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My garden of musings

Formerly @niraniva. The assorted thoughts of an aspiring writer living in Carmel, CA. Opera, musical theatre, food, YA fantasy literature, Disney, nature, religion... whatever happens to cross my mind. See also my Les Misérables-themed blog at
Post Total: 3616 Latest posts





pretty obsessed with this one

important images I’ve discovered:

hello i would like to add

image of a chevrotain. like the original twitter post in this thread says: they have hooves and look like how you'd draw a dog if you sucked at drawing.
second chevrotain, standing on what looks like a slab of shale rock. its stupid deer feet look like a barbie doll posing sexily
third image of a chevrotain. this one is crouched on a tree branch with its head extended. it looks like a ferret with teeny tiny deer legs, or maybe toothpicks with plastic doll shoes on the ends

who put this rodent in high heels



If anyone ever tries to say they don’t understand cultural appropriation just ask them if they know the plot to The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jack Skellington found a wonderous new culture that filled him with joy, and he immediately decided he could do it better and acted accordingly.

“But Jack didn’t mean any harm! He loves Christmas!”

EXACTLY! Just because he didn’t MEAN harm doesn’t mean he didn’t DO harm!

It actually IS surprisingly nuanced too! Because… Jack LOVES Christmas. He genuinely does. He sees this new culture and it’s beautiful. But he’s new here and therefore doesn’t have a perfect grasp of it yet because you can’t absorb a culture in a day. He doesn’t mean to mess it all up when he brings it home with him. He’s just full of misdirected enthusiasm for this brand new cool thing!!!

So when he brings it home and his people DO NOT understand it AT ALL… he doesn’t see the harm in twisting it to make it just another extension of their own culture. He doesn’t know that he’s hurting the people he’s claiming to admire. He’s doing it all wrong and doesn’t even really understand why. Because he didn’t take the time to. So even though he had good intentions introducing this new culture to his culture… it ends up so bad.

And then Jack’s unhappy that it all went wrong! And you as the audience sit there like “What did you expect?” Because you can pinpoint the moment he veered off course. It’s easier to do that from the outside.

Next on myCinderellalist:Ella Enchanted, 2004.

I know it’s only loosely based on the novel, so I don’t even plan to compare it much to the novel. I’m just going to view it as a movie and as a Cinderella retelling in its own right.

Cinderella September-through-November: “Simsala Grimm: Cinderella” (2000 cartoon series episode)

Here we find yet another Cinderella episode of a fairy tale anthology cartoon series. Simsala Grimm was a German-Austrian-French-Irish co-production, which originally aired twenty-six episodes in 1999 and 2000, and then was revived for another twenty-six in 2010. Its recurring protagonists are two small animal characters: Yoyo, an adventurous and slightly arrogant blue coyote-like creature, and his nerdy, sensible friend Doc Croc, a pink and red striped lizard. At the beginning of every episode, a magical red storybook with pictures of the Brothers Grimm on the cover flies them through a portal in the sky to “the enchanted land of Simsala, the place where all the fairy tale characters really lived.” Each episode takes them into a different story (usually from the Grimms’ collection, but sometimes a Hans Christian Anderson tale or a well-known English or French tale instead), where they meet the protagonists and serve as their sidekicks from beginning to end.

Unsurprisingly, the series’ version of Cinderella is based on the Grimms’ Aschenputtel. There are three balls, and Cinderella receives her gowns for each of them from a magical tree at the urging of a friendly talking dove, who also leads a flock of other doves in helping her to sort lentils from the ashes at her Stepmother’s order. It’s a simplified version of the Grimms’ tale, though. Cinderella’s father is nowhere in sight: he’s apparently away on a journey, as the dove assures Cinderella that when he comes back everything will be fine, but he never does appear. And while the dove is first seen perched on a grave marker, presumably that of Cinderella’s mother, and the magic tree stands next to that grave, the backstory of the planted hazel twig growing into the tree is cut. Nor, thankfully, do the stepsisters Agatha and Beatrice cut their feet to make the glass slipper fit or have their eyes pecked out by the doves in the end.

