Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Cinderella”

I saw this ballet version of Cinderella recently and I have some thoughts:

1. It’s good to know that the “British humour” advertized for this performance equates to cross-dressing stepsisters.
2. This fairy godmother calls on the fairies of the seasons to help her out, each of which appear with pages holding seasonal items. These pages are played by young boys and the autumn page holding a sheaf of wheat looked so numb and “whatever-I’m holding a sheaf of wheat, symbol of plenty, and yet I am hungry”-It was hilarious.
3. These seasonal fairies and the star fairies, also called upon to help Cinderella, all enter the ball with the heroine. Yet, everyone at court takes this as totally normal.
4. None of the other girls, not even the stepsisters, have any interest in the prince in this show. I found this very odd and have decided that these things mean that in this country the royal family has an ongoing arrangement with the fairy godmother to find the worthiest girl in all the land to wed each prince when he comes of age. Courtiers are absolutely off-limits as that would mess up the internal power dynamics of the country and pit the various aristocrats against one another and therefore, all the rich ladies at the ball already know the prince can’t marry them, he’s going to marry whatever girl shows up with fairies. As for the stepsisters, they were just distracted by…
5. THE FACT THAT NAPOLEON AND THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON ATTENDED THE BALL!
6. They must just like men in uniform.
7. I assume the country where this Cinderella takes place must be Andorra.
8. Both of these men are surprisingly good sports for that night.
9. That court jester, who wasn’t even the ordinary ballet dancer playing the jester on the night I saw it, was amazing! He jumped So High and had great chemistry with his jester head stick.
10. Whereas every other version of Cinderella I’ve seen has led me to believe that Cinderella’s slippers failed to disappear at midnight because the fairy godmother cared about her happiness, this rendition felt different. This time it seemed that the fairy allowed Cinderella to believe all would be lost, or remain as a memory in a slipper, primarily so that Cinderella would appreciate the prince more. After all, worthy or not, that doesn’t mean a girl will automatically fall in love with a guy, even if he’s a prince who everyone pushes you toward at the ball. The whole midnight/slipper ploy seems like this fairy’s way to cement the love connection on Cinderella’s side just as much as on the prince’s.
11. It was a lovely night!

Once Upon a Time 2×24 finale “And Straight On Til Morning”

There’s no leaving the need for spoilers:

 

-Does anyone else find it highly suspect that the holy Tamara and the sacredness of her quest allow her to leave escape plans with the most selfish males she meets, aka August and then Hook?  ANYONE ELSE feel that’s pretty much a red flag around here?

-So, Snow White is now clearing the darkness in her heart AND proving her and her hubby’s leadership skills by…declaring that she wants to risk the lives of herself, her family, and all of her subjects for Regina’s because it’s the “hard path” and because she still feels guilty over killing her mom.  This is the most selfish, horrible leader thing ever.  Luckily, I love Regina and really need her to live, I just thought we were going to get there through Henry or even Emma’s that-is-wrong-FAMILY feelings rather than hearing one woman using her guilt to imperil her people being portrayed as Great-yay!  And then to top it all off, it is Therapist Approved!  Come on, Archie!

-It is amazing to me that, in spite of being all moonish and anguished over Milah’s image, Hook never seems to think of Bae as Milah’s son, just Rumple’s.  In his private references to him it’s always the Dark One’s son or the kid the shadow’s looking for, only after Bae brings up Milah does Hook use her as a tool to persuade Bae into staying aboard.  This bugs me-just one more way in which Hook’s lovesick story is inconsistent.

-Technically, Cinderella’s baby was also born here, so Henry would have had it for company.

-I am gratified Granny was finally called in as babysitter, though.  Greg and Tamara wouldn’t get past her shotgun at Henry.

-There was a pathetic lack of Ruby.

-Emma’s magic powers are extremely convenient at all times, I must say.

-Was anyone else expecting Belle to wake up, remember all the bad things Gold let himself do at Lacey’s urging, and be all upset at him?  At least a little bit?  Make SOME comment about her Laciness?  After the town was saved, at any rate.

-I loooooove everything Regina in this episode!  On point, focused, and without even any really long speeches or claims.  That is the best media dying ever and no one ever, ever does it!

-Does everyone just assume if the diamond got sent to another land it would just not do anything, as opposed to simply exploding somewhere else?  Cause the random missile plan is truly not heroic.

-We’ve been over this-it took him forever, but Gold has magical security on his shop now!  Did Lacey let the dwarves in?  Also, we’ve been digging up memory-reviving fairy dust for weeks now and Sneezy STILL NEVER GOT HIS IDENTITY BACK???  THE HELL, SHOW?

-You’d think Ruby could survive as a wolf, right?  I mean, her wolf self did get born again in Storybrooke, so it was technically born there, sortof.

