Thursday, 30 June 2011

That Cop Show

Now I'm not usually one for venting.

A little while ago I managed to catch an British cop show which would have gone unremarked upon were it not for the fact that 
A) It involved computers and the Internet which is always interesting and
B) This is a filler post because this cold has knocked me for six 
Seriously this is exactly what I look like right now.

Da Plot:
Mr X had been abducting children off the street, showing a staggering amount of parents and caregivers who were just phoning it in,  once he had them he'd make a large amount of money operating a paysite which streamed naughty films live over the Internet which, in case you didn't know, is the scary place where all the perverts live  [1] and nothing good ever comes out of it.

The police investigated and with the assistance of some witty banter, some plot advancing detective work and the timely use of a local snitch [2] they revealed to the audience that Mr X was in fact Messrs X and this kind of thing was being conducted all over the place. [3]  
The snitch fingered the local branch of Messrs X and as the man had a computer repair shop, bringing us back to the "people that use computers=baddies" aspect just in case anyone out there had forgotten. 

With a computer that had been made not to work [4] on purpose they descended on the repair shop but, and this was the cunning part, the officer who went inside was not dressed in his uniform!  Of course it didn't help that Mr Mufti was about as subtle and cunning as a tank, all but arresting the man on the spot.  He managed to struggle through the necessary computer talk and then the baddie brought up the subject of the  cleverly hidden folder of dodgy pictures that had been put there for him to discover.  

Well, I say cleverly hidden, in reality they were put in a folder on the desktop which is exactly where everyone puts any incriminating evidence such as might be used against them in a court of law. 
<indicates folder with pictures inside> 
Baddie: "And whats inside this one?"  
Mr Mufti: "Oh that's private"
Mr Mufti left the shop but barely had any time to proceed in an orderly manner to the Muftimobile before the repairman was calling him up and saying "I've got something that you should see"
Naturally the local Mr X was arrested and he provided the cops with information about where they could find this weeks child and return her to the parents.
 But just to remind us all to be scared of anyone who uses a computer and/or the Internet they showed a repeat of the opening scene, where a child is being shown over the Internet and the shadowy figure is sitting in the dark just watching [5] 

Closing thought:
Now I'm not coming down on the side of the baddies here but if I had a hobby that I knew people might get a little uptight about and suddenly some random person came into my shop with pictures of my hobby that were sitting on his computers desktop  I would like to think that there would be enough alarm bells ringing in my head for me to
A: Stop doing my hobby.
B: Vanish like yesterdays news and
C: take up trainspotting instead. [6]

But not this kind.  This kind always ends badly [7] 
  1. and is television shorthand for the bad place in the same way that the carnival is their shorthand for strange goings on
  2. "known for his reliability" actual line
  3. are you proper scared yet?
  4. They said it was by installing special software but I as soon as I heard the windows start up sound I thought, that'll do it. (Boom Boom)
  5. dun Dun DUN!
  6. I certainly wouldn't ring him up and say "Did you know I've got the same hobby as you?  Do you want to be friends?"
  7. Especially if you're Ewen Mcgregor and George Lucas is in the audience

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Better living through crime as long as you don't mind only stealing porridge.

Ok, this is going to be a tough one. Allow us, for the space of these words to picture a reality in which a family of bears are able to
 A: Live in a house and B: prepare hot food for breakfast.
 If we can do this then I think we'll be able to get through this one without poking gigantic holes in what is essentially a very flimsy story.

The Story:
There are three bears, they live in a house and prepare porridge for breakfast. When the food is served the father bear pronounces it to be much too hot and they all go out for a walk to allow it to cool down [1] which is fair enough.

Enter Goldilocks, so named because of her hair, she rubs shoulders with other imaginatively named fairy tale people like Snow White, Rose Red and Little Red Riding Hood but I digress.
Now in some versions of the story she has been walking a long way and is tired and hungry which might go a little way to justifying her actions here today [2]. She knocks on the door of the bears house and, after finding that nobody is home she proceeds to break into the house for no other reason than simply because she can.

The porridge is quickly sampled, as are the chairs and the beds. Each is rejected in favor of the baby bears things which are found to be just right [3]. She makes the mistake of going to sleep and nobody is surprised to find that she is still there when the bears return home.
They lament in general and describe what has happened to their food and chairs presumably so that the child listening to this story doesn't forget [4] and then they go to the bedroom and discover the culprit asleep in bed.

Essentially this is where the tale ends. In some versions she runs back home. In others she gets eaten by the bears. In at least one she stays and plays with the family.

