Saturday, October 31, 2009

What Scares Me...


Want to know what frightens me?

It's on the left there. And not this specific picture, no. (Although I don't particularly like looking it!) But these spooky characters in general. They just up my creep level beyond any hope of a comfort zone.

The only one that doesn't freak me out (yes, even the "cute" ones do - there's just something about a person 'created' in this fashion) is the one in The Wizard of OZ. No, I can't come up with a reason why he doesn't.

Oh sure, I've got other "fears" but we can save those for another time.

And let me take this opportunity to make a quick review:

Paranormal Activity - THIS movie is taking the country by storm?? REALLY?

I'd like to know two things.

1) How they accomplished some of those F/X so convincingly (didn't say scarily, just convincingly) on that budget.
2) How this is supposed to be the scariest movie of all time. Seriously?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HEY! Is That a Fact?

There's a Japanese show where contestants are given random facts and they must discern whether or not they are true with an outburst of "HEY!" Or something to this effect. I learned about it from the 'net.

How did I come across such a strange show? Via Peter Pan, of course.
Recently they had one about Barrie's eternal boy. They tried seeing if people would believe that the reason no one grows up in the Neverland is because Peter Pan kills them before they can. This may or may not be true. I intend to put up a post on the idea (if I ever remember to or have enough gumption to write it out.)

There is a passage in the novel which can certainly be construed as such, yes. But it's not entirely clear, as can sometimes be with case with Barrie's Pan-Universe. I'll discuss it when I, um, discuss it. But for right now, it's kind of funny because the Japanese "game show" actually takes two different parts of the book and presents them as one clear fact. The thing is, they are just that - two different parts of the book and not talking about the same thing at all. Rather clever of them to try and fool contestants in this fashion, since it's a fact that each are actually in the book when most people would think such things are not in it.

The lines they use are:
The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out...
in conjunction with
...and Peter was killing them off vindictively as fast as possible.

Now, as I said, I'll get to that first part in another post. But the second line is actually about grown-ups. The rest of the passage:

But of course he cared very much; and he was so full of wrath against grown-ups, who, as usual, were spoiling everything, that as soon as he got inside his tree he breathed intentionally quick short breaths at the rate of about five to a second. He did this because there is a saying in the Neverland that, every time you breathe, a grown-up dies; and Peter was killing them off vindictively as fast as possible.

For the record, I use this odd tidbit in Peter Pan's NeverWorld.

Here's the clip from the Japanese show. MOST of it is in Japanese, but it's worth watching to see the "scholar" present the "truth." Odd pictures of Peter Pan, too. Yes, it's a pet peeve that the drawings are derived from the Disney version.

It's also curious that he seems to think that the children can be dropped to their deaths. Doesn't he realize they can all fly in the Neverland? Just goes to show he's a sham. :)

Either way, it's a nice reminder that the Neverland (and NeverWorld!) are not always the happy, fun dream place we might think it is... it's dangerous and sinister, too.

* The image seen above is not related to the Japanese program.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No, Not Seuss's Sam!

Last night Bart and I took a little dip into Halloween with a movie called Trick ‘r Treat. If you’re looking for a fun movie this season, this is it. If you want an absolutely scary movie to fill your sack, this is not it. It’s not flat out scary, no. But it’s not entirely a romp, either. It’s a fine line between genuinely creepy stuff and the frightfully funny. Then again, I wouldn’t call this film humorous at all. Actually, it’s a little more serious, as part of its goal is to bring to light some of the darker elements that make up this haunting holiday.

It’s told in a very excellent way. There are four stories going on in this movie, all intermingled and “followed” by a great character named Sam. Sam is “short” for Samhain (pronounced sah-win [or thereabouts]) which is a Celtic festival and the earliest origins of Halloween. Sam (pronounced as Sam) is the spirit of Halloween and he doesn’t like it when you break the strange rules of the holiday. Such as do not blow out a Jack-O-Lantern until Halloween is over. He’ll come to “play” if you do. I’m making it sound cheesy, but on the contrary, it’s done quite sinisterly in the film.

