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A Bad Romance Starring Till Lindemann, Sophia Thomalla, Gavin Rossdale, Simone Thomalla, Sven Martinek, Andy LaPlegua, and Leila Lowfire

To misquote Gaga, "I don't speak German, but I can look at foreign tabloids and guess what's going on if you like."

I guess it would be more professional and ladylike for me to be above this sordid celebrity gossip, but I'm not. I'm so not.

So let's see if I've got this straight. From what I gather...

Metalgod Till Lindemann, 54, and model Sophia Thomalla, 27 (upper left) recently exited a five-year, on-off, opennish relationship, which began when Sophia's actress mother Simone (upper right, in the center) and Simone's then-lover (between her marriages to nubile young athletes) actor Sven Martinek (lower left, in the center), who is famous for his lead role in German TV show Der Clown (lower right) thought it would be cute to set Sophia up with their pal Till. Apparently, the 22-year-old Sophia was not repulsed at her parental figures setting her up with a drinking buddy significantly older than her mom, which absolutely makes sense when the d…
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Have a Grimm Earth Day (and World Book Day) with Kilian Schönberger Photography

Kilian Schönberger is a German landscape photographer who takes glorious nature shots in many lands. He recently released a book showcasing the results of his "Brothers Grimm Homeland" project to capture the moods of the settings of German folk myths, sagas, legends, and fairy tales.

Sagenhaftes Deutschland: Eine Reise zu Mythischen Orten (Fabulous Germany: A Trip though Mythical Places) is now available for purchase to adorn your coffee table.

Kilian also posts gorgeous photos online to pretty up the internet. Just gazing at one of these shots for a few seconds de-stresses and inspires me while I'm working on the computer.

Earth Day is April 22, and World Book Day is April 23. It's fine to explore the beauty of nature and literature online, but also be sure to hug a live tree and read a dead one this week!

The Magic Nutshell in a Novel

I have begun outlining a new novel, featuring the magic nutshell, the folkloric object for which this blog is named.

My new project is historical fiction, not fantasy, though it will draw from folktale traditions, like The Grove of Thorismud. My new work will not be a retelling of well-known fairy tales that have passed through the Disney canon, and the only "magic" in the story will be the wonder found within the chaos of ordinary life. Although the setting will be similar, I'm painting it with a different palette.

This story will be a brother-sister transformation journey along 11th century trade routes between the Baltic Sea and the Silk Road, from the wilds near Prague to Constantinople. The main characters will be runaway children on a "road trip" via water. Its plot and characters will draw from folkloric gender-twins "Allerleirauh" (German) and "The Widow's Son" (Norse), with elements of overlapping tales "Princess Mouseskin&…

Taking Several Seats

When I was an honors student, I learned to pay attention by talking. If that sounds counter-intuitive, it is. I was so sleep-deprived in high school that I knew I would fall asleep if I had to listen to someone else talk for more than a few minutes at a time, so I stayed awake by participating relentlessly. I asked questions, spouted off random opinions, and argued jovially with teachers and other students. The strategy served me well, especially in honors English, where word count earns points, independent of content quality. (Of course, this extends into some realms of university academia, with hilarious/infuriating results.)

After my junior year, I managed to score a bullsh*t senior year when I took only one real high school class along with some community college courses. Sometime during that year, I re-learned how to listen. I remember realizing, somehow, that I was becoming insufferable in conversation. And once I had succeeded at eliminating busywork and dramallamas from my eve…

April Lovefools

Hindsight is rose-colored.

Isn't that how the saying goes? Anyway, I love April Fools Day--as soon as it's over. I take a media break on April 1--no internet, no TV, no radio, maybe even no phone--and then I plug in the next day and laugh at all the funny pranks other people pulled on other people. Everything is funnier the longer it's been done. For example, Napoleon Bonaparte and his tiny hands. Sapristi!

Or these GAT jeans that were so everything in the 1990s. My daughter thinks they are hilarious.

I will also think it is hilarious if someone buys them from us on eBay. I hear that's a thing now.

Anyway, here are some vintage music videos that savagely mock the histrionics of youthful heartbreak and are fun to watch after you've been happily married for a decade or so.

Now I'm off to start a new project that I won't tell you too much about until later. ;)

I Survived The Awakening

I've finished reading Kate Chopin's classic novel The Awakening, and though it was intense, I am not left with the same soul-sick feeling I had after reading Nedjma's brutal novel The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman. The latter is a story about a sane woman who is traumatized and worn down by sexual and emotional abuse until she gives up on romantic love. It's a story that one could imagine happening to just about anyone, given the same life experiences. "There but for the grace of God..."

Kate Chopin's The Awakening, on the other hand, is about the "awakening" of a mental illness in a woman whose troubles cannot be as clearly traced to specific wounds inflicted upon her from the outside. A singular instance of abuse is absent, though the story certainly hints at a repressive childhood grounded in patriarchal religious fundamentalism. The main character, Edna, sets off on a course of destruction when she jumps at the first availa…

#AmReading The Awakening by Kate Chopin (with Safety Gear)

I have just read the introduction (by Marilynne Robinson in this edition) and first few chapters of Kate Chopin's The Awakening. I am immediately reminded of Nedjma's The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman, published only about a decade ago.

Although The Almond was written over a century after The Awakening, I read The Almond first. I still remember the sting of reaching the last page and despairing of finding the kind of mind-body-spirit enlightenment implied by the positive word "awakening." I thought a better word might be "disillusionment." Or perhaps, at best, "disenchantment."

It is the story of a girl sexually abused in an oppressive culture, who escapes that culture only to carry the burden of her unhealed trauma into unfamiliar territory, where she wanders compulsively and blindly through (to her) a social wilderness without form, vulnerable and easily victimized. She regresses to her childhood before the trauma, attempts to r…