Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Wilde Weekend! (A Multi-Arts Weekend Event Celebrating the Life & Works of Oscar Wilde)

I was completely blown away when I followed the breadcrumbs to this four day event, titled A Wilde Weekend. And it sounds... completely amazing.

First of all - it's a four day, multi-disciplinary Arts event (!), celebrating the life and works of Oscar Wilde, in various locations around beautiful Irish countryside and landmarks.

What does that mean?

It means there is a four day program filled with:
- plays - full and partial
- readings & dialogues
- film presentations
- live music
- magical mystery garden tour
- a tour of an amazing period house, complete with scenes of Wilde plays in various rooms
- artwork
- photographs
- period costumes wherever you go with actors helping set the atmosphere
- period social events (like dinner parties under the stars as Wilde himself loved, hosted and attended)
- talks and discussions by experts and scholars
- community costumed picnics
- and more!

And - I have to include notice of two things:

One -  they're GILDING A STATUE, just like The Happy Prince, and will be leaving it to the elements to flake off over time..!

Two - they're having a DINNER IN THE DARK, to simulate the silver mine dinner Wilde had in Colorado (the US). This will be a dining experience complete with blindfolds and pitch darkness to try your dinner, dessert and drink in...

I'm just astonished. It's EXACTLY the sort of immersive, Arts-based event I think people should experience - with excellence and professionalism on every level available to the public, from locations and presenters, to involving every sense (taste, smell, touch, sound, sight, and all the other ones too).

Even the whole PDF for this program is gorgeous (click on any of the side-by-side images shown above to see and read it full size). It's also huge - pages and pages - and I can't figure out how to embed the whole thing so I'm including some pages that may catch your eye. You can find the full, beautiful PDF HERE (just the program is creatively inspiring!).

The date is the Bank Holiday weekend (May 1st to 4th) and takes place in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh (Ireland) and you can pay to attend various events or for the whole weekend.

Here are all the links you need:
Twitter is HERE
Facebook is HERE
PDF of the program and various events descriptions is HERE

And if anybody gets to go to any of this please tell us! I want to hear all about it. (And then I want someone to do a similar event close to where I am please!)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Disney's "Descendants" Trailer

It's coming and this made-for-TV-movie is premiering on Disney Channel in July. Looks like the advertising is about to get intense.

There is a prequel book, a whole toy line (already, yes - I think that's why they're making this movie actually), and accessories popping up all over the place.

Here's the main trailer (there are also character trailers which you can watch HERE):

I'm... not quite on board with this whole thing.
Ever After High already does it better. Way better.

My biggest problem with it, is that any substance in any of these stories, fairy tale, mythic or otherwise, really appears to have been watered down very significantly and left without much of a leg to stand on, Instead of being a fun fantasy with substantial roots, it's turned into dismissible fantasy fluff (with what-the-heck costumes). The character promos at least talk about the 'origin stories' of their 'parents', and it does look like the cast had fun at least, but these villain-kids don't hold a candle to what the Ever After High characters (who are also descendants of fairy tale characters) have to deal with and make decisions about.

If you'd like to read up on it though, here's a little about the book, available for pre-order:
Evil tree. Bad Apple?

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost--a dark and dreary place protected by a force field that makes it impossible for them to leave. Stripped of their magical powers, the villains now live in total isolation, forgotten by the world.

Mal learns from her mother, Maleficent, that the key to true darkness, the Dragon's Eye, is located inside her scepter in the forbidden fortress on the far side of the island. The eye is cursed, and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the Dragon's Eye, these four kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad.

Illustration: "Red Riding Hood" by Valentina Melnichenko

After a fairly intense week, I'm going to start this one with some art. I first saw the picture with the huntsman and grandmother (which I've put above) and was struck by the use of the color red. It really gave me a difference sense of the family of Little Red Cap and the various roles each had in it.

Turns out every picture in the book has a particular and deliberate dominance of the color, which I hadn't seen before, at least not in this way. There are red flowers, red yarn balls, red fabrics, red rooster wattles, red shadows, red apples, red socks, red curtains, red ribbons, red tongues, red wine, red pie, red strawberries.. so many things included specifically to be this color.
I have to say the last image I'm a little disconcerted by. The wolf is on the roof and look the most human of any time during the story! Is this a second wolf? (which will likely have zero chance against Red and her Grandma now they've been through this ordeal.) Interesting...

The illustrator is Valentina Melnichenko and this series if from a book printed in Russia in 1979 but it's difficult to find more about this illustrator or the book these illustrations were printed in. 
(I did find some fantastic Ukranian folklore illustrations by her which I will share soon, as well as just a few from a tale called The Lame Duckling, which I have yet to look into more, but again, in all cases, there is barely any information about the illustrator.) 
In the meantime, please enjoy this very RED version of Little Red Riding Hood on your Monday!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ask Baba Yaga: How Do I Get Over the Shame I Feel For My Work?

