Posts Tagged ‘Fairy Tales’

‘Tis the season.  We’ve one kickstarter to start in just a few days for DISCORDANT LOVE BEYOND DEATH, with my story, “The Sending” (cf. June 21, April 30).  More on this one as soon as it’s live.  But then in a few more weeks, in mid July, according to Editor/Publisher Jaleta Clegg there’ll be another for BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS (a.k.a. THE SOUL?), with my story in that one a 75-word micro, “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair” (see June 14).  Both anthologies should be fun so please be generous; we the authors who fill up those pages hope some of the largess will end up in our pay.  For updates on both, keep watching these pages.

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By any other name. . .  On the contract the book is called BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR COGNITIVE RUMINATIONS; on at least one set of guidelines, THE FAR EDGE OF NORMAL; on another BEER-BATTERED SHRIMP FOR THE SOUL.  The description:  What?  You were expecting it to be a NORMAL book filled with NORMAL stories?  Nope. Silliness and weirdness will abound.  All I ask is that submissions be happy and silly and hopeful.  Not dark or froggie1scary or disturbing.  Well, maybe a little disturbing.  And one more thing, that the cut-off for length was 125 words.  So, as it happened, I had such a story, “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair,” a tale of fairyland witches and magic.  And also beauticians.

So late last night, possibly while I was still at the movies (see post just below), came the reply from Editor/Publisher Jaleta Clegg:  I would like to publish “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair” in the collection.  Attached is a contract.  Please fill it out and send it back to me as a doc attachment.  If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.  And that is that.  “As Fine as Frogs’ Hair” was originally published in MISCELLANEA:  A TRANSDIMENSIONAL LIBRARY (Eggplant Literary Productions, November 14 2013) and is exactly 75 words long, but more to the point it is silly and weird.  And maybe only a little disturbing.

“Holy crap, what am I watching?”

So said the IU Cinema docent, describing her initial reaction, in introducing Thursday night’s showing of the Swedish film GRANS.  There is, in fact, a lot of “what’s going on here?” to wonder about although, having used elements of folklore and fairylore at times in my own writing, when the main reveal came about two thirds of the way through, I was able to nod and think, okay, and consider how the threads had been wound together.  It is rather neat, though others may be taken more by surprise — some at the showing even laughed, in perhaps a nervous sort of way.  And in certain ways, the border-grans-132198film is even ugly — it isn’t one I’m overly anxious to see again — but it is one that I recommend watching, especially for those of us into dark fantasy/horror, though I wouldn’t call it a horror film either.  More like just . . . different.

Or, ending by quoting the catalog blurb:  It is a safe assumption to say you have never seen a film quite like BORDER.  Tina (Eva Melander) is a customs officer who has the keen ability to literally smell guilt, fear, and fury seeping off of some travelers.  When she encounters a mysterious man with a smell that confounds her detection, she is forced to confront hugely disturbing insights about herself and humankind.  The film is adapted by Danish-Iranian director Ali Abbassi from a short story by author John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also created the lonely vampire classic LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.  Blending supernatural folklore and contemporary social issues, the film explores themes of tribalism, racism, and fear of the “other.”  The film has been referred to as a genre-bending cross between an X-Men film and a Nordic noir crime drama.  In Swedish with English subtitles.  Contains mature content, including graphic nudity, sexual violence, strong language, and violent imagery.

Today saw the return of the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. August 5, et al.) at Bloomington’s downtown Thomas Gallery, having been pre-empted in September by the Fourth Street Arts Festival and Spoken Word Stage (see September 1) and in October by Frankenfest (see September 30).  The featured readers were Amy L. Cornell, an active participant with Woman Writing for a Change and on the board of the Writing for a Change Foundation and a past community columnist for the Bloomington Herald-Times, reading a flash fiction tale about a Presidential request for poetry, followed by a series of “relatively short poems” including a narrative of the re-invention of libraries and three retold fairy tales; Lisa Clay Shanahan, author of MURDER BY THE BOOK and MURDER MASTERPIECE in her Boston Publishing House Mystery Series and MFA candidate in creative writing in the Sewanee School of Letters, with a short talk about inspiration followed by the opening scene of a new novel, THE BROKEN CIRCLE; and me with my recently published dark romance “Crow and Rat,” out last month in the British anthology HUMANAGERIE (cf. October 21, 3, et al.).  This was followed after the snack break by a relatively short session with four walk-on readers, including both poetry and short prose.

