Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Sea Hare

I didn’t find out about this story until I decided to read the complete works of the Brothers Grimm straight through in high school, and oh my goodness. Guys. It is the best. And also the worst. But mostly the worst.

It’s one of those stories where the princess has to get married, but she’s set up certain impossible qualifications for her suitors. Pretty standard, right? Except this girl has a bloodthirsty bent. Basically, it’s hide and seek to the death—you hide all day, she marries you. She finds you, you die. Head on a pike outside her tower.

Harsh, right?

Now my first question in situations like this is always “Why on earth would you want to marry the chick?”

Like, power, influence, money, I get it—there are certain advantages to marrying into nobility. But guys. Think about this. Do a risk-reward analysis. Is your quality of life really that bad?

Ninety-seven dudes say yes. And boy do they ever suck at hide and seek.

On to our dude. His story is standard, too. Youngest of three brothers, saves the day after the older two screw it up. He meets some animals in the woods, like youngest sons do, and they offer to help him someday when he spares their lives. You all know where this is going.

Oldest brother hides from the princess, gets found, dies. Second brother, same thing. We’re up to ninety-nine heads on posts along the wall. The older ones are probably in a pretty nasty state of decomposition by now.

Youngest boy tries, his animal pals hide him, and he wins Hide and Seek: Ultimate Death Match. The princess is very impressed, she agrees to marry him, and they live happily ever after. So she decapitated his brothers. So what? She’s a princess.

Seriously. These youngest son types always seem so smart and level-headed, and then they go and marry girls who obviously want them dead. Come on, man. Quit while you’re ahead. The deal is usually half the kingdom and my daughter’s hand, right? Take the kingdom, leave the hand. Or ask for gold instead. Dude. Don’t marry the girl who wants to kill you. This is not hard. The right choice is clear. Just say no, man. Just say no.

Btw, if you’re wondering about the title, he won the game when his fox friend transformed him into a sea-hare.


 (This is a sea-hare.)


Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Frog King

Morality Tale Type: What Not To Do

The first thing you need to know about this story is that this is not the title. Nope. The title is Iron Henry. Now, you may be asking, “Who is Henry?” And you may be thinking, oh, of course, the frog prince must be named Henry.

Nope. Dude doesn’t even show up until the last couple paragraphs. So hang tight; we’ll get there.

Actually, we’ll there pretty fast, because what is there to say that you don’t know already? Princess drops a ball in the water, frog goes to get it—wait. I’ve got this. There is stuff to say.

A ball? Either this girl is involved in the sort of extracurriculars most princesses avoid, or she’s pretty young. So, option 1: we’ve got a chick who plays softball or football or something , doesn’t know how to swim, and is generally creeped out by things that do. Or, option two: little girl drops her favorite toy in the well.

Given that her activity was described, specifically, as tossing the ball up and catching it, I’m putting my money on option two. Plus, I feel like a little girl would be less freaked out than a lady if a frog started talking.

On the other hand, I also feel like a little girl would be less grossed out by the frog than the lady would. Whatever. All I’m saying is, if the chick’s favorite activity is playing catch with herself, she takes a talking amphibian in stride, and she cries over a lost toy, maybe we shouldn’t expect her to be totally on top of the wise decisions.

This is, by the way, not about me rearranging the story so yet another charming prince is a pedophile, okay? We’ve got plenty of that out in the open—I’m not about to go looking for it. This is about attempting to explain the princess’s indisputably horrible behavior. Either way, we can’t win this one. Either she’s a little kid, or she’s a vicious murderer, so pick your poison, I guess.

Back to the story. Girl promises to hang with frog dude if he gets the ball, she runs off as soon as she has it back, and he shows up at the palace and tattles on her. The king, also unfazed by the talking frog, tells her she’d better keep her promises, with the scolding further cementing my child theory. Girl deals with frog until bedtime, and here’s where things get interesting again. (Oh my goodness, I was so wrong about having nothing to say.)

She’s afraid of the frog sleeping in her bed. Five years ago, I would have thought yeah, duh, he’s all wet and boggy and stuff, and what if she rolls over in her sleep and crushes him? Guys, I have done way too much research in college to be that innocent. Does the frog actually intend to just sleep in the bed? I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting he doesn’t.

