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Halloween 2011

Everything Morbid & Magnificent

Editor: Charity Bishop Columnists: Eliza Gabe Ella G. Katharine Taylor Lydia M. Lydia Watson Contributors: Caitlin Horton Carissa Horton Carol Starkey Emily Ragsdale Hannah Kingsley Hannah Price Rachel Sexton Rissi C. Ruth Anderson Shannon H. Sponsor: Charity’s Place

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Writer’s Blogs: Carissa Charity Eliza Ella Emily Hannah Lydia M. Rissi

Ruth Shannon

The Symbolism of

Pushing Daisies

The Power of Love

Harry Potter

Oh, Mortimer!

Arsenic & Old Lace

Book vs. Film


Pro & Con


Faeries Run Amock

The Wee Folk

Memoirs of


Robin McKinley’s


Dr. Strange &

Mr. Norrell

In a Bind

Ask Lydia

Obsessed With


The Artwork Of

Edward Gorey

A Study of Magic

HP vs. Secret Circle

Ever Monstrous

Claude Frollo

The Music of


Love & Distrust in

Red Riding Hood

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verything touches us in some way or another. For some of us, Harry Potter was not just a phenomenon but a life-altering experience. Some may find it hard to believe that could be true but for me it is. I believe that Christians can find inspirational material in a multitude of places, not the least of which are the magical corridors of Hogwarts. I knew when introducing this theme and making the choice to put out this special issue on Halloween that it would raise a few eyebrows, but it was also a challenge to my writers to stretch their appreciation of art, literature and film and seek out truth wherever it resides. I would like to say I am surprised at the result but I’m not. I have the immense pleasure of working with talented and gifted individuals who can peer into the heart and soul of different mediums and glean nuggets of wisdom from them. In these pages you will find references to and explorations of magic, read more about the positives and negatives of the

vampire craze, discern different kinds of lasting love, realize the impact a musical score has, learn that not all monsters are creatures but that some are profoundly human, and discover new and exciting worlds in which more lurks than just werewolves. Maybe you are already familiar with this odd assortment of characters and tales but even if you are not, I do encourage you to open up your mind, settle back with your cat and a cup of tea, and revel in the delights we place before you. Love and appreciation for each topic was put into this issue and it shows through in the hearts and words of my contributors. I love Femnista. I love what it inspires. I love that it remains diverse in its contributions, showing a wide range of interests and passions. It is my hope that with time and patience, you will come to love it too. Go forth, dear readers‌ live, love, appreciate, and explore. â–



By Hannah Kingsley

hat do berry pie and dead people have in common? If you are not familiar with a television show that aired between the years 2007 and 2009, your answer might be ―nothing.‖ But if you are fortunate enough to have experienced the charm and visual vintage-coolness of Pushing Daisies, you may have an altogether different response. Regardless, in reading further perhaps you will find that berry pie and death work well together. In Pushing Daisies, a pie-maker named Ned has the ability to bring the dead back to life with a single touch. In his pie shop, his life-giving power translates into transforming moldy strawberries into fresh fare that customers enjoy. More usefully, this same power enables him to help his friend and private detective Emerson Cod to solve murder investigations by bringing murder victims back to life so they can answer questions about the nature of their deaths. With Ned’s power come limitations and liabilities. He can bring the dead back to life but if they stay alive for more than sixty seconds something must die in its place (keeping a bird alive will result in the death of a nearby random squirrel). Fortunately, there is a way out of the death-for-life exchange. A second touch from Ned before the end of a minute can end the life of the re-animated before a replacement must die. That second touch yields a final death, beyond Ned’s ability


to rescue any further. Due to the fragility of life that surrounds him, Ned is not comfortable with most physical contact, including from the living. He is also an unlikely detective due to his awkwardness and lack of confidence but his genuine nature makes him likeable as a character. The supporting characters share his likeability and make the show enjoyable to watch. While I hesitate to call any show wholesome, and Pushing Daisies certainly isn’t perfect in terms of morality, there is an aspect to several of the characters that seems definitively genuine and good-natured. This in and of itself makes the series refreshing, even if it can be very idealistic. Pushing Daisies is unique in that it uses a crime-theme to a different advantage than most mainstream crime-shows. Here, solving murders is fun, not scary, as well as visually stunning in terms of set design and the vintage costuming. Rather than relying on suspense and clues to drive the plot, the show uses irony and comedy to make viewers laugh and think. One of the greatest ironies is that while Ned can bring back from death the girl (now turned young woman) to whom he gave his first kiss he can no longer express affection in another kiss or she will remain dead… forever! Which is the greater pain—to love but have lost, or to love but not be able to love more fully? Less obvious jokes and

ironies are played out at a fast-pace throughout the series and it may take some reflection to catch them! Even the title is a play on words, hinting at the dark context while preserving a tongue-in-cheek nature. There are a surprising amount of spiritual themes, which makes the show

speculation. It is likely that some may find themselves projecting their motivations on Ned when he is faced with similar situations. Another deeply spiritual component is that Ned must decide the value of lives as compared with one another. When he chooses to rescue the girl-next-door

interesting coming from a Christian perspective. For example, in one episode Ned feels uncomfortable bringing a murder victim back to life when he is near an image of Jesus. Is this caused by superstition, a respect or belief in other supernatural-type powers or persons, or is there another factor involved? This is something the script -writers leave to viewer

he still loves, it means that someone else must die in her place. Ned’s actions may or may not be justified yet viewers understand and defend his decision and hope someone else won’t really have to die. The consequences seem too unlikely to happen because it’s love, after all—isn’t it meant to be? Another line of thought might suggest that while we claim that

everyone is equally valuable, we place different value on the lives of some and are not willing to sacrifice for others. For those that share a Christian belief system, it is interesting to note that while Ned’s powers may be impressive, they are temporary. Ned cannot extend someone’s life an eternity. He can only restore them to the state they were in prior to their death. They will still die of other causes or old age eventually. Similarly, many of Jesus’ miracles on earth have been temporary. People have been cured only to die of old age, or have been resurrected from death only to die again. Yet this isn’t a story of hopelessness but of hope. We are promised rescue beyond the physical and the gift of new bodies that are completely whole. In Pushing Daisies, someone must die for another to live. All of us have had death in us when we have led lives separate from God in sin, but Jesus died so we could live. He took our place, voluntarily, to provide us with life that extends beyond what we can see here on earth. Unlike in Pushing Daisies, however, the amazing thing is that Jesus died in our place, came back, and is still alive and always will be. His is an undefeated victory over death, while Ned’s gift is only temporary. But at least in his world, it means that those Ned helps can be served another slice of his famous berry pie. ■



ttempting to describe my affection for the Harry Potter book series is impossible; the mark it has left on me is undeniable and I am a different person today because of it. Though there are many powerful messages in its pages, the strongest is love in all forms … friendships that grow and strengthen, the love parents have for their children, and romantic love both true and lasting and weak and waning. Love survives, transcends, grows and offers salvation. It is the redemption of Snape and the destruction of Lord Voldemort. From the very beginning, the power of love is apparent when Harry wonders how he survived the death curse that killed his parents. Dumbledore reveals it was his mother sacrificing her life for his that allowed him to live. ―That kind of love leaves a mark, Harry… it is in your very skin.‖ Lily was given a choice to save herself and abandon her son but she chose to die and in doing so gave Harry the ultimate protection. The religious symbolism of her sacrifice comes full circle in the last book when Harry realizes that to defeat Lord Voldemort, he must first die. By this time, Harry is

in control of the Deathly Hallows, powerful objects that make him invincible: the Invisibility Cloak, the Resurrection Stone, and the Elder Wand. But to save the world from evil, Harry permits Voldemort to kill him. In the afterlife, he is given a choice to continue on into eternity through a more permanent death or to return and fight his enemy. Because of the love he has for humanity, Harry chooses to rise again and defeat Voldemort. Love is the one thing Lord Voldemort does not understand and as a result,

he underestimates the love Harry has for his friends, the Malfoys have for their son, and Snape has for Lily Potter. Not only does her death save Harry, it turns Snape against the Dark Lord, giving the professor a chance at redemption. Throughout the series, Snape’s dislike of Harry is apparent. While ultimately sacrificial in his actions, Snape takes out his deep resentment for James Potter on his son by harassing him in class, ordering him into detention, and insulting his friends. One has to wonder how much of his behavior

was genuine or forced through his feigned loyalty to Voldemort. Snape’s true motivations are so deeply hidden not even Voldemort suspects the truth, but he is forced to do things he hates in order to succeed in his goal of enabling Harry with the strength to eventually defeat Voldemort. He succeeds, but not without losing his life. In one of the most powerful chapters in the entire series, we learn the truth about Snape and his relationship with Lily. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of forsaken love; mistakes and choices


that cause her affection for him to fade as Snape pursues evil and James wins her over. It shows the true heart of Snape, in his selfishness and guilt. His love story makes the rest pale in comparison but we find examples of true love over and over again… in Fleur’s devotion to Bill in spite of his injury, in Tonks’s marriage to Lupin, in the contrast between the attraction of Harry and Cho and his feelings for Ginny, even in Hermione and Ron admitting their feelings for one another. But in the end, it is the nonromantic love

that makes an impression on us: the friendship of the Boy Who Lived, His Best Friend, and the Insufferable Know-It-All sustains Harry through the most difficult portions of his life. In good times and bad, Hermione and Ron are there for him, cheering him on and giving him the support he needs to love enough to sacrifice his life for them and become worthy of looking up to. It is because of their faith in him that Harry transforms into a leader, a teacher, and inspires such characters as Neville to find courage. In the end, love is the driving

force in all their lives. Love makes Dumbledore give Harry challenges to prepare him for what lies ahead. Molly kills Bellatrix out of love for her daughter and remorse over the loss of her son. Love causes Narcissa to betray Voldemort in exchange for information about the fate of her child. Rowling manages to reach deep into the soul of her reader and elicit a wide variety of emotions, from laughter at humorous antics to tears of sorrow and cries of outrage. A generation was raised on her subtle philosophies, that courage

is finding the strength to stand on your convictions, evil is to be fought against at all costs, there are some causes worth dying for, and love triumphs over all. In her world, from the instant Harry is left on the steps of his uncle and aunt’s home on Privet Drive to when he sends his youngest son, Albus Severus Potter, off on the train to Hogwarts, our spirit is tugged on, our heart is broken and mended a dozen times, and we are encouraged to remember that love redeems… and ―The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.‖ ■


