As I sat down on Thursday night before dinner, I flipped on the TV, wanting to let my mind drift away while some mind numbing TV entertainment news informed me of the latest gossip. E True Hollywood Stories never fails to let me down, so I turned it on and awaited the familiar theme music…
“Hello, I am Suzy Sanders and thank you for watching E True Hollywood Stories! For you Hollywood viewers at home we have a very special story for you tonight, the true story of the three little pigs…” Ugh, I sighed. Another over dramatized television special. I almost turned the television off, but for some reason though better of it.
“…who, what, where, when and how, that’s what we will be solving tonight. In the studio, we have the special guests the three innocent little pigs, and their so called big bad wolf who claims it was her terribly allergies that caused her to knock down the little piglet houses. This just in, Paris Hilton was seen yesterday afternoon after the tragedy outside the Wolf’s house! Lots of questions tonight and only an hour to solve them; why were the pigs building their house out of straw and sticks, why such bad allergies for the wolf and why Paris Hilton!?! We now welcome our first guest, little piglet number1!” A round pink little pig shuffles on stage looking a little disordered, wearing a wrinkled suit, no sock on with her loafers and straw sticking out from behind her ears. She takes a seat in the interview chair and the questions begin.
“Hello Little piglet number 1. Welcome to E True Hollywood Stories. Please tell us about your decision to build your house out of straw.”
“Well, frankly, I thought the whole house-building phase was a waste of my time and my mind. I so prefer a fine plot of rich, fertile compost soil.”
“You mean mud?” Suzy interject.
“Er, yes” the piglet stumbled. “Anyhow, when my sister informed us that we needed to preempt the wolf’s hostility, I attempted to define what sort of structure might provide the best means of defense.”
“And you thought straw could do the job?”
“Actually, no” the piglet said matter of factly. “In the end, building a house seemed to me to be a fairly useless motion. After all, it’s not as if the wolf was somehow barred from attacking us outside of our home, and the wolf is much stronger physically than I am. If it was me the wolf desired to eat me, he probably has other means of getting me when I am less secure…No, no. Building a house is simply a societal gesture that we have defined to mean we intend to protect our property”
“So why build the house at all?” Suzy questioned.
“Ah, that’s where the sheer genius of it lay. I removed the societal reasons for building a house, and thought of what one’s own, self-defined environment should reflect. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy fertile soil rich in minerals and nutrients. Now, I had read an article about soil needing diversity of crops in order to replenish its nutrients. Otherwise, monocrop systems exhaust the soil. Now, did you know that there are 26 different varieties of straw and hay?”
“Um, no, actually, no I didn’t”
“Well, there are” the straw house pig pointing her hoof in the air. “I realized I could satisfy both my sister’s neurotic demands, and create a sustainable environment that, rather than constraining me indoors, could actually grow with me! See, not only were the walls of my home built with straw, I also planted some grain plants to grow alongside the walls and intertwined it with the strands of hay. Eventually, the straw would disintegrate and become compost, replenishing the soil underneath. The grain shoots, on the other hand, would continue growing, perhaps even becoming some type of tree through genetic mutations. It would have been a completely generative, sustainable, and evolving structure!”
“But what about protecting yourself from the wolf?” Suzy asked skeptically.
“Well, how was I to know the truly neanderthal nature of the wolf? I gave her too much credit and assumed that once she saw how significant my contribution to changing our societal structures was, she would never want to harm it. Hmmph. Goes to show” the piglet snuffed blowing a stream of air out of her snout.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I suppose I shouldn’t talk like that. After all, the wolves have not had access to the same mental stimulation as the rest of us have in society, so it’s not really their fault that they can’t think at the same level as us. They can’t really be trusted to appreciate more high-minded and purposed pursuits. They still live in a Hobbsian “Law of Nature,” I suppose. But really, this is why we need to teach them more about societal contracts and why it’s important to participate in society in a more, well, civilized fashion.”
“So have you forgiven the Wolf?”
“Oh, can you really punish someone who doesn’t know better than to respond to her base animal instincts? I only hope that someday, the wolf can come to understand the significance of what she destroyed.”
