Sunday, December 27, 2009

Five Past the Century Mark

I know I said I'd return next year... but I couldn't let this day (having not honored it before on this site) go by - especially since it is a 'special' date in that...

one hundred and five years ago today,
Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up
took the stage. The famous adventure (as opposed to the "lesser known" Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens) of the eternal boy has not ceased since.

Bravo, Sir J. M. Barrie!

And thank you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Tis the Season

Let us not forget that the Darling children's adventures with Peter Pan began at Xmas-time.
(Makes it all the more devastating for George and Mary, eh?)

Wishing you the brightest & merriest!

I'll be back to "rant" in the New Year.
(I assure you I'll be working on Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between in the meantime.)

For YOUR meantime, I'll leave you to ponder:

Why don't the Cratchits give presents to each other?

(The answer could be they're too poor...
but then there's that old idea that making them is better...)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tending the Gardens Once Again...

Thought I report on how it's going on the Pan front...

I've been re-reading (and tweaking) Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between. I'm happy to report I still am pleased with what I have on the page. Often that's not the case. So I'm quite glad that I don't have to proverbially start from scratch. I'm also surprisesd at my word count. It's much more than I thought. So, it's going rather well.

I'm on the third chapter of my work... and I've just realized (far later than I should have) that it would behoove me to re-read Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. When I returned to this project, I had not been sure I would wind up back into it. Well, I am, and so I shall have to read Barrie's work again.

How delightful that I have excuse to have a gander at this edition. Looking forward to it.

It's also quite fun because now I have first hand experience with Kensington Gardens. It's much more exciting and immersive than it had been at the first go around. I've already incorporated some of my personal knowledge into the text.

And so... I shall continue work on my interquel to Barrie's classics. As I may have mentioned before, it is not a bridge than spans all the way to Peter and Wendy. It's just the tale to fill the gap of how Peter Pan 'grew' to be a boy in the Neverland. Just - as if that weren't enough.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kensington Disney

I came across these on the web. I'd just been going through some sites I'd saved to go back to and never really have... and lo and behold.

I suppose this is what Disney's Kensington Gardens would look like, eh?

Idealized for sure, for I can tell you... it's a MUCH longer walk to the Round Pond from any gate that looks like that!

Interesting to see the Darling kids in other clothes, isn't it?

And what's with the Hobo? I'll just bet he factors into this story's plot, if there is one.

It reminds me of a short comic about Peter Pan by Disney. I have it somewhere. Or at least I did. Not sure where anymore... I should look for it. It featured the Darlings on summer holiday... and wouldn't you know it, but the place they vacation is a spot for Hook's treasure (or something near to this plot) and Tink shows up to warn them... with Pan not far behind. You can guess the rest... Hook's foiled, the kids get the treasure.

If I do find it, I'll post a few pix from it. For I bet posting it all would be some sort of infringement. Besides, it belongs in my Peter Pan collection.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Wrong Write - If It Pans Out...

Well, I’ve tried many times to “get going” on the book I’m writing.
I’ve heard from three of the characters… and from them have learned a great deal more about the details as well as quite the additions to the plot. I’ve written a little on it… revised it even more and am happy with what I have down.

But the fact remains that it’s just not flowing.

Not even main character Thom is spilling forth information rapidly.

I’m beginning to wonder if I am in fact trying to write the wrong story.

Lately, given the prolonged interest by my faithful reader and fan Anon, as well as chatting online and in person with Hook & Jill author Andrea Jones, I find myself once again delving into the mysteries of Sir J.M. Barrie’s eternal boy. Whether it’s trying to discern what Barrie meant in certain places, rediscovering scenes I’d not paid as much attention to (since those scenes became irrelevant for the writing of Peter Pan’s NeverWorld), hearing a great bit from a fairy or wanting to revisit what I’ve written… I just might have to put Thom and his world on hold again. He won’t mind for he’s very understanding. (As you may know, he even let me stop the second book in his series mid-way through the writing of it so that I could attend to the very vocal Jeremy Strache.)