By Caitlin Horton


e begin our tale on October 31st, where a man named Mortimer Brewster finds himself in line to get a marriage license. His blushing bride, Elaine Harper, stands a good head shorter than he and kindly ignores the fact that he is both a dramatic critic and anti-matrimonial minded bloke. Everything goes according to plan and he happily takes his wife back to her home to pack, which happens to be right across the street from where his sweet, elderly spinster aunts, Abby and Martha,

reside. Abby and Martha are as charming as their historic abode and take care of their peculiar nephew, Teddy, who believes himself to be President Theodore Roosevelt. Mortimer feels as though he is floating on a cloud, his family is delighted that he finally wed Elaine, and a small celebration is quickly arranged. To ensure that the bride’s father, the honorable Reverend Harper, does not accidentally stumble across the unpublished manuscript to his newest book, Mind Over Matrimony, Mortimer

begins to search the quaint sitting room. Up goes the curtain that falls onto the window seat and down comes Mortimer’s cloud of happiness like a lead balloon. For lying in the window seat is a very much deceased elderly gentleman. Of course one does not expect to find a dead body in a window seat and Mortimer immediately thinks Teddy is to blame. Like most people, he wants to take the easy way out of a nightmare. Sadly, though, his two sweet aunts are responsible for the

gentleman’s untimely demise. What’s more, they confess to it! They believe that they are doing lonely old men a charity by killing them with poisoned elderberry wine. The basement then becomes a graveyard for the deceased with a congenial Teddy digging the graves himself and attending the proper graveside service the two old dears perform. Teddy believes all of these dearly departed men to be yellow fever victims. Throughout this morbid Halloween night, other


guests come to call, not the least of which is Teddy and Mortimer’s other brother, Jonathan Brewster, wanted for insidious crimes, and his little tag-along plastic surgeon, Dr. Einstein (yes, that’s his real name). Much to everyone’s shock, Jonathan resembles Boris Karloff; the terrifying result of Dr. Einstein’s drinking habit and fetish for horror movies. Jonathan also brings with him another guest, who also happens to be as dead as the proverbial doornail. Bodies get mixed up and

argued over and a steady stream of police officers, insane asylum workers, and a cabby keep the house up all night. And all that time none suspect that the little old ladies have buried thirteen gentlemen in their basement. None except for Mortimer, who strives his very hardest to keep that secret buried, keep himself from going insane, and still make the train for Niagra Falls with his darling little Elaine. Poor chap. He never imagined himself sitting on the stairs, trussed in yards of rope and

singing like a crazed canary: ―There is a Happy Dale far, far, away.‖ The quaint little house is like a ticking time bomb, waiting to go off. About this point you might be wondering what this insane bit of film is called and how it ends. The movie is entitled Arsenic and Old Lace and came out in 1944 but it is still as fresh and funny now as it was then. It ends, most certainly, but you’ll have to find out how on your own. Life is full of surprises, so think of this as one of the

best ones. Mortimer is played to perfection by beloved Hollywood leading man Cary Grant, in spite of claiming it was one of his least-favorite roles, and Raymond Massey does a marvelous job as the villainous Jonathan. No matter how many times I have viewed it, the movie never gets old. It is always funny and frightening, but never gruesome, and watching it on Halloween has become a family tradition. I hope that this year it will become your Halloween tradition, too! ■



rom the age we learn to read, we are told a book is always best. If for some reason, a movie production team got its hands on it— well, it just can’t compare. After all, it was first conceived in the author’s mind and penned with their original intent. While films can do their utmost to do the author justice, it is rare when the feat is achieved. I have been disappointed with several of my favorite books turned into movie adaptations. Jane Eyre was one of my favorite reads in high school but I have yet to see a film that fully captures the essence of Charlotte Bronte’s classic. Pride and Prejudice had to go through many different versions before something worthy of Jane Austen’s beloved novel came to fruition. I have only seen one version of The Scarlet

Pimpernel but it strays from the book that gave me hours of enjoyment. One could call me a snob, but I prefer the term ―Purist.‖ Maybe this prejudice is because in words we have the pleasure of painting our own mental pictures. While actors and actresses are great, they don’t always fit our imagination! Or maybe we like novels because of the length offered. Charles Dickens was famously paid by the word so he used twenty when ten would do. Yet it is the lengthiness that makes Dickens as widely remembered as he is. If all screenwriters condensed every Dickens novel into a two hour time slot, there’d be multiple and important details missed. That is one of my biggest pet peeves. I usually fall in love with one of the lesser known scenes in a book and for time

purposes, they often get left on the cutting room floor. Why go through that when I can curl up with the book in all its unblemished glory? On occasion a film does meet our expectations and we see it as something the author would be proud of. It might not be one hundred percent what we would hope it to be, but it is still enjoyable and entertaining. The BBC has done very well with its adaptations of British authors Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens. Yes, what does help is the fact that they are miniseries, thus getting rid of the time impediment. A miniseries causes the vividness of Cranford, North and South, and Little Dorrit to come alive. Sometimes, in those lucky moments, even the casting choices are ones that resemble our imagination.

It is rare indeed when a movie makes the book better, but for Beastly, such a thing happened. In Alex Flinn’s teen bestseller, Beastly seems to take a monotonous tone. Written in first person, we see the story from Kyle’s point of view: what he was thinking and feeling when Magda, his school mate (and a witch in disguise) turned him into a full blown beast—fur, claws, the works. He is outfitted with the tools needed to have him live his new life, even a magic mirror. No more does he look like Mr. GQ yet he is tasked with finding a true love who will love him, not his image. For a while, Kyle just buries himself away in a chat room, chatting with the likes of the Frog Prince and a woman that bears a strong resemblance to the Little

By Ella G.

Mermaid. Yet when a man comes and attempts to rob his home Kyle strikes a deal with him. His daughter Lindy (Kyle’s classmate) must come and live with him or else he will go to the police. Lindy does and Kyle becomes Adrian; after all, he does not want his true identity to be known. With the help of Lindy, a blind tutor, and the housemaid that Kyle’s father has hired to care for him, Kyle begins to soften towards people and sees them in a whole new light. He also falls in love with Lindy and does nice things for her, from building her a green house to taking a bullet for her. It is that bullet that causes Lindy to admit her love… and the spell is broken. No longer a beast, Kyle has learned his lesson—beauty is only skin deep. The book has a great message but the characters seem to lack depth. There is not much description given to anyone, it doesn’t go into great detail about any event, and the book is written quite lamely. The movie is, in my opinion, much, much better. For starters, the casting is good. Alex Pettyfer seems to fit the role of the ―teen heartthrob‖ rather well. Girls are not going to object to his sandy hair and toned figure. Yet he also is easily hated in the school scenes where he is so self-serving and snobby. As a vivid contrast, Vanessa Hudgens stays in a form much like her character in High School Musical. She is

sweet and unpretentious; you truly believe her performance as Lindy falls in love with Kyle. Mary Kate Olsen was an equally superb choice as Kendra, the witch. It’s hard to describe why I feel this way. Perhaps it is because

quite brilliant. Realistically, you couldn’t have a guy wandering around the streets of NYC in a lion costume, even if he did try to wear sweatshirts to cover it up. It just would be ridiculous. Instead, Kyle is given a shaved head, deep

her dress choice is so unique, much like it is in real life. Or maybe because of her long tenure in the industry, she can just take on this role in a believable way. But my favorite choice was Neil Patrick Harris as the blind tutor, Will. He is positively hilarious and the scene stealer every time he is on screen. I loved every time his character interacted with someone. The screenwriters’ actions of making Kyle a more realistic beast was

scars and lacerations as well as some of his most vile words ever slung at fellow students branded onto his own flesh. To quote Kendra ―You now look as you are on the inside.” It’s a version of ugliness we believe. Hadn’t we been taught as children that we are what we say? For Kyle, it becomes a living, active fact yet it is also an ugliness we are not grossed out by. We are drawn to Kyle and hope for a return to his normal self, albeit a less egotistical, self serving one.

Beastly’s successes also lie in the little things. Doing away with Kyle using a message board is a good thing. It didn’t add anything to the book anyway. Having Lindy come to Kyle in the form of Kyle playing a protector lends an old fashioned charm. In the film, Lindy’s father is a drug addict who kills his dealer. Kyle vows to not tell the police as long as Lindy lives with him, since one dealer did get away. Thus, ―Hunter‖ rather than ―Adrian‖ is born. Also, the emphasis placed on both the letter Kyle writes to Lindy and the green house he builds are truly magical. All of this wrapped together invokes the Beauty and the Beast qualities the story was going for but in a far more sophisticated way. Beastly could have shied away from the book and added junk of some sort. Yet it did not. It remained true to the modern retelling of the Disney tale I grew up with and relatively true to the book it is based on. The ending, however, I thought was vastly different until I discovered the alternate ending on the DVD. While some only prefer the alternative ending, I like them both. Equally, they cause me to smile and be glad. For once the movie did not let me down; in fact, for once my expectations were defied. A rare quality to be found, to be sure, which is why Beastly has found its way into my heart. ■


Discussion of this particular book series can become a heated topic. Arguments about it range from whether or not it is appropriate for young readers to its underlining themes and messages, and even the quality of the writing. For fun, I asked two of my friends to discuss the pros and cons of the series. Neither of them knew the direction the other would take, so the results are surprising‌ two perspectives on a similar point, plus the ups and downs of Stephanie Meyers’ world.


came late to the Twilight Saga, not reading the first book until Eclipse had knocked Harry Potter off the Number One Bestseller spot. I’d seen it at the library and even flipped through it a few times to see what it was about, but my lifelong avoidance of vampires as something that would guarantee nightmares was tough to break. But in the wake of Harry Potter I was feeling blue. What was there to look forward to now that Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s adventures had been wrapped up? The answer it seemed was this Twilight book I kept hearing about. I wound up at the bottom of a long list of people on hold for it at the library (number 57, I think) and impatience got the better of me one night at Walmart when I saw a display of paperbacks for $6. ―What’s that?‖ my mom asked as I rejoined her in line. ―Some book about vampires. I dunno, it’s really popular right now,‖ I muttered when she gave me her skeptical, ―Since when do you read that sort of thing?‖ look. Three days later, having stayed up until three in the morning to finish Twilight, I left the store clutching shiny hardcover copies of New Moon and Eclipse, since I couldn’t stand the library’s wait to find out what happened next. I’m always baffled when people criticize the way Stephenie Meyer writes. For me it was love at first word; her writing is hypnotic, drawing you deeper and deeper into the story. The rainy, gloomy atmosphere of Forks pervades every chapter. The contrast between Bella’s warmth (her cheeks are constantly burning with blushes) and Edward’s chill, his icy fingers brushing hers, leaves you feeling feverish. The details like what Bella eats for breakfast, the scent of her favorite shampoo, her clothes and the books she reads serve to anchor the fantastic elements in the real world. This could happen to me, you think. Bella, used to taking care of her mother in a similar way, takes over the cooking and cleaning when she moves in with her father. ―Antifeminist!‖ some cry. Nonsense. Was it antifeminist when she cooked and cleaned for her mother? Or is it that she does it because someone has to, she’s used to it being her, and left to his own devices Charlie would subsist on pizza and only clean the bathroom once every few months?