The movie jumps back and forth, putting up labels for “Later” or “Earlier” and you will then see in the “next” story the characters whose events you just watched walking by the “new” characters. Another example is two neighbors. Experience both sides of the fence at different times to be able to see the rest of the each story, with glimpses of each otherwise. I hope I’m making sense to you. If you’ve seen the episode of The Simpsons in which it’s divided into “Lisa’s Day,” “Bart’s Day,” “Homer’s Day,” etc. and you are only able to really know what caused certain events in each by seeing it from the other character’s perspective -- Trick ‘r Treat works much the same.

I also have to say that there are a lot of wonderful surprises in this movie.
Quite a few tricks that‘r definitely a treat. It’s clever, creepy and well crafted.

Bravo to writer and director Michael Dougherty. He wanted Sam to be the “missing” Halloween frontrunner character. (Xmas has Santa, Easter has Peter Cottontail, Valentine’s Day has Cupid, etc.) But Halloween does not have one. Hence, Dougherty went back to the ancient Celtic version. His pumpkin-head appearance pays homage the front-running icon of All Hallow’s Eve as well as the pumpkin-headed figures depicted throughout history. But never has there been a single, named entity. Unless you count Burton’s Jack Skellington. But that movie for me, although a technical marvel of stop-motion animation, is deeply flawed and half-baked story-wise. I’ll stick with Sam.

Do yourself a favor and celebrate with Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat.
Don’t make Sam come on October 31st any other way….MuhaHAHA!

Friday, October 23, 2009

PAN-dering to the New Stuff

Some Pan news, briefly.

Peter and the Sword of Mercy, the latest installment of the “Peter” series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson is out. I do not condone it, for the entire series has numerous mistakes compared to Sir J.M. Barrie. How they can be so disrespectful of another author (especially one so revered by many) is beyond me. And before you tell me it’s only supposed to be prequels to the Disney version (as the publisher Hyperion is a subsidiary of Disney) they even manage to contradict that, too. I’ve posted this link before, but here’s a list of what’s wrong with the first three in the series as shown on Wikipedia: Differences from the Works of Barrie

Disney’s second movie starring Tinker Bell, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, will be flying into stores soon. No, I’m not going to watch this one. For you see, I’m not a fan of Tink. Not even Barrie’s. However, I did watch the first Disney venture into Tink’s past. And you know what? I liked it, surprisingly. No, it’s not phenomenal. It’s your standard fare, but it did have a great charm to it. Plus it did not have any inconsistencies with Disney’s own Pan or even Barrie. But it’s not like I enjoyed it so much that I need to continue watching this series. Especially when this is just another adventure, not something as important as Tink’s origins. (And if this one winds up with a contradiction, it's just the general par for the course. I'm not all that interested in Disney's Pan anyway.) It is already "famous," however, for giving Tinker Bell a new outfit (for Disney.) I neither like it nor dislike it.

I’ve also heard that a movie adaptation of Régis Loisel’s graphic novel(s) version of Peter Pan is in fact in production. It’s not necessarily a reliable source, so don’t quote me on it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about at all, see here. (In that post I already had thought it to have been done as a movie. But an Anonymous (not the now "famous" Anonymous, however!) commenter informed me that what I have posted seems to be just a promotional short. [Which is SO worth watching!])

I, of course, am most looking forward to Other Oceans, the next book from Andrea Jones.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Not WILD, But Worth It

I’ve been posting here and there about the movie adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. Well, after about four years of waiting, I finally saw it. (Granted, I waited a little longer that I had to because I’d been trying to coordinate an entourage to attend. But alas, everyone’s schedules don’t easily mesh. So Clara and I just went on our own. [For I have missed seeing films in the theater due to waiting for others to be able to go all at once.])

