Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Watch This: Slagsmålsklubben

I actually started and aborted a SurLaLune blog earlier this year after frustration with a few blog programs and sites. I'm finally happy enough with this one and am digging back through my collection of links and items to share.

This little gem of an animation featuring Little Red Riding Hood has been on my list for a while to share and here it is. Perhaps you've seen it before, perhaps not, but it's worth a 2nd or 3rd viewing either way. John, the family graphic designer, fell in love with it immediately since it fits his style even better than mine.

The video was created by Tomas Nilsson as a "school assignment to reinterpret the fairytale Little red ridning hood. Inspired by Röyksopps Remind me." I recommend watching it in as big of a resolution as you can to enjoy the full effect of the minor details.

Slagsmålsklubben - Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fallen Princesses Project by Dina Goldstein

JPG Magazine has published online the images for Dina Goldstein's Fallen Princesses project. The images are provocative, especially since Goldstein mostly uses Disney's versions of fairy tale princesses which are arguably the most glossy and pervasive versions of fairy tale characters in modern times. This photo essay enters into the common debate over the suitability of fairy tales for children, as well as women's issues and fairy tales, two of the top five most popular topics on SurLaLune's Discussion Boards. They are so popular that I've devoted pages to them with books and links for reference: Children and Fairy Tales and Women and Fairy Tales.

Goldstein explains in her introduction that "these works place Fairy Tale characters in modern day scenarios. In all of the images the Princess is placed in an environment that articulates her conflict. The '...happily ever after' is replaced with a realistic outcome and addresses current issues."

I squirm over the choice of "realistic outcome." So many detractors of fairy tales tend to argue along the lines that life is never happy, always miserable, especially if one chooses to marry or seek out long term relationships. Yes, I'm writing in broad generalities and I firmly believe that life is hard and painful, but I also think that the pain is tempered with joy and happiness that is only made greater thanks to the contrast of opposite experiences. Traditional fairy tales tend to promote just that message, not perfectly, but in a much more realistic way, encouraging endurance and perseverance. Here's a summation of one of my basic philosophies: Happily ever after does not mean "without ever a conflict or hardship" but is an optimistic view of overcoming those hardships when they arise in the future, often with the companionship needed to make it easier.

I'm not criticizing Goldstein's work, mind you. I enjoyed it and want to share it, thus this post.

Back to the project. Some images are more poignant or hard hitting for me than others, but I've decided to let them speak for themselves instead of commenting on them individually.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Changes, always more changes

I am reskinning the blog to give it the SurLaLune feel and tie it into the main site. I will probably play with the design and layout over the next few weeks so please let me know if anything is glaringly wrong or invisible. I'm trying for colors that are easy to read but not distracting from all of the content that will appear here over time. Feel free to post comments and let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend all and I will resume with content driven posts on Monday!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Watch This: Burger King Commercials (Germany)

I discovered a press release about a new campaign using fairy tales and marionettes to sell burgers to Germans. I wish they'd use the same campaign to sell to Americans... Alas, I really hope when this new Burger King advertising campaign begins showing in Germany that some kind souls post the commercials on YouTube or somewhere similar. Well, after a quick search, I found all three. I'll share them at the bottom.

Here's the first paragraph of the press release found on ShootOnline at MetaTechnik Gets Quirky for Crispin:

"Metatechnik, bicoastal music and sound producer, has produced all of the audio components for a new Burger King campaign (Crispin Porter + Bogusky), for the German market. The 3 spots, featuring puppet marionettes out of fairy tales placed in modern day Burger King restaurants, encompass an off beat, quirky and surreal musical score. The "real to life" sound design draws out the quirkiness in the juxtaposition of the spots. Metatechnik's own German, Georg Bissen, cast and produced the voice over talent out of Berlin, Germany."

