Elijah: A Very Short Story

Once upon a time, there was a young piglet whose parents had been sent to the slaughterhouse. He was all alone, and he had nothing but the desolate landscape of his thoughts to keep him company.

One day while he was walking through the enchanted forest, he happened upon a mighty panther, so long and sleek and powerful. The piglet was sure that the panther would devour him immediately. And, without doubt, that thought crossed the panther’s mind.

But then . . . a beautiful and delicate fairy drifted down from the White Tree of Magic, and she informed the panther that the piglet was in possession of the purest soul she had ever borne witness to. The panther was a hunter, a merciless killer; and yet, the fairy’s words touched his heart. He spared the piglet, slinking past it on his way to some alternate feast.

The beautiful fairy did three revolutions in the air, waving her ornate oaken wand and sprinkling the dust of her race over the piglet. In less than a moment, he had transformed into a tall and strapping man.

“You are human now,” the fairy said to him. “You shall protect this world from evil and greed. You will live many years, and you will do incredible things. Henceforth, your name shall be Elijah.”

With a flutter of her lace-like wings, she flew down to Elijah and kissed his cheek. Then she disappeared.

Elijah still lives to this day, just as strong and pure of heart as ever he was. He awaits the last battle with steady hands and a patient heart.

The Vampire Elf Queen

Her name is Queen Ivory, and I love her because she is different from the one I knew before.

She is the elf queen of the Emerald Palace. She has long golden locks, bright blue eyes, and skin white as milk.

She tells me she loves me. “Human women,” she says, “they are so fickle. One moment they express interest, the next moment they have flitted away – pssh – after some colorful butterfly.”

“Ah, yes,” I say groggily, having become drunk on her darkenberry wine.

“They cannot sate you the way I can,” she goes on to say, locking my eyes with her ice-blue gaze.

“Perhaps not,” I whisper, the world swimming before my eyes. “But still – I loved her.”

“Did you?” she inquires. “You humans cannot even comprehend the meaning of love. ‘I love you, I love you,’ you are always blathering the words – but what the fuck do you think they mean?”

I shake my head, spilling my wine over the front of my shirt. Tears are pouring down my face.

“I suppose I don’t know,” I murmur lifelessly.

She comes forward to take my glass, then dashes it down against the stones. Broken glass skitters everywhere.

“Do you trust me?” she asks.

“Yes,” I whisper, looking dumbly into her ice-blue eyes.

She kisses me, sucking with her lungs, drawing the entirety of my soul from my body. Then she lowers her mouth to my neck, more vampire than elf, and drains the blood from my veins.

“You silly humans,” she whispers, patting my cheek with her warm hand. “You do not know what love is.”

My last sight is of her bright white dress, slithering away from me, as I fall down to the cold, bloody stones.

BEAUTY & THE WOLF by Bridget Essex.

Bella is a small-town lesbian waitress with a horrible boss, a wicked sense of humor, and absolutely no hope of ever finding true love. That is – until Mel Grim arrives in town. The woman is striking, mysterious, and elusive. Bella is immediately attracted to her. And yet, it seems that Grim is keeping some kind of secret.

When Bella loses her job at the diner, Grim offers her a job cooking for her family. Bella doesn’t hesitate, because she has no other options, but she sure is in for a lot of upcoming weirdness that has to do with Grim’s family: including a surly sister, a drunken brother who used to be in a boy band, and an adorable nephew who says some really strange things. In the midst of it all, Bella finds herself falling for Grim – but when the secret finally comes out, will their newfound romance survive the fallout?

This was an awesome book. I fell in love with Bella’s sense of humor immediately; it’s steady and lighthearted throughout the entire book. I usually don’t relate too well with masculine women like Grim, but something about her captivated me. The author described her to perfection. Only problem is, if this were ever turned into a movie, I don’t think they’d be able to find the right person to play Mel Grim. It’d be impossible.

In the bio info at the back of the book, it’s written that people have lauded some of Essex’s work as “TWILIGHT for women who love women.” I was thinking that just about as soon as I started the book, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the result. I was excited to learn there are so many more titles available from Bridget Essex!

CLICK HERE to view BEAUTY & THE WOLF on Amazon.

Guest Author: Homer Buford

Hi, everybody. Here’s the final installment (for now) of Blackwood’s Magazine’s Indie Author Spotlight. Today, we have with us Mr. Homer Buford: a lovely, eccentric fellow who writes for the love of writing.

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Mr. Buford’s namesake, Blind Homer.
  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

Whales dive to free depths, Birds fly to free heights,
I write to free prisoners.

