Thursday, July 31, 2008

P.J. Hogan's Boy Who Never Grew Up

When I discovered a live-action rendition of the classic story of Peter Pan would be hitting the silver screen, I’m sure some of my joy spilled a little everywhere I went. Why had I been so excited? Well, the answer should be obvious to you. But that’s not the reason. No. It sprung from the fact that this had never been done before. Yes. It had not. No live-action version of Peter Pan exists other than this 2003 movie and the silent version in 1924. [Barrie detested the silent one. He’s a bit too hard on it, if you ask me, but then he does have very valid points as well. I’ll address these when I post about it.*] But, again, Hogan made the only live-action Pan to date. People often challenge me with “What about Mary Martin?” No, Mary Martin’s version is a filming of the stage play. It is not a “movie” with theatrical release. And some would-be snarks suggest Spielberg’s Hook counts as the first live-action Pan. If you are one of them, I strongly urge you to rethink. Even if I could fathom it, it is not an adaption of the original story anyway, so it doesn’t count on that stipulation alone. How is it possible that no movie of Peter Pan had been made in 99 years? I mean, seriously, how?

Another part of my excitement came from the fact that everything I read in the years leading up to its release in terms of pre-production, production, interviews, press releases, etc., Hogan (and other actors) promised that it would remain faithful to the story. Hogan said himself, as I recall, that since it had never been brought to the silver screen, he would do it faithfully and do it justice.

And how do I feel about Hogan’s production? It’s 60% perfect, 40% atrocity.
Let me start with the good parts.

First of all, Jeremy Sumpter. He did an incredible job of being the eternal boy. I sincerely think Barrie would have been proud of his performance. He embodied everything about Pan - including the devil in him that Barrie so wanted him to have in the statue in Kensington Gardens. But it’s not just the script that provided the diabolical side of the boy, Sumpter brought it on with his wonderful expressions and acting. I can’t think of anyone who can make faces (in the good sense) better than Sumpter. He has said how much he enjoyed being Peter Pan and it shows. Adorable one minute, sorrowful the next and tricky in a flash. Bravo, Jeremy! Truth be told, there are two line readings that make me nuts. One of them I dislike because it is not at all how I always imagined Peter saying it. Not that I am solely correct, of course. But Sumpter’s interpretation is so different from mine that I had to put down my aversion and applaud it. Wendy asks Peter his name. In my mind, Peter would proudly and brightly respond, “Peter Pan!” with a “and YOU’RE NOT” subtext. (Chevy Chase similarity noted.) In the movie, he backs away from her, with a pause between “Peter……Pan” making Peter cautious at her approach. A cool way of reading it, I admit. The other line I just don’t understand. When Wendy withdraws under her covers, Peter must lure her back out. He’s trying to woo her, in a sense, so what he says should be enticing. Barrie says that Peter tells her “One girl is more use than twenty boys.” But the movie Pan says, “Onegirlisworthmorethantwentyboys.” No enticement, no sweetness. Just onebigword forced out his mouth. I’m not sure if Jeremy made these decisions or Hogan. But it matters little, for the rest of what he gave us IS Peter Pan. It should also be noted that Jeremy is the first boy to play Peter Pan on screen and be seen doing it (as opposed to Bobby Driscoll who voiced Disney’s).

The other actors all did a great job, too. Bravo to Jason Isaacs for making a refined but frightening Captain James Hook. No foppish, bumbling, comedic villain here. And the hook is on the correct hand. Honest, to all the actors a resounding BRAVO!

The set design, the mood, the tone, the colors, the lighting…beautiful. Perfectly matches the book in my mind. Bravo to the team. And James Newton Howard’s score - I can’t get enough of it.

Before I talk about what I deem horrendous, let me talk about the changes that I liked. Most especially the character of Aunt Millicent. Hogan’s invention actually fixes Barrie’s work. In the story the Darlings are concerned over how to meet expenses, yet they have a maid. A maid whose sole function is to almost catch the children with Peter Pan in the nursery. To add that bit of tension. Seriously, no other purpose. Hogan picked up on that, creating George Darling’s sister Millicent, played wonderfully and to the hilt by Lynn Redgrave. Not only is the scene more dramatic now that the dreaded Aunt Millicent will catch them, but she provides the nudge that perhaps Wendy should leave the nursery and grow up. She also nudges George, forcing confidence into him to be a smash hit at the party they attend with his co-workers so as to get a promotion. A brilliant tweak. I liked Aunt Millicent so much that if I ever made my own movie, I would ask Hogan for permission to use her.

The Black Castle. It’s not in the book…but I love it to pieces. One of the things Barrie envisioned for a movie of his work is expanding it in the visual sense. To be able to do and show material and places that could not be done on stage. So erecting a creepy castle around the kidnapping of Tiger Lily (which in this version included John and Michael as well) did wonders for the tale. Just the sort thing TO add. Bravo.

Though it veered, dare I say greatly, from Barrie I even liked making Wendy more strong-willed and disenchanted with her matronly duties. Craving adventure. I know a certain Miss Richards who would clap at this idea as well. I even could deal with the omission of the medicine scene for the clever race to retrieve the note from the teacher’s messenger. Again, it expanded the staging.

The saving of Tinker Bell is incredibly moving and powerful. I'd wondered how to do it for a movie without asking the audience to clap...and Hogan made it very special. Just as I would have imagined doing it, but he took it a step further by including Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Aunt Millicent in the mix. It's truly touching, uplifting and beautiful.

Hogan also makes a logical conclusion. If happy thoughts make one fly, then unhappy thoughts will make one drop. He establishes this idea early on in their arrival in the Neverland. He uses it at full power when Pan battles Hook in the final showdown. A shift is made in line delivery. Hook feeds Peter lines that really belong to Wendy. Hook presents the horror of the future, when Wendy will have forgotten all about him and is married to another man. Pan falls from the sky. It works effectively enough.

However, during that scene something is happening that made my skin crawl in the theater, and still does to this day. In Hogan’s version, Hook learns to fly. Why? It bears repeating. WHY? After all that talk about being accurate, finally realizing Barrie’s masterpiece in “reality” and then Hogan has Hook FLY? I can see if this had been the umpteenth movie made of Peter Pan. Wanting to change it up a bit so this version stands out among the others. But there ARE no others. WHY, Hogan? I don’t even think Hook would WANT to fly. And adults aren’t “supposed to,” am I right? If that didn’t ruin the movie (the one that had promised to be faithful) for me this next alteration did.

