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Research: Pride & Prejudice

Sometimes, I check out a CD or a movie because someone suggests it to me. Sometimes I am interested because it is perpetually in pop culture for decades and I cannot avoid it.

In these circumstances, I am probably not eager to try it, and expect to not enjoy it. But I consider it “research”.

I was told years ago by a co-worker to listen to “Nothing’s Shocking” by Jane’s Addiction. He told me if I liked Kid Rock, I should listen to this CD because it is what came before. He was kind of weird and cool, so I got the CD. I would disagree that it really has anything to do with Kid Rock’s sound, but it was an alright CD. I considered it a failed research project though. My life wouldn’t have been missing anything had I never listened to it.

I got the books “Forever” by Judy Blume and “The Perks of Being a “Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky because everyone always talks about them being great books, especially in the Young Adult genre. I was highly dissatisfied with Perks. I think I would be better off if I had never read it. As for Forever, I think maybe Blume’s books are best enjoyed at the age for which they are written. When I was in 4th grade, Tales of a Forth Grade Nothing” was da bomb. I could never diss Mrs. Blume.

I decided I needed to either read or watch Pride and Prejudice, because everyone talks about it all the time. Actually, the last straw was when I was reading an article called “Sex, Lies, & Fifty Shades” in my Entertainment Weekly magazine. It used Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice as an example of The Prince Paradigm.

Pride and Prejudice meme

Pride and Prejudice meme

Since I generally do better with visual than I do books, especially ones filled with fancy old British talk, I chose to watch the BBC miniseries from 1995 starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I was a little concerned about a 6 hour miniseries. But it had a 5 star ranking on Amazon.com.

How many other movies rate that high?

The costumes and all the formality of courting and dancing, etc. back then would have driven me nuts. Once I sort of associated it with when I watch “Anne of Green Gables” (PBS, starring Megan Follows), as being of a time whose customs I know not, it was easier to watch. Just like Anne, Pride featured beautiful shots of the countryside–England, rather than Canada, of course.

The first hour I spent just trying to remember everyone’s name and what they did. But, as I reached the end of episode 5 and found it was now 2:15AM, I realized I had been drawn into the story. I actually cared about Lizzy and Mr. Darcy and if they were ever going to get together.

I actually feel really cheated that I didn’t watch Pride and Prejudice sooner. So many other movies I watch are based off of this story that came first. I recently watched the movie “Austinland” which, while a great movie, no doubt would have made more sense had I watched P & P first. And I have watched “Bridget Jones Diary” in the past. Wait, why does Colin Firth keep playing characters named Mr. Darcy? Is that a really common name in England?

Anyway, Pride and Prejudice was definitely worth my time checking out. I enjoy writing bantering dialogue between my leads and feel like I was “schooled” by the movie. I might benefit from reading the original book. I did find a free eBook version, although I enjoy reading physical books more.

I must admit, I may be a little obsessed now. And that really should have happened years ago. Maybe I wasn’t mature enough yet in 1995 to see past the dresses that look like nightgowns and the lack of kissing.

BTW, I am sooo glad that Lizzie and Mr. Darcy get to kiss at the end.

Next up on my research list? Flowers in the Attic.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Jennifer The Pink & Purple Fairy

Stories of Fairies, Elves, and Little People, by Francine L. Trevens, Published by Playmore, Inc., Copyright 1979

Stories of Fairies, Elves, and Little People, by Francine L. Trevens, Published by Playmore, Inc., Copyright 1979

I have a book that I got as a child. It is called Stories of Fairies, Elves, and Little People by Francine L. Trevens. I think I got it for Christmas or Easter or something from the weird neighbors next door. I think they were religious people, so it is sort of a strange gift to give someone, but whatever. It isn’t a book anyone would have ever heard of. It looks like maybe it would was sold at the dime store. Maybe it came in one of those big pre-packed, impersonal Easter baskets from the grocery store, with coloring books and a plastic bunny bank.

The book was made up of many short stories about fairies, sprites, goblins, and trolls. And to be honest, most of them are pretty horrible. Just not quality literature at all. Probably just written for the paycheck.

But one story interested me. It was called Have You Ever Seen a Pink Leprechaun? The star of the story was a pink and purple pixie named Jennifer. (Dang, I could have sworn she was a fairy? Hence, the name of the post.) Oh-wow. Coincidence. That just so happens to be my name. As I got the book just as I was beginning to learn how to read, I of course went through and circled my name everywhere that I saw it in the story.

