It’s just a children’s book, can’t you cut it some slack?
I bet you can guess that this would set me going…
But fortunately, I do not have to do so. For Mr. Oakes already provided an eloquent response peppered with humor. Even better, he quotes Neil Gaiman.
Like Gaiman says, Children’s fiction is holy.
I’ve commented on and thanked him for his justified rant. He also said I could send you his way. So please, take the time to read his delightfully embittered rebuttal: Some thoughts on children’s literature
Saturday, January 31, 2009
It’s just a children’s book, can’t you cut it some slack?
Friday, January 30, 2009
Michael Sensei posted about what he calls the best known depiction of Pan in Japan. You can find his post on the Bandai series here. A little too cutesy for my tastes. But I like the leaf-construction being evident. And Hook's correct hand is intact (though he has brown hair.)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Well, Bart and I got tickets to
THE Peter Pan event of our lifetime.
A full-scale, historical production of the play in the original home of Peter Pan.
I’m still in a haze about it, perhaps because I am mired in making arrangements. But every now and again I realize I will finally get to roam in Kensington Gardens. The Round Pond, the Broad Walk, the Gates where the balloon lady stood and most of all – Bird Island. To see that with my own eyes!
Oh, and then, there’s the fact that it’s London. Besides the usual sights and grandeur, I’m especially thrilled on account of all the literary culture. Not only will one find Peter Pan, but Dickensian characters galore, the original super nanny, a bear lost in Paddington Station, a curious little girl, the world's greatest detective and the demon barber of Fleet Street. And I’ve missed many, I’m sure.
I’ll update as I have info.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Some good and bad news from the Writing world recently.
First, the good news. This past Monday Neil Gaiman won the 2009 John Newbery Medal Award for The Graveyard Book. It’s truly the most engaging, touching and pleasing tale I’ve read in a long time. I’m quite glad it received the honor. Bravo, Mr. Gaiman! Thanks again for writing it. From what you say, it had been a long time coming. It turned out beautifully.
Latest on the movie of The Graveyard Book:
Neil Jordan is writing and directing. They’re going the live-action route still. I’m especially happy to hear that Nobody Owens, the main character will be played by several different boys. Nobody ages from infant to teen in the novel. It sounds only logical to use more than one actor. But it also allows for the (pardon the pun) fleshing out the individual chapters. Each chapter of the novel is a story unto itself, though linked to the whole, of course. In each one, Bod Owens is his next age. Thus, each actor will be working on their own arc of development, and then also within a larger whole. Has a nice artistic ring to it.
Now, the sad news. Renowned author John Updike has put down his pen at age 76 today. I remember reading about him in my ‘Social Studies’ textbook. You have to figure any author who makes it into a grade school textbook on culture had to have made quite an impact. We all know he did: the Rabbit series, the Witches of Eastwick, over sixteen other novels, numerous short stories, poetry and non-fiction. He certainly left a legacy. Farewell, sir!
GRAVy! (Sorry...sorry...couldn't resist!)
Monday, January 26, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I first posted about it here.
I have to say I enjoyed this “page turner.” True, it’s like an extended episode of SUV complete with convenient twists and turns. True, it’s a love letter to old television shows, movies and books where “Belz” acts out on paper his desire to emulate the likes of Philip Marlowe, Charlie Chan, Sherlock Holmes, Rupert Cadell and Sam Spade. But he truly makes it his own, belittling himself along the way for his attempts at comparison to these mystery greats. And with different "characters" than the show, it doesn't feel derived. If you’re partial to the dry, cool and not always subtle wit of Richard Belzer (and his alter ego Detective John Munch) then you will enjoy this book.