His intentions here are really important, because the next thing that happens is that she picks him up and flings him at the wall. And he’s a frog, so, you know, splat.

If this was her defense against a particularly cringe-worthy come-on, I’m gonna go ahead and say she’s in the clear here. However, if the blatantly attempted homicide was just ‘cuz he was getting on her nerves, dude, what the heck? You’re the princess. The princess doesn’t kill people.

And in a move that rivals Sleeping Beauty level wtf, the impact jolts him right out of enchantment, or something, and suddenly instead of frog goop, we’ve got a hot prince proposing to our murder girl. I mean, if that’s really what you want in a relationship, man. Your funeral. Maybe literally.

(Sidenote: What were the terms of his spell? You can only be a prince again when you’ve pissed someone off so much she wants you dead? There is no kiss here, people. There is only murder. Someone remind me to come back to this when I do the Lindworm series—I’m just noticing some interesting parallels, although I don’t know what to make of them yet.)

Of course the girl agrees to marry the guy she just attacked in a fit of homicidal rage, because that’s how fairy tales work. And now we finally, finally get around to Iron Henry.

Dude’s a servant of the prince, and he’s been pretty bummed about the whole frog thing. Not even because of his paycheck. He had to get three iron bands put in around his heart, to keep it from breaking over the whole mess.

But now his prince is back and he’s getting married, and Henry’s so happy those bands just snap right off. So Iron Henry really loves his king, is what I’m getting here. I mean, we’re talking literal heart-breakage. He had to get preventative surgery.

Yikes.

If this was a popular story, in the here and now, you know they’d ship it hard. I can already see the fanart. And let me tell you, Iron Man frenching a frog? Not the prettiest picture.

Anyway.


Girls, don’t make promises you can’t keep, and remember, murder is not the answer. Guys, don’t marry someone who tried to kill you, and stay out of other people’s beds. And if anyone’s in the market for heart surgery, hit up Henry for some tips.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Greetings from the Attic

I don't have much in the way of blog content this week, and I probably won't for a while; I've just moved, and I don't have internet at the new place yet, and it's not really a priority. Also, I start my first full time job tomorrow, so. Social media is getting neglected.

But last Sunday I moved into the attic apartment of a huge old house, and my life this week has been solitude and gardens and excellent views, and I am very happy. I feel like a fairy tale character. A princess in a tower. Like Cinderella or Rapunzel, only without the kidnapping and slave labor and stuff.

I've been slowly revising a novel, and it's been hard to focus on anything else, writing-wise, but if you have a fairy tale you want me to yell about or whatever, comment or something. In theory I'm going to work my way through the most interesting parts of Il Pentamerone, but I might not get to it for awhile.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cat Cinderella

Have I told you guys about Cat Cinderella? I don’t think I’ve told you guys about Cat Cinderella. This’ll be a short one.

Okay, so first of all, the title. I don’t know, guys. I have no idea. Cinderella isn't a cat. Cinderella doesn’t even have a cat. There are no cats in this story.

Now, this is from Il Pentamerone, so you know right away it’s gonna be something. This book also gave us The Golden Root, Rape Sleeping Beauty, and Necrophilia Snow White. Those Italians, man. I need to look into what was happening in Italy around this time, because something must be up. Seriously. They’re not okay.



Whatever. Story time. So, girl’s mom dies, dad remarries, girl hates stepmom. Standard, right? Here’s where things get interesting: Cindy’s got a governess. Cindy thinks the governess would be a way better stepmom than the one she’s got right now. So what does Cindy do?

Cindy snaps her stepmom’s neck.

She pulls that classic Juniper Tree move—you know, where you ask the person to get something from a chest, then slam the lid down on their neck? Not a fun way to go.

So Murderella introduces dad to governess, and they get married. And, well. Let’s just say she regrets the whole thing. The governess was all like, I can be your new mommy, Cindy. We just gotta get rid of this loser. But it turns out she’s a lot more interested in being dad’s wife than in being Cindy’s mom. 

And this is where we launch into our own familiar Cinderella story. Wicked stepfamily, magic tree, three balls, dropped shoes, happily ever after, etc., etc. Whatever. I don't even care who lives happily ever after. You got what was coming to you, Cat Cinderella. Murder is not the answer, Cat Cinderella. Murder is never the answer.



