Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The analysis of The Musicians of Bremen or 'any gig in a storm'

The Analysis of
'any gig in a storm'


History, so they say, is written by the winners. In this case the winners are, quite literally, the underdogs
[1] and as these stories [2] so often tell us the only time that the underdogs can ever win is when the chips are stacked against them and things are at their worst.

There was once an old donkey who was ill treated by his master. This isn't particularly surprising, donkeys in these types of stories seldom have any sort of easy life [3]. Now most of them grin and bare it with a maddening kind of zen but this story is about one who didn't.
It was after a very trying day when his owner had been harsher than usual with the whip and the load was twice as heavy that the donkey finally made his decision. What nobody else knew was that the town of Bremen had been hunting for people to sing in the towns band and with his powerful voice and long hair then he could pass for some sort of new age musician.

As he went along the road the donkey met a dog who was covered in sores and while I'm not certain what that has to do with the story the end result is that the dog ended up being drafted into the band on the understanding that if the duo met up with Simon Cowel then the dog would get to bite him. A little while later a cat joined the band. It did this without asking because cats are cool enough to get away with this. (4)
The trio wandered along quite happily until they came to a farmyard where a rooster was standing on a fencepost and crowing loudly.
“That's a good voice you've got there” observed the donkey
“It won't save me” the rooster replied miserably “I'm due for the cooking pot tomorrow”
“So why crow so loudly?”
“The farmer gets migranes easily. Especially when he's been on the bottle” his voice raised to a shout “DON'T YOU?”
The band ducked to avoid a pair of boots and a stream of curses directed at the rooster (5)
“We're going to Bremen to be singers. Wanna come along?”
“Sounds like fun” the rooster, my name is Crowel, Simon Crowel by the way”
“So close” said the dog with genuine regret
“It's a long way to go for a terrible joke like that” the rest of the band agreed and went on their way in a futile attempt to leave the author of such bad jokes behind them.

By the time night fell the band was all alone in forest which was the special kind of spooky you only get in movies that have body parts in the titles (6) and, just like in every slasher film ever made, they followed a light through the woods until they found a little cottage.

Now I'll break from the narrative to note that we KNOW that this is a mistake. Spooky forest plus lonely shack in the woods does not a good time equal.

Leaving the grammatical nature of that aside aside (7) it should be pointed out that there was nothing outwardly wrong with the house itself. It wasn't home to any cross dressing wolves and the only witch to ever show an interest in the place had long since been done in by a couple of young tearaways (8). The major problem was that this house was the home and base of operations to a group of bandits who, as you'll find out later, weren't the sharpest triangles in the orchestra pit.

The band climbed on each others backs in order to look through the window and what they saw, rather predictably, was the inside of the house but the important thing is that in this inside were a group of highway robbers who were dancing, singing and generally cavorting about as they celebrated their latest robbery. But the significance of this paled into nothingness when the band saw the table groaning under the weight of all the food and in the middle of it all was the chief robbers birthday cake

Unable to contain himself the donkey stuck his head through the window and accidentally knocked over the only lantern which plunged the place into darkness and startled the band so that they began barking, screeching, braying and crowing while the terrified bandits fled screaming
“The devil! The devil!
The band of course took advantage of this and not only got a roof over their heads but also got to eat all the food.

Later that night (
10) one of the braver bandits crept back to the now quiet house in order to find out exactly what had happened. In the darkness he mistook the cats eyes for a pair of burning coals, because being brave doesn't automatically translate into being clever, and the cat reacted as anyone would in the same situation.

I tell you after that it was all over bar the shouting. While the cat was clawing the dog was biting and the rooster was scratching until finally the donkey took careful aim and sent the worlds unluckiest bandit flying out the door.

“My brothers” he reported back after the rest of the gang had given him some strong drink in order to calm his nerves “we can't go back to that house. There's a horrible witch who scratches, a demon who bites and a monster who beats you with a stick! I tell you I'm giving up this bandit lark”
But this last bit he said to himself because the rest of the group suddenly decided that the life of a jolly jack tar was infinitely preferable to dealing with demons. At least at sea all you had to worry about were sea monsters and you knew where you were with sea monsters.

