Thursday, October 30, 2008

By the time you read this...

I will have already traveled to my college Homecoming.

I'm actually not very big on such events. But this year marks a couple of exceptions.

First, it's my 15 year reunion from college. You know that ol', has it really been?

Well, it has. So it seemed like a good time to actually "come home."

Also, I will be participating in the Faculty/Alumni Book Signing.

My first book signing! Granted, it's not exactly a "proper" one, but I'm quite pleased. Especially since Peter Pan's NeverWorld grew out of my college Honors Project. I like to think that if it were not for the opportunities given me at Knox College, I wouldn't have the books to be signed.

So please excuse my absence for the time being. For I will be haunting my Alma Mater through Sunday, November 2. It's very possible that I may chime in now and then. It's not like I won't have access to a computer. I'll be staying with my buddy Laughter, a Theatre professor at Knox (also an Alum). So, until Sunday... or sooner. Perhaps I'll feel the need to rave about the theatre production, Tartuffe. Or maybe I'll say how the book signing went...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Amost Halloween - Go Ahead and Spirinate!

In this post I talk about coining a word. Recently I'd been filling out one of those "Get to Know Me Questionnaires" that circulate in emails. One of the questions prompted me to remember something silly my friends and I made in high school. In fact, this recollection is what caused me to plunder the pile of paper that spawned the recent entry about my Isaac Asimov notes.

We kept a dictionary of words we had either invented ourselves or liked in particular from various sources, such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. We called it Xavier's Dictionary. By no means is it something to reckon with, but it proved fun at the time and has provided me with some memories as well as a few chuckles after all these years.

The first word in the (non-alphabetized) list of "new" words is actually the one I remembered while doing the questionnaire. Some of the better entries include:

Flune - n. a huge swarm

Tickatoid - n. the little spark and ping by shiny surfaces on cartoons

Squench - v. 1. to lessen the value of by damaging 2. to shrink

Unpidorous - adj. (OON-pih-door-us) word to say "If I tried to describe it, I woldn't do justice to it."

Spirinate - v. to make a sound like the creatures on Scooby-Doo cartoons

Puffae-a-Pae - n. 1. a pastry-type thing that is not a real pastry, if pastry is defined as a sweet, dessert-type thing covered with dough 2. the pooky face you use to call home on the Atari 2600 video game of E.T.

Unlike my recent attempt to discern the actual etymological ramifications of the word coined, these were conceived and defined on a whim. I'm bringing all this up in a "Oh what silly fun" kind of way, not to suggest that any of these are viable additions to the language. Although I am rather fond of the word that's handwritten in the scan.

I did discover that I still use one of the words from Xavier's Dictionary in my everyday life:

Chartoon - n. a cartoon of a person, a type of caricature.

My drawing of myself is an example of a chartoon. It's not specifically a caricature because it does not utlitize exaggerated features in that way. It's not exactly a cartoon for it depicts someone real. Another good example: The Beatles in Yellow Submarine.

Xavier's Dictionary is nowhere near an unpidorous, but it's at the very least "splendifferous."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh, the Gravity!

Usually I am first to hear (okay, not really) about the shenanigans and dealings in Hollywood. I haunt quite a few websites that have become my staples for such infomation. From these, I hear just about everything.

Well, Sunshine bested me... and about one of my favorites, too!

The Graveyard Book will be a movie! Hosah!

Say a little "prayer" that it's done the justice it deserves!
Gaiman is producing and allegedly "sheparding" it along.

Here's the link that Sunshine sent me: HOSAH!

If you haven't seen my previous post which will help explain why I'm so excited, it's here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taking Note of My Notes...

Hey guess what! I’d been rummaging through a box of archives (a fancy name for a bunch of paper-related ‘junk’ I’ve amassed) and I came across something quite fun. And possibly valuable. Way back in this post, I spoke about how I had attended a lecture by Sci-Fi master Isaac Asimov. I met him briefly afterward, too, and obtained his autograph. Actually, I had him sign the notes I took during his talk.
So I’ve scanned it in to share it.

The top left part has some pretty standard advice, no? But the one line is rather unexpected. “never revise unless told.” I suppose when you’re Isaac Asimov that can be true…but how interesting is it that he passed the notion along to aspiring authors? I revise on my own anyway. I mean, who doesn’t? Perhaps he meant once the manuscript is “done.” I’m not sure at this point, as I took the notes long ago.