Despite the episode’s short length, it also finds room for creativity. Cinderella is introduced hiding behind a bush watching the Prince play badminton, apparently already in love with him from afar. He discovers her when he goes to retrieve a stray birdie, and though she flees, he’s instantly smitten by her beauty. This leads him to insist that his father extend the ball invitations from only noble maidens to every maiden in the land. Meanwhile, the flabby, pompous Stepmother and the obnoxious Agatha and Beatrice go out of their way to treat Cinderella horribly, the sisters forever accusing her of trying to poison them with her “terrible” cooking. At the first ball, the Stepmother suspects the “mystery lady” of being Cinderella, but can’t be certain, and at any rate wants to eliminate the competition. So at the second ball, she slips a sleeping potion into the Prince’s wine, then accuses the “mystery lady” of casting a spell on him. The King believes this and at the third ball orders Cinderella arrested as soon as she arrives. But the Prince can’t believe the worst of his love, so he coats the palace steps with pitch, claiming that if she’s a witch she’ll magic herself free, but if she sticks, it will prove that she’s human. Of course her slipper sticks and the Prince accepts this as proof of her innocence, then sets out to find her. But the Stepmother and sisters lock Cinderella in the dovecote before he reaches their house. Fortunately, the ever-faithful dove leads the Prince to the dovecote in the end.

Yoyo and Doc Croc interact with Cinderella and help her throughout the story. They’re the ones who summon the doves to help Cinderella pick the lentils out of the ashes, and later they warn her when her stepfamily is leaving the first ball, so she can leave too and get home before they do. And at the climax, they free her from the dovecote just as the dove leads the Prince there.

As a whole, I wouldn’t call this cartoon anything particularly special. The animation is basically Saturday morning quality – although 2000 Saturday morning cartoons are of higher quality than they were in the 1970s or ‘80s – with slightly quirky character designs that are neither ugly nor especially appealing. The quality of the writing is about the same as the animation, and worst of all is the episode’s one song, “She Is A Mystery,” an angsty late '90s/early 2000s-style pop ballad sung melodramatically by the Prince after Cinderella flees from the first ball. Still, the colorful fairy tale world does have its charms, and the colorful audience surrogate characters of Yoyo and Doc Croc are genuinely likable.

Of the animated fairy tale anthology series’ I’ve seen so far, I’d definitely recommend Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child or the anime Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics above this one. Still, I can see how Simsala Grimm would appeal to children and it isn’t without endearing qualities for adults either. For fairy tale lovers, it’s at least worth a glance.


Another short animated Cinderella based on the Grimms’ Aschenputtel, from the fairy tale cartoon series Simsala Grimm, 2000.



Resources for Trans Jews

I wanted to make this post for people who weren’t aware of the resources available, and for allies who want to help support as well!


Transgender and Jewish

Balancing on the Mechizta: Transgender in the Jewish Community

The Soul of the Stranger: Reading the Torah from a Transgender Perspective

Through the Doors of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders

A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of LGBTQ Jewish Texts




Other Jewish Resources

Non-binary Hebrew Project

Textual Activism

Transfaith (Interfaith Organization, check out “Resource Roundups”, there is one with Joy Ladin and Rabbi Kapor-Mater)



Reform Judaism’s Resolution
My Drive of Trans Jewish Articles and Zines


Tagging those who I know can share and help spread information!

Also adding Eshel as a resource for those in the Orthodox community!

sweetoothgirl:Brown Butter & Maple Chewy Pumpkin Cookies I know what I’m making for the up


Brown Butter & Maple Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

I know what I’m making for the upcoming Holiday Faire!

Post link

I have a minor pet peeve about the wording of some online comments about Ever After, on TVTropes and elsewhere.

I think it’s a mistake to say that Danielle “forgives” her stepmother in the end. She doesn’t forgive her. She shows her mercy by having her “only” made a servant instead of being shipped to America. There’s a difference between mercy and forgiveness.

Other Cinderellas forgive their stepfamilies, and that’s just fine, but I think it’s a good think that Baroness Rodmilla isn’t forgiven. She sold Danielle as a slave to a would-be rapist. A character can’t do that and get away scot-free.


Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent is just SO gorgeous.

“buT shE’s EvIL” so? she’s hot

Cinderella September-through-November: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” Enchanted Edition (2000 stage musical)

Besides its three TV productions, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella has had a long history of performances on the stage, usually in a script hewing close to the original 1957 TV version. But in 2000, a new production toured the United States, with a new script by Tom Briggs based on Robert L. Freedman’s teleplay for the 1997 Wonderful World of Disney version. The tour starred former teen idol Debbie Gibson as Cinderella, with Eartha Kitt as her Fairy Godmother and Paolo Montalbán reprising his 1997 TV role as Prince Christopher. Later in the run, Jamie-Lynn Sigler replaced Gibson, and was playing Cinderella when the tour stopped at Madison Square Garden in New York. While the production wasn’t filmed, nor was a cast album released, the new edition of the musical was made available afterwards for regional and amateur performances. After finding an online copy of the script and a few high school performance videos on YouTube, I decided to include it in my overview of Cinderellas, as yet another creative variation on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical.