Thus, I believe that I am going to go back and have another gander at Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between and the second book of NeverWorld. If I’m as inspired as I think I am, I’ll pick up and try to complete one. Or both. For at the time, I’d been writing each of them simultaneously.

Besides, there’s this line in Peter and Wendy:

Liza was in a bad tamper, for she was mixing the Christmas puddings in the kitchen, and had been drawn from them, with a raisin still on her cheek, by Nana’s absurd suspicions.

It may just be in the text because of Peter Pan’s history as a Xmas production. Either way, Barrie’s Darling children begin their adventure during the Holiday Season. Maybe I’ll take that as a further sign that my suspicions are not absurd and I should be renewing my interest in spinning stories about the Boy Who Never Grew Up.

No promises, as I might not fall back into it easily. But I think it’s worth a try.

If not, I’ll have to prod Thom again to start talking.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snow Reason for It...

need wooly hats,
scarves and gloves?

They're not going to be COLD,
are they?

Oh, sure, I know it looks cute.
And it seems like they should be dressed.
Just me over-analyzing again.
Jeepers...the kinds of stuff I question...
(rolls eyes at himself)

The image comes from this page,
and is available otherwise there.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Carol...

A Christmas Carol, in any form since the Dickens text, is essentially nothing more than a remake. Yet unlike the epidemic, the appeal of this story withstands time, inviting new adaptations and never dulling the glow of the original. No, not all versions are great, but each one has its moments. For it’s hard to miss when you’re aiming with material right on the bull’s eye from the start.

And here we are, 166 years since Dickens first brought it to life, able to partake in a most dazzling and faithful (but fresh!) silver screen extravaganza full of life.

Bravo to Robert Zemeckis and Jim Carrey for presenting another holiday gem.

In the previous post I mentioned a hope that this version would become the definitive. It’s close. I can honestly say this is my favorite cinematic presentation of A Christmas Carol. I might even go as far as to say my favorite adaptation, period. I would say that, definitively, but, like Scrooge, I learned a thing or two.

It should have been obvious to me (but then kindness, compassion and celebration should have been obvious to Ebenezer, too) that there cannot be a definitive. For as much as I loved this movie, I didn’t have a completely satisfied glow, either. Why not? Well, I found myself missing tidbits of other productions. Whether an actor’s looks or delivery of a line, an insert indigenous to a production, the magic of the stage (like the “snowing window” of Chicago's The Goodman Theatre) and well, you get the idea. The tale itself outshines any presentation.

That said, Bravo, again.
How wonderful to live in this "day and age" when such fantastic worlds can be brought to life. And quite literally, since performance capture is all the rage. Zemeckis dropped us right into an ideal Dickensian landscape. Looking both realistic and stylized, we couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere. And in 3-D, we may as well have been carrying a walking stick.

Using such sophisticated animation allowed for some wonderful new imagery. Such as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Ever seen a solidifying shadow in motion? I have, thanks to the team at ImageMovers Digital.

It’s quite balanced between sugary and brooding, delivering its share of thrills with a touch of slapstick to lighten the mood. Quite honestly, overall, it does have a darker tone and can be pretty scary.

I also enjoyed the choices made for a lot of bits. Such as varying the methods of the Ghosts use to bring Scrooge to a new scene. Past looked quite a bit like flying around London with Peter Pan. Present waves his cornucopia torch and the floor is transparent, whisking the room as a frame over rooftops with directional torch thrusts… and as I recall (memory could be fading) a fading in and out of the Future. Another example of a nice touch is watching the Ghost of Christmas Present aging convincingly throughout their time together. Not just his appearance achieved by animation but in his movements a la Jim Carrey’s acting.