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

April Sales!

Hey, guys! So we're going to be having a special promotion through the month of April: if you buy any of my books in April 2017, you'll also get a free copy of thin. Digital or physical, your choice.

This applies to hard copies, Nook books, Kindle editions. If you buy a copy of thin, you'll get a second copy free.

Shipping is also free.

So if you buy anything during April, send a copy of your receipt to jennynprater@gmail.com, along with whether you'd like digital or physical, and a shipping address if applicable.

Books you can purchase:

Goodbye
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Avalanche
Amazon
Barnes and Noble (1)
Barnes and Noble (2)

thin
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Etsy

And He Became a Handsome Prince
Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Happy April!


Sunday, March 26, 2017

No, He's Not My Boyfriend

The first time I was assigned a romantic partner based on hair color, I was five. His name was Cody, and we were both blonde. Obviously, it was meant to be. I retaliated by declaring my intention to marry another boy, one with brown hair, and spent the next several years fiercely defending a crush based more on spite than attraction.

The second time I was assigned a romantic partner based on hair color, I was fifteen. His name was Devin, a church friend, and it wasn’t the first time I’d had to convince someone that was all he was. It took me a week to reassure a friend with a crush that she wasn’t getting between anything, and I nearly hated him, I think, by the time she believed I wasn’t in love.

The hair color incident, though, took place several months later, after his romance with my friend had flourished, then immediately crashed and burned, the way long distance relationships between high schoolers, based on a single meeting, tend to do. It was New Year’s Eve, and our church was holding an all-night event with two others. Devin and I were on nursery duty, with a dozen small children, loud and far too energetic at midnight, none of whom we’d met before.

The culprit was a little boy, four or five, very cute.

Not cute enough to pull a stunt like that.

Of course, when he realized that I was fifteen, and Devin still only fourteen, he came to his senses and saw that it would never work—apparently you have to be compatible in age as well as hair color. A narrow escape, but Devin, I nearly kissed you then and there—spite, again. I don’t like being told who I’m allowed to be with, even by preschoolers.

I don’t like to be told what to do in general (a source of great conflict between me and precocious young cousins), but about my love life, happily nonexistent, I get particularly testy.

I recently went with a male friend to Scandinavia, and I cannot count the number of times the following conversation occurred.

“So you’re here with your girlfriend?”

“No.”

“Oh. Your sister, then.”

“No.”

At this point the questioner stares at us with an expression of blank confusion, and I take a casual step behind Jamie. When men begin this interrogation, I always get the impression there’s one more question they’re dancing around: “Hey, dude, are we gonna have a problem if I bang this chick against a train station wall and have my way with her?”

It’s not that I’m scared of these men—I have a one inch blade in my pocket, and can use it to kill someone in three different ways. Not that I’ve ever tried. But they’re a nuisance, with all of their assumptions. I am travelling with Jamie, therefore I must in some way belong to him. It is not a problem I expected to encounter outside a work of historical fiction.

So, a note to all those who have ever suggested I am or ought to be dating my friends, whether you are other friends, small children, or creepy Norwegian men: No, he is not my boyfriend. I don’t care how old he is, and I do not care about the color of his hair. No, he is not my brother, or my boyfriend, and no, you cannot be my boyfriend instead.   

No, I do not have a boyfriend. No, I do not want one.


Maybe if I dyed my hair purple, there would be no one left to set me up with.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Adventures in Accidental Tourism

(I wrote this ages ago and I'm too lazy to adjust it to reflect that. Sorry.)

My favorite thing to do in London is get lost in it. I have been here for three days, and have managed to get lost on every one of them.

London is a big place, full of many big things, most of which I have not seen. Big Ben and the London Eye were noticed in passing. Buckingham Palace remains a mystery. Rumors about the historical nature of that large building down the street persist, but as I have passed it only alone in the dark, I cannot quite bring myself to care. It is a landmark that points toward home; that is enough for me.

I recently walked past a man dressed as a woman, complete with wigs in multiple locations. I entered four bookshops on my first day, and came across some excellent gelato. Having spent long hours squinting at street signs and praying to survive the crossing, I have come to the conclusion that both maps and traffic laws here are based more on hope than fact. I have passed six Southampton Rows now. One of them, I’m told, leads to my hotel.

