Bring Me….a Fairy Tale Shrubbery!

So, I was thinking about fairy tales, as you do, and something occurred to me: on a surface, practical level, the lesson of an awful lot of them seems to be that the better gardener will win. Check this out:

1. Beauty and the Beast-The Beast gets the girl because he has the garden with the best roses. If Beauty’s family were better at gardening, she wouldn’t have had to ask for a rose and they wouldn’t have found themselves in that problem in the first place.
beautybeastrose

2. Twelve Dancing Princesses-The gardener just is the one who gets the princess, because she would rather marry a gardener.
kn_12dancing

3. Rapunzel-If the young couple could have just grown their own garden, they never would have had to deal with the witch.

4. Red Riding Hood-If her family had a pretty flower garden, she wouldn’t have needed to wander about the woods for a bouquet or admiring the floral scenery and the wolf’s trick wouldn’t have worked.
Little-Red-Riding-Hood-Final_small_hr

5. Cinderella-how did she manage to get to the ball so quickly and snazzily, AND run away in time for the prince not to see her transformation back to rags while wearing just one flimsy glass shoe? They had a thriving pumpkin patch.

6. Snow White-If the dwarves or Snow White could grow their own fruit they wouldn’t bother with apple-sellers, would they? (Clothing items like combs and ribbons are a different matter of course, but then those were absurdly easy to undo in any case.)

7. The Princess and the Frog-The only positive thing about the princess in most portrayals is that her family had a wonderful garden for the prince-turned-frog to live in, and that is clearly the underlying reason why she manages to marry well. Also, when you’re a frog beautiful gardens are clearly what you look for when you need a princess to kiss you, so that garden lies at the base of the happiness of both title characters.

8. The Juniper Tree-A well-kept tree can even resurrect the dead, in this one!

9. The Wild Swans-If the sister could just have maintained a royal garden once she was queen, she could have slipped some nettles in and not needed to go running around graveyards, getting accused of witchcraft and all the shirts might have been finished!
plucked-nettles-hans-andersens-fairy-tales

10. The Firebird-With no well-grown cherry orchards, this magical creature would not have shown up.

11. Jack and the Beanstalk-If those giants had simply been attentive gardeners, they could have weeded out troublesome beanstalks and kept all their own treasure, at least before a third visit!

As a matter of fact, a lot of fairy tales seem to show that problems arise when people use being in the woods as an excuse not to do their own gardening. It leaves them open to wildflower delays and poisoned fruit. Clearly, we all need to grow our own gardens instead of just hiding behind trees, which is actually quite disappointing since even as a young girl I wanted a yard full of blossoming flowers so I could have that beauty without having to really garden. Yet, look at the evidence! Witches win when they grow thorns. Beautiful gardens attract firebirds, princes, and insightful beauties. Gardening well can get even “villains” new children or keep them out. Maybe I should get one…

Any other fairy tale gardening/shrubberies you can think of? Bring it here and place it here beside this shrubbery, only slightly lower in the comments, so we get the two-level effect…

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“Aurora’s Year”

The swell of newness
Fills like a new dawn
And spirals out and away as life stretches through each day

New rises like an Aurora,
Who may sleep through her dreams
Or puncture them,
Or even face the cold stone face of death,
But even in these fates there is beauty and there may be magic.

Bright and sharp as a briar rose,
The dawn shows ways to care
And ensures us surprises, both royal and small.

For life congregates like a ball, every so often,
And others come together round you, from far and wide
And all we may do is smile or pass the time dreaming,
But we know these friends as we don’t know our fates,
And we taste these magics of games, lights, and fun,
As the colors and shapes of our wishes keep changing.

These storied times when newness meets old,
Keep us spinning round and get our stories told.
We’re free to walk in dreams and know futures that may or may not come to pass,
To put old cares to sleep and reunite our true loves,
To replace the steps and trod no more spindles,
But spin us the wheel and breathe in the life it kindles.

So christen this day, with its precious gift
And let no one deny you any change you can lift,
For any dance in this year can bring you to joy, so long as you step into the dawn and you try.

Serenity and good energy go with you in 2014.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I saw the midnight opening of this and…it was MARVELOUS! It’s shorter than its predecessor, the pacing is tighter and smoother, the humor feels more precise and balanced, and the self-references to Peter Jackson’s other works felt purposeful and like a good joke between old friends rather than spin-offy. Also, I cannot wait until Thranduil’s headpiece becomes a common look. Go forth and enjoy!

thranduil___the_elvenking_by_iary-d5itrwu

Other thoughts (SPOILERS for those who haven’t read the book):