am not an expert on vampire and werewolf lore. I have never picked up Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, one of the premiere monster novels of literature, or watched or read anything monstrous from either historical fiction or modern non-fiction. To be honest, I keep away from stories containing supernatural creatures like vampires and werewolves because I have always found them to be dark and scary. As a girl who reads Shakespeare for fun and watches Sense and Sensibility when feeling down, I’m really not the type who likes being ―thrilled‖ or frightened. So how I ended up picking up Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight Saga and reading it is beyond my comprehension. I don’t remember how I first heard about the series or what enticed me into borrowing the books from the library, but I did. However, I do remember reading Twilight for the first time. The sense of being ―thrilled‖ was a strange feeling for me and I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it or not. But I thought the story was interesting so I began the second book… and the third… then the fourth. After I was finished, I moved onto the next series that grabbed my interest. I liked reading the books, but the story was so different and unnerving I didn’t want to linger too long. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen’s love story was passionate and intense, like a raging fire at times, instead of the glowing embers that I was used to from books like Pride and Prejudice, or A Walk to Remember. Before I launch into a commentary, let me first say that I am neutral when it comes to the series. I enjoy an occasional viewing of the films but am neither a Twi-hard (as Twilight fans are called) or a Twi-hater. I’m lukewarm towards it, and can see both the positives and negatives but as I’m writing about the cons of the saga, I will let my discernment have free rein and bring into the light the reasons why Twilight isn’t the safest stomping ground for fantasy seekers. When I examine Twilight as a collective whole (the entire story arc, including the books and films), there are three main points I would like to address. The first revolves around the relationship between the story’s main characters. Bella and Edward are understandable on the surface; Bella just wants to have control over her destiny, end up with the man of her dreams and keep the affection of


By Emily Ragsdale

And of course there’s Edward Cullen, the vampire who doesn’t want to be a monster. We fall in love with him along with Bella, reveling in every glance, each careful conversation, his golden eyes, carefully tousled bronze hair, the ability to read minds that is both a blessing and a curse. The chapter where he saves her in Port Angeles and they go to dinner is surely one of the most romantic scenes ever written (and by comparison, the scene in the movie is a travesty). ―Creepy stalker!‖ some cry when Edward reveals he’s been sneaking through the window at night to watch her sleep, and they’d have a point if this was just a book about an ordinary high school romance. Edward has been living as an outsider too long to think about human rules. In his mind, Bella is fascinating and while she’s sleeping is the only time he can indulge his interest in her. He thinks he’s the worst thing that could ever happen to her and doesn’t want her to find out he likes her. In his mind, it’s better this way. He can watch her, listen to her talking in her sleep and maybe find out about her that way, and she doesn’t have to know. He’ll be able to walk away eventually and let her live her life in peace as a human, never knowing

there are such things as vampires. Now, I don’t recommend that anyone let her boyfriend climb in the window every night but vampire romances aren’t meant to be a guide to real life! As a Christian, one thing I like about these vampires is that their struggle against a

drink from her. Vampires can’t just take a little drink here and there; once they bite a human, they go into a shark-like feeding frenzy and can’t stop until all the blood is gone. Edward constantly fights against his vampire nature in order to be close to Bella. It’s a familiar fight for a

desire for blood mirrors our struggle against our sin nature. The Cullens constantly thirst for human blood but rather than give in, they resist by drinking animal blood, which satisfies the thirst but allows them to keep their humanity. Bella and Edward’s relationship is fraught with tension, especially at first as he struggles with his desire to

Christian, a desire to do good in spite of the evil in our own hearts, and our need to guard against things which tempt us to sin. While many Christians disapprove of how often Edward stays at Bella’s house, many non-Christians disapprove of the fact that nothing happens on those nights. They mock Edward for not wanting to sleep with Bella while she’s

human and assume the author had a pro-abstinence plan in mind when she wrote some of the scenes in Eclipse, but what they miss is that not jumping into bed together ―just because they can‖ is a key part of the romance. What makes so many girls swoon over Edward is that he is a gentleman and wants to do things the ―right way.‖ At one point, Bella decides that before she becomes a vampire she wants to sleep with Edward. She’s just heard a bunch of horror stories about what it’s like as a newborn vampire and is afraid the intensity of her love for him will be dulled by her new obsession with blood. Edward puts her off not as she expected because he’s afraid of hurting her (though that does play a part) but because having grown up in the early 1900s he doesn’t believe in premarital sex. His marriage proposal that follows her attempt to seduce him is so romantic, I’m surprised more people don’t vow to save sex for marriage as a result! It was one of the few scenes the movie got right. I was sure they’d tone down the abstinence aspect, but thankfully it was left in. Bella is such a fascinating character, it’s frustrating to find so many people who write her off as a Mary-Sue stand-in for the reader to


allow you to put yourself in the story. I’ve always found her to be very strong and well-defined. It’s true that her descriptions of herself are vague, but that ties more to her disregard for herself than is an attempt to let you see yourself in her. Bella thinks she is the least interesting person around; shy and introverted, she wants to disappear into the background. Because she has such a low opinion of herself, she’s willing to sacrifice what she wants for the people she loves. When her mom marries a baseball player and wants to travel with him, Bella exiles herself to rainy Forks, a town she’s never cared for, so her mom can be happy. When a vicious vampire threatens everyone she cares about, Bella doesn’t even think about saving herself, she jumps in a cab to go find him, hoping he’ll be satisfied to kill her and leave the others alone. Like a lot of shy people, Bella can be unintentionally snobby—when boys at school start paying attention to her, she’s more irritated than flattered. She doesn’t want to go on a lot of awkward high school dates. Her crushes are on literary men like Mr. Darcy. It takes

Edward Cullen to attract her. He’s different from the other boys at Forks High. Not just better-looking but more courteous, easier to talk to, mysterious and intriguing… a literary man come to life. Edward is not without his flaws but hardly deserving of the criticism some people throw at him. He is overprotective, at times condescending, and has a tendency to overreact, but through the course of the series, he changes for the better. When he does things Bella doesn’t like she doesn’t just say, ―Whatever you want!‖ and swoon into his arms. She stands up to him and asks him to see things from her perspective. By Eclipse they have both learned to bring up the

difficult topics and talk them over to work toward a compromise, rather than be clingy and terrified that the other will leave them if there’s any problem. They both start out with flaws but grow together and change each other—literally, in Edward’s case, as he finally turns Bella into a vampire in Breaking Dawn. Finally on equal footing, Bella overcomes her insecurities about the relationship and Edward’s fears that she will hate him for taking away her life are laid to rest, and they live ―happily ever after.‖ It’s true, Twilight is a slow progression through meeting, getting to know each other, and falling in love with not much action,

vampire or otherwise. Maybe that’s what some vampire fans dislike about it. It’s not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with vampires being staked right and left and humans being attacked. The only action comes in spurts, with a lot of everyday life in between. But that’s one of the things I like. It is a vampire romance, emphasis on the romance. When it’s the other way around, I start sleeping with the covers held tight around my chin so Dracula can’t come out of my closet and suck my blood, and that’s not really fun. I’d much rather picture Edward Cullen watching me as I sleep! ■


By Hannah Price her best friend, Jacob, at the same time. Edward just wants to protect his lady love from the evils of other vampires and the local werewolves. Jacob serves as the third point of their love triangle, a local werewolf and Bella’s best friend, but he just wants to make Bella see that he is the better match for her. It’s typical soap opera, teenage drama material. Unfortunately, it doesn’t grow much beyond that despite the progression of the storyline through four books. In each novel (and film) we are treated to a rehashing of the same dynamic, something that boils down to a simple mathematical formula: Twilight: Bella + Edward = love, Edward – Bella = angst New Moon: Bella + Edward = love, Bella – Edward = suicidal tendencies, Bella + Jacob = semblance of sanity, Bella + Edward (again) = love Eclipse: Bella + Edward = love, Bella + Jacob = more angst, Bella + Edward + Jacob = sparkly, furry love triangle, Edward + Jacob = murderous, competitive thoughts Breaking Dawn: Bella + Edward = love, Bella + Jacob = angst, Bella + Edward + vampire/human baby = near death experience + angst, Jacob + vampire/human baby = love Conclusion: Twilight =

teenage romance + angst This isn’t a new idea, as young love and angst was around since before Romeo and Juliet, but Twilight has taken the same story to new heights in a negative way. In general, love stories find the lovers discovering they complete one another and make each other better. Edward and Bella do the same, but take their reliance on each

time away from one another for even one night becomes a trial of momentous proportions. In the light of this Jacob, Bella’s neglected werewolf friend, can’t serve as a legitimate part of a love triangle because he never even had a chance at Bella’s heart. Her heart is entirely Edward’s, and though Bella tries to keep Jacob in her life, the story’s reliance on

another to a point of dangerous codependence. The temporary breaking of their relationship in New Moon results in attempted suicide and depression. Both characters are possessive of one another and their love is all consuming. There is no room for other relationships or recreation, and spending

the Edward/ Bella side of things keeps Jacob from being anything but a third wheel in the romantic plot (the wolves do play a significant role in the folklore and action sections of the story). The second point is on Twilight’s view on the ageold vampire and werewolf

mythology. For anyone who knows what vampires and werewolves traditionally look like, this series’ take on the ―bloodsucking demons that burn up in the sun‖ and ―men who turn into wolves under a full moon‖ is fairly toned down. Vampires are still bloodsucking, but they aren’t demons condemned to a hell on earth, they are instead granite-skinned immortals that can decide whether their lives have a positive or negative influence on humanity. Werewolves are still men that turn into wolves, but silver bullets and full moons have no effect on them. For the unlucky few who have the gene (yes, in the books being a werewolf is genetic), it starts as an illness that soon progresses to supreme irritability, then to wolfishness coupled with irritability. But even though the demonic origins and lunar dependability of these creatures have been eliminated, that doesn’t mean all the problems have disappeared. The main issue is that vampires are cursed individuals, forever separate from God and forced to live off of the life blood of others. Bella falls in love with such a bloodsucking immortal, and the only way for her to stay with him forever is to give up her humanity. While the Cullens


choose to preserve human life by living off animal blood they still must adhere to the customary vampire mold. By choosing the life of a vampire, Bella chooses to live the life of the cursed. This is why Edward at first refuses to turn his lady love into a vampire; he believes vampires have no souls. When you become a vampire, Edward believes, you trade an eternity in Heaven for an eternity on earth. Regardless, Bella aggressively pursues earthly immortality and even flatly states that there is no ―heaven without Edward.‖ Her priorities are clearly spelled out in this statement, displaying one of Twilight’s biggest flaws: the idea that earthly love is the only thing worth having. This brings me to the third point, and probably the most important turn-off to the Twilight series: it’s take on sexual morality. While the series has been touted as a herald of abstinence because the main characters are not intimate until they marry, Twilight is certainly not a beacon of purity for young adults. It’s true that Bella and Edward don’t engage in sex until marriage but they get very, very close on several occasions. Bella is sexually aggressive, trying to seduce Edward in Eclipse and laughing at his ―ancient‖ notions of sexual purity. Edward holds to admirable convictions regarding sex, nostalgically wishing he could have had a traditional chaste courtship with Bella, and staying firm about abstinence until marriage. However, he doesn’t seem to have many