Thus is was that the one band took over the house from the other band. With the booty left behind by the bandits they always had food on the table and lived happily and contented for many years.

If this donkey is clever enough to decide on a career change why is it that he never thinks about ringing the authorities to inform them about treatment?
He doesn't have to do it at home of course, that would be silly. But once he'd left there was nothing stopping him putting a call through to certain people.

Did anyone think to make shadow puppets before they did the lantern bit?
I ask this because whenever a certain type of person sees a silhouette they immediately think “Batman!” (11)

It would appear that this is one time when the good guys won and the bad guys lost with no repercussions on anyone who didn't deserve it. I mean the donkeys master will most likely get another animal although with any luck he'll have learned his lesson and treat the new one a bit more nicer.
After their brush with the devil the (ex)bandits have settled down to a variety of careers that keep them out of spooky forests and firmly on the path of the straight and narrow.

The only actual fly in the actual ointment is that the animals never actually got to Bremen. Which, strictly speaking, means that the title of this story should be something like
“The musicians of that little house where the bandits used to live”
I realize that it doesn't exactly trip off the tongue but that’s hardly the worst of it.

By their actions we can deduce that they were only ever in it for the money since as soon as they got a house and the bandits loot they seem to have settled down (12) which means that the actual title of the story should be
“The sellouts of that little house where the bandits used to live”

Now I'd like to be able to stop there but I've one more point to make. Given that they are involved in the music scene but not actually doing anything as bourgeois as actually playing I'm afraid that the final title of this otherwise delightful story is going to be
“The sellout hipsters of that little house where the bandits used to live”

  1. although strictly speaking they are also underdonkeys/roosters/cats.
  2. And Disney.
  3. On top of all this they're known as asses. Asses! All I can say is that there had better be one hell of a karmic reward after all his is over.
  4. Any cat who joins a band should wear sunglasses and play bass but you can't have everything.
  5. not the duck though. He left before they got famous.
  6. and Scooby Doo
  7. I ask myself is this funny? And I answer my own rhetorical question with “It's three in the morning and I haven't slept for two days. Right now everything’s funny”
  8. Kids these days. Amiright?
  9. But there was no cake. The cake, unfortunately, is a lie.
  10. Probably around midnight, these things have a habit of working themselves out around midnight.
  11. Actually there are two very different types of people who think of Batman in these circumstances. At least one of these groups should be avoided unless you really, really, want to meet the caped crusader.
  12. I base this on the fact that there are no “Donkey and the Donkettes Greatest hits” albums around

Sunday, 16 December 2012

This was the year that was the year that was Part 2

This is the second part of the 'Year that was' posting which, rather predictably, covers July to December.
  1. JULY
    1. MOOD: Frustration on the scale of an Icelandic Saga being translated into Japanese by someone who lied on his resume.
    2. MUSIC:
      1. The Neverhood – The Neverhood
      2. Living Doll – Cliff Richard and the Young Ones (note: not the original version)
      3. Jennifer’s Jacket – Presidents of the United States
    3. THOUGHTS:
      I hate dealing with Work and Income, always have and always will. I mean my tax dollars are going towards paying people to run me about and tie me up in knots before giving me the bums rush through the door. At least in Amsterdam they've got the courtesy of wearing shiny leather while they do it.

      The big mission this month was to find out if my student allowance was still going to be paid in the break period between the CID course finishing and the CCT course starting up. I was perfectly happy to find work and had put some feelers out but the important thing to remember is that a contingency plan is a necessity in any situation.

      In the end the quest for work turned out to be a moot point since the student allowance did indeed kick in but the difficult part was to get any sort of answer that wasn't a vague head shake or a redirection to someone else at another desk..