In the middle there you can see the bit of advice which I specifically recalled and posted about.

I particularly like “short sentences and words when they will do.” I find myself following this suggestion in the novel I’m currently writing. Or at least it seems so to me.

I believe that big X with society and plot on either side is supposed to mean that he said to make sure to keep the “world” of your book in conjunction with the plot. Maybe? It’s a shame I didn’t take better notes. But underneath that part is a wealth of good recommendations as to how to deal with the proverbial “Writer’s Block.” It seems that I follow his sagely wisdom. Perhaps it sunk in all those years ago. You can find out what else I do to chop at the block in my interview with The Gaia Peter Pan Guild.

All righty. I hope you enjoy seeing my notes (whoop-de-do) but more especially, Mr. Asimov’s John Hancock.
You can click on it to make it full size.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rock Me, Amadeus! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Bart and I were at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater tonight. However, we did not see a tale from the Bard. Each season they produce a work by other playwrights. For instance, a Moliere play. But tonight we saw Amadeus by Peter Schaffer.

I had seen the movie. Many times. I even saw its re-release in the movie theater. It's truly a remarkable film. Naturally being able to see the source, the play, appealed to me greatly. For that I had not seen. Nor had I read it. Bart has read it, but tonight premiered it live for him as well.

It did not disappoint. As I knew, the stage version is a different from the cinema. However, Peter Shaffer also penned the screenplay. From that standpoint, it proved interesting to see what cuts he made and how he chose to expand it. For example, the scene where Amadeus replicates and improves Salieri's welcoming march. In the play, Mozart does not add his flourishes and tweaks until after the Emperor and others have gone. But Salieri is still around, of couse. Characters were cut and likewise introduced. Entire scenes, as well. Of course. Though expected, it still proved fascinating to see his choices in being able to "open it up" and re-explore.

But back to Chicago Shakespeare, they consistently deliver a marvelous show. Though always wonderful, this time the costumes alone were applause-worthy. My word! Impeccably period, with details rich and colorful. Truly artistic and accurate with welcome exaggerated hints now and then. The "corker" for me, however, had been that each Mozart and Salieri had many different outfits! By which I mean the costumes were so gorgeous that one look for each man would have sufficed for the evening. But to have a few exquisitely crafted pieces? Each? Bravo!

It is, of course, really Salieri's story. So you need a very strong actor to carry the monologue heavy show. Robert Sella had us all taking note from the moment he shouted, "MOZART!" And it's his Chicago Shakespeare debut. Bravo! But then, without a strong mischievous master musician for him to play against...and sure enough Robbie Collier Sublett provided one. It's his debut for this esteemed ( 2008 Regional Theatre Tony Award Winner) theatre company as well. Bravo! Also, I must say that both gentleman made the roles their own. They did not remind me in the least of the film version. And yet I fully believed and accepted them as their characters. Fantastic. Thank you, sirs! And of course, thank you to the whole cast. Honestly, everyone is superb. The performance we attened received an immediate standing ovation.

All in all, though, I believe I like the movie better. Perhaps because I saw it first. But I do not mean to belittle the play. It achieves a level that the movie never could, simply by being the magic of live theatre. And it's extremely well done (both script and CST's staging). I enjoy them both. But if I had to choose, I'd pick the movie. Maybe just because for what it can achieve in terms of opulence and location that the stage cannot. One's best bet is to see both. :)

Bart and I had an unexpected treat, albeit at someone else's expense. At intermission, a woman asked me "How many are in your party? Is it just the two of you?" She gave us their seats because her mother did not feel well and they had to leave. Bart and I have wonderful seats from our Season Tickets. We're in the last row, just a step off center to the left. Last row, however, of a very small section. CST is quite inimtate. The seats we inherited for the evening? Front row, right on the ailse. Thus, we enjoyed the powerful second act even closer to the action. Actors stood literally right next to us in the thick of the scene. It also meant I could examine those intricate costumes. Thank you, kind woman, whoever you are! I hope your mother is feeling better.

If you're in the Chicago area, I highly recommend the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's staging of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, directed by Gary Griffin. Bravo! It runs through November 9.