The story takes place in “real life,” meaning that Richard Belzer is himself, the SVU actor. His TV work encroaches on his life with the disappearance of a Russian friend, a Medical Examiner . Determined to uncover the truth, he plays cop. He's lead into the proverbial world of danger and intrigue. The “fictionalized real life aspect” turns out well. Thank goodness, for that is what attracted me to the book. It’s also nice having glimpses into “life on the set.” Whether it be a skirmish with the assistant producer, shooting schedule mishaps or the inside scoop on lunch catering, he grounds us in his non-fictional fiction with all the flair we’ve come to expect from him.
He kept me guessing for much of it, so I must give a nod. I don’t think I’d fare as well mustering up a “mystery” novel. But if I ever tackle it, may it be as much fun as I Am Not a Cop!
Friday, January 23, 2009
I’m for creating stories…I mean, yeah.
But… really? (Make sure to hear the deprecating upward tone)
It’s a cat and mouse. Classic cliché comic capers. Origin story? REALLY?
(Not to mention that in the cartoons they have lived in several houses with quite a few “masters of the house.” This fact alone should pull the plug on their idea. Plus, Tom & Jerry working together never worked in the cartoons.)
Tom & Jerry is one of my favorites, too.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Naturally, I enjoy the escapades of the black and white beagle. I believe my favorite is when he pretends to be a World Famous Grocery Clerk. Yes, you read that right. Is there even such a thing as a World Famous Grocery Clerk? (A Google search reveals only references to Snoopy.) Hence, the humor.
But I of course also love his writing endeavors, striving to be a World Famous Author. Perhaps you are familiar with him plunking out "It was a dark and stormy night" and then declaring that 'Good writing is hard work.'
Part I: It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
Part II is equally random and introduces even more disjointed characters and situations such as the little girl in the tattered shawl had not sold a violet all day. But in a flurry of "Could it be that..." these are all tied together. Although Linus is bonked on the head with the typewriter sailing through the air for asking "But what about the king?"
Also in my personal library is the hardcover edition of Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life. It, too, collects strips about Snoopy's attempts at a novel. Some of the them are the same, of course, but here you will also find the many variants of the line "It was a dark and stormy night." Plus, it has the snippets of his 'romance novel.' (These usually revolve around fights between a man and a woman.) It shows his responses and reactions to rejection letters, his struggles as a writer as well as his other book ideas.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
But I never knew that lyrics had been written for the theme song!
You can read Jack Keller’s words and hear it sung by Peggy Lee here.
A word on the show. Yes, it’s silly. But silly can be good. (A good witch!)
I also enjoyed it because the show often tackled social issues. Whether it be a thinly veiled representation of the 60’s and 70’s “hippie/drug” culture or a clever (albeit impossible) solution to racism, the show never ceased to elevate itself above simple charms. It made us think. Consider the one about what we are doing with our civil liberties when Benjamin Franklin is summoned from the past. Or the commentary about the “importance” of Darrin’s job: advertising.
As for the movie, yes, I enjoyed it. But no, I did not love it. On the whole, though, I liked what they did with it. If you ask me, when you “remake” a television show for the big screen, there better be a good “reason” or “hook” other than simply wanting to see it large.
For instance, with The Brady Bunch Movie, the premise of the Bradys being stuck in the 70’s during the 90’s proved just “stupid” enough to work. To me, it worked on two levels. First, it reminded us of a (for lack of a better term) “simpler time” overly contrasted with an era of too much “grunge.” Second, it placed The Brady Bunch on a pedestal, declaring it as an iconic part of our television heritage. It then promptly proceeded to knock the pedestal over as if to say, “What on EARTH did you ever watch this for? It’s horrible!” by merely turning the volume, so to speak, on the personalities and situations up way too loud.
I know of people who did not like the first movie of Mission: Impossible because in it original star Peter Graves's character turned out to be the bad guy. (Sorry if I spoiled that for you…) But that is precisely why I did like it. A jarring event like that is exactly what would warrant a film version.