other barriers up about their physical relationship, since the couple frequently sleeps in the same bed (chaste encounters yes, but it is still inappropriate) and engages in passionate make-out sessions that border on sheer foreplay. This passionate physical relationship doesn’t officially cross the line until Breaking Dawn when the couple is married, but their

behavior beforehand shows their true heart condition and reinforces the main negative elements about this series’ codependence, misplaced priorities and lustfulness hidden behind a veil of selfrestraint. According to the Bible, purity is more than just avoiding sex; it is also a state of mind, a guarding of the head and heart from all impure thoughts. True abstinence is a combination of both the physical and the emotional; while Edward and Bella practice physical abstinence, their emotional

side is far from pure. Twilight isn’t as harmful as many other similar stories circulating nowadays (like The Vampire Diaries or True Blood) or as ―adult‖ in content, but that doesn’t make it a safe alternative. Young and older women alike have come to see it as a romantic ideal, but in the

series, Heaven is where your heart is, and love will solve every problem with time. This is a dangerous notion for women especially who believe that a ―Prince Charming‖ is their ticket for a ride into the sunset of eternal happiness. Twilight fails to mention the reality of human sin, its lingering consequences in our lives, or the difficulties of love in addition to its pleasures. Marriage is hard and it takes commitment more than affection at times to keep it

steadfast. True, Twilight is a fantasy and shouldn’t be taken as a picture of a potential reality, but I pity the girls who have and will take Edward and Bella’s picture perfect ending as their own ideal. Eternal happiness isn’t something that can be found on earth, especially when a lifelong union is comprised of two imperfect, opinionated people. Due to this, and Edward and Bella’s murky moral and sexual ethics, their relationship isn’t a model to be emulated. When looking at Twilight you should ask yourself: are intense physical relationships okay before marriage? Is sleeping in the same bed together before marriage okay? Is obsessive codependence something to long for? Is a soulless life without Heaven to look forward to something desirable? What if Twilight isn’t providing good examples for people who are looking for more than just a temporary escape from reality? Could it even be a negative influence? Sometimes the answer isn’t clear; sometimes it’s clearcut black and white. But either way, people who choose to indulge in this series need to have a firm grounding in Biblical truths; otherwise Twilight could be a road sign pointing in the wrong direction. ■


By Eliza Gabe


hat I love most about make believe creatures is that we can take at times dramatic liberties in our interpretation of them. Vampires and werewolves used to be in horror stories but now are featured in teen romances. Zombies are walking corpses but the mention of the word is somewhat comical, bringing to mind a silly creature featured in fun video games, silly movies, and a rework of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, the new version titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The one class of creature that doesn’t appear to be as widely popular is fairies (or as they were once written in folklore, ―faeries‖). They seem to be making a semicomeback in pop culture, as I see various movies and shows with Tinkerbell from Peter Pan as the star, and Sookie in the True Blood book series has fairy blood in her. The reason I used the term ―pop culture‖ is because generally fairies are thought of and depicted as mischievous little imps. Tinkerbell tried to murder Wendy, after all. But they are mythological creatures we can do whatever we want with. Gail Carson Levine in her wonderful novel Ella Enchanted made her fairies look like normal

people, although they had tiny feet and never used magic for fear of tampering with the natural order of things. Still, this is quite different from what fairies really are… err, I mean what legends tell us about them. Like many non-human creatures the supposed origin of the fantasy lies in the wide medieval belief that they are either demons or a demonic species. Many old tales revolve around spirits like druids or banshees and some thought fairies were spirits that merely looked human, so they were not creatures to be sought after. They were to be kept away. The most popular way would be with iron, but I have read that carrying bread in your pocket will keep them away from you. Fairies are found mostly in Celtic religions and folklore. When Christianity spread further, it is supposed that certain gods had been worshiped previously but then became minor divinities or spirits. This can tie to one origin that states the fairies were a race of hidden people who retreated due to the change of religious practices. In that sense, they sound rather like ghosts. Through my research I found these fairies represent several kinds of spirits, but I only will name a few here. The first kind was in old Irish literature—a banshee. The

term banshee meant fairy woman. She has various descriptions, from an old woman to young woman who cries and weeps so much that her eyes are red. That’s freaky. One thing that might better fit our picture of a fairy would actually be called a brownie, also known as a household elf. They would tidy up your house but you had better reward him or her, else they might decide to cause mischief. One could also associate a brownie with a leprechaun, a fairy that is always male and likes to make mischief. Possibly the creepiest kind of a fairy is called a ―changeling.‖ A fairy might secretly exchange a human baby with a fairy baby, for their own nefarious ends. But there would be signs that your child was a fairy child… the fairy baby might be sickly. If you still had your doubts, it was advised to put the baby on a fire and chant a magical chant. If it was a fairy baby it would climb out of the chimney. Yes, that’s a brilliant idea! Finally, something often myths and tales use is a siren-like creature, or a Korrigan. In the forest, if a man drank from her river he would either have

to give in to her seduction or be cursed. She also may have stolen infants and raised them as her own. From this, I can see the origin of certain fairy-tale villain. Repunzel’s mother, maybe? Rumpelstiltskin? In our modern world, we do not usually blame spirits or dark magic when things go wrong, but when people did not know how many scientific things worked, blaming fairies was the natural result of their pagan superstitions. If we had lived long, long ago and did not know any better, we may have carried bread in our pockets to keep fairies away. Would you want your baby to be snatched? Or your cows chased off, or any unholy thing possessing you or your animals? Reading these accounts, I must say that the authentic fairy is creepier to me than a vampire or a werewolf. Something hidden is a little more frightening than something very obvious. Maybe this is why fairies seem to be so hard to find in the most popular books and stories. Even writing this, I feel a bit frightened at the thought of living in a world where fairies are real. Vampires are no big deal to me anymore. Keep the wee folk away! ■


By Carissa Horton

This document was painstakingly translated from Shekyl Romanian and was originally found in the crumbling cell of a mental patient in an asylum in the north of England. He, quite unfortunately, fell to his death soon thereafter. The original author is unknown.


s much as I despise the provincial term ―a dark and stormy night,‖ the evening could be justly described as very little else when I first stepped from the carriage to attend a dinner given in my honor. Such a foolish man, Dr. Seward, always chomping away with those annoying jaws, devouring everything in sight. Were it not for his enchanting daughter, Lucy, I might have considered draining the man of his life force whilst in his home merely to be rid of him. But alas, I am given to flights of attraction to the human female, and Lucy’s stunning and acute suspicion of me only served to draw me in closer. How utterly amusing to watch her repugnance tinged with interest, particularly since I knew her interest would only extend itself the longer I stayed in her company. She was utterly predictable in that respect. If only her little friend Mina Van Helsing were as interesting. Instead, she merely stared with insipid eyes, yearning for a

man, any man, to attend her. Poor creature, in such ill health. Truly, my visit to her that evening might have been deemed a godsend, if I believed in such a One. Alas, speaking of the piteous Mina only raises the image of her father, a man I despise. Whereas Jonathan Harker holds a cross with such little conviction that I can set it aflame in the palm of his hand, the same cannot be said of Abraham Van Helsing. Why he should have suspected me is still a befuddlement. True, the tragic death of his daughter aroused his suspicion, particularly upon the point of those, ahem, marks, as it were, upon her throat. Yet, why should it have been me cast under suspicion? The entire ghastly situation felt rather like I was being circled by a rabid and somewhat arthritic dog. I should have been far more on my

guard with regards to the man, but as it was, he shocked me with his quick suspicion and caught me unbearably unprepared. The cross of Jonathan

Harker was no match for me, yet I could barely stand in the presence of the Eucharist wielded by Van Helsing. This humiliation only serves to fuel my determination that this particular incident shall never repeat itself. Ah, well, the joys of memories. Have you ever encountered a woman you simply could not exist without? For me, this was Lucy Seward, daughter to that annoyance known as Dr. Seward. Every step was taken in dignity, every flutter of her gown as I twirled her about the dance floor bespoke of ancient grace. Certainly her elegance befitted


me far more than it would have suited Mr. Harker. How should one describe him? I saw him kiss her once, when he thought them both unobserved. Perhaps it is my oldfashioned ideals but if I were a young woman and had been kissed in that manner, the man would have found himself rapidly disemboweled. It is highly unlikely that the enchanting Miss Seward received any form of pleasure from the encounter since she so eagerly acquiesced to my overtures in the garden during an evening stroll. I am a god and Mr. Harker merely a grossly formed mistake barely taking the semblance of a man. No match for me and ill company for Miss Seward. Is it so very wrong to choose love? It appears the world would have me be eternally alone rather than find an eternal mate. As I told Jonathan Harker, I have had many wives in my time but Lucy was to be set above them all. It is hardly my fault Mina did not survive my presence. I knew of her ill health yet she succumbed to death in a manner which I had not intended. Men are for eating, women are for wooing. While Mina was indeed weak in spirit and

body, her frailty was, in and of itself, an attraction. If only she had not given in to her darker instincts, and her father had not polluted her grave with garlic, she, Lucy, and I could have happily lived out our days in contentment together, leaving Jonathan Harker

Lucy, ah, with Lucy I could have spent an eternity in her arms and she in mine. Instead, I found myself outwitted by the estimable Van Helsing. If it were merely Harker and Seward pursuing me, I could have evaded them forever. But

arms as I swung in the blinding sun. Revenge shall be sweetest. My recovery is slow and somewhat arduous. Once I am fully healed, I will never again drink of the accursed blood of rodents; disgusting creatures. The blood of

and all the rest of them to their human ponderings of our fate. Rather than leave the girls to the lovely fate I had planned for them, they chose to meddle in my affairs! The puny, pathetic, despicable men interfered with my intentions and the desires of beloved Lucy. It was too late for Mina but

the boorish man intervened for the sake of Lucy’s soul or so he claimed. As if he was given the right to stop us, to stop me. They think me dead, even my beloved Lucy. I still recall the image of her sweet face in my mind’s eye, gazing up at me through those willowy

Jonathan Harker I shall claim as my own and while it runs hotly through my veins, I shall also claim Lucy Seward, who he thought was his. After all, vampires never really die. Do they? â–


By Ruth Anderson


veryone knows the story of Beauty and the Beast, right? A beautiful young woman agrees to live as a monster’s prisoner in order to save her father’s life, and an unlikely friendship blossoms into a transformative romance. Today perhaps the bestknown version of Beauty and the Beast is the 1991 Walt Disney animated film. While it is an undeniable cinematic masterpiece and provided countless young women with a bookish, intelligent Disney princess, if one looks no farther than this animated classic you run the risk of missing the rich literary history the tale has to offer and has inspired authors such as Robin McKinley to revisit and make their own. The Disney film based its story on the most wellknown literary version set down by French authoress Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont in 1756. While I cannot find confirmation that McKinley based her first novel on this version, it’s a likely assumption. She takes the traditional framework of the French fairy tale and breathes fresh life into the bones of a ―tale as old as time.‖ Beauty’s adventures are transformed into a gorgeously rendered coming-of-age story, anointing the familiar beats with a depth and emotional resonance that have made Beauty a modern classic.