"Well-there it is." - Emperor Joseph II

*The pictures I use I obtained from the CST website. For those concerned, I mean no harm in reposting them, I only am doing so to promote their amazing show. The photo is by Michael Brosilow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bubble, bubble, toil and....what's the Trouble?

It’s a shame when parents take interest in their kids’ work, isn’t it?

I came across this article about Robert Grandt, a librarian fined for promoting a book his daughter helped create. Apparently it is his job to display and recommend great new books. This one, a manga version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, he touted as a great resource not only for fun but also in terms of art and re-packaging the classics to stir up interest in those who might have otherwise ignored them.

While I do think it’s more than a bit extreme to say “Best Book Ever Written,” I do not agree with the decision to reprimand him for displaying it. Especially since the claim that his daughter would receive royalties from the promotion is false. Grandt gave copies away for free to those who showed interest.

It’s pretty sad when a father can’t say “Hey, look what my daughter did!” in public.

Could the Weird Sisters have predicted this story?
Strangely enough, Bart and I were discussing Macbeth at the opera the other night. Yes, we made sure to refer to it as "The Scottish Play."

Now, altering Shakespeare into a sophisticated comic book…that’s a separate issue altogether!
(The last statement is made in complete jest!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lil' Hiatus

I've been busy researching, writing and "fighting with characters."
Nothing in particular has presented itself to prattle on about.
Last night Bart and I attended the Lyric Opera and saw The Pearl Fishers, by Georges Bizet. He's the one who composed Carmen, which I'm sure you're familiar with even if you don't know that you are. Exquisite music and singing, but the story is a little much. But it's ok, as melodrama and Dickensian coincidence abound in opera.
And today is my anniversary.

So please forgive my slight absence.

Is there anything anyone wants to hear about?
Sunshine, I know your suggestion already. :)
And as I said, I just feel that the information you seek is best left for those who have already read Peter Pan's NeverWorld. I don't want the secrets of its secrets spoiled for those who have yet to delve into the adventure.
I shall return...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I didn't really intend to post about Heroes again. I really didn't.

But you see, I had joked with Sunshine about how "funny" it would be if the show especially "rocked" this time. I had said that if it did, I would make a post entitled "Heroyo-yos." Well, let me yell you, I laughed, gasped, hmmm'd, cheered, silenced and applauded. Just me. Nobody else is here, I'll freely admit, I applauded.

Season 3 has certainly been a Yo-Yo of a ride.
But fortunately this yo-yo knows how to do tricks.

I don't think I could stop watching if I tried.
Bravo Tim Kring and his writing team! Bravo to the actors and crew! Okay.
Let's hope the posts about it stop. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

54 Years Ago Today...

By the way, on this date in 1954, Peter Pan: The Musical opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York.

I'll have more to say about the production when I get around to posting
"Mary Martin's Boy Who Never Grew Up."

Although I will say right now that it's 'pretty darn cool' the musical took flight 50 years after the original play.

A Little from My Wrtiting World

Over the weekend two sparks for novels struck me.
But - I can only remember one.
But the other, I know, is tucked safely away in pixels on my Magic Box.
Thank goodness I write ideas down.
However, they’re going to be put on the backburner for now, as there is already too much on my stove.
I must finish the novel I am working on…as I am not about to abandon yet another character for a louder one. This has happened. Jeremy Strache could not be silenced and the main character of another series of mine had to be put on hold. I’d been about halfway through the second novel in the series, too. Fortunately these kernels for books do not have any specific characters formed yet.
Once I complete this current book, I believe I shall return to the aformentioned series and have a go at book three. (There are four novels.) Not to mention another book I put on hold for an entirely different reason. I miss those kids! But I’ll get back to them. They’ll stay on hiatus, for it's one of the books that behooves me to write chronologically and I can’t do that for again for a little while! Three chrono-books in a row is too much!

At least I know I am in good company. I spent a little bit of the weekend looking into Neil Gaiman regarding The Graveyard Book. It seems he wrote chapter four first. So I'm not insane for writing out of sequence. Plus, he had been sitting on the idea for a couple of decades or so. He said he had to let it grow, and that he did not feel his writing skills hitherto allowed him to write it properly.

Usually my desktop picture is a scene or picture of one or more of my characters, either in drawing or photograph form. It helps to see them [metaphorically] greeting you, beckoning you to write more or being pleased that you committed some of their adventure to paper.
But right now, my desktop features the illustrations of Dave McKean. He’s the artist whose work graces the pages of The Graveyard Book. Yes, that’s how much I want to keep reminding myself of Gaiman’s masterpiece.