  1. Why didn't the bears phone the police?
    They live in a house with all the mod cons, presumably they have a telephone and even if they don't how hard is it for one of them to run down to the village and come back with the local policeman. If the police wont come because it's a family of bears then the story becomes Goldilocks, The Three Bears and The Three Ring Media Circus.
  2. Why Goldilocks why?
    Something I've never been able to understand is how Goldilocks justifies entering the house in the first place. I mean it's clearly breaking and entering and based on the way she runs away you can't expect me to believe that Mr Bears wallet suddenly became too empty and Mrs Bears jewelery was just right.
    Even if she knew the bear family and this whole thing started out as a social call surely the correct thing to do when nobody answers the door is to simply have her say “Oh nobody is at home, I will call again later” and then go off skipping down the road [5]
  3. What exactly was in this porridge?
    Consider this. She has just broken into a house and her adrenaline levels are going to be soaring because at some level she knows that it is wrong. Then she eats the food and is suddenly tired enough to not only go to sleep but also enter a sleep deep enough that she isn't awakened by the bears not only returning but making a lot of noise about how things are eaten, broken etc. 

Given that porridge, whatever the temperature, is not found in the normal bear diet we are forced to conclude that the food is bait and the entire setup is nothing more than an devious trap. Think about it:  
  • The unusual addition of the porridge to the bears diet is surely something that would be remarked upon in the community. 
  • Any burglar will relish the opportunity to actually stake out a house before breaking in so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises and, having watched the bear family leave, loudly talking about their morning walk the burglar enters[6].
  • The burgler makes the mistake of eating the porridge.  Since it has already been remarked on in the community he samples some to see what the big deal about it is. He finds out that the porridge is laced with a powerful sedative.
  • The bears return home and take care of the burglar. Nobody comes round asking questions because the burglar didn't tell anyone what he was up to.[7] 
The top speed for a fully grown bear is around 30 km/h and anyone that's just come home to find a burglar sleeping in their babies bed isn't going to hang around listening to explanations. This puts a nice end to the versions where she runs away from the bears when they discover her.
But even if Goldi is suddenly gifted with the winged sandles of Mercury, god of messengers and thieves which grant her the speed to outrun the bears she never gets into trouble for her actions. Her parents never quite get round to asking why she ran into the house so very fast nor does PC Plod give her a stern talking to at any stage [8].

In those versions of the story where she is eaten nobody seems to remark on the fate of the girl who was last seen going into the house of the bear family [9].

Other than “Don't take things that don't belong to you” there doesn't really appear to be any kind of moral in this story. I would add “Don't break into peoples houses [10]” but I would like to think that it is redundant.

  1. There must be massive amounts of porridge if they need to actually leave the house while it cools down. 
  2. This is not always so. Sometimes she's just out walking and comes across the house by accident. 
  3. So she's not only a housebreaker but she's a fussy housebreaker. The worst kind 
  4. Even though they were only told a few minutes ago. 
  5. Yes skipping. Nobody that goes by the name Goldilocks is going to move in any other way if she can help it
  6.  Through a door that is either not locked or locked with something that a little girl can crack. 
  7. Egad. The perfect crime! 
  8. Breaking and entering, destruction of private property. Emotional damage A creative policeman can come up with more. 
  9. The police know where she was there thanks to some rather inconvenient witnesses, but nobodies saying nothing. 
  10. Especially when its a family of bears.

A niggly bit:
I was doing a bit of writing at work last night, one of the reasons that I like working saturday nights is that the whole factory is shut down and it's just me and my laptop all night long.  less the patrols that need doing of course but I scribbled out this conversation in my head and as much as I like it I can't get it to fit anywhere in the story.  Thus I release it out into the wild.

One night Leonia “just happens” to be passing that night and drops in for a visit as the priests move amongst the crowd organising them into their proper placings for the service in homage to the great sky crocodile. She hands out some twists of herbs for use in their food.
Horrible doesn't go wild but presses into Evelyns side
Knowing that it will prickle Leonia asks if Evelyn isn't going to join them and make her devotions at the foot of the Great Sky Crocodile.

Naturally Evelyn rises to the bait and says “why don't I just make a devotion to you instead?”
“You could. We both know that you wouldn't be here if it wasn't for me and, quite frankly theres a better chance of your prayers being answered” Evelyn didn't respond but poked at the fire with more force than necessary “what of you Ambian? I admit it has been far too long since I haved walked upon the shores of your homeland. To whom do you offer your devotion?”
“Nobody and nothing” Toryan replied bluntly “I was the youngest of three brothers and to pay off his gambling debts my father sold them to the navy. They didn't want me because I was too small but the drumbanger didn't care. My brothers and I prayed to every god in the village but none of them chose to intervene.”
“What happened to your father?”
“He kept on gambling. He kept on losing.. The last I heard he was spending some time in the stocks” Toryan shook his head in disbelief “I don't know why they kept letting him through the door. Everyone knew full well that he had nothing left”