-I’m definitely going to need the barrel-riding to become a theme park ride.
-Lee Pace’s Thranduil turned out every inch as glorious as I wanted him to be, and I desired Excessive Glory.
-Many in my midnight theater yelled “sshh!” at the dwarves’ exclamations when Bilbo released them from Thranduil’s prison.
-Gandalf’s entrance to the Necromancer’s domain can be perfectly timed to “I always think everything could be a trap, which is why I’m still alive.”
-Does anyone else think Thorin’s sword on reaching the Lonely Mountain is shaped suspiciously like that of Theoden, King?
-Bilbo’s face when Smaug fully rises from the gold and he kneels down to hide is utter perfection.
-Isn’t it marvelous gold that doesn’t melt in dragon flame even though it’s historically been shaped by forges that can be lit by dragon fire? Perhaps intention can somehow be read.
-Yet more evidence that “But no one withstands the machine!” can only keep criminals down for a short timespan.
-Can we all take a moment to bask in the beauty of Smaug, particularly when shaking off gold?
-Isn’t it interesting how Legolas’ character seems tougher in this timeframe than when he’s actually fighting for the fate of the world? Perhaps that’s maturity, for you. He goes from “Step off or I will kill you!” to “I’ll have to kill you anyway, so step wherever, enjoy your short life while you can.” Or perhaps that is exhaustion and he was showing signs of it more than we knew.
-Stephen Fry is working his wig.
-Gandalf’s visit to the tombs immediately made me think, “See, this is why we miss Erebor so much-it’s the only cavernous place that has real stairs!”
-Really, all these Tolkien films are a cautionary tale about what can happen to a society with no professional librarians or archivists. Archivists would keep up these tombs and let people know if spirits escaped, so wizards wouldn’t have to abandon other quests to do this research work. They would also curate the history books that explain Sauron’s One Ring reveals its secret through fire so they wouldn’t be so dusty and make a research guide so Gandalf wouldn’t have to spend time paging through the memoir to find the right information and maybe the hobbits could have got a head start on the ringwraiths. Just think how much smoother everything would have gone if all wizards had a librarian/archivist working for them, to do their research side-trips and settle questions about which evils are and aren’t abroad in the world in a timely and efficient manner. They would have staged outreaches reminding everyone to check all magic rings in fire, too, so Bilbo might have avoided some possession. I’m just saying.

Huzzah for “The Hobbit”!

Fantastically Bejeweled Skeleton News!

Meet the Fantastically Bejeweled Skeletons of Catholicism’s Forgotten Martyrs | Past Imperfect.

You must read this article.  It starts with:

“Paul Koudounaris is not a man who shies away from the macabre. Though the Los Angeles-based art historian, author and photographer claims that his fascination with death is no greater than anyone else’s, he devotes his career to investigating and documenting phenomena such as church ossuaries, charnel houses and bone-adorned shrines. Which is why, when a man in a German village approached him during a 2008 research trip and asked something along the lines of, “Are you interested in seeing a dilapidated old church in the forest with a skeleton standing there covered in jewels and holding a cup of blood in his left hand like he’s offering you a toast?” Koudounaris’ answer was, “Yes, of course.”

 

Includes good historical evidence riddled with details like:

“One thing the nuns did lack, however, was formal training in anatomy. Koudounaris often found bones connected improperly, or noticed that a skeleton’s hand or foot was grossly missized. Some of the skeletons were outfitted with full wax faces, shaped into gaping grins or wise gazes. “That was done, ironically, to make them seem less creepy and more lively and appealing,” Koudounaris says. “But it has the opposite effect today. Now, those with the faces by far seem the creepiest of all.”

 

And ends with his book about these spectacular skeletons, which “Accomplishing that was no small task. Nearly all the skeletons he visited and uncovered were still in their original 400-year-old glass tombs. To disassemble those cases, Koudounaris thought, would “amount to destroying them.” Instead, a bottle of Windex and a rag became staples of his photography kit…. After examining around 250 of these skeletons, Koudounaris concluded, “They’re the finest pieces of art ever created in human bone.””

 

And there you have it: The finest pieces of art ever created in human bone!  With Vatican blunders, worshiping believers, and a whole lot of photos-I conclude: You really want to add this to your Halloween reading!

 

“Dancing Death”

When Dancing Death comes flinging round,

He stomps gaps into the ground.

Inviting you to fill his card,

And learn the steps-so thrilling hard.

 

You’ll dance until you’re tired through,

And holey like the princess’ shoe,

But still you’ll turn and spin and leap,

Because your goodbyes don’t come cheap.

 

Weave within those strongest arms,

That always bruise, but mean no harm,

This is how you leave your past,

You lose its sight as you whirl fast.

 

Dizziness won’t make you forget,

Knocking limbs can’t cause you to fret,

You’re caught up in the steps of Death,

Your world dissipates on His breath,

 

In lovely grays and magic swirls,

That surround you as the dancing whirls,

Softening jabs and pains and pokes,

Across the veil of stinging smoke,

 

It creeps to those you’ll leave, their eyes

Now apart from you, and makes them cry.

