Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ring In All Hallows Eve With Style...

Happy Halloween, my friends!

I’m going to go on the assumption that every single one of you is dressed to the nines in the greatest costumes ever as you read this. (Please don’t tell me if I’m wrong. I like my fantasy world.)

If you’re anything like me, you probably went through hours and hours of agonizing pondering before landing on that perfect costume. Or, you know, however long it takes you to finish a bag of candy corn.

And then, even after you’ve made your final decision, you’re just wracked with thoughts of all the costume ideas you discarded. Well, thanks to the absolutely awesome PicMonkey, you can see the many versions of your Halloween self.

Here are mine:

It’s both a creepy and awesome way to spend a little of your Halloween. I mean, how many other times do you get to ruminate on your ideal number of oozing sores or if your pockmarks should have a reddish tint or if maybe blue is better?

And finally…here’s what I landed on for this year’s costume.

Identity Thief! 

What are you dressed up as? (Lie if you have to.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Captain Hook and My Big Brother

So, how is everyone surviving the storm?

Thanks to the back-up generator in my apartment building, as far as electricity goes, I haven’t had to deal with anything more than some prolonged flickers. So, I’ve been super lucky. I even got to keep my TV, which was surprising and lovely. I caught up on all those shows that I haven’t been able to watch for weeks.

During all of this TV time, I was particularly interested to see the arrival of Captain Hook in Once Upon A Time. I’ve always been a fan of Peter Pan. I’ve seen the various movies and staged productions. Watched mini-series. Read books (if you haven’t checked out Peter and the Starcatchers, you really should). Kids fighting pirates? I’m there. Not quite as interested in the never aging aspect of the story. I like progression.

As my mind often connects stories to specific memories in my life, doing all this thinking about Peter Pan, my mind immediately went back to when I was a kid, obsessed with the Mary Martin version. I could watch it over and over again. And you can bet that every time she pleaded with us to help save Tinker Bell’s life, I clapped until my hands were red.

I remember one particular night that I was watching it for the umpteenth time. The little sis was sitting by my side, singing along with me. And my brother was in the kitchen making us popcorn. My parents were out and he was watching us. His friends stopped over to say hi for a few minutes and then headed out to wherever they were going. Because they were boys, they naturally wanted to take a moment out of their night to scare the little girls.

They made a slight mistake, though. They told my brother their plans.

He nodded and smiled. And the moment they went out the door, he carried into us a big bowl of popcorn and told us not to get scared when someone banged on the windows, because it was just the guys. He sat down with us, watching the movie and eating popcorn. And we all laughed and rolled our eyes when all the noise started.

It wasn’t the last time that the attempt to scare us was made. I mean, we were all kids. Where would the fun in that have been? I still can’t look at American Girl’s Samantha Learns A Lesson without also thinking about that damn Freddy Krueger mask.

But I always knew that if my brother was forewarned about the scare, I would be as well. So, now when I see Captain Hook, I don’t just think “fearsome pirate, most well known for his hatred of children,” but “man, I have a great brother.”

It’s downright confusing.

Hope you’re all staying safe during the storminess!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rain and Marshmallows

All my hatches are battened down, how about yours?

From all the reports I’m hearing, Hurricane Sandy/Frankenstorm/Frankenstein’s Monstorm/The Snoreastercane is coming at us with a vengeance. So, naturally, I’ve gotten all the necessary provisions for such an event: flashlight, batteries, water and pizza bagels.

I’m feeling pretty good about riding this thing out.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always enjoyed watching storms. I think it all started back in the day when my grandmother used to babysit me and my sister. If it wasn’t raining, we would always play baseball in her backyard. But, if it was? Well, we had two options. Playing in the magic that was the basement (story for another day) or dragging the porch furniture as far away from the screened windows as we could and watching the storm in all of it’s glory.

We’d sit there, grandma in the middle, and scream every time there was thunder or lightning. My sister and I would scream, that is. Grandma would just say, “Holy Cats ‘n’ Jammer Kids!” and hug us a little tighter. And, as we sat there, taking it all in, we’d happily eat Lucky Charms straight out of the box.

I’m not going to sit out on my balcony today. Firstly, the apartment building made us bring everything in, so there aren’t any chairs. Secondly, it’s too small to position myself anywhere that I won’t get soaked.

But, I am going to watch the storm through the screens. And if any thunder or lightning heads our way, I’ll probably take a page from grandma’s book. A quick exclamation of “Holy Cats ‘n’ Jammer Kids!” followed by a couple of marshmallows for good measure.