If you’re not familiar with how I have photographs of fictional characters, I talk about that here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

GRAVy! (Sorry...sorry...couldn't resist!)

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is the best novel I’ve read in ages. I cared about his characters in a way that brought back memories of loving my own. I don’t mean that in any conceited way. It’s just that as you can imagine, your own characters become very dear to you. Gaiman’s creations brought me that same thrill, a sheer love for them and their well-being. The plot is simple, but compelling. It’s pure woven magic. Part of what makes it great is that the dangers are not grandiose troubles affecting the world. And yet, the danger is very real and very palpable for the characters. Since I adored the characters, I shared the immediacy of their formidable challenges and adversaries. But the thing is: It feels like one of those giant world-saving adventures.

It’s the story of Nobody Owens, the boy brought up in a graveyard. I really don’t want to tell you too much more about it. It’s best to just enter the world yourself. I did mention a little bit more in my first post when I bought it. Suffice to say that it ends up as fantastic tale of digging up the truth and burying that which should be dead, all with a charm as desirable as the dream of sleep.

I learned before I began to read it that it is a sort of play on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. I thought it might have been nice not to have that information and wished I hadn't discovered it. Then why am I telling you? Because I’d been wrong. Knowing this fact does not detract in any way from enjoying the book. It only enhances the “flavor” of it. In fact, Gaiman has Acknowledgements at the end where he tells you himself about the creation of the book. Thank you, Mr. Gaiman, for including it. I found it delightful.

And more so, thank you for your book.
It’s one for the favorites shelf.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mary Pan-ins?

I had promised in my post about P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins that I would tell you which part of it seemed very Barrie-like.

You might recall that the Disney movie eliminated two of the Banks children. As I said in the post, it’s understandable. They’re babies and don’t have much to do with the rest of it. Well, in the book, John and Barbara Banks have one chapter practically all to themselves:
John and Barbara’s Story

And what do they do in their chapter? Quite the magical pursuits. Or perhaps they are not so magical. It depends on your perception. You see, since they are babies, they have a natural talent that is beyond our scope as grown-ups. To be more precise, they are even more advanced than children.
I don’t believe I’ll ever understand Grown-ups. They all seem so stupid. And even Jane and Michael are stupid sometimes.
What makes John and Barbara superior? They converse with not only a Starling, but also the likes of sunlight* and Wind. Already this situation is akin to Barrie. Although Peter Pan doesn’t talk to sunshine, he does speak to birds. But he very well may be able to PLAY sunshine on his pipes.

Mary Poppins (who understands the chatter of the babies, mind you) explains to them that Jane and Michael at one time could understand the sunlight and trees and stars. Peter Pan can talk to stars, too.
But–how is it that they’ve forgotten it all? asks John. Mary Poppins explains. Because they’ve grown older.
John and Barbara consider it a stupid reason and vow to never forget how to talk to Starling and the rest of Nature. The bird and Poppins inform them that alas, forgetting is inevitable. They argue, of course, to no avail. Then, as part of his “sorry but no” speech, Starling says: There never was a human being that remembered after the age of one – at the very latest – except, of course, Her.° The babies naturally ask: Why not her? The Starling replies: She’s different. She’s the Great Exception.

Quite intriguing. Travers does not elaborate. We’re left to wonder the wherefore of that, too. I don’t expect to have an answer. Nor do I feel she should have given us one. It’s part of the mystery of Mary Poppins. We already know she’s a magical woman. In this case an explanation would ruin the fun. Thus, she is like Peter Pan in this way, too. Peter is the other Great Exception, if such a thing is possible. Of course, they are different stories, so each is an exception unto their own world.

Do not misconstrue that I am claiming some sort of umbrage at the similarities between the works. On the contrary, I am pointing it out because I find it delightful.

Let’s hope that at one time we understood birds and trees, too.

*Curiously, Travers did not capitalize sunlight, but did so with the Starling and Wind.
° Travers capitalizes it, but not later on the page when also referring to Mary in conversation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Legend WILL Continue...

I just read that Nintendo is, in fact, working on another Legend of Zelda game to be released on the Wii.
May I say: HOSAH!

I'm damn excited. One can never get enough Zelda.