When Peter is defeated (for the time being) laying on the deck of the Jolly Roger, Wendy prevents Hook from plunging his claw into the boy, saying she wants to give him a thimble. Now, as we all should know, a thimble to Peter is a kiss and vice-versa. So…she gives him a kiss. Not a peck. Not a smack. A kiss. A full blown, face-sucking kiss. First of all, I do not need to see 13 year old kids sucking face. Second of all, it…are you ready…invigorates Peter Pan. He turns bright pink, his whole body, PINK. He lets out some sort of sonic boom cry and BOLTS into the sky, happy as hell and energized to whip the pants off Hook. No. No. NO. Sexuality would destroy Pan, not rejuvenate him. Why, Hogan?

I have a few minor bones to pick, such as the fact that Smee has a watch. I get it, the Captain smashing it with his hook is cute and it lends itself to his speech about the crocodile being after him. But that is the whole point…the only way to tell time in the Neverland is via the clock in the croc. I also abhor the notion of “Swiss Army Hook” by which I mean Hook having many hooks to choose from. I’m under the impression that this bloodthirsty pirate would relish a rusty, scratched, worn, severely evil looking hook. I didn’t like the parrot, either. I won’t go on with these, they’re minor. For each one of these, there are marvelous moments, such as Peter’s dejection at seeing Hook’s demise and the make-your-head-spin disorientation of rippling the stars on the way to the Neverland.

But the last bit that truly bothered me is that no last bit came. The scene when Wendy grew up and Peter Pan finally comes back for her again, only to take Jane, her daughter, instead. I read about the auditions for Jane, I knew the scene would be coming. Bart (who sweetly attended on Xmas Night much to his utter contempt for the idea), in fact, had been waiting for this scene. It’s his favorite of the whole book. It’s what he came to see, really, what he wanted to see most. But no. In the theatrical release, we hear a voice over from Wendy (which is when we learn that the female narrator is in fact her) saying, “But I was not to see Peter Pan again…” Excuse me? Wendy goes back to the Neverland many times! But alas, they even left out the scene with Jane. Argh! It does appear on the DVD as a deleted scene (among other scenes that should not have been deleted in my opinion because they are all beautifully done and retain some of Barrie’s best bits). It’s a gut wrenching scene. Truly. Even unfinished. There’s no music (which makes it more devastating) and the harnesses to make Peter and Jane fly are clearly visible. Still, it’s damn powerful and again Sumpter delivers. Too bad they cut it.

So there you have it. When it’s good, it’s perfect. When it’s bad, it’s unforgivable.
The 2003 Peter Pan is the best Peter Pan movie ever.
Because it is the only one. (Excluding the silent film, of course.)
One last thing. Why did they release it in 2003? It didn’t do as well as it might have up against the final part of Jackson’s Tolkien epic. Also, just one more year and a couple days and it could have been released 100 years to the day of the play's premiere. Hollywood inexplicably avoided making a Peter Pan movie for 99 years…what’s one more to celebrate the Centennial of Barrie’s masterpiece? I’m truly baffled.

But thank goodness that it DOES have much to love.
And thank goodness we have a Peter Pan, Wendy and Hook that do justice to these complex characters.

* The image I chose is my first exposure to the movie visually. I wondered greatly at what a dragon statue had to do with anything, but it only fueled my excitement at the time. The dragon is, of course, part of the Black Castle.
* As I state in "The Silent Boy Who Never Grew Up." I unintentionally over accentuated Barrie's feelings on the movie over the course of the years. Please see that post for more.

Bloody Smashing Performance, eh what?
A Million Thanks for Aunt Millicent
H-OO-k Tat-OO

Hogan's "Indians"

Japan's Boy Who Never Grew Up
Disney's Boy Who Never Grew Up
The Silent Boy Who Never Grew Up
Fox's Boy Who Never Grew Up

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I tend to like Pirandellian pieces. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, it is named after an Italian author/playwright, Luigi Pirandello, whose most famous work is the play Six Characters in Search of An Author. Pirandellian refers to works wherein the characters are self-aware of their author, the author is inserted into the work or the line between story and reality is crossed in some way. The most recent example I can think of is Stranger Than Fiction. (See it if you haven’t! I have a post about it here.) Actually Nim's Island does it more recently but I've not seen it. I’d like to bring up another wonderful movie to see on the subject of writing and writers, Pirandello Style!

Recently the famous At the Movies with its trademark Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down has retired. Well, thank goodness for it when it did air, otherwise I might never have known about this movie. Siskel and Ebert reviewed the 10 most underrated films of the year 1986. One of them caught my attention. The Adventures of Mark Twain. Besides being noteworthy for its clever content, the movie is Claymation. The whole movie. Way before Wallace & Gromit’s feature film. It’s a feast for the eyes and imagination.

Another quick history lesson: Mark Twain came into the world with the arrival of Halley’s Comet. Seventy six years later, when it returned, Twain died. He said, I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."

The above is what the movie is based around. That, and a loose adaptation of his novel Tom Sawyer Abroad. In the film, Twain (Samuel Clemens) like his character, reveals a big airship with which he will travel the world. But his real goal, we learn, is to catch up to his destiny with the comet. In Abroad, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn stow away. They do in Adventures, too. Ah-ha! Pirandellian! Yes, delightfully inexplicably Tom, Huck and Becky Thatcher fly away and interact with their creator. Twain seems very aware of who they are. To make it even more odd, the ship has an Indexivator (Index-Elevator) which will not only take you to the various floors of the aircraft but also to the works of Twain! At one point Tom is snatched back into his story by Aunt Polly’s arm coming out of the “black void” of the Indexivator. Injun Joe nearly escapes to get them. And, in one of my favorite scenes, the kids have a bout with The Mysterious Stranger. Twain also reads from The Diary of Adam and Eve to them and the book comes to life, so to speak.

It’s a movie packed with action, dark patches, laughs, surprises, inside jokes and witty quotes from Twain.
It’s a gem.
I’ve been showing people a scratchy overworn copy on video tape. How excited I’d been to find it on DVD a few years back.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of Twain, presented in the movie: The human race in all its poverty has only one truly effective weapon - Laughter. Against the assault of Laughter, nothing can stand.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An Earlier Early Years Adaptation...

The post below this one reminds me of another adaptation of the early years of Peter Pan.
Danny Pitt Stoller reshaped Barrie's The Little White Bird (which Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens had been sliced out of and re-published as such) into a musical. From all I can see (and hear) of it that he has posted on the web, I would have really liked to see this show. Check out Benjamin Starling, too. :)

The Early Years Adapted...