I could have loved this movie. Don’t take that the wrong way, I did enjoy it. I liked it very much, in fact. But I did not love it. It’s beautifully made and the way in which the picture book has been expanded is wonderful. I even liked the addition of Max’s older sister. I didn’t mind the talking monsters or their assigned personalities. I didn’t dislike the new locations of the wild land. It captured the feel of the book while bringing a whole lot more to it. So what didn’t I like? My favorite scene in the book is gone. It’s not even attempted. With the F/X in Hollywood today, it could have been done magnificently. But no… completely rewritten. Oh…I’m talking about the part where the forest grows in Max’s room. I remember as a kid I so adored the posts on the bed becoming trees. And the plant overgrowing, etc. Just imagine that coming to life… Well, keep imagining, for the film has no such scene. In the film he is sent to his room, but instead runs out of the house (in his wolf suit, thank goodness) and his mother chases him. He runs faster than her, of course (both with a head start and a kid’s energy), and keeps running, yes, into a forest and on to the boat. Perhaps it had meant to be a bit more realistic this way? For despite the giant crazy monsters, it had a grounding in reality. Emotional and social issues were touched on much more so than the book. And that’s fine, great even. Nevertheless, I truly missed my favorite part! In that way, it lacked. By which I mean it didn’t quite feel like the book, not truly. The magical element has been removed.

Much less important, there is also no scene of Max and the monsters swinging from tree branches. Okay, I didn’t actually remember this, so I didn’t miss it as much. (I watched a still-image animation and narration of the book on YouTube.) But once I knew of it again, I wondered why it’s not in the film.

Otherwise it’s an amazing movie. Apparently kids are enjoying it, but it seemed to me more so for adults who read it as child. It had a definite nostalgic quality. And in terms of production, truly stunning. The ocean scene could not have been better. The monsters, which could have been utterly cheesy, seemed quite realistic. All hail the combination of monster suits, animatronics and CGI! The monsters were brought to life straight from the book. And Max Records as Max, well, my heart went out to him the minute he first appeared. (And oh what an ideal beginning to the movie!)

Another terrific aspect is it did not beat you over the head with its messages. I suppose you could argue that it does. But what I’m saying is it could have been a lot more heavy handed. It doesn’t pander to the audience, it lets the audience experience the themes for itself.

At least I didn’t hate it. At least a childhood classic has not been tainted.
It’s well crafted, beautifully done and worth seeing. However, I do think you have to have been a fan of the book.

Thanks, Spike Jonze, for marvelously bringing to life a itsy bitsy book that had a real impact. Great job on a very difficult task. I know that Sendak told you to make the book as what it meant to you. I loved your "meanings" and insights. If only you'd cared as much as me about that one bit...

P.S. - Clara and I both want Max's wolf suit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Re-Formatting the Writing

Drifting off to sleep…
what better time to let the subconscious and conscious work together?
When I’m working on a novel, I always make sure to “listen” to characters and attempt to work out parts of the narrative while in bed.

Last night turned out to be such a time. As I’ve mentioned, I’m churning around ideas and easing my way back into a series. I’d been thinking about what a reader mentioned regarding the second book in the series. About how the book shared time between two sets of characters, leaving the reader “hanging” until the next chapter, until the two sets converged. Not that it had been problematic - just observed as noticeable. Now, granted, short of giving each set their own single section, there’s really not much that can be done about it. For halving the novel in that manner would require filling in a great deal more about each set’s activities. I don’t mean that in the sense of “I just don’t want to write so much.” (Believe me, writing more is not a problem for me, thank goodness.) The “bridge” activities would begin to feel as such, I think - extraneous and tedious. And coupled with the fact that it would take away the suspense for each, it just doesn’t behoove me to present it otherwise.

