired in the fairy tale way and we see more from her soon!

Charlie Bowater's website is HERE, her blog is HERE and her deviantArt gallery is HERE.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

OUAT in Oz?

Looks like it. It's either going to be one of those "down the rabbit hole" places they cross over to or, more likely, a whole second spin-off (if Wonderland goes over well). It comes as no surprise, really, especially since the OUAT gospel (aka Henry's Once Upon A Time storybook) showed a picture of flying monkeys on a page back in the first season.

From one half of the OUAT creator-team, Adam Horowitz:
"We’ve always loved Oz — we’ve talked about it, we’ve hinted at it, and if and when we get to it, we have the way we want to do it. And if we’re lucky enough to be able to do it, we’ll just go our way. It just goes to our approach to all these things, which is about honoring the source material and trying to do something new to it without reinventing the wheel." (via Examiner)

An enthusiastic fan made note of all the visible doors from the episode in Hat Trick (see image below), which begs the question: where do they all open to? (My guess is Horowitz and Kitsis haven't decided yet, although they have ideas.)

By the way, fan hype and expectation is high for OUAT in Wonderland but critic preview-reviews are overall warning not to expect too much At the very least they're hoping that the preview they saw was unfinished, would be re-edited and the effects would be "fixed" so we'll see. From the fan buzz, though, Wonderland would have to be truly, incredibly terrible to bomb at this point.

So, trending right now in development are Peter Pan and/or Neverland (which includes OUAT), Jack and the Beanstalk (which doesn't) and Oz.

The OZ projects on the horizon now include:

If you had a choice, what other realms would you like to see behind door numbers one through sixteen? What other realms in popular fairy tale and fantasy (especially Disney-related fantasy are there? (If you'd like to follow some speculation you can read a discussion thread on it HERE.)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ask Baba Yaga: All I Want Is So Desperately to Be Good

Baba Yaga Bookplate by Ukranian printmaker Konstantin Kalinovich
"I'm in the middle of a muddle, in the middle of a riddle..." how does that go? Baba Yaga will tell you. And then some. Though, I'm pretty sure, this is not the fairy tale answer the person was looking for...

This week's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

The discussion among commenters are my top picks this week:
  • How is this always so perfect (Gulf of Finland)
  •    - (@Gulf of Finland) Witchcraft. (I'm Right on Top of that, Rose)
  •    - @Megasus Ocean no getchu! (The ocean won't get you - Bergy Bits) Those dark longings though, sucking at the glass... *shivers* (iceberg)
  •    - - @iceberg Yr eyes do not shut! O.M.G. (SarahP)
The way "though" typed out, with the "h" somewhat transparent, definitely had me swallowing a big lump of trepidation right then. *shudder* Good luck with that Siren love you have there!

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
There's now an email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.

Happy 100th Birthday Little Mermaid Statue (A Pictorial Tribute)

In August 23, 1913, a new fairy tale icon was unveiled on the shores of Copenhagen, Denmark and, one hundred years later, she remains as beautiful, alluring and enchanting as ever.
The statue was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg, after he had been fascinated by a ballet about the fairytale. The sculptor Edward Eriksen created the statue, which was unveiled on 23 August 1913. His wife, Eline Eriksen, was the model. (Source)
She's left her mark on history and made a few strong statements here and there but will always best be known for her wistful beauty.

Before we look at her (occasionally scandalous) highlights, here are a selection of lovely photos:

She's been used in art and film (including having Disney's Little Mermaid take her pose on screen)...
... had installations exhibited near and next to her...

... been the focus of some controversial political and social statements and protests...

... survived being vandalized via paint (red, green and pink), having a "marital device" attached to her hand, being blown off her rock by explosives (!)...

... and losing her head...
... was (legitimately) turned pink for International Day of the Girl (October 11)...
... was finally given a male counterpart...
... and has even briefly traveled the world.
The Little Mermaid preps for her trip to Shanghai for the World Expo in March 2010
Excerpt from archived article at TheSqueeze: 
On March 25th (2010), The Little mermaid began her journey to Shanghai, to be part of the World Expo 2010. She will represent the cultural exchange between Denmark and China. 
...The Little Mermaid is leaving her homeland for the first time, since she was unveiled in the Copenhagen Harbor in 1913. There has been a big controversy over the decision to move the statue, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, which is the city’s most popular landmark. The idea of sending a replica was dismissed by the Danish commissioner-general, Christopher Bo Bramsen, for Expo 2010.  
While she will be away, a video installation by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be installed at her spot, until she returns in November.
Here's a video (very beautifully filmed!) of the Little Mermaid being kidnapped, er, relocated for the Expo:

While she was away the Little Mermaid was replaced briefly by this:

Then by this:

If you are well familiar with HCA's Little Mermaid you know it's very poetic that she did, indeed, get to see the world. Despite the controversy, it seems a fitting tribute in more ways than one.

She's been back for a while now and continues to preside over the harbor, posing for thousands of photos per year, reminding everyone of her story*.

Denmark is having a slew of 100th celebrations events in the latter half of this year (and some beyond), some of which are detailed HERE.

Happy Birthday Little Mermaid!
*The Little Mermaid was written by Hans Christian Andersen and first published in 1837. It is said to be Andersen's most personal work.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jennifer Hudson as Tiana by Annie Leibovitz

Just revealed about an hour ago, here's the latest pic in the celebrity Disney Dream Portrait campaign for Disney Parks: Jennifer Hudson as Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.