The press release is rather lengthy so be sure to click through and read more about it. There's one image, too, and it is of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, of course. I'd be shocked if those characters weren't included in a fairy tale-themed campaign for Burger King. The other one appears to be the magic donkey who poops gold. Hard to imagine that one appearing on American television! The third is the hungry giant. I can't embed that one, but here's a link Burger King's Hungry Giant commercial.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Faerie Magazine: Spring 2009 Issue

The Spring 2009 issue of Faerie Magazine should be available by now at your local booksellers and should remain on shelves for another month or so. Most Barnes and Noble and Borders locations carry them in their periodical sections if you're not interested in a subscription. My column in this issue is about Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairy tales, so it took me a few years to finally write about it.

The article is titled "Beauties and Their Beasts." In it, I discuss the tale's literary origins and the two versions by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve and Madame Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont as well as some modern versions that are well-known today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quotable: Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

I was recently rereading one of my favorite books from my teenage years, a gem by Eloise Jarvis McGraw whose more popular titles include The Moorchild, Mara: Daughter of the Nile, The Golden Goblet and The Moccasin Trail. While all of these are worthy books, I consider McGraw's masterpiece to be her little known Greensleeves. You can see how popular it is by looking at its high prices for used copies with Amazon and other used booksellers.

To my knowledge it has never been reprinted since it's original run in the late 1960s. Somehow I discovered it dusty and neglected on the school library shelf a few decades later, borrowed it and fell in love. No, it doesn't have much of a fairy tale influence although one could argue for it being a brilliant modern day (albeit 1960s, so not so modern) Cinderella. There's a secret identity, a fairy godfather of sorts and a hero who behaves like a prince.

But its appearance on this blog is brought about by a small quote during a conversation between the main character and a friend. Here it is:

“There’s a whole book here about it that she used to read me out of. She used to read me Grimm’s Fairy Tales, too.” Wynola glanced at me defensively. “You might think I was too old for those, but she read them herself, all the time. She said fairy tales were good for people.”

“Good for people? How?”

“Well said, ‘Same way helium is good for a balloon.’”

What more can I say? Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Emily Anderson as Little Red Riding Hood

Here is another treasure I discovered at the Huntington last summer. One of the most common trends for portraiture in the 1800s was to portray young girls as images of Little Red Riding Hood. This portrait is of Emily Anderson painted by Thomas Lawrence for her father circa 1821. According to the placard, Emily had performed as LRRH in an amateur theatrical performance, so this painting also reflected an event in her life unlike many of the portraits in this subgenre.

Portraits like this one are the most common treasures found in my searches for fairy tale related art in my museum visits. It is pretty easy to find little girls wearing red hoods or cloaks forever captured on canvases. This particular one by Thomas Lawrence is one of my favorites. I have some other versions included in the Little Red Riding Hood Illustration Gallery on SurLaLune.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cinderella Decorative Tiles

I was raised with many family vacations involving trips to art museums since my mother is an art historian. I've continued the trend into adulthood and usually find at least one fairy tale related piece in any museum I visit. The usual suspects are Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood.

Last summer, I visited the Huntington Library and Art Collections in San Marino, CA during a business trip. I discovered this collection of Cinderella tiles designed by Lucy Faulkner for the William Morris Studio (Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company to be exact). She based her designs on those of Edward Burne-Jones. According to the placard, the tiles were originally designed to ornament a fireplace, but were framed to create a single picture. I am always fascinated to see which images are used to tell the story and some of the choices here are a little bit less common for Cinderella.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fairy Tale Poll #1

For the next month I've place a fairy tale poll on the blog, allowing visitors to vote for their favorite fairy tale out of a list of the most popular tales. The summer months are slow for SurLaLune and this blog is brand new, so I've left the poll open until the end of July to see how many votes I can collect. I plan to have a new poll every month in the future.

Just page down to the bottom of this blog and vote for your favorite fairy tale! I'll save and post the final results at the end of the month and start a new poll. The poll shows current results in real time so you can see where yours compares at any time. If anyone has any suggestions for the next polling topic, feel free to make recommendations in the comments below.

