s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: September 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tribond Tuesday: Special Duo-bond Edition

This is sort of dumb, but it makes me giggle every time I think about it:

1. God
2. The belly dancer in this video

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tribond Tuesday


Monday, September 21, 2009

The Algonquin Cinderella

Last week I read a picture book called The Rough-Face Girl. (Whenever a group of children's books comes through our department, I generally read a few of them for fun.) In a nutshell, the story is about a girl with a scarred face (from having to sit too close to the fire) who triumphs over her vain older sisters to marry a mysterious Invisible Being.

The dustjacket blurb called it a "powerful Cinderella story" and there are definitely a lot of Cinderella-esque elements in it (i.e., a protagonist who sits by the fire and competes with two sisters for an eligible bachelor). Some obvious Cinderella elements are also missing: glass slippers (or any kind of special shoes or clothing), a bride-finding ball (or any special gathering), and supernatural intervention in getting to the ball (although the groom, himself, has supernatural elements).

I've seen and read many variations on the Cinderella story. We counted once that my mother had no fewer than ten different versions on VHS when I was growing up: two ballets, one opera, three musicals, one cartoon, one version with Muppets, etc. (My mother was insistent that we would not grow up thinking that the Disney version was the only one out there.) However, this Algonquin story raised questions that the other Cinderella versions never had. If this tale predated European contact, was it merely a coincidence that it resembled the tale made famous by the Grimms and Perrault? Was it reflective of some sort of Jungian collective subconscious? Or had the folktale been shaped to fit a story more familiar to Americans?

Closer reading of a note in the front indicated that the original tale is longer and more complex. Maybe I'll see if I can track it down, for comparison.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tribond Tuesday


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pride & Prejudice, retold

A couple of weeks ago, I watched Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood version of (as you might have guessed) Pride and Prejudice. It was very cute to see the way they transformed all of the P&P situations and characters into Indian / Bollywood equivalents.

The movie reminded a theory of story retellings developed by a friend of mine. (The theory was an offshoot of a theory of plot types that became her master's thesis.) Because I'm sure you're all so very curious to hear about it, I've pieced together what I can remember of Eotena's Theory of Peircean Story Retellings, using Pride and Prejudice as an example (where possible).

Reflex - Pride and Prejudice (1995 BBC / A&E version) This is the most straightforward retelling, because it doesn't attempt to alter the story at all. Other Pride and Prejudice movie versions of the Reflex include the 1980 BBC version and the 2005 Kiera Knightly version.

Plot - Bride & Prejudice The most distinctive feature of this type of retelling is that it looks very different from the original version, but otherwise tells pretty much the same story. So, if you saw a still frame of Bride and Prejudice, you probably couldn't guess what story it is. However, if you're at all familiar with Pride and Prejudice, you'll soon notice that Lalita Bakshi, Mr. Kholi, and Will Darcy bear a striking resemblance to Lizzie Bennett, Mr. Collins, and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Another Plot version of Pride and Prejudice is Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-day Comedy (a modern Mormon version of the story). Again, if you saw a screenshot of the movie, you wouldn't know what story it was telling, but as soon as the characters start acting out their parts, you recognize the story.

Pattern - Bridget Jones' Diary This type of retelling keeps the underlying structure of the story, but in an even more abstract, almost archetypal way than the Plot version. In Bridget Jones' Diary, almost all of the supporting cast is gone, including the rest of the Bennett sisters and the Bingleys. The original Pride and Prejudice elements have been reduced to the interactions between Lizzy/Bridget, Wickham/Daniel, and Darcy/Darcy, which is, after all, the core of the story.

Reimagining - Mr. Darcy's Diary This is the original story "turned inside out." Generally, the plot and setting remain very much the same, but the main characters and supporting characters have been swapped, or the good and bad characters reversed, or the story is otherwise told from someone else's perspective.

Other, non-P&P examples include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (a reimagining of Hamlet) and Wicked (a reimagining of The Wizard of Oz).


The last two retellings are a bit different because they only retell or suggest part of the story. Also, I wasn't able to think of any Pride & Prejudice-based versions of these, so I'm going to switch to Cinderella, instead.

Trope - Ex.: dressing up as Cinderella for Halloween. This is the opposite of the Plot type. Where Plot is all about a different look with the same story underneath, Trope is all about a recognizable static appearance. (After all, the actions of Halloween are the same for everyone — go from door to door asking for candy — so the character has to be recognizable from the appearance and props, alone.)

This illustration of Cinderella by Michelle Gorski also relies on tropes (in this case, a ballgown, glass shoes, and a shoe left behind) to convey the identity of the subject.

Image - Only You This is a retelling that references an entire scene from the original story, but is, ultimately, telling a different story. In Only You, Faith loses her shoe as she runs through the streets of Venice. Peter finds it, and chases after her to return it. (He even shouts "Cenerentola!" after her.) You can think of Image as halfway between Trope and Reflex: More than a static image (as in Trope), but less than the full story (as in Reflex). (Personally, I find the term Image a bit confusing, since I think of it as as referring to a static picture, but I'm sticking with the terminology as I originally learned it.)


So, there you have it. One more way of organizing the world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Christmas carols: March of the Kings

I didn't post a carol last week — I'm not sure why. (We can pretend that I was terribly offended by the comments from two weeks ago. People! Grow up!)

Anyway, this week's carol is best known in English as "The March of the Kings." Its original French title is "Ce matin, j'ai rencontré le train." (The even originaler Provençal title is "De matin ai rescountra lou trin," depending on the level of snob factor you're going for.)

Also, I thought this was a pretty well-known carol, so I was surprised very few videos of it. How many of you have heard it before?

Pitt Men's Glee Club, 2007:

The sound quality in this isn't great, but the harmony is nice and they're singing in the original(ish) French.

Unknown handbell choir, 2006:

An instrumental version arranged for handbells. (Also, you have to admit that the scales look pretty cool.)

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, November 2007:

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tribond Tuesday

David O. McKay
Joseph F. Smith
Harold B. Lee

Saturday, September 05, 2009

P is for a Pair of Pauls

One semester when I was at BYU, I had a physics class with two guys named Paul. (Actually, almost all of the guys I met that semester seemed to be named Paul, and all the girls seemed to be named Sara(h). It was kind of odd, but at least it made the names easy to remember.)

So, there were two Pauls in my physics class and one was really cute while the other one was . . . clean-cut and wholesome looking (like 98% of the guys at BYU), but otherwise not my type.

One day, for complicated reasons*, a girl came by my house to introduce herself as the fiancée of Paul from my physics class. "Which one?" I asked, since I didn't know the last name of either. She tried to describe him, but the two Pauls were both medium-tall with dark blond hair and a lean build. Finally, half joking, I asked "Is he the cute one?" "Yeah!" she said, her eyes lighting up. "He's the cute one."

Dang, I thought, The cute one's engaged.

The next day, not-cute Paul came up to me and said "I hear you met my fiancée."

I came very close to saying "You're not the cute one!" when I suddenly realized that, due to the hormonal daze in which a person in love finds him or herself, whichever Paul was her fiancé would be "the cute one" in her mind. (I think about this every now and then when I'm thinking about shared frames of reference.)
* If you must know, she came by my house to set me up on a blind date, which is odd, because a blind date usually means that you know the person setting you up, but not the person you're going out with. If you don't know either, does that make it a double-blind date? And does that make the results of the date statistically significant?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tribond Tuesday


(Bonus points if you can guess which one I have a personal connection to.)