What I’ve been thinking of, though, is that the third book in the series will also require “jumping” back and forth between characters in various locations. I didn’t want to follow the same pattern as the second, so as to avoid being exactly the same as well as quelling the “issue” raised by the reader. Nor will it work to present it as I had in Peter Pan’s NeverWorld. In that case, many more characters needed to be followed and the bouncing around reflects the abundant activity of a planet. to create a similar effect without repeating myself?

I’m happy to say I figured it out last night. Yup - how to do each chapter so that the momentum is not lost, characters are not abandoned for a spell and yet their events are kept separate — except when they intersect — which the format will also allow for quite easily. It will also mirror the action of the book.

I’m not saying it’s anything brilliant. Or new. It probably has been done before. But not by me. And it should work beautifully with this adventure.

Right now I’m trying to work out some details regarding the recent pre-history of this story. It takes place ten years later from the second book (as the second does from the first.) I know what happens, sure. But I’m looking into the specific events that shaped the beginning of this novel. Yes, I will be writing out of sequence as I keep saying I prefer. But in order to dive into the part that interests me most right now, I need to know the details of the sequences that lead up to it.

So I’ll continue to think on it… and see if the characters will tell me.
And then I can look forward to writing in this “new format.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Quill Be Not Quelled...

Last night when I went to do something or other on my computer, I wound up clicking on something entirely else. I knew what I should have been doing, but instead, I followed this other route of drags and clicks. What caused the sudden turn of activity? I’m going with “fictional character interruption.”

Yes, folks, last “night” in the wee hours of the morning, if you want to get technical about it, I took the first steps on the novel I’ve been saying that I will get back to someday soon. It’s the third in a series of four. However, it’s really the final part of the series, as the last book is a prequel (meant to be read fourth which tells the “real story” of what happened in ages past.)

Don’t get too excited, though, for all it really entailed: Redesigning the “title logo” I made about five or so years ago and rewriting the first half of the opening line. I’m happy to say that both are a vast improvement. By leagues. Plus, I’ve been thinking about the story quite a bit lately, doing some preliminary research and hearing from the main character. So it won’t be long now.

The best part, of course, is that I will be able to write whatever I’d like first. By which I mean I can return to writing a novel out of sequence. As a general rule, I find it best to first write the parts that excite me. Since I have an outline to follow, I don’t get lost along the way. However, the past three novels I’d been working on required me to write in sequence. By the nature of each piece, for a different reason on each, it behooved me to compose in chronological order. I’m quite glad to be rid of this stipulation. (Although when I go to finish the one on the back-burner I might have to follow the actual timeline again. There’s a chance I won’t as I’ve reached a certain place in the novel and it may no longer require me to do so…we’ll see.)

At any rate, I’m happy to say that I can’t deny I am working on another novel.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Driving to the Neverland?

Okay, since I opened the sack of cats, (here)
we move on to

Peter Pan Bus Lines

Another company "capitalizing" on the Boy Who Never Grew Up without 'cause.' It started up in 1933, also before Barrie's leaving the seen world. Did he know? Did he care? Why does it exist?

At least I can see this one a BIT more... a la the bus will whisk you away to another land.

But seriously, that's not a good enough reason if you ask me.

And again, their logo is reminiscent of Disney's!

[Sure, I get the 'why' of that... but it doesn't make me like it. ;) ]

Go figure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sigh-lar? Nope, still ticking!

Heroes: Redemption
is moving rather slowly, I think. I don’t mean boring, not at all. It just doesn’t have the slam-rush quality seen in previous chapters. Yes, it has its “whoa!” moments, too. But I’d say there's more “Ah.” than “A-ha!” about them. Moving slowly can be a good thing, so this isn’t a complaint. Just an observation. On the whole I’ve been enjoying this season. Nice moments for sure. And the characters who I’d been getting sick of are likable and engaging again. But I’m still “worried” about Hiro’s ability (or not) to change JUST one thing of the past. Although, we also don’t yet have all the facts there. And there certainly are a lot of questions regarding the new carnival characters. Very good in that aspect. For the origins of Heroes has its basis in making us delightedly confused.