      I literally did not get a letter informing me about what would happen to the payments until the day before everything was due to come out and I was panicking because I didn't have enough money to cover the rent.
    1. MOOD: Pessimistically optimistic. As in the course goes well which means that it's only a matter of time before Mr William Rubin strikes the air cooling machine.
    2. MUSIC:
      1. Somebody to love - Queen
      2. Sleep safe and warm – Lullaby from Rosemary's baby
      3. Stairway to Heaven – Rolf Harris
    3. THOUGHTS:Do some Maori art? Seriously? What the hell do I know about Kowhaiwhai or Manutukutuku panels? They were easily the largest projects on the course and here in October I'm currently debating with myself about taking cultural studies for the Bachelor course.

      Cops were around a few times this month and Screechy Cat woman and her son were suddenly not here at all. I could say it isn't my place to speculate but then I remember that I'm a writer and also a nosy bastard.
      So anyway. The last time I heard him was when the cops were knocking on the door because he'd missed his court date , He demanded their badge numbers and it got louder and louder because they refused to give them to him right there.

      He adamantly refused to go with them and then mum got involved. That was fun to listen to.
    1. MOOD: Very Zen. Clearly the big B has noticed and spun the wheel of Karma in my favor (or possibly the big G - As long as it's not him from downstairs I'll be happy)
    2. MUSIC:
      1. Black Magic Woman - Santana
      2. Beelz – Stephen Lynch
      3. PURPLE PEOPLE EATER – Ray Stevens
    3. THOUGHTS:Woke up and realized that I was in something of a rut once again. But the difference between this one and the one from before is that in this one I wake up smiling and in a good mood that lasts all day.

      The shell, I'm happy to report is more or less completely gone although I do have to wonder if this is because the size of the classes have been steadily shrinking and thus bringing me to the foreground despite my efforts to remain in the background or if I'm becoming more extroverted. Possibly a mixture of both.
      (The shrinking classes are something of an enigma. Some people seem to have given up on the whole thing while others are doing their work at home and just not turning up to the classes. Not that we have much in the way of formal classes at this point. We've all got the briefs and know what it is we're supposed to be working on)

      Everyone is using everyone else as sounding blocks for their portfolio ideas. Being probed for your opinion is a constant danger for anybody who attempts to use the computer labs

      As for myself I've started thinking about the portfolio for this course and have come up with Contradictions which will be written entirely in braille although it will be just my luck to have my work marked by the one person at Weltec who can actually read it
      (Note: It might be the research into amputation and similar talking but braille is actually a fascinating way of writing. If Harts Change ever gets published there will most certainly be a version in braille.)
    1. MOOD: Everything is G for Ga roovy.
    2. MUSIC:
      1. Token Celtic Drinking Song – The Pogues
      2. I'm gonna buy me a dog – The Monkees
      3. Jump in the line – Harry Belafonte
    3. THOUGHTS:
      After all that running round it's good to be able to relax for a little while. Oh wait did I say relax? What a fool am I.
      My room is currently a tip which is a direct result of coming home late and leaving early. Lots of tidying up is going to be required.
      Dealing with Weltec in order to get enrolled in next years course is a bit of a headache but suddenly finding out that I wasn't actually enrolled for the summer school course which I thought I was enrolled for only adds to it. Have signed up for the Typography course instead which works out just fine.
    1. MOOD: Heads down, Bums Up (when I was in primary school this was what the teacher said when she wanted people to get on with their work. It's only now that I see the other meaning. There is something to be said for the innocence of youth)
    2. MUSIC:
      1. GhostBusters – Ray Parker Jr
      2. Tokyo Love Song – Arrogant Worms
      3. Knife Fight – Lemon Demon
    3. THOUGHTS:
      The typography course is great. No problems there but the thing is that it screws up the cashflow situation.
      Apparently they can't deal with one course ending and another course beginning and just like before, nobody can give me a straight answer about whether or not anything is being done about anything. This is the reason why I survived on 2 minute noodles and the good graces of my landlord for a week,
      But everything is sorted out now although I've said that before and it's all gone to heck in a heckbasket so for now we'll just knock on wood.

