Danny
I’ve got good news. We’re not doing The Luck Child today.

Kynan
Phew.

Danny
Today, we’ve got The True Bride, with Jane Horrocks and Sean Bean.

Kynan
Bubble and Boromir! This ought to get interesting.

Storyteller: “When people told themselves their past with stories… explained their present with stories… foretold the future with stories… The best place by the fire was kept for… The Storyteller.”

Kynan
Y’know, I only just realized that means we’re sitting here in the cold the whole time.

Danny
On the floor, too. There’s no chairs for us.

Storyteller: “Trolls come at the bottom of the list of people you’d want as friends. They are revolting.”

Kynan
Yeah, look who’s talking. People who live in glass noses…

Danny
How did the Storyteller’s chair get ripped up like that? How do you rip the top of your chair? It looks like deer have been nibbling over his shoulder.

Storyteller: “The troll found an orphan — a young girl to wait on him, hand and foot.”

Danny
Where do you “find” girls? He must have a girl-finding service.

Kynan
You know, even for a Creature Shop creation, the Troll is ugly. He looks like an ugly creature with extra ugly on top. And when the make-up artists were done, John Stephenson took him out the back and beat the crap out of him.

Danny
I don’t understand the task he’s making her do. He wants her to put the feathers in sacks, but weren’t they already in sacks? Is there much call for unsacked feathers?

Kynan
What, pointless unfair tasks confuse you? The point of the pointless unfair task is to be pointless and unfair. Plus, Bubble ends up on the floor covered in feathers, which makes her look particularly wistful.

Danny
Yeah, she’s got wist out the ying-yang. But look at all the bugs crawling around. You’d think he’d want her to deal with the obvious hygiene problems first.

Kynan
Well, if the troll was big on logic, he’d hire a cosmetic surgeon instead of a girl.

Danny
I guess.

Kynan
Feather sacking was probably a big growth industry in Early Germany. By the way, I wonder when the time came for everybody to pack up and shift to Modern Germany. I bet the Early Germans were all packed and waiting, tapping their feet.

Danny
You think we’ll ever get tired of the Early German jokes?

Kynan
No.

Danny
Me neither. Bottomless well.

Lion: “I come from your thoughts… Is there no one in the wide world to take pity on me, you thought. Well, there is. And here I am.”

Danny
You know, the other day, I was thinking, is there no one in the wide world to bring me a free pizza? Nothing happened. What a rip-off.

Danny
Now she has to drain the pond with a leaky spoon. What exactly is her job description?

Kynan
“Wanted, girl to wait hand and foot. Feather-sacking exp req, diploma in pond-draining a must.”

Danny
And then the lion gets her to go to sleep again. The interesting bits of this story all happen while the main characters are sleeping, or out of the room. We get to watch Anya be threatened with the contradiction stick, we see her mope and cry — but when the cool stuff is happening, we can’t see that.

Kynan
The lion’s got a martyr complex. Spoon full of holes, pointless task, this looks like a job for Super Lion… who enjoys nothing more than a good sip of scum water.

Danny
Plus, the troll beats her with the contradiction stick anyway, whether she finishes the tasks or not, so what’s the point of the lion helping her?

Kynan
Well, she gets to catch up on her naptime.

Danny
The moral of the story so far: Always sub-contract out to magical lions. They’re so efficient!

Danny
Next, the lion builds a palace. Why doesn’t he just build her a sports car, or an anti-personnel device?

Kynan
It’s so like you not to be satisfied with a palace. This is why magical lions visit you so rarely.

Danny
It is a nice palace. This must be Queer Lion for the Straight Guy. Next, we’ll teach the troll to work in his hair products from the back.

Danny

So the troll goes through a door and down a big hole and dies. Is the story over?

Kynan
All I know is, someone’s gonna have to build one hell of a coffin if it’s going to fit that head.

Danny
The lion uses a castle as a murder weapon. Now that’s creative.

Kynan
Yeah, forget Professor Plum in the conservatory. “It was the White Lion, in the castle, WITH the castle.”

Danny
So now Bubble has a palace all to herself — so she hires a bunch of servants and starts beating on them with the contradiction stick. It’s the cycle of abuse.

Kynan
Well, what else are you going to do with a contradiction stick? It’s not a multi-purpose device.

Danny
Hey, look at the dishy gardener. Now there’s a guy who knows what to do with a contradiction stick.

Storyteller: “Gradually, smiles turn to words, and words turn to whispers, and whispers turn to kisses.”

Danny
Are you allowed to let whispers turn to kisses with your gardener? The guy’s building a sexual harassment suit.