Have a great weekend! I already have new posts in the queue for next week so remember to come back and read more about fairy tales and folklore...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In the News: Fairy Tales on Trial

I discovered this little gem about fairy tales. A school in Kentucky just held a two-week summer camp called: "Guilty or Not Guilty, You Be the Judge--Fairy Tales on Trial" Apparently the camp ended last week after several days of studying versions of Three Little Pigs, writing a script that put the Big Bad Wolf on trial and then acting it out.

Using fairy tales for mock trials is not a new concept (see Finding Justice in Fairy Tales, for example), but I've not heard about any summer camps for younger students exclusively covering the subject before.

You can read the entire article at: Student learn about justice through fairy tales.

And on a related note, thinking of fairy tales and books about justice, I recommend Sharon Creeden's Fair is Fair: World Folktales of Justice. It is the best collection of justice tales that I have seen to date.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Swan Lake Ballet & Anna Pavlova

Here is Anna Pavlova's tutu for the her role in Swan Lake, one of the most famous of all the fairy tale and folklore based ballets. This was displayed in a special exhibit in the Opéra de Paris Garnier in Paris. Of course, in the U.S. the opera house is perhaps most famous as the residence of the Phantom of the Opera, but it has hosted many famous performers and performances, including Pavlova. The costume was designed by Leon Bakst for her role as the white swan in 1905.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood Jewelry

More images from France, this time from the Galleries Lafayette in Paris near the Opéra de Paris Garnier. John and I spent the late morning wandering the store and discovered this little display of Little Red Riding Hood themed jewelry. Last November, John was gracious enough to capture some hasty pictures and the clerks were nice enough to remain oblivious of the stupid American tourists snapping pictures of the jewelry displays. I didn't buy a piece since it was all a little too kitschy for me for the price, but I certainly enjoyed looking.

I know the images are small. Most of the jewelry consisted of LRRH and the wolf in his various incarnations, my favorite being him dressed as grandmother in the pendant above.

In the end, I'll admit the jewelry looked like low-end Claire's boutique (and I do shop and buy at Claire's from time to time) than high end department store jewelry. I've found things I liked better on Etsy, for example, where you can find items similar to these. However, this was obviously high end kitsch from the prices and display given to it. Someday I will share my own bit of fairy tale jewelry--a self-composed charm bracelet, but that will be another day and another post to look forward to.

The images are slightly bigger for viewing if you click on them to load larger image.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cendrillon Shoestore

Last year during our travels in France, I discovered several fairy tale references during our jaunts of discovery. I was able to capture a few with the camera, or hubby John did for me, which I plan to share over the next few days. First, was a little shoestore in Bordeaux, fittingly named after Cendrillon, who is better known as Cinderella here in the states. I didn't have time to shop, but the store banner was charming enough.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fairy Tale Illustrators: Arthur Rackham on AbeBooks

AbeBooks.com recently posted an article on one of the most popular fairy tale illustrators of all time, Arthur Rackham. First, here's the link to The Magical Illustration of Arthur Rackham. This article is of particular interest to fans because ABE provides cover images from some of Rackham's more obscure titles, a resource I would have loved 10 years ago! Arthur Rackham manages to incorporate the romantic and the menacing, the sweet and the grotesque into his work, usually finding the perfect balance of all elements to perfectly capture the essence of the tales he illustrates. Of course, he wasn't strictly an illustrator of fairy tales, but his name is still synonymous with them. I could prattle on for days about him, but in the interest of a short entry, I'm almost finished. Obviously, Rackham is one of my favorite illustrators. I've spent many hours studying and scanning his work to post on SurLaLune over the years from books I've collected. Many of the images appear in the Rackham Illustration Gallery. I have links to book collections of Rackham's illustrations on the right column of the gallery page. I've also devoted an entire Arthur Rackham Shop to his out-of-copyright work in the SurLaLune CafePress store. Still, I have to admit, my favorite item I've created has been a pair of shoes on Zazzle. The illustration is for a much more obscure tale, The Old Woman in the Woods. Here's a link to the shoes: No lace and with laces. I don't own these myself yet, but about five pairs have been purchased in the year since I designed them making them a bestseller.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Suburban Fairy Tales

Francis Bonnet is a web comic artist who has recently resumed the web comic, Suburban Fairy Tales, a strip using well-known fairy tale characters such as Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Three Little Pigs and others.

