Alice Is An Alyss's Kind of Alice In Wonderland

As the Royal Scholar of Wonderland, I, Bibwhit Harte am tasked with peering through the Pool of Tears to see the myriad of creations inspired by Wonderland, from Lewis Carroll's fanciful novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland  and Through the Looking Glass first published in 1865, to the 1951 animated movie Alice in Wonderland from Disney to the very accurate 2006 New York Times best-selling series The Looking Glass Wars with Princess Alyss by Frank Beddor (https://frankbeddor.com/)

I have been overjoyed and overwhelmed at the response from you, dear readers to my humble Bibwhiticisms. I must admit that when I began this endeavor, I had no idea what a “blog” even was. It sounded to me like something to be avoided, something one might become stuck in or that might have a somewhat offensive odor, but Blogs, I have discovered, are both amusing and informative, two of my very favorite things!

And today’s source of amusement and information is Alice or Alyss. Not the much-celebrated person, Princess Alyss Heart of Wonderland, but the name and the name itself and other interesting Alices. The name Alice or Alyss is an anglicized variant of the Old French Adelaide which is of Germanic origin. The Germanic “adal” means ‘noble’ and “heid” means ‘kind, sort’ hence the meaning of Alice being ‘noble one.’

Both the French Adelaide and the English Alice were well established in medieval times. I believe that our Princess Alyss may have been named after her regal ancestress, Queen Alyssabeth. What? You don’t know the story of Wonderland’s Queen Alyssabeth? I will save that story for another time. Now, we look at some other bearers of this most celebrated name…

We begin appropriately with a Princess, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom. Our first Alice was Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine from 13 June 1877 until her death in 1878 as the wife of Grand Duke Louis IV. She was the third child and second daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Alice was the first of Queen Victoria's nine children to die, and one of three to predecease their mother, who died in 1901. Her life had been enwrapped in tragedy since her father's death in 1861. It in entirely possible that Alyss met Alice while she was in exile from Wonderland and romantically involved with Alice’s younger brother, Prince Leopold! I must remember to ask her for my research…  

Princess Alice of the United Kingdom

And next a “sort of” Princess, Alice Roosevelt Longworth was an American writer and socialite and the eldest child of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt and his only child with his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt. The Roosevelt family was almost considered royalty in the Americas. She was the most eccentric first daughter to ever enter the White House and became the strong-willed and unbridled face of the New Woman movement of the early 1900s.

She danced on the rooftops of millionaires, wore a pet garter snake as an accessory, and needle-pointed “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anyone, come and sit here by me” on a pillow in her home. Her independent and free-spirited nature breathed new life into the very idea of young womanhood in the early 20th century as the suffrage movement was gaining steam. She sounds an awful lot like another strong-willed Alice I know…

Alice Brady was an American movie actress who began her career in the silent film era and was one of the fortunate few who survived the transition into talkies. She worked up until six months before her death from cancer in 1939. Her films include My Man Godfrey, in which she played the flighty mother of Carole Lombard’s character, and In Old Chicago for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

For my readers in Wonderland, let me briefly explain what a “movie” is. Similar to the “Video Game” that I described in my previous blog, a movie is a projection of imagination onto a somewhat larger rectangular shaped screen. (Note to self: perhaps a future post could look at some Wonderland inspired movies… hmmm.)

Alice Brady, The American Actress

Alice Walker is an African American writer best known for her fiction and essays that deal with themes of race and gender. Her novel The Color Purple (1982) won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and she has also published volumes of poetry, criticism, and nonfiction. Walker was the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts in 2007. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages. A most inspiring Alice!

Alice Walker, the Award Winning Author

Next, we have an unexpected Alice… a man! Alice Cooper is an American rock singer whose career spans over 5 decades. With a raspy voice and a stage show that features numerous props and stage illusions, including pyrotechnics, guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, reptiles, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers to be "The Godfather of Shock Rock".

He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock audiences. This combination of drama and darkness would certainly appeal to her royal viciousness, Queen Redd of Wonderland!