How about all of you? Any stormy traditions?

Stay safe!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'd Like To See Some Dead People

Who ya gonna call?

Well, generally my answer to that would be obvious. But today, I’m less interested in getting in touch with the Busters, more with the Ghosts.

You see, there is very little in this world that I would love more than to live somewhere haunted. With a friendly ghost*, of course. I have always been against living with those who are vindictive and cruel, a rule of thumb I have no problem extending to the spirit world.

I’m not saying that the ghost always needs to be a great mood. Of course not. That’s just unreasonable. But I don’t want to have to worry about possession while I’m trying to get the vacuuming done.

Also, while I’d certainly be happy just to pal around with some apparitions, I’m actually in the market for a business arrangement. Basically, I’d like to hire a ghost.

Who better to specialize in home security?

And don’t worry, my translucent friends, I’m not just asking you to sit in the basement and rattle some chains. I would never think of pigeon-holing you in such a stereotypical manner.  

I am looking for a minimum of two ghosts to be responsible for watching over the homestead at all hours. Vacation time can be arranged, but there must always be one ghost on duty. The methods you use to protect the house will be left to your discretion. Payment to be determined.

Bitter, homicidal, or generally ill-tempered specters** need not apply.

If you, or anyone you know, fit this description, please let me know.


In other (somewhat) related news, I have a message for the governess: I know you’re not crazy. The ghosts were real.


Today’s breakfast recommendation: Boo Berry



** See: Chucky, Jacob Marley, May, etc.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Monsters or Misunderstood?

Who isn’t talking about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse these days? Just plug the term into Google News and check out how many mentions there have been in the recent weeks.

We’re gearing up, we’re preparing. And though, I personally believe the squirrel threat is more pressing than that of the undead, I do understand the need for precautions.

This threat, after all, is ongoing. They even had issues with it a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. So, it’s clear that this is not just some passing paranoia, but a true obstacle that must be dealt with if we wish to ensure quality of life for those who have yet to die the first time.

But let’s not be too hasty in our zombie slayings, lest we forget that the undead are people too. Sort of. For the most part, I do not believe that these individuals aspired to be zombified (though there are undoubtedly exceptions to this statement).

Sometimes they were dragged from their place of rest by another person of magical inclination, a la Billy Butcherson, in Hocus Pocus.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if someone wakes me up from a deep sleep, I am, to put it mildly, not fit to be around. I would imagine that being called from the dead is slightly more jarring. So, can we really blame zombies for being a little out of sorts when they first rise? And to make matters worse, we never even let them fully clear cobwebs from the old brain pan before we start trying to take their heads off. If someone woke me up without my permission and before I could even focus on what was going on a mob of folks were coming at me with cudgels, to be completely honest, I’d start biting people too. Which brings us to another way to create zombies – biting.

One of those guys takes a chomp out of you and it’s pretty much a done deal. You are on your way to being the living dead, at least until that mob gets to you. Then you’ll just be the dead dead. Which let’s face it, is, as previously illustrated, our own damn fault. If we just let the undead acclimate for five seconds before trying to make them twice dead, maybe we’d find them a little less ornery and likely to eat the flesh from our bones.

I’m not saying to run up and hug them. Keep a safe distance, make sure your armed in case things go sideways. Just give them a moment to breathe.

And definitely, whatever you do, do not run away if they decide to break into dance. That just makes them angry.

Again, this annoyance is understandable. Have you ever be part of a performance? How would you feel if folks up and ran away before you finished? Not great, that’s how. Probably a little put out. So save yourself the terrified running through fixer-uppers and be a good audience member (this is just a good rule in general).

And my last bit of zombie-related advice? Watch Shaun of the Dead.

That is all.

Today’s snacking recommendation: Zombie cupcakes

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bewtiched, Bothered and Bewildered

It’s no secret that I used to be mortally terrified of the Wicked Witch of the West. She was a constant visitor to my worst nightmares. However, over the years, thanks to the efforts of many storytellers, I have come to understand that not all witches are the monsters I thought them to be as a young child.

Glinda was not enough to convince me. After all, she made Dorothy go on the whole long trip, without giving her all the pertinent information. Can’t trust her.