Wish I could attend. I'd like to see a show like that :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Comic Tragedy and Tragic Comedy

Here's another movie for you that touches on aspects of writers and writing…
and brings up the question of comedy vs. tragedy.
A Woody Allen movie, Melinda and Melinda.
Neither Bart nor I had seen it and we watched it a little while ago. We both enjoyed it.
It begins with people in café, one of them is Wallace “Inconceivable!” Shawn. Shawn is the advocate of comedy. A playwright who believes that escapism of the horrors of our lives from the incidental to the insurmountable is the true human condition…laughter to be able to survive.
The other view is that people are looking for a catharsis through tragedy, that comedy is a light meal, but the real dish is served as a hearty tragedy…one that we can learn from if we digest it.
What happens in the movie is this: Someone at the table tells a simple story of a woman who crashes a dinner party, which supposedly happened to a friend. The debate rages: is this a comic situation or a tragic event? It depends on the action, of course. So each of the writers begins to craft what happened.
You then “bounce” back and forth between the two stories of Melinda the accidental party guest and what ensues afterward, being interrupted by a “No no no…” and then you’re back in the café for a bit. It’s quite clever. Will Farrell is in this one. And he’s not “Will Farrell.” Once again he proves that he can do something other than Willfully embarrass and make a fool of himself. He’s “normal” and tender, sweet, sympathetic, etc. Bart figured out that Farrell is Allen in this picture. Yup. All of the lines that would have gone to Woody had he starred in this one went to Will. The personality and traits of the character totally matched one of Woody’s lovable, troubled neurotics. Farrell did a great job.

It’s worth seeing, for the performances, the “dual” story and its discussion about tragedy/comedy and the nature of writing. Granted, it’s not going to present you with any deeply profound insight. But it’s smart, fun and worthwhile.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Lost Boys "Found"

I'm ecstatic! I just ordered from Amazon!

No, not my own book.

Andrew Birkin's The Lost Boys that aired on the BBC in 1978.

Imagine Finding Neverland, but accurate and more in-depth.

Premier Barrie scholar Birkin wrote this acclaimed work.
Here's a link of praise for it.

Ian Holm stars as Barrie and it is said to be one of his best performances.

I've known about it "forever." But alas, it had not been available on DVD in the US region codes. I obsessively checked for it for quite some time. I even have a TiVo Wish List in case BBC America decided to air it. I wound up shelving it in the back of my mind.

But Hosah!
After waiting fifteen years or so...on this red letter day, I stumbled across it!

What a delight! Can't wait for it to come! It will be on my shelf instead.

SPOTting Pan

Peter Pan's NeverWorld
is now available at TARGET stores online.
BBC Ameica's Robin Hood final episode of the season airs tonight as well! What a coincidence!
Cue the music...

*Correction: The Season Finale of Robin Hood is next week. They'd been hyping so much it appeared as though this would be it, but there is one more to look forward to...

*Note, as of this posting TARGET is still awaiting copies, but you may place orders.

With an IE, thanks.

I'm of the opinion that when expanding upon another author's work one must remain faithful to his or her work.
If you haven't figured it out by now, I have a great love for Peter Pan.
Someone has taken the time to comprehensively list discrepancies between the Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson prequels and Barrie's original stories. Thank you, whoever you are.
If you care to peruse them, you can find them here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Spiderwick - The Tangled Web...

A while back, Bart, Cassidy and I went to see the movie of The Spiderwick Chronicles. We all loved it. Me? I had nothing bad to say about it. Not a single critique. Those who know me are well aware that I can be particularly harsh, demanding, expectant… (whatever you wish to call it) of stories such as these. Usually there is a “Why didn’t they just…?” or a “That didn’t make sense..” of some sort. Not this time. Okay, if we’re going to nitpick…I did have a slightly jarring moment. But nothing that tainted the movie or story. I cannot say what it is without giving the ending away. Suffice to say I had the thought, “Is that the only way to do deal with ___?” The ___ of course being omitted so as not to spoil it for you. But since it stayed in tune with fairy tale lore, I didn’t mind it at all. Not a rolling eyes moment, a cocking head moment. SO, I thought since I loved the movie, I should read the books. I finally have.

If you’re not aware, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a series of five books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. They’re each very short, each of them amounting to about 80 pages all told. The type is quite large and there is a full page picture about every 4 pages and large pictures taking up as much as quarter of a page throughout. Thus, the movie consisted of all five books.

Before I begin to compare, let me say: I thoroughly enjoyed the books. No issues there.
But now, naturally, I have some qualms with the movie. *sigh*

I realize…movies are different from books, adaptation and alterations need to be made. At first they were understandable changes. For instance: In each, three kids move into a dilapidated many story (ha!) house. They wind up involved with a “war” of and with various creatures from the faerie world. Now, in the movie, one of the boys finds a big book, Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You in a secret library. It is wrapped and tied up with a big rhyming warning to NOT open the book. (Of course, he does.) I knew from the tiny exposure I had to the series that it had such warnings on the books themselves. So, it seemed right. Ok. In the book, however, the boy finds the secret library and a cryptic poem…one he takes the time to decipher the clues of…leading him to the book. The book has no warning label. It’s hidden beyond hidden, though. All right. No problem…I can see that. Cinematically, reading a poem and figuring it out in your head doesn’t quite fly as well as reading it. That re-write I am fine with…makes sense. (Especially when finding out that one of the faerie characters speaks in rhyme in the book.) Along the way, such modifications to the story were made…all of them “in tune” adaptation-wise. But truthfully…I found myself liking some of the new developments in the movie better. So I looked, but the authors are not credited with the screenplay at all. Which, of course, made me sad. But I pressed on…and something changed.

Suddenly, at the end of book three, I began “condemning” the movie. The books had so much more! (Big surprise, huh?) The inventive modifications and alterations became watered down oversimplifications. I wanted to say aloud to the filmmakers, “UM, you MISSED a spot!” Seriously, the book proved far richer than what they presented in the film. (Again, what a surprise!) But the point is it escalated to a degree of ridiculousness. I began to equate it with sheer laziness on the part of the movie. Why bother to make a troll come out of the river? The creatively depicted elves of the Grove can just be a whirlwind of sprites not unlike dandelion seeds instead. A rescue mission in the giant palace of the big enemy? Nah, too much set to build. He can just come to their house. Let’s throw out half the plot points, etc.

Back in defense of the movie, though, it did generate a better sense of the impending doom of the “ultimate” evil than the books did, which doesn’t really hit with full impact until book four. And the basic throughline is there…it’s just missing a lot of the scenery as it speeds along.

So now I am at the point where I do not dislike the movie, but it’s rather disappointing.
The books are terrific, a fun romp. But I find myself wishing elements of the movie were contained within it.

All in all, a good story either way.