And a moment on that… Carrey. Imagine the psychological ramifications of playing Scrooge at every age in the production. And on top of that, all three Ghosts of Christmas. Wow. The only other major instances of that would be Dickens himself getting into the heads of the characters and Patrick Stewart, who did the one man show. It just seems powerful to me – to act out the entire life of one man who needs redemption. And also his “tormentors,” whom Zemeckis saw as aspects of Scrooge. Carrey pulled it off beautifully.

Some liberties are taken. But nothing that undermines or detracts from the experience. Even in one of the more peculiar choices, I can see the rationale immediately. And any and all of them can be chalked up to the nuances "indigenous" to various versions, which I spoke of earlier.

If I had to say something I did not like, it would have to be a matter of personal taste. I think of Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, as blonde and younger, for some reason. That’s just me. And the depiction of Bob Cratchit had to grow on me. Bart noticed a line missing. Present never said, “but most of all beware this boy” among the litany of forewarning bestowed in the scene. Just pointing it out, for the scene in the film certainly held its own as match for the uneasiness the text causes. (It’s one of the scary bits!) And not that other bits aren't absent, but then, they're certainly excusable given the wonders added this time around.

Did we need another artistic interpretation of Dickens' masterpiece?
You bet we did, given that we've never been able to see it, as they say, "quite like this."

I’m as pleased as Fred’s punch. Something else to look forward to each Xmas!

Thank you ImageMovers Digital, Disney, Jim Carrey, Robert Zemeckis and all your crew.

You’ve given us a wonderful gift from the past, in our present, for the future.

Is It Xmas Yet?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

H-OO-k Tatt-OO

Imagine that those capital O's up there are wide eyes.

Eyes opened to one of those minor details which mean a lot.
When Andrea Jones and I watched Hogan's Peter Pan, she pointed out Captain Hook's tattoo in this scene. I'd noticed the the tattoo before. But she told me what it depicts. It's none other than the Coat of Arms to Eton College. (As you may already know, Hook attended Eton.)

Bravo, P. J. Hogan, for this great detail!
(And thanks to Jason Isaacs who allowed himself to be painted as such!)

By the way, today Bart & I have our Xmas with Banky & Clara. Part of the festivities will include seeing the new A Christmas Carol movie. You can be sure I'll let you know what I think.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Break Out the Cage - Magic's Afoot

I'd been all set to write a "real" post... and then I saw this.

Right up my alley...
looking forward to it, even it just turns out to be "merely" entertaining.
I'm especially fond of what's going on at 2:14
I hope it's what I think it is - nice homage.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Ware Santa...

My how times change!

I’ve been listening to old Xmas radio shows.
A favorite of mine: Fibber McGee & Molly.

In one of them (not Fibber), Santa Claus comes to visit. A little boy’s mother tells Santa that the boy has been naughty.  She then asks Santa to give him a good beating.

I don’t think that would be accepted in a program produced today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Avast Ye! What a Weekend!

For two rounds of the sun,
me hearty and I served the Pirate Queen on deck three.

Let me rephrase that.

Over the weekend, Bart and I welcomed author Andrea Jones into our home.

I refer to her as the Pirate Queen because Andrea penned the magnificent novel Hook & Jill, which deals with not only one of the greatest pirates of them all (Captain Hook) but her own feisty female buccaneer of grand repute. You might already know from other posts (or by the whopping clue in this text) that her novel is set on the shores and waters of Sir J. M. Barrie’s fantastic isle. Hook & Jill is a “reworking” of the story of Peter Pan. Andrea played a “What If?” game with the original tale, veering it off into a grand adventure. [For more on this concept and how much I love it, see my post(s) here.] Ever since I met Andrea at her appearance at The Book Cellar, she and I have been emailing or chatting via Facebook. Eventually we realized the necessity of getting together again in person. As she had not yet seen Andrew Birkin’s The Lost Boys, I invited her to view it on our big TV. Quickly this turned into an old-fashioned “Sleepover” and we’d been planning it over a month - having set a date when both our schedules could match. Well, it finally happened this past weekend.