Yes it was, the Bloomington Writers Guild “Second Thursday Player’s Pub Spoken Word Series” (see October 9; October 13 2017, et al.) with a special early Halloween lineup to honor October.  How special?  Even the five open mike readers at the end chose at least some poems, etc. specifically for spookyness while featured musical guest Travis Puntarelli also went out of his way to play and sing numbers with, let us say, Gothic overtones.  Then of the headlined readers, the first one was . . . moi.  Or to read from the blurb, JAMES DORR is a short story writer and poet, working primarily in dark fantasy and horror with some forays into science fiction and mystery.  . . .  The story he’ll be reading tonight is called “River Red,” and appears in THE TEARS OF ISIS.  It is set on a far-future dying Earth, populated by various creatures including ghouls — eaters of the dead — and is in the same universe as his latest novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, out from Elder Signs Press.  This was followed by another musical interlude, then by the main event, a dramatic reading by Writers Guild members of . . . well, to quote again from the blurb, DRACULA is a screenplay for a never-made film by the late, notorious Ken Russell, Britain’s cinematic sultan of excess and outrage whose films include TOMMY, ALTERED STATES, LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, and GOTHIC.*  The script was written in the late 1970s and published in 2009.  The film came close to being made only to be abandoned when Universal put its Frank Langella headlined version of DRACULA into production.  Russell’s script, however, allegedly formed the impetus for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, whose screenwriter James V. Hart was directly involved in the inception of Russell’s interpretation.

In a departure from usual practice, the evening ended shortly after 8 as opposed to a more normal 9 p.m., to allow for an additional band Players Pub had scheduled for the night.  This specifically cut down the amount of time set aside for the play, allowing for only two or three scenes, but enough to give an idea of its flavor, set in the 1920s, that of a vampire motivated by a love of music and on a quest to confer immortality on dying artists.  However, the Writers Guild also announced plans to present the play in its entirety at some time in 2019.
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*Re. GOTHIC, cf. October 5, September 30.  But readers may recall having met Mr. Russell before as creator of THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER (July 17 2015, “E. A. Poe Meets Alice in Wonderland”), described as a buggy interpretation “for the 21st century” of not just Poe’s “House” (which possibly more deflates than falls at the end of the picture) but almost everything else Poesque beginning with a wink of the eye to “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

So, okay, cutting to the chase I’m scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m for a half hour (well, 25 minutes anyway — cf. just below, August 26) reading, probably of stories from THE TEARS OF ISIS.  But here is the entire two-day schedule from the horse’s mouth, as it were, of readers and performers, poets and prose writers, some known to us from before, some unknown.  So if in the area this coming weekend do plan to stop by — isisnewit’s the FOURTH STREET ARTS FESTIVAL, with artists’ booths galore, but also the Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage on Dunn Street, just south of 4th.  While I, in the meantime, practice timed reads while making my final story selections.  (Hint: it’ll probably be a short curtain raiser followed by “River Red,” which I’d read once before a few years back and had gone over well then, set in the TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH universe although actually printed in TEARS.  Two birds with one stone, eh?)

So read, plan, enjoy:

When:
September 1, 2018 @ 10:00 am – September 2, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

Spoken Word Stage at 4th Street Arts Festival

Presented by the Writers Guild at Bloomington
Supported in part by the Bloomington Arts Commission

Labor Day Weekend
Saturday, September 1: 10am – 6pm
Sunday, September 2: 10am – 5pm
Intersection of Dunn and Fourth Streets
Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts
http://www.4thstreet.org

Save the Date!

Now in its 8th year, the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival is one of the largest literary performance events in the Midwest, featuring storytelling, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, live radio theatre, and other unique collaborations.

And of course, the ever-popular Poetry on Demand table will be staffed with a fleet of poets armed with typewriters ready to deliver!

SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE!
CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES!

SATURDAY SEP 1
10:30 . 5 Women Poets (poetry)
11:00 . Patsy Rahn (poetry)
11:30 . Merry MAC Players (theatre)
12:30 . Shana Ritter (poetry)
1:00 . Maria Hamilton Abegunde (poetry)
1:30 . Fig Tree Fellowship Radio Players (audio theatre)
2:30 . Mary Pat Lynch (fiction)
3:00 . Juliana Ramos Crespo (fiction)
3:30 . James Dorr (horror fiction)
4:00 . Shakespeare’s Monkey (poetry band)
4:30 . Erin Livingston (poetry)
5:00 . Butch D’Ambrosio (sonnets)
5:30 . Stephen Vincent Giles (storytelling)

SUNDAY SEP 2
10:00 . Eric Rensberger (poetry)
10:30 . New Leaf-New Life (poetry and fiction)
11:00 . Adam Henze (poetry)
11:30 . Monroe County Civic Theater
12:00 . Joan Hawkins (fiction)
12:30 . Lisa Kwong (poetry)
1:00 . Jasper Wirtshafter (poetry)
1:30 . Arbutus Cunningham (storytelling)
2:00 . Richard Hague (poetry)
2:30 . Cricket’s Bone Caravan (audio theatre)
3:30 . Michael Brockley (poetry)
4:00 . Jeffrey Pearson (poetry)
4:30 . Bloomington Storytellers Guild 