-I do finally buy a storyarc of Hook’s in this episode, though.  The reaching of his wearing-down point and willingness to try new tactics was believable and touching.

-These Lost Boys…first, do you suppose the confiscated shadows are then sold to the coachman in Pinnochio to be his creepy shadow workers on Pleasure Island?  Second, why are they dressed like Robin Hood?  Three, if they’ve just been looking for Henry all this time, as opposed to even a small short-list of desirable boys to kidnap, life in Neverland just got reeeeally boring.  I do not find this as Neverland version as intriguing or dangerous as others seem to, because….how frustrating and tedious is that?  Fourth, we saw a lot of scenes there at night.  Shouldn’t we have heard this creepy crying for parents Wendy spoke of?  Five, if there’s a picture of the boy the shadow wants, can’t he see whether he’s got the right one or not?  Geez.

-Please let Tamara and Greg be quickly dispatched and replaced by more interesting higher ups in the next episode.

-Someone could explain how Phillip got revived, perhaps?

-Perhaps we can finally get some Pirates of the Caribbean references?

-Also, Tiger Lily!  Get on it!

And that’s Season 2!

Once Upon a Time 2×16 “The Miller’s Daughter”

Now, this-THIS is the kind of episode I’m talking about!  *applauds*  SPOILERS AHEAD:

 

1. Rose McGowan was absolute perfection as young Cora.  She had a matter of minutes to take everyone on a journey, make Cora’s life understandable, make her death meaningful, and add more layers to Rumplestiltskin and Regina.  She hit a home run.

2. Granted, her story was not as perfect as the acting.  It’s hard to think there wouldn’t be a separate entrance for deliveries, particularly ones like flour that generally go to the pantry/kitchen area.  The straw into gold claim was…not great.  But she sold it so well I don’t even care.

3.  Rumplestiltskin sure does know how to make a girl feel powerful.  Mixing this gift of power with his attraction and affection would definitely make it harder for someone like Cora to understand the benefits of love on its own, without being intertwined with power.

4. It is very clear to me why Cora’s loving embrace did not affect the Dark One’s powers the way Belle’s kiss did in Fairy Tale Land: Cora loved him as the Dark One.  If anything, her kisses would keep him the Dark One, not efface it.  Belle loved him in spite of being the Dark One.  Hence, her true love’s kiss could turn him into the man she saw him as.

5.   Snow became real again this episode.  It was highly abrupt-if only she could have used that gift for persuasion on Regina at their meeting in the diner before the dagger was found, this could have all been different.  It was highly poetic justice for Cora-her first offer to corrupt Snow and achieve one of her vengeful goals comes true so as to kill her and parallel Snow’s pain in Regina.  Cora needed to die for many reasons, including the show’s pacing.  With Cora in the works there are just too many villains running about throwing off any sort of balance of power and absolutely wrecking Regina’s role.  Snow could never really have controlled Cora through her heart-she has enough sense to know that Cora would get it back somehow and it would all just start again.  Additionally, she probably knows that if she touched Cora’s heart she wouldn’t be able to keep from smothering it.  Most of all, Snow felt how ultimately unsatisfying it would be to kill a woman without a heart.  Cora was already bereft of everything Snow cares about-in order to really exact revenge Cora needed to die with her heart intact.  Rumplestiltskin did not really play a part in Snow’s calculations when she was acting.  He had shown her a path that gave her everything she ultimately wished about Cora-Snow had to carry it out that way because it was the perfect death for Cora, saving Rumplestiltskin’s life had no part in the thought process once she began.  I doubt Regina had much to do with it either-Regina could reach Cora and replace the heart.  Snow would never be able to get that close.  It was as simple as that.

6. Gold’s deathbed call to Belle was perfect, as was his simple follow-up with Bae.  It was the best way for Bae to start mending his relationship with his father.

7. Cora died wonderfully.   I’ve been thinking a more accurate name for this show might be: “All Mothers Die.”  Eva, Cora, Ruby’s mom, Mila, Gepetto’s mom, Jefferson’s wife, Hansel and Gretal’s mom, Cora’s mom is presumably dead, Snow’s chance to really be a mother to a child was killed so symbolically Snow-as-mother died, between giving up Henry originally and the current split from her lie, Emma’s motherhood is still at least not well, Regina’s ability to be a mother is questioned and denied constantly, even mother figures like Johanna get flung out of buildings…   The only mother who I think has escaped the curse is Cinderella and she’s not really in the show.  Plus, pretty much all the main storylines are running on mother deaths-Snow’s motivation, Regina’s motivation, Rumple’s arching misery, etc.  Ergo, “Once Upon a Time….All Mothers Die.”