McKinley’s heroine differs from her literary predecessors in striking ways, most notably the fact that she does not bear the name Beauty because of her looks. The youngest of the three daughters of a prosperous merchant, she was christened Honour at her birth, and dissatisfied with that moniker, adopted the name of Beauty—and the childish joke stuck, much to the sensible Beauty’s chagrin as she grew up. Beauty, you see, is convinced that she’s anything but —she believes that she’s a drab sparrow when compared to the ethereal beauty of her older sisters. She takes great satisfaction in being the brains of the family, immersing herself in her studies, enjoying an idyllic, privileged life until her father’s sudden reversal of fortunes sends them all reeling. Relocating to a humble cottage on the edge of a mysterious forest where all is not as it seems, the savvy and competent Beauty leads her family in adapting to their new surroundings until her

father crosses a Beast, leaving Beauty with no choice but to sacrifice her freedom for his life. Ensconced in the Beast’s castle, Beauty flourishes with the Beast’s companionship. The Beast’s acceptance of Beauty and the perks that come from living in his enchanted castle expand and challenge’s Beauty’s worldview and her understanding of herself. But unable to shake the pull of her former life, Beauty must decide if she possesses enough faith in herself to follow her heart and change the course of her life forever. I adore fairy tales and retellings in all forms, from novels and short stories to films. I sadly did not discover the treasure that is this book until my Children’s Lit classes in college, but the genius of the retelling lies in its timelessness and its ability to speak to the reader no matter their age. If, as Bruno Bettelheim argues in The Uses of Enchantment, Beauty and the Beast is a story about the transference of a child’s place (Beauty) from her

family to the ―adult‖ home and relationship established with her future husband (the Beast), this author takes it a step further. Her Beauty doesn’t just transform the Beast with her love, but her sojourn in the castle is the opportunity to find and accept herself for who she is, as she is. Beauty is a relatively straightforward retelling, retaining the traditional tale’s essence and expanding the character of Beauty into a confident, perspicacious teen on the cusp of womanhood, able to see everything in the world except herself with remarkable clarity. Her relationship with the Beast grows at an achingly slow burn, their affection and trust blossoming like one of the castle’s roses. The sparkling, lyrical prose spins a seductive web, and Beauty’s journey to love her courtly Beast and in turn accept the gift of his adoration of and faith in her transforms the fairy tale into a wholly immersive, unforgettable reading experience. McKinley would go on to take greater risks in future fairy tale reimaginings (such as Rose Daughter and Spindle’s End), but Beauty, her first, holds a special place in my heart for its elegant simplicity, lilting, musical prose, and a heroine who doesn’t just find love, but also herself. ■


By Shannon H.


magine a fantastical world of magic, wonder, and even a little intrigue, a world where a select few can change the events of history with a single spell or fight evil with a snap of a finger. Coming from several centuries of magical history, two individuals trained in this fantastical study become rivals and unravel the deepest, darkest secrets about the science and study of magic. This may sound like a new Harry Potter book but alas, that series ended with seven novels. Imagine if Jane Austen had written the Harry Potter series and you’ll be in for a real treat. In Susanna Clarke’s novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, the study and practice of magic is taken very seriously as there is a society for magicians in York, England in the early 19th century. The magicians in the society study magic but do not practice it. When word gets out about an actual practicing magician, Mr. Gilbert Norrell, most of them do not believe it to be true. Mr. Norrell proves them wrong by performing magic right before their eyes and in turn, those in disbelief are to sign a waiver stating that they will never practice magic ever again. This leaves England with only one practicing

magician—Mr. Norrell, who moves to London to revive English magic and hopes to use it against Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Navy after ―resurrecting‖ the dead fiancée of one of his friends, Sir Walter Pole. Unfortunately, this friendly favor does more harm than good. Meanwhile, a young gentleman from an estranged family, Jonathan Strange, finds himself to be a magician as well after being read a prophesy by a street performer who ―dabbles‖ in magic. At first, Mr. Norrell is skeptical but takes Jonathan under his wing as an apprentice, deliberately keeping certain magical secrets from him. The two men, while sharing a common interest in magic, are completely different. Jonathan is a young newlywed who is outgoing and friendly while Mr. Norrell is an old and reclusive bachelor and prefers to stockpile his library of books on magic. As their friendship deepens, Jonathan longs to break free from his

apprenticeship and go out on his own as a magician, to discover the truth about the elusive John Uskglass, the Raven King who ruled for 300 years. This concerns Mr. Norrell very much since Jonathan is still learning the ropes of the

study and could very well destroy his life with the misuse of magic. The book is filled with (made up) footnotes of many references to books and factoids about English magic that date all the way back to the Middle Ages. Instead of broomsticks and wands, magicians speak words to cast spells and

magicians are simply known as magicians, not wizards. All sorts of interesting characters permeate the novel, including a British-raised African gentleman Stephen Black, who once supervised the servants in a household of a public official but ends up finding himself in an alternate world known as ―Faerie.‖ Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was a great read. It was like reading Harry Potter from the viewpoint of Jane Austen, with her sense of wit and charming humor. While most young adults won’t understand it, it’s a real treat for grownups who like fantastical fiction with more of a twist. There is little objectionable content, which also makes for a fairly clean read. The only downside to reading this book is the length, which exceeds over 700 pages, but the story picks up speed during the last 200 pages. Still, it was a great book to get lost in after reading all of Jane Austen’s novels. ■


By Lydia M.


hen I was young, Izzie used to visit and we made mud pies together. I’ve been in love with her ever since. She’s not scared of me even when she has reason to be. She accepts me the way I am even though she’s normal and I’m not. I love how she says ―Hello Biceps!‖ to greet me. I make her laugh and we like spending time together; we have a lot in common. I’m her best friend and yesterday she told me she loved me. This would be great if it wasn’t for her sparkling, pale, monster boyfriend, Edwardo Sullen. They’ve been dating for a year, if you can call it dating. She’s obsessed with him; they’d known each other for a whole month (during which he ignored her except to sneak into her bedroom at night and watch her sleep… am I the only one who thinks that’s creepy?) before she was madly in love with him. It doesn’t help that his family and mine are mortal enemies (for good reasons!).Their romance has been punctuated by episodes of the we should/ shouldn’t be together forever drama. I might be changeable but at least I’m consistent in my feelings. This all came to a head when he left her with barely a word, which caused her to spiral into depression; she didn’t leave her room for months, ignored everyone and even tried to kill herself! Luckily I was there to save her and more than willing to rip off my shirt to stop any blood flow; if he’d been there he might have succumbed to

his basic instinct and killed her! Yet that doesn’t matter to her. It should matter! Why isn’t she afraid of him? Not only is she at risk of him killing her every time they’re together, he’s also moody, bossy and all he ever does is stare at her lustfully. He’s a reckless driver yet she’s still irrecoverably in love. Can’t she see I’m so much better than him? I waited months before even hinting at my feelings for her. When I felt like I was endangering her I made her leave so I couldn’t hurt her. So his eyes change color, big whoop, and he saved her from a car accident once, big deal, he still looks like he wears lipstick, the wuss. And have I mentioned that he sparkles in sunlight? How is that more attractive to a girl than abs of steal and dark, luxurious hair? At least

I have a soul and if she was with me we could die at the same time! What’s he going to do when she’s no longer young and beautiful? I swear, if he turns her into someone like him I’ll hunt him down and kill him. She ―loves‖ him more than she loves me, and doesn’t want to choose one of us, but she’s got to, and she doesn’t understand how dangerous he is. How can I convince her to be with me? Dear Werewolf (you’re seriously awful at hiding it, a simple Internet search was all it took). Let’s say, for sake of illustration, that you and Edwardo are playing each other in a type of vampires vs. werewolves sport and the trophy is Izzy. Honestly, I wouldn’t be rooting for either Team Vamp or Team Wolf! I’d be wondering why she was the prize in the first

place, since she’s not one of you! You said both of you endanger her yet you’re insistent that one of you is better than the other; shouldn’t you both be more concerned with her safety and happiness than this to the death contest between you two? Just a thought. As far as convincing her to be with you, I’ve got bad news on that score, buddy. If she’s willing to give up her soul, not to mention never eating or sleeping again, to be with Edwardo, she seems pretty dead gone (no pun intended) on him and no amount of ―But he sparkles and I have great hair and abs!‖ is going to convince her she’s being an idiot. Also, if you keep telling her it’s a bad idea, being a typical teenage girl she’ll just become more and more stubborn about it.

