Sunday, June 30, 2013

Frenzy For Hello Kitty "The Singing Bone" Fairy Tale Plush in Singapore... (Wait. The What Now?)

McDonalds "Popular Fairy Tales Hello Kitty series" plush of The Singing Bone, sold out
This story has me so excited, I can't tell you. OK I will try. But first, the news:

Fan made - I just had to include this
From WorldNews:
Tempers have flared and police had to be called in as anxious Singaporeans rushed to McDonald's outlets to buy Hello Kitty plush toys being sold by the fastfood chain as a promotion. 
Hundreds had begun queuing from Wednesday night to get their hands on a kitten in a skeleton outfit, depicting a character from the German fairy tale The Singing Bone.
It was the last of a series of six limited-edition Hello Kitty characters dressed in different outfits from popular fairy tales which were being sold by McDonald's this month.
In some outlets, chaos broke out amid rampant queue jumping as supplies of the toys ran out soon after the stores opened for business on Thursday.

So it's a toy collector crazy crowd, so what? I'll tell you what. It's not because I like Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty is great but get this:

Point 1: McDonald's has released a line of Hello Kitty plushes of popular fairy tales (yay!)
Point 2: One of those popular tales is (the German fairy tale) The Singing Bone. (Not kidding. Check the McDonald's official website to see the title.)
Point 3: I LOVE The Singing Bone! (Yay!)
Point 4: There is an actual FRENZY involving this tale. (Pop-culture alert!)

What this means is that:

A) Having The Singing Bone be included as a popular tale by McDonalds says a LOT more people around the world love this story than I realized (You have no idea how difficult it is to try and find art, essays or writing inspired by this tale. Clearly I need to figure out how to Google in Chinese and Malay!)
B) Because of the crazy, LOTS MORE people are going to find out there is this "popular tale" called The Singing Bone (which they know must at least include a skeleton as this particular Hello Kitty plush is showing her bones). There's a good chance curiosity about the fairy tale will surface, people will try to find out what (the heck?) it is and it will slide away from obscurity and back into the collective conscious (always a good thing for a fairy tale).

But I can almost hear many of you scratching your heads saying "Wut? The Singing Bone? Never heard of it."

And THAT'S what I'm so excited about. I can count on one hand the number of people I've met (who aren't folklorists or fairy tale scholars) who are familiar with this fairy tale.

The (Grimm's) Singing Bone is about two brothers: the younger bravely accomplishes a feat (killing a wild boar) but the older kills his sibling to keep the prize for himself (which, of course, includes a girl/princess). A bone is found later and incorporated into a musical instrument which then sings on its own, telling the tale of the murder and outing the dark deed. The King is told, the skeleton dug up and justice is served, The End.

My favorite version of this is The Twa Sisters - a "fairy tale murder ballad" in which, one sister kills the other out of jealousy, throwing her body into the river to dispose of her, and gets the man. Unknown to her, the sister's bones wash up, are crafted into a harp and the remaining hair twisted into strings. The haunted instrument then sings by itself (sometimes at the wedding...) and you can guess the rest.

(As a total aside: It's beyond bizarre inserting Hello Kitty images in between paragraphs discussing murders... And did you see the McDonalds logo for the heart? That kinda creeps me out more than the tale.)

So does the tale ring any bells yet? If you've seen The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), which included a dramatization of it (with an animated skeleton), it might. Or perhaps if you're a Loreena McKennitt fan the story will sound familiar, as she sang a version of the tale called The Bonny Swans (from the album The Mask & the Mirror). And if you're an American McGee fan you may have seen a version of this too.

Despite the tale having fallen out of popularity in the Western world, it it would seem in both Hong Kong (where this promotion happened earlier in the year) and now in Singapore, The Singing Bone has been included alongside The Frog Prince, Little Red Riding Hood, The Ugly Duckling, The Wizard of Oz (Cowardly Lion suit) and an unnamed, bonus "Mc-Delivery Only Witch". says "The six plush Hello Kitty dolls released were all inspired by different international fairy tales."
So let's see:

  • The Wizard of Oz is from the US
  • The Ugly Duckling is Danish
  • The Frog Prince was popularized by the Grimms but there are many enchanted frog tales in China, Sri Lanka and Korea among other Asian countries (so perhaps Korea?)
  • Little Red Riding Hood I'm guessing they went with Perrault's version, so that'd be French.
  • and The Singing Bone is Grimm, that is, German.

I have had a Pinterest board dedicated to The Singing Bone for a while and am always so pleased when I find new images and retellings to add. I never dreamed I would be adding a Hello Kitty plush to it though!

Fairy tale bonus of the day: There is a new web comic in development for The Singing Bone! You can find the comic, the progress sketches, the Grimm version of the tale, some history and a brief discussion of The Twa Sisters HERE.

