The song was very funny in 1994. Now, twenty (holy cow) years later, it loses some, well, really all of its topicality. If people even remember the subjects [Singapore caning American delinquent Michael Fay, figure skater Tonya Harding's then-boyfriend attacking her rival Nancy Kerrigan, and Lorena Bobbitt severing her husband's penis with a knife] that just goes to show that al was right in joking that he “wanted to write a song about these people because [he didn't] think they’re getting quite enough media attention.”
The second track is an “Alternate Mix” of “Christmas at Ground Zero,” one of Al’s better Christmas songs. I’m not sure what is Alternate about it, and I was really hoping that it would include the voice of Ronald Reagan, like it did in the video, but I suspect even Al has limits of access. Nevertheless, the song sounds a lot better than the original, so there’s nothing wrong with that.
[READ:April 20, 2013] A Tale Dark and Grimm
Sarah gave me this story to read because she loved it. It’s a re-imagining of Hansel and Gretel.
The narrator tells us that we we don’t really know the original story all, that’s it (and many fairy tales) are much much darker than one expects. I know that Grimm’s stories are more violent than the versions we tell our kids, but I don’t know exactly how different these stories really are. As such, I don’t know how much of the this Gidwitz is making up. In many respects, that doesn’t matter at all because the story is great either way, but it is a point of curiosity wondering whether or not these stories really did say this back then.
Anyhow, this story begins with bold print, bold print in which the narrator talks to the reader directly: “Once upon a time fairy tales were awesome.” And he prepares to tell us about Faithful Johannes, the precursor to Hansel and Gretel. We learn how Hansel and Gretel’s parents met (primarily through thievery and greed) and were eventually married (despite the literal curses against them). It turned out that Faithful Johannes, their servant, stayed with them all along, as all of the curses came true. But then Johannes died, and then it was revealed that if the king cut off Hansel and Gretel’s heads their blood would restore Johannes to life. So he did.
Hansel and Gretel came back to life (obviously) but they were so distraught when they overheard what had happened to them (they didn’t remember and of it) they ran away. And that’s how they met the witch.
The narrator has lots of fun by ending a chapter with The End and then on the next page saying Almost. And then continuing on.
Through the course of the story Hansel and Gretel meet astonishing fates–separation, stuffing by a witch, sleeping in the woods, loss of a finger, being turned into a wild animal, being hunted and killed. And more. Hansel even goes to hell.And each story moves their tale forward. And with each story the narrator (in bold) tells how these stories are not at all for children, that the children should really be kept out of the room while this part is going on, etc.
The final story involves them fighting a dragon, and you know something is suspicious about the dragon right from the start. Indeed, the dragon holds a lot of significance to the pair.
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It plays with elements of classic fairy tales, which I really liked, but more importantly, it does it very well. And, it’s funny too. It may not be for all children, but those who like their books dark will certainly like this.
You can read Sarah’s reviews here.