 

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

My book  THE PRISONERS OF NAGA, is one  I wish to place into the hands of everyone who has ever looked into the clouded Milky Way and saw far deeper meaning than in the towering high rise forest of apartments, offices, clinics, wards, and playschools and seen more majesty in that nebulous road marker than the dirty and corrosive  shipping lanes of oil tankers.
I wish to reach those who find a hint of their true self in every night time dance; every polar flare, every gust of magnetic wind; to everyone whose atoms hear the MUSIC OF THE SPHERES; to everyone  waiting with abated breath to hear their name called, I write for them.
In PRISONERS OF NAGA, I take some lonely, soul seeking Soldiers of Vietnam out of the jungles and into THE LIBRARY located in a part of the Milky way called BLAUPUNCT, where they do not find mere SELF ,but discover a higher and greater destiny than the mortal mind [a prisoner] has never accessed; to see what the flesh of the eye has ever longed  to see; Home.

 

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

Most authors experience THE MOUNTAIN.
It is a bitter obstacle course actually built by them!
It is dutifully, and religiously piled by borrowed earthmovers to layer the Mountain with reminder after reminder of failures-a mountain of failures.
This is all taught to them; failure.
First word Baby understands after mama? “NO!”

 

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

I have not a single thing to say to the whole Island of MAN should my book reach that shore; I have MANY things to say,
Beginning with this simple lesson: wasps built paper nests long before paper was “invented”  and the young wasp never saw the construction ‘blueprint’ in its nursery. (BLAUPUNCT)why do you need instruction?
Writers have written in the stars and  they wrote in clay when necessary: written any good clay lately?

 

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

My favorite Author has not yet written. It could be you.

Modern literature is a denigration and holds no place in THE LIBRARY. Today’s authors are too obsessed with filthy language, demeaning sarcasm, gory murder, demonic creatures  and Disneylike sorcery- nothing that edifices Mankind.
Today’s literature is to readers what Rap  is to black music. A mental maelstrom.

 

And there we have it! That was really interesting. Homer really has some one-of-a-kind views!

For a look at The Prisoners of Naga, click here

Thanks for reading, everybody!

Guest Author: Jason Graff

Hello, all! Welcome to the next installment in our “Spotlight” series. Today we’re hosting Mr. Jason Graff! He is the author of In the Service of the Boyar, a book just out from the indie publisher Vagabondage Press.

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Photo Credit: Meghan Crotty
  1. Everyone has a story about why they love to write. What’s yours?

I like the solitude of it. I like how my thoughts seem to transform into something more once I’ve written them down. I really like the fact that it gives me license to still be a child in a way, because I love to play and enjoy the sort of work that is most like play.

  1. If there’s a particular book you’re trying to market right now, will you tell us about it?

In the Service of The Boyar is a novella that takes a look at the story of Dracula from the workers’ perspective. They have journeyed to his land to dig the earth from beneath his castle for transport to England. The unnamed narrator is looking back on the part of his life when he met his, for lack of a better word, soulmate. Fifika is mysterious and intelligent and dismissive of the narrator at first. After tragic events befall her family, Dracula (The Boyar) invites Fifika and the narrator to his castle to be tutored in English language and customs. It is there, under the spell of the great poets of that land, that the narrator devises a way to make Fifika see him in a different light. But as in all tales of this nature, there is a price to pay for this love and without giving too much away, there are also things to be learned about Fifika.

The story was inspired by the Stoker book, the Coppola movie, and the original myths about Dracula. I thought it would be interesting to try an approach that I, at least, hadn’t seen.

  1. Most authors in the market nowadays have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Will you tell us how the positive moments make up for the negative ones?

If I have any sort of intellectual gift, it is to allow the positives no matter how small to speak to me and tell me I can do this much more loudly than the shrill Greek chorus of screaming negatives who, even as I type this, I can hear clearing their throats, readying to come at me again.

  1. If you could say one thing to the whole world, and have each and every person hear you – what would you say? It could be about your books, or anything at all in the whole universe.

Wow! What an opportunity! I’m certain that if this scenario actually came to pass I’d be too overwhelmed to speak. Luckily, I am answering this as I sit alone in my living room with only the idea of it to stress me out. Rather than try and come up with something pseudo-profound or even clever, I’d just say: relax and don’t be so greedy. You’re only here for a short time so whatever you think you own, you’re really just leasing it.

  1. Who’s your favorite author? Are you more into modern or classic literature? What do you think of modern literature on the whole?