LX Magazine's Tribute for the 200th Anniversary of Grimms Household Tales - Intro & Aschenputtel (Tale 1 of 5)

"Cinderella Tale" An artwork piece by Oona Patterson (
A sculpture crafted and cut in book and paper
Note: I stumbled upon this by complete chance. I still haven't quite figured out what, exactly, this magazine is, apart from "all things luxurious" (and seemingly from another planet I'll never visit) BUT they posted a simple and effective tribute to The Brothers Grimm in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the first publishing of  Household Tales. I don't know if the multi-media presentation will stay online and remain accessible but thought, either way, it would be worth sharing (in installments) seeing as it's very different from most other tributes at the time. (And if you like "lux" you'll probably like the rest of the magazine as well.) Enjoy.
- FTNH aka Fairy Tale News Hound aka Gypsy

Introduction to Die Gebrűder Grimm - 200th Anniversary Tribute for Kinder- und Hausmärchen” by "Lx Magazine: Illuminating Luxury" - (fairy tale text is also as posted by Lx)
As a brisk, chill wind gusts and snowflakes fall to form drifty peaks this winter, you may want to snuggle up with your loved ones by the warm glow of a fire and tell a story. This year celebrates the 200th anniversary of The Brothers Grimm (German: Die Gebrűder Grimm) fairy tales. To celebrate, we have collected images and artwork from amazing talent, paired with translated excerpts from the original book, “Kinder- und Hausmärchen” (Children’s and Household Tales) to inspire you as you orate about magical characters from far away lands, scary villains and princes and princesses that fell in love and lived happily ever after. 
"Cinderella" Photography, hair , makeup, styling by Three Nails Photography
Aschenputtel - Cinderella

“The king’s son, who was waiting for her, took her by the hand and danced with her; and, when any one asked her to dance, he said as before, “This lady is dancing with me.” When night came she wanted to go home; and the king’s son went with her, but she sprang away from him all at once into the garden behind her father’s house. In this garden stood a fine large pear-tree; and Cinderella jumped up into it without being seen. Then the king’s son waited till her father came home, and said to him, “The unknown lady has slipped away, and I think she must have sprung into the pear-tree.” The father ordered an axe to be brought, and they cut down the tree, but found no one upon it. And when they came back into the kitchen, there lay Cinderella in the ashes as usual; for she had slipped down on the other side of the tree, and carried her beautiful clothes back to the bird at the hazel-tree, and then put on her little old frock.

The third day, when her father and mother and sisters were gone, she went again into the garden, and said—”Shake, shake, hazel-tree, gold and silver over me!” Then her kind friend the bird brought a dress still finer than the former one, and slippers which were all of gold; and the king’s son danced with her alone, and when any one else asked her to dance, he said, “This lady is my partner.” Now when night came she wanted to go home; and the king’s son would go with her, but she managed to slip away from him, though in such a hurry that she dropped her left golden slipper upon the stairs.
So the prince took the shoe, and went the next day to the king, his father, and said, ‘I will take for my wife the lady that this golden shoe fits.’ ”
"Sisters" photography and concept Kelly Ealy

You can read the full tale as published in Grimms Household Tales HERE (translated to English) and learn much more about Cinderella's history HERE.

I will post the second fairy tale text & photo in about a week.
(Links to future posts to be updated when the posts go live. I hope. :)

*** TALE 1 *** TALE 2 *** TALE 3 *** TALE 4 *** TALE 5 ***

Saturday, June 29, 2013

We've Been Promised: No Wandering in Wonderland!

Did you know Once Upon A Time in Wonderland is a LIMITED new series? Meaning, it's not supposed to continue forever but instead have a beginning, a middle and AN END?

*eyebrows raised in an "I'll believe it when I see it" fashion*

Yet we've been promised: there will be no wandering about in Wonderland just for the heck of it.

By "no wandering" I mean, show creators Horowitz and Kitsis have promised there will be NO FILLER EPISODES for Once Upon A Time in Wonderland. (Wut? But these are the Lost boys...)

Apparently they're so happy with the response to a show that hasn't even aired yet that they've ordered more episodes but are crossing their hearts that they "kick their bad habit of unnecessary plot dwindling", as iO9 put it.

(Seriously? These are the creators of Lost... )

So what does that mean? It means the entire story is to be plotted in advance.

