Category Archives: inspire

Extraordinary circumstances

Dock on the Bay

Photo: woman poses with San Francisco skyline behind
The skyline of San Francisco can’t compete with my wife’s smile.

Of course, Maria Teresa is not in California, but in Lima, Peru, dealing with her mother’s declining health. We won’t be together for St. Valentine’s Day, but she’ll be in my heart.  The photo is from our trip in November to visit our son, Matthew, at Berkeley.

Some explaining to do….

What sparked my interest to get into fractured fairy tales as a writing assignment?

Graphic: fairy godmother with wandI was raised on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and I loved the “Fractured Fairy” Tale segment. There are 91 cartoons in this series, all written by A.J. Jacobs (not the currnt journalist and best-selling author by that name), according to Brownielocks. You can also find the originals on YouTube. I loved the playfulness with language and liberties taken with the standard plots of the fairy tales. Just a quick Google search reveals many writing prompts using the concept as a starting point, most for elementary school level, but not entirely.

In my teen years, I watched a Jewish comedian (the face is in my head but not his name) who retold Bible stories in a “fractured” style and I even took a few stabs at writing comic scripts along those lines. It got me in trouble with several people in my dad’s congregation who did not like the irreverence.

In college, I ran into a free-spirited hippie who used verbal renditions of fairy tales to entertain young women (they loved him). I saw in him the seduction of heroes, adventures, ogres and happy endings. As soon as our ways parted, I adopted the trick of telling stories in fairy/folk tale format to influence young women. I even used the fairy tale style in some of my poetry.

Years later, I returned to fairy tales after reading Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. The Freudian psychoanalysis probably served to put a more intellectual veneer on my fascination for children’s stories that tell big truths and hidden plots. By then, I had my own kids. I bought a multiple-volume collection of fairy tales from a fabulous British mail-order bookstore and read from them to my kids. The books still have their place in a bookcase in my home.

This entry is turning into a thread with beads knotted at different dates on the timeline, half stream-of-consciousness, half the meanderings of Googling references and characters. What I really wanted to say is that I enjoyed the process of taking a storyline and interweaving dialogue and plot twists, tweaking the stiff original version to make it more resonant to a 21st century mind. Update: for that matter, each fairy tale can have so many versions (bowdlerized, simplified, country- and region-specific) that there is no real virtue in remaining faithful to the single plot. It is the story-telling that appeals to both the writer and the audience.

 

A fractured fairy tale: Rumpelstiltskin

I have not been writing much here recently because other affairs are keeping me busy.  As a lark, I want to include a writing assignment that I dreamed up for my work colleagues:

Fractured Fairy Tales: retell a fairy tale in the first person from the perspective of one of the characters (Cinderella, a bear in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the wolf in the Three Pigs). To add another level of difficulty, the writer has to include references to all five senses in the narrative (sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste). The fairy tale plot only serves as a starting point, and the writer can alter it to adjust to the character or make it funny or shorter, or give it a modern twist . The story may have a different ending than the original version.

Obviously, this task is a change of pace and style from writing technical proposals, but that was the point.  I pulled “Rumpelstiltskin” out of a bag, and the writing process took on a life of its own. I will save the explanation of why I chose this writing assignment for another entry because this one is going to go a bit longer than post blog entries.

So here goes. Continue reading A fractured fairy tale: Rumpelstiltskin

16 minutes of truth on broken bodies, healing, yoga

Yoga teacher Shannon Paige delivers a moving TED Talk about her battle against cancer, depression and the damage they brought to her body and mind. Her talk, Mindfulness and Healing, took place at the 2012 TEDxBoulder event so it’s not seen a lot of exposure. She owns Om Time Yoga Center.

For Shannon, the battle with depression was actually as hard as battling cancer. Through this, Shannon discovers that while, yoga can’t heal depression, getting into your body can change the mind and create a state of empowerment, stability, and release.

Sharon also reminded me that I had failed to maintain a dialogue with myself and whoever else wants to listen to tales from the journey down the path of prana. This will have to do for now.