Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Original Gruesome Fairy Tale

Moral Lessons Vs. Happy Endings

Everyone is familiar with the modern day Disney version of most fairy tales, but did you ever wonder where they came from?   Most were precautionary tales told to heed warning  to impressionable children.  They were meant to be gruesome and frightening, many ending with a moral lesson.  Of course, over time the stories changed to fit the evolving need of the culture.  Fairy tales have been altered from their original script, but still are used to communicate ideals, image and general norms of modern society.  

A village is overrun with rats, which carried and spread a horrible disease.  A man arrives dressed in a patchwork of colors and offers to rid the village of the vermin. Desperate and fearful, the people agree to pay a vast sum of money if the piper can do it – and of course, he does.  Similar to the modern version, he plays music on his pipe and draws the rats out of the town.  However, when he returns for payment – the villagers refuse.  In the much darker original, the piper decides to teach the villagers a lesson for breaking an agreement and cheating him.  He leads the children to a river where they drown, all except for a lame boy who cannot keep up.

In the French version, the little girl is a well-bred lady.  She graciously accepts false instructions to her grandmother's house from a wolf.  Foolishly riding hood takes the advice and ends up being eaten.  The moral being, do not naively take the advice of strangers.

In this delightful original tale, the Queen asks for Snow White’s liver and lungs, which she plans to serve for dinner!  Also, instead of a magical kiss, Snow White is brought back to life by the jostling of the prince's horse.  I mustn't forget that the evil Queen's punishment for her scheming is to dance to death in red hot iron shoes!

My particular favorite tells of how the nasty stepsisters cut off parts of their own feet in order to fit them into the glass slipper – hoping to fool the prince.  The prince is alerted to the trickery when two pigeons peck out the stepsister’s eyes.  The girls spend the rest of their lives as blind beggars while Cinderella gets to live at the prince’s castle.

This reads more like a horror tale, than a fairy tale!  Long ago, it was told that a young woman is put to sleep because of a prophecy, rather than a curse. And it isn’t the kiss of a prince, which wakes her up.  In the original, the king sees her asleep, is overcome with desire, and rapes the comatose woman.  Nine months later she gives birth to two children (while she is still asleep).  One of the children sucks her finger, which removes the piece of flax that is keeping her asleep.  When she comes to, she learns she has been raped and is the mother of two children.

Instead of a beautiful young girl, Goldilocks is actually an old hag who jumps out the window when the bears wake her up.  The original version has two endings on record.  First, the hag breaks her neck when she leaps out the window.  The second ending includes the hag being arrested for vagrancy and sent to the “House of Correction.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Top 5 Reason Tips Aren't Helpful

Top 5 Reasons Tips Aren't Helpful
The Wonderful World of Blog, Websites and the Land of Twitter

1   State The Obvious
Have great content, saying something useful, valuable and find your niche.  Whatever you do, don't be direct about what you are selling or why you are really setting up a website and/or blog in the first place.  Humility is key and you want to appear you are doing all this for free because you are a wonderful humanitarian.  Hint:  Your fellow followers already know the reason, because they are doing the same thing and have read the '5 Tips' too. 

2   Email Newsletter
Get traffic from email lists.  Most friends and family are already following to be polite and supportive.  The casual acquaintance, auto repairman and your kid's soccer coach probably will not appreciate being 'spammed, or heck, maybe you don't even like them anyway!

3  Make Site Attractive
Have great content (yes, there it is again), but keep it short.  Have links, articles, advertising, but don't make it too busy.  Include video, but make sure downloading is quick.  Do everything possible to create return followers.  Understand code!  This is the most important tip.  Take a class or online course if you must, because every follower counts.

4  The Myth of Social Media
If you set up Stumble Upon, links on other sites, and Twitter till your thumbs fall off—they will come.  The key is the longer you hold a person hostage on your site, the more it will fool Google into thinking your site is useful.  It's all about ranking!

 Be Engaging and A Degree in Psychology Would Help
Have something to sell without saying you are selling it.  This is where your sociopath skills come in handy.  Be friendly, polite, use the word 'please' when asking to RT.  However, be controversial to provoke responses.  Don't ask people to buy anything, but lure them with your charisma and great content.  They will buy from you when they trust you, so build a relationship, but don't be a stalker. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

5 Reasons I Watch Whale Wars

5 Reasons I Watch Whale Wars 
The World Is A Vampire
Some might think the reason for my fascination and dedicated to viewing The Discovery Channel's Whale Wars is based on the controversial antics of the Sea Shepard crew and the attention they draw from both sides.  Or, maybe it is my love for animals and concern for conservation?  I wish I could say my intentions are this pure and noble, but neither made my top 5 list. 