Completely by accident, I have found the home of Charles Dickens. Also by accident, I have found myself at Parliament, the Tate Modern Art Museum, and five more bookstores. It is true that I have been provided with a map, but even if I was good with maps, I doubt I would use it. The lives of those who are not chronically lost must be very boring indeed.

There is a street called the Strand. It is also called about six other things, but the Strand was the most interesting and memorable of them. I’ve walked up and down it several times—straight lines are important for the easily lost, although I’ve still managed, somehow, to get turned around a few times.

The three months I’ve spent in Europe have been strange, stressful, and utterly overwhelming. There are a lot of things, I’m sure, that I could have learned in London. I could have paid some attention to Parliament. I could have actually entered the Tate. At the very least, I could have taken a photo of the plaque informing me that I was at Dickens’ house. But I didn’t. And in the four days I have left in London, I probably won’t.

I’ve learned a lot about the places I’ve seen—who lived there, who died there, what they wrote, who they worshipped, how they worshipped, who they loved. I have cried for dead men I never knew, I have walked on the graves of my ancestors, and I am tired. For three months I have known where I’m going. Today I don’t.

The sky is overcast, the light breaking through it soft and dull. The streets are dirty. People ignore me, which is a blessing. They don’t explain the history of the architecture I pass, they don’t rake their eyes slowly up and down my body, and they don’t whistle. I make up my own histories for each interesting building as I walk by, and I don’t ask for directions.

In a bookstore on a dirty, quiet corner, a woman from Topeka tells me about the weekend she just spent in the Lake District, and the week she spent in Minneapolis ten years ago. In another, three or six or twelve blocks down, depending on how many wrong turns it takes to get there, the cashier and I fangirl gleefully over the new book I’m buying, recently written by an amazing and underappreciated author.

There are a lot of ways to be lost, and I’ve experienced most of them. This endless tour of Europe has been constant structured chaos, and in the midst of it I’ve lost a lot of things, like peace, faith in humanity, and my sense of self. Sometimes when you get lost enough physically, you end up finding yourself emotionally, or spiritually, or however you lost yourself. That’s what I’m trying to do.

So I didn’t learn a lot in London. But I’ve had an even more valuable experience. Here is a city full of normal people living normal lives, surrounded by history but not yet a part of it. I don’t like to go looking for things; I only feel like a failure when they constantly elude me. Beauty is better when you stumble upon it by accident.

I’m sure there are a lot of great things for a tourist to do in London, but I can’t give you much information about any of them. For three months I’ve watched the lives of people who died a long, long time ago. This week I chose to close all the books, turn in all the audio guides, and sit on the outskirts of lives still being lived. I took a few wrong turns, I missed a few great sites, and I found some peace.

Not all who wander are lost. But I am, and that’s the way I like it.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

How to Kiss with Tongue

It happens at the mall. I am bored, exhausted by a long, hard day of boredom, which so far has involved trips to every store I know how to drive to without GPS. At the mall I am accosted, as usual, by many men in booths who want to sell something. As usual, my inability to say no inevitably leads me to a poorly cushioned stool in a dimly lit hallway. The man—Kelly, for now—wishes to sell me a hair straightener. I own two hair straighteners already, one exactly like the one in his hand, except that it was accompanied, the night before my junior prom, by a much better sales spiel. Besides, I like my hair curly. 

Two days after the last time we speak, I will dye it all pink.

Kelly tells me many times how pretty I am. He tells me many more times how much prettier I am with straight hair. Having failed, at the end of a long and awkward hour, to take any of my money, he settles for taking my phone number instead.

It is, halfway through my twenty-second year of life, the third time I have been asked out. The first two times were by the same boy, agreed to due to the aforementioned inability to say no. Both were immediately followed by a full year with no communication at all, despite the fact that we saw each other on a weekly basis. I am not sure they count.

The third time I give him my number, take a selfie with the straightened hair, and proceed to the next stop on my road trip of boredom. I get lost.

Kelly calls me the next morning, with vague directions to an overpriced organic restaurant on the opposite side of the Cities. I get lost three times, but still manage to sit on the hood of my car in the parking lot, staring down at the faded pavement, for half an hour, before I am summoned to collect him from his house, presumably due to car problems.