I think the book that really got me thinking about the unfair treatment of witches was The Conjurer Princess by Vivian Vande Velde. I read this one back when I was around eleven. Poor Princess Lylene starts out her quest to save her kidnapped sister by learning magic from a wizard – magic that makes her age rapidly and has her hunted as a witch. Sure, Lylene wasn’t always a paragon of virtue. She made mistakes, got some blood on her hands. But her goals were noble and she was driven by the desire to help her sister.

Shortly after this, I saw Teen Witch for the first time. And you just can’t spend any time with Louise Miller and still think witches are wicked. Pretty sure that it’s an actual impossibility.

After this, I took a look at the witches that had most terrified me back in the day. Each of these women, admittedly, chose some unfortunate ways of expressing their anger, but that doesn’t mean that their anger wasn’t justified.

Yes, the Wicked Witch of the West’s fireballs and kidnapping were a little extreme, but I’d be pretty put out myself if I found some kid robbing my sister’s grave. And no, fattening children up with the intention of eating them should never be a go-to plan, but perhaps Hansel and Gretel shouldn’t have literally started eating the witch out of house and home. Sure, the Sanderson Sisters wanted to suck the lives out of all the children in Salem to ensure their eternal youth, but….Nope, can’t actually find a way to justify that. They were just evil. But, great singers, right?

So, today I’m Team Witch. Whether they ride brooms, dance under the moon, own a couple cauldrons and a scrying mirror, run a nightclub, or are just genuine badasses like Minerva McGonagall.

Who are your favorite witches, good, bad or otherwise?

Today’s breakfast recommendation: Gingerbread house (Just make sure no one’s living in it before you start eating).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Eternal Life (on the Page)

We’ve been hanging around vampires for thousands of years. Cultures all over the world and throughout history have spun tales of these bloodsuckers (and apparently honest Abe hunted them). Some of the lore changes from case to case, but a couple things are pretty constant: you don’t really want to meet up with these folks in a dark alley and, despite our long familiarity, on the whole we’re still not bored with these stories yet. At least I’m not, and from the number of vampire stories you can find in your local bookstore, I don’t think I’m alone.

I knew who Dracula was long before I read the book, though I do think The Count was my first real exposure to vampiric culture, followed quickly by Bunnicula. Regardless, by the time I got to readings Bram Stoker’s famous tale, I had a working knowledge of the pale and the petrifying. Unlike, Frankenstein, however, at the end of this book, I was solidly on the side of Harker and Van Helsing. Not only was Dracula a jerky jerk, but Van Helsing’s crew was pretty badass. Not once did they leave me yelling at the book, How could you just assume that everything is going to work out? Where are the precautions? Who are you, Dr. Evil?

Nope. A past lady friend of theirs is turned vampy? Staked through the heart, beheaded and buried with a mouth full of garlic. I mean, I guess they could have doused her body in holy water and set it aflame, but past that, they covered all the bases. Gotta respect that.

Of course, despite my love of this book, I must admit that my true love of vampires began with Buffy. The movie first (who doesn’t occasionally say “Get out of my facial,” a la Hilary Swank?) and then the TV show. It was in the latter where I began to find myself sometimes rooting for the monsters. Not to beat Buffy, of course, but not to be vanquished. And none more so than Spike, a character who was the self-proclaimed “Big Evil” for most of his time on the show. He adored both murder and mayhem, was manipulative and opportunistic, and cultivated what was probably an unhealthy obsession with Passions. And he stole pretty much every scene he was in. 

In conclusion, I’m a little bit more ambiguous as to whether I root for Team Vampire or Team Slayers, than I was regarding the Frankenstein question. But I can say for sure that there are some vampires who I’m happy live to fight another night.
Today’s breakfast recommendation: Count Chocula.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Green...Or Made of Dead People's Parts

Sometimes you just have to root for the monster. And the week before Halloween seems like a great time to cue up the cheering squad for five of the most traditional monsters of the season.

Let’s kick things off with good old Dr. Frankenstein’s creation.

When I first read Mary Shelley’s work in middle school, I already knew the basic story. I mean, what kid can make it through eleven Halloweens and not know about Frankenstein’s monster? Of course, at that point I thought the monster was named Frankenstein, so I was a little confused when I found that it was actually the doctor’s name. But I knew the monster would be scary. And he was. He killed people, framed others for murder, and was, all in all, a total terror. That being said, Doc Frankenstein was always far more repugnant to me.

He creates this being and then immediately rejects him because he’s scary looking. The good doctor was smart enough to reanimate bodies, but couldn’t figure out that the eight foot pile of parts he was sewing together wasn’t going to be handsome?

