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for some reason this picture gets the song “sunrise, sunset” stuck in my head. Posted by Picasa

We ran this morning. I feel like my muscles should make squeaky noises when I move.

Did you know that it’s incredibly beautiful out at 6:30 am? It is. And cool enough to run. And there are lots of baby geese out on the pond in Oaks Bottom. And the air has a hint of swamp in it. And if I weren’t running it would have been really really enjoyable. Okay, I admit that I like the after-effects of running, the endorphins and the muscles, the sense of accomplishment. But I would’ve liked to stroll and take some pictures.

Yesterday at work (library) I got to thinking about fairy tales. I adored fairy tales as a child – we had a well worn copy of the Brothers Grimm and I read my way through all the colors of Andrew Lang’s collections. I watched every video of Faerie Tale Theatre that the library owned. Then I got sick of them. They seemed boring and repetitive and their magic was a false magic.

Then, somehow, I got back into them. I like the old-fashioned kind, where there is blood and gore and heartbreak. Where the Grandmother gets eaten and the parents die and heels are cut off. I also like the sharp new versions, where the characters have rapier wits and the illustrations are splendid and the details are all just so. (I abhor the soft focus, the characters without character, the dumbing down, the too-happy ending, the constant flow of tomboy princesses (they are legion), the unexamined cliche.)

I was covering Lauren Child’s new version of The Princess and the Pea when it occurred to me that TPATP is perhaps really my favorite fairy tale. It’s not too overdone, you know? It’s still nice and juicy when you cut it open. There is no commercialized image, no tie-in toy. There is endless opportunity for wit and mockery.

It happens to be one of my favorite of the Faerie Tale Theatre productions, proving funnier as an adult than it was as a child. If you haven’t seen it (or any of the FTTs) what are you waiting for?

My whole TPATP renaissance really started with Mini Grey’s version. The characters have eyes like peas. They garden. They have fabulous vegetable print wallpaper. The pea whispers to the princess (who’s really the gardener’s daughter) to say she slept poorly. I am in love. Also with Lauren Child’s which has cut-out characters against a doll-house scale set and a real princess. And a smart prince. And great fabric.

*Despereaux’s cry as he is banished to the dungeon and the rats.

May 2006

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