Brushing them with each step you take,

As the dance of Death makes their world quake.

 

It’s a dance for madmen where limbs contort,

Into others, where pain and grief consort.

“Squash” go the hearts and out goes the breath,

These are moves in the dance with Death.

 

But Death, He has no time for rest,

Even when souls have left each breast,

He just moves on, the dancing fool

We mortals have a wiser rule.

 

We have time to rest our feet,

To stop dancing to an outer beat.

We fling all into our turn,

But then we leave the dance to burn

 

We have ourselves another place,

With other friends and love to face,

We’ll learn the steps with Death’s guide,

To reach ourselves to the other side.

 

When Dancing Death comes flinging round,

He stomps gaps into the ground.

Inviting you to follow me,

And dance your way to being free.

 

You’ll dance until you’ve gotten through,

No more steps between us two,

But our joy will still grow as before,

Because our helloes still mean more.

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Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/twelve-dancing-princesses/ (“Disenchanted” poem)

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/my-patch/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/maurice-sendak-is-dead/ (Sendak death poem)

The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3)

The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3)

By: Kaitlin Bevis

(http://kaitlinbevis.com/)

Published by: Euterpe (2013)

A young adult fantasy review

 

(Reviews of Daughters of Zeus #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/persephone-daughters-of-zeus-1/

and Daughters of Zeus #2 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/daughter-of-earth-and-sky-daughters-of-zeus-2/)

 

Finally, Zeus’s endgame is nigh, in all its horror.  The remaining gods cluster together to try and outwit him, while Persephone simply tries to hold on to herself.  The longer she lives under Zeus’s power, the less clear her mind becomes.  Yet, Persephone must keep some rules clear, or all the realms will fall to the mercy of this divine madman.

The Iron Queen differs from its predecessors by switching from Persephone’s perspective to those of Aphrodite and Hades in order to keep the reader apprised of all the action.  This ensemble approach quickens the pace and intensity with a variety of emotions and plans, making it more difficult to predict the outcome.  With her own voice, Aphrodite recasts her history so neatly that she nearly steals the book.  The new deities introduced in this work interact plausibly in modern roles while still maintaining their mythic essences and ferocity.  All of Bevis’s rules for divine interactions and abilities play together naturally, renewing these characters and drawing the reader into this world by removing the usual distance between the ordinary and divine.  This last work really is the culmination of all Bevis’s ploys to convince readers that the Greek gods truly belong in modern times.

The Iron Queen is the climax of battle between desperate, frightened gods, and as such it is filled with cruelty, confusion, bitterness, and vulnerability.  This book offers more suspense and action than the previous two, with less romance.  This is definitely the darkest of the series and feels heavier, but that brutality shores up Persephone’s world by balancing the supernatural nature of her story with equally harsh consequences.  It brings this story home to the reader and makes the aftermath that much more cathartic, as all Greek tales should be.  It’s engrossing.

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Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/winterling-by-sarah-prineas-review/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/shadowfell/ (Shadowfell review)

Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2)

Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2)

By: Kaitlin Bevis

(http://kaitlinbevis.com/)

Published by: Euterpe (December 2012)

A young adult fantasy review

 

(Review of Daughters of Zeus #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/persephone-daughters-of-zeus-1/)

 

Persephone’s victory over Boreas proves short-lived.  Suddenly, a siren of a sister goddess rises and Persephone is saddled with acclimating Aphrodite.  Persephone’s realization of her powers causes friction with both Demeter and Melissa.  Zeus poses an increasing threat.  And no one can declare war on a deity quite like the god of death.  The stakes keep getting higher and Persephone finds herself sacrificing everything.  Will there be anything left to salvage in the end?

Daughter of Earth and Sky takes readers steadily further into the dark side of mythology.  No longer playing with the safe, familiar stories, Bevis thrusts Persephone straight into the world of endless appetites, divine demands for sex, death, and cruelty.  The effects feel much more immediate when you don’t already know at least the frame for the story.  Persephone acquits herself well, without losing her accessibility or plausibility.  The plot turns just fast enough so that predictions don’t overshadow the suspense.  The romance between Hades and Persephone turns easily with the story, a key part of the plot rather than gratuitous fluff.

In short, Daughter of Earth and Sky is the exemplary second book: new elements are introduced without encroaching on the old, obstacles are overcome to the point of facing the ultimate danger without giving away anything about the climax, characters experience real growth, romance reaches a level of satisfaction to offset the unfinished plotlines, and you want to read the next one.  Particularly because this book ended so abruptly.  If Persephone refreshed the roots for spring, Daughter of Earth and Sky grew the story’s stem.  Now we just need the blossom.

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Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/rapunzels-roots-fulla/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/luka-and-the-fire-of-life-review/

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