After this total fail of deductive reasoning, he scampers off, leaving the monster to figure things out for himself, which, shock of shocks, doesn’t end well. As the mayhem ensures, Doc Frankenstein laments his actions, saying how it’s all his fault. Woe is he, and all that. Which is all well and good. He did set this ball a-rollin’. But when it comes to taking care of the issue, does he take action? No, he whines and falls ill, gets nursed back to health, makes a few more poor decisions, and then starts the cycle all over again. And all this leaves me wanting one thing, for the poor beast to get his lady friend and be allowed to disappear into the wilderness. 

So, in the grand battle between Team Frankenstein and Team Monster, I’m coming down on the side of Team Monster, despite our champion’s sometimes murderous tendencies.

What about you?

Favorite Film Adaptation:

Favorite Television Adaptation:

Today's breakfast recommendation: Frankenberry

Check back in tomorrow. We're going to tackle vampires. (And by tackle, I mean stand at a safe distance reeking of garlic and armed with Super Soakers of holy water, of course.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rainy morning dreams

It’s a very rainy fall day. I don’t know about you, but such conditions inspire in me the desire to pull the comforter over my shoulders, trudge out to the couch, curl up and watch some appropriately themed movies.

Now, it’s Friday, so I’m at the office, which means no movies, no couches, and perhaps most horrifyingly, no comforters (and it’s chilly in here).

But that doesn’t mean a girl can’t dream…

So, to that end, here are some of my favorite Halloween season viewing options:

  1. Arsenic and Old Lace

You really can’t top Cary Grant. Plus, who doesn’t want to hang out with the Brewster sisters?

  1. Hocus Pocus

Witches, zombies, possessed cats and a musical number? All my favorite aspects of Halloween (and, you know, any other day I can get all these things together).

  1. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Because I can always count on Linus for some holiday perspective. And even Lucy has some Halloween spirit!

  1. Practical Magic

I’m partial to any story that focuses on sisters, but throw in some magic? I’m sold.

  1. Casper

Who doesn’t miss 1995? It was really a great year for Christina Ricci/Devon Sawa movies.

No, I don’t like actual scary movies. I’m a total weenie. If I watch them, I just end up spending the night sitting up in the Roomie’s room, throwing things at her face to keep her awake, in case the monsters come. It’s a bad situation for everyone. So, STOP JUDGING my family friendly preferences!

And have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bobbing for Answers

Continuing on with our fall traditions, we’ve got bobbing for apples. Which, to be honest, I always thought was fairly gross.

Come on friends! Stick your face in this bowl/bucket/trough/whatever filled with water of an unfortunate temperature and try to snag an apple that has doubtless already been licked by someone else!

No, thank you.

But, apparently my deep-seated desire not to contract germs from soggy apples has left me woefully uninformed about the future marital bliss of myself and those around me.

Curious as to which of your friends will be the next to tie the knot?

One legend claims that the first person to snag an apple without the aid of their hands will be the next to marry. Another says that the person who got the apple was fated to marry the person who owned said apple.

How about just the general state of future relationships?

Grab that apple on the first try and you are destined for true love. For those not quite as talented at the bobbing, sorry friends, a lot of romantic fickleness awaits you.

And the predictions don’t end once you’ve finally caught that salvia covered apple. Peel in and throw the skin over your shoulder. It’ll land in the shape of your true love’s initial. Or, you could stick it under your pillow, guaranteeing dreams of your future love (or a night of no sleep at all. Because you’ve got a big lumpy apple under your pillow. But definitely one of the two).

But, as it turns out, not all apple bobbing superstitions are focused on marriage.

I just read a tale claiming that by surviving an ordeal by water (and who wouldn’t call fishing around for an apple in a bucket of water in which a bunch of other people have dunked their hair an ordeal?) and capturing an apple, you can gain passage to the land of the fairies. This is only possible on Halloween though, as the boundary between our world and that of magic is weaker than at any other point.

Now, I’m willing to deal with uncertainty surrounding my future marital state (who doesn’t love a good mystery?). But, a chance to visit the fairies? I may need to rethink my position on this whole icky endeavor, at least on the 31st. 

What about you? Feel like bobbing?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Poor Jack and his Turnip Lantern

As a friend recently noted, pretty much everything is pumpkin themed right now. The season of the pumpkin is fairly standard. We start seeing them outside of store fronts in September and most don’t lose their position until the snowmen are rolled out after Thanksgiving. So, it’s pretty much a solid three months of pumpkin-tastic-ness.