A loud horn is sounded in place of Cambions great bell but before they move one of her priests moves towards Leonia
“We are ready to depart great champion”
“Then depart as you will. I find myself faced with a theological challenge of the greatest kind”
“As you will it great champion” The priest frowns as he bows and the procession moves away slowly
“Are you going to attempt to convert us?” Evelyn asked “braver men have failed”
“They leave to worship my worst enemy little blind monkey. To fix a religion takes time and the lightest of touches”
“Little blind monkey. Why do you call her that?”
“Because it is a fitting name for her even if she doesn't not know it. I pulled her out of obscurity and made her to be my own little blind monkey”
“Hardly obscurity” Evelyn scoffed “and just what kind of monster is a monkey anyway?”
“It's about as far removed from a monster as you are from me. It's a small furry creature that lives in trees and eats fruit”
Leonia settled down by the fire and waited till the four of them were comfortable
“Now in the days of before when man walked with the animals”
“Those days are now thanks to you and Tygen”
“Those days are over and so is this story if you don't stop with the interruptions. Now, as I say, in the days of before when man walked with the animals”
Leonia paused significantly and looked at Evelyn before continuing “there was a monkey who tried to steal the moon” she pointed into the black sky where the moon, was covered with heavy clouds and no amount of dramatic neccesity could convince it to show itself “Your priests call it the eye of the Great Sky Crocodile” she smiled benevolently at the eternal folly of youth
How are they explaining the presence of another one in the night sky?” asked Toryan with interest
Leonia shrugged “the same way priests explain anything. It's clearly a call for more sacrifices and incidentally we should be running the country”
“You don't have much respect for the priesthood” Toryan noted
“They are clay” Leonia stated “with time and patience I shall mold them properly” [nw: good but this last bit needs to reveal that Leonia has plans for her priests]

Why did he steal the moon?”
“Tried to steal it. I would have thought that a thief could appreciate the difference. There was a woman, today she would be called a princess, she had been locked in a high tower by her jealous husband.
When she wept from her window the king of the monkeys climbed the tower, he asked what he could do to make him happy and she asked him to bring her the moon”

“Really? She couldn't have asked for the key to the tower?”
Leonia shook her head “she asked him for the moon”
“She doesn't sound very smart to me”
“For the last time the monkeys are the clever ones”
“So this monkey king goes off and steals the moon for Princess Clever” Toryan interjected in order to head off another argument “and he reminds you of Evelyn?”
“No she is the little blind monkey. Not the Monkey king. After he left the princess he went to a tiger” she held up her hand to prevent the inevitable question “it's a fierce animal. Very large and very fond of monkeys”
“Is everybody in this story crazy?” Evelyn asked “I wouldn't have gone to anything like that if I were a monkey, I'd stay away”
“Baron Trailin would disagree” Toryan said with a smile

“If I might continue. This tiger was different, it was ancient and all knew that he was wise because he ate only flowers”
“Eating flowers doesn't seem wise to me”
“It was wise enough back then”
“I remember eating orchids when I was a boy. They made me throw up”
“Obviously you weren't wise enough Ambian” Leonia sounded pleased to have finally sored a point “but wise or not the Monkey King went to the ancient tiger and told him of the princess

'I want her to be happy'
'Many want to be happy. What does she want?'
'She wants the moon'
'Many spend their lives seeking to capture that which will always remain out of reach'
'How would you capture it?;
'In my young and foolish youth I would have hunted the moon across the sky and when it stopped out of exhaustion I would pounce. In that way I would capture the moon. But I am too old for such foolishness now'
'But I am no hunter' admitted the Monkey King
'Then how would You catch the moon?'
'We are nimble and our fingers quick. My own hands have stolen the spider from its web and the teeth from the snake. Some name me thief but none can deny that what we want we take'
'Do you want the moon?'
'I do'
'Then take it' the tiger said and the Monkey King knew that he was wise”

“That was his advice? Just to take it?”
“Thats what it boiled down to. I'm just giving you the very quick version. The Monkey King gathered his people together and selected his ten fastest and best but before they left the palace they were confronted by a small blind monkey whose white fur had marked him as cursed from birth” she pointed needlessly at Evelyn “this is your namesake”
“I think I want to be the tiger. He seems to have his head screwed on properly”
“You'd have to eat flowers all the time” Toryan pointed out

“If I might break up the comedy routine?
'Why should we allow you on this mission?' asked the Monkey King 'you're blind'
'Perhaps' said the white monkey 'but I see further than you'
'You're small' another pointed out
'There are some times in life when to be the biggest is not the best thing'
'You're a fool'
'We go to steal the moon. Is this not a fools errand?'and the white monkey bowed a mocking bow as only monkeys can”
“Why did they let this monkey go with them? If he was cursed it doesn't seem clever at all”