Much of the dialogue in this version is taken verbatim from the 1997 TV production. The stepsisters are named Grace and Joy, but they have the same character tics as 1997’s Minerva and Calliope, with Grace scratching herself when she’s nervous and Joy snorting when she laughs. The comic character of the royal steward Lionel is also added to the cast, and Cinderella first meets Prince Christopher before the ball, when he bumps into her in the village street disguised as a commoner as she carries her stepfamily’s packages on a shopping spree. But Tom Briggs adds new details to the story too, inspired by the Brother Grimm’s version of the fairy tale and by Disney’s animated classic.

At the beginning, in a new verse prologue spoken by the Fairy Godmother, we learn that after Cinderella’s mother died when she was a small child, she and her father planted a tree in her memory, and her father urged her to always tell her troubles to the tree, claiming that her mother would hear them. Several years later, when her father died, Cinderella cried under the tree and her tears made it grow tall. As a young woman, Cinderella isn’t friendless, but has six secret animal companions – four white mice, a stray cat she names Charles, and a dove that perches on her mother’s tree, all portrayed by either puppets or children depending on the staging – whom she feeds and confides in while her stepfamily sleeps. These animals don’t normally speak, but during “A Lovely Night” in Act II, as a gag, they do sing a few lines in chipmunk-like voices. At the animals’ silent urging, Cinderella resolves to fix up an old dress of her mother’s to wear to the ball. But predictably, on the night of the ball, the Stepmother rips the dress.

Cinderella then pours out her sadness to her mother’s tree in the yard, and suddenly, from inside the tree, her Fairy Godmother emerges. This is a distinctly sassy Godmother (how could Eartha Kitt have been otherwise?) who, as in the 1957 and 1997 versions, urges Cinderella to take responsibility for her own destiny instead of just wishing to be rescued. And Cinderella’s character arc of learning to do so is even more pronounced than in the TV versions. After singing “Impossible,” she resolves to get herself to the ball by mending her dress and hitching a ride on a passing carriage – and for this the Fairy Godmother rewards her by finally giving her a pumpkin coach and a new gown and by turning the mice into horses, the cat into a coachman and the dove into a footman. (Again, as a gag, the horses sing along with “It’s Possible.”) Later, in the climactic scene of Act II, she finally defies her Stepmother’s orders by emerging from the kitchen to reveal her presence to the Prince. As her Fairy Godmother helps her achieve this self-actualization, she frequently mentions Cinderella’s mother – it’s implied, though never explicitly said, that the Godmother is actually her mother’s spirit.

As in the 1997 TV version, the songs “The Sweetest Sounds” and “There’s Music In You” are added to the score, and the original 1957 “Royal Dressing Room Scene” song is combined with “The Prince is Giving a Ball.” The song “Falling in Love with Love” is not included, however. Instead, “Loneliness of Evening” from the 1965 TV production is reinstated for Prince Christopher, now sung at the ball before Cinderella arrives. The King and Queen are also given a gentle romantic duet, “Boys and Girls Like You and Me,” which was cut first from Oklahoma!and then from Meet Me in St. Louis before being repurposed here.

Some Rodgers and Hammerstein fans might find this edition of the musical slightly “Disneyfied,” even more so than the 1997 version, and prefer the classic 1957-inspired script for their productions. But if you do want a Cinderella with a more modern flair, which captures the spirit of the 1997 production but adds its own ideas too, then this is the Cinderella for your theatre or school to perform. It’s definitely an inventive, enjoyable variation on an always crowd-pleasing musical.


Next on myCinderella September-through-November list:

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Enchanted Edition. A stage version of the musical from 2000 that’s based on the 1997 TV version, but with new details inspired by the Brothers Grimm version of the tale and Disney’s animated film too.

I couldn’t find a complete video of a professional production, but this high school production is a good one. Although because of its low budget, it cuts the animal friends that the script gives to Cinderella, which were portrayed by puppets in the 2000 national tour.