      Special mention to mum for this month, she's been ferrying me into Wellington almost every day.
      (She works in the city so it's not out of her way or anything)
    1. MOOD: Relaxationary
    2. MUSIC:
      1. The sad ballad of Danny Boy – Floater
      2. Lonesome Traveller – The Weavers
      3. Dominion Road – MuttonBirds
    3. THOUGHTS:
      I think that another of the tenants will either be evicted or be given a stern talking to by the landlord.
      You know that thing that happens when your drunk and your brain gets stuck on a loop which forces you to repeat a conversation with yourself over and over? There might be a fancy Latin name for it but over at the house it's just called 'Ohgodnotheragain' syndrome.
      (You'll know that you're doing it right when there is a part of you that is still sober enough to analyze exactly what your saying. But since it's only a few seconds before the drunken loop kicks around it doesn't get much of a look in)
      She had an especially loud bout - and I compare this with the other group in the house who, although they are loud, generally move their drinking sessions outside and/or wind them down around midnight
      (sometimes they end up shouting at each other ) - the other day, roaring and shouting at herself and anyone walking past the place, which was just as much fun as it sounds.

      Been hit with weird spells of insomnia again but to look on the positive side it's allowed me to burn through all of my novels and start up on Harts Change again.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Analysis of Rapunzel Or Rapunzel: A Wig Makers Joy



There seems to be quite a bit of moral ambiguity in tonights story. The cast of characters includes one witch who appears to be the baddie but, on closer inspection, turns out to be suffering from a rather extreme case of paranoia.
A husband who's only role is to get caught pinching Rapunzel [1].

You get 10 points if you can spot the connection between the two
Finally there's a handsome prince who doesn't actually seem to have any redeeming qualities beyond the ability to look rather dashing while scaling tall towers.
But not these towers. I'd have a little more respect for the story if she was at the top of one of these ones
However, before we actually get into the story I must take a step back and say that there is a tendency, when reading or writing witch-centric stories, to bore everyone to death with the Which witch joke. I therefore make a solemn vow that you will not see that joke in this story.
Seriously, it's been done to death and is even lamer than the “French are cheese eating surrender monkeys” meme. I don't have a lot of lines but this is one that I absolutely refuse to cross.

Infact, if I do accidentally make this joke I am fully prepared to take 10 points off Gryfindor. That should give you an idea of how serious I am.


A long time ago, a husband and his wife lived happily in a cottage at the edge of a wood, one day the wife fell ill and would eat nothing. As she grew thinner and thinner [2] her husband pleaded with her to eat something, All she had to do was name it he said and he'd get it for her. Finally the wife confessed that there was only thing that she could eat and that thing just happened to be a strange herb which grew in the beautiful garden next to their cottage [3].

Now this beautiful garden belonged to a wicked witch who used it to grow herbs for her spells and when you add this to the fact that the husband simply vaulted over the wall rather than knocking on the womans door and simply asking for some or even offering to buy it from the witch, which I think we can all agree is what any normal person would have done, then she's very much justified in both catching him in the act and also wanging him over the head with a number 9 size cast iron frying pan wot has been specially designed to be used both in the kitchen and also in the field of burglary prevention [4].

“Think you can steal from a defenseless old woman do you?” she cried out in the time honored fashion of someone who doesn't have a lot of time and is determined to get in as much payback as possible “well I'll learn ya!”
It took a long time but the husband finally managed to spell out exactly what his reasons were and the witch [5] let him know that if he were to give her their first born child then he could take all the Rapunzel that he wanted.

Now the thing to remember is that, although the husband agreed to the deal, his thinking was that
A) She was a very old witch and would certainly be done away with by a couple of young tearaways any day now.
B) Even if she wasn't 'orribly murdered in some manner then she was so old that she probably wouldn't remember this meeting.
This goes to show that you can’t expect convenient murders to just happen. You have to go out and make them happen. Because a few years later, when the wife had just given birth the witch paid a visit.

“Ah” said the husband “I thought you was dead”
“I got better. But lets not hang about, give me the child and I'll be off”
“Are you sure we can't keep her? I mean we did all the work after all. What about if I guess your name?”
“Don't you try and lay the old Rumpelstiltskin game on me Sonny Jim. We had a deal and if there's one thing you don't want to do it's back out of a deal with me and my magic capice?”
“Capice” the husband agreed sadly, wondering how he was going to explain this to his wife
“I mean I might not even bother with the old abracadabra. I've still got the frying pan you know”
“I'm capicing already! Oh just take the little poo larvae if you must”
“Oh I must” said the witch [6] and took the child far away.