You can see a little from behind the scenes of the photoshoot below:
The image will be seen in issues of Vanity FairO – The Oprah Magazine, and People.

Breaking News: Disney's Next (Unannounced) Fairy Tale: "Giants"

Remember me hinting there was another fairy tale feature in development at Disney Feature Animation I couldn't yet announce due to Disney pulling all the info? Well this is it. And this time it's "boy-centric".

Make way for Giants. (Actually Storm Giants.)

Since D23 has spilled the beans on many Disney projects we've also gotten some sneak peeks at films in development too. This movie is still pretty early on in the development process and Disney have yet to officially announce this so there's a chance it may go away BUT for now it's looking solid.

Director Nathan Greno (co-director on Tangled) has already pulled together a couple of table reads (ie, he has a working script) and is well into the concept and design stage as well. Giants is said to be to Jack and the Beanstalk "what Tangled is to Rapunzel and Frozen is to the Snow Queen", which means it could have many things in common with the fairy tale or it only be using the fairy tale as a starting point.

Thanks to Brendon Connelly at Bleeding Cool, as of yesterday afternoon, we have some character and plot details - much more than expected! Note: it appears that the human characters are actually human as well (not talking mice, or ducks, or whatever Goofy is*):
(A) few years from now, we’ll be some distance away from Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, a film with which Giants shares more than a few specifics.
For one thing, they both have a hero called Jack, and Giants named for the Fee Fi Fo Fum rhymes. In this story, these names are abbreviations of Feebus, Fifen, Fogel and Fobert, a family of giants at the heart of the tale. There’s another brother too, Faustus, their leader. Like all good villains, he’s got a relatable point of view, he’s just not quite joining the dots correctly.
Also like Singer’s film, we see the introduction of a love interest from a class above Jack. In this case, Angelina isn’t royalty, but just from a merchant family, though her parents do see him as being “below” her. 
Stills from Disney's Mickey & the Beanstalk 1947
The real money is manifest in Marco, born to nobility and the third corner of a love triangle with Jack and Angelina. He’s a good guy, though, and the only reason he and Jack can’t be fast friends from the off is that they’re both drawn to Angelina. And, yes, he’s called Marco because, like Polo, he wants to travel – and to open up trade routes. 
The fourth human lead is Inma, a scrappy tomboy type – and something of a class warrior, I understand. She’s the one I’m rooting for in this story, the tireless fighter against injustice, taken less seriously because she happens to be a pre-teen girl. Of course, there is that story about David and Goliath
But, okay, it’s not the humans that get the title billing here. It’s the giants. The Storm Giants. Huge, thunderous figures.

In this story, the Storm Giants have made a pact with the humans. If the humans work for them and give them a percentage of their harvest and livestock, they’ll return the favour by keeping danger and threats at bay. At first, it must have been appealing to have a Giant agree to fight your corner, but the people aren’t getting enough for themselves now. Faustus’ name is seeming to be a touch ironic. 
And this is where we find ourselves at the beginning. As you might expect, there’s then a journey up to where the Giants live and some terrible conflict between the humans and the Storm Giants. There’s a lot of sneaking about and gruesome recipes and all that good stuff you’re used to from fairy tales about ogres and their ilk. 
But what you may not expect is how Jack ends up befriending one of the Storm Giants – and this is what sews the beans, if you will, for the adventure, and the big changes it brings about.
There has been no official response from Disney on Giants at this time.

You can read the rest of the article HERE, which also highlights details on the approach of the film and how it's likely to end up looking. (And yes - it will be CG, not hand drawn. It's going to take a huge success elsewhere in 2D land for Disney to try that again unfortunately.)

From the details above, this sounds like it actually might be a Jack and the Beanstalk retelling this time around, instead of one of those vague "inspired by" concoctions so, after being sadly disappointed by Frozen's lack of a fairy tale anywhere to be seen (it might be a beautiful fantasy but it's not The Snow Queen and it's not a "new" fairy tale either) my interest in what Disney might do with a fairy tale is once again piqued. It's early days yet though (very early) so right now we can still expect quite a few changes.
It won't be the first time Disney has tackled Jack and the Beanstalk (the classic Mickey and the Beanstalk short from 1947 is quite wonderful and images from that film have popped up regularly in Disney's merchandise and products along the way, including the video game Epic Mickey). Disney/ABCs Once Upon A Time had a brief storyline line about Jack (Jacqueline) and the Beanstalk but it felt unexplored and too short lived, though the giant, Anton, did survive to make it to Storybrooke and in episodes beyond and the magic beans have been the main magic source for most of Season 2 (and catapulted the characters into Neverland for Season 3).

I'm very curious to see how they handle the boy-billing for a fairy tale feature animated film and if they can resist the princess marketing tie-ins in any way. There's a lot more to fairy tales than just princesses and I'd dearly love to see one of the biggest influences on fairy tale perception today acknowledge that (and maybe even have fun).

Here, to remind you how fun Jack and the Beanstalk can be is Mickey and the Beanstalk, complete with introduction by Professor Ludwig von Drake, who reminds viewers that Jack and the Beanstalk has been told many times by many different people in many different ways.


Additional source: Slashfilm

*Goofy is supposed to be a dog but Pluto doesn't seem aware of that and Goofy is in love with Clarabelle... which is... bizarre.