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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fairest of Them All

In the original fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, by the Brothers (Jacob and Wilhelm) Grimm, the wicked step-mother, while beautiful in her own sinister and narcissistic way, consults her magical mirror, learns that Snow White is indeed the fairest, and sends a huntsman to slay her step-daughter. "Bring me her heart as a token," the Queen says. The huntsman takes pity on Snow White, sends her away into the forest, then slays a wild boar and brings its heart to the Queen, who promptly salts, sautés, and eats it—Yuck!—thinking, of course, that Snow White is really dead and that she, the wicked step-mother, is now the fairest of them all. I think most of us know the rest of the story.

But what of the huntsman?

Other than his moral deception to the Queen that saves Snow White's young life, we know nothing else. He appears only once, in the beginning of the story, and then disappears as the Queen tries three more times to kill her lovely step-daughter: once with strangling lace, a second time with a poisonous comb, and the third with the red half of a red and white apple that is tainted with an obnoxious toxin. Our heroine is saved the first two times by the Seven Dwarfs (whose Disney-dubbed names, by the way, are NOT in the original story. Three cheers if you can name them.1), but the third time is presumed dead, only to be finally saved by a handsome King's son.

We hear nothing of the huntsman. Where was he during all of this? What was he doing? After all, his not slaying Snow White is, in fact, the predication and foundation of the whole rest of the story. It is almost as if he is, in fact, a footnote to the story.

Enter Mike Walsh, stage left.

Mike, as you will recall, was my office-mate for three years. I blogged about his "best-seller", Fallen Son: The Cohen Murders a while ago, having read it a few years ago. Little did I know or suspect back then, that Mike, along with being one of the best technical writers I have known in my own thirty-five years’ successful career in the industry, is, indeed, a prolific, proficient, and positively entertaining creative writer. Besides Fallen Son, he has a number of short stories, vignettes, and humorous essays—all published on various Web sites that can be accessed through http://www.missioncreep.com. If you're looking for an evening's mind-blowing entertainment instead of the inanity of Summer television, I highly recommend you visit this site. Because here you will also find Obermand, The Footnote, which is Mike's creative retelling of the original tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Written in the 1990s, long before the most recent Disney blockbuster movie, Snow White and the Huntsman was a glimmer in its director’s (Rupert Sanders) eye, Oberman, The Footnote is a inspired political and romantic intrigue–albeit a bit more faithful to the original story—that rails and ravages against the morés and sensibilities of the life and times in which it was written. There are three versions of Mike’s tale. Besides the online rendition, there is a graphic comic book with pictorial clippings, collected and arranged by Ted Stamas. For those of you who are sensitive, some of the clippings and pictures are jarring to the mind as well as to the eye. The third is a video of one of the live Philadelphia productions of Obermand, The Footnote, with Mike reading his story accompanied by music written and performed by a few of his friends. Unfortunately, neither the graphical spiral-bound book nor the video is available for general public consumption—I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow copies directly from Mike. However, Mike's contextual story of the "real" relationship between Oberman, the huntsman, and Snow White is available on-line, sans music, and with a selected sub-set of the original pictures, at Obermand, The Footnote.

This is a modern-day story based upon an ancient fairy tale, but one that is replete with stark realties of today. I won't go into details—that would ruin the entertainingly shocking surprise of Mike's work. Instead, I refer you to a detailed synopsis in the most recent review2 on Phawker.com.  And then I recommend that you actually read it. From what I can ascertain from watching the trailers, it is a far better telling of the tale than the recent movie, which I haven't seen in its entirety yet—I am waiting for it to come out on DVD. Mike’s telling, in my estimation, should be, should have been considered by Hollywood pundits and producers before embarking on rewriting Grimm's original to suit financially-inclined and blood-and-guts-minded shallow sensibilities. 

Mike is a very clever writer, whose talents are truly wasted in the stuffy, clueless offices and corridors of corporate America. When you read his creative works, you will come to appreciate his spot-on, often quirky, social commentaries—one of my favorite stories is about a South Philly barbershop and Mike's cowlicks—his bitingly witty sense of humor, and his overall enthusiastically entertainingly crisp style. It is evident he puts as much thought and consideration into his creative endeavors as he does into the more bland and dry technical manuals he has to write to support his real vocation.

Unlike Oberman, I would not like to see Mike relegated to being a footnote in our literary world. He is, by all accounts, one of the fairest writers of them all.
1 Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy, and Happy. My first stage role was that of Sneezy, when I was in second grade. I actually had a cold during all four of the performances, actually sneezing on cue. This was my very first lesson in method acting.
2 Wait! Isn't this the most recent review?

12:24 pm edt          Comments

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June J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations, two volumes of poetry, stories for children (of all ages) and a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Miss Elmira's Secret Treasure: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
Colonial Theatre: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Roarin' 20s 
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Columbia Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members

Adventures of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Spinach Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A Collection of More Spiritual Poems

We Three Kings

Beauty and the Beast


Noah's Rainbow

Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding Hood



Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She is currently working on her sixth novel.

June's novels can be purchased at amazon.com, through Barnes and Noble,
at the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area,
the Gateway Pharmacy in Phoenixvile, PA

For more information about her musicals, which are also available on amazon.com,