“Well, Ms. Straw Piggy, thank you for speaking with us”
“Thank you, it was my pleasure. One is always happy to contribute to the dialogue”
“Next, the second little pig, the piglet who built her house of stick,” the second little piglet lazily waltzed on to the set. This piglet was wearing ripped jean, a tie died tee shirt and no shoes, with a red daisy tucked behind her ear. She looked at the interview seat and sat down on the floor in front of the chair with her legs crossed.
“Um, hello little pig number 2.”
“Yes, hi, I am little piggy number 2, at least that’s what they call me. Who knows what anyone’s real name is, I change mine every other day...” the piggy started to obviously drift off into space.
“So tell us about your house.”
“So one day last week, I can’t remember which day, I think the day before the full harvest moon, my sister called me up, she was all upset about something. She is always upset about something, I tell her all the time just to chill and be cool, but she doesn’t listen! Anyway, so I was lying in my grass making a daisy chain, contemplating reality and burning incense when she called and said that I needed to build a house because some trippy wolf was moving in.” At this point the piggy removed the flower from behind her ear and started to stare at it, talking to it rather that Suzy.
“What is reality anyways?!?! But, oh so yeah, I was supposed to build a new home. A house, what really makes a house a home…hmm…how can I just build one?” At this point the piglet stretch out on the studio floor and closed her eyes.
“Piglet… so the house…” Suzy was obviously becoming agitated.
“So anyways, back to the house. So yeah, I decided to build my house out of twigs. Yes, twigs. I did not kill any trees, noooo way. I picked my way through the forest and picked up beautiful, beautiful twigs that had already died of natural causes, no trees were hurt here, no way!! I was really impatient to get back to my pondering about reality and truth. Wait, did I say truth, hmmm that reminds me can we ever be right…?”
“Well that is very kind of you to not kill the threes” Suzy said sarcastically, “please back to your story!”
“Anyways, so I was lying in my new house staring at a psychedelic poster I had hung on the ceiling, listening to Elvis Costello, when my sister barged in to my house, or was it a home yet…anyway, she burst in screaming about a wolf that was coming to try to eat her. I don’t see why a wolf would want to eat her, but anyways… Apparently this wolf had blown down her house. I couldn’t image such a thing, what happened to peace and love?”
“Ah yes. Elvis Costello, how wonderful. THE STORY piglet, the story… so the wolf…” Suzy was starting to lose her temper now. The piglet oblivious to the on set tension lazily continued.
“Anyways, it wasn’t long before this wolf came banging on my door. I looked out the window through the incense haze and it looked like she had some cookies. They looked good but I bet that they weren’t vegan.”
“Oh no, not vegan! How horrible” Suzy said in mock surprise.
“Yeah I know….but before I could say anything, the wolf blew my house apart, everything, it was all gone! I was so scared, my sister and I ran as fast as we could to my other sister’s house. We ran down the street as fast as my Birkenstocks would carry me until we were at her house. We let ourselves in and told her about the crazy wolf, who, must have had some bad mushrooms. So we were in my sisters house, and I was so scared I though I must have had some bad mushrooms, when suddenly the wolf was in the window licking her chops!! She was imagining eating us, how inhumane!! Who still eats meat!! Thank goodness for my neurotic over wound sister. She was the only one in touch with reality enough to pick up the phone and call the pigs, well you know…the police.
“Ha, ha yes the pigs. Well thank you little pig number two, next…”
“But wait…. If there is no reality, this really didn’t happen, did it?”
“I said THANK YOU!”
“Oh yes, yes” the twig house piglet said snapping back into reality as she got up and wondered off stage no doubt still wondering about truth.
“Like I said we now welcome little pig number three, the pig who saved everyone.” The third little pig walked on to the set wearing a matched sweater set and pearls. She put down the roll of blueprints she had under her arm and opened a container of anti-bacterial wipes she had under the other. She proceeded to wipe down the entire surface of the interview chair before sitting down.
“Oh hello Suzy, it is so nice to be on the show. Well, it all started when I heard that there were some dangerous neighbors moving into the forest. I thought well, it's about time I built myself a house, to protect myself from harm, so I drew up these lovely blueprints of my dream home, please hold these for me.” The piglet proceeded to open up the blueprints, stretched out in front of Suzy’s face. The piglet pulled out a pointer and proceeded to point out specifics in the blue print.“See, vaulted ceilings and everything, she exclaimed!”