The king thought to outsmart the little blind monkey and said that he could follow for as long as he could keep up. But the little monkey kept up easily and the group was forced to accept him. Now to tell of their many adventures would take much too long. One found love, two found betrayal and abandoned the quest. It's easier to say that by the time they found the moon only the king and the little blind monkey were left”

Right. So they've found the moon and they steal it just like that?”
“Not just like that. They found the moon sitting at the top of a tall tree and they climbed it because if there is one thing that monkeys do well it's climb trees. At the top of the tree the moon sat and watched their progress and that night it had pleased her to take the shape of a monkey.

'I'm here to take you to the princess locked in her tower' The Monkey King said 'she is sad and wishes to own you'
'Foolish King' the moon smiled a monkey smile and swung from her tail 'I watched her laugh when you left. Her sadness vanished when you left with the task of hunting me'
'She'll not laugh when I give you to her' the Monkey King said 'she will know that I love her'

“Oh now it all makes sense” Toryan said
“What does?”
“That the king did all this because he loved her. If he'd only wanted her to be happy he would have laughed at her request. I suppose the moon went with him?”
“Far from it. The moon could not be lured out of her tree and in his rage the Monkey King set fire to it. The moon escaped the flames by jumping from the tree and landing among the clouds but when the Monkey King tried the same he missed and crashed to the ground killing himself instantly”
“That's a horrible ending”
“Don't blame me. This is how it was told to me only without all the interruptions”
“What about the little blind monkey?” Evelyn wanted to know “did he end up stealing the moon for the princess?”
“Why should he? I was always assured that he held on tightly to the moons tail when she jumped and he landed in the clouds with her. And that's where the story truly ends”

She looks up at the returning priests and their crocodilelines of faithful. “with perfect timing I see” she gets to her feet, “Good evening to you both”

Monday, 13 June 2011

The problem of language solved and the bill presented to the last person to waltz in Berlin

I'm posting a little early this week for a few reasons.  Mainly because my download of the entire run of The Goon Show has finally finished and I plan to overdose on old radio shows, which goes to show that Pirate Bay is used for more than getting the latest wobbly hand cam version of the Russian dub of "The girl with the dragon tattoo that kicked over the hornets nest and then had a nice cup of tea"

I'll also be looking around the area to see what they can offer in the way of graphic design courses although I'm probably going to have to do the papers by correspondence course as I have done the math and it would mean spending 84 hours a week awake and functioning! [1]


I present to you the real topic of this post.  Namely that the problem of language has been solved!

One of our local politicos has managed to get into the papers by suggesting that it should be a requirement that all teachers should be fluent in Te Reo Maori. Much of his argument is that educators should know how to interact with local tribes on a cultural standing which is something that I can understand since if you're operating in murky waters it's all too easy to put a foot wrong.

The best example of this that I can think of is this one from back in 2006:

A Maori cultural performer who headbutted a Dutch tourist during a traditional welcome is unapologetic about the attack which left his victim with a broken nose and two black eyes. Speaking after being sentenced in court yesterday, Richard Minarapa Mitai-Ngatai said the victim had laughed during the "sacred" ceremony.

 "He was disrespecting my culture that I love, a culture I am proud to be a part of," Mitai-Ngatai said  "I don't apologise for what I did. But I do apologise for hurting a man. What I did was serious. I do know I am lucky I am not in jail because of it." 

The 40-year-old was ordered to do 150 hours' community service in the Rotorua District Court for the November 24 attack on Dutch tourist Johannes Scheffers.
Mitai-Ngatai had admitted assaulting Mr Scheffers during a welcome for a 160-strong tour party to the marae at the Tamaki Tours village, about 25km south of Rotorua.
He told the Herald he was angry that Mr Scheffers smirked and looked about during his wero (challenge) to the group.    The tourist was one of the nominated "chiefs" for the welcome and had been told laughter or humour would be disrespectful.   Mitai-Ngatai said he called to the group's tour-guide in Maori urging him to take Mr Scheffers out of the front row, but this did not happen. 

Judge Chris McGuire said while he was swayed by the "glowing references" for Mitai-Ngatai and accepted the feeling he held for his culture, it was important that tourists knew they were safe when they visited.

"This was manuhiri [visitors] from the other side of the world who had paid to experience some of the richness of the culture we in this region are so proud of. Manuhiri must know when they come to Rotorua they are going to be safe."

The case was a tragedy for Mitai-Ngatai, who had no previous convictions, and his family.

