March 22, 2007

Sugar-Snow, Hitchhiking No-No's, and Voodoo godmothers

Snow Days in Tahoe .... a bit of $Dough
Maple Syrup ... $6.75 a bottle
An 11-year old who squeals, "Oh, I remember this from Little House in the Big Woods!" ... Priceless.

Some things money can't buy. One of them is the fun of raising a reader! (Even for those of us who occasionally must borrow random readers to raise.) My snow trip was quite fun, even though there was a bit of web-withdrawal. Sadly, I am no Chicken Spaghetti! Fate decreed no Sugar Snow for us. It rained in Tahoe this last week, and made a slushy ice-pebbly snow that wasn't up to the task of taking on boiled molasses or maple syrup. And, having it boil over while the person meant to be watching it precipitously left the kitchen when it got bubbles on top (and stood staring from the dining room as the pot was quickly lifted it from the heat) meant that we just ate the leftovers on pancakes and called it a day. (Note to self: Next time, remember the candy thermometer...) Still, it was really good fun, and the pancakes weren't half bad either...


Recently, the UK Guardian published a piece on Britain's secretary of education, and his plan to revitalize the education of the working-class children of the UK. His focus is especially on boys, and he says that schools must offer something more than Jane Austen to them, books that put them in the driver's seat in terms of power and adventure; that a generation of "fighting, spying and sporty working-class heroes" would help the boys keep up with the girls scholastically, and the girls would profit because it would keep the boys hushed up reading while they learned.

Well, obviously something about that article set my teeth on edge, but I couldn't write a decent paragraph to articulate why... I mean, it's good to focus on boys, isn't it? But there was something slightly sneering and ...almost condescending when he mentioned that the girls would finally have the peace and quiet they (by temperament and genetics, obviously) cherished when the boys got the bang-'em-up and action they seemed to be genetically inclined to need.

Even as I thought snarkiness at this, I wondered if maybe it wasn't a tad insulting to be sniping at an educational system that isn't even in my own country (not that that ever stops a blogger from kvetching, but one do strive for some veneer of sensitivity. Occasionally.), so I deleted what I'd written. Thank goodness a resident of the UK is up to the task. Do take a gander at Jess McCabe's clearly worded protest, and THANK YOU to CK for the bump in the right direction (and cheers to your new book! The site looks fabulous!).

On the road with her latest novel, Twisted (which seems like it's a HUGE and IMPORTANT work, and which I'm waiting to hear all about it from my Cybil Sisters who get librarian/bookstore people perks like ARC's [ahem!]) Laurie Halse Anderson will be on her book tour and visiting the fantabulous Not Your Mother's Bookclub on March 31. Three cheers for exploring the subject of really being a Should be really interesting fare.


CHEERS also to the North Carolina boy who read Gary Paulsen's Hatchet and lived to tell about the long lost trek he took in the woods. Okay, All Ye 12-year-olds -- no hitchhiking away from camping trips when you're bored, okay!? But at least the kid survived. To use a Dr. Who quote, "Just this once, everybody lives!" That is indeed a Good Thing.

"Does princess worship hurt a girl's self-image? Are we training a generation of damsels in distress? The jury is out on that, but some experts say the princess marketing overload is actually limiting girls' choices about what it means to be, well, a girl."

Ah, the princess. She waits in the window... Someday her prince will come...

and the Disney rumors continue. Blogger scuttlebutt uncovers that the godmother in the newest Disney "Princess" story is where the voodoo connection comes in. Yep, you got it -- Mama Odie is a "200-year old voodoo priestess," and Dr. Duvalier is a voodoo magician. (There is also a spoiled Caucasian debutante - our "princess" is the chambermaid.)

Now, folks, let's discuss this, um... rationally. 1. Many African American people, in NOLA or otherwise, do not practice voodoo. 2.) EVERY OTHER 'PRINCESS' gets a FAIRY godmother. So the African American "Princess" gets, what, a DEMONmother? I mean, with respect - voodoo is in fact an actual religion (Vodoun), but in the popular culture, which is where this story is clearly placed, voodoo is connected with a.) Elderly and mysterious black women/people from the South, generally who live cut off from society in shacks in the bayou; b.) EVIL scam-running black elderly women/people, who live cut off from society in shacks in the bayou; c.) evil undead black zombies, d.) poisonous love potions, and e.) little voodoo poppet's made up from the skin and nails and hair of the victims by evil elderly black women who make them and give them to angry people who stick pins into them and cause pain.

Of course, there must be magic in a princess movie - we have to have magic, of course, it's Disney, and it's all held together with stardust and spit to make it the "happiest place on earth," and fairytale culture is full of magic and starlight and fantastical dreams... And, our princess must look like all the other princesses -- that means skin and bones and big hair and huge eyes, probably much like the debutante and every other incarnation of "princess" -- but this Disney dream seems just a bit dark to me... and no bad puns intended, either. A chambermaid - a worker - will wait for someone to work magic to raise her status into the world of privilege. I am really dying to know how the frog will play into it. And the singing crocodile -- will he have gold-capped teeth as he 'soulfully' sings?

Incidentally, I wonder if Maddy's magic will come with pastel sparkly lights like Cinderella's magic. I know, I know -- I need to stop making comparisons, perhaps, until the movie comes out, but it's hard for me to reserve judgment after seeing the other "ethnic princesses" like Pocahontas, Jasmine and Mulan... so many people are eager to embrace whatever version of ethnicity Disney coughs up to apply to their little brown girls, so they can feel that they, too, are equitably represented in the great fairytale pantheon. After all, Disney knows EVERYTHING about every little princess in the world. I mean, they know that girls are genetically disposed to like pink and castles. They're just giving every girl what she wants, this time with the addition of curlier hair and darker skin. "Princess-hood" at whatever price...

Yes, I'm back. Apparently vacation didn't do my snarky-ranting genes any good... maybe next time...


Sarah Stevenson said...

Hee! All the talk of voodoo reminded me of a website I once wrote about for my Weird Wild Web column on - Pinstruck. You can send an electronic voodoo curse to someone. The link above goes to the Web Wayback Machine version--I'm not sure you can actually use it to send a curse, but the site's still mildly amusing.

Anonymous said...

TadMack, you get an A+ for effort!