October is the height of this pumpkin hysteria and, as such, needs to distinguish itself from the surrounding pumpkin-loving months. And what better way to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve than taking a giant knife to a pumpkin’s face?

I’ve never given much thought to this oddly violent, yet festive tradition. At least nothing past, Haha! You will be an angry pumpkin. And you, sir, will be a happy pumpkin. Oh, they kind of both look the same. Okay….AMBIVALENT PUMPKINS!

But I just found out that the story of the jack-o’-lantern is well deserving of its place on such a spooky holiday. According to Celtic folklore, it all started when some poor sap named Jack tricked the devil. The retelling of the trick varies, but as a result of this shenanigan, the devil agreed not to take Jack’s soul after death. Pretty sweet, right? Not really. Cause Jack wasn’t all that virtuous throughout his life. Due to his tomfoolery, heaven said “No, thanks,” after he died and he was forced to meander around purgatory. To make matters worse, purgatory did not have the best lighting. So, to see where he was going on these endless wanderings, Jack fashioned himself a lantern from a turnip and a lump of flaming coal that the devil tossed him.

In Jack’s honor the Irish used to carve such lanterns in an attempt to guide the spirits wandering the streets on Halloween. Turnips were originally used, but when the Irish came to America after the potato famine, those weren’t as easy to acquire. So, the tradition was kept up with pumpkins.

The only thing I’m still a little unclear on is when we decided that these lanterns should have faces.....

By Dvortygirl, via Wikimedia Commons

But regardless of how the face on this year’s jack-o’-lantern turns out, I’m going to put the brightest burning candle I can find in that sucker in the hopes of leading poor Jack home. Wherever that may be. Because eternity is a long time to wander.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Being Invincible Together

I was in the grocery store this weekend and saw a woman pushing two little boys in a shopping cart. One sat in the actual seat section, the other in the main part of the cart. As they rolled by me, the woman asked, “How are you guys doing?”

As if this was their cue, both boys raised their fists victoriously into the air. The little boy in the front of the cart took it a step further, shouting one simple sentence:

“We are invincible!”

He then high-fived the boy in the back of the cart.

The woman paused for a second, then started laughing, said “That’s good,” and kept on moving down the isle.

Now, I don’t know if the power of riding in a grocery chariot of their very own was going to their head. Maybe there had been a number of things in their Sunday that bolstered their feelings of being unbeatable, leading to that one perfect moment. Or perhaps, it was the simple fact that they were together.

I am certainly a fan of the stalwart heroes and heroines who must travel their path alone, but I have to admit I’m a real sucker for stories of teams. They don’t have to start off as teams, but by the end the disparate group of individuals finds a way to come together and is stronger for it.

I mentioned last week my love of the Star Wars X-Wing series. This is why. As individuals, each of the characters in these stories are interesting and flawed. They could probably each carry their own story. And that’s great, but as a group they're unbeatable.

There are a lot of examples of this. The crew of Serenity, the Avengers, Five-0, the Animorphs, the Planeteers (I mean, what are all the natural elements without a little heart, am I right?), this list just goes on and on. All filled with awesome individuals, all better when viewed as a team.

Stories where an individual saves the day on their own are great and awe-inspiring, but they’re not always relatable. (I know, “relatable” sounds a little weird when most of my examples have to do with interspecies air forces and extraterrestrial emergencies, but, bear with me.) Odds are very few of us get through the bad times of our lives all alone. I know I haven’t. And this leaves me partial to the stories that show the benefits of interdependence – that illustrate that asking for help doesn’t make someone less of a hero, it just makes him or her less alone in their heroics.

So, wishing you an awesome Tuesday where you feel exactly like those two little boys – surrounded by all the people who make you invincible.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Inner Glow

So, it was a big dream weekend. Every night, my head hit the pillow and I found myself in bizarrely vivid dreams. Which for someone who used to try to rewind movies in her head, so she could watch she while she slept, is a nice state to be in. Makes the whole sleeping thing more interesting.

There was however, one aspect of every night’s dreams that was a little bit disturbing. Three mornings in a row I have awoken with memories of glowing eyes. Both people and turtles with glowing eyes, always either red or green. Now, they didn’t have glowing eyes for the entirety of the dreams, but at some point during my mental stories, their eyes would suddenly flame with color and light. And then they’d go back to normal and I was the only to have noticed the change.