The judge said there were conflicting reports about Mr Scheffers' facial expression. Police had claimed Mr Scheffers merely had a nervous grin during part of the ceremony when Mitai-Ngatai moved upwards into Mr Scheffers' face from a kneeling position.

This sent him "backwards with blood ejecting from his nose", the judge said.
Judge McGuire said the sentence was mitigated by by Mitai-Ngatai's remorse, his early guilty plea, and his almost immediate attempts to apologise.   Mitai-Ngatai's lawyer, Bill Lawson, requested a discharge without conviction. He was completing the restorative justice process. The incident had cost him an almost 17-year career as senior cultural adviser, along with his wife, at Tamaki Tours. 

Mitai-Ngatai said he was asked to leave by Mike and Doug Tamaki shortly after the court case began.  His near-10-year job as complex manager at the Tamaki Tours Village also ended.  He said tour operators should ensure that guides tell visitors what to expect and remove people who acted inappropriately during ceremonies.

Coming back to present day the problem is that because our politico friend stated that teachers should be FORCED to learn Te Reo Maori nobody is taking him seriously, except for the the ones that bother to listen to him. [2]
One of the people that took the suggestion seriously rang up the early morning radio shows that they put on for insomniacs to complain about the sheer audacity of people walking around speaking any other language than English.

I didn't manage to get through to ask my question in Radioland but then I remembered that I was taking up space on the Internet.
My question was going to be exactly which version of English was going to be taught?
But I didn't get through because Captain Clever touched off a spark with the other insomniacs out there and for every person who called to say that he was an idiot there seemed to be two who called to proclaim that such a scheme would never ever work and how dare people all over the country not do what I say all the time [3]
Now I'm not just going to bang on about regional accents and things because thats something that no amount of teaching will get ever rid of. At least not unless we perfect cloning technology, clone a million copies of Professor Henry Higgins of My Fair Lady fame and set about teaching everyone in the world properly proper English on a one on one basis.
Thus it is safe to say that unless our mad scientists of  Mammoth cloning fame are prepared to go to such insane lengths in order to get everyone in the world [4] speaking in exactly the same tones we'll all be keeping our accents, twangs and local slang.

The question of a global language is one that has been considered by histories great minds [5] with Esperanto being perhaps the most famous and we already have conclusive proof that it's going to be used well into the future. 

I do in fact have three other suggestions [6] for a singular global language and the amazing thing is each of them is very easy to learn and is already being used by a select few.
  1. Suggestion the first:
    That we emulate our friends the birds [7] and sing as we go.  Now I'm not advocating the world of Musical except here, where I totally am but am instead thinking of writing in musical notations and speaking in terms of Doe Ray Me Fa So La Ti Doe

    Possible advantages:
    More people will become nuns [8]
    Translation services will be a thing of the past since anyone will be able to pick up any document and read it.  I mean I could pick up Beethoven's original sheet music and read it perfectly. [9]

    Possible disadvantages:
    Those occupations dealing with stealth will go right out the window leading to a dearth of ex ninjas entering the job market. Don't believe me? try sneaking up on someone musically, it can't be done.
  2. Suggestion the second:

    Possible Advantage:
    Graffiti would take on a more artistic look rather than being little more than a collection of stupid scribbles [10]
    Since it hasn't been used since Cleopatra was queening it up in Thebes it means that everyone is going to start off at the same place except those few Tomb Raiders that haven't been captured by Mummies or are suffering ancient curses.
    Schools will cut costs by merging the language and the arts departments.

    Possible Disadvantage:
    the same symbol can be interpreted in diverse ways, based on context. [11]
  3. Suggestion the third:
    Binary Programming Language

    Possible Advantage:
    Schools will cut costs this time by merging the Mathematic and language departments.

    Possible Disadvantage:
    The average book will be in the region of a million pages longer. [12]
    Literacy is awarded to anyone who is able to make a line and a circle.
    Transcribing a book into a computer will result in something else entirely.
You scribes your book you takes your chances [13]

La notas: 
  1. 4 12 hour shifts for work + 4 9 hour blocks for the course.  It's doable with enough coffee.
  2. And the papers.
  3. You know, the usual talkback callers
  4. Of course everyone in the world. If you think we're going to stop at just one country then you're madder than I am
  5. And now it's my turn
  6. Do you? Yes I do. Good for you
  7. Also, by pure coincidence, The Byrds
  8. Admittedly this will be so that they can run up and down hills leaving us with lots of very fit nuns with good singing voices.  With the end of the world being nigh (possibly) a company/brigade(?)/flock(?) [edit: superfluity of nuns apparently.  Who knew?] of fit singing nuns can only be a good thing.
  9. No doubt my audience will be an unsympathetic museum guard.
  10. Banksy doesn't count
  11. Which will, no doubt, be the basis of a "hilarious" movie probably staring Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.
  12. Lord of the Rings can add another million for all the appendixes
  13. Two Buffy References in as many posts?  This is turning into a fan site