#5  Political In 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) voted for a moratorium on commercial whaling.  Despite warnings from the United States and other nations which supported the IWC's moratorium, Japan continued whaling.
The Pelly Amendment
This amendment allows the President of the United States to "direct the Secretary of the Treasury to prohibit the bringing or the importation into the United States of any products from the offending country for any duration as the President determines appropriate."
The Packwood Amendment
This amendment demands that economic sanctions be imposed against any foreign country that conducts fishing operations in such a manner as to "diminish the effectiveness" of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW).

#4  Argument Minke whales exist in enough numbers that a return to commercial whaling of this species can be supported with catch limits.  Japan says that its whaling research over the last two decades has shown whales are a sustainable, "renewable marine food resource."  Why not hunt whales if they're not technically endangered?
Those opposed to whaling say there is no longer any reason to hunt whales in a world where petroleum has replaced whale oil, whale meat is no longer necessary for survival, and we know so much about the intelligence and complex social lives of whales.
Today, in Japan 83 percent of Japanese have admitted they have not eaten whale in a long time, or never.  As evidenced by the booming whale-watching tourist industry, millions would rather see whales alive than dead.  And the IWC continues to oppose a return to commercial whaling.

#3  Historical  Although many countries have whaled throughout history, Whale Wars focuses primarily on the Japanese, and therefore, so shall I.  Whale meat was vital in feeding the Japanese population both during and after World War II.  In 1947 whale meat was a primary source of animal protein consumed by the country. Nearly 20 years later, whale meat is found in one-quarter of the Japanese diet.
Japan's Fisheries Agency states that history is an important reason why the Japanese should be allowed to continue to hunt whales. Attempts to stop whaling are perceived by many as a threat to Japanese culture.  According to its defenders, eating whale meat is an old and impenetrable Japanese tradition. "No one has the right to criticize the food culture of another people," said Matayuki Komatsu of Japan's Fisheries Agency.

#2  Philosophical 
Japanese Culture and Pride
A sense of pride is often the first reason provided by the Japanese to explain what fuels their commitment to whaling. To some, the words and actions of those who oppose Japanese whaling are "culturally arrogant" and unnecessarily harsh.  To the Japanese "Pride," is an intrinsic part of their culture and is an acceptable reason to continue any and all historical traditions and practices despite economics, environment, resource or scientific findings.  The impression I get is that the rest of world must accept this, and to question or compromise is disrespectful. 
It is the use of 'Pride' as justification for the continuation of killing whales that first captured my interest.  This fascinates me because this battle between organizations, livelihood, country, and beliefs all stems for one of the most ancient motives in history.

Pride is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise.  Pride caused Lucifer's fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan.   As a writer, I can not help but wonder how often and in how many ways does this lesson have to appear throughout history, culture and span time, for humanity to learn or be reminded?  And it is this singular question that demands I watch, loyally, each and every episode of Whale Wars

Believe it or not, I'm no judging right from wrong, but rather observing human interaction with each other and nature.  There is something poetic about seeing the pouring of blood into the sea by a slaughtered, scientifically proven, feeling and intelligent animal by a modern weapon flung in the name of Pride.  If I close my eyes, I see the image over and over, blood, pride, culture clashes and threat of extinction.  Whatever side of the issue you stand on, a person cannot help but contemplate the symbolic message.  Or, maybe they can...  And, this leads me to my number 1 reason. 

#1  Theme Song  "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," by the Smashing Pumpkins.  The title itself says it all, but the lyrics are more profound and deeply moving.  If you are hungry for a writing assignment or suffering block, maybe you just need an exercise to get the creative mind moving, try these two phrases.

a.  "The world is a vampire"
b.  "Despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in the cage."

Now, go forth and write!  And don't forget to watch Whale Wars on the Discovery Channel.  New episodes begins this Sunday, February 28 @ 9 pm/c

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wolf God and Mardi Gras

Throw Me Something Mister!

It's not merely coincidence that the origins of Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day are so closely tied since both are believed to stem from the same pagan Greek-Roman fertility celebrations connected with Lupercalia.

During the middle ages, the Catholic Church was unable to abolish the ancient traditions of local pagan tribes.  Even after conversion, the people continued to celebrate their beliefs and as a compromise, the Church forced adaptation of many ancient feast and festivals.  Originally Lupercalia, known today as Mardi Gras, honored the deity, Lupercus (meaning, "wolf"), a pastoral God along with others such as Bacchus, God of wine.  Participants in this ancient ritual indulged in voluntary madness symbolized by donning masks and dressing like specters as a way to show they were giving themselves up to Bacchus and Venus.  All aspects of pleasure were allowed during the Carnival celebration.  

