Peter and the Starcatchers film

Gary Ross Sets Peter Pan Fantasy As Post-‘Hunger Games’ Followup –

The director of The Hunger Games film is moving on to direct Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s prequel to Peter Pan.  I…have highly mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I adore Dave Barry and am always in favor of his stuff getting promoted.  Peter and the Starcatchers is a poignant and interesting addition to the Peter Pan verse that I think can work wonderfully in visual media.

On the other hand…the camerawork in The Hunger Games gave me dizziness and a headache, making it nigh impossible to enjoy watching and I’d hate to have to dislike it for reasons that don’t even have to do with the story.  Of course, what The Hunger Games did show was the hand of someone who’s genuinely interested in showing how things intersect and allowing actors to shine.  The most intriguing thing in this prequel is all the interesting new spins it put on the Neverland folk and the relationship dynamics.  I’d love to see a movie’s take on that.

Although, it’s at this point that the third ingredient comes into play: Disney.  I’m wary of the Disney version of Barry and Pearson’s mermaids, crafted culture that created the crocodile, and how they might influence the importance of the female lead in comparison to Peter.

It is confusing, but I suspect that this is one of those things that will be fun even if it falls flat, much like a deliciously ugly fallen cake.



By: Monica Furlong


Random House Sprinters 1990

A middle grade fantasy review


The only child of a Cornish chieftan, Juniper’s lived all her life with wealth, community, and politics.  As a daughter instead of a son, will she be powerful enough to rule one day?  Will she marry?  Or was she meant to do something different?  When her godmother, the powerful witch Euny, calls her to study magic, Juniper does not know where it will take her.  Through unexpected hardships and hard-earned lessons, Juniper seeks to find her own way in life.  However, Cornwall contains evil sorcerers as well as dorans, and Juniper must use her knowledge to protect those she loves and discover who she should become.

Juniper is a gentle book, with strong themes that glide through everything and tie it all together.  It’s easy to read, with a rhythmic pace that invites you to keep going.  One feels that they are learning along with the heroine, becoming more in tune to some elements in the world.  This harmonic tone is the charm of this book.  As a prequel, it’s focus is on growth and coming-of-age, with small doses of action and only the potential for romance.  It paints the medieval world with a distinctive atmosphere and culture, without teaching or lengthy descriptions.  This book is perfect for a younger reader, easy to slip into and with plenty of room for readers to exercise their own imaginations, with enough supportive details to make the fantasy strong.

The only issue I had with this book is that, having finished it, I still feel estranged from the main character.  Perhaps it is because this is a prequel written after Juniper’s debut appearance and her personality is really established in that.  Let me be clear: I really like Juniper.  I want to feel close to her.  But, for some reason, she never fully clicked in my head.  I would read along, sympathizing with her struggles, feeling I was in her head, and then something would happen.  I had an emotional reaction, just as Juniper clearly had one.  Then, a couple of sentences later, the main emotion Juniper felt would be named.  I was almost always surprised.  Juniper became angry when I thought she was more upset or was ready to burst into tears when I thought she’d be fired up and angry.  This confuses me.  I’ve had characters I just didn’t connect to before, but even of those, never have I read someone who I simply couldn’t grasp.  Or rather, who constantly wriggled out of my grasp when I thought I knew who they were.  Coming from a work whose main message is the value of truly understanding things, this leaves me bemused.  On the other hand, this phenomenon turned the predictability of the middle-grade plot into something nice and reassuring instead of merely nostalgic.

Puppets, Project Runway, and Pictures

This is the part where summer has gone crazy!  During my vacation travels I met a variety of characters, from Queen Elizabeth I: to the Mad Hatter.  I also got to meet many of Jim Hensen’s creations!  Most of them could not be photographed, such as Ernie, Big Bird, Red and Mokey Fraggle, Rowlph the dog, Dr. Teeth ( I saw my reflection in his gold tooth!), Sir Didymous from “Labyrinth”, and the Swedish Chef.  Some, however, were free of that rule!    They all live together, for the moment, at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta (

When I returned home things seemed normal again, but now I find myself entertaining thoughts like:

1. It’s almost 2 in the morning.  Time to do laundry!

2. There is a raccoon charging down the sidewalk, straight at me.  What do I do in this situation!?

3. Mondo, the winner of Project Runway All Stars, is clearly the Rumpelstiltskin of the fashion world.  Only, in his version of the story, he was forced to feel that if he kept spinning straw materials into golden garments, he would have to revert to being emotionally, a baby.  Then, when they called his name at the end, as the winner of Project Runway All Stars, the prize rejuvenated him back into being an emotionally-adjusted man.  I find this an interesting take on the tale, actually.  A lot of things make more sense when the imp’s spinning has more to do with his own issues instead of the pitiful gold trinkets, or the distress of a random stranger.  The thought of the baby being an aspect of Rumpelstiltskin that needs to be found or done away with makes me like that story better.  Huh.

In more palatable news (…sortof)

the ragbag – how to make cockle bread -or- for wunderpantry:….

Apparently England used to host a specialty baked good called “cockle bread.”  It involved women kneading/shaping bread dough to their nether regions and then presenting the baked loaf to their preferred man.

“cockle bread was a popular stuart-era baked good said to excite the passions of men. young women would make it for the objects of their affection by sitting on raw dough with their naked derriere, kneading it with their privy parts by madly wriggling around and singing the cockle bread song:

my dame is sick and gonne to bed
and i’ll go mould my cockle bread
up with my heels and down with my head
and this is the way to mould cockle bread”

-Apparently garnered from brand’s popular antiques (1905).

I went looking into this and found an alternative shaping method in Lisa Splittgerber :: Aphrodisiacs in the Libro de buen amor: Serranas’ Sexy Secrets:

“…the tradition of cockle bread which was described as:

. . . a small piece of dough which the girl would knead and then press against the vulva. The dough, moulded to this shape, was then baked in the normal way and the loaf presented to the man she sought to attract. If he ate it, he would fall beneath her spell and be powerless to resist. Similar types of charms have been used throughout Europe and indeed may still be used in primitive country regions (Taberner 46-47).”

Wikipedia says:

John Aubrey wrote of it: Young wenches have a wanton sport which they call ‘moulding of cocklebread’ – they get upon a table-board, and then gather up their knees and their coates with their hands as high as they can then they wabble to and fro with their buttocks as if they were kneading of dough with their arses, and say these words: ‘My dame is sick and gone to bed/ And I’ll go mould my cocklebread’. I did imagine nothing to have been in this but mere wantonness of youth … but I find in Buchardus’s book Methodus Confitendi … one of the articles of interrogating a young woman is, if she did ever subjugere panem clunibus, and then bake it, and give it to the one she loved to eat … So here I find it to be a relic of natural magic, an unlawful philtrum [i.e. aphrodisiac or love charm]. [from A. McLaren, Reproductive Rituals (1984), p. 37].

Nursery rhyme

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Cockle-Bread was a children’s game in which one squats on his/her haunches with hands clasped beneath the thighs, while others grasp his/her arms and swing him/her to and fro. This action was often accompanied by a rhyme:

My granny is sick and now is dead
And we’ll go mould some cocklety bread
Up with the heels and down with the head
And that’s the way to make cocklety bread.”
Forget bread and circuses!  Give me bread, sex, magic, and rhymes-it’s a much more rounded survival plan.    Also, as entertaining!  If the arenas hosted competition in these arts…actually, that picture’s not really that different from how ancient Roman life is often depicted now.  Still, the point is made. 

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