Cinderella September-through-November: “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” (1998 film)

Here we find one of the most beloved period romance films of the ‘90s, which many people consider the greatest screen version of Cinderella,even though it’s far from a straightforward adaptation of the fairy tale. Ever After re-envisions the classic story in two ways: first of all, not as a fantasy but as realistic historical fiction set in 16th century France, and secondly, with a feminist twist. In its framing scenes set in the 19th century, the Brothers Grimm are summoned to visit an elderly French noblewoman (Jeanne Moreau), who tells them the story of her great-great grandmother, the “real” Cinderella.

Drew Barrymore stars as 18-year-old Danielle de Barbarac, who was raised as a tomboy and a bookworm by her doting father, but after his death was reduced to servitude by her stepmother Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (Anjelica Huston). One morning she throws a volley of apples at a man she catches stealing her father’s old horse… and this young man turns out to be the rebellious Prince Henry (Dougray Scott), who pays her a purse of gold to keep her quiet about his adventuring. Disguising herself as a countess in a borrowed gown, Danielle sets out to use the money to free a manservant whom her stepmother sold into slavery to pay her debts. In doing so she again meets the Prince, who doesn’t recognize her, and his casual snobbery toward the poor earns her disdain, but her courage, intelligence and idealism earn his respect.

Thus begins a five-day romance arc that includes visiting a magnificent monastery library, treking through nature, and first battling but then befriending Romani bandits. Danielle’s convictions teach Henry to rethink his classism and to use his position to improve others’ lives, while Henry in turn helps Danielle to find new inner strength and willingness to defy her abusers at home. Meanwhile, Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey), newly arrived at the French court, befriends both the Prince and Danielle, and ultimately becomes Danielle’s “fairy godfather” of sorts, helping her to attend the royal masquerade ball and crafting her mother’s wedding dress into a stunning angel costume. But Henry still doesn’t know that his love isn’t really a countess, and Baroness Rodmilla is determined to see him marry her elder daughter Marguerite. At the ball she exposes Danielle’s identity as a “servant” and Henry rejects her. To make matters worse, Rodmilla then washes her hands of Danielle by selling her as a slave to a lascivious gentleman. But just in time, Henry realizes his mistake and Danielle’s own fighting spirit frees her from her captor, leading to a fairy tale-worthy “happily ever after.”

This film effectively has everything viewers could want from a period romance: the romance itself, of course, but also action, humor, clever dialogue, suspense, and an excellent balance between capturing the spirit of a fairy tale and fleshing it out in a “realistic” and human way. While there isn’t complete historical accuracy (to name one minor detail, the Mona Lisa is depicted on canvas when it was actually painted on a wood panel), the 16th century atmosphere is wonderfully vivid, with the lush visuals capturing both the beauties and the grittiness of the era. And the characters are equally vivid. Danielle is a feisty Cinderella for the '90s, who swims and climbs trees, quotes Thomas More, talks back to royalty, punches her stepsister in the eye, and wields a sword to rescue herself at the climax; yet Barrymore infuses her with enough humanity and vulnerability to save her from being a cardboard feminist role model. Scott’s Prince Henry is truly her “match in every way,” strong-willed yet good-hearted, and flawed yet with an arc of positive growth. Their chemistry is excellent as they make their quick progress from bickering to friendly bantering to love. Huston’s scheming Rodmilla is a quintessential wicked stepmother, Godfrey’s Leonardo is fittingly wise and witty, and the supporting cast is excellent all around, with a particularly fresh spin on the characters of the two stepsisters. While the pretty elder sister Marguerite is a loathsome brat, the younger, plainer Jaqueline is a decent person, just cowed by her mother and sister, and she eventually chooses to break free from them. (This marks the start of a minor tradition among the more recent Cinderella retellings, including Disney’s direct-to-video sequels: giving one of the stepsisters a redemption arc.)

It’s no wonder that Ever After is such a beloved film, both among Cinderella lovers and among fans of period romance in general. Young girls (or boys) who grew up loving the Disney film, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, and/or other traditional Cinderellas should definitely give this version a viewing once they reach middle or high school age. Whether or not it becomes their favorite Cinderella, it will definitely engage them.




i know it’s winter and people usually assume homeless shelters are in need of comfy sweaters, but you know what we’re actually in desparate need of that y'all could donate? underwear. fucking bras, panties, briefs, boxers, in various sizes. that, and socks.

donating sweaters usually doesn’t work cuz most people i know have to rely on layering cuz of rapid weather changes. wearing ONE sweater with nothing underneath that you can’t change out of usually spells disaster, people sweat too much, their body cools down, they get sick


reblog and put in the tags what was your travel plan that got cancelled because of covid in early 2020

blog-bellle: Photo by Rob Bates, public domain.