Perhaps you say, "Well, had it not been inevitable?" Probably, but not necessarily. For there is no guarantee that they would not have just rode the success of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and waited to present their latest installment on their next console entirely.

Then again, there is also no guarantee that they won't just do that anyway. LoZ: TP had been promised for Xmas, then Spring, late Summer, Fall, Xmas, Spring, late Summ...for about 3 years. I could be wrong on the exact amount of time. But I don't feel like looking it up. Because it is moot for it certainly felt longer. Eventually they delayed it so much that it appeared on the the next console, Wii. (A Gamecube version had also been released, but then, who wouldn't want the Wii controls with it?) Consider also that when the Gamecube itself had been just a "coming soon" they showed us the Zelda of our dreams...a rendered, more realistic looking adventure (shown on right). We expected one soon after launch.

And then....after DELAYS from hell, they presented Link looking like a Powerpuff Girl in The Wind Waker. (Don't get me wrong, The Wind Waker turned out to be a GREAT game and the cel-shading worked beautifully and fluidly to become a "living" cartoon. But after "promising" the 'real' one...)

So, let's hope that this time the delay is minimal or non-existent. And Jeepers! Just imagine swinging Link's sword with 1:1 motion control. (In Twilight Princess although it certainly "rocked" to be able to actually swing your sword, it made no difference which direction or how fast you did so. Link would go through the same cycle of motions.)

For those of you too young to remember what Zelda started as, take a look. Quite a difference from the Twilight Princess, no?
Okay... I'll shut up. But the promise of new Zelda is ALWAYS a good thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Take Your PIX?

So here’s what I’m wondering.
The House of Mouse’s latest “line” is Disney’s Fairies. The Tinker Bell movie is the newest addition to books and toys and such that have already been unleashed. The movie would have been out sooner, but production issues abounded. What makes me scratch my head is that according to Disney, Tink is a pixie. I’ve already expressed my displeasure at this change. There’s no need for it, really. But you would think they could stay consistent, wouldn’t you? Why, then, is it not Disney’s Pixies? Someone needs to be slapped. (Said in jest.)

What’s the difference?
You’ll of course find a great deal of mixed beliefs and characteristics, due to folkloric storytelling over the years. But there are some common, notable distinctions. Pixies are considered much more mischievous than fairies. (And Disney’s newest batch are anything but mischievous…not counting the “mean” character.) Pixies are often much bigger than fairies. They have pointed ears and wear green outfits with red caps. (Sure, Disney gave Tink a green outfit…but then, Barrie does have her dressed in a skeleton leaf.) With Disney’s drawing, it’s difficult to tell if Tink has pointed ears or if it’s just the way her hair lays. (Peter Pan does though, which bothers me. He’s not elvin.) Generally pixies do not have wings. One could argue that fairies did not always have them in stories, either. But now it’s more than a bit iconic for them to have them.

Which…would make Tinker Bell a fairy. Which she is.

So, Disney, make up your mind.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Might Be Dead...But Yet It Lives

Heroes? Well, if last night’s episode aired last week, I would have canceled my subscription. Again character choices bothered me, entire clumps seemed hackneyed in the true sense (beyond the revitalized clichés they provided before) and it lacked the lure I’d come to rely on in other seasons. There had been episodes where I could not contain my enthusiasm, crammed with satisfaction over its well-made action and information and coolness packed into it. And then… I would realize most of the episode remained. Honestly. It would seem like a full episode in 5 or 10 minutes. Not so last night. Quite the opposite. Half the show had gone and I kept waiting for the good part. However, I will not be able to stop watching at this point. Even though I once again feel like they’ve strayed from the path, I’m too far along to quit. Now there are things I must know. I have to say I’m glad this Villains arc will only last for half the season. Perhaps with the new arc they can pull themselves back out of the dirt and be as feisty as Adam Monroe had been in the same situation. I’d hate to see it remain as plastic and badly formed as these action figures.