Following three more rounds of lostness, we return to the overpriced organic restaurant together, ordering two different breakfast dishes, both of which we share.

I do not know how much food Kelly wants to eat, as well as being put off by the extreme organic-ness, and pick at it slowly. He talks of his desires to kayak, his sister who is a writer, and the prettiness of my still-straightened hair. He tells me that his real name is Alon, and makes insightful comments on the contrast between my confidence in my ideas and lack of confidence in my voice. I am confused when he tries to take my hand beneath the table, and fidget until he explains, smiling, charmed and patronizing. When he suggests a movie, I agree, composing a list in my head of everything in theaters, and contemplating which would be bearable with a guy I barely know. The one with the superheroes, maybe, though I’ve already seen it.

He directs me back to his house, and inability to say no prevailing, I sit quietly on the floor while he fetches sheets from the dryer and remakes the bed. We use my Netflix account to begin a rather stupid movie, and I react with a clinical indifference when he begins to kiss me. The sheets are black, still slightly damp, and the movie still runs in the background. He tastes like Middle Eastern food, even though he just finished a plate of organic whole wheat five grain gluten free sugar free pancakes. With syrup.

I allow the dampness of his mouth, slightly unpleasant, on my mouth and various other areas, noting that its placement on my neck produces a tingling sensation. When I do not react properly, he coaches me, slowly and gently, through the monumental task of opening my mouth when his tongue approaches, then pushing my own against it. This leads to more dampness, and the tingling is gone.

Having confirmed for the third time that I am not cold, he finally coaxes me into removing my jean jacket. I am concerned for a moment about the pocket knife I can no longer reach, stolen from my little brother, dropped in my deepest pocket at the insistence of my roommate. But I will not need it. When I become visibly uncomfortable he stops. We spend a confused few minutes actually watching the movie, until my parents call wondering where I am. I take the opportunity to escape. He does not call again.


Six weeks later I will see him at the mall again, his ponytail gone, smiling seductively at a girl who looks troublingly young, clutching a new hair straightener to her chest, blushing and giggling. He asks if I want to buy a hair straightener. Shaking my head, I walk around the corner. I wait until I’m out of sight to sit down on a bench, laughing hysterically.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Missing:One Fairy Tale, Mermaid Involved

So when I was little, I used to google "obscure fairy tales," then go through twenty pages of results, reading everything I could find. And I found some good stuff. The problem is, ten to fifteen years later, I'm having trouble finding it again.So I am here today to ask for your help.

There is one particular fairy tale that I've been trying hard to relocate for about three years now. Here's what I remember:


  • there was a princess trapped in a castle at the edge of the ocean
  • she had a mermaid friend
  • the mermaid really wanted the princess to hook up with her brother
  • mermen are really ugly
  • when the princess wasn't interested, the mermaid started flooding the palace
  • there was a prince around, too
  • he might have been enchanted to be a bird, possibly a blue one
  • the princess might have been a painter?
If you have seen this story, please contact me via the comments.

(Seriously guys, I'm desperate. This has haunted me for the better part of a decade.)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Robin the Wimp

I am here today to let you in on a secret. A big, important secret. You know Robin Hood? That guy with the bows and the arrows and the green tights? Well, he’s kind of a loser.

Let us begin with the story of Robin and Marian.

So you’re a teenage girl in the Middle Ages, and you don’t want to marry a creep. The solution is clear. Disguise yourself as a page and run away to find your outlaw bf. You’re in the woods, in disguise, on your way to Robin, when some dude accosts you in the woods and challenges you to a duel. Do you have time for this crap? No. You do not. But he’s insistent, so you beat him soundly and prepare to go on your way.

“Wait,” the man says. “I am Robin Hood in disguise, and I’d like you to join my band of outlaws.”

“Seriously, Robin?” You remove your hat. “You were just gonna  beat up some little boy in the woods. I look twelve in this outfit, Robin. What is wrong with you?”

Next up: Robin and Little John. So you’re trying to cross a narrow bridge, and some punk kid decides to block your path and start a fight. You beat him up, knock him into the water. He asks you to join his band of outlaws.

Robin and Friar Tuck. Some stupid, entitled brat tries to make you carry him across a pond so he won’t get wet. You beat him up. He asks you to join his band of outlaws.