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Beast

An Analysis of Beauty and the Beast
All too often we read these stories and consciously take little more away from it than a sense of satisfaction that the hero got the girl and the baddie got to put on the red hot iron slippers and dance off over the horizon. This, by the way, is more commonly known as living “happily every after
But inside our heads we pick up on the little hints and tiny clues that things are not as cut and dried as they seem on the surface and so it is with this weeks story.
On the outside it is a classic tale of Girl meets Monster and saves him from a terrible curse but only when you peel back the safety wrapper and peer inside that you see that this is less a tale of true love than it is a tale of forced confinement, Stockholm Syndrome and emotional blackmail. Don't believe me? Read on gentle soul read on and be afraid.

The Story:
We'll make this simple. A man had three daughters and he was going on a trading trip, wanting to bring them back something special he asked them what they wanted.
Daughter One wanted a brocade dress, Daughter Two wanted a pearl necklace [1] Daughter Three, whose name was Beauty wanted only a single rose that he had picked for her very own [2]. The trading trip is successful and on his way back the man is beset by a terrible storm that leaves him quite turned around [3] but eventually he stumbled across a castle [4] and thankful to be out of the storm he went inside.

Now theres a huge dinner of the best sort on the table but our friend the trader isn't foolish or rude and he calls out for the owner so that he might present his credentials but nobody answers and eventually hunger overcomes him and he sits down to a hearty meal. It's the same story with the sleeping arrangements for upstairs there is a grand bed that has been made and once again nobody answers his calls. He retires for the evening thinking that in the morning he'll meet with his host over breakfast.
When he does awake he finds a fresh pot of coffee and a lavish breakfast waiting and there is still no sign of his mysterious host [5]. He retrieves his horse from the stables and as he is leaving a large rose bush catches his notice and, remembering his youngest daughters request, he plucks a particularly large bloom for her.
He is rewarded for this by a huge beast leaping out at him and bemoaning the fact that he had given the trader shelter and a good meal [6] all the thanks he gets is the theft of his flowers [7] “For this you will die!” [8]
Our trader pleaded for his life and the beast decides to spare his life on one condition, that his rose loving daughter be sent in his place. The merchant agreed since it was a choice of agree and live or refuse and die.

Thankfully Beauty is an adventurous sort and agrees to go to the beasts castle and although her father was worried about his daughters honor [9] he was pleasantly surprised because the beast greets them politely and is a perfect gentleman [10].
Her fear of his appearence faded as time went on and Beauty found that she and the beast actually got on quite well [11] eventually the beast asked for her hand in marriage but because she did not love him as he did her she turned him down as kindly as she could [12].

Life continued on as it had done before and the beast gave her a magic mirror. When she looked into it she could see her family. But then she saw something terrible her father was lying in bed deathly ill. She asked to return to her father and at first the beast refuses because he hasn't been so happy in a long time and if she leaves then there is no guarantee that she will return. But eventually he relents making her promise to return in seven days.

She visits her family and sets her father straight about the nature of the beast [13] but she doesn't notice the days slipping by until one night she has a nightmare where the beast is in agony. She hops on her horse and races towards the castle. She finds the beast curled up in the garden under the rose bush and rushes to his side crying out “Don't die! Don't die! I'll marry you” [14]
The beast turned into a handsome young man “An evil witch cursed me into the form of a beast. And only the love of a maiden who accepted me as I was could break the spell” [15]

They were, of course, married and lived “happily ever after”

I have a feeling that once the initial joy of the wedding wears off Beauty is going to find her life not as happy as she was before the big reveal. Consider the following:
Before the Transformation
After the Transformation
Beauty lived alone with the beast
More contact with the families on both sides will mean less time for one another.
Both saw family and friends infrequently at best
Beasts family may not approve of Beauty's as they would be old money and she would be anything but.
The beast controlled her comings and goings [16]
Beauty will have more freedom or at the very least the illusion of such. The beast may not be able to cope with this.
Beauty was dependent on the beast for almost everything
It will be hard to make friends in the social circles that the real movers and shakers travel in. Wherever he goes the beast will cast a long shadow