Also, it felt like I kept seeing it everywhere, so I picked up Neil Gaiman’s latest novel, The Graveyard Book. I’m enjoying it. Gaiman invites us into a story where a little boy is raised in a graveyard with ghosts and (it would seem) a zombie or vampire as companions and teachers. [Not sure about the zombie/vampire just yet…he’s toying with us on that one so far.] After the first chapter, I wondered where in the world he could go with this premise. Leave it to Gaiman… I’m in the midst of intrigue and adventure. As always, I’ll give a report when I’ve completed it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

He Wanted a Home...We Gave Him Our Hearts

The Endearing Bear from Darkest Peru

As Google will show you, today is the 50th Anniversary of the release of the first book about Paddington Bear. Another one of the literary legends to come out of London.
His creator, Michael Bond, is still with us and in fact just released a new Paddington adventure Paddington Here and Now.

I remember reading at least one of the Paddington Books as a kid. I probably read them all. I had a box set. But I do know he'd been one of my favorite stuffed animals at the very least. Mine even had the rain boots.

Look in the back left of this picture of the bronze statue in Paddington Station. It's a sad sign of the times, no? Well, at least a mythological character is their logo, so maybe it's not such an invasion. Maybe it's a testament to this adorable little critter that he has endured to see such a sign.

So, bravo, Michael Bond. Thanks for one of the cutest bears we know!

*I apologize for the overly sappy title of this post.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Dare You to Visit...

It’s about time to watch a scary movie to summon and instill the Spirit of Halloween.

My recommendation is The Changeling. No, not the Clint Eastwood thriller starring Angelina Jolie written by J. Michael Straczynski which comes out this month. The Peter Medak haunting starring George C. Scott from a story by Russell Hunter.

The Changeling scares me more than any other fright flick. Sure, I’ve experienced the willies from other movies. But in terms of a cohesive whole, I believe The Changeling has more bang.

And banging is just one of the unsettling aspects of the house in the movie. I’m not going to bother to relay the plot to you. It’s standard ghost story fare…except expertly crafted. It balances psychological terror and “jump-out-at-you” without relying on either too heavily. An element of mystery abounds, as George C. Scott endeavors to know what event happened in the house. It’s giving me the creeps thinking about it now.

I’d been peripherally aware of the film, but first gave it notice at a Halloween party. Well, a little. Due to the lively party, the television merely provided an eerie glow to the festivities. Attention waned, drawing us in every so often. Then, during Winter Break, I saw it scheduled as “The Million Dollar Movie” after the 11 o’Clock News. Remembering it seemed quite good, I decided I should pay it full attention. I didn’t sleep very well that night. Then, a year later, during Winter Break, what should be scheduled as “The Million Dollar Movie” right after the 11 o’Clock News? Yes, you guessed right. Since I did not have cable, my choices were slim. So I opted to watch it again. My rationale? “It’s a great film. I’ve seen it before, so I won’t be scared this time if I know what’s coming. I can pick up nuances.” Well, I very quickly learned. The movie is more frightening the second time around. You see, once you know what that banging sound IS, you’re hard pressed to not be in knots inside. And since the rest of it is downright creepy, your chills are only blanketed with gloom. Yep, it’s worse (in the good way) upon another viewing.

I also noticed a filming technique which escaped me the first time around. Perhaps I’m slow for not having realized it, but there is something about the way it’s filmed which…yes, you guessed right…makes it even scarier. Do forgive me not stating said technique. Trust me, you really want to figure it out on your own.

To be fair, I have known people to not be affected by this movie. So please don’t hold it against me if you’re not impressed. But if you do decide to give it a whirl, please, do so under the right conditions. Such as in the dark, late at night, maybe even alone. As I did. Twice. And allow yourself into the story…if I’m right it will engage you right off the bat.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

View the Interview!

Guess what – someone actually asked me to talk about myself.
Yes, I’ve been interviewed again.

C.J. Redwine, the author of not only the witty and wacky site The Last Word but also the upcoming novel Shadowing Fate, took an interest in me and my work with Peter Pan.
So go ahead and see what queries she put forth… maybe she asked something you wanted to know yourself.

And while you’re at it, keep a tab to visit her musings, too.

I know I’m eagerly awaiting more from her. You can read the first chapter of Shadowing Fate here.

You can find the interview here. Thanks, C.J.!

If you want more after hearing my responses, or if you have not already read my first interview, there is a “button” on the left.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Get 'Lost'

I’ll start off by saying neither Peter Pan nor Alice show up in this woven tale beyond the degree of how I have already mentioned in the first post here. Too bad. I didn’t expect them to be a major part of the story. But from what I had heard, I suppose I expected more of a tie in or a featuring of them. But it matters little, for the novel is quite good. As one would expect from Gregory Maguire. The way the literature of Barrie and Carroll [and Dickens and Lewis and Travers and Bond and Milne and Grahame and …] are woven into it is quite satisfying as it stands anyway. Often merely mentions, but ever so poignant.