I’m sure you’re seeing the pattern here. Robin picks stupid fights, Robin loses, Robin recruits the dudes who pummel him. Robin Hood gets beaten up by his best friend, his girlfriend, his best friend’s cousin, his own cousin, and his priest. Among others. He isn’t even the best archer in the band, guys! It’s some dude called Gilbert of the White Hand.

(Gilbert tangent: There’s a lot of speculation about this whole White Hand thing, and usually the conclusion is that he must have been a baker, with the flour on his hands and stuff. Like. What? Guys, Gilbert is obvs a chick. Who always has these pretty white hands in stories from this period? Girls. Duh.)

Robin must be a good leader, I guess, but that’s his main strength. I mean, come on. You become a Merry Man by beating him up. Those are literally the terms of admission. Beat up the boss. Dude’s kinda pathetic on the physical prowess crap.

(Okay. Childhood story tangent. When I was, like, two, I used to wander around the house telling stories out loud about the Disney princesses, Robin Hood Fox, and his enemies Hugs and Kisses, who were of course a T Rex and a Snow Monster. Now, I don’t recall a whole lotta details, but I do remember that Robin Hood Fox lived inside the toaster, and whenever he ran into Hugs and Kisses, he’d go back into the toaster and hide under his bed. Marian and the princesses had to go drag him out so he could fight them, and it was never pretty. Basically, this is me telling you that toddler me had weird psychic powers and sensed the inherent wimpiness of Robin Hood a decade and a half before I read the ballads that made it clear.)


I love Robin. I really, really do. In all his incarnations, but don’t even get me started on that cartoon fox, guys. I’ve been in love with Robin Hood since the first time I saw him. But let’s be real. He’s not the first guy you pick for your dodge ball team. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why My Roommate's Cat is Still a Cat: The Awkward Thing about Enchanted Bridegrooms

My roommate's cat is beautiful. Really, incredibly beautiful: just look at him.



Fairfax is so beautiful, in fact, that we're all convinced he's really an enchanted prince. And yet, we've made no attempt to break the spell.

Why, you may ask?

Because he's seen us naked.

It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. How do you look a hot guy in the eyes after you've peed in front of him? After he's sat on the counter watching you pop your zits? I've cleaned his poop, guys. We had his genitals cut off. How are you supposed to come back from that?

You don't, guys. You just don't. So with happily ever after out of the picture, there's no way we're giving up our adorable cat.

There's really no way things won't be weird with your enchanted bridegroom. I mean, there's pulling your crush's hair on the playground, and then there's throwing a dude at a wall in hopes that he'll die and leave you alone.

In the fairy tale my url comes from, Kong Lindorm, the transformation process involves whipping the poor dude, then soaking him in milk and lye. He didn't have a safe word, guys. (To be fair, his plan before the transformation spell was to eat her. Yet another issue for the marriage counselor to deal with.)

Not that anything comes of the relationship, but the prince makes the little mermaid sleep on a cushion like a dog. And how do you explain to your dad that the monster that wanted to kill him is your boyfriend now?

Some girls get turned into flowers. Picking flowers kills them, guys. And what if he's picking you to make a bouquet for his girlfriend. Awkward. And how many people would ever think that maybe they shouldn't get undressed in front of the botany? That flower has seen things, man.

There's a Schonwerth fairy tale where the princess is under a spell that makes her look like an ugly old hag. The prince is not nice to that hag. Not at all.

And there's more. What if you kind of had a thing for that older lady? What if you fell in love with the Beast the way he was, and then everything changed?

Guys, I'm really glad magic isn't real. This relationship stuff is already hard enough.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Quality, Quantity, Ramblings

I guess I've just never really understood the quality over quantity thing. Because, like, you can't have quality without a little quantity. You spend forty years working on one book, one play, one painting, whatever, chances are it's gonna be crap. You get bogged down, you know? And there's no room to grow.

Like, sometimes I'll have a week where I just write, like, thirty poems. And probably half of them are gonna be crap. I know they're gonna be crap. I don't care. Sometimes that's kind of the point of them. I'll be on my third poem, and it'll be completely worthless. But then on my twenty-third, maybe I'll try something weird with the line breaks, something I wouldn't have thought of before, and maybe that'll somehow make poem number three salvageable.