25 I know this is going to be difficult for you, but if you want to show her that you really do care about her, try not to kill her boyfriend. As far as being mortal enemies with him, isn’t that whole idea a little last century? Maybe if you and he could work together to protect her (it sounds like she’s accident prone enough to need two of you)

everything comes to them at a snap of the fingers/wave of the hand/twitch of a nose. Obviously these people have never been here, where King Other has outlawed all magic, good or bad and killed most of the good Wizards, including my father. This has sent the kingdom into ruin because instead of decreasing the evil magic it has aided it! All the good wizards left are in hiding so innocent lives are wasted in pointless battles where they’re powerless and outmatched, and Other refuses to see it! Usually after everyone’s been killed or at least knocked out during the

you could improve general community relations. Oh, and what’s with the obsession with your abs and hair? It’s kinda weird, almost as weird as Mr. Sparkle over there. Just buy a shirt for goodness sakes. I’m 100% with you on watching her sleep is creepy. It makes me flinch just thinking about it.

fight (this happens to the Prince regularly, I’m worried about brain damage) a heroic figure emerges at the last possible moment and saves the day aided by handy, yet cryptic advice given to him by a dragon. This heroic and powerful wizard never gets credit for saving the day and frankly, it’s driving him nuts. I know this because… well, I’m the wizard. Usually when one person saves the kingdom they’re hailed as a hero and if my life were fair, this would serve as proof of how good magic can be and the king would change the law, but here’s the problem: nobody saw me

People seem to think being a wizard would be pretty cool; they have unlimited power and cool scars, enjoy the company of other wizard friends, go to special schools with fun names, meet unique teachers, and own loyal pets, basically a living legend so

being awesome! Eventually the Prince wakes up and gets the glory for saving the day. This used to really annoy me because he can be the most arrogant prig of a clotpole to ever wear chain-mail. He struts around like he’s the best knight in the kingdom (well, he is, but that’s beside the point) and he mistreats his servants, making them polish his armor at all hours of the day, mend his shirts, and muck out his horses. They do everything for him and do they ever get any thanks or acknowledgement of what they’ve done? No, they just get teased and insulted! I have personal knowledge of this injustice because as well as being the land’s most promising upcoming wizard, I’m also Prince Prat’s servant. Glamorous, huh? Thankfully he’s gotten less prat-ish lately due to (what else?) a nice girl named Gwendolyn. Sometimes it even feels like we’re friends! But I’m still a servant and he’s still a prince. I can’t tell him or anyone who I really am and have to lie and hide things from them. I live in hope that someday, when the Prince is King he’ll change the laws so I can be myself, but that day seems so far off, and all this sneaking around and constantly getting the kingdom out of trouble is getting tiresome. Is a little recognition too much to ask? Dear Wizard, I feel for you, I really do. Having to hide your talent behind a goofy/ adorable grin is exhausting but hey, fame is taxing too! You think you’re tired after polishing armor for hours? Try signing autographs all day! Cool scars hurt, special

schools get attacked and burned down, and unique teachers turn out to be a little too unique and are actually out to kill you. Basically, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The wands are not always shinier on the other side of the legend, but don’t get too discouraged, you’ve made it this far, and it sounds to me like you’ve got a pretty impressive destiny! Don’t let your pride and the thought of fame distract you from it. Becoming a living legend takes time and you’ve got lots of years ahead of you! (Wizards live forever, right? How else do their flowing white hair and beards get that long?) Change takes time, but people can and do change, including Prince Prat. Never underestimate the force for good a beautiful women can have on a man (Gwendolyn sounds lovely so I’m sure she’d never do anything to hurt anyone.) Besides, unconscious or not, you can’t save the Prince’s life on a regular basis without him noticing a little bit. I’m sure he’s thankful but he’s the Prince, it’s in his blood to be unbearably arrogant. He can’t help it. Also, remember how much pressure he’s under to be a good prince and one day a great king. He might be getting all the glory now but you never know what can happen in the future. His world may come crashing down and he’ll need you. If I’m allowed to give advice gained from years of personal experience, I encourage you not to let the teasing bother you. Teasing is often a sign of affection and respect… at least I hope so. Good luck, and keep the dragon close. Also, what exactly does ―clotpole‖ mean?? ■


By Charity Bishop

ur culture is fascinated by the undead, but it is not a new obsession. Early interest in vampires began in the 1800’s and a French author wrote Carmilla, the first full length novel. Then Bram Stoker’s Dracula hit the presses, a startling tale of evil but also a symbolic reflection on the Victorian era’s chauvinism, rise in abortion, feminism, fascination with the occult, and departure from traditional moral values. Holy wafers and water, relics, and crosses warded off and defeated vampires. As the stories changed with modern secular writers, the emphasis on faith and religious icons lost their power and were eventually abandoned. Many modern vampires are unaffected by such things, indicating our culture’s secularism. Even sunlight loses its impact and now gives vampires headaches, destroys them, or makes them sparkle. One might ask just when vampires evolved from frightening, evil beings into romantic souls that fall in love with mortals. It started in Dark Shadows, a soap opera in the 1960’s, in which Barnabas challenged


the concept of vampires formerly depicted by Bella Lugosi or Christopher Lee. But it was not until the 70’s that sensuality in vampires caught on; when Frank Langella took over Dracula on Broadway, the Count was rewritten into a tragic, sad, romantic figure. It was such an enormous success that Langella’s Dracula was

then immortalized in film and the Count emerged as a lonely anti-hero. This was the first successful launch of him in a romantic light, since his tender scenes with Lucy tapped into female desires in a way no vampire had done before. In the 80’s, Anne Rice wrote Interview with the Vampire and inspired a new generation of fans. Creating a unique niche in

fiction, her novel was full of unforgettable characters and provocative in its deep questions about immortality and God. Vampires were then introduced to younger readers in the early 90’s with the book series The Vampire Diaries. Riding on its success, the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered and the world met Angel, a vampire with a soul in a search for

redemption. He became the inspiration for all tortured vampires to follow: Mick St. John, Edward Cullen, and Bill Compton resemble Angel, who was based on Stefan (Vampire Diaries), who is a lot like Anne Rice’s Louis, who was inspired by Barnabas. So just who is responsible for making vampires romantic?

Dark Shadows! Religion features heavily in the original tales. Stoker reminds us that Dracula is evil and what he “creates” is equally so; his brides leave Jonathan alone only when offered an infant to feed on—this inversion of the natural female instinct illustrates the profound evil in them. Scholars still debate the symbolism of vampires but it is twofold: first is a sexual aspect, and second is religious. The first is influenced by Victorian sensuality, like Dracula’s ability to seduce women and what becomes of them once they succumb to his influence. Stoker’s implication is that in abandoning their virtue, women sacrifice their true beauty and become undesirable. It is only when Lucy is killed as a vampire that she is physically beautiful again, indicating her soul is at last at peace. This ties into the religious overtone, which relies on Christianity not only in its effect on Dracula but also his very existence. All vampires represent a form of the antichrist; their survival on the blood of humans is a reference to Communion. Like Satan, they prey on


and corrupt the souls of mortals by offering them eternal separation from God in exchange for brief pleasure. Those of faith are able to escape their influence and defeat them. True representations of the lore do not diminish their separation from God, their aversion to sunlight, having to drink blood to survive, or that their lives are empty and meaningless because immortality apart from true salvation is hell. They are meant to remind us of lost souls. Most vampires did not choose their fate but had it forced on them and are in search of redemption; this indicates our awareness of our fallen state, our desire to reject it, and our need for salvation. Our modern culture’s fascination with them stems from spiritual emptiness. It is a form of escapism, a

realization that there is more to life than what we see around us, and a quiet acknowledgement of a supernatural plain. Our culture is lost and seeking truth while taking refuge in a dark fantasy world to escape the pain of ordinary existence, searching for God without realizing it, and clinging to the hope that not only is there life after death but all sins can be forgiven. Vampires can even represent a salvation experience, like Spike in Buffy. Unlike Angel, he is not cursed with a soul but asks for one. While Angel

struggles with his past sins and tries to atone for them, Spike works toward selfbetterment, knowing he cannot change the past and is unashamed of it. Other modern vampires are also seeking redemption: Stefan cannot change what he is, but he can live according to his principles. Damon represses his bloodlust out of love for Elena. Mick is searching for a cure in the hope of being human once again. The exceptions are Bill and Eric from True Blood (neither mind their state and use it to their advantage) and Edward in Twilight. In a departure from the norm, that story ends with Bella forsaking her mortality to marry Edward. Not only does she fail to struggle with her new powers, she also does not have to give up any aspect of her former life. None of this explains

why Christians are drawn to vampires, but I think many young women see them a harmless means of being controversial without committing any actual sin. Their popularity relies on many things but ultimately they are just plain cool. â–

By Katharine Taylor


ans of PBS’s Mystery! series may know Edward Gorey as the illustrator who drew the title animations seen at the beginning of the show for many years. The animated sequence was famous enough that when PBS redesigned all the titles for the Masterpiece programs (of which Mystery! is now a part) they kept a few brief glimpses of the original Gorey drawings, the implication being that his work is so recognizable a part of the personality and atmosphere of the series it couldn’t quite be eliminated. But Edward Gorey was much more than a Mystery! illustrator—he was a highly original and extremely prolific illustrator, artist, designer, playwright, poet, and creative personality. Gorey was well-educated at Harvard, but amazingly had very little training in art. He studied for one semester at the Art Institute of Chicago, but besides those few months he was self-taught. Early in his career he got a job working for a

publisher and began drawing book covers; his work was successful enough that he quickly began writing and illustrating his own books. Though he became famous as an illustrator, his creative personality overflowed into everything he did. He loved ballet and the theater; he wrote and designed his own puppet plays, and even won a Tony for costume design for Dracula. He was eccentric in his dress and loved huge fur coats. He drew inspiration from artists and authors as diverse as Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and Vermeer, as well as from his favorite movies and TV shows (he loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the X-Files) and even commercials.

In his books he constantly tried new approaches or ideas: sometimes the books were completely wordless, and some were tiny or an unusual size or format. The books were sometimes written for adults and sometimes for children, but they generally featured a morbid sense of humor, parody, wordplay, and of course his trademark gloomy illustrations. What made this self-taught artist so instantaneously popular and recognizable? Part of the Gorey phenomenon is the way his work brims over with personality and style. His illustrations resemble old woodcuts or Victorian gothic drawings. Done in pen and ink, they often

have strong dark / light contrasts, heavy crosshatching to show texture, and striking compositions. Gorey knew just how much to show and how much to leave to the imagination. Sometimes there are dark shadows lurking in the background of his work, but he leaves them undefined to make them even more spooky. His figures are at times dressed in unrelieved black to highlight their creepily emotionless faces. Gorey’s work is also unique because his own overactive imagination floods every piece. The concepts are over-the-top bizarre and funny or whimsical or naughty. One of his most famous books, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, is an ABC book of children who die in morbidly strange ways such as choking on a peach or being mauled by bears. In The Doubtful Guest, a mysterious person shows up in the house but never says a word.