Anyway, back to Bewitched. The premise in the movie: a reboot of the television show is being done and they want to cast Samantha based on who is actually able to wriggle her nose. Wouldn’t you know it, but the lady they find who can do it is a real witch - and one who wants to experience being a mortal no less? It’s not rocket science clever, but at least it had a purpose and comic thought behind it. In fact, the very idea for the plot came from the notion of "Where on earth can we find another woman who can wriggle her nose?" And I must say "Bravo!" to the casting of Shirley MacLaine as Endora. When Lemonie and I would cast TV-to-Movie just for fun, we decided no other choice existed. Glad they noticed as such, too. For the record, we also figured Richard Dreyfuss would be ideally suited for Larry Tate, but the film had no need for him. Also a "Brava!" to Nicole Kidman for doing Elizabeth Montgomery justice. (And yes, she did learn to wriggle her nose for the movie - no CGI had been used.)
I just think they ended it entirely wrong. I won’t tell you the end, but I’ll tell you mine. The actors playing Darrin and Samantha reveal to the cast and crew that Isabel Bigelow is a real witch. Thus, she really does the magic for the show. The remount of Bewitched, therefore, would surpass the original in its ratings and popularity. The last scene would be Isabel being asked by a reporter, “How do you account for the super success of the show?” And her reply, of course: “It’s magic.”
Anyway, I hope you’re as surprised as me that the theme has lyrics. Enjoy.
(By the way, as I mentioned in my interview by C.J. Redwine, I can wriggle my nose like Samantha.)
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sir J.M. Barrie’s Captain Hook made second. Not too shabby!
He falls just under Jadis the White Witch of C.S. Lewis.
What I find interesting is that both of them are known to behave sweetly occasionally. Yet the undercurrent of villainy remains, even ironically intensifies. Take this line from Barrie:
He was never more sinister than when he was most polite…
Quite a statement on “bad guys,” wouldn’t you say? I suppose it has to do with the deception. The ability to pretend to be nice. Knowing cruelty lurks beneath is somehow scarier than a villain who is constantly mean.
I have to wonder, though, about the last one on the list - Robert Louis Stevenson’s Long John Silver. Yes, he’s a nasty man. But by the same token, he can be quite caring. And not in the way that Hook or Jadis manifest. The complexity of Silver is one of the aspects of Treasure Island that makes it one of my favorite books. I don’t know that I would dub him a villain. I mean, he’s only after the treasure and will do anything in his power to get it. But is that so different from Squire Trelawney in the novel? Greed motivates all the characters, except, I would say, the main character Jim Hawkins. As far as I remember, he’s in it for the adventure. And his designs on the treasure are such that he’s interested in making a better life for his mother.
And I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll mention it again. Long John Silver and Hook knew each other. The evidence is right there in the texts. (Plus, Stevenson and Barrie were great friends.)
Also notable is that Roald Dahl produced two baddies who made the list. As did the collected stories of the Brothers Grimm.
1 White Witch (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – 1950)
2 Captain Hook (Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – 1904)
3 The Grand High Witch (The Witches by Roald Dahl – 1983)
4 Wicked Stepmother (Snow White by Brothers Grimm – 1810)
5 Cruella De Vil (The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith – 1956)
6 Voldemort (Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – 1997)
7 The Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming – from the 1968 film. Not the original book)
8 Miss Trunchbull (Matilda by Roald Dahl – 1988)
9 The Wolf (Little Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm – 1810)
10 Long John Silver (Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – 1883)
Good to see badness prevail!
Is there anyone you'd have put on this list instead?
Friday, January 16, 2009
The book sounded very intriguing and fun. It’s kind of a real life fiction. As you’re probably aware, he plays on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Likewise, I don’t normally watch the show. I don’t actually watch any of the “crime” programs such as that one. I recognize their merit, however they’re not my cup of tea. But Bart is rather fond of SVU, so I see snippets or the occasional episode every third blue moon. I also know Mr. Belzer from his other work and comedy. So anyway, the book is about him, as an actor on SVU. But it’s a work of fiction in that he winds up stumbling into a crime/mystery and suddenly his real (though fictionalized) life mirrors his TV persona. You can see how that would attract me.