The story is actually about a family of leprechauns who find a pink and purple baby on their front porch. She is not only a different species and color than the family raising her, she is also the only girl child. To make matters worse, they call her “Orphie” (short for Orphan). Her leprechaun “brothers” pick on her mercilessly.

Then one day the fair comes to town. But it is not just any fair. It is a PINK & PURPLE fair! All the people there look just like Oprhie!

Then her father, King of the Pixies, shows up and explains to her that they have been looking for her all along. That they traveled around the countryside holding fairs, hoping someone would be like, “Hey, you guys look like the orphan that lives down the road from me.”

Jennifer and her father, the Pixie King, are reunited.  Illustrated by Jesse Zerner.

Jennifer and her father, the Pixie King, are reunited. Illustrated by Jesse Zerner.

Being a kid whose father died before I was born, I thought this was a pretty cool concept. A father who loves his daughter so much that he never stops looking for her? That is powerful. AND they ride on a unicorn. But wait, it gets even better!

Then the pixie father goes to pay off the leprechauns and to take Jennifer (Orphie’s real name) home. But then they fight over her. I had such a small family growing up you couldn’t have sneezed or they would have blown away. It seemed great to me that this pixie, with my name, decked out in awesome colors, should be loved by two families so much.

Except that isn’t really what it is like in the book. In the book, each side just seems greedy and fights over her like property just because the other side wants her. In the end, Jennifer decides to go live with her dad, but plans to visit the leprechauns during the summer and on school vacations. It is like one big, colorful divorce.

So, even now, sometimes I think of that story and Jennifer, the pink and purple fairy. (Hey, I have been thinking of it that way for like 30 years, I am not going to correct my brain now.) And if I mention it, people just look at me funny, because they have never heard of the story.

But now you have. I hope you found that it enriched your life.

…And they lived happily ever after.

Dave Finds Her Howl

Dedicated to my favorite puppy, Dave D. Canine, who we brought home exactly 9 years ago today.

Dave during her first few days with us (Don't worry, we totally fattened her up.)

Dave during her first few days with us (Don’t worry, we totally fattened her up.)

Dave was a sad little puppy
Sitting in a cage at the shelter all alone.
More than anything,
She wanted a forever home.

A place that smelled like
Human food & fresh laundry.
A place with something soft to lie on
And people who loved her.

“If I were to find a home like that,
I may just explode with happiness,” Dave thought.

Then a man & woman came by.
The woman was very interested in Dave.
Dave wanted to play with them,
But she wanted to look out the window too.

Dave was put back in her cage
Just like always.
But then a strange thing happened.
The man & woman came back.
And they loaded Dave into their car!

Dave loved to ride in cars.
“But where are we going?” Dave wondered.
They took her to a big backyard
Where she sniffed around,
Her orange fluffy tail in the air
And her orange head to the ground.

Then they led her into a building.
The shelter had burned her nose,
Smelling of ammonia & bleach.
But this place smelled. . .homey.

Dave sniffed all over the house
It didn’t seem like any other dogs were here.
She even found some stairs
And climbed up, without any fear.

But there was a problem.
“How will I get back down again?”
No one had ever taught Dave
How to get down the stairs.

She stood there pondering for several long minutes.
Maybe, if I go slow
Putting one paw in front of the other. . .
And next thing you know,
She was downstairs again!

Over the next few weeks,
Dave learned that she loved the stairs!
She could chase a ball up them
And race back down again.

She learned that the man was called Jason
And the woman was called Jennifer.
They would brush Dave & take her for walks.
One night they even all laid
on the thick carpet floor together to nap.

Dave hadn’t been this happy
Since she had been in her puppy pack.
Why, maybe this was some kind of new pack
She could be a part of.

Dave was so happy, she couldn’t contain it.
She felt all her love & all her happiness building inside.
It rose from her tummy & went to her head.
She threw back her neck & opened her mouth,
And “HOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWLLLLLL” is just what came out.

Jason & Jennifer looked stunned,
“Was that a howl of anger,
Or a howl of happiness?” they asked each other.
But they soon learned it was happiness,
When Dave smiled & howled again.

Dave found her howl that day,
And her forever home too.

THE END

(from the author of Hogwart Discovers Christmas)

Ferocious attack animal!  (Must rub belly to pass)

Ferocious attack animal! (Must rub belly to pass)

Gay Little Tootle

Some people can critique classic works of literature until the cows come home. Whole college courses can be based on picking apart the subtext of a single book. I am not one of these people. I needed Cliff Notes to make sense of Othello.

