Recent Revelations concerning Death, Life, and Location

Things I’ve learned the past week:

 

1. There are many reasons why a skeleton would wear sunglasses.

-To aid scientists develop a way to determine a skeleton’s age due entirely to bone bleaching when compared to the dark circles around the eyes where the sunglasses kept sunlight from whitening the bone.  Hence, how long the skeleton’s ‘slept’ will be apparent from the dark circles around their eyes.  Yet one more way that death is opposite from life.

-Being far more naked than the rest of us, skeletons may be prone to utilizing any and all accessories they can grab.

-Even the dead have a right to fashion sense.

(Discovered due to a parasail ride with turtlephoenix.wordpress.com and a parachute showing a jolly roger in what appeared to be sunglasses.)

 

2. Holding a newborn with hiccups is like holding a reverse squeaky toy.  They sound the same and are comparable in size, but while you contract the toy to make it squeak, the hiccuping newborn expands with each noise.

 

3. There is an island in Michigan (Mackinac Island) which only has one mall strip without a fudge shop in the whole place. (Yum!)

La Belle or Le Clueless?

During my visit this past week I watched two movies.  The first was a rewatch of Clueless.  The second was new to me, the cult classic La Belle et Le Bete (Jean Cocteau’s French film of Beauty and the Beast).  Unexpectedly, I discovered that these two films-American and French, modern and black-and-white-have much in common!

List of Similarities between Clueless and La Belle et Le Bete (some spoilers may apply):

1) Both protagonists have lost their mothers.

2) Neither Cher nor Belle can bear to leave their fathers.

3) Smoke causes a great deal of shame in both stories, by marking Travis as running in inferior circles and humiliating the beast for his beastly eating habits.

4) Makeovers are absolutely essential! (Tai, Cher’s soul, Belle’s clothing transformation, the Beast’s change…)

5) Both heroines put up with a man who’s constantly in their home and with their family, even though there’s no real family tie. (WHY is Avenant always there???  He doesn’t need to marry Belle to enjoy any money her father gets, he’ll be there enjoying whatever they’ve got anyhow.)

6) The role of lighting plays a huge part in dealing with the opposite sex. (Cher’s lighting plan, arms with torches…)

7) Both girls take it upon themselves to rehabilitate a social pariah. (Cher with Tai and Belle with the Beast, of course.)

8) Neither Cher nor Belle has any difficulty getting blunt and contemptuous with suitors. (“Clean yourself up!” “As if!”-Now, imagine those being used interchangeably with Cher ordering the greasy high school boys to ‘clean up, already!’ and Belle answering the Beast with ‘As if!’)

9) Neither are at all responsible when it comes to the practical things in life. (Cher’s driving, Belle’s failure to keep track of the key or to return on time.)

10) When they feel guilty, they both play sick. (Cher saying she’s physically unwell because her masseuse said she had a lot of tension after the encounter with Elton.  Belle lying in bed claiming illness from worry over her father while wearing a freaking crown-and-veil combo!)

The more I think about it the more this version of Beauty and the Beast seems like Emma-where the person you end up with is that one who’s been around, getting under your skin for ages.  Only the more modern tale made the male’s righteousness idealistic instead of arrogant or creepy.  (Can we talk about how absurd it is to hug someone to your chest by pulling an arrow across them?  I know I can’t, I can only stare agog.  Avenant is totally the Elton of the fairy tale universe.)  The other major difference is, of course, the posing.  The French classic takes posing literally and extremely seriously.  The Austen modernization interprets it more loosely as projecting a certain lifestyle over yourself.  So much else seems the same-a magic mirror would probably work exactly the same as the phone connection between Cher and Dionne.  Amber dressing in the same clothes as Cher effects her just the way Belle’s sister reacted to seeing herself reflected as a monkey.  Cher’s computerized clothing system and moving closet is akin to being dressed by invisible hands-though thankfully Cher has nothing as creepy as Belle’s moving blankets.  Belle’s feeling of power that the beast drinks from her hands, in spite of how clearly the event pales compared to his wild-animal instincts, is akin to Cher’s entitlement when she calls Josh to rescue her after being abandoned by Elton.  She assumes he will come when she calls, even though he has no real motivation.  Josh’s interest in the law and therefore Cher’s circle due to his own parents’ disinterest in him could arguably be akin to the Beast getting pushed into magic due to his parents’ angering of the spirits.  Now, if only I can figure out how this connection can explain the flying at the end of La Belle and Le Bete…