8. I just adore it when Gold wins everything in the end.  I am Just Fine with that.  Bring it on, Gold.  It’s gonna be good.

Once Upon a Time 2×15 “The Queen is Dead”

SPOILERS AHEAD

1. As “Bae was a Lost Boy” was always my go-to acceptable reason for his age, I suppose it can be permissible, although really-they cannot take much longer before giving us details.

2. I really love the fact that good queen Eva got the sparkly red gown while Regina appears in the white dress (in the genie episode).

3. Little Snow’s sparkly pink party dress is the ultimate Disney marketing ploy.

4. Mrs. Patmore/Johanna is ALWAYS appreciated by her beneficent masters!

5. How could Snow not know people made it to Storybrooke?  There is seriously not enough reunions and searchings going on since the curse broke.  This is Gus being murdered and no one else from Cinderella showing up all over again!  Shame on everyone.

6. FINALLY, finally Gold has placed magical protection on his shop.  I am SO relieved.

7. When Snow said she had a plan to make Cora distrust her mother I thought she was going to, you know, start talking to her about her mother.  No one likes being told you’re wrong-and-I’m-right OR do-what-I-say-or-else and Snow did BOTH before even introducing anything about Cora to the conversation.  She could have used Henry, she could have used facts she remembered about Cora, she could have done So. Much. Better. in her mission.  But no, she got preachy and I wouldn’t blame Regina if for that reason alone she stopped considering crossing Cora.  The real issue here isn’t weather good wins, it’s weather you can figure out how to be good while still being considerate enough to get over yourself and talk to people, rather than preaching at them or beating them over the head with platitudes.

8. I love the dagger’s hiding place.

9. Seriously, Cora made Regina do the digging when they were searching for the buried dagger, rather than magicing it up?

10. The Blue Fairy continues to be utterly useless at anything other than saying “this is the last of its kind” and often being wrong.

11. So…how exactly did Hook find Gold?  Is he also an excellent tracker now?

12. Seriously, no one thinks to text Gold or Emma again about this your dagger’s been taken issue?

13. Is anyone seriously surprised about Cora’s engineering of queen Eva’s death?  Or anything else?  I could have done with other flashbacks this episode, although I did love the costuming.

14. On Cora-honestly, her death is the best possible shot at happiness for….everyone, up to and including her.  Killing her should be everyone’s logical priority for the side of good winning, not Snow’s crisis of faith about good being workable.

15. I am very much looking forward to the tale of the Miller’s Daughter, though.

 

 

Once Upon a Time 2×7 “Child of the Moon”

Huzzah for Ruby!  Why is she not central to more episodes?
Spoilers:

 

On King David: I don’t know what to do with him.  It seems he is trying to compete with the likes of Lord Voldemort in convoluted plans, but he’s not great with them.  He could’ve just started with burning the hat.  If all you need is a diversion, you don’t have to murder and frame people.  (Speaking of which, does Charming not do ANYTHING for himself?  Keep an eye on your damn hat, dude.)  He could’ve gone after Henry-I’m guessing the reason he didn’t is because Regina’s protecting him.  Perhaps he really just loves efficiently and is going all-out in this one plan to take care of shepherds, werewolves, and mice in one fell swoop.  He always did have issues with anything that was sortof a different species.  If that’s the case…okay, but you’ve got too much time on your hands, dude.  Also, how did you call up a mob so quickly?  I mean, wouldn’t people frightened enough to lynch a person want them to stay locked up until after they weren’t-ya know-A WOLF anymore and then kill the much-more-easily-lynched girl?  Either David is really good at whipping up mobs or these people all owe him something-perhaps subjects he was good to or that worked with him as the attorney general.  It’s true that he’s good at getting Charming to express his hubris.  Maybe he is good at psychology?  I dunno, in that case I’d expect him to make me care about him more.  I just can’t get worked up about a the man.

 

On Ruby: Love her  more, as always!  The backstory did seem rather cliched, but they did it well and it made her Storybrooke persona’s paralyzing self-doubt much more grave and meaningful.  Also, it solidifies her ties with Snow, which will hopefully mean that Ruby will in fact finally get a large say in running the world once people are back together.  She had lines in here that could’ve been super cheesy and Ruby delivered them so well that they only evoked emotion and understanding.  Plus, she is standing up for all the liberal, boundary-crossing, not speciest beliefs that King David is spiting, making her ultimate foiling of David’s scheme a highly political and poignant moment.

