Archive for November, 2010

Not A Victim

One thing I love is finding old version of fairy tales we still have today and seeing how they have changed over the years.  Often these changes reflect societal trends, and the comparison and contrast between the tales is just fascinating to me.

Case in point: Little Red Riding Hood.  This is an excellent article written by a woman who had studied the tale far more and longer than I have and worth reading on its own.  But I will make a few points since it influences how I tell the tale through my photos.

In the older versions, Little Red Riding Hood is not the hapless victim she is usually in our modern tales.  She is clever, and comes up with ways to save herself.  In the end, the only help she receives is from two washer women, doing laundry in a river.  But she refuses to let the wolf overcome her.  She will not submit to him and is bright and tenacious in her fight to save herself.  There is no waiting around for a woodsman to come save her in this story.  She will save herself.

The old tale is also woven with all sorts of bizarre sexual undertones.  I chose the most blatant example of this for my photo below.  In this part of the story, Little Red Riding Hood has come to Grandmother’s house, where the wolf already is and Grandmother has been eaten.  The wolf is under the covers in bed and tells Little Red to come join him.  But instead of simply asking her to come into bed, he commands her to remove her shoes, her cloak, her stockings, her skirt, her shirt… on and on, one piece of clothing at a time in a twisted striptease for his own delight until she is completely naked.  Each item he has her take off, he orders her to throw into the fire, leaving her unable to cover up again.

And it is during this process that Little Red finally figures out who he is and what’s going on.  But she also knows the if she stops now she tips her hand and the wolf will attack.  So she has to continue, despite her growing fear and dread.

But, as I said, our heroine is clever.  Before the wolf can get her into bed with him, she comes up with an excuse to slip outside where she immediately takes off running through the woods, despite her complete lack of clothing.  And with the help of the kindly washer women she comes across, she saves herself and the wolf is drowned.

That’s the kind of girl I can admire.  One who takes a dreadful situation and refuses to stand by and let it continue being dreadful.  She takes charge, and while she has to endure some unpleasant things, she doesn’t let it rule and destroy her.  She is a fascinating archetype to explore photographically.



Our model here is the lovely Veronica Ricci, who did a great job!

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25 Random Facts

This started as a Facebook tag, but I’m transferring it over here for everyone to enjoy.  25 random facts about me:

1.  I got my first “real” camera when I was 16, and it was one of the best presents I ever got.

2. I became vegetarian about six months ago.

3. I started taking self portraits in February of this year, mostly due to the frustration of having lots of great ideas and having every photographer I suggested them to reject them.  At the time I was really annoyed, but I’m glad for it now, because it led me to where I am.

4. I have two cats and a dog, all of whom have names which are either music- or poetry-inspired.

5. I was always artistic as a child, even going so far as to doodle on my bed sheets with markers when I was about 4, in a protest against the nap I was being forced to take.  My mother was NOT happy about my form of self-expression.

6. I LOVE naps now.

7. If I have a day where I don’t have to put on makeup, get out of my pajamas or leave the house, I consider that a REALLY good day.

8. I’m engaged to fellow artist and photographer Geoff Ashley, and we met when I modeled for him one day.  We’ve been together for two and a half years and he is fantastic.

9. I adore champagne but I’m a total lightweight, so I have to pace myself drinking it.

10. Unlike most girls, I think chocolate is only ok.

11. Unicorns are my favorite creatures, and The Last Unicorn is one of my favorite books and movies.

12. I got to meet Peter S. Beagle and got my photo taken with him!

Peter S. Beagle and me.

13. Robin McKinley is my favorite author.  Deerskin and The Hero And The Crown are tied for favorite book status.

14. I never, ever, ever want to have children.  So stop asking when it’s going to happen.  It’s not.

15.  I was home-schoooled.   My last year of high school was mostly tying up loose ends, so I got to pick some very fun classes, like an entire class on Shakespeare.

16. I chose to take Latin as my language in high school and I still remember a few phrases.

17. My favorite movie is The Fountain, which nobody else has seen.

18. Growing up I thought I wanted to a writer, an actress a painter and a vet at different times.

19.  I got vomit-inducingly drunk exactly one time and decided that was not something I was going to repeat.

20. I love to bake, but I’m always concerned about what I eat, so I rarely make fun cakes and cookies anymore or I’ll eat them all and feel fat.

21. I am a certified Reiki Level 2 Practitioner.

22. I have incredible, foundation-shaking insecurities, but most of them stay hidden from the general population.

23. I have numerous chronic health problems which affect my life to varying degrees.

24. I secretly long to be able to dance in a way most people would agree is sexy, but I am far too shy to even take a dance class.