Lost is the tale of a writer who is trying to hammer out a new novel (her first book not for children). She travels to London to visit with her cousin and soak up some local flavors. For the would-be main character of her planning-stages-going-nowhere novel, Wendy, is obsessed with the unsolved mystery of the horrendous Jack the Ripper. But when Winifred (the writer) arrives, she finds mystery of her own. Her cousin John has vanished without a trace. Two odd (in personality) construction workers are doing work on his home, or actually, not. They’re spooked by a tapping in the wall. John’s home has been in his and Winifred’s family for generations. It’s allegedly the house of the man whom Dickens fictionalized into Ebenezer Scrooge. Hence, Winnie is a descendant of “Scrooge” – if the family stories are to be believed. Winnie gets caught up in the belief that the house is haunted, meets many strange neighbor folk and tries frantically to make sense of the situation: the disappearance of John, the supernatural presence and the mess she’s made of her life. This “mess” is of course, revealed gradually throughout the novel.

A rather fun touch is some of the novel appears in a font not unlike typewriter style. These passages are like the bits of Wendy’s story that Winnie has committed to paper. Or are they more than that?

Maguire does a wonderful job with the overall creepiness. He keeps you wondering all the way. Sometimes when you get an answer, it’s a tad disappointing. “Oh…is that all it is?” But immediately it’s replaced with another (sometimes supernatural) curiosity to pique. As Alice remarks, Curiouser and curiouser! So for every “answer” received, new questions arise. Just how I like a story to go. Then... it took a very corny turn. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s the sort of thing to make the eyes roll. Fortunately I rolled right along with it… for Maguire skillfully pulls it out from “this is just silly” and pushes it into a spin. A spin, or take perhaps, which shakes what you thought you knew of such situations. He’s pushed it beyond the surface and into the story, so that it brings about intense questions. Questions which go along with the very title of the piece. How much is every truly Lost? And what can be regained? Scrooge?

It’s intriguing, fun and peppered with eerie. I love Maguire’s dense prose. Once you’re in the thick of it, it surrounds you. It’s evident that he’s totally immersed in his worlds and demands nothing less of you.

I didn’t fail to notice this book also has a bit of the “fictionalize real people” element to it. It just doesn’t sit write (ha!) with me. At least here it is rather mild, unlike Rodrigo Fresán’s Kensington Gardens.

Lost is an odd book. But it’s also an expertly compiled hodgepodge of “lost” characters in every sense of the word. Worth the read. Bravo Maguire!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Don't Know Zip"

You might recall from my last post that my feelings on Heroes: Villians had turned quite grim.

Of the people I know who watch, I met with divided reactions. Many of them said they enjoyed it and still had faith. Just as many sided with me. I dared to call them Zeroes.

Well, last night reminded me that a bunch of zeroes in the right place becomes increasingly desirable. I should have known they’d have a lot in the bank. And I confess, I am ready to invest. It is as if every bum hand they dealt turned over its next card and revealed BlackJack. A kind of symmetry amid the splattered mess. And the endearing touches returned…such as Peter Petrelli picking up the original painting of Claire in trouble.

So far I’m glad I didn’t just dismiss the show. But I’ve done so before with other programs and never regretted the decision. I had it in my mind that last night’s episode pretty much would make the decision for me.

See you next Monday.
Um…Hiro? Peter? Anyone with Time Travel? A little fast forward please?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Obscurity Batch III

No offense to anyone living or dead who had any hand in these, but sometimes you just have to wonder...

"Oh dear!" cries the orange-clad boy in the foreground. "Somehow Captain Hook doesn't look so scary when he's drawn so cartoonishly in comparison with Peter Pan." He sighs. "But then what's going on there? Is that supposed to be a red-headed Mary Martin? And why would they draw attention to the fact that the 'little boy' is being portrayed by a full-grown woman? I mean, sure, it's theatrical tradition, but let's face it, this isn't the stage!" He eyes the crocodile, but deems him a shadow of what fierceness she should entail. With a final sigh, the boy in orange thinks, 'Well, at least they got the hook on the correct hand!'