Here's an explanation of how it's all supposed to work, from Entertainment Weekly:
When Wonderland was announced as a limited series in May, it received 13 episodes — the standard order for a new drama... But Wonderland creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have a different vision for this show: a self-contained epic romance that’s planned in advance from start to finish — no filler! [Edit FTNH: emphasis mine.] That means there will be no additional episodes ordered for the season beyond the first order, so the showrunners can break down the entire story before the first episode ever airs. That’s why there are more episodes being ordered now-ish, because the writers have figured out how many hours they need.
“We really want to tell the story without having to worry about how to stretch it for five years,” Kitsis tells EW. “The upfront order will be it for the season.” Horowitz adds, “This is not meant to be a 22-episode season. Whatever it ends up being, we’ll have told a complete story, with a beginning, middle and end.”
A Wonderland Romance
But, but... these are the creators of Lost!

Hold on... I have further clarification: "limited" doesn't quite mean what we (would normally) think it means...
Wonderland has been called an “anthology” series and “limited” series. Neither is precisely correct.
I KNEW it!
It’s only “limited” in terms of the first season telling a close-ended story in less than 22 episodes, not because ABC and the showrunners wouldn’t do more seasons (ABC executives may be willing to get a little creative with Wonderland, but they’re not Mad Hatters — a hit is a hit). ABC will renew the show for another close-ended adventure if the show is a success. [Edit FTNH: emphasis mine.]
But unlike an anthology series — such as American Horror Story, which tells an entirely new story each season with new characters — Wonderland is expected to continue using most of the same characters. “If the audience responds and people love these characters, the plan would be to bring it back next year and tell a whole new story,” Horowitz says.
Put another way: Wonderland is sort of like a fairytale version of 24 — a heavily serialized drama with stand-alone seasons using the same core cast (only with fewer rogue nukes, presumably).
Ah. That sounds like the showrunners we're familiar with. *eyebrows return to their rightful places*
Fan made Picspam of Wonderland (incl OUAT)

Friday, June 28, 2013

NBCs "Grimm Season 2" Blu-ray Release Set For Sep 17th [& Why I Like "Grimm"]

Yes. I like NBC's Grimm! I've heard a lot of fairy tale people didn't continue watching the second season because they gave up on the series but I'm so very happy I stuck with it. And here's why: Since Nick "got his Grimm on" (ie gave up being wussy and got a little bad-ass), the show has just gotten better and better. 

Monroe continues with his brilliant deliveries, quotable one-liners and subtle-but-hilarious (and sometimes mute) commentary on whichever scene he's in. Nick's partner, Hank, gets more than an inkling of what he's up against (I can't "un-see that!") and the banter has gotten wittier and makes for some great cops-with-a-difference comedy moments and now slants action scenes very differently to the usual procedurals (yay!). Monroe's almost-girlfriend-and-fellow-Wesen Rosalee holds her own and provides a strong (and much needed) feminine balance to the show, while Nick's girlfriend, Juliette, has a whole other-yet-parallel storyline happening with a modern struggling-and-fighting Sleeping Beauty theme running through this season (don't worry - she's quite awake, she's just juggling worlds in a very unique-to-Juliette way)...

We've gone from a tentative and inconsistent monster-of-the week show to one where the tales, the Grimm and the ensemble balance, have grown in strength and are solidly set on very interesting arcs. In fact we've almost got a Scooby gang now (complete with library, er, I mean spice-shop and Aunt Marie's trailer) and we likes it!*

"But what about the fairy tale element?" I hear you say. Actually I find a quite consistent fairy tale base running through each show. If you catch the on-screen quote at the very beginning of every episode (which are sometimes from less-well-known, some-might-even-say-obscure tales and classics) and keep them in mind while watching, you get a good sense of how the tale and its motifs have been used as a springboard and what scene elements and plot points are important throughout.

I actually find it quite a fairy tale puzzle-challenge at times because unless I've pinned the tale down that the quote came from, I find I miss a lot of the subtleties from aspects like the set dressing, creature design, or seeming throw-away lines, to why they have this scene at all (etc). If I'm thinking "tales" while watching I findGrimm more solidly based on the "olde" tales than anything else out there right now**.

The other thing I noticed is that it's not shying away from using myth and folktale archetypes and/or tales and urban legends either. While it's not like there are Trojan horses and Medusas appearing in the middle of fairy tales (thank goodness), there's definitely a strong tap into world folklore. For me, it blends very well. For others it must feel like it's straying from the fairy tale aspect but it should be noted that NBCs Grimm has, from the start, aimed at the old dark fairy tales and never the shiny, pretty ones. (See ** note at end of post.)

It's not for everyone, for sure. I can't recommend it outright simply because of the genre and occasional gore factor, and it's definitely told through the lens of the police procedural with a good dose of creature-fun, but why not? We haven't seen anything quite like this done as a weekly series, with larger arcs incorporating the dark side of fairy tales - and occasionally myth and urban legends - overall.

