October 29, 2010
October 27, 2010
October 23, 2010
And now, for your Halloween reading and viewing pleasure, something truly ghastly.
I grew up in a loving home with loving parents and loving siblings. And the one thing that fueled my most feverish six-year-old nightmares was a book of 1840s German poetry that sat on my bookshelf among much more benign titles, Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann. Biographies of Hoffman can’t seem to draw an even bead on the man. One had this to say:
Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894), a doctor in his native Frankfurt (where there is a museum devoted to his work), often told funny stories to put his young patients at their ease. Frustrated by the moralistic tone of contemporary children’s books, he wrote and illustrated this picture book as a Christmas present for his three-year-old son, and it has delighted and terrified generations since.
If Hoffman’s harsh German exterior harbored a benevolent Teutonic heart, it would certainly come as a surprise. Much more likely is that Hoffman was like his cultural confrères: a severe man with a dim view of children who had no patience for even the mildest of their vices. Struwwelpeter is a book of 10 moralistic poems for boys and girls that stood as stark warnings against the grievous failings of neglecting dinner, playing with matches, and — worst of all — sucking thumbs.
One day, Mamma said, “Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don’t suck your thumb while I’m away.
The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs,
And ere they dream what he’s about,
He takes his great sharp scissors out
And cuts their thumbs clean off, — and then,
You know, they never grow again.”
Mamma had scarcely turn’d her back,
The thumb was in. Alack! Alack!
The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legg’d scissor-man.
Oh! children, see! the tailor’s come
And caught out little Suck-a-Thumb.
Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out — Oh! Oh! Oh!
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast,
That both his thumbs are off at last.
Mamma comes home; there Conrad stands,
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands; –
“Ah!” said Mamma “I knew he’d come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb.”
Nightmarishly horrific. I can remember sitting on the cold tile floor next to my cheerily-painted, child-size bookcase, flushed with sympathy and leering with voyeuristic guilt at the shocking pictures. There at the end he stood, the naughty little Suck-a-Thumb, his ruined stubs visibly and permanently attesting to his horrible crime. What recourse did the disobedient little sinner deserve? Mamma had warned him, after all: “You know, they never grow again.” Shudder.
My trauma subsided with time… at least to a degree. The years have passed, and what was horror has faded to an oddly fear-tinged nostalgia similar to the memories I have of sitting on Santa’s lap or riding past the swirling, menacing whirlpool on the Flooded Mine ride at Silver Dollar City.
Until. Until today.
Gavin hopped up in my lap asking to read “Peter Shock,” his moniker for Shock-Headed Peter, the namesake of Hoffman’s diminutive book of horrors. My sweet little boy had brought me that book (yes, I bought it for my family because I’m a horrible person) and was ready to snuggle down for a little story time. “Ah,” I thought, “good fodder for a Halloween blog post,” and I googled to find some images.
What I didn’t expect to find was an animated re-telling of that wicked little story, masterfully and diabolically edited to imitate, it seems, the look and feel of Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu.
And so, without further ado, this misbegotten little addition skitters out of that dark closet in the basement to make merry your holiday celebration:
October 11, 2010
Benjamin Grayson, a fifth grader at Mountain View, has entered a contest called “Our School Needs . . .” to try to win $100,000 for Mountain View Elementary School by writing an essay, making a movie, and submitting photographs about how his school has been affected by state budget cuts and how it could use the prize money. Benjamin has made a tremendous effort to raise awareness of the impact of state budget cuts on public education in South Carolina. Ben’s story was recently featured in the Greenville Journal.
To win, Ben needs your help. His entry on Bing.com’s “Our School Needs” must be rated 5 stars by as many people possible before 10/24/2010 to make the finals. If his entry makes the cut, he needs your vote every day from 10/27/2010 – 11/05/2010. Please support his efforts by clicking the link below to rate his project and voting on his project if he makes the finals. Please let others know!
Thanks for your support!