So You Want To Be A Hero by Neil Billings
Oh man. All that stuff you want to leave off your resume because you wish it wasn't a part of making who you were... what to do about those big ones that take lots of time and used lots of your effort (and will leave suspiciously large holes in your CV if they're omitted)? And what if they're in your "right now" instead of your past?!

This week's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

Will it really get smaller the further away I get? I know that's physics, but my brain does weird things like replaying loops of embarrassment... How do you, essentially, type 'The End' and let it be THE end? I guess the real question is: how do you stop giving life to it? Perhaps my problem is that I am carrying pebbles in my shoes and don't even realize it...

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
There's now an email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.

Andy Serkis' "The Jungle Book: Origins" Underway

This version of The Jungle Book (for Warner Bros) will be using Kipling's writing as it's source whereas Disney's will be using their own movie. Apparently this will be completely CG so we should expect something completely different from the upcoming Disney reboot. And yes, production is confirmed as having officially started.

It gets even more confusing trying to keep the films separate in your head when you see the cast - both films of which are impressive and have lots of "Names". (Hm - I probably haven't made it easier using Disney images alongside the characters but hopefully you get the idea - these guys = NOT Disney.)

For this one we have the following line-up:
The film includes Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan, Cate Blanchett as Kaa, Christian Bale as Bagheera, Naomie Harris as Nishi, Eddie Marsan as Vihaan, Peter Mullan as Akela, Tom Hollander as Tabaque, Jack Raynor as Mowgli's brother and Rohan Chand as Mowgli. Serkis, (Edit: who is directing) meanwhile, will (also) be the voice behind Baloo. (source)

Disney's is even more star-studded with:
..Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Bill Murray as Baloo, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, Lupita Nyong'O as Raksha, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, and newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli.
Disney's The Jungle Book is due in theaters April 15, 2016 while Serkis' movie is scheduled for release on Oct. 6, 2017.

Perhaps the two movies really will be as radically different as the two Snow White movies were that were released at (pretty much) the same time. With over a year's difference in release time, I guess we'll see how it pans out.

Full Trailer for "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell"

The Gentleman with the Thistle Down Hair (Marc Warren in BBC's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell)

BBC One has announced it will air the seven part series beginning in May, so lucky UK people have an air date to look forward to now. The US still has the vague air date of "sometime during Summer", but at least it's coming.

Here's a quick look at the cast & characters, first.
And here's the full trailer. For some reasons it's darker than I thought it would be but it still looks great. Grieg's In The Hall Of the Mountain King music is well used under the footage (and I love that piece of music). 
Take a look: 
I also found these papers, which I had to include as a bonus for the serious Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell fans here (click to enlarge and read):
Gilbert Norrell writes to The Times, hoping to prevent the publication
of Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
Jonathan Strange responds to the publication of Susanna Clarke’s novel
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
This extract is taken from a personal letter from Mr. Strange to his aunt,
and is published with his kind permission.

NOTICE TO READERS: Once Upon A Blog Is Secure & Clean

Dear Readers,

At the end of the week I had three people report they were getting notices of concern regarding malware when opening posts on Once Upon A Blog. I immediately began investigating.

Please be assured that after many, many hours with professional technicians in a very thorough check, Once Upon A Blog has been verified as clean and does not contain or host malware of any kind. 

I have also had my own system completely cleaned and updated professionally, and got our personal security boosted as well for an additional security measure, to make absolutely sure nothing coming from the blog, or from me personally, will be infected.

Both illustrations from David Wiesner's Three Little Pigs
The technicians I worked with did suggest, however, that anyone getting a warning is showing their system to be vulnerable and they strongly suggested people should install Adblock Plus immediately to protect their systems. It is FREE and simple to install and it protects you from annoying ads as well as malware. You can find it HERE. They also suggest you run a security check on your personal computer.

If you have installed Adblock Plus, checked your firewall is working and are still getting notices in connection with our site, please do not hesitate to let me know. We are doing our best to make sure our readers are not at risk in any way and will take any concerns you have seriously.

Gypsy Thornton

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Emerald City" Returns (aka is "un-cancelled") + A Round Up Of All the Other Oz Offerings in the Works

So, there's a new word in town: "un-cancelled", meaning a show that got canceled before it even got on the air, has been revived/given a second chance. In this case it's the previously-dead Emerald City miniseries that has just been given it's Frankenstein moment. It will (if all goes to plan this time around) be on our screens sometime soon.

As iO9 put it: "Dorothy got home easier than this show got on the air." 