Alice Cooper, the Godfather of Shock Rock

Alice Waters  is best known for her love of healthy fresh food, respect for the people and for the land that produces food, her support of farmers who till the soil, her desire to educate children about the benefits of “slow food” (as opposed to unhealthy and ever-present “Fast Food”) and her passion to cook and provide meals that are delicious. Alice Waters was the first woman named “Best Chef in America” in 1992 by the James Beard Foundation. Later she received their Humanitarian Award and in 2009 she was named to the French Legion of Honor, reconnecting her to the source of her life’s work. ---

The producing of fruits and vegetables from a tiny seed seems to me to be a form of the Magic of Imagination. As does conjuring a delicious meal from these simple ingredients. Dear Reader, I am loathe to perpetuate “rabbit stereotypes”, but I will share with you that I adore carrots! Carrot soup, carrot cake or a simple raw carrot! Scrumptious!

A Princess, an activist, an actress, an author, a musician and a chef! What a lovely eclectic assortment of Alices! Princess Alyss would be most pleased to share a name with them. Until next time, dear readers!

Through The Looking Glass of Wonderland Video Games

As the Royal Scholar of Wonderland, I, Bibwit Harte am tasked with peering through the Pool of Tears to see the myriad of creations inspired by Wonderland. From Lewis Carroll's fanciful novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass first published in 1865, to the 1951 animated movie Alice in Wonderland from Disney to the very accurate 2006 New York Times best-selling series The Looking Glass Wars with Princess Alyss by Frank Beddor. Today I am investigating a most curious form of entertainment… the “video game.”

“Video” from the root “vide” of the Latin “video,” meaning “I see.” What one sees when one plays a video game is a box filled with a sort of Power of Imagination that creates an illusionary world. This world can only be viewed through a portal. Usually, a screen or glass… not unlike a Looking Glass. (Hmmm.)

With its Looking Glass-esque visuals, it is not surprising that there have been several video games inspired by the wonders of Wonderland. Here is a brief list for you to peruse…

TINY TINA'S WONDERLAND (2022) – I begin with the most recent entry on our list. Tiny Tina’s Wonderland has just arrived and is proving to be very popular. Though its connections to Princess Alyss Heart and the true Wonderland are tenuous at best, it is certainly a showcase for the Power of Imagination!

An amusing, action packed adventure that showcases magic, mayhem and even a powerful Queen. Although the Queen in question is a jeweled rainbow unicorn, I am sure Queen Genevieve (The White Queen) would approve of her regal power. 

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010 Disney Live Action) - Before the latest Wonderland adventure, one must peer through the Pool of Tears to the distant past of 2010 (in earth years) to see another Alyss oriented video game.

Alice in Wonderland (inspired by the Disney live action movie) allows players to guide, protect and aid Alice as she journeys through the world of Wonderland while unraveling the game's many twisted mysteries. Along the way, players call on a diverse and unique cast of characters such as the Mad Hatter (inspired by the heroic Hatter Madigan) and Cheshire Cat (inspired by the villainous Cat) who each have unique abilities to help evade traps and solve challenging puzzles.

ALICE IN THE COUNTRY OF THE HEARTS (2007) – This is a Japanese visual novel game developed by Quin Rose. The game is a re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's classic 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (which was, of course, a rather loose re-imagining of the actual Wonderland.) There are multiple sequel games, as well as multiple manga series, multiple anime cartoons and even some animated films. This game leans into the aspects of love and romance. A true Game of Hearts, if you will…

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Disney Animated 2000) Another game inspired by a Disney film. This time the 1951 animated Disney film. The game begins with the player as Alice following the White Rabbit (March Hare) down its hole. The plot is used to change the level design from stage to stage and gives the player a more varied experience through gameplay. The game changes the level design based on different stages from the film and Alice changes sizes throughout the game to help her find her way through various puzzles.

Though* this game did not receive the most glowing reviews, I include it because the central figure (aside from Alice/Alyss) is the White Rabbit, a character that is apparently based on yours truly, Bibwit Harte! Dear reader, I must confess that I find this rabbit chap to be rather annoying. He shares my speed, but, alas, lacks my sophistication.