Except that she didn't. The girl grew up in the witchy garden right under the noses of the couple who could see her laughing and playing, just to add the extra strength industrial sodium into the wound the witch named her Rapunzel [7]

But the good times couldn't last forever and eventually the witches paranoia got the better of her. Rapunzel was 12 when she was locked up in a high tower just in case she tried to run away, there were no doors or staircases but Rapunzel was quite happy up there as she could sit at the window watching the life of the forest and talking to the birds.
Yet sometimes she would sigh, for she longed to be back in the beautiful garden where she could run and skip in the sunshine but then she would sing to cheer herself up and that was how she spent her days.

Each day the witch came to see her and brought fresh food and Rapunzel would drop her hair out of the window and allow the witch to ascend the tower while, and at the same time, thumbing her nose towards plausibility and sticking her tongue out at Split Ends.

But not these guys. These guys are super cool.

 When the witch left she would use the hair to abseil down the side of the tower with, it should be noted, absolutely no safety gear on at all [8].
One day the kings son was riding through the forest when he heard Rapunzel singing, once he found the tower and saw how the witch gained access he waited until she had gone and then called for Rapunzel to do the same. Naturally when he got to the top of the tower he fell instantly in love with her [9] and they talked together for a long time before he left her with a promise that he would come again [10] and soon [11].
Things went on like this for a while and then one day Rapunzel said  “Why is it, when you climb up my hair you are so heavy? The handsome prince who comes in is much lighter than you” [12]
Predictably the witch flew into a rage and took Rapunzel out of the tower and led her into the forest to a lonely spot and told her that she must stay there without food or shelter and then cuts her hair and leaves her alone.
When the prince came by that evening he called for the hair and it came down easily enough but the punchline was that it wasn't Rapunzel at the end of it.
“Surprise Princy!” the witch cackled “You'll not see my Rapunzel again” and she scratched out his eyes before pushing him out of the tower and laughing even harder when she saw that he landed in a thorny bush.
The prince wandered blindly in the forest for some days [13] but then he heard a voice singing. He blindly followed the sound since he couldn't do much of anything else and realized that he had stumbled across Rapunzel with the extremely contrived sort of luck that you normally only get in the Disney version.  They kissed and as she did so the princes eyes were healed and he could see again. Wasting no time they went to the king and told him the story [14]
Rapunzel was finally reunited with her parents who were overjoyed to see their daughter again and a proclamation was made to forever ban that witch from the kingdom. A grand wedding was had and the celebration lasted for a week, but as for the witch she was never seen again [15].
• Rapunzel the herb:
What, exactly, is Rapunzel? After all the trouble it's caused it had better be something like a saffron that sells for $100 an ounce.
• Rapunzel the girl:
It has to be said and I'm not trying to be cruel but I don't think that this is the sharpest poisoned apple in the poisoned apple basket. I mean she just blurts out the fact that she's seeing a prince to the, obviously paranoid witch of a mother and when she's locked in the tower she just accepts it as a matter of course and doesn't mind it at all because she can look out at the forest and talk to the birds.
Seriously? She doesn't even have an internet connection! [16] I mean at the very least give her a binoculars and a CB radio so she can watch out for forest fires. 
• The witch. Which witch? That witch:
The witch puts a girl in a tower because she's scared Rapunzel might run away. Then when an uncontrollable variable, i.e. The Prince, comes onto the scene she removes Rapunzel from said tower, gives her a haircut and then leaves her alone in the forest with nothing more than a promise to stay where she is?
My only answer for this behavior is that she was dangerously paranoid, didn't cope well with change. In her mind there were very logical reasons for her actions but to the rest of us however the whole thing seems pretty strange.
I suspect, were this story being written today, that this prince wouldn't get much of a look in. I mean Rapunzel, once free from the witch, need only pick a direction in which to move and sooner or later she'll come across a village or some woodsmen or a little gingerbread cottage [17].