But it does drive home once more the implicit query: Book or movie? Which to experience first? More than likely books, hands down. But then, that does not always transpire in each case. And either way, one or the other is going to seem light or lackluster by comparison.
Any thoughts? (Besides simply slamming Hollywood.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Series-ly Good

Somehow Bart came across a delightfully quirky movie called Sordid Lives. It strings together various storylines of (dare I say) White Trash folks. The major one is three grown women dealing with the death of their mother. It’s a comedy. A dark comedy. I won’t spoil how the matriarch died (hilarious!) or even the other lines of story in case you decide to watch this wonderful mess. (I say mess in relation to the people’s…um…sordid lives, not the script or production.)

Written by Del Shores, it began as a stage play. He also wrote said stage play. And directed it, as well as the movie. Obviously he is either very controlling or very passionate about his work. I’d guess a healthy combination of both.

The reason I am bringing it up, however, is that last night Sordid Lives: The Series [also by Del Shores] aired on Logo television. Many of the same actors (including one of my favorites, Leslie Jordan and the incomparable Beth Grant and yes, even Olivia Newton-John) have returned for the series. Quite a blessing, given their amazing performances in the movie.

However, the fact that there is a television series based on a movie is not what makes me write about it now. Not a new phenomenon at all. It’s been done many times, to both great success and miserable failure. But this one? Sordid Lives pulls a glorious trick that to my knowledge, has not been done before. And I take my hat (if I wore one, which I used to do all the time) off to Del Shores for this endeavor, what I believe to be a unique idea: The series begins before the movie does. In other words, it backtracks to when mother has not yet died and she is now a seen character played by Rue McClanahan. It’s far enough back in time that we are seeing a lot more in depth of the characters. Leslie Jordan’s final scene in this first episode I found particularly moving, especially knowing what would come for "Brother Boy."

Imagine, though, the fun to be had in revisiting your own work some 8 years later to expand it in this capacity! I’d certainly love it. I’m always interested in the original creator(s) building outwardly on a story. Especially when it’s as good or better than the source material. Both Bart and I laughed out loud many times during the half hour. Sympathetic, tender moments quieted us, as I mentioned with Jordan.

We’re looking forward to the rest of it. TiVo will faithfully obtain it all for us. And it comes on right after Project Runway. What could be better?

Thank you, Del Shores and company for your marvelous exploration of storytelling! Bravo!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Guest Post: A Mother's Look at "Peter Pan"

I decided to let someone else have a go at ranting for a change. Allow me to present the musings of a dear friend of mine from college, Jen.

When my friend Peter asked me to contribute something to his blog, I’ll admit that my first reaction was to panic a bit. While motherhood has done amazing things for my reflexes, I’m not sure it has done much for my mental acuity, and I wondered what I could possibly have to say about Peter Pan, or J.M. Barrie, or about anything, that might be of interest to his readers. However, I was flattered to be asked to do almost anything that didn’t involve wiping noses, resolving brotherly disputes, or raising money for the PTA, so I decided to dive in.

I began re-reading Peter Pan, with the vague idea that I might be able to relate J.M. Barrie’s tale to my experiences with my own boys (8, 6, and 1). While the world has changed quite a bit from his day (and I do wonder what he’d make of an Xbox), boys have apparently barely changed at all.

For instance, take Peter trying to stick his shadow back on with soap. No wonder that a boy wouldn’t have any idea that sewing would be necessary (much less how to do it), but are we at all surprised at his total ignorance of the true purpose of soap? My own older two have recently decided that they would rather take showers than baths, but only because they think standing under running water will allow them to skip the soap part—they always seem offended when reminded that they actually need to wash. If the future of the environment depended on conserving soap my boys would be at the forefront of the green movement. (The baby adores baths, but mainly for the opportunity they offer to dump cupfuls of water on the bathroom floor.)

Neverland is populated with boys and their jumbled-together fantasies, but they have to import a girl to do the work. Shocker. (And how is it that girls are “too clever” to get lost falling out of their prams and not clever enough to get out of the housework, anyway?) Just like real boys, the Lost Boys are hard on their clothes, and Wendy sits “down to her workbasket: a heavy load of stockings and every knee with a hole in it as usual.” Having just been through a winter where every pair of jeans the older boys owned gave out at the knee, I could sympathize. (As one would expect with boys, on no occasion could they explain to me how the holes got there.) Summer brings some relief, since it is impossible to get a hole in the knee of a pair of shorts, but it is also accompanied by an uptick in the consumption of Band-Aids. Apparently the Lost Boys also enjoyed what I like to call “mental Band-Aids.” My middle son in particular refuses to admit that if there is no visible blood, a Band-Aid is unnecessary, and I have found that arguing with him is a waste of time. (Natural selection in my family favors extreme stubbornness, surprising no one who knows me or my husband.) He also enjoys having the Band-Aid as a conversation starter, so he can recount the tale of how the invisible—dare I say, nonexistent?—injury occurred. Compare it to the conclusion of one of the Lost Boys’ adventures, after Wendy has sent them to bed: “Next day, however, she was awfully tender, and gave out bandages to every one, and they played till bed-time at limping about and carrying their arms in slings.”

Most tellingly, though, I recognize my own children in the clear-sighted observations of how self-absorbed children are: “Off we skip like the most heartless things in the world, which is what children are, but so attractive; and we have an entirely selfish time; and then when we have need of special attention we nobly return for it, confident that we shall be embraced instead of smacked.” In the ongoing humility lesson that is parenthood, nothing is quite as bruising to the ego as having your child literally run off to have fun without you. My boys have the opportunity to do this quite frequently, having many grandparents nearby, and if one of them remembers to kiss me and tell me goodbye on their way out the door without being reminded, I think I will almost certainly drop dead of shock. Occasionally I am told, when they return, that they missed me, but that is usually because they were denied something they wanted that they think I might have said yes to. (For the record, the chance of my giving in where a grandparent stood firm is about the same as the chance of my boys getting through an afternoon of homework with no whining, or in other words, nil.)

Most self-absorbed of all, however, is Peter Pan himself. Immediately after Wendy sews his shadow back on for him, he exults, giving his own cleverness the credit for success when he owes it all to Wendy. “It is humiliating to have to confess,” Barrie writes, “that this conceit of Peter was one of his most fascinating qualities. To put it with brutal frankness, there never was a cockier boy.” No surprise there: my kids act like they’ve invented cold fusion if they can find a matching pair of shoes in the morning. I thought I’d bite through my tongue the day my eldest son bragged about his great grade on a book report, conveniently forgetting that the process of writing it was a two-week ordeal wherein he whined about everything from reading the book to coloring the cover. Sometimes I think that the parents should be the ones getting grades on their children’s projects, or at least a special commendation for getting them to finish the darn things and not selling the kids on eBay instead.