AMERICAN MCGEE'S ALICE (2000) The same year that the whimsical Disney inspired Alice in Wonderland arrived, another very different game premiered. American McGee’s Alice is a  third-person action-adventure video game developed by Rogue Entertainment under the direction of designer American McGee.

The game presents a gloomy, cruel and violent version of the World of Wonderland. The game centers on the Lewis Carroll novels' protagonist Alice, whose family is killed in a house fire years before the story of the game takes place. After several years of treatment in a psychiatric clinic, the emotionally traumatized Alice makes a mental retreat to Wonderland, which has been disfigured by her injured psyche.

ALICE: MADNESS RETURNS (2011) is the sequel America McGee’s Alice. Alice: Madness Returns follows Alice Liddell, a girl suffering from trauma caused by the death of her family in a fire. Alice was discharged from a psychiatric clinic and now lives in an orphanage for mentally traumatized orphans under the care of Dr. Angus Bumby.

To heal the trauma and learn the truth about her past, she once again falls into this dark and deadly version of Wonderland, where a new evil force has corrupted it. Such dreadful scenes are most certainly the product of Dark Imagination! Queen Redd would feel most at home in this world! 

Last, though certainly not least, I will mention the “games” connected to Wonderland through more than sheer inspiration! Countless players engaged in the Card Soldier Wars MMO, brought to Earth by Frank Beddor, never suspecting that the mighty battles waged therein were truly tied to the shifts in power back beyond the Looking Glass.

Similarly, The Looking Glass Wars TCG (set to be re-released in the near future) blends the line between physicality and photons. Hybridizing the living world and the games of our imaginations is an idea that could have no other origin than Wonderland.

This concludes our examination of 21st Century Games inspired by the wonders of Wonderland! Perhaps, if my dear readers are interested, I can examine games from the 20th Century when the artform was new and rather primitive.  For now, this is your humble author, Bibwit Harte bidding you farewell and wishing you a most wonder-filled day!

A Look At Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland Through the Pool of Tears

As the Royal Scholar of Wonderland, I, Bibwit Harte am tasked with peering through the Pool of Tears to see the myriad of creations inspired by Wonderland, from Lewis Carroll's fanciful novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland  and Through the Looking Glass first published in 1865, to the 1951 animated movie Alice in Wonderland from Disney to the very accurate 2006 New York Times best-selling series The Looking Glass Wars with Princess Alyss by Frank Beddor.

Today we will explore the influence of The Royal Millinery on other worlds. You maybe quite surprised to learn that in the less imaginative realms, hats are never imbued with Caterpillar Thread and are very rarely used as weapons. The only acts of violence ever ascribed to this mundane millinery is they are on occasion referred to as “Killer Looks.” (chortle)

In spite of their less dangerous designs, several hats in this world (and their owners) have become rather famous. Here is a little list…

The Venus of Willendorf’s Woven Cap

While there are not many official records of hats before 3,000 BC, they probably were commonplace before that. The 27,000-to-30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf figurine appears to depict a woman wearing a woven hat. Similar sculptures, first discovered in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, are traditionally referred to in archaeology as "Venus figurines", due to the widely-held belief that depictions of women represented an early fertility deity, perhaps a mother goddess. Hats have been around since the time of the mastodon.

The Cap-Crown of Queen Nefertiti

Nefertiti was a queen of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the great royal wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshipped solely the sun disc, Aten, as the only god. With her husband, she reigned at what was arguably the wealthiest period of ancient Egyptian. Nefertiti favored a flat-topped version of the blue war crown (or Cap-Crown.) The famous bust of Nefertiti depicts her wearing this crown. The crown linked the queen with the goddess Tefnut, a solar deity and it looked stunning! (Note to self: I should look into getting a similar hat made for Alyss of Wonderland.)

Archibald Armstrong’s Jester’s Cap

When King James I  succeeded to the English throne, Armstrong was appointed court jester. Archibald modified the traditional “donkey eared” fool’s cap and added bells and a third floppy cone creating the now famous (or infamous) Jester’s Cap.