Or, in the words of Jamie Bogert in “The Disturbing Origins of 9 Beloved Fairy Tales,” on THE-LINE-UP.COM:  Bedtime is often sweetened by stories of handsome princes and beautiful princesses, comical witches and lovable forest dwellers.  But what happens when we follow the breadcrumb trail to a fairy tale’s gloomy origin?  From the Little Mermaid to Little Red Riding Hood, the sugarcoated renditions we know and love come from much darker places.  If a Disney-themed wedding is in your future, beware:  The disturbing origins of these classic stories are anything but sweet.

And so it goes, in some cases only that the Disney versions we may know and love often leave out the, um, interesting parts; in others perhaps that dark actual events may underlie what we read as children. In addation to the two already noted, the fairy tales discussed are Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Frog Prince, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White, and the neat thing is that I’ve written my own versions of, or inspired by, every one of these (disclaimer: that doesn’t necessarily mean every one of these has sold), though Cinderella and Snow White are probably my favorites.  E.g., did you notice Sleeping Beauty in TOMBS?  But in any event, for a quick update on the lore of our youth, one need but press here.

Sunday morning, Easter, was sunny and if not warm not too cold either.  Quite pleasant all in all.  Then now, a bit after 10 p.m., it’s snowing outside along with some rain, with the Weather Channel predicting as much as three inches by dawn.  That for us April fools.  Then, in between, it being the first of April, up DisappearingProse-150x150to twenty of us gathered for the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic,” hosted this time by downtown coffeehouse Soma.

The featured readers were all “First Sunday” veterans, starting with Abegunde (cf. August 30, May 7 2017 et al.) with an essay/memory piece realting to earlier days as a poet, specifically citing a pair of letters from summer 1993; then followed by Alisa Alering (May 1 2016 et al.) with part of a story podcast on CAST OF WONDERS this February; and finally Wendy Teller with excerpts from her soon-to-be published historical novel BECOMING MIA (August 7 2017, but going back as far as 2015 and 2014).  After the break these were followed by only three readers from the audience, me in third place with an as yet unpublished fairy tale variant, “The Mouse Game,” the story of Cinderella from the viewpoint of one of the mice turned into horses to draw her coach.

The crowd wasn’t the hugest, even including the homeless guy asleep in the back row, but was gratifyingly enthusiastic for this month’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic”(cf. August 7, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and Boxcar Books, and anyway it had to compete with a lovely late-summerish afternoon outside.  And, yes, this was October.  Be that as it may, it was also our starting-the-buildup-to-Halloween special, with featured readings beginning with Frida Westford and two short shorts, “That Which Remains” about a displaced bog spirit paired with a fairy tale brought up to date in “The Eve of All Hallows,” and ending with Joan Hawkins and Tony Brewer performing brief excerpts from the screenplay for Ken Russell’s never-produced film version of DRACULA, with the title character an aesthete who specializes in biting artists about to die in order to give them eternal life to continue producing.

My reading came in between these two with a presentation from TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH somewhat paralleling that of the previous month at the Bloomington Arts Festival “Spoken Word Stage” (see September 3), this time with the book’s back-cover blurb plus the ghoul-poet’s tale from Section III to introduce the chapter-story “Carnival of the Animals,” and seemed to me to be well received (snoring homeless guy in the back notwithstanding).

Then after the break, with banana bread and ginger cookies, four readers, all of whom we’ve met before, offered open microphone presentations to cap the afternoon:  Tonia Matthews, Shayne Laughter, and (this time separately) Tony Brewer and MC Joan Hawkins.

On a pleasant near-summer’s night, the Bloomington Writers Guild co-sponsored “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series” (cf. May 12, et al.) started off comparatively noisily with a trumpet performance by local musician Kyle Quass, followed by two poets and one fiction writer.  The fiction was by Tom Bitters with a quiet romantic tale of himself, his wife, and a local benefit performance by John Mellencamp; with Nashville Indiana full-time poet Andrew Hubbard next with four or five self-described “cross[es] between character studies and short-short stories”; and, after a musical interlude by Kyle Quass again, a group of more conventional poems by local writer Antonia Matthew.  These were followed by seven open mike readers of which I was fourth — square in the middle — with a fairy tale variant originally published in RAPUNZEL’S DAUGHTERS (Pink Narcissus Press, 2011) called “The Glass Shoe,” or, translated to modern political terms, alternative facts meet Cinderella.




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