“Ah, yes, yes” Suzy said clumsily trying to re-roll the blueprints and fix her hair at the same time.
“I was trying to decide what to build my house out of that would be least wrong in terms of durability. So I went through the forest to search for materials, but the straw I found was too flimsy and the sticks could easily break. Based on my summery of observations, I decided that my dream material would need to be hard and solid, but easy to stack together.”
“So, hence, you bought brick?” Suzy questioned, still a little upset that the blueprints had taken over her spot in light.
“As I wandered into town I came across an abandoned building site, and lo and behold, there they were: a pile of bricks simply perfect to build my house out of!”
“And they said you piglets weren’t smart!” Suzy proclaimed sarcastically
“Um yes so, I enlisted the help of my two sisters to carry these bricks to my chosen sight and began to construct my house according to the plans. Everything was measured within a millimeter of my original design! I begged my sisters to build houses for themselves to protect them from the suspicious neighbors, but they never usually listen to me, even though I usually know what's best.”
“Oh, of course you do, so after that the wolf came, right?”
“Oh no when I had finished my house, I threw the biggest housewarming party you've ever seen, everyone was there, and it was so much fun, even though I had to keep reminding the guests to keep their feet off the furniture and not to spill their drinks on my new white carpet.” The piglet proclaimed waving her hooves in the air.
“Oh, I hate when that happens!”
“Me too! So the next morning I was going about my business, happily swiffering away the grime of the previous night when all of a sudden, my sisters came running in the door dragging mud all over my carpet. They were quite distressed and screaming about a terrible wolf who had just destroyed their houses and was chasing them around. It was just what I had feared. I looked out the window just in time to see this wolf coming up the walkway making terrible noises. She approached the window and started threatening to eat us all, motioning to her stomach and licking her lips!”
“Oh no...did she have cookies?”
“Cookies? What are you talking about! Anyways, needless to say we were terrified, and I immediately called the police on the speed dial of my new cordless telephone. They arrived quickly and handcuffed the intruder. If I had not been so meticulous in building my house we might not be sitting here today, and I can only say that I am relieved that this criminal is off the streets for good,” the piglet said quite smugly, obviously pleased with herself.
“Well, thank you little piggy number three, obviously you saved the day. We are all proud of your valor and your bravery in the face of danger.”
“Thank you very much, and thank you for having me on the show” the little piglet gathered her blueprints and anti-bacterial wipes and gave a short wave to the camera.
“Now finally, to our last guest , the so called big bad wolf, who claims she was just trying to get to know her neighbors, a real softie at heart.” A dark brown wolf with a white patch of fur on her stomach entered the stage with a box of tissues under her arm. Her eyes were red and blood shot and her snout was runny.
“Hi everyone, I am the wolf. From my perspective, I was just completely misunderstood. I was the newbie in the forest and wanted to connect with my neighbors. I thought it would be a great idea to bake my three pig neighbors some sugar cookies. That day, my allergies were terribly acting up.” The wolf paused at this point to blow her nose loudly.
“Excuse me” she sniffed.
“It’s no problem, please continue” Suzy said compassionately.
“I was sneezing all over the place and could barely see with my runny eyes. I had walked through the wood up to my neighbor’s houses, feeling miserable, but determined to make a good impression.”
“That was very kind of you.”
“I think so too. Well I walked up to the first house, a straw house, and knocked on the door. As I knocked, some of the seedlings on the straw blew into my nose. I tried to keep in a monstrous sneeze and just couldn’t. I accidentally sneezed right into the house and it fell down.”
“Yes it was terrible” the wolf sniffed rubbing her red eyes.
“The piglet froze in the middle of his newly demolished house, and before I could apologize, he ran off to his neighbor, who lived in a stick house. I couldn’t believe I had just destroyed my neighbor’s house, I felt terrible! My extreme guilt brought me to my other neighbor’s house.”
“So the attack wasn’t malicious” Suzy asked.