At first, I was going to try and cop out on this question, like: Ugh…favorite author, there are too many, I couldn’t pick just one OR I like books but don’t really have a favorite author. But I dislike when people do that. I say be bold and put your writer on the line. Right now it’s John Banville for me. Birchwood, The Sea, The Book of Evidence, The Blue Guitar, Ancient Light, Shroud, I could go on. They are all so beautifully written. Scene for scene, paragraph for paragraph, sentence for sentence, they are all simply marvelous. Funny, smart, compelling, his work has it all. And he also writes mysteries under the name Benjamin Black. I read both modern and classic literature. I think a good story is a good story no matter the era it was written in.

***

And there you have it, folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s interview with Jason Graff, and I hope you’ll take a look at his new book. I, for one, think it looks really interesting. I’ve always loved supernatural stuff like that.

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AUTHOR LINKS:

Twitter

Goodreads

Web

Facebook

Book available at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

And other fine retailers.

I Guess Authors Don’t Always Love Their Books’ Movies :(

THE NEVERENDING STORY was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. To be honest, I still love it. I even have it on DVD.

Turns out, though, the movie wasn’t a fave of the book’s author, Michael Ende. (The book was originally written in German in 1979, and was called Die unendliche Geschichte. An English translation by Ralph Manheim was published four years later.)

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1997 Dutton edition cover

I didn’t know this before, because honestly I’ve never read the book, but I guess the original film directed by Wolfgang Petersen only covered about the first half of the story. Apparently, Ende was not pleased, and he demanded to have his name removed from the film’s credits.

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THE NEVERENDING STORY original movie poster

Personally, I thought the movie was extremely well-made. The special effects (considering it was 1984) were great. I’ll never forget the Rock Biter, sitting all alone in the desolate expanse when the Nothing comes to destroy the small bit of Fantasia that’s left. He’s just sitting there, looking lost — when Atreyu passes by him, and he says to Atreyu: “I couldn’t hold onto them. [Referring to his lost friends.] The Nothing just whisked them away. Look at my hands — they look like big, strong hands, don’t they?”

Atreyu nods wordlessly, and continues on his mission, not knowing what to say. Who would?

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Atreyu with Falkor the luckdragon (2016 Google Doodle)

The most heartbreaking moment of the movie, of course, was when Artax got sucked into the Swamp of Sadness. I cry every time.

But oh, well. I guess Ende had a specific vision in mind for his masterpiece (just as all us authors do), and Petersen’s film didn’t live up to his expectations. For my own part, though, I’ll always love THE NEVERENDING STORY. I’m so excited that Google decided to honor the book’s 37th anniversary today with a special series of Doodles!

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The Palace of the Childlike Empress (2016 Google Doodle)

In the Snake Pit with Olivia & Arabella

In a film called The Snake Pit, wherein Olivia de Havilland portrayed a mental patient,  she demonstrated a difficulty loving, based on her relationship with her mother and father. Her mother was indifferent, and though her father was loving, when he sided with her mother, she grew angry with him. Then, when he died of innocuous causes, she felt guilt. She compared another man, named Gordon, to her father; and when he asked her to marry him, she felt a sick feeling, on account of that comparison to her father.

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Eventually, she married a man named Robert Cunningham. She was fond of him; but after she fell mentally ill, she felt a passionate love for her doctor, which was more likely than not reciprocated. Yet she chose the love for Robert, because that was what was deemed normal and healthy. She said at the end of the film, when Robert asked her how she finally got well: “It was because I finally stopped being in love with Dr. __.”

Now, is this because letting go of those feelings allowed her to return to the state the world expected her to be in, or is it because the love for her doctor actually was an unhealthy one? I, for one, will never know.

Compare this tale to Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (a book which, no doubt, will be featured in many more essays of mine). Look specifically at the story of Strange and his wife, Arabella. She was fond of him, surely – yet there was that comment about his long nose and his questionable disposition, which may have simply been made in jest, or which may have hinted at something less than true love. Then, after she returns from the hellish world of the gentleman with the thistle-down hair, consider her fondness for no one in the world but Flora Greysteel. Some might argue that this was because of Flora’s own connection to Strange; but personally, I think it was on account of a longing for what’s called “true love,” which Flora always longed for, too, but never found.

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At the end of the book, when Strange is trapped in the darkness with Mr. Norrell, it’s said that he doesn’t ask Arabella to come with him – and that she doesn’t offer to go. Again, the meaning is ambiguous. Perhaps Arabella simply realizes she can’t do him any good; or perhaps she is actually in love with Flora Greysteel, and wants to remain with her for a few years longer.

Most people would say that’s ridiculous. But, you never know.

So – to sum it up. Olivia de Havilland, in The Snake Pit, chose the love that the world expected her to feel, because that’s what helped her to be “sane.” Then, in Jonathan Strange, Arabella promised to wait for Strange until he returned from the darkness, though I honestly believe that she would have rather been with Flora Greysteel.