We had a delightful visit. Bart made Andrea’s acquaintance outside of cyberspace for the first time, and we all had a pleasant chat over the delectable vegetable soup Bart made from a recipe of one of his dearest friends, La Trix. After a while, though, Andrea and I must have driven Bart crazy with our talk of Barrie. Later on, Andrea and I watched P.J. Hogan’s Peter Pan. I bet you’ll believe that we stopped it every minute or so, eager to express our opinions. We shared which parts we deemed lovely or brilliant to what disenchanted us. I rather enjoyed Andrea’s take on certain elements, as this film is largely what inspired her to write her novel.

Later, Bart bestowed culinary magic upon us once again. A roast bone-in loin of pork marinated with orange-pineapple juice, cilantro and chipolte peppers along with baked potatoes and a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. (He’d been making dinner while Andrea and I watched the movie.) A lot more conversation ensued, and again Bart graciously dealt with our pontifications about Barrie’s masterpiece. Not that we only spoke of that subject, of course.

We had intended to watch Birkin’s mini-series, as I said. But after dinner, Bart retreated to the computer and Andrea and I remained at the table. I showed her my collection of obscure books that have to do with Peter Pan - ranging from ill conceived sequels to rare comic adaptations. Andrea had a list of items regarding Peter Pan’s NeverWorld - bits she enjoyed, questions she had, etc. We also discussed the presentation the two of us are to give next year at an author dinner in Wisconsin. (More on this as the event approaches.) Well, the next thing we knew, the bells reached three in the morning! How Time flies when you’re discussing the Neverland! Obviously we did not get to Birkin that night. But I did show/introduce her to an episode of Fox’s Peter Pan & the Pirates before bedtime. (Not to mention we realized we’d never gotten to the orange spice cake Andrea brought! {I'd been worried she would bring one of jolly thickness with green sugar on it! ;) }]

The next morning we went to brunch at a favorite haunt of Bart and I. (You might know from the dust jacket flap of my hardcover that going to brunch is a frequent activity.) When we returned, we began Birkin’s The Lost Boys. Bart watched with us, as he thoroughly enjoys the biopic as well. Andrea had been drawn in just as we had upon first viewing. But alas, we could not complete the entire show before she had to catch a train. We knew we'd have to continue the viewing at a later date. Oh what a shame - another get together. ;)

All in all, we had a marvelous visit. The long awaited “Sleepover” turned out to be as much fun as it sounded. Quite the thrill to talk shop with a fellow Barrie enthusiast. How delightful to learn more about the life and craft of a cherished author friend. Thank you, Andrea, for coming to stay with us. I so enjoyed sharing and “playing” in the Neverland with you!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bits of the Story Leap Out...

Still reading Peter and Wendy.

I'm actually much further along than the part I am (sort of) mentioning, but I just had to share.

I came across a very telling scrap of evidence which might reveal...
...that I am correct in my calculations as to the "real" identity of Captain Jas. Hook.

It's a wonder I never noticed it before. But then, given that Hook only appears in Peter Pan's NeverWorld by mere mention, it might not be so surprising after all that I didn't stumble upon it before. For I have not belabored over the puzzle of the Captain's past.... just tinkered with it.

Of course, much like a lot of odd tidbits by Barrie, it could also be interpretted another way.

You didn't really think I'd tell you what the clue is or my theory on his identity, did you? No, sorry, saving that for a possible (not a guaranteed) book in which I present the origins of Hook, or at the very least how he wound in the Neverland. Maybe some day...

O man unfathomable. - Perhaps NOT!

And one other curious mention by Barrie which I'm re-noticing:

Then [Peter] got into the nest, reared the stave in it as a mast, and hung up his shirt for a sail. Shirt? He's dressed in leaves, isn't he? Well, yes... BUT: This scene of course parallel the bird's nest boat which allowed the flightless infant Pan in Kensington Gardens to cross the Serpentine. It also shows that Wendy (and other mothers) did indeed change Peter Pan's outfit fromt time to time. (Just in case anyone thought my new togs for Peter to be off course.) Then again, my "interpretation" of what he wears is based on the photographs Barrie took when he dressed up Michael Llewellyn-Davies as Peter Pan.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Calling for the PAN of Barrie's Classic!