25.  I make my own hair gel from flax seeds and peppermint essential oil.

That was a lot to think of!  Enjoy it?  Reply with your own random facts about yourself!

Happy Day

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Donated her eyes,

Donated her eyes to feel her actual senses,

sweet 16, to feel what life was like

Donated her eyes to feel life as she imagined it.

Miasmal Smoke And The Yellow-Bellied Freaks.  I am predisposed to like songs with complicated titles, especially if the title never appears in the song, such as in this case.  I’ll admit that.  But this song by Wintersleep (an awesome band introduced to me by my friend Alex, because he knows about cooler bands than I do) is far more than a simple song.  It’s an experience.  Over 8 minutes long, it features a long instrumental opening which takes you on a journey through discovery, hope, and, finally, long-yearned-for, transcendental joy.  Or at least that’s the journey it takes me on.  Yours might be different.

Back to the inspirational lyrics in question: Donated her eyes to feel life as she imagined it. What a beautiful image.  Wintersleep tends to use poetic and cryptic lyrics (my favorite) and I won’t pretend to know the full meaning they intended.  But I can connect with the idea of sacrificing something precious in order to gain something even more precious… life as you imagined it.

If we could actually obtain life as we imagined it through the sacrifice of our eyes, I doubt there would be a person left with them.

Wintersleep is fertile ground for inspiration.  I think more photos based on them will be coming, and probably more based on this one song.

To Feel Life As She Imagined It

And as a special treat for everyone, here are the correct and complete lyrics, which, to my knowledge, don’t exist on the Web anywhere else.

Donated her eyes when she was young and shy hated her awkward breasts and filled the yawning skylines
With kisses sweet, to hear existence beat, to hold it tangible and drifting, ever so gently sifting summer sky
Donated her eyes, donated her eyes to feel her actual senses, sweet 16, to feel what life was like
Donated her eyes to feel life as she imagined it

Go back to sleep you yellow bellied freaks, afraid of God and modern science
Go back to sleep, if I could only sleep, if I could stop imagining if my dreams weren’t after me
Through piss and sweaty blankets, the deafening hum of some great silence
The jingle jangling heat, the strangling sheets, terrible and fucking meaningless

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Bird Feeder

As some of you know, my grandmother passed away recently.

She was in her early nineties, had raised six children, spoiled several grandchildren, fostered countless animals and through it all was married to the same man, my grandfather, for more than fifty years.

They were truly meant to be together, and after his death, my grandmother was never quite the same.  Oh, she mustered on.  Her New England upbringing and deep Catholic faith wouldn’t allow anything else.  But it was clear much of the joy in her life had drained away with him.

My grandmother suffered with heart failure and kidney failure for seven months; stubbornly refusing to believe the end might be coming.  She always overcame whatever troubles life through at her.  But eventually peace and acceptance came over her, and it was shortly after that she made the trip over into the afterlife and, I know, rejoined my grandfather.

She lived a rich, full life and left behind many legacies.  She was a woman of deep faith and a enormous heart for animals.  It with animals that I most closely associate her, which is a passion I share.  My childhood dog adored going to Grandma’s house.  He, along with all of her dogs, got a spoonful of ice cream every night before bed, which was something unheard of at home for him.

But she cared more than just about her pets, although that would have been enough.  The wild creatures outside were always safe under her wings and she did what she could to care for them.  A hurt field mouse found by one of the children was rehabilitated and released back into the wild… and never mind that it was instantly snatched by a hawk; she still did everything she could for it.

The wild birds outside were cared for in equal measure with all the other animals.  She would even save scraps of bread especially for the crows to eat… the crows, which are a bird I like a lot too, but many find obnoxious.  But she wanted them to be fed and cared for as well.  Bird feeders and baths constantly dotted her yard, and little bird decals were placed in her windows to protect the creatures from flying into them by mistake.  This is what I think of most when I think of my grandmother.  Someone who went far, far out of her way to care for the animals and creatures around her.

At her funeral, I felt moved to do a photo in tribute to her… although that day I came down with a cold and subsequent fever, so the project had to be shelved briefly.  But as soon as I was well enough, I found the bag of bird seed buried in my garage and set to work.

I know my grandmother is better off now, and that she is finally reunited with  my grandfather; holding hands once again in heaven.  Death comes to us all.  At least she lived a good life, and had someone waiting for her on the other side.  Someone who loved her deeply.

Bird Feeder

Bird Feeder

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