Points of Interest:
  • The Beast obviously didn't like been seen. What would have happened if the merchant hadn't sent beauty as per their agreement?
  • Call me crazy but I think Beauty's behavior has a lot to do with a guilty conscience about something. Nobody is as nice as she is without a reason.
  • This story needs a villain, or a chase scene [17], instead of an offhand remark about a nonspecific evil witch.[18]
  • When she realized that she loved the beast I wonder if it was him that changed or merely her perception of him? Theres an interesting paper for the Objective Philosophy majors.
  1. Nudge nudge wink wink “Say no more!”
  2. I suspect that someone went out raving last night and is now trying to get back in daddies good books
  3. Obviously this is set before GPS became popular. But would it have killed him to bring a map or even a native guide?
  4. Must have been under a camouflage net, making it one of the largest duck blinds in the history of ever.
  5. Or his mysterious bill
  6. Actually a series of good meals
  7. Floral Larceny! By Jupiter the worst kind
  8. I suspect that this is the beasts only entertainment. The man was never going to get out of the castle without doing something wrong
  9. He's lucky we're not doing the hentai version of this little story
  10. Or possibly pedigree. The jury is still out.
  11. Identifying with your captor is one of the first indications of Stockholm Syndrome
  12. I know a certain Princess Grabby who should be taking notes
  13. Theres an album I'd buy.
  14. Bam! Emotional Blackmail right there!
  15. Wouldn't it be terrible if he'd gone through this whole pantomime only to discover that she's no maiden?
  16. No You can't visit your dying father. Wait. Now you can”
  17. Someone throw a pie!
  18. "Cause witches they were persecuted.  Wicca good, and love the Earth.  And woman power.  And I'll be over here" Name the song and get 10 Geek points!
I would just like to assure everyone that I am getting these stories off the Internet. I'm certainly not hanging around the childrens section of the library desperately trying to look inconspicuous.

For another version of these classic stories check out the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey. 
Although I'm not her biggest fan because I feel the baddies that she writes are taken care of just a little too easily I would happily recommend her books as they are well written and although one is able to spot the fairytale used fairly easily it doesn't detract from the novel itself.

In contrast The Iron Tree by Celia Dart Thornton shoehorns a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin into the narrative with such force that this minor side story breaks the reader out of what is otherwise a pretty good story.  The book got "accidentally" savaged by a dog and I've bypassed her writing ever since.  Not just because of the Rumplestiltskin thing although that was a factor.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Swineherd.

I'd like to present, for your enjoyment, one of Andersons lesser known stories. I strongly suspect that it is largely skipped over because it doesn't follow the generic fairy tale formula in which Prince A meets princess B through some highly suspicious circumstances and, after dispatching baddie C they live happily ever after.
                                                 (A-CB) rB) = AB  [1]

Instead this prince actually shows some initiative and instead of brooding eternally when the princess rejects him he actually does something about it.

The Story:
Once there lived a poor but handsome prince. Although his kingdom was small he was very famous [2]  If he would send proposal letter to all the princesses he wouldy get at least 100 princess replying to his request.  [3]
On his fathers grave there grew a most beautiful rose plant that produces flowers only once in a lifetime. It smelt so sweet that by inhaling it's fragrance you would forget all your problems [4]
Our prince also owned a special nightingale bird that could call all the music in the world [5]
When he had sifted through all the responses and found the princess that he liked best he sent the rose and the bird in a pair of silver caskets as a dowry [6]

When they arrived at the court the princess clapped her hands in delight and said "I wish I could get a pussy cat for a present!" and she opened the box to finally answer Schrödinger's paradox ie: that that the cat in the box may be alive, dead or it may be a rose for that is what it was.
Everyone at court remarks on how beautiful the rose is but the princess sets it aside petulantly [7] saying "It is a real rose and not artificial"
She opens the second box to reveal the nightingale and again everyone remarks on the wondrous nature of the gift and when the bird sings it brings tears to the eyes of the most stony of faces for they remember first loves and lost loves with nostalgic fondness.

Surely nobody could find fault with this gift, Nobody except our princess because she decides that she doesn't like it because again, it is alive and natural. Thus the prince was not granted an audience with the princess. [8]

But our hero was not so easily dissuaded, he disguised himself as a servant and got himself a job looking after the royal swine herd which obviously was going to look really good on his resume.
It wasn't all bad news, he got a small room at a very reasonable price and while the pigs did their piggy duties he sat down and made a beautiful kitchen pot. What was unique about this pot was that it had many little bells around it and although you'd think that this was the amazing bit you'd be wrong. The amazing thing about this pot is that if you hold your finger over the smoke when it is cooking you will be able to smell all the dishes in the kingdom that are being cooked. [9]

The princess happens to be going past the swine pen one day and her interest is piqued by the sound of the bells and decides that she wants the pot [10] and she sends out a maid to talk to the disguised prince.
"Tell the princess I'll give her the pot if she kisses me ten times"
Although the princess attempts to negotiate the prince stands firm and she eventually gives him the ten kisses and he gives her the pot and everybody comes away with a smile.