Critics claim his work is too morbid for children, that he had ulterior motives in creating it, or that it should be pigeonholed as only appropriate for weirdos and goths. Certainly, Gorey is not for everyone. If you’re easily disturbed by gallows humor, don’t like surrealism, and prefer sweet optimism, you’re unlikely to appreciate him. A summary of his book subjects makes him sound like a horribly depressing person: they feature death, demons, ghosts, swooping bats, and naughty innuendo. But on the other hand, friends remember him as a charming man who was genuine and honest, hated pretentiousness, and loved all kinds of art and culture. He lived alone with his pet cats but maintained several lifelong and very loyal friendships. Summarizing his topics

leaves out the sly humor and social commentary. They are subtle and ironic rather than shocking or violent; he even described his books as ―mildly unsettling.‖ Even children are capable of taking Gorey's work with the irreverent but understated humor he intended. They can be read on many levels and categorized in many different ways. The Doubtful Guest, mentioned above, can be a spooky story, but it is also metaphor for the way harried parents of newborns often feel. (It was inspired by one of his friend’s letters about a new baby.) The Gashlycrumb Tinies, according to Gorey, was just an outpouring of exuberant imagination on his part, and intended to be a spoof on cautionary Victorian moral tales. But it also pokes at a subject that many people find frightening and mysterious. And no matter what you think of Gorey’s work, any artist or creative person must admire the way he pursued his craft. He nurtured his imagination in every way possible—the ballets, theater, movies,

literature, and TV he loved gave him ideas. When he was struck by concepts in talking to friends, he transmuted those everyday ideas into fantastic new illustrations. Yet despite the wild flights of his imagination he was described as ―calm and sane‖ by those who knew him, a person who was clearly grounded in the quiet pace of his own life. The consistency and dedication of this approach is a great model for anyone who longs to create a unique style. ■


irst and foremost, film and television aim to entertain. But they are a visual medium and from their infancy filmmakers were attempting to show things that don’t actually happen in real life through the use of various tricks. These continual attempts over the years could be successful or not, but the written word offered no such constraints. The fantastic and awe-inspiring has always had a place on film but the level of special effects made creating ones that didn’t look dated in even just a short amount of time a tricky proposition. Finally, with the advent of computers and the improvement of what they could do, something like magic could be fully realized on screen. If a writer could dream it up, it could be

produced. But even magic isn’t uniformly presented in movies or shows. Different stories give it different detail. Harry Potter and The Secret Circle both focus on young witches but the way the characters use their extraordinary abilities is not the same—education is the key in the first fandom, while nature holds the power in the second. In 1993, author L.J. Smith, already successful with her series The Vampire Diaries, published a young adult trilogy about teenage witches called The Secret Circle. The lead character is Cassie Blake, who moves with her mother back to her mother’s home town of New Salem, Massachusetts, and discovers she is a hereditary witch. A television series

adapted from this trilogy recently began airing its first season on the CW network. In 1997, the children’s (and later, young adult) market was treated to the beginning of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The lead character is a British boy who is told he is a wizard on his 11th birthday and attends a school for magic. Though both stories assert that magical ability is a gift a person is born with, the details of how magic is presented in each set them apart from each other. The Harry Potter novels are built around a magical education at Hogwarts. Though most children manifest their power at an early age, they are sent to a school to improve and control those abilities. It can

By Rachel Sexton

be dangerous for a child who can do magic to go without this education, as any suppression or loss of control can have disastrous releases of energy. A sad event in the early life of Harry’s Headmaster and mentor Dumbledore resulted in the loss of his young sister Arianna for just that reason. Furthermore, until their magical education is complete, students are not allowed to do magic outside of school. Clearly, learning about magic—its history, the right way to use it, and what it can do—are of high importance in this world. The Secret Circle is in contrast to this. Though Cassie has a vague sense of something more prior to learning about her heritage, the power she was born with manifests itself very little. Instead, after she is initiated into


the Circle, she learns the abilities she was born with are directly connected to nature. The magic used is elemental, focusing on harnessing earth, water, fire, and air. The spells Cassie learns all involve using a natural object, usually some sort of plant, along with the proper incantation. These witches have rare power to access the energy of nature. At first glance, this may seem more similar to the way magic works in Harry Potter than is actually the case. Incantations are used in that world, too, after all, and the potions they make consist of natural materials. But the brief Latin words and phrases Harry uses are a far cry from the incantations of The Secret Circle, which are usually much longer and poetic. One other difference between the two is the fact that the characters in The Secret Circle don’t use wands. Though one could argue that wands in Harry’s world, because they are

made from wood and animal parts, are the piece of nature that corresponds to the way spells are done in The Secret Circle, this doesn’t hold true. Once a wizard reaches a certain skill level, they are capable of performing magic without a wand, a fact made even clearer in the film adaptations. Both Dumbledore and Harry’s head of house, Professor McGonagall, are shown once or twice using only hand movements to direct their power. There are also types of magic, such as becoming an animagus (a wizard who elects to turn into an animal), prophecy, and apparition (traveling from one place to another instantly) that don’t require a wand. (Wand lore and how it effects the plotting of the Harry Potter series could take up a whole other article!) Plus, creatures like house elves and goblins exist that have powerful magic of their own with no wand needed.

The other significant contrast between the magic of these two stories involves the level of power a person holds. In Harry Potter, a person is either born with magical ability or not, and it isn’t always hereditary as in The Secret Circle. Harry’s best female friend Hermione was born to non-magical parents (called Muggles) and she has a lot of ability, which she increases as much as possible through her studies. Some children born to magical parents have no ability at all, called Squibs. The Secret Circle, however, centers around twelve core magical families and if you’re born into them, you have power. Another fact of note is that while witches and wizards in Harry’s world have different levels of ability even if they have magic, they are only as powerful as they are alone. The witches in The Secret Circle form a coven and are always more powerful when working together as a group.

In fact, some major spells require all of their power united together to accomplish, such as defeating the bad guy in the end, but I won’t spoil that for readers. (Or television viewers if or when the series ends up including that plot point.) The series is doing a good job of showing this in the episodes so far. The characters and plot of both The Secret Circle and Harry Potter offer plenty of entertainment, so both are recommended, but their presentation of magic is different. Now that The Secret Circle has its own adaptation, that difference has a visual aspect that can take full advantage of the special effects possible with today’s technology. The difference even got a shoutout in one episode of The Secret Circle: when Cassie mentions Harry Potter, her crush Adam, a witch himself, comes back with, ―He needed a wand.‖ ■



hat makes a monster? Is it a deformed visage or is it what’s on the inside in a man’s heart? Frollo, in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is the judge in Paris, one of the highest positions outside of the church. But instead of using that power to help others, he has allowed it to corrupt him. The film begins with him chasing down a gypsy woman. He believes she’s stolen a loaf of bread and he pursues her through alleys and over fences to Notre Dame. When she bangs on the doors, crying for sanctuary, he rides up to her, rips the bundle from her arms, and knocks her down the stairs, killing her. And when he unwraps the bundle to find a deformed baby, he’s disgusted. He

already hates all gypsies, thinking them evil. He refuses to see that any of them could be good and therefore has no qualms about drowning the baby. Before he can, however, the archbishop appears and cries out for him to stop, lest such a deed condemn him in the sight of Notre Dame. For the first time, Frollo fears for his soul. The eyes of all the statues and carvings are looking down on him, judging him. He entrusts the baby to the archbishop to be raised inside the magnificent cathedral and gives it the cruel name of Quasimodo, meaning half-formed. As the years go by, Frollo has never let Quasimodo forget he’s a monster. He’s taught the boy to feel shame before God, to fear his

fellow man, and that there is no place in society for a monster like him. After twenty years of fear and cruel oppression, Quasimodo finally gathers his courage and sneaks out from the cathedral to attend the Feast of Fools. At this feast a beautiful gypsy girl, Esmerelda, dances for the crowd. Frollo at first finds her disgusting but watching her, something wakes in him that wants more. It is customary each year for the crowd to crown the King of Fools and this time they choose Quasimodo. Frollo is outraged, since he has forbidden Quasimodo from ever leaving Notre Dame. It is his prison and that is another thing Frollo gets wrong: you see, in the story, Notre Dame is symbolic of faith and our

relationship with God. But our devotion to Him should not be a bunch of strict rules binding us to Him so tightly that we cannot breathe, or forced upon us, but rather the freedom to choose Him and follow his ways—to seek sanctuary out of trust rather than persecution. It’s not long before the crowd grows into a mob, incited through the cruelty of one of Frollo’s guards. They tie Quasimodo down and pelt him with rotten fruit. Frollo observes all this with a sick justification: if Quasimodo has chosen to sin, he will pay. Here again, Frollo has not grasped the true message of forgiveness. Openly defying Frollo, the gypsy Esmerelda frees Quasimodo, then ends up fleeing into Notre Dame for sanctuary. Frollo chases her


By Carol Starkey

down and in the church where he claims to worship God, his lust is inflamed. Esmerelda is disgusted and he leaves, threatening that she will be his if she sets foot out of the cathedral. Once home, he struggles with his passion, believing himself to be pure, sinless, and above reproach. But as he observes Esmerelda’s dancing form in the hearth, she beckons to him and he blames God for creating her and making ―the devil stronger than a man.‖ Here he gives in to his lust and determines that he will have her or she will die. Meanwhile, Esmerelda has been wandering among the worshipers in Notre Dame. She is awed by the presence of God she feels there and humbly asks Him to save her people. She is surrounded by those asking only for themselves but she feels the real power of God inside the church. Quasimodo is drawn to

her and she follows him into the bell tower, where she apologizes for what the crowd did to him and shows him that though he’s ugly on the outside, what matters is his heart. Shortly after, she escapes from Notre Dame—she too views it as a prison but has begun to see that God loves us, offers us sanctuary in our time of need, and won’t judge us for who we are, in a direct contrast with Frollo and his narrow-minded and legalistic views. Enraged to learn that Esmerelda has escaped, Frollo hunts for her throughout Paris. He has cast off any semblance of religion and becomes a madman in his search, even attempting to burn down a house with the family still inside. He cages every gypsy he finds; they are no more than vermin to him— they represent the one he cannot have. When he finally finds her, he tries her as a witch, but instead

of ever giving her a chance to recant, he tells her that she will burn eternally unless he chooses him. She spits in his face. It is with joy that he ignites the pyre beneath her feet. All this time, Quasimodo has been in Notre Dame, afraid to come out. Frollo made sure Quasimodo knew what a grave sin he committed by leaving the cathedral and disobeying his master. But when the hunchback sees Esmerelda at the stake, he knows the real sin would be in letting her die. He rescues her and carries her to the top of the cathedral. She is senseless from the smoke and he lifts her above his head, crying, ―Sanactuary! Sanctuary!‖ He has finally realized the true purpose of the church and God. After making sure she is safe, he goes to war against Frolllo and his army by pouring molten copper from the mouths of gargoyles in yet another

symbolic act: not only does God offer sanctuary to the lost, He fights to keep his children safe and those who persecute them will not survive the flames. Frollo manages to invade Notre Dame and turns on Quasimodo, who is at first no match for him but Frollo gloats that it’ll be just like when he killed his mother so long ago. Emboldened with disgust for the man’s unrepentant hatred and cruelty, Quasimodo fights back with renewed energy and Notre Dame comes to his defense, sending Frollo plunging into the molten fire below. As the sun rises over the city, the inhabitants rejoice, none more than Quasimodo and Esmerelda, for at last they see that God is not the unforgiving tyrant Frollo portrayed Him as. He is loving, offering sanctuary and true forgiveness. And the real monster, Frollo, has been vanquished. ■


there is one show on I ftelevision that stands out

the most for its creative use of music during its run, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is it. The seven seasons include an episode almost entirely without speaking, one without any background music and one filmed as a musical; each did something no other show had done on television before and made Buffy all the more unique. Creator Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed each of the episodes, understood how music affects the viewer and used it as an effective storyteller. What made the series unique was its intelligent use of dialogue. Buffy would take out a vampire while having a conversation about philosophy with him or even talking about college classes with her friend Willow. So, if you create a show popular for its witty remarks, the next course of action would be an episode without words. It was a challenge Joss was willing to take on. In the commentary for Hush, he comments how as a director, he felt he’d gotten into a rut of the same shots over and over. He referred to TV as ―radio with faces‖ and he really wanted the show overall to work visually. So when thinking of ―Hush‖ he knew he’d have to create an episode that did a lot of visual storytelling. But the show doesn’t just exhibit visuals, it also relies a lot on the musical score. Music is a large part of television and movies. Even though life