 

On Gus: First, I LOVE that the mouse asked the wolf out on a date.  Second, I’m not sure how it makes sense that he was a truck guy in this world.  Third, he was really cute!  Fourth, I really wish King George had used an accomplice named Luke (short for Lucifer) who used to be Cinderella’s stepmom’s cat to actually kill him.  We would have had Lucifer, the convoluted part of the plan would have actually made sense if George was working with someone else who had to be made happy too, and then perhaps Bruno could’ve come forth and been made deputy sheriff.  Bruno would make an awesome sheriff or deputy.  Also, just how anthropomorphized did animals have to be to become humans in this world?  If all the talking animals were made human, surely the town should be bigger.  Fifth, shouldn’t Cinderella or Jack or someone showed up when Gus got killed?

 

On Anita: I am impressed how much you look like your TV-wolf-daughter.  You could’ve looked a little less maniacal in the beginning, though, so that when you got all speciest it would be more surprising.

 

On Snow: Again with the wearing the white when you need to be able to hide in the woods!  Also, how did you get free after Red attacked her mom?  I didn’t see anyone untie you.

 

On Snow White and Rose Red: I really wanted there to be a bear.  It was wolves this time and that’s good, too, but come on, show: a bear who turns into a love interest should come into the mix aaaanytime now.  You don’t even need a pesky dwarf who put a spell on the guy, you’ve got Gold and he would be perfect for that!  Absolutely no excuse for this tale not to happen-I know you know it.  Get on that!

 

On the FTL part: Like I said, Emma, if you’re going to lose Hook you should’ve got intel on where Cora’s at.  What kind of a head start can you possibly have when he knows where he’s going and you don’t?  Well, the nightmare got cleared up much sooner than I thought.  That’s good, although one wonders why all these people who’ve been under the sleeping curse don’t wake up totally burned.  I can only assume that when actually under the curse the dreams are person-specific and it’s just the aftermath where it’s this particular place.  Still, though-why isn’t Aurora getting burned?

 

On the fairy dust: Did it bother anyone else that there was absolutely no mention of: And now we can restore Sneezy!  Yay!???  Because there SHOULD HAVE BEEN.  It makes me dislike people.

 

Overall: Much better than last week, guys.  Let’s keep the spiral going up.

 

First Frost

First Frost

By: Liz DeJesus

(http://www.freewebs.com/lizdejesus/)

Musa Publishing Imprint: Euterpe 2012

A young adult fantasy review

 

Bianca’s life revolves around her mother’s family-run museum.  This museum is special because it holds artifacts from fairy tales, such as Snow White’s apple and Sleeping Beauty’s spinning wheel.  More importantly, the museum is a legacy that has always passed to the women of the Frost family.  At seventeen, Bianca Frost feels ready to break away from the inheritance, the tradition, and the magical objects of the museum.  After all, magic can’t be real.  Unfortunately, the truth about magic and fairy tales proves itself to Bianca in a most brutal way-sending her on a quest to discover her own powers, rescue her loved ones, and enter the story begun by the famous First Frost.

DeJesus writes with timely, vivacious humor.  First Frost is full of references to current sensations like Tina Fey and tokidoki, as well as to the Grimm’s tales.  This flamboyant tone moves the book at a quick rate and makes it easy to digest.  On the other hand, this persistently light feel occasionally overrides the influence of the plot.  It is difficult to sympathize and connect with characters who don’t seem to be taking their own crisis very seriously.  The dashes of romance and sprinkling of real feelings add layers, but don’t necessarily create fully fleshed-out characters.  However, the charm of this book lies in the alluring items, the rambling journey, and the colorful atmosphere.  Too much psychological depth or focus on the heroine’s many obstacles would have turned this into a very different work than the sweet, delicious medley DeJesus’s story is.

First Frost is the literary equivalent of frozen yogurt, covered with many tempting toppings.  It’s not traditional ice cream, and the toppings might leave some tastes less emphasized than you’d expect, but it’s a sweet, cool treat for the summer.

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. 

 

Merida vs. Cinderella

The more I hear/read people talking about Brave, the more I feel she’s still getting too much credit, particularly when it comes to being empowered.  Cinderella seems the obvious person to compare her to as her situation was also dominated by her relationship with her mother-figure.  Cinderella is often viewed as one of the weakest female characters in fairy tales, while Merida was supposed to be a new, more feminist princess.  The more I think about them together, the more I feel Merida makes Cinderella look good.