With the embrace of Christianity in Rome came the new interpretation, and carnival was deemed the period of abandon and merriment preceding the penance of Lent.  The Lenten period is the 40 days commencing on Ash Wednesday and ending at Easter.  

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Be My Valentine

The Three Legends of Valentine's Day
v    One:  It is believed that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.  At the time, the ruler Emperor Claudius II, decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families so he outlawed marriage for young men.  Valentine saw the decree as an injustice and decided to defy Claudius's law.  Secretly, he performed marriages for young lovers. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

v    Two:  Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape the harsh conditions and inhumane treatment of the Roman prisons.  It is believed that Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. The legend states that while in prison Valentine fell in love with a young girl.  Perhaps it was his jailor's daughter who visited Valentine during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.
v    Three:  While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial, others claim that the Christian church marked the date in an effort to 'Christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival.  In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification.  The Lupercalia festival began at the ides of February, February 15, and was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture.  The ceremony involved the gathering of priests in a cave where they would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.  Then, the boys would slice the goat's hide into strips, dip them in the sacrificial blood and take to the streets where they gently slapped both women and fields of crops with the goat hide strips.  Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
Besides Valentine's rumored love letter to his jailer's daughter, the oldest known valentine was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt (1415).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today's Lesson: Psychopath

My Quick Guide To Creating A Psychopathic Character!

In order to create a believable character, a writer must attempt to understand the psychology and traits that drive the personality and compulsion behind the character.  If you're not a psychopath or know a psychopath how can you write a convincing depiction?  First, do research. 

Don't be tempted to turn to the highly publicized or Hollywood version of 'psychopath,' as a short cut.  Readers will pick up on cookie cutter imitations and discard them just as quickly in the trash.  Remember, what is more terrifying is not the Manson or Dahmer, but the psychopath we pray isn't living next door.  Go ahead, pull back the living room curtain and watch Mr. X take his garbage to the curb at 2 a.m. and see if that doesn't give you a good old-fashioned shiver.

Psychopathic Factoids

*   Most of the two million psychopaths in America never murder.

*   They typically are outgoing and persuasive individuals who dazzle others with charm and flattery.

*   They are very good at playing a part so they can get what they want.

*   They have no conscience and their ONLY goal is self-gratification.

Building Blocks Of A Psychopath

*   Generally, they are not products of broken homes or creations of a materialistic society.

*   They come from all circumstances, economic backgrounds, race and family dynamics and there is little evidence that their upbringing affects or influences behavior. 

*   Evidence of personality is evident at a very early age and is due to biological or genetic factors.  By the late teens, the disorder is almost certainly permanent.

*   A psychopath has a shallow range of emotion and lacks guilt.

*   They often see themselves as victims and lack remorse or the ability to empathize with others.

#1 weapon:  They are very aware and make it a practice to bet on the fact most people are trusting and forgiving creatures by nature (unless they are a psychopath).

*   They rarely stay in long-term relationships and often are involved with 3 or more partners at once.

*   They tend to frequently switch jobs and their performance is generally erratic, with chronic absences, misuse of company resources and failed commitments.  Some go to extremes by not being qualified for a job and using or manufacturing fake credentials.

Redemption and Rehabilitation 

·      Psychopaths will never seek therapy willingly.  A therapist is just one more person they will try to con.

·      All current studies suggest they cannot be treated effectively with therapy. 

The Fall

By nature, a psychopath is a master chameleon.  However, over time their perfect imagine will begin to crack and signs of insincerity or falseness will gleam through.  By this time, it is usually too late and the person has already moved to a new neighborhood.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

SINopsis Of Envy

Envy is Greed's ugly cousin and Jealousy's half sister.  They are related by an insatiable desire, but differ because greed refers to material goods, jealousy is the fear of losing what you already have, and envy is about wanting what you don't have and wanting others to lose what they've got.  Envy sees the talents, abilities, achievements and good fortune of others as a reason to dislike them.  Ok, let's say I'm guilty as charged.

What's The Punishment?
If you believe what has been historically written the punishment is:

A.  You'll be put in freezing water in Hell.
B.  You'll have your eyes sewn shut with wire.

What's With The Color Green?
The association with the color green is believed to come from the ancient Greek theory of medicine.  When an imbalance of certain "humors" occurred, it manifested in physical and visible symptoms.  Envy and Jealousy caused an excess production of bile, which caused a pale-greenish cast to the skin.  Hence, the cliché, "Green with envy."

Take Home Message:
Envy is ruled by the celestial sign of the Moon and is the key behind every successful advertising campaign.  

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