I only have one (personal and extremely shallow) gripe about the show and that's this: I can't easily make lots of pretty pics out of screencaps! (Wah! - At least, not without some serious fiddle time.) Unlike ABCs Once Upon A Time, which lends itself really well to fantasy fan art (a couple of screengrabs overlaid with a little quote and you've got yourself a nice little fairy tale image), Grimm just doesn't. It's, well, gritty. And I actually think this might be one of the turn-offs for fairy tale fans. There is very little "fairy tale pretty" in Grimm***Although it's wonderfully shot and there are beautiful stills that can be pulled from every episode, they don't have that "fairy tale feel" that we've come to expect. Even dark fairy tale images have a certain romance in them for us to call them "fairy tale". But that's because they're not setting themselves up as Gothic tales with Poe-like visions or echoes of Pan's Labyrinth as, for instance, a film version of this might do. Instead, it's filmed incredibly well to do the job - and tell the story - it sets out to, which is a dark supernatural procedural using grimm (including Grimm's) fairy tales.

Although Season 2 will also be released on DVD it's the Blu-ray set that will have all the extra features (of course). Five discs and a whole lot of bonus, including:
  • Grimm: Myths, Monsters & Legends: Learn about the ever-expanding mythology of Grimm as producers and cast discuss the richness of the show's storylines, covering this season's terrifying Wesen, the Seven Royal Families, and the mysteries of Aunt Marie's trailer
  • Blu-ray Exclusive - Grimm Guide: An interactive book that provides insight into the various creatures
  • Blu-ray Exclusive - Extended Episode: "Over My Dead Body"
  • Grimm: Creatures and Chaos: Watch as the creatures of Grimm morph and wreak havoc
  • Bad Hair Day Webisodes: A fellow Wesen visits Rosalee's spice shop
  • Monroe's Best Moments: Revisit the quips and quibbles that makes Monroe our favorite Wesen
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel 

The only thing is: Season 2 finishes on a doozy of a cliffhanger ("Nooooooo!") and Fall seems like a long way away...
Today's fairy tale bonus: Dark Horse Deluxe (the toy "arm" of Dark Horse Comics) is releasing Grimm collectibles in September.

From the Press Release:Dark Horse Deluxe is launching the "Grimm" line with an assortment of products. The centerpieces of this first wave are sculpted, wearable pin replicas of Nick’s key (see <<<) and one of the coins of Zakynthos.
Nick is bequeathed the key as his dying Aunt Marie introduces him to his destiny as a Grimm, warning him to guard it with his life. The key is revealed to have a map carved on the outside, which is etched into the replica pin’s surface. Two small loops on the key allow the wearer to easily convert it from a pin to a hanging pendant. 
The mysterious, ancient coin of Zakynthos has a long history of bringing a bad end to its possessors, although the Grimms seem strangely immune. While its purpose remains a mystery, various dark forces are seeking it and will kill to attain ownership of it. 
An embossed, heavy-gauge, litho-printed, classic tin lunchbox, a sixteen-ounce pint glass, a deluxe coffee mug, and an embroidered skull-design patch round out the initial range of collectibles. 
Dark Horse will continue to offer more "Grimm" products, including busts, journals, and playing cards, and some very cool lenticular items.  
"The production team has been most accommodating, inviting us to visit the sets, examine the props, and meet with the key design and VFX staffers to help inform our line. This kind of cooperation is rare, and it has ensured a great accuracy down to the smallest details."
Accuracy on the key? So you can ink your own fairy tale map? Tempting... Journal? With all the Wesen illustrations and stories?! Yes please. Lunchbox? Mebbe not.

* I think series incorporating multiple myths and/or tales do best in a true ensemble format (like Buffy). Grimm didn't begin this way but now that it is, a much-needed balance of personalities and energies goes a long way to handling stories (tales) and issues in a way we can enjoy in different ways and have more interest in following over the long term.

**While ABCs "Once Upon A Time" is also based on tales, it's really the more commercial impressions of tales that are the launching pad (or straight up Disney version of tales) rather than the ones that were passed down. Or even ones that were written down! Not that there's anything wrong with that. Grimm just hails from a different sensibility of what fairy tales are and I like it for that. Once has a very different appeal. To compare the shows properly is actually very difficult because they don't come from the same place at all.