Peter has all his first teeth, and laughs with the innocent gurgle of a child’s first laugh, but he also lacks any social restraints. On the trip to Neverland, he repeatedly has to rescue the Darling children from falling into the ocean as they nod off from exhaustion, “but he always waited till the last moment, and you felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of human life.” He often does the right thing, but not for the right reason, and the Darling children cannot be confident that he won’t find something more interesting to do the next time they need rescuing. Similarly, I’d like to think my boys do their chores and follow directions because they know it is the right thing to do, but realistically it’s often because they know they won’t get computer time after dinner unless they toe the line. (And I’d like to pretend I was smart enough to keep the computer time until after dinner from the first, but as I mentioned, motherhood—not so good for the mental acuity.)

When the children have decided to leave Neverland, Peter escorts them back to the Darlings’ house, but with a trick in mind: he flies ahead and closes the window they expect to find open, to make them believe that their mother has forgotten about them. “Instead of feeling that he was behaving badly, he danced with glee,” but when he sees Mrs. Darling crying he cannot follow through with the plan: “He ceased to look at her, but even then she would not let go of him. He skipped about and made funny faces, but when he stopped it was just as if she were inside him, knocking.” That’s a pretty good description of the conscience we mothers all hope we can give our children, the one we remind ourselves is a work in progress when Son #1 cons Son #2 out of his best Pokémon card and threatens dire vengeance when made to give it back. Peter, of course, gives up, fleeing the insidious civilizing influence of Mrs. Darling to preserve his eternal childhood with its freedom and carelessness. I suppose I should be glad that my boys can’t fly when they are fleeing the civilizing influences of hairbrush, toothbrush, and the oft-repeated lecture about why your baby brother cannot be treated like a football, no matter what he did to the train track you spent half an hour building.

So I find that the Lost Boys could indeed be the creatures who live in my house, who come in from ten minutes in the backyard covered in dirt and who think I don’t know that they kick their soccer ball over the wall into the neighbor’s yard on purpose. On the days when my head is spinning because after spending two hours playing “Annoy My Brother” (their favorite game, which mostly consists of them noodging one another and then simultaneously yelling, “I’m telling!” until I am ready to scream), the boys do something breathtakingly cute, like reading to their baby brother without being asked, thus inducing maternal emotional whiplash, I’ll remind myself that this won’t last. Someday that internal voice will replace my voice reminding them to close the refrigerator door, to keep their hands to themselves, to use their inside voice, and to say please and thank you. Only one boy never grows up, and though he’s cute, I’m glad he doesn’t live in my house.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What "Props" Up Conversation? Show Some Respect.

While I waited in our favorite sushi restaurant for Bart and Lage, my eyes gravitated to the large flatscreen TV. Normally we eat on the “other side” (two sections) of the restaurant so watching it there proved somewhat of a novelty. It has the closed captioning on so as not to disturb the atmosphere. Not that I had been interested in the program. The Espys. Justin Timberlake hosted, which I found strange, until I remembered that he is a golfer as well. But none of that is the point.

I heard (or rather saw) him say, “I have to give you props.” Does this bother anyone as much as it does me? The first time I heard it, I said, “Props? What? Like giant comedy sunglasses and a walking stick? Why are props needed?” Then, of course, I had been corrected and told the meaning. Not that it made the situation more clear.

Color me bitter, but I think this term has to be one of the worst pop culture has to offer. First of all, it just sounds silly. “Give you your props.” Come on, really? Second of all, it’s damn lazy. I wouldn’t have a problem if one said, “Give you your proper respect.” Oh wait. Yes, yes I would. What ARE said proper respects? Isn’t it rude to accentuate giving proper respect and then not even bothering to list or explain why or how or what that respect entails? And then to make it even worse by truncating it down to just “props.” Sorry, I’m too slothful and cool to tell you how I really feel about you, so, take your damn “props.” Here, here’s a mug and an umbrella.

* I found this photo on the 'net in Google image search under "giant sunglasses." If this is your photo, please excuse me using it, I meant no proved too perfect for this post. Thanks.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Japan's Boy Who Never Grew Up

Peter Pan no Bōken (Adventures of Peter Pan) is a Japanese cartoon series based on…well, you know. I have long known about this TV show (which ran in Japan over the course of the year 1989) but being able to see it proved a bit difficult. Then the magic of the internet came along. Which means I caught glimpses of it on YouTube and other sites. I resisted delving into it. Somehow I did not fully trust it to be a worthwhile adaptation. The skeptical side of me always won out. Until now. I recently came across a site harboring half of this 41 episode series, with English subtitles. I will not link to where, for it’s probably not “right” that they are online.

I must say that I am not a fan of the character design. I’m sure there are many traditions being drawn upon here. But it is just not to my tastes. [Though the Captain’s hook is on the correct hand!] I just don’t like the way the characters look. But I did not let that stop me from watching the show.

As it turns out, it is very much a forerunner to Fox’s Peter Pan & the Pirates. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox procured the idea.) Fox’s show I enjoy very much. More on that series some other time. But no Bōken proved to be just as appealing, despite the character design. However, it does veer from the original story in many ways. Normally that would bother me greatly. But on this front I am not entirely an ogre. After all, they are changing the medium of the tale. When that happens, rearrangements are often necessary. Among other alterations, they subtracted some Lost Boys, gave them a house amid a tree (calling to mind the Wendy house in the treetops at the end of Barrie's, of course, although they are supposed to live underground for the main text) and added a lot of extra story. In fact, it doesn’t even begin in quite the same way. Sure, Wendy is hoping that Pan will show up at her window. But here she and her brothers are dreaming about him, researching him in a book store, eating breakfast with the family and such. Later on, the final battle with Hook is a grand adventure through a booby trapped mountain (which is much better than it sounds).

The entire premise for the show revolves around the fact that the Darling children had many adventures in the Neverland that did not make it to the page. Adventures, of course, as we shall see, were of daily occurrence... To describe them all would require a book as large as an English-Latin, Latin-English Dictionary, and the most we can do is to give one as a specimen of an average hour on the island. Thus, creative folk have plenty of room for imagining other escapades. What struck me, though, is the time devoted to showing everyday life in the household. Besides being used as petty, cute filler until the adventure begins, whole sections give us the amazement of the Lost Boys at seeing Wendy-Mother making breakfast, washing dishes, sewing, etc. In short, it drives home the very notion of Home. It truly accentuates the irony that for these castaway boys surrounded by countless fun, the true curiosity and hold is what would have been mundane had they stayed on the mainland.