So I've been reading through Peter and Wendy (a.k.a. Peter Pan) again on account of that really cool event that will be happening this weekend [which I hope to have permission to write about here.]

No matter which version of the novel being addressed, there is always too much missing. Ridiculously so. Sure, I understand that cuts and tweaks usually need to be made when transferring it to the visual medium. But does that always have to be the case? I've decided no.

If I ever am able to present my own filmed adaptation of Barrie's masterpiece, I am going to do using several parts. It seems the only way to be able to include it all (besides one VERY long film) is to spread it over several sections. I'm imagining the proverbial "mini-series." I'd also like to see it done in realistic motion-capture CGI animation. In many ways, it's the "best of both worlds."

It's truly a shame, for instance, that we always lose the full gamut of Mrs. Darling's fears and toils regarding the coming of Peter Pan. Do you even know about her scouring the floor with a candle in a panic for footprints? And She rattled the poker up the chimney and tapped the walls. She's really freaked out! I mentioned the loss of Mrs. Darling's interactions before in this post.

And none have fully realized the flight to the Neverland. What of the real duration? Where are the bouts with the birds? The touching of shark fins? And the Darlings fearful at being left by themselves when Pan darts off to some adventure without them?

It would also require the alluring task of adding some dialogue for passages such as: [Wendy] gave him a look of the most intense admiration, and he thought it was because he had run away, but it was really because he knew fairies. Wendy had lived such a home life that to know fairies struck her as quite delightful. She poured out questions about them, to his surprise...

If ever given the chance, I want to include it PAN (ALL.) And yes, there would HAVE to be a Narrator for the salient quips included as such.

If you've never read the original, please do so... you'll be surprised at how much you're missing!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What the Dickens? A Bit of Christmas Past!

I don't know about you, but I find things like the parchment writings of Charles Dickens fascinating. Bart and I feasted upon much in Dickens's house during our visit to London this past summer.

And now the New York Times has given us a treat for Xmas. Take a gander at

A Christmas Carol in its original form, even with some tweaks and changes.

Click here.
(Thanks to Tall Guy for bringing this to my attention on Facebook.)

Oh... if you're wondering why I have not yet 'reported' on the new Robert Zemeckis 3-D version... I have not yet seen it. Bart and I wanted to go with Banky & Clara. Clara (understandably) just couldn't "do" Xmas until after Thanksgiving. As it stands, we'll probably have to see it not this weekend, but the next. (I'll be doing something very cool this weekend, which I hope to be able to post about - the decision isn't entirely up to me as someone else is involved.) But rest assured, I shall indeed be seeing the new film version. As I said in this post, I'm quite excited. How I've lasted this long is a Festivus Miracle!

Until then...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Remakery Horror

Okay, if you've been reading my posts,
you know that I "so" have a "thing" about movie remakes.

Short version: It's out of hand. Few and far between are movie remakes worthy / warranted / ideal. But otherwise, it's just maddening.

Who would have thought I could find something entirely NEW (get it?) to get vexed at regarding the proverbial reboot?

The original movie came out in 1979.

The remake came out in 2005.

The NEW remake is already being handled. So... maybe 2010?

SERIOUSLY? We need another version of this movie? So soon?

Why not just make a haunted house film and have people think "Hey, that's kinda like that other one..." and not slap the 'name' on it. Hasn't this town suffered enough? Oh sure, the "recognizable" name is what allegedly will draw people to it. Instant money bucket? PERHAPS, but so soon? It could be, however, that someone is just not yet satisfied with the manifestations of the Lutz family's plight and feels the need to rectify it. If so, I admire that, I really do... but so soon?

Have we all gone mad?

Make us believe in the unbelievable INDEED!