A.J. Jacobs Fractured Fairy Tales

ISBN 13: 9780553099805

Fractured Fairy Tales

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9780553099805: Fractured Fairy Tales
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Long before Politically Correct Bedtime Stories invaded bookstores, Americans were getting their giggles from Fractured Fairy Tales, those delightfully twisted parables brought to us between the cliffhanger adventures of our favorite cartoon heroes, Rocky & Bullwinkle. This collection, illustrated with classic art from the animated series includes the comical retelling of 25 classics such as Pinocchio (who starred in his own variety show "The Pinocchio Doody Show"), Jack and the Beanstalk (did you know that Jack grew a beanstalk in the outfield so he could catch fly balls for his baseball team?), or King Midas (who became a dentist so he could give his patients gold fillings). This satirical humor loved for so long by so many, is a must-have for fans of the show and anyone who loves classic fairy tales--with a twist.

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About the Author:

A.J. Jacobs toils in a dark room in a tall tower on the island of Manhattan for Entertainment Weekly magazine. He is the author of two previous books--The Two Kings and America Off-Line.
Jay Ward, a native Californian, was the visionary who developed Crusader Rabbit, the first-ever cartoon for television. He became the master of animated television, developing such shows as The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, George of the Jungle, Super Chicken, and Tom Slick. His cartoons continue to delight generations and are still aired daily around the world.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Witch's Broom

Once upon a time there was a witch named Grizelka who chalked up a very enviable record when it came to witchery. If you don't believe me, just look at her resumé:

Sleeping Beauty

Cast highly effective spell on young female, putting her in a state of slumber for several decades.

The Frog Prince

Turned member of the royal family into an amphibian. Received wide publicity.

Hansel and Gretel

Successfully enticed two young siblings to a house in the forest using sweet food as bait.

Naturally, when it came time to give out the award for The Best Witch of the Year, Grizelka won. At her acceptance speech to the Academy of Witches, she moved almost everyone to tears.

"I'd like to thank all the little people who made this possible. Like that guy I shrank to fourteen inches tall after he said something about the wart on my nose. And I'd especially like to thank my assistant, also a little person, the gnome named Harry. I'll treasure this gold-plated skull the rest of my unnatural life!"

Well, sir, after that, Grizelka's stock soared high, and as far as she was concerned, every night was like Halloween. One day, a typical day, Harry and Grizelka were busy in her cobweb-filled house, hashing out her schedule.

"Okay," Harry said, glancing at his clipboard. "Tomorrow you're due to fly to London to touch off the Year of the Plague. And then you've got a banquet for the society for the Humane Treatment of Trolls."

"Cancel that till Monday. Tomorrow I've got to lock this lady Rapunzel in a tower and then run over to the--"

Suddenly, the door to the witch's little house creaked open and there stood the most handsome prince in the world.

"Ah, fair lady," said the prince to Grizelka. "Could I trouble you for a flagon of water?"

Such a request wasn't exactly the wisest thing the prince had ever done. In fact, it was tantamount to committing hari-kari.

"Instead of water, try a sip of this!" said mean old Grizelka, handing him a hissing, steaming cup of newts' knees, bat tripe, and other ingredients that would probably not pass FDA inspection, but would turn the prince into a tree stump. Still, witches too have hearts and, at the very last second before the concoction touched the prince's lips, Grizelka's was struck by Cupid's arrow.

"Don't drink that!" she shouted, and knocked it to the floor. The liquid burned a hole three feet deep.

"My word," said the prince, ''it must be carbonated."

With that, he made a courtly bow, and excused himself to go to the well outside to quench his thirst. Grizelka stared wistfully through the window. For the next few days, Grizelka just couldn't concentrate on her witchery.

She sent Snow White a poisoned kumquat instead of a poisoned apple. She turned bats into bunny rabbits. She tried to put people to sleep, but just made them tired and cranky. Finally, she admitted to herself that she was in love--but because she was horribly ugly, even by witchly standards, she knew she could never win the prince. And so she went to the magic mirror--which charged only $100 for fifty minutes--and asked for advice.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall--and don't you dare crack on me--how can I win the prince's love?"

"Why don't you cast a spell on yourself? I'm afraid our time is up. I must go before I crack up myself."

Of course! The mirror was right. If Grizelka changed herself into a beautiful princess, the prince would fall in love with her. For two weeks she worked on the project, stirring a cauldron full of wolfbane, mice wings, and artificial flavors and colors. Finally, it came time for the age-old incantation.

"Over the teeth and through the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!"

She drank it and--POOF!--where the witch once stood, there was an enchanting princess. The next day, the newly beautiful witch went to the royal ball. When she got there, the prince and the king were in the corner, talking.

"Well, my son, how are you enjoying the ball?" asked the king.

"Oh, I'm having a ball, Dad."

"I know that, but how are you enjoying it?"

But before the prince could answer, he spotted the most beautiful maiden he had ever seen.

"You're beautiful, you're lovely, you're engaged...to me! Am I rushing things?"

Grizelka shook her head. A whirlwind romance ensued. They went to the opera, to the ballet, to beheadings. But there was one little problem. They were never alone. For wherever they went, along came a broom--the broom that Grizelka used to ride on her nightly forays. It would ride in the carriage with them, sit next to them at shows. There was just no escaping her past. The prince began to get a bit suspicious.

"Now, I have nothing against cleaning instruments in general," he said. "I just want to be alone with you."

Desperate, Grizelka decided to shell out another $100 and go to her old mirror on the wall.

"Ah, well, it is all psychological, my dear. You see, that broom over there has a sort of dust complex. Now that you're a princess, it's lonely. It misses its former owner. And it no doubt still thinks you are a witch."

"Well, what can I do?"

"The answer is simple. Get it a gride."

Now, in medieval English, which is what the mirror was speaking, the word gride meant dustpan.

So the witch immediately purchased a small but attractive dustpan and set it beside the lonesome broom in the broom closet. The rest happened naturally.

In the end, when the prince and the princess got married, they had a double wedding with the happy cleaning instrument couple. So, as you can see, not only was there a bride and a groom, but there was also a gride and a broom.
Excerpted from Fractured Fairy Tales told by A.J. Jacobs. Copyright; 1997 by Ward Productions, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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