“No it wasn’t! At the next house I knocked softly. I realized that my neighbors were talking inside the house about how terrible I was. I tried to get in the house to explain my situation and that I was terrible sorry about the misunderstanding. I guess the door was locked because when I tried to pull on the door to open it, the house just tumbled to the ground. I was standing in the doorway holding a handle to a door that was no longer in existence. My two neighbors were standing in a pile of sticks hold each other and shaking, then suddenly, ran off into a brick house.” The wolf stopped to loudly blow her snout and sneezed blowing a huge gust of air across the set.
“You continued on?”
“I just couldn’t stop sneezing for a moment to yell after them. With my allergies, it was hard not to just give up on my pursuit for friends, but I knew that I would have hateful neighbors and I could not stand knowing that I had made two enemies, my first day in the forest.” The wolf sneezed again this time the gust of wind was so strong the script blew out of Suzy hands and across the set!
“Oh my!” Suzy tried to quickly gather up her script.
“I am so sorry!”
“I walked up to the brick house, with confidence that the structure was secure and I would not be able to upset them anymore than I had. I figured that if they saw through the window that I wanted to be nice and was a friendly wolf, they might let me explain myself and I could give them my newly made cookies. I could barely see because my eyes were so itchy, but I would not give up.”
“That was so brave of you!”
“I was making motions in the window to my neighbors, showing them the cookies and licking my lips to express their tastiness and to encourage them to let me in. I turned around and the piglet police were standing behind me. They forced me onto a log that they wrapped my feet and hands to and carried me away upside down to a cage in the forest.”
“It was but I just wanted to come on today to tell everyone my side of this terribly misunderstood story and to apologize to my neighbors for my actions.” The wolf loudly sniffled and wiped her eyes.
“Well thank you explaining your part of the story.”
“My pleasure” the wolf said, drearily rubbing her red eyes.
“Now can you comment on why Paris Hilton was seen outside your house yesterday?” The wolf quickly stopped sneezing and rolled her eyes.
“No comment, thanks for having me on the show.” Before Suzy could respond the wolf had gathered her tissues and left the stage.
“Well that’s it folks, you heard it here the true story of the three little pigs. Thanks for tuning in and make sure to join us tomorrow when we discover why good dwarfs go bad! This is Suzy Sanders, signing off, have a good night!”
By the time the show was done I was shocked an hour had already passed. I sat on the couch a little longer I could not decided what happened. Was the wolf really trying to be friendly? Did the first little piggy really think her house would grow into a tree house? Why was the second little piggy so concerned with listening to Elvis Costello that she would rush and build her house out of sticks? And why on earth would the third little piggy have white carpet, don’t pigs like mud?!? I got up to cook dinner still thinking about the three little pigs and I realized that there are several sides to every story.
In our group there were many things that we each enjoyed and found interesting about the course. There was a lot of information and we were first unsure of how to present it. We all though that the idea of the evolution of the stories from other stories was a particularly useful and generative way to look at the course. In this manner we decided that we would tell a well known story, the three little pigs, from the aspect of each characters role. This gave us five parts, the three pigs, the narrator and the wolf. We decided on the premise of the television shown then went off to write our own stories for our character. I like that we split the work up in this manner as we were really able to explore our character and add dept and personality to their story. I had the hippie little piggy and found this to be a particularly fun character. We really had to stretch our imaginations in order to determine why the pigs would build their houses out of such flimsy material and why the “big bad wolf” wasn’t so big and bad. By writing the stories on our own and then meeting to practice it really was an evolution of the story because we each were able to write our own story with our own impression of the events, rather than correlating with everyone else. We felt that this was a realistic manner of how stories get passed on and changed in real life. Also in this manner we were able to cover the topic we like in class in our scripts. For example Vijaya for the first little pig included evolution, society levels and beauty, as the second little pig I included reality truth, and the idea of home. Elise, as the third little pig, explored the summary of observations and less wrong and Andrea as the wolf included connectedness. For my final paper I have combined all of our scripts making them into a narrative that flows like a story. I think that presenting a well known story in such a manner adequately reflects the evolution of stories and the ways in which this evolution can be generative. (Our presentation was also based on the book The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka which retells the story of the three little pigs in a new manner from the point of the wolf.)