Monday, February 18, 2008

li'l known stories 'bout li'l red riding hood

Remember Little Red Riding Hood, the Grimm brothers' tale about a girl and her grandma who were eaten by a wolf but saved by a huntsman?

1. In the oldest version, told by peasants in 14th century France, the wolf was a bzou (werewolf) who served the little girl her grandmother for dinner, prompting the house cat to lament, "For shame! The slut is eating her grandmother's flesh and drinking her grandmother's blood."

After this, the bzou asked her to take her clothes off and come to bed with him! When she finally wised up, she told the bzou that she needed to go out to relieve herself. Once outside, she untied the string around her ankle, attached it to a plum tree so her captor will think she was still restrained, and escaped to her freedom.

2. The first published version (1697) by Charles Perrault, however, was a tragedy – no huntsman came to the rescue. It was not a 'fairy' tale, but a cautionary one with a 'moral' at the end:

"Children, especially attractive, well-bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf.'

'I say "wolf," but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all."

3. James Finn Garner's politically correct version, first published in 1994, is hilarious! Imagine Little Red Riding Hood telling the wolf, "Grandma, what a big nose you have, only relatively, of course, and certainly attractive in its own way," and "Oh, I forgot you are as optically challenged as a bat. Grandma, what big eyes you have!"

In the end, when the 'woodchopper person' bursts into the cottage to save her, Little Red Riding Hood exclaims, "Sexist! Speciesist! How dare you assume that women and wolves can't solve their own problems without a man's help!" LOL

Guess who dies in the end?

4. The most shocking and gruesome version is a short film entitled BlackXXXmas, produced by Stryker Films, directed by Belgian Pieter Van Hees, and posted at, the former entertainment portal for original short films and web shows. If you think you can handle it, you may view it here.

People, be careful which version you tell the kids, ok? :-D

(Top, right) The 'Cute' Bearbrick of Series 13, released in December 2006, was based on Little Red Riding Hood.

(Above, left) Cristophe Coppens red hood from (Above, right) Fairy tale illustration from

Info from Wikipedia,,,,,,

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

an unlikely love story

My grandmother was a beauty queen. Miss Batangas, she was named – after the town where she spent most of her youth.

She once told me and my siblings, "I never really had to study hard in school because my male professors were also my suitors and they gave me very high grades."

When we asked her about Grandpa, she sighed and said, "I had so many suitors back then. Doctors, professors, public officials... But I ended up with – of all people – your grandfather, the town playboy.'

'One day, my suitors were all lined up in our living room sofa. At a corner table, I sat with the handsome Dr. M, whose turn it was to propose. By accident, I dropped my lace handkerchief. The doctor made a move to retrieve it but your grandfather, faster than a bullet, had already jumped from his seat and snatched the hanky from the floor.'

'As I leaned towards him to get it back, he suddenly planted a kiss on my right cheek! God, I was so terrified that I would get pregnant – yes, I was that ignorant and stupid – and cried my eyes out for days.'

'During those times, for an unmarried woman to be kissed in public was a disgrace, so my parents demanded that your grandfather marry me at once. Of course, he so willingly said yes!"

And that was how she ended up with Grandpa.

When I visited my grandparents' tombs in Batangas City last January 6, I reminisced about their life together. They lived through a war, produced nine children (even outlived some of them), and managed to stay happily married till they were old, gray, and could hardly see.

But did she ever really love him? I guess, in the same way that I learned through the years how much Grandpa loved Grandma, she also learned to love him in return.

Happy Valentine's Day to all! :-)

(Top) Thank you so much, Kat, for the 2008 Valentine Bearbricks! Such a sweet birthday gift!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

tattooed & troubled

Every summer, heavenly bodies sashay along the shoreline of Boracay, my country's most famous beach.

They wear very little textile... but a lot of ink. Yes, a washable henna tattoo is the most ubiquitous – and affordable – accessory around the island.

For as low as $5, you can have an bold tribal symbol emblazoned on your biceps or buns. It's quite effective if you want to emphasize your... uhm... assets.

Today, self-esteem or self-expression are the usual reasons for getting a tattoo (permanent or otherwise), but 2400 years ago, Pazyryk nomads wore them to show their status as individuals.

Early Polynesians who displayed bravery in battle were distinguished by tattoos.

Such body marks were part of religious rituals in ancient Egypt.

During the Roman empire, they were a means to identify slaves, criminals, and outcasts.

And in more recent times, a tattoo became a man's way to pledge his love for a woman.

A year ago, I photographed a male model (NOT the one in the pic above) who had three tribal tattoos on his body. One was on his right bicep, the other around his navel, and the third on his left wrist.

When I was finally 'photoshopping' his pics on my laptop, I noticed that the tattoo on his wrist appeared less sharp, muddier than the others. I zoomed in and saw why: it overlapped with two slash-like scars – thin jagged lines that ran parallel to each other, and cross the bluish and reddish veins of his wrist. The type that are usually self-inflicted. :-(

The telltale marks were out of character, I thought. Earlier during the shoot, he appeared lighthearted and outgoing. Who would have thought...?

Oh, well.

I guess that's what a tattoo is for sometimes: to hide an emotional scar or a painful past. In such a case, it's ink, not ointment, that helps the wound to heal.

(Top, left) Series 11's Pattern Bearbrick, released in December 2005. (Above, right) Pic of DJ John Joe Joseph by yours truly / Info from Wikipedia,,

(Above) Free tribal tattoo designs from