I loved how Peter Pan himself behaved. Not just his personality which they hit spot on, but his movements. Here you will find a Peter who stands on a ship’s mast and appear to fall only to quickly zip-curve around behind you. A Pan who sits crosslegged in midair. A Peter who jumps down and falls fast, then slow, then throws out his arms and legs and darts off another way. From his wayward flight paths to his subtle floats, his lovable obnoxious demeanor is beautifully translated by the writers, animators and voice actor. I should mention that this kind of attention to his, well, flighty motions happen in Peter Pan & the Pirates, too. And I adored them in it. But I noted that the Japanese did it first, and better. For those of you who will say that Disney’s Pan did this even before no Bōken, I say: Yes, true. But for me, not in quite the same way. I think no Bōken and Fox’s depiction of the controlled recklessness is far superior.

One aspect I found curious is the inability of anyone to fly in the Neverland except Peter Pan (and Tinker Bell, of course). A reason is given: Because in the Neverland there are too many other fun things to do than be able to fly. A trumped up reason, if you ask me. But I went along with it on the grounds that it proved a wonderful way to create tension and adventure. For instance, one cannot just fly across a raging river…one must brave jumping along the stones poking out of the water. But then, by the same token, Fox’s had them all flying and managed to create danger and excitement. However, no flying worked for this version.

I enjoyed their other interpretations as well, like the Neverland being an island in the sky. It’s easier to show you a picture:

It’s not correct, of course, but again, it’s a new way for a cartoon adaptation.
Rascal the Raccoon: another fun addition. Others exist, to be sure, but I won’t list them all.

I found myself loving this series. I truly wish to see the second half, especially since they introduce more characters, like an evil sorceress as a villain once Hook is gone. For those of you know me well, a pleasing Peter Pan is something of a rarity. Amazingly I like it even better than Fox’s. It does have foibles, but on the whole it captivated me. But I think Peter Pan no Bōken captures Barrie even more.

If you can find it, do give it whirl. I recommend it.
If we could combine the two shows into one? Dare to dream.

Disney's Boy Who Never Grew Up
P.J. Hogan's Boy Who Never Grew Up
The Silent Boy Who Never Grew Up

Fox's Boy Who Never Grew Up
...return to Japan's version of the Neverland
Peter Pan no Bōken - Not Entirely Broken

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Here, There Be Disappointment

I began a review of James A. Owen's Here, There Be Dragons in a previous post.
I finished the book a couple of days ago.
I came very close to closing the book before the end.
But if I had given up on it I would have missed wonderful moments within it – some unexpected turns of scenes.

Unfortunately these great bits did not outweigh the whole experience. I'm not impressed. I dare say that after a time, I found it slightly insulting. Ironically, the very concept that attracted me to the book is what stirred up the disenchantment. The idea that Tolkien, Lewis and Williams did not come up with their material on their own…that they crafted it based on a wild adventure in a magical realm. And it doesn’t stop there. You’ll find that Dickens, Poe, Dante, Shelley, Byron, Doyle, Verne, Hawthorne, Swift, Grimm (Jacob but not Wilhelm?), Brahe, Wells (who is the Time Traveler, apparently, though he doesn’t use his machine to help them? Or reveal and utilize his experience in the Keep of Time?), Spenser, Kepler, Dumas, Bacon, Andersen, Shakespeare, Twain…apparently all of these authors and more have no internal imaginations. They all simply wrote disguises of experiences they had in the Archipelago of Dreams. This bothers me…but I might be oversensitive. Oh. And then there’s this line about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: "Now, John,” Bert chided. “That’s just a story." I’m sorry…what? Dragons is a book about fantastical places, some specifically named from literature such as Lilliput. Yet Wonderland is merely a story? Could be meant as a joke. But then why not include Carroll among the esteemed? Plus, my all-too-obvious speculation from the previous post came out positive. Jamie does indeed refer to Barrie. The book claims that Barrie had been unable to handle the adventure of it and resigned his post as Caretaker of the "Imaginarium Geographica." Excuse me? Surely this is an insult? Also, it states that Barrie had been knighted. Barrie did not accept knighthood in 1909. But he became a Baronet in 1913. The Sir refers to baronetcy.

Besides these curiosities, remember how I said it became all too easy to see the parallels between the characters/places in this book to the authors' work? Such as the Winter King being a form of Jadis, the White Witch? Well, even this went on to annoyance. It’s one thing to refer to or homage elements from other tales. But to condense and squeeze as many as possible into one story for the sake of the premise quickly became tiresome. For instance, taking shadows from people (a la Peter Pan) by looking in a cauldron known as Pandora's Box (standard fantasy icon and Greek myth) resulting in dark, soul-less cloaked figures, slaves to their Master’s will (a la the Ringwraiths/Nazgul) loses its impact. It even has a Ring of Power with other rings given to dwarves, elves… Did I mention the Winter King wants said lost Ring of Power and has a hook on his right hand?

Plus, as I've already shown, it goes on to “borrow” from at least Greek mythology. Yes, I realize that Tolkien and Lewis used world mythologies. So it stands to reason to include them. But here the tales feel thrown together with the rest of it. Bible stories and Arthurian legend, too. Not that it’s wrong to use such things. One of my own works has elements of King Arthur. But to have it all jumbled together in a kind of Storybook Chex Mix?

All in all, I suppose it’s not exactly a bad book per se. The story is told well enough. And it did take some ingenuity to ransack and hodgepodge the great fantasies of the world into a single entity. As I said, at times it delighted with fun surprises. I just question the intention and the outcome. It didn’t warrant the rampant abuse of fiction.

For those of you who enjoyed the novel, I hope you don’t think less of me for my opinion. As my mother always tells me, “That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla.”

Friday, July 18, 2008

On the Shelf

If you live in the Chicago area, Quimby’s book store has a few copies of Peter Pan’s NeverWorld. Yes, as of Thursday, July 17 they have three being sold at $24.00 - cheaper than online! It’s extremely gratifying to have it in an actual store location rather than a virtual one. So hoof it on over and see if you can still get your hands on one. It's worth the trip, Quimby's is a great place. If they're all gone, a little fairy tells me that more will be supplied the store a later date. More shops may follow as well...

And yes, that's a picture of Quimby's itself. One's much bigger. ;)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Historical Type

A piece of history has gone on sale. The typewriter that Douglas Adams used to write his wonderful The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The full article is here. My favorite part of it is "With strange significance, the x key is particularly discolored and worn, which I hope will prompt someone to do a statistical breakdown of the frequency of letter x's in Adams' oeuvre." If I had the extra time for things such as that, I'd check it out myself.