Photo by Rob Bates, public domain.

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A very common trend amongCinderella adaptations is to show the Prince chafing against his royal duties and lack of freedom. But how they resolve it varies.

The anime Cinderella Monogatari has him learn to embrace his responsibility, as his friendship-turned-romance with Cinderella teaches him the value of hard work and that irresponsibility has consequences for other people. I suppose this reflects the emphasis on honor and duty in Japanese culture, as not many Western adaptations give him an arc like this.

Western versions usually don’t entirely resolve his dilemma, but they create a sense that his marriage to Cinderella will ease the burden, because he finally has one person who sees past his title and loves him as a human being. They also tend to show him embracing his responsibilities in the end, but only on his own terms: namely by marrying for love, not for wealth or politics, and receiving his parents’ consent to do so. Ever After also adds an interesting twist, as the idealistic Danielle makes him realize all he can do for others with his power, and he finds a new sense of freedom by embracing his duties with a purpose that they lacked before.

It’s interesting that the two major 2021 adaptations, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical and the Sony film, both offer a completely different solution: give the Prince a convenient brother or sister and have that sibling replace him as heir to the throne in the end, allowing him a future of new freedom with Cinderella.

What does it say about Western culture in 2021 that both of the new adaptations do this, I wonder?



Would you like to Help Me Write A Novel? Would you be interested in Reading A Novel And Then Also Influencing It, Before Anyone Else Even Gets To Read It? Wanna see some Cats fight about Politics?

Well Now You Can!

I’m in the process of writing Song of the Sky, a novel based on Mozart’s The Magic Flute. It’s got sort of a ‘secret animal world’ Redwall-style sort of vibe (see this TVTropesentry), so I’m particularly seeking beta readers who a) are super into that sort of thing and b) have varying degrees of awareness of The Magic Flute, because I want the story to work both on its own without context and as sort of a deconstruction of the opera.

Here’s a basic blurb:

For generations, the city cats were ruled by kings and queens that were meant to embody two core beliefs: tradition and change. Legends and destinies came and went, but as time went on the bond between these two fractured little by little- until, in a moment of upheaval, the sunlight of tradition and the moonlight of change shattered entirely. Now, the city is caught up in a desperate battle for control- not just of power, but of the future and all it contains.

Meanwhile, Tiger is a young housecat outside the city who longs for a destiny and a purpose. When he travels to the city on a whim to find that purpose, he ends up separated from his owners. Eventually, he is led to the Starblazer, the strangely detached ruler of the city cats, who tells him she knows of his true destiny: to save the city by rescuing her daughter and the only heir to the throne, Pamina, from the cruel claws of the former king Sarastro. Rechristened Tamino by her, he sets out into the world, alongside Papageno, a birdcatcher with no such ambitions. He figures things will be simple: Save Pamina, defeat Sarastro, and return things to just how they were right before he arrived.

But the city is much more complex than he could ever dream of. Pamina herself has her own dark desires, alongside Sarastro’s apprentice, a shapeshifter named Monostatos who reckons he and he alone has the solution to Sarastro and the Starblazer’s never-ending conflict. Both rulers have a great deal of secrets, and the real story of what has happened between them is far more complex than either would want you to believe. And Tamino’s destiny might perhaps be, in fact, far greater than his wildest dreams. After all, the whispers that follow him say one single phrase over and over:

No star is ever lost we once have seen, we always may be what we might have been…

ANYWAY I can’t say I’m particularly great at writing, so I need Feedback and Help to make The Novel possible! I’ve been coming up with the idea for ten years, so it would really mean a lot to me were I able to have some beta readers to check things through and make sure it isn’t a mess (and give Good Feedback.)

Please DM me if you are interested!

I just read that Jean Stapleton played the Stepmother in a New York City Opera production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderellain 1995. That must have been an interesting change after she played the Fairy Godmother in the Faerie Tale Theatre version ten years earlier. I suppose the role of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Fairy Godmother would have been too musically demanding for her, especially since she was in her 70s by then; the Stepmother doesn’t sing as much, which probably suited her better. Sally Ann Howes (a.k.a. Truly Scrumptious from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) played the Fairy Godmother in that production.



Kevin Lenaghan, “Stairway”, “Glass Palace”, and “Crystal Stairway” (2021)