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Which leads us to the question: Is it possible to find true love in this strange modern world?

That’s all for now. In humble appreciation for your attention to my rambling thoughts, I say to you, “Merci.”

Championing Milne (and Refuting Mr. Roger Sale’s Opinions About Winnie-the-Pooh)

Mr. Roger Sale, a very learned and respectable gentleman of the University of Washington, wrote a book in the 1970s entitled Fairy Tales and After, an ingenious collection of essays on children’s literature. He is very fond of Dr. Seuss’s two early novels for little ones, as well as the whole body of work otherwise known as the “Babar books.” I’m sure it’s all entirely delightful, for I was, indeed, very interested to read the many snippets Mr. Sale included from the pages of Seuss’s The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Even as a young child, however, I was unfamiliar with the Babar books, so I can give no educated response in their favor.

My only real problem with Sale’s work is his stark disparagement of the Winne-the-Pooh books. If you are not aware, there are two: the first entitled, simply, Winnie-the-Pooh; and the second being known as The House at Pooh Corner. Pooh bear was first introduced to the world in a poem called “Teddy Bear,” completely wonderful, and included in Milne’s volume of children’s poetry called When We Were Very Young.

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Sale admitted that his students often had trouble with his views on Milne’s work, seeing as they considered them to be such sweet and innocent books. My own arguments, however, are not based merely on the “slander of what is innocent.” I do not claim that the Pooh books are wholly innocent; or wholly sweet. Indeed, I did not come to them until much later in life, well after the age of twenty. What I now find so compelling about the books, I probably would not have noticed when I was a child. I was a smart-alecky and sarcastic child, surely – but still, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

That comment, of course, will lead you directly to what I find so great about these books. To explain it better, I will include a quote from Sale’s book, and then set about refuting it.

Sale wrote: “Pooh is not, of course, a bear of very little brain, but Christopher Robin keeps putting him in situations where he will think he is . . .

“What I never saw as a child, but see in many places now, is that the Forest is becoming tainted . . . by the alien values of Christopher Robin’s and Milne’s world . . .

“Milne believes that if one learns how things are done, and named, and spelled, everything will turn out all right.”

Well, then. First, and most importantly, of all: Milne doesn’t believe that knowing how to spell things makes the world a perfect place. The whole point is that he’s mocking that notion. He’s making fun of adults who think that knowing more makes you a better individual. It’s a sarcastic remark on his part – not an autobiographical point of view.

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He never meant for the Forest to be seen as a Utopia. It’s a place like any other, with nice things, and not-so-nice things. The characters have good qualities and bad ones. The best part about the bad qualities, of course, is that they serve as the ammunition for Milne’s caustic humor. That, by far, is my favorite part of his books.

To prove these points, let’s take a look at the second story of the first book: “In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into a Tight Place.”

Pooh bear goes to visit Rabbit, you see, and shares luncheon with him. But he eats too much, and then can’t get back out the door. He gets stuck in the door, and requires the assistance of his friends to get free.

Christopher Robin advises Pooh bear to stay in the door for a week, so as to get thinner, and then pop right back out again.

“‘A week!’ said Pooh gloomily. ‘What about meals?’

‘I’m afraid no meals,’ said Christopher Robin, ‘on account of getting thin quicker. But we will read to you.’”

Now – if Christopher Robin hadn’t reminded Pooh that he couldn’t eat while he was stuck in the door, Pooh never would have gotten out. So he is, all in all, a bear of rather little brain. But that doesn’t mean Christopher Robin goes to the trouble of trying to make him look foolish. It wasn’t as though he made him eat too much, and thereby get himself stuck in a doorway.

In fact, at the end of the story, after Pooh gets out of the doorway: ‘ . . . with a nod of thanks to his friends, he (Pooh bear) went on with his walk through the forest, humming proudly to himself. But Christopher Robin looked after him lovingly, and said to himself, ‘Silly old bear.’”

Pooh is a silly old bear, but still, Christopher Robin says it lovingly.

And then, when “Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle,” and follow their own footprints for rather a long time, it takes Christopher Robin stepping in, and helping them to realize there’s no woozle at all – but only their own footprints in the snow.

“‘I have been Foolish and Deluded,’ said Pooh, ‘and I am a Bear of No Brain At All.’

‘You’re the Best Bear in All the World,’ said Christopher Robin soothingly.”

So I say, in opposition to Sale’s comments (which are no doubt meant to improve the overall mental health of insecure modern children who might think that they themselves are brainless bears), that Pooh bear is indeed a bear of very little brain. But Christopher Robin loves, and supports him, anyway. The Forest is an imperfect place – just like every other place. But, just like every other place, it has its own special beauty.