Belle is “a strange girl.”  On the other hand, Emma/Cher actually end up with their brother-types, instead of just getting stuck with someone in their body (though I’m sure the symbolism there means more in its lesson to girls about who the best man to end up with is).  In any event, it all ends with a big kiss frightfully soon after the switch from brother-type to suitor is made.    In really frilly clothes.  Because the girl will “get used to” the man telling her how to think and act, whether he’s a beast, prince, or college kid.  Because clearly, the man must know what is best for the woman.  Perhaps because he has the power of movement: Josh can drive.  The beast had all sorts of transportation devices.  That must be why he can fly at the end!  To show that in spite of losing his magical objects, he still has the power to move, to make his way in the world.  That is why he’s still acceptable-even if he’s a bit too familiar, Belle won’t be stuck in the same place again.  (Avenant offering to take Belle away didn’t work because he had no magic/power to back it up.  The man had no driver’s license!)

Well…smoke my statues’ faces and send myself flowers and chocolates: I know why the ex-beast can fly!  Now…why did the father seem more upset about riding through fog than the fact that he just lost his entire fortune?

Vacation duck

A limerick from my vacation!:

I went to the beach before food

Where I’m afraid I was terribly rude

To a duck named Quimby.

Then I let him be

Since he quacked he was not in the mood.

*anecdote is true

**duck name provided by me

***duck name approved by turtlephoenix.wordpress.com

****we take no responsibility for any misinterpretation of proper duck names, poultry quacks, or bird moods.

Things that would be better in Narnia:

Things that would be better in Narnia #1. (And a haiku for my morning):

I just saw a mouse.

I’ll call him Sir Reepicheep.

My trip is well-timed.

Face the (Pied Piper’s) Music

I find The Pied Piper a disturbing tale-the consequences are so dire and the blame so confused.  The following is my explanation.

 

“Blame it on the Rats”

Once, there was a small town where everyone argued.  They yelled, and they jabbed, and they jabbered until everyone was hoarse and no one had been heard.  Still, one could hardly blame them, some would say, for their town was infested with rats.  Big rats, small rats, fuzzy rats, stringy rats, each and every manner and description of rat had fallen upon them, and their numbers seemed trebled each night.  No wonder their tempers were short, each man said.  It’s a marvel we’re talking at all, it’s so depressing.  And we’ve nothing good to eat or to drink.  In their noise and their misery, not one villager had a kind thought to spare, but someone was listening, and took pity on them.

One bright morning a new sound was heard amongst the screeching, and the squabbling, and the squeaking of the rats.  A stranger had appeared.  He wore a bright coat of bright golds like the dawn and soft greens like the woods.  And his voice spoke warm and gently, “I shall kill your rats for you.”  The village grew quiet, the sharp tongues began to blunt, and the mayor could hear himself talk.

“How could you rid us of rats?”

“With the right blessing, any problem can be solved.”

“A priest!” ran the cry.  “He’s a priest!”  “A savior sent by his Holiness!”  “Or by God, Himself!”

“What price do you ask for the killing of rats?”  His hoarse voice reached even the farthest man.

“I ask for a tithe, one man’s foot wide, and just as equally deep.”

Now whispers went up, and the town’s ears opened wide, and the clinking of coins could be heard.  “It’s a tall price to pay, but if the rats go away, your feet of gold coins you shall have.”  The town’s folk held their breath.

A curt nod the man gave, and he turned away, bringing a wood flute to his lips.  Notes much softer, and tones far sweeter, than even the stranger’s words fell on their ears.  The wooden flute piped and the rats ran, as the piper walked for the lake.  With jaws hung open and hopes held high, the village watched as each rat followed after.  When the water was reached, the piper stepped on a boat, and floated away as he played.  The rats scrambled for him, each rat ear adored him, but none of them lived through the lake.

When every rat had drowned, that loud village made no sound.  From noises loud and rude and proud, now only the stranger was heard as he rowed his boat ashore.  He bowed to the mayor, he bowed to the town’s folk, and he held out his hands for his due.

“We won’t pay you,” the mayor’s rasp broke through the stillness.  “Only a heathen who consorts with devils and vermin could have worked that trick.  You’re no savior or blessing!”

“The rats are no more, and that is no blessing?” chided the piper.