Once again the prince sits in his room and this time he produces a rattle that plays all sorts of tunes naturally he "just happens" to be playing it when the princess is around and she wants it. [11]
Again the maid is sent round and this time the prince tells her that the price is 100 kisses
The maid protests that the princess can't kiss a swineherd a hundred times and the prince shrugs his shoulders and returns to the royal pigs.
This rankles as it was intended to and the princess agrees to pay the toll.


The princess's father was partaking of a walk on a pleasant day when he saw his daughters maids making sure that nobody saw what was going on and she was on the 86th kiss when he pushed his way to the front
"Get out of my kingdom!" he orders them both and personally shut the doors in their faces.
"Alas" the princess says, languishing at the Olympic level "I am thrown outside the city. I should have married the handsome young prince"
The swineherd tells her "wait right there" and he washes his face, dusts the bootprint out of backside and returns in his princely robes. There is no mistaking exactly who he is. The princess feels her spirits lift when she sees him and if this were the Disney version then the audience would surely be in for a musical number.

But this is far removed from any Disney production because the prince says "You wouldn't take the lovely rose and the nightingale but sought the trumpery [12] playthings. You deserve your consequences" [13] The prince went back to his own palace in his kingdom and shut the door in her face and that is the end of the story.

Comments and Questions:
  • The Gifts:
    Readers with keen intellects [14] will have noticed that there is a correlation between the gifts that he gave her at first, the rose vs the cooking pot and the nightingale vs the rattle. There usually is although the gifts change depending on what version of the story you happen to be reading.  The general rule however is that if the first gift is natural then the one that she pays the kisses for is artificial and vice versa. Obviously the princess was never going to accept the first gifts because that would change the story to "the time the princess got some presents and then married the prince" 
  • The Prince:
    Obviously he was justified in his revenge. But how long would he have kept the swineherd act up?
    I imagine that it would have depended on exactly how poor his kingdom actually was.
    If his father is dead how is this person still a prince?
     Either he is too young to come into his majority in which case why is he looking for a wife or it turned out that his brother who wasn't as good looking but was better at not sending proposals to princesses galore now sits upon the throne. 
  • The Princess
    What happened to her after the prince closed the door in her face? We don't know and are not expected to ask. It is enough that she got bitten by the great big bug of Karma
    Why didn't the princess just talk to a trusted guard or bullyboy and get the pot and the rattle that way?
     Surely she has another suitor who would happily thrash this disrespectful swineherd for the chance to get into her, good books. Although I feel that this would have changed the story from "The time the princess learned a lesson" to "The time Princess Grabby plunged us all into war"

  • Now you could make a case that this whole story is an allegorical tale of mankinds eternal magpielike fetish with the eternally new and sparkly and our collective turning away from the natural world but since this is the Internet you could make a case that this tale is clearly responsible for the fall of the Jedi and the rise of Crappy Star Wars Knock offs. [15]

    So here's a question. where is the character progression? although we are clearly supposed to side with the prince throughout the story the only character that was given the opportunity to demonstrate any sort of growth was Princess Grabby who was taught not to judge by appearances in a manner most painful.  At least we hope that she learned it because those that forget the mistakes of the past etc.
    So then is there actually a moral in the tale? Don't be shocked but in Hans Christian Andersons Stories there isn't always, sometimes it's a case of "here are some crazy things that happened" Perhaps the lesson that we should be taking away is along the lines of Graciousness in all things. After all if Princess Grabby had received the prince, even if it was to tell him he didn't have a chance in hell [16] then this whole thing might have been avoided. 
  1.  10 minutes on this equation and I still don't think I got it right. Damn you theoretical algebra!
  2. Presumably for being handsome. Being a prince doesn't leave much room for actual work
  3. The ones from Nigerian royalty were binned pretty quickly
  4. I once had a plant like that as well but the court made me stop growing it
  5. Guaranteeing that at least one of the letters our prince received would have been from the RIAA
  6. Where today we would just send a card asking her out
  7. Or possibly petelalantuly but I refuse to sink to such wordplay. This isn't Asterix and if it were there would be more Romans and at least one utterance of "Wstfgl"
  8. Did she return the gifts at least?
  9. And invite yourself round to dinner of course
  10. Nope. Way to easy
  11. I am officially naming her Princess Grabby
  12. Trumpery ~ noun 1. nonsensical talk or writing 2. ornamental objects of no great value 
  13. The actual words of the princes speech changes from version to version but the message of "You done messed this up but good" remains the same.
  14. Of which you are, obviously, one
  15. and rising oil prices! It all ties in Sheeple! 
  16. But graciously of course