In fact, were it I who was writing this story it would most certainly have one scene where the prince is in the tower and hiding in plain sight with a variety of silly costumes. Also, after she was abandoned in the forest my Rapunzel certainly wouldn't stay there crying her eyes out or moaning about where her prince is [18].
The big thing to ponder about this story is exactly who is the villain? I mean we're told that its the witch on the rather flimsy and extremely circular piece of logic that she's wicked because she's a witch and she’s a witch because she's wicked. While this is a woman who, perhaps, shouldn't be around children it would seem that all this hostility stems from the rather extreme paranoia that she suffers from rather than actual magic powers.
Neither is it the father who, it cannot be denied is a thief yes but when your wife will only eat one particular thing then you can be forgiven for making certain that she has a steady supply of it.
No once we've stripped away everyone else I'm afraid that it's the prince himself who is the real villain in this melodrama. He was healed from blindness by her kisses – or her tears depending on which version you're going from – and what did he do?
Only took her home to the castle to live a life of luxury and several bouncing happily ever afters which all combine to keep her away from any sort of potentially rewarding career as a miracle optician.
This whole aspect of the tower story intrigues me and not just for the phallic symbolism [19]. It's an interesting thing that the witch was never seen again in the kingdom because the last place that we saw her was in the tower scratching out the princes eyes.
Now please forgive the speculation but:
Maybe the tower was the only place that the witch felt safe from the outside world. But she couldn't just build the tower and then kick the ladder away because it wouldn't be long before some wandering hero and his pussycat happened across the structure and decided to climb to the top.
The witch decides to put Rapunzel in the tower and kicks off the series of events which
A) Get her daughter a good husband who is far above the type of man she would have gotten if she'd stayed with her birth parents [20]. and
B) Give the tower a fearsome reputation which allows the witch to live out her days in solitary bliss.
Which witch Joke Counter: 40 points from Gryfindor – Sorry, I just couldn't resist. The joke was just too much for me. [21]
  1. The herb, not the girl – I wouldn't normally include a note for this sort of thing but in this story it's important to know the difference.
  2. The no food diet actually works? Who knew?
  3. Which was by a forest in case you had forgotten.
  4. It’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t actually being used in a field but only because I want to make certain that there’s no life left in this gag.
  5. Which is what she was by the way, you might want to start taking notes.
  6. “The narrative demands it”
    “Why didn’t you say so? That makes it perfectly all right then”
  7. If nothing else it guarentees that she is going to have one hell of a story for the girls 21st birthday party.
  8. “Bye mum. Thanks for setting such a good example”
  9. Ah would that it worked like that in real life. All anyone would need to guarantee true love is a handy tower. The renting of which, I feel certain, would not be too much of a strain on ones finances.
  10. And since this is, ofiicially at least, a story for children I’ll take 10 points from Gryfindor for anyone who sniggered at this bit.
  11. Most princes would need a ten minute break – another 10 points from Gryfindor BTW.
  12. “Also, why is this, like, my only line in the whole story? I mean, come on”
  13. In older versions of the story he wandered blind for years before finding Rapunzel AND she was in a completely different country. Talk to your grandparents and you’ll soon realize that people back then were a lot tougher.
  14. "Hey dad. I found this girl in the woods like two days ago and now I’m gonna marry her” It is to be hoped that they worked out the details a little better than that but I’m not pinning my hopes very high.
  15. Day: 1045 – Still inside tower. sick of all these birds. @PrinceFabuloso: Where are you?
  16. She should avoid at least one of these.
  17. My kids will happily go to sleep after I read them the story of Princess Ripley, the powerloader and the Evil Queen. Of course I’ll wake them up to make certain they hear the good bits.
  18. Don’t worry I’m not about to start banging on about Freud – Mainly because I think a lot of what he said is absolute rubbish and will be the subject of a future post.
  19. The fact that he was a prince seems to be a happy turn of fate. Presumably there was nobody else available because they were all at work with no time to swan about looking dashing.
  20. Surprise! You've just been Slytherined! - I've taken the online test three times now and there is clearly only one house that is prepared to accept me.