Beefing up my Wikipedia Editing Game

Did you know that under 10% of Wikipedia editors identify as female? Last spring, I

bitmoji

My Bitmoji for fun.

trained to be a Wikipedia editor through Art+Feminism, but didn’t pull an event together.

I will be working to amplify female-ID voices, specifically writers to start. In order to do this right, I will need time.

Please review Wikipedia’s General Notability Guidelines to see if you or someone you knows applies. (If I am biased towards you in any way, then I will not be able to add your entry.)

If you’re interested, contact me to submit your information. Please note that I will prioritize those who identify as female.

Thanks!

CMJ

Why TYA Should Join the Dark Side (of Fairy Tales): my extended interview with Gypsy Thornton part 1

I had the pleasure to interview Gypsy Thornton of Once Upon a Blog recently. Segments of our interview appeared in the article “Why TYA Should Join the Dark Side (of Fairy Tales)”, but she had such great insight that I gained permission to publish our extended interview. 

CINDY MARIE JENKINS: Sometimes people are surprised to hear how dark the origins of their favorite fairy tales are. Why do you think that is?

GYPSY THORNTON: I think this comes from generations where people have been exposed to Disney and ‘softened’ retellings more than the traditional fairy tale collections kids grew up with before. Before video, you couldn’t just ‘pop on a show’ to entertain the kids so story collections were very popular. Collections of fairy tales before the 80’s often included one or two lesser known ones and although the language was always kid-friendly, there were usually hints in the text and illustrations that both initial conditions and, eventually, punishments for the evil-doers were quite severe.

Enter Disney marketing the new ‘princess culture’ of the 80’s that began with their hit animated musical

Marissa Meyer’s sci-fi adaptation of The Little Mermaid follows the original much more closely than Disney. -CMJ

The Little Mermaid, and the era of PC tale telling of the 90’s. Absolutes tended to disappear. Evil wasn’t so much ‘evil’ as misunderstood, and everything and everyone could be rehabilitated. Ironically one of the things I’ve found helps kids feel safe is when things are more extreme: black and white, good and evil, rules are rules and punishment is given when they’re broken. When villains are vanquished, despite that there is often death involved, kids are greatly comforted by the fact that death is final, meaning that evil- or evil person – cannot return. The hero and heroine are now safe to truly live happily ever after, and the kids feel they personally are too.

One of the effects of ‘soft’ fairy tales is that you end up with watered down versions of the tale, which makes them easier to dismiss. They’re less relevant to life as they no longer have as much resonance and kids don’t learn many valuable things from them anymore. Fairy tales weren’t a variety of stories with elements of wonder anymore – they became distillations of dreams, magic and the incredibly fantastical. Magic had flourishes and sparkles, a thrilling soundtrack and cheering at the end of every story. Unlike the stories of real people with an element of the fantastic that gave them choices, all the new protagonists were already special and magical things happened because of it.

The big take-away is that fairy tales are for ‘little kids’ and people who can’t deal with reality. I don’t think it’s a coincidence we’ve ended up with generations that are taking longer to leave home, to get married and start their own families. Being able to deal with ambiguity, having tools to battle challenges and fears and encouraging creative thinking – these are all things embedded in the ‘less sparkly’ fairy tales. When you read and hear these ‘less fantastical’ tales as children, with their black and white boundaries, their clear-cut rules and rewards, it’s a safe forum to learn these things from and to expand your understanding into as your knowledge of the world grows. When you read them for the first time as an adult, the full weight of all the implications can crash in at once, making them seem a little frightening. Despite being obviously fantasy, they can feel ‘too real’. It’s an interesting irony.

One of the things almost guaranteed to make fairy tale students and scholars groan is an article that pronounces ‘you’ll never believe the dark origins of your favorite fairy tales!’. Every second headline seems to be using this ‘clickbait’ these days, but talk to anyone who found an ‘old fairy tale’ in a difficult childhood and you’ll hear they were, and remain useful tools – for hope. [CMJ note: see my article about the musical Into the Woods]

Photo credit unknown.

The quote that ‘fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us that dragons exist, but that we can defeat them’ (GK Chesterton) is well worn but remains so relevant. In the ‘sensational’ discovery of ‘horrors’ in older versions of fairy tales, people can’t help but see they can’t be dismissed as easily. They speak on many harsh things, and, as such, can be related to the harshness of real life. A surface glance will indeed make people shy away if they’re unfamiliar, but fairy tales have staying power, not (just) because they dwell in the dark places (and recognize life is sometimes awful), but particularly because they show people the possibility of coming out the other side.