I really love this series. There are too many delightful moments, scenes, passages and concepts. It's a pity about the movie. I will admit that I have not seen it. From watching the trailer and promotions, I sincerely doubted the makers of the movie had even read the books. For instance: Marvin the Paranoid Android (my favorite character) is specifically described as boxy/squarish/rectangle-like. Why is he round/bulbous/curvy in the film? Zaphod Beeblebrox's other head is on his shoulder, not in his stomach! Ugh. I just couldn't stomach it. A friend of mine (also a fan of the books) did see it and said he wanted to weep. Seems for every good adaptation of a novel, there is a bad one as well.

Well, try not to think about it. Instead think of Douglas (rest his soul!) clacking away, creating a masterpiece with such wacky sci-fi gadgets on such an "archaic" device. Bravo! 42.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

YATTA! Finally More Heroics

For those of you who like NBC’s Heroes, the WEBISODES have begun. A new one will appear every Monday. I liked this one, but somehow it lacked the caliber of the actual show. Watch the first one here: A Nifty Trick

If you navigate the NBC Heroes site, you can also find a sneak peek trailer for the upcoming season: Villains. All hail the return of the show.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pan Flies Nobly...

Barnes & Noble online now carries Peter Pan's NeverWorld at a discount for B&N members. Find it here.

Nothing to Hide in the Hood

A little while ago I posted that I am enjoying the BBC Robin Hood series.
I began to get curious about the origins of this tale. Just my natural inquisitiveness.

Since this new series fiddles with and adds new ideas to the story, I figured it would be good to know the source.

What I discovered I suppose I should have known, or at least realized. There is no “source” for the adventures of Robin Hood. It’s simply a folktale from way back. No one author wrote it that we can pinpoint. Just a tradition of telling the story and adding or changing things along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I did know that Robin Hood is a legend. I just figured that there would be a “definitive” version of the story, along the same lines as Le Morte d'Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory’s respected transcription of the King Arthur legend. Okay, yes, written forms (prior to “modern”) of Hood do exist. But these are merely the oldest surviving takes on the story, they did not define it any more than the telling of the legend itself.

The excellent part is that the story evolved. For example, originally Robin had been a simple peasant. Now his mythos includes him being the displaced Lord of Loxley/Locksley. Maid Marion did not originally appear and crept into the story. There are even more contemporary embellishments now widely accepted as part of it all.

Bart and I saw a fantastic original musical about Robin Hood. Unfortunately it happened many years ago and I do not recall the production company nor the playwright/composer. But our friend Lil’ Red played one of the Merry Men. I recall some of the lyrics: “Would you like to be a Merry Man? I sure would! I shur would!” and “Marion, my Marion…. Merry Man, my Merry Man….” Silly, yes, but in the “we know it is, so laugh along with us” way. The play opened with a minstrel saying he’d tell us the story of Robin Hood. It revolved around a guy who wanted the girl, but to do that he had to bring down the Sheriff’s tyranny. The minstrel helps him “become” Robin . Even here, Hood is a legend. He suggests that If you say you are he, then people will believe. Along the way minstrel helps things “happen” to give him the clout he needs. Quite a charming show.

Also, director Ridley Scott and writer Brian Helgeland are coming out with a movie called Nottingham in 2009. It takes a different approach. Its sympathies lie with the Sheriff, thwarted by the outlaw. It seems that Robin will be painted in a dark light. Not sure I like that idea, but then I admire the right and the gumption to do it.

As to whether or not a historical figure of Robin Hood ever existed, join the debate.

I find it rather refreshing that such a beloved character can have such an open status. In other words, having spent so much energy into preserving and upholding the facts of a creation whose creator is known, it’s nice to see something that belongs to everyone. One that for the most part, has been mutated but never destroyed. Okay, yes, I’m sure you know of a portrayal you did not care for. And we do have indisputed classic versions...need I even mention Errol Flynn? On the whole, Hood's popularity remains and his storyline develops and progresses.

Robin Hood is truly the stuff of legend.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Accusations Are Not Always Accurate

So this article popped up. Once again, the integrity and intentions of a man who worked children is being called into question. It makes some pretty startling accusations about our beloved Sir J. M. Barrie. I cannot speak fully on the veracity of what the article suggests. But I will say that I, for one, do not believe them. Yes, I had been fully aware of the “disturbing passages” and nature of The Little White Bird. I can’t say that a little alarm didn’t go off in my head as I read it. But then I remembered to see it with the vantage point of all the other information available. I agree with one of the ideas put forth in the article. Barrie did not try to elevate children to adult desires, rather he tried to return himself to their level.

As for the matter of Jenny/Jimmy (article will explain) I must say I wonder about this one. But perhaps here it is my adoration that does not want to think ill. Then again, have you ever seen Barrie’s handwriting? Maybe he didn’t read or copy it properly…misunderstandings do occur without motive.

I hope this article does not taint your view of the great man. As I said, I do not believe in his being lecherous. Not out of a blind love, but from having done research myself during my college credit Independent Study of Barrie.

Either way, his contributions to theatre and literature cannot be denied.
Furthermore, why are people so insistent on finding potential sickness behind the artists of the past? Doesn't that say something more about the current state of mind than theirs?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A -bit- of a Drag...

I’ve begun reading a book I’ve had on my shelf for a long time. I bought it because upon hearing the premise, it stirred curiosity. I believe I had been reading one or more of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones (author of Howl's Moving Castle) at the time. Eventually the book became one of the daily fixtures that barely get noticed.

But I recently read what is contained within the sequel to this book, which made me after all this time, reach for Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen. The story revolves around Jack, John and Charles who find themselves in possession of a magical book and thrust into an adventure into the Archipelago of Dreams to stop the Winter King. The twist is that these gentleman are none other than C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Williams. It’s based on the fact that they were all Oxford men, so what if they all met, had a supernatural adventure and returned to write fantastic tales? Intriguing.

Even more intriguing is that I find myself reading another book that fictionalizes real people.

What I read that prompted me to pick it up, finally, is that reportedly J. M. Barrie and Peter Pan himself are in the next book, The Search for the Red Dragon. All right. Now I have to be involved in reading it.

First let me say that Barrie is already alluded to in this first novel: Jamie, who liked playacting in Kensington Gardens. Who else could it be?

I am not wholly impressed so far, but then I am not wholly disappointed either. There are some rather overused conventions coming together to make this tale occur. A stormy night, a mysterious stranger, a sudden upheaval into another world… Not that these elements can’t be used effectively. But here they seem a bit too contrived to create a fairy tale . Perhaps this is part of the goal. To make our own world feel and seem as if it could turn into a fairy tale at any given moment. A concept dear to my heart, as my profile indicates. But here it doesn’t yet feel cohesive. I’m too aware of the conventions. Maybe it just lacks atmosphere. Perhaps I would feel more immersed and willing if it did not go so quickly. Rapid action has its time and place, too, of course. But here these elements here just don’t seem to mesh.