So I’ve been thinking about how I would end this series. Not that I have any desire to see the show come to a close. But if it did… what would that entail? How would it be “wrapped up,” so to speak?

Here’s my idea. It’s not a “happy ending” by a long shot. But I think it would be a cool one. And also, well, open-ended. But not in the sense of “we might make more some day.” More like “we leave it to your imagination, dear viewers.” Okay, here’s my idea:

Sylar wins. As in…he kills all the “heroes” and takes each and every power available. Thus, he’s amassed phenomenal skills and abilities. He can bend the very nature of reality, so to speak. And the END-end… in a non-cheesy fashion he takes over the world. For he’s literally unstoppable and can force his will (either with Puppet Man power, thought inducing, etc.) onto anyone and anything. And the final line, “I. AM. GOD!” (Note: This line would be used, presented and delivered with utmost care… in the same way that the so-called ‘Nightmare Man’ saying “I can seeeeeee yoouuuu….” genuinely gave us the chills when it could have been utterly laughable.)

In the meantime, I’ll look forward to Monday nights.
Thanks, Tim Kring and everyone else involved.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Information Is Spread a Little Thin!

It’s always just not sat right with me.
What on EARTH (or on the Neverland [or even on the NeverWorld]) does Peter Pan have to do with peanut butter? I mean besides the alliteration.

Sunshine assures me that no matter what it’s a good thing that such a “kid” treat is paired with Pan. In this way, it makes kids who don’t already know about him curious. Perhaps it’s led some youngsters to seek him out. Okay, I’ll agree. But It still doesn’t explain the wherefore.

“Peter Pan Peanut Butter” did not start out with that moniker. It came out originally under the name "E. K. Pond," produced by Swift & Company. The name change came in 1920.

Okay… here’s what really baffles me! Sir James Matthew Barrie left the shores of Earth in 1937. Therefore, he probably knew about it. Did he approve of it? I have not been able to gather any information regarding this query. Even Andrew Birkin, the Barrie guru, doesn’t seem to touch on this subject. (If the information is out or Birkin did explain it, I’ve been unable to retrieve the knowledge from anywhere I’ve looked.)

And it also “bothers” me that throughout the history of the packaging, they gravitate toward the Disney manifestation. And in the earlier days, it has been a grown woman dressed [allegedly] as Peter Pan. Okay, sure, there's the "tradition" of women playing the role. But all of their women are quite obviously supposed to be women. How about no? Although, Jeremy Sumpter as Pan did appear on the jars for a time when the movie hit the theaters.

If anyone can clear this up… please do!

Friday, October 9, 2009

"The Story Generator"

Need a jolt of creativity?

Or just want to create a laugh?

David Malki has made a tongue-in-cheek Story Generator.
Pick what you want from each category and voila!

The Psychonaut: In an anachronistic Japan, a young flying message courier stumbles across a dream-inducing drug which spurs him into conflict with a charismatic politician on the rise with the help of a tomboyish female mechanic and her wacky pet culminating in wish-fulfillment solutions to real-world problems.

You, too, can concoct your own story. Either click on the picture for a larger (and readable view.) You can also click HERE for the actual page and see more of Mr. Malki's creations.

At the very least it's highly amusing to play the very most, it just might get your pen started.

Well played, David Malki. Thanks for sharing!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Don't Know My Own Stuff??

You might recall that I’ve said the worst part about being a writer is not being able to read your own work as “fresh.” All the secrets are known to you, the sequence of events is never a surprise as it is for a reader. (My actual post about it is here.)

Well, I just had an instance where that unfortunate fact negated itself! Yes, it’s true.

I’d been reading my own work… and I had practically no idea what came next!

How is that possible? Stupidity, you might think? No. Unfamiliarity.
Wondering, then, how I could be “unfamiliar” with my own work? Simple.