Each night’s dreams were wholly unrelated with the exception of this one strange aspect. So, I figured might as well look up what other people think such things mean. Here’s what I got:

Site One: “To dream about a glow represents a realization that fresh information or perspective has been cast upon a situation. You have found a new perspective, and this is positive.”

Site Two: “To dream of glowing green eyes means that you are trying to fight off your enemies. To dream of glowing red eyes means that person is a very dangerous person.”

Site Three: “Something glowing eerily can represent a person or force with unknown intent.”

Apparently, my subconscious is cluing me in that I’m in the midst of a fight with my enemies and bad people, that I have new and positive perspective on a situation, or that I’m facing something with unknown intent. So, basically, good, bad or otherwise.

Glad that’s all cleared up.

It is also entirely possible, I guess, that my subconscious is trying to succeed in my lifelong goal to recreate the music video of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” 

I’ll let you know if folks/turtles with the optic glow start wearing choir robes and flying. Or if, you know, I suddenly have feathered hair or something.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Picture May Be Worth A Thousand Words, But Pictures With Words Are Priceless

We had rehearsal in a different place last night. Generally we meet up every night at a nearby elementary school, but last night they were having an event.

I still had to drive past the elementary school to get to the new rehearsal location. If I’m being honest, the big sign proclaiming “Book Fair” kind of made me want to stop by for a second. I, not at all surprisingly, used to love whenever my school did anything book related. Fairs were fantastic. And whenever the Scholastic pamphlet came out, I would spend the rest of my day circling all books that I wanted, so that I could make an educated decision over which ones I would declare to my parents that I couldn’t live without.

It got me thinking about some of the earliest books I remember reading – the picture books that still hold places on my shelves.

Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle were big favorites for me early on. Martin came to my school once and signed my copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? And my young life was perfect. A few years back, I spent some time with one of my little cousins and we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Martin & John Archambault). Sitting there, chanting about the alphabet, I had some pretty strong memories of climbing up into the top bunk in the room I shared with my sister, clutching that book to my chest, beside myself excited that my parents had just gotten it for me.

Judi and Ron Barrett’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a book I read over and over again. Not only did I love the idea that food would rain from the sky, but I was absolutely enamored with the illustrations of this book. The expressions of the Chewandswallow citizens as the weather turned on them were well worth turning the pages for.

Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji was another book where the illustrations just got to me. That, plus I always really, really wanted my board games to come alive. Apparently, I wanted to make all the same mistakes as Judy and Peter. Also, Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express continues to be displayed on my coffee table every December. And I still feel a twist of heartbreak when the little boy realizes he has a hole in his pocket.

Keeping with yesterday’s discussion of alternative fairy tales, how could I not love Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!? Poor Mr. Wolf. Just trying to get a cup of sugar…. And, of course, Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko’s The Paper Bag Princess. I mean, Princess Elizabeth not only outsmarts a dragon and saves and dumps a prince, but also manages to keep her paper bag from going up in flames. That’s just impressive.

Okay, clearly I could go on like this for awhile. Every time I write one book done, two more that I love pop into my head. But it’s your turn now – What were some of your earliest and most enduring literary loves?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Real Magic

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who was truly enamored of fairy tales, but kept finding little things about the stories she was reading or watching that nagged at her.

Why didn’t Cinderella’s glass slipper change into a ratty old shoe at midnight when everything else did? Then, at least, it would have narrowed down the pool of subjects the prince had to go door-to-door to.

Why were the fathers all so crappy? The love of a father for his child was often mentioned, but where were the actions to back up these claims? The fathers of Cinderella and Snow White apparently loved their daughters whole heartedly, but were too dumb not to notice that they were marrying horrific, abusive women. Hansel and Gretel’s dad was said to love them tons too, but ditched them in the forest twice. And only took them back at the end because his wife died. Father of the year, right there. The miller basically sold his daughter to the King under false pretense, leading to that whole Rumplestiltskin fiasco. But at least he never really pretended to be overly enamored with his offspring. So….that’s something, maybe?

Why were all the stepmothers evil? I knew a number of stepmothers, all of them were lovely people. So, it never made sense to me that every single stepmother in fairy tales wanted nothing more than to kill off all the children. I believed in all sorts of magic and mayhem, but this strange stereotype was too unrealistic for my young mind.

The questions went on and on. Probably because I kept going back to all the stories over and over. I loved them and they drove me crazy.