doesn’t have background music, an episode seems odd without music moving your emotions. Whether it’s a pop song during an emotional montage or an orchestral score in an intense moment, it helps to tell the viewer how they’re supposed to feel. But to completely rely on a musical score to tell your story was something that had not been done before. The episode begins normally with characters exchanging information, Buffy’s dating issues with new boyfriend Riley, and Anya arguing with Xander about whether or not he really cares for her, each instance setting up conflict for the characters that demonstrate problems they can’t work through even though they can speak. It was this conflict that Joss was looking for. He said, ―When people stop talking, they start communicating. Language can interfere with communication because language limits.‖ So after the end of act 2 and the beginning of act 3 when the characters cannot speak they must figure out how to deal with their issues silently. This not only creates a challenge for the actors but also the viewer. Often words and voices can communicate feelings, so we have to rely on how the actors behave and on the musical score. Composer Chris Beck had the challenge of creating mood through music in a way that had not been seen or heard before. Not only did the actions have to move

the plot, but the music had to create the emotions. A good example of the way emotion was portrayed through music was Buffy and Riley’s first kiss. They had been dating for several episodes but had not kissed yet. Buffy tells Willow the reason this was due to her big mouth, again to show how much we communicate when language doesn’t get in the way. Buffy and Riley are both out to keep the peace, Buffy in her Slayer capacity and Riley in his military capacity, neither knowing about the other’s night job. It is a brief yet emotional meeting for as

soon as the two begin to part Riley changes his mind, grabs Buffy and kisses her. The music known as the Buffy/Riley theme starts out quiet but then comes across clearly as the two kiss, making the viewer react as well, knowing this is right and what we want to see. A second episode Joss wrote and directed that dealt with music is the season five episode, The Body. It deals with the death of Buffy’s mom, Joyce Summers. And where as in Hush the story was told through music, The Body had no score at all. Every emotion and moment had to come across clearly to

By Lydia Watson the viewer because there was no music telling you how to feel. This is probably one of the most real feeling episodes of the entire series. The viewer is completely drawn into to each moment. In the commentary Joss states he wanted to focus on the physical reality of what was going on. Each act

of the way the characters interact with each other, and how it is scripted, adding music would have affected the story in a way that would not have created such a sense of reality. Joss wanted to show what the first few hours are like after someone dies; the rituals we go through, how each person

opens with a shot of Joyce dead, reminding the viewer what the episode is about. This meant coming in from a commercial break with music to the image of a dead woman and silence. The viewer is jolted back into the story, which helps create the physical reality of the loss. The musical score is very obviously absent but at the same time, it’s not. Because

deals with death differently. By having no background music, the viewer is totally reliant on the mood of the actors and the lighting and cinematography to evoke feelings. And this is exactly what happens. The lack of music in this episode is more powerful than if music had been present. The most memorable episode that used music to

great effect is the musical from season six, Once More with Feeling. Joss felt it was a sequel to Hush because singing gives people a chance to express what they may not normally tell. It opens in the style of an old musical, with the score over different credits, then we see Buffy in the graveyard and she begins to sing. All the characters are singing at odd times but don’t know why. Soon it becomes apparent that a demon is in town and causing mayhem which ends with people spontaneously combusting. None of the characters seem to be able to control what they say or do, and this is what helps to move the story along. Joss comments on this narration by using the example of the relationship between Buffy and Spike. The two characters have a back and forth relationship. Spike has been in love with Buffy since season five, but she has never reciprocated this feelings. Joss knew he wanted Buffy and Spike to kiss at the end of the episode because that’s what happens in musicals but he had to convince the audience that this was right. For this to happen, two things needed to happen: ―for Spike to tell her to go away, then that he would save her.‖ Buffy has already been feeling distant from her friends, who believe they saved her from hell after resurrecting her when they actually pulled her out of heaven. This has brought her closer to Spike yet still she seems to reject him. Joss wrote Spike’s song ―Rest in Peace‖ to have him tell Buffy to go away. But even as he sings it to her

telling her to leave, he can’t stop following her. In the end, when she is singing about what is there to sing about, Spike stops her from burning up, both of them singing about their feelings, which they would not have expressed unless compelled to by the spell. The curtains close on their kiss. This is one of Joss’ favorite episodes because ―I love TV… what you can do with it. To be able to go this far emotionally, and be this silly, on a regular episode of TV, is a way of saying this is just an episode. This is just what we do. It’s not better, it’s just TV in all its glory. I celebrate musicals and this medium.‖ And it is clear that he put a lot of time and effort into it. Filmed in the style of a musical with many long shots, big dance numbers and very visually exciting moments, it remains unforgettable and makes Buffy stand out among her contemporaries. These episodes aren’t done just to make Buffy different, they still move the plot along and were created out of a desire from Joss as a challenge to try something different. He says several times in the three commentaries that he always wanted to write a musical, do a silent episode, and show the grim reality of death. In the end, he did all those things and used music or the lack of it as his master storyteller. Whether its presence helps tell us know to feel or a lack of it makes us feel more in the moment, we can be thankful, because someone who did not know the power of music might not have created such brilliant episodes. ■


By Rissi C.

Tales are F airy enchanting and often

end on a kiss. Sometimes there is the promise of more, but nearly all of them are merely a figment of something unattainable. Watching the big-screen adaptation of Hollywood’s take on the Grimm classic tale of Red Riding Hood is a mirage of elements coexisting in one fable, all clamoring for superiority. Looking strictly at the filmmaking, visually, it is stunning, like watching an intricate, priceless painting come alive; emotionally, it is a wreck and its depiction of forever love skewed. The story unfolds in the midst of a love triangle but more accurately it is under a mysterious mantle of discovering the identity of a werewolf who has terrorized the wooded

village for two generations. Alas, not much character development is allowed to penetrate the frightening woodland scenes or nature of the story, but what does emerge is in the form of a young woman about to run away with her lover. Our heroine is Valerie, who is being forced into an engagement with Henry, a wealthy and gentlemanly young man who has cared for Valerie from afar for a long time, despite her girlish infatuation with Peter, her childhood friend. The two of them have been sneaking around for years, meeting in the woods that encircle their village—it is the only place Valerie really feels safe despite the unknown dangers lurking there, and Valerie believes her heart belongs to Peter. Conflict in relationships

is human nature but it has become wearying to continuously experience love triangles in which the woman always chooses the less reliable one over one who is patient and kind. What was it about Peter that appeals to Valerie over Henry? One of the biggest pulls their ―love‖ has is the excitement and danger, and the allure of constantly rejecting and rebelling against society. Peter and Valerie’s connection isn’t so much one that will form a solid building block for a marriage as it is physical. During those stolen moments there really is not one meeting that doesn’t involve passionate kissing and caressing. In contrast, Henry cared so deeply for Valerie that he was willing to let her go for her benefit rather than pursue her and

ruin the chance she had at lingering happiness. Some stories have the ―other guy‖ as a brooding jerk who abuses his position in society and the woman he is betrothed to, but Henry is nothing like that, his character avoids the clichés. That doesn’t mean that we (or Valerie) should settle just because prospects are grim and it looks as if Mr. Right isn’t coming along, so you decide to go for someone who is comfortable and will treat you well. There does have to be a spark, an attraction of some sort (a pull that prompts us to want to know someone better) between two people before love can fully blossom. In Valerie’s case, you get the feeling that is the only glue holding her and Peter together. Lust


does not equal the kind of breathtaking love to keep two individuals interested in a marriage for forever and always, something that can start with the smallest of glances and develop into a romance with a strong, secure, and unbreakable link underneath its roots, reaping rewards with beautiful results. We are told to turn a blind eye to those romances because the benefits aren’t realistic, so lust and love are often confused. Instead, passion alone is promoted in nearly all relationships on screen; it is also why so many girls make messes of their love life. Even today, girls can enjoy a happily-ever-after that is grounded in trust and respect; if a man asks more of you than you are willing to give or cannot respect the standards you may have (as Peter did with Valerie; he had no respect for her) then he isn’t worth the time. Two of the more recent celebrity weddings happened within a week of

each other, one of which has been a household name and made millions of girls sigh over the romantic notion that royalty does marry commoners; they are Prince William and Kate Middleton. The second was Christian recording artist Rebecca St. James. Not everyone has followed her career but she has always been an advocate of ―true love waits‖ and I have been a fan for years now. At one point, Rebecca found her belief that she’d be married shaken because she had such a desire to be in love, to serve God in a marriage. With patience she met and fell in love with her dream guy and is happily married. These two examples are vastly different, but what they illustrate is how each woman realized fairy-tale dreams in the real world. Was Henry right for Valerie? Maybe not, but he was just as stirring as Peter in different ways. His heart was true to Valerie in ways Peter’s wasn’t. Valerie didn’t give Henry much of

a second glance because she believed herself in love and was so infatuated with her dangerous woodsman, the guy who was always able to make her ―break the rules.‖ Is that really the kind of place you want to start from in a relationship? That sort of pattern could lend itself to varying forms of manipulation, although it is never implied that Peter coerced Valerie into doing something she isn’t receptive to. Henry’s love, on the other hand, was given without condition or expectation that she would return it; he came to realize that in order to enjoy an honest life, for both he and Valerie’s sake, he’d need to let go of her and what he found instead is courage. All this story winds up imparting is just how unromantic the tale is in both its alternate and theatrical endings. Peter leaving Valerie until he can better protect her is a sorry excuse on its own, but the reason behind it is a turnoff, no matter if some feel

it is actually telling of devotion on Valerie’s part. Their love is a danger to both of them. Meanwhile, Henry recognized how little he meant to Valerie and his gesture towards her is in my opinion far more romantic than anything Peter does. Stories like this aren’t beneficial to cultural sects of people who think love isn’t real if it doesn’t involve physical acts, nor do they represent a positive message of revolt to those who do not have a deeper understanding of true love, whether through lack of wisdom or through worldly counsel; the source makes no difference if teens are being programmed to think a way that is detrimental to building healthy romantic relationships. Red Riding Hood may be billed as a romance but it isn’t, as its messages are not true to the purest form of love (selflessness). And that, in and of itself, is far more terrifying than any supernatural creature. ■

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Femnista Halloween 2011  

Pushing Daisies, Harry Potter, Arsenic & Old Lace, Beastly, Twilight, The Wee Folk, Dracula, Robin McKinley’s Beauty, Dr. Strange & Mr. Norr...

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