The hook is in the correct hand, but they missed something.
Where is John?
Is Captain Hook's funky dance in joy because he captured John?

If so, why isn't he going after Pan now that Peter's vision is obscured by a fairy as big as his head and a silly grin on his face?

And why are Pan and company seen...walking?

Taking the "sylph-like" quality a bit too far, don't you think?

And perhaps a little more color for the mermaid tail to make it look less obscene?

The crocodile is odd...perhaps odd in a good way, as if it's some ancient saurian creature that never aged nor died out in waters of the Neverland?

Sure, Peter Pan could be considered a trickster.
But a full on Jester outfit?

Perhaps for this version the setting shifts from London to New Orleans...

Off to Never Not Mardi Gras Land...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Fairly Fair(y) Amount of Recent Events in My Life

My copy of the new Dover Publications edition of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens featuring the full page color illustraions of Arthur Rackham arrived. It's a delight. It's pleasing to have a book which has an "old" and "rare" feeling to it show up in a brand new format on slick paper. And it has every one of Rackham's pictures, as I mentioned before. I recommend it as the book to get for anyone who's has not experienced and has an interest in learning Barrie's own curious backstory to Peter Pan. Amazon sells it here.

Also, I finished Lost by Gregory Maguire. I'll give a full report soon. To see what I've said about it already, the posts are here and here.

And lastly,
I pondered the query in the last post some more. I came up with an answer. I shared it with Sunshine. It charmed her, so I guess it's worthy. After all, Barrie said: Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. Anyone care to know what I have to say about whether or not Peter's hair would grow back?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pondering About Pan

A question occurred to me.
One would think with my level of obsession, I'd have an answer.
But I don't. (At least not at the moment.)

So I pose it to you: What would happen if Peter Pan got a haircut?
Would it grow back?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In the Days Before We Got Caught in the 'Net...

Perhaps you remember a time when information did not reside at your fingertips. Maybe you can recall card catalogues and something called a typewriter. Way back in those olden days, we had it rough. The Dark Ages of communication. Okay, so I'm being facetious. But seriously, we had to cope with quite a bit more than we do now. How did we handle it?

Before AOL's "You've Got Mail" had a chance to become an overused 'catchphrase' (for lack of a better word) and our mailboxes weren't 'virtual' we had to deal with tangible correspondence.

Well, what if you were getting influx of fan mail?
How would you keep up?

Via the 'net (it figures) I came across a rather interesting solution to the influx of fan mail from the great science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, who introduced us to Michael Valentine Smith, the Stranger in a Strange Land. (And of course a myriad of other characters and stories.)

Check out his method for replying to the vast amounts of paper that flew his way. It's been posted here by Kevin Kelly on his website. Thanks, KK.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Begins with...

Indeed it did...
Exiting the train station today, I noticed a large (yes really, about two-thirds the size of my thumb) thin-legged spider wriggling on a strand from the ceiling. A strand so long the crawly critter came to chest height. I’m glad it hung on the other side of the hallway. But one guy did not fare as well… Not seeing it, he walked right into it. I turned away from the scene just as a horrified expression began to form. But he seemed to recover, as I could see him exiting via the vertical turnstyle. I would not have been okay for weeks, myself.

Tonight starts Opera Season for Bart and I. We will be attending Lyric Opera’s production of Manon, by Jules Massenet. It will be interesting, as Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini is one of my absolute favorites. One might harken to this post as the operas are an adaptation of a 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost. Also, the amazing Natalie Dessay will be performing. If you had the good fortune to catch her as Lucia, you will know how incredible she truly is. One of my favorites, David Cangelosi, will be performing as well. It shall be wonderful. Plus, we get to see the friends we’ve made with fellow season ticket holders who sit around us and our favorite usher, whom we have also befriended.

I’m three-quarters through Lost by Gregory Maguire. I first mentioned it here. So far I’m enjoying it. It took a while get back into his thick prose. I mean that as a compliment. But once I did, it's zipping along. I had a wee bit of fun with it, as the perfect place for the word I invented arose. Maguire wrote: "You wouldn't have let her off the hook without taking a rough guess. Stop stringing me along." I couldn't help but change the last sentence to: Stop being filiquious. If you're not familiar with filiquious, see here.

Happy October. Happy Fall.