I’m not the only one who has cast a skeptical eye toward these classic tales, of course. There are tons of different takes out there. My father told me stories where Ariel stayed a mermaid. In high school, I was introduced to Into the Woods and Shrek, both of which, I was happy to see showed that happy endings aren’t always what we expect them to be. When I was in college, one particularly awesome roommate used to read stories to me from James Finn Garner’s Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. (Nothing speeds you off to sleep like Red Riding Hood’s stirring speech to the sexist, speciesist woodsman.) And now, I get to regularly enjoy blogs and tumblrs like “Introvert Fairy Tales” and “fairy tales for twentysomethings.”

All of these things have been on my mind a lot lately, as I work on a new story. And I think I’ve figured out what the real magic of fairy tales is – They can be whatever we want them to be.

So what are your favorites, be they traditional or reimaginings?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Security Blankets of the Literary Persuasion

I was reading this article yesterday and it got me thinking about my own comfort books. You know, the ones I can count on to give me the warm and fuzzies when I’m feeling homesick or just need a little break.

Given how frequently I like to revisit books, my list of such stories can get pretty unwieldy. So, I’ve limited myself to ten of my most tried and true. Many of them have been popping up in my reading rotation for the last 10-15 years. I’m happy to say that since getting out of school in May, I’ve read a number of books that are sure to be added to this list. But for now, I’m sticking to ones that have proven themselves as reliable soothers for at least a few years.

To keep this from getting too out of hand, I’m going to describe my favorite aspects of the stories in ten words or less. 

The Two Princesses of Bamarre (Gale Carson Levine)
-          Adventure centered on sisters, with happy (but not neat) ending.

Wraith Squadron (Aaron Allston)
-          Screw-ups who aren’t ready to throw in the towel yet.

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
-          Not an unflawed character in the lot. What’s not to love?

Cards on the Table (Agatha Christie)
-          Murder victim sets up card game between sleuths and suspects.

Animorphs: In the Time of Dinosaurs (K.A. Applegate)
-          Animorphs, time travel, dinosaurs. Pure awesome.

Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
-          Book banning at a more intense level. Terrifying.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
-          Introduction of Remus Lupin. Enough said.

Jewels of the Sun (Nora Roberts)
-          Whose life wouldn’t be improved by some lovelorn ghosts?

The Doomsday Key (James Rollins)
-          Classic race to save the world and some Celtic lore.

The Indian in the Cupboard (Lynne Reid Banks)
-          Old cupboard? A lone figurine? Best birthday gifts ever.

Okay, your turn. What books do you go back to when you need a little pick-me-up?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Morning Beast is Angry

Recently, the CD player in my car broke. It’s making strange, otherworldly whirring sounds and will neither play music, nor allow me to retrieve the CDs I so foolishly placed in its care.

And while my first reaction was total, despondent despair, I quickly realized that I could live with this. See, I have one of those plug thingies that allows me to play my iPod over the car speakers.

Problem solved!



In an example of unconscious self-sabotage at its finest, I just left my iPod up at my sister’s in Maine. MAINE.

So, I am left with the radio. Now to be clear, I have no fundamental problem with the radio. Many of my fondest childhood memories involve sitting in a car, wailing along to whatever song the radio gods chose to put forth. I like the mystery – the anticipatory ooh, what are they gonna play next feeling. See – no radio hate here.


The commercials are a little rough. I’ve definitely been spoiled by technology. Whether it be music or television, I want my entertainment and I want it now. This is particularly true in the morning. There’s a reason I don’t listen to any sort of talk or news radio in the early hours. It’s the same reason as why the Roomie and I stumble past each other in the hallway, avoiding eye contact, and maintain an unspoken pact to speak nary a word to each other until we’ve been at work for a couple hours.

Mornings are not generally comprised of my finest moments. And you know the whole thing about music soothing the savage beast? It’s true. What doesn’t work for getting the morning beastie to calm down? Talking. No, the sound of talking sends the morning beastie into incoherent howling, sprinkled with moments of Gollum-esque muttering.

Believe me when I say, you do not want to be driving next to someone, glance over into their car and see that going on.

Then there’s the fact that every radio station I’ve found has apparently been coerced into playing the same seven songs on a loop, throwing in maybe one change-up an hour (this morning’s was Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable.” Classic 2006).

So now, as I write this I’m humming One Direction’s lovely ditty about a girl being beautiful because she’s insecure and kind of really, really want to scream. Still, I can’t dispute their claim that the best way to prove you’re right is to place your argument in a song. Roomie and I live by this theory.  