I'd much rather publish twelve pretty good books, and maybe they're not perfect, but maybe someone will read them and they'll Matter to that person, than spend a decade writing an amazing literary masterpiece that no one outside of an English class is ever going to care about. Because sometimes, maybe most times, it's not even about all of the perfection you put into something you've dedicated your life to. Sometimes it's a completely random throwaway line that catches readers, that makes them care, that ends up meaning something. And I figure you've got a better chance of giving someone that thing that Matters if you have a bunch of things out there in the world.

You produce enough quantity, and some of it's bound to be quality. And the more you do the better you get. Better is a side-effect of more. And stories die, sometimes. Paintings, songs. You spend so much time trying to make this one thing better, and all the heart leaks out.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Zombies, Mermaids, Beasts

So I think I’m writing a movie review? Sort of? At this point I’m willing to write down whatever words manage to pop into my head, so this is what we’re going with. But I promise some fairy tales, too.

Okay. I’ve wanted to watch Warm Bodies forever. Like, since it came out, so for at least three years. And I finally got around to it over Christmas. Warm Bodies, for those of you who don’t remember or never found out, is about an awkward zombie boy who falls in love with a pretty human girl, and wants to make out with her instead of eating her brain. Talk about your star-crossed love.

Zombie Boy—we call him R—kinda eats her boyfriend’s brain. Then he kinda takes her to his zombie home in the zombie-infested airport. They hang for a few days, and then he helps her get home to her family and all the other humans whose brains he hasn’t eaten yet. And throughout this entire process, he’s becoming more and more human.

The movie ends with them finding the cure for zombie-ism, which—spoiler alert!—is the power of love, naturally.

You know, I used to think the power of love was pretty cheesy as far as sci-fi/fantasy problem solving goes. And, okay, I will not be getting over The Swan Princess Christmas anytime soon. (I can’t actually find the clip I’m thinking of here, but this one generally sums up why I think the power of love is kinda cringe-worthy.)

And then, well, I decided to graduate with a paper on the transforming power of love in folk and fairy tales. So. Anyway, we’ll come back to that. Right now, we’re gonna talk about how I ended up writing about a zombie movie.

I'm watching with my brother, is the first thing. And it's late at night and we're both a little sleep deprived. So he asks, you know, rhetorically, why this zombie kid is hoarding all this random stuff like vinyl and crap. And I say he wants to be where the people are. He wants to be part of their world. And I’m just messing around, right? But he says, “He’s a zombie, Jenny, not the little mermaid,” and that’s when I realize, he totally is.

Non-human, hoarding human stuff? Check.

Without a soul? Dead, so probably check.

In love with unattainable human? Check.

Unable to speak? Check.

Guys, this is some straight up Enchanted Bride/Bridegroom stuff right here. I mean, there’s the Little Mermaid checklist. Let’s go through the steps I used in that Beauty and the Beast Paper.

Cursed because of some creepy incest crap? No backstory provided, but we’re gonna put that one down as unlikely. Oh well.

Kidnaps the crush? Check.

Sees error of his ways, gets her home again? Check.

Girl goes back for him? Technically he tracks her down again, but the feeling, on her part, is definitely there. We’ll check it.

Beast turns into cute dude? Check. With a bleeding gunshot wound to prove it.

Or, what about that bit that bothers me most, the thing I always come back to: the Beast that must seem dumb like an animal, that lost little boy trapped inside his head alone forever, never able to express himself, to make the others understand. That, I think, is R's monologue, is what drew me to him so quickly.

Okay, enough with the checklists. My point is—well. I’m not quite sure what my point is yet.  (My teachers despaired, guys. We were supposed to be all about that Socratic thinking, but I am helplessly Aristotelian. We don’t break down the main point here. We start with the small stuff, and we work our way up. And up, and up, until something starts making sense.)

Maybe the point is that the power of love can actually be powerful, that we can use it in fiction and real life. That love matters, that love can change things, that this is a reoccurring theme for a reason, and everything doesn't have to be horrifically cheesy.

Maybe the point is that you guys should watch this movie. Maybe it's that I just like the sound of my own voice. (Or the sight of my own typing, rather.) Maybe it's that R, like Disney's Beast, is actually kinda more appealing pre-transformation. I don't know, guys. I watched the movie. I made the connection. Go make your own point--my work here is done.