Also, it’s a bit obvious where and how the story pieces from the three authors are woven into their adventure. For instance, the Winter King obviously becomes Jadis, the White Witch and Ruler of Narnia for a century. Forced, perhaps.

And then there is the, for me, gratuitous use of literary characters. For example, what should sail up and along to help them out in a dire situation at sea? Verne’s Nautilus, complete with Captain Nemo. He exists in the Archipeligo of Dreams because….well…anything can….actually, I’m not really sure. That aspect hasn’t fully explained to satisfaction.

But I am not disliking enough that I’m not turning pages. The premise is still fun. It may be too early to judge. I am only going into Chapter Six of Twenty-Four. A lot can happen in that time. I’ll see where it leads and get back to you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fathom This...

Let’s say you’re a writer gaining notoriety. You write under a very clever pen name. But your real name is Pat. You have a best friend whose name is Kris. You write about your marvelous childhood adventures. Embellished for greater effect, of course. It’s a grand tale. However, in this story you refer to yourself as Kris and call Kris by the name of Raspy instead. Er…sure…
A little odd, no? Stealing your best friend’s name and bestowing such a weird replacement moniker? Believe it or not, this actually happened. No, not with you and ol’ Raspy.

The writer of notoriety is none other than Mark Twain (the clever pen name…if you don’t know why it’s clever, there’s a research project for you) also known as Samuel Clemens. The childhood escapades are, naturally, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Now for the odd part. The best friend of Tom is called, as you know, Huck. Here’s the truth of the matter. “Huckleberry” in real life had the name of Tom Blankenship. But in the story, Sam named himself Tom and called Tom…well, you know. If you’re like me, tidbits like this are a puzzle and delight. It’s more than a little odd. Perhaps there are circumstances of which I am not aware…maybe Blankenship wanted to be named after a wild bush fruit.

Otherwise, I just shake my head. Don’t get me wrong. Could the names Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn be any better? Maybe that in and of itself, is the reason. Either way, it’s both compelling and bizarre.

I could look it up further, but I think I like being perplexed by it. If you happen to be able to shed light on the matter, please feel free to do so.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pan-o-rama Perception

Now that I have gotten over the wide-eyed thrill of seeing my book appear for sale on Amazon, I suppose I have to get back to work...and posting.

Not that I have been relaxing. But I certainly haven't been posting.
Plenty of work lies ahead on promoting the novel and I've been attending to that.

From the current reading of the poll on this site, about half as many of you said No, you would not go with Pan. I only know of one of the rationales for this response, which admittedly to me seems a bit curious. Perhaps you're frightened of what the Neverland (or NeverWorld, for that matter) would hold? Or is the thought of his putting up with his cockiness just too much to bear? Frankly, I'd like to know. :)

So, in the meantime, I leave it up to you. Tell me:
What does Peter Pan mean to you? What do you think about the fantasy of Sir J. M. Barrie?
For example: Maybe you think Peter Pan is foolish for his forever-fun pursuits? Or that Wendy should have stayed with him? Do you tend to flit with the fancy of it or gravitate toward the more grave aspects? Are there re-interpretations you particularly enjoy? (Such as that Pan could be a vampire. [Think about it if you haven't...comes to your window, never ages, flies] The Lost Boys developed around this concept, by the way.) Anything you've always wanted to pontificate or rant about the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up? How do you perceive the story?
Now's your chance!
Don't worry, you won't be judged.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Word (or Two) of Thanks

I want to extend deep gratitude to everyone who assisted in making Peter Pan's NeverWorld fly. You all know who you've endured me incessantly babbling about Peter Pan, plaguing you with updates and asking opinions for too many years. I hope I didn't drive you as insane as Pan did Hook. You've tirelessly lent me your ears, your contacts, your views, your support and your time.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Time to CROW !!!!!


Yes, online distributors have put my novel up for sale.
Other distributors should follow soon.
Distributor prices may vary.

Rediscover Sir J. M. Barrie's wonderful boy
in the adventure he left unwritten.

You may purchase it HERE!

First Interview!

At Gaia Online, one can find the Peter Pan Guild, the first and only guild on the site dedicated to Sir J. M. Barrie's classic. Musapan, Captain and moderator, contacted me for an interview. The questions are pooled from Guild members.
To visit the Peter Pan Guild, click here. To go directly to the interview, click here or on the sidebar graphic.
Thanks to Musapan and the entire Peter Pan Guild for their interest and postings about me and Peter Pan's NeverWorld.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Good Explosion Day.

Here's a different sort of explosion to celebrate the 4th of July.
Vera Exploding Straws

Happy happy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I just learned (sorry if I am out of the loop here) that the current mission to the Red Planet has a project dubbed "Peter Pan." It's going to be 360° panoramic shot of the area around the Mars Lander. It's named for the mission's principal investigator (and in keeping with the fanciful names used by the Phoenix team for interesting objects at the landing site). This is quoted from the blog, Marscope. Thanks for the info, Hugues Le Roy!

Misbehave? Down, Austin!

Last night Bart and I attended Ain't Misbehavin' at the Goodman Theatre.
Though it did not blow me away, it provided a great time.
Very strong voices, great dance routines, top notch music and a delightful set.

On the way home, Bart spotted Dragonfly and Tall Boy in a "greasy spoon" from the cab window.
This time the serendipity isn't so amazing, as Tall Boy lives merely blocks away from us and the diner isn't even a whole block away. Bart had an omelete. I ate his (unwanted) hash browns and had a root beer float. We misbehaved. Just a little...all in fun.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Old Saying, New Twist III

Don’t judge a movie by its poster.

When I first saw the (ridiculously large) poster for Will Smith in Hancock, it looked like another “I’m tryin’ to get out of the Hood so I can make good, but I just need to do this one last ‘job’ and then I’m out…” film. Many months later, the trailer showed up in front of a movie we went to see. It’s something completely else…something I want to see. I don’t expect it to be more than a “summer fun” movie. If it does have more substance, so much the better. I'll probably post a review.

Old Saying, New Twist I
Old Saying, New Twist II
Old Saying, New Twist IV
Old Saying, New Twist IV.ii
Old Saying, New Twist IV.iii

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Addressing the Calendar Salad Tossed by Caesar

So starts July.
For Julius Caesar.
August is next, for Augustus Caesar.
And he’s the one who messed up the calendar.
He did.
He wanted himself and ol’ Jules to have the nice warm months named after them.
Sounds okay, sure, but look what he did in his arrogance.
September is from Septe, or seven.
October is from Octo, or eight.
November is from Nove, or nine.
September is now the ninth month?
And we just accept this?