Hope is a powerful thing and fairy tales have that in spades. Nice fairy tales are ‘nice’ and are great for dreaming. There is nothing wrong with that – at all. But fairy tales that encourage you to get up on your remaining limbs and keep going? They’re the ones that tell you life is worth living, no matter how tough it gets. Unlike dreams that have a tendency to vanish in disillusionment, these are the stuff of hope. Unfortunately, in our contemporary era, the trade off of (relative) stability is that we have a tendency to try and shield our children from disillusionment, instead of seeing it as inevitable and preparing them to cope.

Read the series “Talking TYA on The Clyde Fitch Report, including “Why TYA Should Join the Dark Side (of Fairy Tales)”, (part 2).

Read more from Gypsy Thornton on Once Upon a Blog

Honoring the Tony Winners That CBS Didn’t Show

The Tony Awards broadcast continued a long-standing protocol this year. Namely that numerous awards were given prior to the CBS broadcast, with clips shown after breaks — you know, when everyone in your viewing party is rushing back from the bathroom or filling their libations. Many people on Twitter, for instance, were surprised and unhappy that James Earl Jones’ acceptance speech for a Lifetime Achievement Award was not aired.

Among these honorees are the designers, people without whom the worlds of each production, we can all agree, would not exist.

Read more at The Clyde Fitch Report. 

 

We Watch, Too: A Parents’ Roundtable on Theater for Kids

In my first entry of this Theater for Young Audiences (TYA) series, I said I didn’t want to make assumptions on what people think or want from children’s theater. I know most of my desires for pushing the conventions of TYA come from my own childhood and from my new experiences of introducing a small human to the theater. But I was left wondering: How do other parents feel? I interviewed four mothers to see how, and if, their experiences aligned with mine.

I spoke with a mother of three who chose to remain anonymous. I’ll refer to her as Jane in this article. Her children are two, five and eight. Aubrie Canfield has a three-year-old and 10-month-old. Shellie Gauthier has a three-year-old, 13-year-old twins and a 15-year-old. Enci Box has a two-year-old and five-year-old.

Read more at The Clyde Fitch Report. 

 

#FastFactsFriday: Frank Lloyd Wright

What can we add to the overwhelming love being shared for Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday? There’s no need to pile onto the think pieces of Fallingwater’s significance or the public’s first impressions of The Guggenheim. At Nook, we value our role as specialists, poised to find the gems of houses perfect for every one of our clients. We’ll take the same route today for the anniversary of arguably our most prolific architect of the twentieth century.

So here it is. A list of facts about Frank Lloyd Wright that not only doesn’t mention Fallingwater (that’s the last time, I promise) but will deliver at least one new piece of trivia for you to wow clients at dinner tonight.

Read more on the Nook blog.

Woman of Color in Wide Open Spaces

“I can’t block out the white noise. I’ll always be restricted by race. Theirs, not mine.”

Wow. What a meaningful read.

Longreads

Minda Honey | Longreads | March 2017 | 12 minutes (2,986 words)

“And sometimes you meet yourself back where you started, but stronger.”
—Yrsa Daley-Ward

I sat alone at a picnic table sipping a hot can of beer in Sequoia National Park under the stingy shade of a nearby tree. I was surrounded by families. White families. Sequoia was the first of four national parks I had planned to visit on my summer road trip from Southern California to a writer’s retreat in Lake Tahoe, and from Lake Tahoe to my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. I needed to get out and away. I’d just completed two years as a POC in an MFA program. Two years in classrooms at long tables surrounded by faces as white as the paper we printed our work on. I felt like the black text on that paper, forcefully marching across the landscape of my…

View original post 2,927 more words

It Wasn’t Diversity That Killed Comic Sales, It Was These Archaic Publishing Methods

I want to read more comic books. I want to be a regular reader of a series and follow a character through a larger arc, then be intrigued by another character and go down the rabbit hole of their story. But the way that comics are released just doesn’t work for me anymore.

I’ve tried. I’ll wait months for a title to be available in trade if it means I can read it when I want to read it—on my schedule and terms. Asher Elbein’s new piece in The Atlantic explains why many of my favorites are canceled or in peril by the time I buy their trades, and that just drives me more and more to the indie presses, or even away from comics at all. It is no coincidence that the more so-called “diverse,” i.e. not default white male, titles are the ones that interest me (Alex Brown says a lot of how I feel whenever “diversity” is blamed for poor sales.). If you haven’t kept up with the billionth Spiderman or which Robin is actually Robin since before you were born, it seems like there’s no place for you.

Read more at The Mary Sue. 

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