First off, I have to say that I have never been as down on Cinderella as many people are.  I always felt she developed relationships with mice and birds in order to preserve her sanity and keep from growing embittered.  As a young girl thrust into a lonely, tough situation, choosing to put forth extra effort (which the mice clothes show she clearly does) for these reasons shows foresight, self-awareness, and resourcefulness.  Add to that, she is forced to work long hours, do many manual jobs, and clearly isn’t allowed enough sleep.  In this situation, putting forth the energy to do that much for yourself and to better your circumstances is incredible.  I think it’s courageous of her to try and hold onto her happiness.  It shows that she doesn’t internalize the messages she gets from her family, she still believes in her own self-worth.  The fact that she is doing so while trying not to vilify her family any more than she must is an added effort of will to keep her sane and from the trap of being bittered, again-lots of foresight, lots of willpower.  Many people have a down on her for not getting out and making her own way in the world, or not doing more.  I think Cinderella was already doing more than many real people would.  Compare her to someone in a dead-end job that they hate-they don’t get along with their coworkers, there’s barely any time for them to have a social life, there’s a lot of pressure and demands.  Sure, they’d rather be somewhere else but finding a job is tough-at least they have a place to sleep and enough to eat, and they know enough to appreciate that.  At least they’re better than these rich, lolly-gagging idlers who just do nothing all day.  You have satisfaction in knowing you can get stuff done, even if it’s not stuff you’d particularly like to do.  People might wish these people into better circumstances, but does it really reflect badly on them that they keep going on and doing their job because they feel that they must?  Particularly if they are still working to keep up a rewarding social life and to not become embittered?  That person is the common hero or heroine of today, and Cinderella is a wonderful guiding light from them.

 

To get back to the comparison, look at Merida’s position.  She’s already a princess, she’s clearly well taken care of physically, she has a family who clearly loves her, days of total freedom, and her biggest complaint is that her mom is trying to control her.  Yeah, tell Cinderella about it.  Now, for the crucial point: how they handle their one magic wish.  To be fair, Merida does show more spirit in needing to insist on receiving a wish instead of simply being given magic like Cinderella, but then Merida also had magical wisps giving her the hint to claim something important.  On to the actual magic.  Cinderella wishes for the equipment to get to the ball.  This may seem shallow or short-sighted.  However, after seeingBrave, I see Cinderella’s wish as more self-assured.  She asked for the equipment to accomplish a certain task-she trusted herself to actually see that task through.  Merida, on the other hand, in spite of starting out with a huge advantage over Cinderella, didn’t think she could “change her fate” on her own, even with a little help.  No, Merida only saw that her mother was in charge, not that Merida herself could take control of her own fate.  In terms of control, I think we can all agree Cinderella’s mother figure had far more control over her than Queen Elinor does of Merida, but Cinderella still managed to think of something she herself could do, if just given the opportunity.  Moreover, Merida was entitled enough to put her wish on someone else.  Cinderella, at least, takes all the consequences of her magic to herself, not using the moment to put something unwanted on her family or trying to change them to make her life easier.  That gives Cinderella’s magic the moral high ground, especially considering how much more Lady Tremain deserved a magical alteration compared to Queen Elinor.  This is even before considering that Merida’s desire to change that particular event shows that the educated princess totally missed the big picture and failed to consider the consequences her actions would take.

 

Who would you rather have running your kingdom?  The resourceful princess who was always forward-thinking and only experiments with magic on herself? Or the entitled princess who’s willing to magically ‘change’ family members and doesn’t wonder about the consequences?

I declare Cinderella the victor.  Merida’s a new, more empowered spin on a princess, my ass.

Tell a Story Day Madness

In the U.S., today is National Tell a Story Day. (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Society/national-tell-story-day.html)  In honor of this, I present a Disney Fanfic inspired by rewatching Aladdin last night:   “Real Magic Issues”

Fax to F.T. Agency:

Thank you for your interest, but at this point we have no plans to replace the role of our Fairy Godmothers.  Rest assured that your agency’s contact information is on file.  If this ever does come under consideration, we will contact you.  Please do not send us any more applications.  Thank you.

Signed,

John “Honest” Foxx

-President of Fairy Tale Supervisors, Disney Movies, Inc.

Email to J. H. Foxx:

I appreciate that your corporation is not currently accepting applications, but the situation is urgent.  You must see that magically granting a girl fancy dress wear and a temporary coach when what she clearly needs is to discuss and work through her childhood family issues, represents a lack of comprehension and efficiency that borders on the disastrous!  If you wish your heroines to achieve true happy endings, you must admit that the services of our Fairy Therapists Agency has become essential.  No offense to your currently employed Fairy Godmothers and their stand-ins, but they don’t seem to grasp the intricacies of the heroine (or hero) psyche.  I ask you to please, for the sake of your protagonists, to reconsider our services.

Sincerely,

Magda W. Potts

-Owner of F.T.A. (Fairy Therapists Agency): “Real Magic Doesn’t Create Fantasies, it Dispels Problems from Reality.”

Email to Mrs. M. Potts:

According to our storylines, all our protagonists already have their happy endings!  Our customer records bear out that the interventions by our Fairy Godmothers, and their stand-ins, produce satisfying stories with endings that are both good and believable to our viewers.  Consider this the response to your begged for reconsideration.

Signed,

President Foxx

-President of Fairy Tale Supervisors, Disney Movies, Inc.