The book that seemed fresh to me is the second of a series of four. Book 1 and Book 2 are all that are written thus far. I’ve mentioned before that while writing Book 2, I began “hearing” from another character, one from an entirely different and new (at the time) novel. Jeremy (the character) would not shut up, relentlessly trying to force me to write his story instead of the one I’d been working on (Book 2). Well, Thom (of that series) is very understanding, so he let me go attend to Jeremy.

Quite some time later, I’d finally been able to go back and finish Book 2 of/for Thom. I had quite a challenge to “get back into” that novel, as there happens to be loads going on it. But I’d been able to… and I completed it. Of course, I knew that I’d one day have to return to it again. To re-read through it and revise as necessary. But I shelved it in my mind, content to know I’d at least completed the book in the sense of it being whole and not in pieces and shambles. I’d been quite glad to finally get it all out on the page.

Well, that day arrived - and I just had that run-through. Since I had the mentality of "finally-over-and-done-with" regarding the novel originally, I did not go through it as many times. (Usually I will re-read as I write a few times as well. But due to the interruption, I had been thrown out of my usual habits.) Therefore, I had just plain not been as familiar with it as other works.

And thus, I’d actually been able to be curious as to what happens next for much of the book!
It had been very fun to be a "reader" of my own novel. And yes, I liked it.

After a couple other matters that need my attention, I will be able to begin Book 3 of this series.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bar None

If you've been to Google today,
you'll know that the Bar Code
had been invented on this date.

I have my own Bar Codes, which is very cool. Along with thousands (millions?) of others, of course.

But it is rather cool nevertheless.

So here are mine, for the hardcover and the forthcoming paperback.

Don't worry... I'll have something "real" to post soon. I just couldn't not 'celebrate' this odd 'celebration' by Google.
Click here!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lighting a Candle for Eastwick

One of the new Fall shows that I’ve decided to give a chance is Eastwick. It is, of course, an adaptation of John Updike’s novel The Witches of Eastwick into a series.
No, I’m not saying it’s stellar. But it has cast a certain spell.

The setting is perfect. The casting is a delight. Paul Gross as the devil, for instance, does a marvelous job. He’s just as suave and debonair as Jack Nicholson had been in the film. Yet clearly he is not trying to be Nicholson. Gross invokes him without imitating him. Then again, the devil is meant to be suave and debonair in many stories, including this one. Either way, Gross is every bit as charming and unnerving as he’s supposed to be. The infamous ladies that he “seduces,” Jaime Ray Newman, Rebecca Romijn and Lindsay Price are equally bewitching in their roles. It’s been too many years since I’ve seen the film, so I can’t at this time compare them directly against their movie counterparts. But I can say that each one “feels” right and has me around their little finger.

So far (after two episodes) it’s quite fun. They’ve mixed in the right amounts of cutesy, baudy and spooky. With a little tender spice. The story lends itself quite well to “installments.” Much better than I imagined it would when I first heard about it coming to television. Plus, it’s nice to see some very tasteful “F/X” by today’s standards creeping unobtrusively into the show. For instance, when the ladies all make their wish at the fountain, we are treated to an aerial view to watch the coins sail upward and clink together before dropping into the fountain. This scene would have been much more difficult to do “back in the day.”

It has also made me feel guilty. I have never read Updike’s novel. I think now I shall have to do so. At least from a writing standpoint. It should be interesting to see the what and how of their adjustments (if any) to the small screen. (By “if any” I mean to the core story. It’s obvious they’ve added some modern references and such.) That, and it would be much better and make more sense to compare the characterizations with the source.

I really enjoy the logo/title and how it appears on the screen, too.
Looking forward to more.

Let's hope the enchantment lingers...

Friday, October 2, 2009

It Does WHAT Now?

I thought about this WAY too long.
I hope YOU will, too.

Vacuum Cleaner

Okay, first, one of those is not a vacuum by general definition.
Second, it's quite amusing to think of having to clean out empty space.
Go figure.