***The pretty thing, yes. I must admit I am not a "soap" person so Once Upon A Time gets hard for me to tolerate at times. OK a lot. BUT, apart from feeling like I need to keep up with what's happening to fairy tales in pop-culture, I have to admit to some curiosity as to what it's going to look like: eg What will  Neverland look like? How will this part in Snow's story get staged? What will Sleeping Beauty wear when we (finally get a flashback) and see her pre-sleep phase? etc And then seeing how fans use the images in the coming days and weeks to tell their own versions/impressions of the story is wonderful to me too. That just doesn't happen on Grimm. The Hansel & Gretel episode - though quite amazing in the retelling - didn't have the type of candy house you'd find in a book. It had the sort of bad candy you'd find in life (or a nightmare). While that's brilliant, it's not pretty. OUAT, however, has that fantasy world we cut to every now and then. It's also the sort of fantasy world we read about in books too - it's not all singing furniture and pixie dust, it has a little more of a King Arthur tone that that. Despite the world usually falling short of my imagination via cheesy FX etc, (which I'm dreading for OUATinWonderland) it is fun to see, and occasionally I AM delighted in something (eg the Darling family & Shadow Man business was quite wonderful) so, despite the previous episode thoroughly frustrating me, I watch the next one. Because the OUAT writers and directors follow much of the pop-culture/Disney ideas of what the popular fairy tales should have (eg. you knew Snow White was going to come across a bad apple at some point!), I know there's a good chance that an expected moment might, in fact  be "magic". But I have to admit, I'm usually multitasking and need to rewind when that happens... 

Once Upon A Blog's New Visual Archive (& Katerina Shtanko's Snow White & Rose Red)

First of all - aren't these illustrations just beautiful? They're by Ukranian artist Katerina Shtanko (Катерина Штанко) and are, of course, telling the story of Snow White & Rose Red. Although she's a contemporary artist these illustrations look vintage and I adore the watercolor washes over ink. She's one of my (many) inspirations and the first artist I decided to dedicate a Pinterest board to.

And speaking of Pinterest...

Yep - I've been a busy bee. Still am. But you now have Once Upon A Blog "Archives At-A-Glance"!

I am currently in the process of archiving all the posts ever posted on Pinterest in batches so you have another way to browse topics and I have another way to get fairy tale news out to people.

I am working backward, so the archive is current from today (I update daily when I post the headlines on Facebook and Twitter) all the way back to the beginning of 2012 - so far. As with blogs, the newest entries are at the top of the page. I am nearly done with 2011 as well. Then there will be only two years worth to go... (except for dailies, of course).

While it's a little laborious it's also pretty wonderful revisiting all the fairy tale news (that I got to post at least - I missed a TON!). I can safely say I am NEVER at a loss for something to post. Whenever there's a lull in actual news or events I always have a backlog of things I missed, artist's whose work I want to profile, books to chat about, articles upon fascinating articles of topics all over the shop... it's amazing really. People wonder how on earth I run a daily blog of fairy tale news. And then they get a glimpse of what I've posted as opposed to what I chose to miss that time around and then I get asked: how do you have time to do anything else? (I'm actually beginning to wonder the same thing.)

Anyway - the archive is to, hopefully, make things easier for you to track, browse and to share. (Yes! Please don't keep the news to yourself! Share - get it out there! Have some fairy tale conversations. If you credit me as your source that'd be nice but my goal is to get it out there to the world - to show everyone that fairy tales are not dead and gone. They're alive, loved and one of the best gifts our different cultural heritages have given us - for lots of reasons.) The archive boards are at the top of my Once Upon A Blog page so you don't have to hunt-scroll for them and they each state the time period they cover.

Old boards will state "COMPLETE" when archiving for that period is done and won't be added to. Ones I'm actively working on say "IN PROCESS". The current one has a little pen-arrow next to the title, like this...

✒ FTNewsArchive~Jun/Jul 2013 ♛ you know it's being updated daily as posts go live) Each entry has a image representing the post, the headline, the date it was posted, a credit for the image (& title if applicable) and each "pin" links back to the original article.



Yes! You want more fairy tale news? Well now you have it. There's always more - and I'm aiming to give you as much as I possibly can.

Please note: I do not intend to try and cover every subject, tale or news story - that's impossible - and there are other truly excellent fairy tale blogs that post on their different subjects - which I try not to duplicate in general - unless I really, really want to say something about that too. Although I like it when people post different opinions on one subject and we have an (almost) inter-blog discussion (very fun!), I don't want you to feel like you're wading through the same news twice all the time either. I might very well link you to an article from FB and Twitter, though, just to help spread the love, er, news. :)

One of the things I got discouraged about before (funnily enough) is that I simply couldn't get to sharing everything I felt was important or interesting. I didn't even have the time or room to share what various readers were working on to encourage people in their own fairy tale work! It was very easy to get overwhelmed - still is - but I'm working on managing that, by doing things like this. So Facebook and Twitter both get: the daily headlines (with links back to the blog), Friday fairy tale funnies, notable fairy tale quotes & excerpts, links to short films, podcasts and other media presentations, additional news headlines I didn't get time to profile on the blog (but didn't want people to miss,) updates on blog stuff (like announcements, archiving updates, additional features and pages) and pretty much anything else I can post quickly without having to spend a lot of time researching.

Note: The Facebook page is public so you don't need an account to go check for the extra news! 