Transcription of Phone Conversation:

J.F.: Hello?

M.P.: It’s Magda Potts.  Honestly, John!  I consider it the height of rudeness that you blocked my recent emails.  I think it’s time you began working through some of your control issues.

J.F.: I’ll thank you not to analyze me, Mrs. Potts!  And furthermore-

M.P.: I don’t wish to analyze you; I wish to help your fairy tale characters.

J.F. (gritted teeth): They don’t. need. Your help.

M.P.: Oh, come now!  Just last night I reviewed the story whose hero gets it into his head that he’s nothing without owning a magic genie!  Clearly, he’s not thinking logically at this point.  If he wants to keep the genie, he will never be able to make another wish-thus making owning such a genie utterly useless!  If he actually utilizes this wish in order to accomplish something during the sultanship which he so fears, than he will no longer own the genie.  It’s only a matter of time!  And the genie, for all his brilliance, simply does not know how to handle this kind of mental struggle.  In fact, he exacerbates it!  Now, if you’d just let one of my Fairy Therapists in, I’m sure Aladdin could have been convinced of the irrationality of his thinking.  If he could even be persuaded to talk to Jasmine about his fear of become sultan in the future, instead of constantly focusing on his past, things might have been resolved.  After all, Jasmine could easily rule the country and all Aladdin would have to worry about is being a figure head and a good husband for her.

J.F.: If you remember, Mrs. Potts, that story does achieve resolution.

M.P.: Ah, but if I remember correctly, that poor boy’s fear of ruling is never actually addressed.

J.F.: *audible sigh*

M.P.: Moreover, my assistant has just been telling me about Tangled

J.F.: *resigned*Yes, I’m sure.

M.P.: You must realize the mental agony that girl goes through for most of the movie!  You even show a lot of it right after Rapunzel exits the tower for the first time!  So much anguish and guilt about her perceived mother!  Not to mention the other issues that crop up by the end of that fiasco.  If you’d let her have access to us, to work through what her hair symbolizes to her-“

J.F.: Magda, her hair is magic!

M.P.: Yes, but it also holds so much more.  Her connection to her real mother, her false mother-

J.F.: MAGIC is what our viewers want to see!  Not just some talk about feelings!

M.P.: JUST talk??  How do you expect that girl to get her happy ending without “just some talk” about all she’s been through??  I guarantee, without a proper Fairy Therapist she’ll wind up having a nervous breakdown, living back at the palace or not!  You can see for yourself in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”

J.F.: Will people shut up about Sondheim?  Our leads are treated just as humanely as they are!  More so!

M.P.: Forcing them to ignore the ugly issues they’ve been through is not humane!  It’ll only make them worse, in the end.

J.F.: Oh, and I suppose Aurora should have ended with her in one of your offices talking about the sudden pressures of palace life?

M.P.: *muttering under breath* Please don’t make that one of your ridiculous sequels.  *normal voice* Certainly not!  That ending is a favorite.  There should have been one of our members amongst her fairy keepers-or at least you should have allowed us to offer them some training!  I have a high respect for Flora, Fauna, and Merriwether-why, I play bridge with them every week!-but they really handled Aurora’s transition very badly.  The poor girl’s breaking down about a significant change in her life, and her love, and what do they do?  Magic her a golden crown.  A crown, for crying out loud!

J.F.: You are aware, I suppose, that your agency has already sent us detailed lists of these analyses and complaints for all of our films?

M.P.: Of course, but I have to assume you haven’t read them.  Anyone who cared a jot for their characters would have already taken us on after reading those reports.

J.F.:…I now see the confusion, Mrs. Potts.  I am in show business.  I show my heroes and heroines that an actor’s life for them can be highly rewarding.  What happens after my shows…well, they chose to be here, they might as well be firewood for all I care!

M.P. *long pause*  Thank you for being honest, John.  Then it shouldn’t bother you to add a clause in your contract that all leading characters must visit our agency at the end of your filming?

J.F.: It it’ll keep me from hearing from you again, Mrs. Potts, it will be well worth it.  I’ll make it a requirement for all movie protagonists, past, present, and future, shall I?

M.P.: Be my guest.

*click*

John “Honest” Foxx: “Must’ve kept her so angry she still hasn’t seen the new television show.”  Evil smile.  “Now, those are the people who really need therapy.”

Fairy Tale Channels

I offer here one of the shorter, sillier versions of a fairy tale retelling.  Since turnabout is fair play and thus far I’ve been critiquing other people’s writing, I decided the first retelling would be my own.  The following falls at one end of the fairy tale spectrum: the light-hearted, humorous type.  I happen to think that the opposite, darker end of this spectrum is more intriguing, but as it is also less well-known, we may as well begin here.