Here's the description, along with character outlines, as of mid-2014, though that may change. Maybe.

In the blink of a tornado’s eye, 20-year-old Dorothy Gale and her K9 police dog are transported to another world, one far removed from our own—a mystical land of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy. This is the fabled Land of Oz in a way you’ve never seen before, where wicked witches don’t stay dead for long and a young girl becomes a headstrong warrior who holds the fate of kingdoms in her hands. 
DOROTHY GALE | A natural, and not waify, beauty scarred by past experiences, Dorothy has patched a life together for herself despite the fact that she sells herself short. Outward insecurity and lack of self-awareness hide the savior survivor that she will discover she truly is. 
WEST | This 30something femme is a corruptive — and fearsome — force of nature, a drugged-out virtuoso filled with self-loathing. She's equal parts compelling and unsettling. 
NORTH | In her 30s or 40s, this Type-A manipulative perfectionist has a bit of a "big sister" relationship to West. 
HENRY | The series' male romantic lead, this handsome and well-built gent presents a seemingly open nature that belies a bit of a past. #Denry 
THE WIZARD | On the exterior, this 40something male is a charismatic and politically astute leader, earnest in his beliefs and intentions but also an "ends justify the means" sort. His showmanship however conceals a dangerous, and perhaps deadly, seriousness. 
EAMONN | The Wizard's righthand man is unquestioningly loyal. A strong, silent type. 
TIP | All of 15 and harboring a secret past, this lass is undergoing the discomfort of discovering her sexuality. 
JACK | Tip's neighbor and closest friend, an adventurous and energetic teen. 
OJO | A member of the Munja'kin, a primitive and isolated cross-pollinated culture, this stoic and fearsome man (mid-30s to early 40s) is rather unsympathetic to Dorothy's plight. 
SYLVIA | A "good mimic" is sought to play this odd, feral and haunted 10-year-old.
The projected season is 2015-2016. But don't worry. even if this Game-Of-Thrones-meets-Dorothy reboot of the Oz story doesn't take, there are five more still on the way. (Yes, you read that right: FIVE.)

Here they are, complete with their summaries/log-lines:

Warriors of Oz (from SyFy): A fantasy-action reimagining of the classic story in which a warrior from present day Earth is transported to a post-apocalyptic future Oz where he must team up with three other warriors, Heartless, Brainless, and Coward, in order to defeat the evil Wizard who has enslaved the land.”

Dorothy (CBS): A medical soap based in New York City, inspired by the characters and themes immortalized in The Wizard of Oz.”

Dorothy Must Die
(CW): Based on the best-selling book (and series) -
 A revisionist take on the classic tale set in present day, 80 years after Dorothy Gale supposedly came home. In reality, the magically-ever-youthful Dorothy has stayed in Oz, presiding over a now fascist fairyland with her perfectly manicured iron fist and the help of her henchmen – the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.  But when another young woman from Kansas is swept up in a tornado and magically dropped into this war-torn Oz, our hero discovers a revolutionary underground of witches and enchanted beings only to learn that she is destined to lead their people in the fight to reclaim Oz from a power-hungry Dorothy’s ruthless clutches.”

Red Brick Road (Lifetime): In the classic 1939 feature, when Dorothy set off for the Emerald City, she followed the Yellow Brick Road. But among the yellow bricks at Dorothy’s feet, there was also a swirl of red bricks. They’ve been there the whole time in plain sight. Unnoticed. Unexplored. Which raises the question — just where do they go? Red Brick Road will answer that by following Dorothy down that fateful path, taking her to the oldest, darkest and most dangerous parts of Oz to find what became of her friends who all have gone missing.”

The Wiz (NBC - December 3rd, 2015): Opening in 1975, The Wiz ran for four years on Broadway and won seven Tonys, including best musical. It retells the classic story of The Wizard Of Oz in an African-American context.”
And I'm adding more info to the new The Wiz via Variety, because seriously - this is awesome: 
“The Wiz” will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division. After the television event, the musical will make its Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season, also presented by Cirque du Soleil.
...Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”
“We are delighted that NBC and Cirque du Soleil will present ‘The Wiz,’” Zeiger said. “It’s a musical I have wanted to produce for years, and it’s the perfect show to present under the new Cirque du Soleil Theatrical banner.”
I want to declare a home run on the last project, except for the slight detracting factor of the "live musical TV event" aspect (not that Cirque will disappoint but recent live TV musicals have been giving me "the cringe", unfortunately.) 

So - you up for some Oz viewing?

Note: Emerald City "Travel Posters" credits first to last in post:1. Joe Cavazos 2. Laurent Durieux 3. AllPosters (artist not credited) 4. Retro Planet USA