His influence was considerable and he was greatly courted and flattered, but his success appears to have gone to the jester’s head. He became presumptuous, insolent, and mischievous and was much disliked by the members of the court, but James favored him and as long as he pleased his audience of one, he was able to keep his head (and his hat) safely attached to his body. Certainly, if Archibald had been in the Court of Queen Redd of Wonderland, she would have said, “Off with his head!”

Marie Antoinette’s Boat Hat

Marie Antoinette  was the last Queen of France prior to the French Revolution and before she lost her head, she was known for her outlandish hats and hairstyles. In Paris, following a maritime skirmish in 1778, women of fashion commemorated what they saw as a French victory against the British with the Coiffure à la Belle Poule, an elaborate hairstyle containing a replica of the ship itself.

The Queen was not to be outdone by her courtiers, so she created the most lavish nautical fascinator of them all. Certainly, this elaborate headpiece did nothing to silence claims of her extravagance. Queen Genevieve of Wonderland (Queen of Hearts) would have never tolerated such decadent behavior! Her royal subjects were her priority.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s Bicorne

French emperor Napoleon understood the importance of branding, and throughout his life used imagery and clothing to convey power and status. His most famous hat was his black-felted beaver fur bicorne. The imposing nature of this chapeau gave the Emperor some much needed stature. Traditionally, the bicorne, with its distinctive deep gutter and two pointed corners, was worn with the corners facing to the front and back, but so as to be distinct on the battlefield, Napoleon wore the hat sideways so that anyone scanning the crowds would instantly know him by his jauntily angled hat.

The conquering ways remind this author of the Wonderland’s ArchEnemy,  King Arch of Archland.

Davy Crockett’s Coon Skin Cap

Davy Crockett was a celebrated 19th-century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician. Even after he left his deep woods home to become a member of the United States House of Representatives, he still would frequently don his signature cap to remind himself (and others) of his humble beginnings.  Coonskin caps are fur hats made from the skin of a raccoon, with the animal’s tail hanging down the back.

The caps were originally worn by Native Americans, but were appropriated by 18th century frontiersmen as hunting caps. Davy Crockett, who is frequently depicted wearing a coonskin cap, seems to have had an authentic connection to them. He wore the hat during the famous Battle at the Alamo and the presence of the coon skin cap allowed his battle torn body to be identified.

Abraham Lincoln’s Stovepipe Hat

Sixteenth president of the United States Abraham Lincolnwas exceedingly tall at 6 foot 4 inches, and the addition of his famous top hat accentuated his height even further. Lincoln used to keep papers and speeches tucked inside his hat and he would fish them out when needed, making his hat not just a natty bit of headgear but also a useful repository. The most famous of Lincoln’s stovepipe hats was the very one he wore on the night of his assassination at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865. Gentle readers, you may recall that Hatter Madigan once instructed President Lincoln on the art of Hat Throwing. This adventure was chronicled in the thrilling tome, Mad with Wonder.

Winston Churchill’s Homburg

British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill was renowned for his hats. Churchill himself once wrote a humorous essay on the subject, remarking that as he did not have a distinctive hairstyle, spectacles, or facial hair like other famous statesmen. Cartoonists and photographers of the day focused instead on his love of headgear.

Churchill wore a number of styles of hat, from top hats to bowler hats, but he is probably most famous for his homburg. The homburg is a felt hat with a curved brim, a dent that runs from front to back, and a grosgrain ribbon that forms a band. On the subject of homburgs, we are all very familiar with the Wonderland resident, Molly Homberg. Churchill certainly would have admired her spirit!

Jackie Kennedy’s Pillbox Hat

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was one of America’s greatest style icons, and one of her most memorable looks was the pillbox hat perched on the back of her head. Kennedy had many versions of the pillbox, but the most famous is the watermelon pink one she wore with matching pink Chanel-style suit on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Jackie, who had been at his side in her pink suit, was covered in her husband’s blood. When aides repeatedly suggested she change her clothes, according to biographer William Manchester Jackie refused, saying "No, let them see what they've done."

If you enjoyed my little Hat History, please return soon for more posts about all things Alyss (and Alice) in Wonderland!