If you do have an FB account though, clicking "LIKE" on the page will send the news to your feed as it comes in (always make sure to add it to your "Interest List" on the pull-down menu - click the thing that looks like a gear wheel - to make it visible in your stream).


I have also started a Once Upon A Blog... Gallery of Enchanted Arts Tumblr BUT it's definitely in the the experimental stage right now. Between the blog, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter I'm really not sure where I will fit that in.. BUT I want to try, since so many people love Tumblr and use it as their main blogging platform.


I am using Pinterest every day for fairy tale purposes - at least briefly to add the headline pins but often more than that. If you feel a little overwhelmed at how many boards I have (I have a lot!) and just want to know what I've been up to recently here's a shortcut: just check my PINS page - they'll show all my recent pins at the top as well as any new boards I've created. If you check my LIKES page you can see what I (usually hurriedly) liked but didn't necessarily end up pinning anywhere (I try to clean this up from time to time as well).

The Once Upon A Blog.. Pinterest page is continually growing but there are already a lot of boards dedicated to particular tales. I have so many I made a special page right here on the blog site (see the tabs under the blog header) so you can check if a tale is there you want to see. If you click on the title you will be direct-linked to that tale board!

See how easy and linked everything is now?

I hope all this makes your fairy tale reading and research more fun and helps you discover stories and fairy tale related goodness you wouldn't have otherwise. Now, more than ever, if you have some fairy tale news of your own, or something you've heard or seen somewhere you'd like to share, let me know and I'll do my best to get it out there. I want to encourage everyone working and creating in fairy tales and not have people feel so alone in their studies, work, art or discoveries. I'm also hoping that all this will bring you more of what I set out to give you in the first place: FAIRY TALE NEWS!

PS. Oh yes. And I most definitely have a Pinterest board dedicated to the amazing Katerina Shtanko (Катерина Штанко)! You can find that HERE. :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cinderella Cast Update: Sophie McShera Moves Up(stairs)

Sophie McShera of Downtown Abbey is moving upstairs in Branagh's Cinderella
Well this is a cool fairy tale twist in casting news: Disney's live action Cinderella has a new stepsister -- and she's quite familiar.

Sophie McShera
Like Lily James (who will be playing the title role of Cinderella), the newest confirmed cast member, Sophie McShera*, is also from Downtown Abbey, but though she and James will play alongside each other once more, they will have swapped ranks.

*gasps from the balcony* "Oooooooh!" *collective skirts rustle as all lean forward*

Sophie McShera as Daisy Mason in Downtown Abbey
In Downtown Abbey, McShera plays Daisy Mason, maid to Lady Rose McClare (played by Lily James). In Cinderella, however, it will be McShera who gets to give the orders as Noemi** the evil step-sibling, while James will swap her elegant frocks for an apron, getting a taste of the servant life.

(Upstairs, downstairs...)

Holliday Grainger has long since been confirmed as Cindy's other (also evil) step-sibling, (character name still unknown). Unlike their animated Disney counterparts, they will be Cinderella's beautiful stepsisters - at least on the outside.
Sophie McShera for Grazia
Though all three "sisters" are very familiar with period pieces this is supposed to be "a modern take" (quote) on Cinderella. Perhaps this time around, instead of mops, buckets and garters it will be Dysons, Chlorox and... well, garters are back in, so maybe they'll just be really quick in the dressing room...

So as of yesterday (June 26), the confirmed cast is now:

Lily James                     -- Cinderella
Cate Blanchett              --  Lady Tremaine
Helena Bonham Carter -- Fairy Godmother
Richard Madden           -- Prince Charming
Holliday Grainger         -- Stepsister #1 (name unknown)
Sophie McShera            -- Stepsister #2 (Noemi)

OK. This is looking interesting. Who's next?

Note: Disney has set the release date for Cinderella as March 13, 2015

* Source, additional source

**IMDB says her name is to be Drizella but I've seen this site change information every now and then. Two other (more reputable) sources are confirming McShera's character will be named Noemi.

Green Hill Arts Hosting Multiple Fairy Tale Events (aka I'm Moving to Devon. I Wish)

Actually, I'd settle for a visit during this coming last week of June. At least for starters. You see, Devon (in the UK) is where Green Hill Arts lives and a LOT of fairy tale goodness happens there all year round. The end of this month, however, is particularly tempting. And if I could go but had to choose only one of the special events, I would choose the Women & Fairy Tales talk (poster shown above, info at link).