“Fairy Tale Channels: Everyone’s Searching for Something”

Hilda’s curls flailed wildly around her shoulders.  She’d been wearing her blue robe and training hood for days; it was a relief to uncover her head.  Tossing her training garb aside, Hilda flung herself into her rocking chair.  Behind closed eyes she saw again the last human she’d tried to help to earn her Fairy Godmother license.  “Oooohh, boo!”  How did her gifts always manage to go wrong?  She couldn’t understand it.  That spell for magically growing rope had been one of her first and easiest at the academy.  Hilda couldn’t imagine how it had become attached to that poor girl’s head instead of her window.  She sighed.  If only she’d performed the spell less perfectly it might still have been of use.  She could have cut her magically rope-strong hair and climbed down it, but no – it had stopped growing and disappeared as soon as it left her head, just like the most obedient elf rope in the land.  “How could it have landed on her head?” she moaned, half angry and half desperate.  That poor girl, with her hair now ridiculously long, had been her second chance at her license.  If she didn’t manage something better soon, she’d have to give up and leave in disgrace.  Hilda did not think she’d make a good disgraced fairy: she didn’t have the grace or the temperament to accept help from men instead.

Restlessly, she wandered over to her items chest.  Already the council had insisted on looking over everything she’d invested with magic to be sure she wasn’t turning to witches’ magic.  They’d left the inventory inside, signed ok to return to her with the remark: Only follies and novelties, nothing of interest in spells.  “That’s rather unnecessary,” Hilda muttered, running her wand down the list to make sure it got everything properly put away on the shelves.  One teddy bear with magical punching powers, two shoes with enchanted dancing spells, a blanket with invisibility powers –

unfortunately blocking vision from both sides, a set of jewels that could squish into any shape or lock, and a set of unbreakable, if very small and uncomfortable, glass slippers.

With the chest empty and ready to infuse new objects with magic, Hilda turned determinedly to the crystal ball.  Surely someone eligible would be in need of a fairy godmother soon, and she must be the first to answer the call.  Whatever she did this time, it just had to be impressive.  “Not to mention come off perfectly,” she added under her breath.  “E.-M.A.I.L. Network,” she told the ball clearly.

Instantly the crystal globe flicked on, switching through the Eligible-Maidens Accruing Ill Luck – the type of human her training had specialized in.  In a small bubble at the top of the sphere flashed faces of vampires, goblins, and witches.  With a shiver Hilda remembered she’d had her ball to the I.M.D.B. channel, for those In Magical Distress or Bondage.  If she couldn’t even order magical rope to work right in a witch’s place of power, she wasn’t about to risk going up against a dark magician again.  “H.U.L.U. channel,” she ordered.

The crystal’s main picture enlarged to show all the Humans Undergoing Love Uprooting.  Dozens of girls cursing engagement rings, moving away from friends, and sobbing at parents’ funerals swept past her view.  Not a single one looked important enough to redeem Hilda’s failure.  They also had a sad lack of straightforward answers.  In the Fairy Godmother world, achieving straightforward goals always gained higher rewards than more long-term aid.  Hilda understood that the latter allowed the humans a chance to complain.  Stifling a yawn, she rose to go to bed, when she thought of the general channel for men: the Beautiful But Crying.  “Switch to B.B.C,” she nearly whispered.

The faces slid by slower here, the camerawork more on the girls’ bodies.  Hilda recognized several from the previous channels, and even a few from the royal families whose troubles were the responsibility of appointed Fairy Godmothers.  “Silly idea,” Hilda remarked after about the twelfth girl.  She rubbed at her eyes and raised her wand to turn off the crystal.  But her hand stopped when her eyes focused again.  This common girl knelt in rags; clearly she had no importance.  On the other hand, she was beautiful enough to draw attention, even from a prince, her problem was simple, and her persecutor a mere human.  Drawing a deep breath, Hilda scrolled down the scene.  When she reached the bottom, her breath hissed sharp against her teeth.  “Well, bippity, boppity!” she exclaimed in delight.

On her feet in an instant, the blue robe and hood of the trade resumed their places.  Grasping up her inventory list, Hilda touched her fingers to the globe.  In a chill, a word, and a glide, she stood before the weeping girl in her rags.  With a wave of her hand and a tinkling throat clear, she gained the maiden’s attention.  “Greetings, child.  I’m your Fairy Godmother.”  As she spoke the words, her heart beat faster in her chest.  This time, it would come off perfect.

“My godmother?”  What was her name? –Cinderella asked, wonderingly.

“Fairy Godmother.”  Hilda’s smile was beatific.  “And you need to get to the royal ball.”