“Blessings aren’t worked by heathens!  We need no pagan spells or lies!”  A new cry rose, a loud and ugly shout, and the village railed against the stranger.

Then the piper spoke with a new voice, as strong as their shouts and as hot as blazing fire, “Either I am a priest and shall be paid, or I’m a pagan who can do spells and tricks that you must fear.  Which shall you have?”

“HEATHEN!  HEATHEN!  TRICKSTER!” cried the people.

“So shall it be.”  The piper gave one curt nod and turned away, bringing the wood flute to his lips.  With luring notes and teasing tones, the piper walked for the woods.  As his tune flew through the air, each child’s feet flew through the streets, until all the youngsters were there.  As the piper met the trees, each child followed free, dancing quick to the call of the pipe.  And when the song ended, no matter where they wended, no child could ever be found, only green young trees and thick small ferns.  Only Liza, whose leg wouldn’t hold her, stayed firm and real upon her bed.

As for the village, it ended that day, in one great yelling crash to the ground.  “It’s a sign!” they half said, “Remember what he said!  He’s a pagan who came to claim us back!”

“That’s what we get for believing anyone a priest!  We must find the true church, and beg Christ.”

“We must return to the old ways!  The old gods wish to save us!  In the forest, our kids are just trees.”

“We’ve forgot loving Christ, and forsaken his church-we must find a true priest and be saved!”

“But we all saw Pan show our children the way, if we follow Pan might release them from leaves.”

“That lying priest took our kids back to earth as our punishment; only repentance can win them again!”

Soon, every person and family left, to find Pan or to seek Christ, and each of them after the children.  Each of them saw the same piper that day, but not one of their listeners knew it.

“The pagan way is the one true path, that wonderful god Pan came to prove it.”

“Christ’s holy church is the only safe way-that horrible false priest, well he proved it!”

Only Liza never mentioned the piper.  She said, “People belong together.  One day I shall prove it.”  Most would say she did, for when she was grown Liza returned to that town where she’d been born, and founded an orphanage there.  A new village grew and revived the old town, now surrounding her fort full of children.  And in that new town, they spoke warm and soft, always talking and working together.  As everyone helped to solve bickers or snags, they needed no one to their blame troubles upon, so no rats appeared to be blamed.

Alice in Independence Land

The blue caterpillar with red stripes blew white smoke shaped like stars over the girl’s head.  “Recite!” he commanded.

“How doth the little crocodile..”

“That is not correct.”  The caterpillar spoke:

“How doth the little patriots

Improve their shining works!

And pour light in glimmering watts

Into the sky to lurk!

How cheerfully they eat and grin,

How heartily work their jaws,

And cheer on their country’s win

With explosions and guffaws!”

“I’ve never heard it that way!” protested Alice.

“Obviously, you’ve never come here on the 4th of July,” drawled the caterpillar.  He blew his fiftieth white star.  Immediately the caterpillar burst up and apart-filling the sky with red and blue sparks.

“Hm-curiouser and curiouser,” Alice remarked.  “How loud and beautiful he was.”  She turned and headed off into Independence Land, unknowingly traveling towards the twins’ great grilling.  Today they were called Twethepeopledum and Twethepeopledee.

Snow White and Prince Rufus

With all the Snow White tales floating in the air from the media lately, I’ve decided to add a flake of my own.  The older Snow White tales are the ones I find the most creepy.  They are filled with princes who find supposedly dead, yet fresh-looking, young women and decide to take them home.  Or ones who never bury their first wife, even after they marry a second.  My favorite has the second wife awakening Snow white (by removing a poisoned comb) and then they form a threesome.  These guys are creepy.  I find it highly ironic that of all the Disney princes to be simply known as “Prince Charming”, Snow White’s prince is the one.  (Yes, also Cinderella, but at least he dances charmingly.)

The following is my attempt to create a version of this prince who is not creepy, while adhering to the formula where Snow White is already out cold before they meet.  One who is even likeable, though not necessarily “charming.”  I give you: “Prince Rufus”

Prince Rufus sulked atop his horse.  When his elder brother took his year of pilgrimage, to see their lands and learn of life and wonders, his missives and tokens numbered dozens of marvelous treasures and unheard of wonders.  Now, his turn was proving miserably disappointing.

 

“Dwarves!”  The entourage of guards prepared for an attack by the Wood Dwarves, but it proved to be nothing but a small mourning party of Valley Dwarves.

 

Rufus proffered condolences.  “How long ago did you lose her?”