Here's the event blurb:
Fairy tales, which we now think of as children's stories, were not originally intended for children at all. Only since the 19th century have the complex, dark, sensual or bawdy tales of the oral tradition been collected, edited, and set down in print in the watered-down forms we are most familiar with today: filled with square-jawed princes and passive princesses who invariably end up living "happily ever after." 
But how many modern readers know that in older versions of Sleeping Beauty, the princess wakes up not with a chaste kiss but with the birth of twins after the prince has come and gone again? Or that Red Riding Hood's wolf demands she takes off her clothes, piece by piece, and join him in bed? Or that Rapuzel's witch first learns of the prince's secret visits when Rapunzel's belly swells with pregnancy? 
 In this talk, Terri will explore the strange, surprising history of the world's most familiar stories -- explaining why these stories have such a hold upon her, and why fairy tales still matter today -- while Howard will regale you dark, old versions of the tales that are a far, far cry from Walt Disney....
Or perhaps I'd choose the Coffee with the Artists eventbecause there's no way you could avoid talking fairy tales with those guys and I can just imagine all the napkin scribbles left over...

A wonderful opportunity to spend time with these three well-renowned artists who will talk about and show some of their work in an informal and intimate setting whilst you enjoy coffee and delicious cake. 
Hazel Brown is painter, illustrator, and bookmaker whose work has been published The Art of Faery and Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Letters. 
Virginia Lee is a painter, sculptor, and illustrator of The Frog Bride, Persephone, and other children's books. She also worked as a sculptor on the set of the Lord of the Ringsfilms. 
David Wyatt has illustrated numerous books including Peter Pan in Scarlet (the first authorized Peter Pan sequel), the bestselling "Larklight" books by Phillip Reaves, and fantasy classics by JRR Tolkien, Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, Brian Jacques, and others. 
Terri Windling will join the coffee morning as the discussion moderator. Terri Windling is a collage artist, folklore scholar and an award winning author of over forty books including ‘The Wood Wife’ and ‘Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells’.
But, no. I really, really want  to hear what Terri has to say about "the strange, dark history of fairy tales as stories for adults..."! I'm hoping (please?) that someone will be recording, taping, transcribing, taking notes, pics - something! - from the event so for those of us who can't go can still participate. In absentia. From the outside. After the fact. But still, I know that anything said will be good fodder for fairy tale brain cells and anything we can do to continue that "17thC French Salon" mentality of talking tales among authors, writers and thinkers, would be fantastic.

You know what? If I were in Devon I'd just go to both: scrub floors, collect dishes - heck, I'd clean puppet orifices! - and listen from the kitchen if I absolutely had to!

Let's just break from my fantasizing for a moment to exclaim over the scrumptiousness of all three Green Hill Arts posters!! If they make prints I'll happily purchase a good sized one for my wall. (Hint, hint.)

But that's not all. There are ongoing Midsummer Mythic Artists exhibitions happening right now through August 7 this year!

Midsummer – Saturday 22nd June – Wednesday 7th AugustWalking “widdershins” (counter-clockwise) is the traditional way to enter the realm of myth and enchantment. Come to Green Hill Arts this summer and let us show you the way... 
Widdershins is an exhibition of art works by a group of celebrated and internationally renowned mythical and fantasy artists. 
Dartmoor’s landscape is steeped in magic and mystery and it is home to many artists whose work is inspired by mythic themes. Widdershins showcases the work of those who live on Dartmoor (or have local connections), but whose paintings, sculptures, books and films are known far beyond: Hazel Brown, Neil Wilkinson Cave, Brian Froud, Wendy Froud, Paul Kidby, Alan Lee, Virginia Lee, Rima Staines, Terri Windling, David Wyatt.
Widdershins explores local legends, world myth, folklore and faery tales in diverse, surprising ways... and although it all starts ‘Once Upon a Time’, it is definitely not for children only. In addition to the exhibition itself, we have a full programme of mythic, magical events for adults and children. It includes artists’ talks, book-signings, storytelling, puppetry, music and much more. 
See? Clearly I should be in Devon.

But Devon isn't the only place where the fairy tale fantastic is happening (though, these few weeks, they definitely have the lion's share). Look what I missed announcing earlier this year from Australia:

Apparently there are fairy tale salons (because conversation and exchanging ideas on fairy tales, is an important part of all these) springing up all over the world!

Some lucky Victorians (that is, people at the Monash University in Victoria, Australia, just had their own salon event in May:
In Fairy Land.

You can see an online catalogue/slideshow of the fairy tale rare books they viewed and discussed HERE.

Even better, though, The Monash Fairy Tale Salon is a regular group! (Do they take penpals? Voip-pals? I want in!)

The event from the year before  is shown at right: >>> (screencap only  - links are not clickable sorry) >>>

And HERE's a brief recap of the event on the Storytelling Australia blog.

Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? I would have been there with bells on if I could. (Where's a Tardis when you need one?)