The characters are teenagers and while much of the humor is more teen oriented and less directly fairy tale related at times, the characters are fun. I enjoyed my journey through the archives and found a few gems along the way. If you're looking for a few minutes of fairy tale related diversions today, this might do the trick.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Watch This: AT&T Hansel and Gretel Commercial

One of the most frequently discussed subjects on the SurLaLune Discussion Boards is the usage of fairy tales in advertising. Over the years since I launched SurLaLune, I've noticed and watched many advertisements using fairy tales. Tonight I saw one of my favorites to date. It must be recent although I admit I don't watch much television and when I do, I usually fast forward the commercials, so it was fun to catch this one in quick motion and then rewind to watch it slowly.

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much is that it uses a popular fairy tale which for some reason isn't used in advertising very much. Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Frog Prince and the Three Bears are used much more often. I have a hard time remembering any Hansel and Gretel usages and this one fit the bill perfectly.

I'll embed a version I found on YouTube, but I'll still explain that it is for AT&T and they used the Hansel and Gretel story wonderfully. I had to watch it twice and I smiled both times.

And, no, I don't mind the usage of fairy tales in advertising. I find it rather satisfying to see that fairy tales remain a viable part of pop culture.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fairy Tale Wrecks

Oh, the pressure! I have a growing list of items to share on the blog, but choosing the first one has been a true challenge. I ended up using the reliable eeny, meeny, miny, moe method and came up with a link to Cake Wrecks.

I know just about everyone has discovered Cake Wrecks already, but earlier this year the blog featured beautifully decorated Castles and Fairies cakes. I can’t pick a favorite but I’ve imagined one of these appeared at the imaginary SurLaLune anniversary party last winter. That’s the best way to have one of these cakes because I don’t think I would have the heart to actually cut into one and eat it.

Of course, Cake Wrecks actually specializes in cake decorating disasters. My favorite fairy tale-themed post so far is So What Happens If You EAT the Frog?, an entry devoted to the Princess and the Frog, i.e. The Frog Prince, cake wrecks.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Once upon a time...

SurLaLune turned 10-years-old at the end of 2008, right smack dab in the middle of the holidays, with little fanfare or celebration. Except for additions of new publications and other releases, the site remains mostly static since I'm not adding newly annotated tales, etexts or illustrations on a regular basis these days for various reasons. In other words, I keep it updated but don't keep growing it the way I have in years past.

However, SurLaLune is on my mind daily. Fairy tales surround me, color my perceptions and my life. It's rare that I don't find something related to fairy tales and folklore in my casual living, from reading to shopping to conversation to, well, you get the idea. Fairy tales are everywhere.

Over the last few weeks, I've developed a greater urge to share these experiences on SurLaLune, adding a more personalized element to the site. I considered the SurLaLune Discussion Forum, but realized I wanted a blog format instead.

And so here is the newly hatched SurLaLune Fairy Tales blog, devoted entirely to fairy tales and folklore wherever they may appear. I plan for the blog to be updated daily except on weekends since everyone needs time off, even me. There will be book announcements and some reviews, fairy tale sightings, questions answered and more as the blog grows into itself.

If you have questions or things to share, please email me and I will consider them for a future post.

On Monday, the blog will really begin. My other goal is to keep each post short and not too time consuming for writer or reader. This one is quite long enough…