Kynan
Looks very romantic, but I know gardeners. He’s thinking about fertilizer the whole time.

Danny
… You know gardeners?

Kynan
So the guy disappears on his wedding day. We lose more gardeners that way!

Danny
And she goes after him on foot. No wonder she can’t find him; she doesn’t even have a pair of iron shoes!

Kynan
It’s Super Lion to the rescue again…

Danny
That’s kind of an unfortunate flying effect, I’m afraid. I think we just discovered the limit of the Creature Shop’s effects in 1989.

Kynan
Actually, one of the things I love about these shows is that they combine so many different kinds of effects — some good, some bad, 2D, 3D. It’s such a fantasy medley, nobody’s gonna complain when something looks “fake.”

Danny
Except me.

Kynan
Of course. But to me, saying, “He’s not really flying,” is like saying, “He’s not really painted on a plate.” It’s part of the magic.

Danny
Are you done?

Kynan
Yeah.

Danny
Good. Cause that flying effect sucked.

Kynan
Yeah, it did, actually.

Danny
So what’s the motivation for the lion, here? Bubble really doesn’t do very much in this story. She just sits and has problems, and then the magical lion fixes everything. Is he a metaphor? If so, what does he represent, besides magical lions who appear and do things for you while you sleep?

Kynan
Hey, it’s the Troll’s daughter! Wow, and if you thought the Troll was ugly, wait till you see him in drag.

Woman: “That Trollop’s so greedy! Sees gold, she wants it. Silver, she snatches it! She collects handsome men like ornaments.”

Danny
Finally, a character in this story I can empathize with. The Trollop has my ideal lifestyle!

Kynan
You and J.Lo.

Danny
The Trollop is like everybody’s dream of the person their ex-boyfriend ends up with: a hideous shrieking shrew who ensnared him with a hypnotic spell.

Danny
So Bubble trades magic silk for a night with the Trollop’s betrothed. This is like Indecent Proposal. What would you trade a night with your betrothed for?

Kynan
I could go for some Cheez-Its.

Danny
So the guy just lies there all night and doesn’t move. Isn’t that just like a man.

Kynan
I’m a little creeped out that Anya’s still keen on the gardener now that he’s damaged goods. Even if he woke up, he’d be all icky and trollop-y.

Danny
Well, he’s not waking up cause the Trollop is drugging him every night. Why doesn’t Bubble just smack her on the head with a hammer? This whole situation could be fixed easy.

Kynan
Must you always resort to Zsa Zsa tactics?

Storyteller: “She kissed him… and the Trollop’s spell over him fell away. His head cleared. Such a tender kiss.”

Sean: “My True Broide… My True Broide.”

Kynan
Weird, when you think about it, that he needed to add the qualifier “true.” You think he’s got a whole bunch of false brides on standby?

Danny
They run away, the Trollop’s after them… and look who shows up! The white fucking lion! What the heck is the point of all this? Anya and the guy do nothing for themselves; whenever they get in a jam, there’s the lion to help them out.

Kynan
Well, good on the lion, I say. I can’t think of any story which wouldn’t benefit from the occasional intrusion of a helpful white lion.

Danny
That’s true. It would have done Angela’s Ashes a world of good.

Storyteller: “Ah! Who have we forgotten? The Trollop!”

Kynan
I hadn’t forgotten her. Last time we saw her, she was in her panties. You don’t forget a sight like that in a hurry.

Danny
And would you believe, the old Chasm of Certain Doom Behind The Door trick? It works again.

Kynan
You’d think they’d learn to reach for a light switch.

Danny
Shame, really. I think the Trollop is a way more engaging character than Bubble. She goes out and gets what she wants; she’s got follow-through. You don’t see her sitting around waiting for imaginary animals to show up and fix everything for her.

Kynan
There is a tendency in these stories — not just Storyteller, but your folk myths and fairy tales in general — to just assume the hero should have good stuff happen to them, because they’re the hero. Bubble’s the True Bride, so therefore she can sit in the foreground picking her nose for twenty minutes and she’ll still end up the True Bride.

Storyteller: “They told their children that the lion could come alive in an instant if he wanted to — or if they ever needed him. But the children found that hard to believe.”

Kynan
Maybe that’s because their parents are such dull, dull characters. “Why would a magical lion help you out? You’re dull as pondwater.” “Funny you should mention pondwater…”

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Tomorrow’s story: A Story Short – “I hope King Santa likes postmodernism. I can’t make heads or tails of this.”

by Danny Horn

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