Oh, for a fairy tale passport that would whisk me to fairy tale salons and events all over the world... *sigh*

I'll leave you with an alternate poster for the exhibitions at Green Hill Arts to inspire you (and perhaps, my passport, to get it's act together in time for the Winter Solstice events... or at least Midsummer next next year!).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Article: "Why Haven't We Outgrown Fairy Tales?" (with Maria Tatar)

After having had so many fairy tales invade our theaters and TVs in such a short period of time (the last couple of years),
WHY are they continuing to invade our screens?

From The Washington Post, comes an article on a topic more than a few people have been speculating about recently with fairy tale films, series and spin-offs still being big business, despite having had a slew of them the last couple of years.

Maria Tatar
Seeing Maria Tatar* was weighing in, I thought people would be interested to see what she has to say. It's quite a brief article and seems a little haphazard and sparse but, as always, Ms. Tatar says things well, even in a short space.

The article discusses why fairy tales continue to be popular, what fairy tale characters does Ms. Tatar think are most relevant to us as a society right now and what's the reason for the trend of retelling tales from a darker point of view, sometimes, like Disney's movie-in-production Maleficent will, using the villains POV.

Interestingly, the answer to the question posed at the top of this post isn't really answered. it's discussed why fairy tales continue to be popular but Ms. Tatar doesn't put forth any theories on why there's a fairy tale zeitgeist right now.

(Note: retelling tales in a darker, more gritty form isn't limited to fairy tales - it's everywhere: look at the new, very successful Batman franchise, Man of Steel and any other "reboot" of long-loved heroes. They're all showing their dark side, their struggles and people are can't get enough right now.)
Fan made poster - Disney has now confirmed the release date for Maleficent will be JULY 2, 2014
While the questions are fascinating (and I'd love to see more people giving their two cents on them), there was one question in particular I wanted to highlight, especially as there's a strong resistance to the subject being called a fairy tale at all.
Toney: “Once Upon a Time” has spin-off coming this fall, “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” why “Alice and Wonderland”? 
It’s our story about disorientation, being in a world that feels like nonsense. How do you manage, cope and survive? I think of my fourth-grade teacher sternly telling me that it’s not a story for children. Alice faces a deep existential crisis. She’s assaulted verbally. She’s constantly losing control and having to regain control. 
Tatar: That we’re taking up that story seems really important. Everyone thinks they’re in a world of crisis, especially with new technology. There’s a divide between digital natives and the rest of us. We use tales like “Alice and Wonderland” to teach us how to move forward. They take us to other worlds but also propel us forward to think about who we are and how we think about things in our own time and place and crisis situations.
(Emphasis is mine.)

Fan made OUAT-Wonderland poster
I agree that there's something about Alice that's changed in the last, perhaps, twenty years or so. There's definitely something happening with Alice and Wonderland - not as was written by Lewis Carroll but in the way certain characters and motifs have taken on a life of their own in society and pop-culture. And not just in England, where you would expect, or the US where you would think perhaps Disney had a big hand in making it popular (which he did but not in the way it has become so), but all over the world. Asian countries in particular adore Alice and her Wonderland.

I wrote something briefly about Alice during the Goodreads chat with fairy tale lecturer and author Kate Wolford and am adding it because it's essentially talking about the same phenomena:
On Alice: the book(s) totally creeps me out BUT (and I mean to write an essay on this sometime soon) I think Alice is a prime example of society turning an "idea" (because not that many people have actually read the books) into a cultural/societal fairy tale (I added societal because although the English sensibilities remain in many ways, Americans love the (Wonderland) world, so do Asians etc etc). The images and motifs have been given a life of their own beyond the book and because of such, have become a fairy tale in the true definition which is continually mutable according to the world and people telling it retaining it's motifs and speaking beyond culture and time...
It was written rather hurriedly, stream-of-consciousness style and may not make as much sense as I wanted to, but hopefully you get the idea. The main thing is, we, as fairy tale people, can't afford to ignore Alice, or her Wonderland any longer. Saying "that** isn't a true fairy tale" isn't going to fly any more. Which begs the question: what do we do about Alice?

I recommend a read of the Washington Post article. It's a quick read and only begins to touch on the topics (I wish it had been a meatier interview!) but it should get you thinking and hopefully all of us talking to each other. Everyone else is. Just take a look through the comments below the article - these are people who are seriously interested in the question and for the first time in a while, they're interested in what fairy tale people have to say.

I'm also curious to think what tales you believe will be focused on next. Tatar says "giants" and more male figure stories. What do you think?

*If you're just tuning in to the blog and are unfamiliar with Maria Tatar you'll see she's one of the people who we regularly pay attention to, having written many wonderful resources for fairy tale study and being  a Harvard University folklore and mythology professor. 

** By "THAT" I mean - NOT the book by Carroll/Dodgson but the Alice stories, the motifs, the idea of Wonderland and the character of Alice herself.