Magpie Monday

Here are some shiny things that caught my eye recently:

♦ I’ve long been a fan of Jack Zipes and his work on fairy tales. At, Zipes talks with Emma Mustich about the recent trend of fairy-tale films coming out of Hollywood. Be warned, fans of Walt: he does take Disney to task (rightfully so, I would agree) for representing “the worst aspects of capitalist, corporate productions.” Here’s an excerpt from Zipes to whet your whistle:

Has the function of a fairy tale changed? Of course it has, because technologies and the way fairy tales are disseminated and packaged have. Fairy tales were never commodities; up through the beginning of the 20th century, they were either told or read for pleasure (and also [some] of them were didactic) … Unfortunately, in the 20th century, with the rise of the consumerist society, a lot of fairy tales—particularly the ones that are developed by Disney, and Disney-like corporations—have [become] commodities to consume, simply for the purpose of the brand or the corporation that produces these films. In other words, they are produced to create a little pleasure—but basically to gain more profit and more power for the corporations that produce them.

Good reading. Zipes’ latest fairy-tale book is The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films. Via.

♦ If you’re a fan of Ulysses by James Joyce, you might want to check out Joyce Project, a hypermedia companion to the famous novel. The set-up is pretty cool, with all kinds of in-text links to notes about references to Dublin, performances, literature, Ireland, materiality, and even Joyce himself. Via.

♦ My friend Cameron sent me the link to Belinda Lanks’ post, Animated GIFs Capture Stanley Kubrick’s Most Immortal Scenes. Here’s her introduction to the page:

If you’re a child of the ’70s, you can probably attribute a few nightmares (and fantasies) to Stanley Kubrick, whose impressive and disturbing oeuvre includes such cult faves as The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Part of Kubrick’s genius was in crafting moods, not just scenes—a mastery on full display in these animated GIFs created by Gustaf Mantel. In a single gesture, they capture an indelible moment in film history in a way no film still possibly could.

Here’s a sample that creeps me out in the most delightful way possible (click on the image to watch Alex breathe):

Most excellent.

♦ Kim Wright’s essay “Why Are So Many Literary Writers Shifting into Genre?” didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know. Still, genre literature getting some props is always a good thing (although it’s arguable if Wright is actually giving genre the props it deserves). Here’s a bit of a teaser:

Once upon a time, genre was treated as almost a different industry from literary fiction, ignored by critics, sneered at by literary writers, relegated by publishers to imprint ghettos. But the dirty little and not-particularly-well-kept secret was that, thanks to the loyalty of their fans and the relatively rapid production of their authors, these genre books were the ones who kept the entire operation in business. All those snobbish literary writers had better have hoped like hell that their publishers had enough genre moneymakers in house to finance the advance for their latest beautifully rendered and experimentally structured observation of upper class angst.

But while genre authors were always the workhorses of publishing, lately they’ve broken out as stars and are belatedly receiving real recognition. In 2010, there were 358 fantasy titles on the best seller list, more than double the number in 2006. Publishers, always the last to recognize a literary trend, are pursuing top genre writers who, for the first time, have not only bigger paychecks but genuine clout.

All this worry about labels and pigeon-holing gets a little tiresome at times, but I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Via.

♦ A literal shiny that caught my eye: the Swiss+Tech Utili-Key 6-in-1 tool. After reading this description, how can you not want one, too?

The lightest and most compact multi-use tool ever developed. This ultra-light, durable and precision crafted 6-in-1 mini-tool has a straight knife blade and a serrated cutting surface, a flat screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver, a micro-sized screwdriver, and a bottle opener, and weighs in at an amazing 0.5 oz. The tool makes minor repairs, assemblies, installations, and hundreds of jobs an easy undertaking. The patented quick-release design easily snaps to your key ring, and just as easily releases for multiple everyday tasks. Ideal for indoor or outdoor activities and emergency situations, this tool comes in handy on the road and at home!

Oh, we wants the Precious, we do. Via.

♦ George O’Connor’s series of graphic novels based on the Olympians has been entertaining to read and beautiful to look at. I highly recommend the first three volumes in the series: Zeus: King of the Gods, Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess, and Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory. The fourth volume, Hades: Lord of the Dead, will be released in January. O’Connor has a website devoted to the series, and last week Diamond Books interviewed him.

♦ I love, love, love Roger D. Evans’ amazing stop-motion animation of the Jonny Quest opening titles. Can’t remember the last time I saw something this cool:

For those of you who don’t know the original 2-D animated intro, I invite you to watch it on youtube and compare. Via.

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