I do see an underlying theme when I read the children’s book “Tootle” to my son. In a general sense, I believe it is trying to teach children to follow everyone else and do not dare to be different or yourself.

I believe more specifically that the purpose of the story is to convince those that might have gay tendencies that they should “stay on the tracks” and lead a heterosexual life. I will attempt to showcase my points below.

TOOTLE, by Gertrude Crampton, Random House, 1945.  All Rights Reserved.

TOOTLE, by Gertrude Crampton, Random House, 1945. All Rights Reserved.

Synopsis: Tootle attends the Lower Trainswitch School for Locomotives, but soon is distracted from his studies when he realizes he enjoys playing in the meadow more than staying on the tracks.

CHOICE OF WORDS

On the first page of the Little Golden Book edition is the following:

“The young locomotives steam up and down the tracks, trying to call out the long, sad TooOooot of the big locomotives. But all they can do is a gay little Tootle.

About halfway through the book is the line:

“It’s queer. It’s very queer, but I found grass between Tootle’s front wheels today.”

Now, I am not stupid. I know that the words “gay” and “queer” were not exclusively used to describe homosexuals in 1945, as we tend to use them today. But, both words in the same story? Add that together with the overall story, and I feel like the presence of these two words helps to prove my point.

SYMBOLISM

What is Tootle’s impetuous for leaving the tracks he knows that he is not supposed to leave, no matter what?

A horse.

Not just any horse. “A fine, strong black horse.”

It just sounds like Tootle was rolling past a gay bar (rather than the meadow in the book), and was seduced off the path of good (the tracks representing heterosexuality) into a life of filth and shame.

“When Tootle got back to school, he said nothing about leaving the rails. But he thought about it that night in the roundhouse.”

What else was he doing at night in the roundhouse as he thought about it?

Tootle comes upon a meadow full of buttercups.

He exclaims “How I should like to play in them and hold one under my searchlight to see if I like butter!”

To me, this symbolizes Tootle wanting to try out the gay lifestyle. In the next breath, his conscience is saying to him “Do you like butter? Do you? It is almost like the writer is implying he hears evil voices in his head, like when the little devil stands on your shoulder in a carto0n. Except apparently Tootle’s devil is in his wheels.

I mean, why would an engine ever say that? Even an anthropomorphic engine in a book. Thomas would never go off his tracks (intentionally).

There is lots of dancing whenever Tootle goes off the tracks into the meadow. And Tootle also seems to always wear flower chains while he is dancing in the meadow. Like he has to put on his club clothes before he goes out dancing or something.

Tootle is seen chasing butterflies by the Mayor. Is that 1940’s code for “fairy”?

The whole town has to come together to get him back on track (Get it?). They use red flags to stop him from continuing his meadow-playing ways. It makes me think of church folk telling him he will go to hell (Beware the RED flags!) if he continues down his sinful, trackless path.

The tracks. I can’t help but think, since Tootle is a male engine, that the tracks must symbolize his path to the female vagina? If it was “queer” and “fun” for him to play off the tracks in the meadow, then the normal route down the tracks must be boring and average.

THE MORAL

The book starts of and ends with Tootle being told to aspire to be a “Flyer”. The Flyer is fast. Probably too fast to ever have time to think about getting off the tracks.

Once reformed, Tootle exclaims:

“This is the place for me. There is nothing but red flags for locomotives that get off their tracks.”

He learns to “Stay on the Rails No Matter What”. As in, stay on the track to the life you are supposed to lead, the heterosexual one.

Embrace conformity! For it is the only way!

My son loves Thomas and all things trains, but I feel bad reading this book to him.

I mismatch my socks every day. I used to have three piercings in two ears. I have tattoos. I got married in jeans. I wear my wedding ring on my right hand. I live my life as “anti-conformity” as I can, while still being overly responsible and dependable.

If it leads him to a better path, I want my son to leave the tracks. I want him to follow the path in his heart, not what the Lower Trainswitch School for Locomotives (school) tells him, not what the townspeople (religion, society) tell him, if it is different from what is in his heart.*

I heard this story as a child, and thought nothing of it.  Now it perturbs me every time I hear my husband reading it to my son.

Maybe it is time for this children’s story to be retired.

 

* Except he is NEVER to become a vegetarian.  That is just not cool.

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