Cinderella gasped.  “Yes!  Oh – could you really do that for me?”  Her eyes shone as if Hilda were the only one in the world.  Perhaps she’ll actually catch this prince!  Aiding a royal bride would really impress the committee! 

For answer Hilda swirled towards the road.  For one awful moment she feared she’d forgotten her wand at home, but after a slight fluster of “Where?” and “Boo!” she produced it with a flourish.  Focusing very hard on the curved shape and luxurious colors of human coaches, she gently flicked her wand.  The road trembled slightly as a giant, and garishly orange vehicle appeared.

Cinderella ran to her carriage.  She turned back, looking quizzical.  “It’s a giant pumpkin on wheels,” she remarked.  Strolling casually behind, Hilda brushed her fingers on the side.  It was, undoubtedly, a pumpkin.  However, the inside was covered in satins and silk, and every line and handle shone, covered in golden gilt.

“That’s the newest fashion for you.  Now, we need mice.”  She drew Cinderella away.  The ragged maiden stared.  “Ah!  I have just the thing!”  Hiding the list in her sleeve, Hilda summoned the items she wanted.  The fighting teddy bear, though useless as a princess’s bodyguard in the woods, managed to round up six mice, a cat, and various others without difficulty.  As they arrived, Hilda set her teeth and willed herself to remember everything right.  Again and again her wand flicked out, as her spells did their transforming work.  “Bippity-Boppity-Boo!”

When six horses stood reined to the pumpkin coach, now manned by footmen and drivers, Hilda dared to inspect her work.  They wouldn’t last long, but great bipping, they looked wonderful!  Grandly, she gestured for Cinderella to leave.  “Thank you, so much!  But…how can I go in rags?”

“Of course you cannot!”  Tired and sweating, Hilda remembered the rest of the plan.  Her case of magic jewels tailored themselves into a gleaming, shimmering dress to replace the rags.  Two diamonds shifted and squished into twinkling combs for her hair.  “And now, the coup de grace!”  Breathless with excitement, Hilda summoned her tiny glass slippers.  As she’d suspected from the moment she’d seen those feet, they truly fit Cinderella.  “Perfectly boppy.”

“It is, isn’t it?  Oh, thank you, Fairy Godmother!”  Cinderella smiled and bolted into the coach.  “I shall remember this night for always.”

“I hope so, child, but your night must end at midnight.  That’s when these spells shall end.  So, go fast – and enjoy every minute you can!”

“Goodbye – and thank you!”  The coach rumbled into the night, with Cinderella and her problems now solved.

“I did it!  At last, I did it!”  Nearly leaping through the air, Hilda whirled back into her home, eager to watch how it went.  Gleefully, she touched her crystal awake, and asked to see Cinderella.  Please.  The night had gone so well already, Hilda hardly dared hope for more, but if only-if only…Please let her enchant the prince.  Please let her become important!  It was the only way this girl could possibly win her Fairy Godmother license.

———————————————————————————————————-

The clock began striking midnight, and Cinderella ran.  When the prince ran after her, Hilda clapped her hands and cheered.  Down the stairs the lovers flew, threading their way through the guests.  Hilda’s wand swept out and two pairs of dancing shoes, unnoticed in the crowd, danced their way toward Cinderella.  One cleared a path for her escape; the other pestered and slowed the prince’s feet.  No one could ask for an easier flight, until the girl reached the last step.  A leather sole plopped on her slipper’s heel, letting her left foot slip free.  As Cinderella fled onward to her waiting coach, the dancing shoes kicked out a circle around the deserted slipper.  The prince could not possibly miss it.

Guards and servants fanned out. Glass shoe in hand, the prince couldn’t think how he could possibly have lost her.  The orange coach had been there, within easy reach, when they’d inexplicably disappeared, in front of his eyes and his entourage.  The road stayed empty and a search found nothing on the wayside.  Clutching her slipper, the prince bemoaned his defeat as they returned home.

Withdrawing her invisibility blanket from its place between the lovers, Hilda smiled at the prince in her crystal.  “Now, it’ll have to be my slipper that helps them!  They’ll have to admit I helped royalty!”  Twirling lightly to her bed, Hilda sang as she fell asleep.  “Bippity boppity boo!”

————————————————————————————————————

Dear Mom,

Today, Cinderella got married.  I’ve had my Fairy Godmother license for only a short few weeks, and already I’m growing quite famous, and as rich as my newlywed princess!  After all, if I can turn a girl from rags to riches, what else can my magic objects do?  I’ve even had a man come to me – a Fairy Godmother for maidens! – and ask for help reaching the sky.  He wants to fetch a piece of moon for his wife.  Now, I’ve never studied the moon, but he only asked for a way to the sky.  It should be easy enough to magic a ladder.

I have to go, mother, the beans for my dinner are ready.  Love me.

-Hilda