 

“A year ago last week, your highness,” the dwarves babbled together.  Puzzled, the prince took a real look at the girl in the coffin.  “…but she always looks so fresh.”

 

“I’ve found the girl who defeated death!” cried Rufus.  His natural vanity and sibling jealousy rejoiced at finding this wonder.

———————————————————————————————-

 

On returning home prince Rufus was shocked to discover his parents had construed the mention of a girl as news of his betrothal.  The court was thrumming with celebrations and preparations for his nuptials.  Too loyal to cause his family embarrassment, and used to feeling a fool (so long as it’s private), he married the Girl Who Defeated Death.

 

“It’s not so bad, really,” he explained to his captain.  “I would’ve had to marry anyway, and I definitely wasn’t looking forward to spending all my time meeting or courting girls.  I never have a thing to say to them, anyway.  With Snow White I don’t need to worry about that!  And you know my wife’s a beauty!”

 

The captain sighed.  All the soldiers loved Prince Rufus for his bravery and tenacity on the field, but his captains held him in special regard.  While brilliant in the moment, Rufus had no gift for planning ahead and, amazingly enough, he knew it.  He never tried to lord over the captains, and always adhered strictly to their advice.  Staunchly loyal as a brother, good-natured as a friend, and a proud enough prince to command the love and respect of every man in the kingdom, was their Prince Rufus.  If only he could think of himself alone once in awhile.  Not as part of the royal family, not as a fighter among many, but as his own man.  Long had Rufus’ friends hoped their prince would realize himself through the eyes of a girl-loving or mocking, it didn’t matter so long as he found her thoughts directed at him alone.  Now even that possibility was gone.  Snow White’s eyes held nothing.

 

“A beauty,” he repeated.  And nothing else. 

 

Familiars, Ferrets and Fairy Tales

Today marks the anniversary of the trial, in 1549, of Joan Prentice.  She was accused of sending an imp, in the form of a ferret, to bite children.

 

“She confessed that the Devil appeared to her as a dunnish colored ferret with fiery eyes and asked for her soul. She couldn’t give her soul because it belonged to Jesus, but gave the ferret blood from her finger and cheek. His name was “Bidd”, and when she wanted him to do anything for her, she said:

      “Bidd, Bidd, Bidd,
      come Bidd, come Bidd, come Bidd,
      come suck, come suck, come suck”.

Bidd was a “familiar,” or animal kept by English witches that performed evil deeds for them and was rewarded with sucking their blood from witch teats.)

Joan Prentice’s trial was on 5 July 1589,and she was hanged within two hours after sentencing. “(Source: Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York: Bonanza Books, 1959)

Other reports say Joan had two imps, or familiars, named Jack and Jill.

 

Now, here’s the thing: why aren’t witches’ familiars allowed to be so active anymore?  Now they get to be cats that are black or dark birds with knowing looks-sometimes they get to deliver messages.  Always, they are underused.  Think of all the things they could do!  All the things they could explain!

1. Why did Humpty Dumpty fall off the wall?  An imp ferret pushed him off!

2. Why did Snow White actually let the old woman into the cottage after being warned by the dwarves and knowing full well she was in danger?  The imp ferret pushed the door in and the woman was just chasing after her poor, lost pet!

3. Why was Sleeping Beauty clumsy enough to prick her finger on the spinning wheel?  Maleficent’s ferret imp was lying in wait on top of it and Sleeping Beauty was reaching out to pet it, when the imp moved so she pricked her finger instead!

4. How did the witch visit Rapunzel before she was old enough for her hair to grow long?  She’d send up a rope with her ferret imp, he’d tie it securely and she could climb up.  When she left, the ferret would fetch it back down so the girl couldn’t escape.

5. Why does Cruella DeVille want all animals made into coats? As a child a witch sent her imp familiars in their animal forms to bite her!  She particularly likes dalmatians because she finds the spots comforting-the witches’ animals were always all one color!  Hence, her reaction on seeing the spot-less puppies: “What a horrid little white rat-eech!”

Also, I feel this is an entire form of vampirism that has somehow been passed over.  Say!  Perhaps Draco is really an imp!  When turned into an animal his form was a ferret, he’s mighty pale, and he does have an obsession with blood.  This is fun-I am thankful to Joan Prentice and her ferrets for all these scrumptious thoughts.  Anyone else have some theories or uses for a ferret imp?

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