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Like those $1 grab bags at the jewelry store. You never know what you’ll get, but it’s probably made of plastic.

There’s no crying in cycling!

Okay, I’m no crybaby, but this is the second time that a bicycle ride through Washington, DC has left me in tears. It was nothing, really. A car sped past me through a light (even though he was in a right turn lane) and nearly edged me into oncoming traffic in his hurry to squeeze into my lane.

Maybe that sounds like a big deal to those of you who live in other parts of the country, but for those of us who cycle in DC, it is–sadly–an everyday occurrence. I guess the part that really got to me was when I glanced over at the driver. He was glaring at me, as if I had violated his god-given right to change lanes at will. He wasn’t thinking about my safety–or his, for that matter–and he certainly wasn’t thinking about traffic laws. Not prepared to get into a fight with several tons of metal, I slowed down. He crossed into my lane and sped away without even looking back.… Read More

Where’s Waldo? Maybe with Marcel Marceau.

I spotted Waldo in Silver Spring, Maryland last weekend at the second annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk. Well, undead Waldo.

When I was in elementary school, I used to complain about stomach aches all the time to get out of math class. And when I say all the time, I mean all the time. The school nurse knew me. She could even recognize my footsteps and my knock. Anyway, being an extremely patient and sympathetic woman (perhaps she didn’t like math either), she always let me stay. I would hop up onto the spare cot with a Where’s Waldo book and spend the next half hour searching through the pages.… Read More


I’m not in the habit of writing “this is what’s going on in my life” kind of posts, but this week has big news: I caved and bought an accordion. I’ve been wanting to learn accordion for a while now, but could never find any instruments to try out, let alone buy. I’m discovering all kinds of neat things and challenges. Still very excited.… Read More

Goldenhair (and it’s all Cinderella’s fault)

Sick of me writing about books you don’t have access to? Well, this week’s reading, “Sixty Folk-tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources”, is online and free! You lucky dog. There were many things that struck me about the selections I read from this book, but one of the most immediate was the complexity of the stories. Not only is there a quest, but the quest has three parts. And then there’s a secondary quest, and that one is usually even more challenging. I’m not sure why it is that the fairy tales we’re used to aren’t set up this way. Perhaps they’ve been simplified, or there may be a basic difference between the oral traditions of Eastern and Western Europe that affected the development of their folktales.… Read More

Dancing and War

This week’s reading for my individual study was an anthology of fairy tale retellings. As is generally the case with anthologies, some stories were stronger than others, but the ones that really struck me tended to recontextualize the source material in a wholly unexpected way. We’re used to retellings from the villain’s point of view, excusing his or her actions. We’re also used to feminist reworkings of popular stories like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella” in which the heroine is given a much less passive role. These are not the kind I’m talking about.… Read More

Animated Bluebeard

I briefly linked to two animated versions of Bluebeard in my last post, but they’re both so interesting that I wanted to do them justice. The first, “Blue Beard’s Last Wife” (“La Dernière femme de barbe bleue”), blends the Bluebeard legend with ancient Greek mythology in an unexpected (and humorous) way. The second, “A Very Blue Beard” (“Ochen sinyaya boroda”) is a Russian musical short about a detective investigating Bluebeard’s crimes… with a surprising twist! So take a break, put your feet up, and watch a couple of really neat shorts!… Read More

Just Deserts

One of my readings this week in Marina Warner’s From the Beast to the Blonde focuses on the symbolism and origins of the Bluebeard story. In a chapter titled “The Ogre’s Appetite”, Warner discusses many different iterations of a common theme: the serial murderer. What with Perrault’s fairy tales, medieval legends, devoured Catholic saints, and historical child killers, it’s pretty clear that society has been morbidly obsessed with these stories for centuries.… Read More

SERENA, Who posted Infrequently and died Impoverished and Unknown

It has recently come to my attention that, as a child, I may not have been exposed to the normal sort of things one expects at that age. Instead of watching cartoons, I’d beg my parents to let me see new nature programs on the Discovery Channel. I knew Chaplin before Carrey, watched more Fred and Ginger musicals than Disney movies, and had a strange fascination with Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” before I even understood all the words.… Read More

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