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The Real Origins of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Middle-earth”

Most Old English poets were anonymous, and only a few are known by name. Cynewulf was one of them. The works definitively attributed to him are but four: Juliana; Elene; Fates of the Apostles; and The Ascension.

While the modern reader may need a little help to understand who Cynewulf was, I’m sure hardly anyone needs help with the name J.R.R. Tolkien. The great Mr. Tolkien: inventor of an entire world and language, father of the hobbit.

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But here’s the interesting part. It could be argued that a line from Cynewulf’s The Ascension sparked the entire body of Tolkien’s work. The line reads:

“Hail Earandel brightest of angels

Above middle-earth sent unto men.”

Anyone even slightly familiar with Tolkien’s work – heck, even anyone who’s seen one of the Lord of the Rings movies – can jump right on that inference. I mean, come on. Middle-earth? I think we’re seeing the parallel here.

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In Anglo-Saxon England, “Middle-Earth” (also known as “Midgard”) was the name for the world inhabited by, and known to humans. It was a remnant of early Germanic cosmology, and referred specifically to one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology.

After reading Cynewulf’s The Ascension, Tolkien said, “There was something very remote and strange and beautiful behind those words, if I could grasp it, far beyond ancient English.”

While studying at Oxford, Tolkien developed a language that is known now as “Quenya.” Below is an example of the word Quenya written in Tolkien’s script, Tengwar.

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Tolkien thought that the language of Quenya needed an internal history: “one spoken by elves, whom his character Eärendil meets during his journeys.” The next step was the “Lay of Eärendil,” a work composed of several poems describing Eärendil, his voyages, and the manner in which his ship was turned into a star.

Around 1914, Tolkien wrote a poem called “The Voyage of Eärendil the Evening Star,” published in The Book of Lost Tales 2. “Eärendil” means “lover of the sea” in Quenya.

But Eärendil was destined to become more than just a poem. Eärendil the Mariner is depicted in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion as a child of Men and Elves: a great seafarer who, upon his brow, carried the morning star across the sky.

Here is an illustration of Eärendil the Mariner with his wife Elwing in the form of a bird, drawn by Jenny Dolfen.

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According to the index of The Silmarillion, Eärendil was:

“Called ‘Halfelven’, ‘the Blessed’, ‘the Bright’, and ‘the Mariner’; son of Tuor and Idril Turgon’s daughter; escaped from the sack of Gondolin and wedded Elwing daughter of Dior at the Mouths of Sirion; sailed with her to Aman and pleaded for help against Morgoth; set to sail the skies in his ship Vingilot bearing the Silmaril that Beren and Lúthien brought out of Angband.”

Humphrey Carpenter (an English biographer, writer, and radio broadcaster) remarked in his biography of Tolkien that Eärendil “was in fact the beginning of Tolkien’s own mythology.”

So: Cynewulf’s poem spurred the creation of Eärendil the Mariner, and also of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, the setting for his great works. The above line from The Ascension can be compared to a quote from Frodo Baggins’s in The Two Towers.

He says: “Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!” (Which means): “Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!” In this case, Frodo’s exclamation was in reference to the “star-glass” he carried, which had been given to him by Galadriel, and which contained the light of Eärendil’s star, the Silmaril.

#GiveElsaAGirlfriend

Everyone’s thought it. Frozen’s Queen Elsa might very possibly be a lesbian. Her sister Anna thought she was in love with a fiendish prince, and then actually fell in love with a poor ice-collector — but it was never shown who Elsa might be interested in. Then, when the hit TV show Once Upon a Time did a Frozen theme for half a season, the idea that Elsa might be gay was pushed even farther (or so I thought). Now, Tweep-gone-viral @lexi4prez (actual name Alexis Isabel) has started a campaign to give Elsa a girlfriend in the Frozen sequel, which is due to “come out” in 2018. Obviously, she’s taken a lot of hack, but she’s also garnered a lot of support.

Obviously, I’m here to lend my support to Isabel and her campaign. Recently, Once Upon a Time pushed boundaries with their story-line of Ruby and Dorothy, and now it’s time for Disney to do the same. Lesbian love isn’t a synonym for sadism. It’s beautiful, just like Beauty & the Beast. Just like Aladdin and Jasmine.

Follow Alexis Isabel on Twitter to show your support. I know not everyone is supportive of a lesbian-themed Frozen sequel — but hey, if you hate it all that much, just pull out your old tape of The Sleeping Beauty, and content yourself with that. Let’s move forward.