And so continues my descent into madness.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bad Movies/Good Party Themes: Drop Dead Fred Imaginary Friend Wine Tasting

Well, we are now into a month traditionally touted for its creepiness and costuming. And who’s creepier than Drop Dead Fred? (I’m pretty sure the correct answer is “a limited few.”)

And what better way to honor this maniacal fellow then to get together with your visible friends, dress up as your favorite imaginary pals, and enjoy some grape derived beverages with Fred and Lizzie? I don’t think there is one.

So, whether you favor Hobbes and Harvey, or are more interested in creating your own (here are some tips), the possibilities are fairly endless. Just don’t forget, this is a fancy event. Regardless of the imaginary friend you choose, they should be in their spiffiest duds.

So, break out your finest crystal and your strangest imaginings! Go and mingle with all those people who look like the friends you’ve known for years, but now aren’t! Learn their stories!

Basically, just have the most bizarre night you can.

(Oh – and this is just a personal preference – but I’d lose the whole spittoon aspect of the wine tasting. At least for this one night. No offense, but I just don’t trust those imaginary folks to keep their spitting to a localized, agreed-upon area. I prefer to nip that activity right in the bud.)

Crackerjack dialogue to look forward to:
-          "I have been pounded flat on the anvil of love like a piece of veal with a salad on top."
-          "Look at you. You’re all older. You’re even uglier. Uch. I’m sorry. I’m gonna have to be sick all over you immediately."
-          "I don’t love you because love is for girls and girls are disgusting."
-          "It takes more than a fire truck to stop Drop Dead Fred!"

Tagline: Dishes. Relationships. Wind. This guy breaks everything.

For a Drop Dead Fred Imaginary Friend Wine Tasting of your very own, here’s what you need:
-          Drop Dead Fred (1991)
-          Snacks of both the real and imaginary variety. Think regular fare and something along the lines of Hook.
-          Wine, grape juice, and/or any other beverage squeezed from a grape. Don’t forget to set out extra glasses in case your imaginary friends invite some of their buddies!
-          Decorations: In honor of Fred, deck the halls in his signature colors, green and yellow. And maybe throw in a little purple for Lizzie.
-          A group of die-hard Carrie Fisher fans and/or folks looking for a place to wear their nicest clothes before the holidays hit and no one can fit into them anymore and/or individuals you can depend on to truly commit to the ridiculousity of the night.

If you’re looking for another bad movie appropriate to the season, check out the very first BM/GPT post.

Also, congrats to Phoebe Cates and Bridget Fonda for making it into the BM/GPT ranks for the second time!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Costume Considerations

Earlier this week I was having a conversation with a coworker regarding Halloween costumes. Her daughters have just started brainstorming as to what the perfect outfits would be for this year’s All Hallows Eve. I applaud them not only for waiting until we had broken in October (regardless of how barely) to discuss the topic of Halloween costumes and also for understanding that such decisions can not be taken lightly.

At least not if you’re me.

I used to spend hours and hours deciding on what would be the perfect Halloween costume. After all, I was a kid who liked to dress up like characters from stories on normal days, so Halloween had to have a little something special.

Here are a five of my favorite story-inspired costumes through the years.

Oh, you don’t remember the story of the clown and the football-loving wolf man? How strange. Okay, fine, this costume didn’t come from a story, but I just thought you might want to see the origin of my consideration of clown as a valid career option.

One of my all time favorite costumes. I wanted to be an Animorph (natch), but couldn’t figure out how to do it. My mother suggested a brilliant way to show both the human and morph side and I happily cut a pair of jeans and a shirt in half. Result: Magic.

Who gets through high school without occasionally feeling a little evil? Not me. Perfect outlet: Cruella Devil. I filled the pocket of that coat with Dalmatian stuffed animals and got the lovely Odysseus to suffer the indignity of posing as my next victim. (Hey, he could have had it worse. He was almost named Cupcake. *shudders*)

Over the years, I also started to draw others into my web of insanity. Case in point: Roomie (who has been kind enough to sanction the use of her photo for these last two examples).

Proof that we’re Freakin’ Friends. At least until we come to bad ends.

One of us is a genius, the other insane. Just don’t expect us to agree on which is which (or if both are both). I can, however, say that, generally speaking, we do like do the same thing every night.

Okay, your turn now. What are your favorite past Halloween costumes? Are you planning to dress up this year?

Also, since I am such a fan of all things dress up, I would love to feature some of your past Halloween costumes on the blog. If you’re interested in being awesome, shoot me an email at!