The “Jewish Exorcist Film” That’s Not Currently in Theaters: The Dybbuk, 1937

September 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

If you’re still in the mood for fuzzy cuddlies after my last post on Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Color Kittens,” then this post isn’t exactly for you. I’m taking a turn back to folklore land, and celebrating the release of Sam Raimi’s The Possession—which is being commonly referred to as “The Jewish Exorcist” by sharing with you what was actually the first “Jewish Exorcist” film—and before that, what you might call the definitive “Jewish Exorcist” play. « Read the rest of this entry »

Voldemort Versus Mount Olympus: London’s Tribute to Great Children’s Lit

July 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

I an think of nothing better to jolt me out of a bleak blogging block than the sight of JK Rowling reading JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, live, to the entire world (except the USA, who saw it four hours later).

Many have criticized (or backhandedly praised) London’s Olympian bash as pushing whimsy more than ceremony. Even I watched the first twenty minutes and thought the whole thing seemed a little Masterpiece Theatre-ish, and that Masterpiece Theatre really does belong on the small screen, and not live, in front of thousands. Just doesn’t quite fit, thematically, in a stadium.

But as the night wore on, I realized that London’s show was largely a philological one, for better or worse: a show that, rather than depicting the uniformity of its mindset and citizens as China did, attempted to catalog and define its greatest contributions to the world of information and literature, from Shakespeare to the world wide web. The biggest–and most nonsensical stop, for those who weren’t sure what they were looking at–was in the realm of children’s literature, which owes British writers…well, pretty much everything. « Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks, Fellow Bloggers!

June 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Train has been getting a lot of love from fellow fairy tale bloggers these past few weeks, and I just wanted to take a quick second to say thank you, and to share some of the great stuff on these other sites.

First, a big thanks to InkGypsy at Once Upon a Blog for the lovely profile of that she posted here. Once Upon a Blog updates frequently, but never sacrifices thoughtfulness–InkGypsy has sharp critical eye when it comes to fairy tale adaptations, and currently has plenty to say about Snow White and the Huntsman. I plan on adding my own voice to that conversation here in the next couple of days, so tune back in.

Another thank you to Megan at The Dark Forest for highlighting my “We Are the Folk” post this week, and for her astute thoughts on happy endings in pop culture fairy tales.

So many great blogs out there! Thanks for including me in your ranks, ladies! Readers, click on the links, and share the love. You won’t regret it.

Maurice Sendak Has Died

May 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Maurice Sendak died this morning of complications from a recent stroke.

In 1981, he’d written in his journal that “death has the face of Mozart, and is my waiting friend.”

You can read the entire obit at the New York Times here.

Vote for The Train in the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

April 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

If you’re a Goodreads member, please follow the link below, or the handy button on the sidebar to vote for Something to Read for the Train in the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

Do it, or Peter will be awfully sad...

Go here to vote!

“‘The Little Mermaid’ Molded My Idea of Love,” and Other Terrifying Inanities

February 22, 2012 § 4 Comments

This post has been in the making for two months. At first, I didn’t write it because it seemed petty—but the thing that started this long indecision, the errant article published online by someone who clearly just doesn’t know any better, has stuck with me for weeks, and I’ve figured out, finally, why.

Here’s what started it: this article, written by no one I’ve ever heard of on a site I am not familiar with:

Looks to be a pretty cheaply written entertainment site, somehow affiliated with TMZ and the like. The article in question is written by someone named Lindsey P, who is very upset about Julia Leigh’s new film, Sleeping Beauty, which casts Emily Browning as a sex worker who enters a drug-induced sleep every night, only to have men do what they will with her after she’s passed out. Nobody is trying to pass this off as rated G material, but Lindsey P is up in arms nonetheless:

I think it’s pretty ridiculous that there are directors out there who want to add these dark and gloomy tones to classic happy Disney movies. Do they not realize that there will be little girls and maybe even boys out there who want to see their favorite princess have the overly joyful happy ending with the handsome prince on their arm? At this point, no childhood memory is safe!


Lindsey P’s argument is that filmmakers should at least re-name these “twisted and gloomy” films, so that poor, naïve children won’t get fooled thinking that they’re the “classic Disney princess movies” that we all KNOW are the originals. Those crazy filmmakers! What do they think they’re doing, using Disney stories this way? Oh woe, woe is Lindsey P.

And upon my first read, I just laughed it off. (Well, laughed it off and left a comment, because we all have our weaker moments, don’t we?) This is probably some high school student, trying to write a persuasive piece for the first time, and somebody showed her how to upload it to a site, I thought. Who cares?

But as I tried to go on about my life in the following weeks, the article kept popping into my head, aggravating and infuriating me. I found myself wanting to throttle Lindsey P, to give her a good talking to. Why? I kept asking myself. So someone wrote a badly written, conservative essay and it’s online. If that gets you every time, you’ll be dead of stress before you hit 30.

But it kept coming back, and each time I realized that I was thinking about this article, I’d get angrier and angrier. Finally I had to ask myself: what is it about this article in particular, this girl’s problem with fairy tales that has your goat held so firmly by the leg?

When I went back and read over the offending piece again, I found what had stuck in my craw, so to speak. Here’s the choice tidbit:

When I was a young girl, I looked towards fairy tales to mold my idea of love. They were what I wished for myself when it came to falling in love and learning about life… I wanted to be like Ariel, not only so I could swim and have cute fishes and a lobster as friends, but so I could meet a handsome young prince to sweep me off my feet. What girl wouldn’t want a love like that?

You guys.

She’s saying that The Little Mermaid taught her everything she wants to know about love and life.

There is no hope left for humanity. « Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Would-Be 130th Birthday, A. A. Milne!

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Poem and illustrations from When We Were Very Young, which was published in 1924. Pooh makes his first appearance in this book, in a poem called “Teddy Bear.” Trivia and image lifted shamelessly from Brain Pickings, which daily amazes me with its constant posting, intelligent commentary, and infallible good taste.

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