So, I put it my list for Xmas presents, since some people like to have those handy for ideas of what to get people. (I’m not one of them, but I make the list for those that are. I prefer to surprise and be surprised.)
I’m not very far into it. But I am enjoying it. It’s exactly what he described...and every bit as entertaining as I imagined. It’s “impossible” for me not to hear Mr. Belzer delivering the lines. Especially because his sardonic nature is not lacking.
I’ll give a report when I’m done. Um... do I need to file it?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Here’s the opening statement:
To die, Peter Pan famously declared, will be an awfully big adventure.
I wouldn't go that far myself, but it certainly seems infinitely preferable to sitting through this dismal Spanish production of J M Barrie's masterpiece, one of the most lamentable evenings I have ever endured in a West End theatre.
Click here to read the rest. Just make sure you’re not holding liquid in your mouth as you read…
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Well, I discovered that it’s not readily available new. (But of course.) Which also explains why I didn't have it in my collection of Peter Pan stuff. Know what else I found out? I do already have some of it! A handful of the songs are on 100 Years of Peter Pan. Why didn’t I remember? Well, to be honest, I had purchased that long ago…and I’m not all that fond of it. Not that it’s particularly bad. It’s just not something one listens to over and over for pleasure. As I hunted for the CD, Bart asked me what I searched for…and realized that he also had a CD with some of the music: Blackwell Sings Bernstein, a Simple Song.
And so… I gave them a listen.
Hmmm. Well, let me quote an article:
Unfortunately, after this hearing, it's easy to see why no one has bothered to exhume them in the intervening 56 years.
Some of it is pretty but it’s not exactly what I would attach to Peter Pan, even in a squeaky-clean version. So I don't think I'll be rushing to obtain the whole album. The cover (as shown above) kind of says it all…you know, a picture is worth…
Oh well. Maybe that’s why my memory played like Peter Pan’s on this one.
As a side note, here are some wild stage images. The one on the left is from this article, which I quoted. And for the icing on the tainted cake of the story, a grown person is playing Tinker Bell, which as I mention here, also does not bode well with me.
And on the right here is Henry Winkler (yes, “The Fonz”) as Captain Hook. [Wrong hand, sir.]
I’ll stick with the novel for right now, ok? :)
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
We all know he’s off the wall. His wackiness knows little bounds, if any. But even with his dark sense of humor taken into consideration, I must say that I found The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More a bit more alarming than charming. Actually, the story of Henry Sugar is the only one I can truly say I liked. No, I didn’t dislike the others, per se. Let’s say I questioned their entertainment value. I hope this doesn’t sound like some sort of politically correct, white-washing extremist. For I certainly don’t think they’re harmful, need to be censored or anything of the sort. It’s just that I found myself wide-eyed at the ultra-bitterness and proclivity of many of the characters to get away with being quite bad, if not evil. No, I’m not the type who thinks good must triumph in a story. But these seemed so different to me from the general moral tone of his other works.
And I know it’s not just me, for when I related my “concern” over one tale in particular to Bart, his father and sister one evening, they also winced. They then asked when Dahl wrote the stories - earlier in his body of work? As in prior to the more well-known books? I’ve looked it up. Perhaps he became more cynical than usual as time went on, for this collection is well after hits like Charlie, Peach and Fox by 7 - 16 years. Let me show you what I mean.
The story that disturbed everyone is The Swan. In it, a white trash boy and his equally uncouth friend go out to use the rifle he just received for his birthday. Supposed to be on an errand to get beer for his deadbeat father, they kill and string a number of birds for no reasons other than boredom and “sport.” They meet up with another boy - a studious, goody-goody type minding his own business by a lake. After verbally abusing him (with some shoving too), they decide how fun it would be to tie him up and let the train run over him. Peter (the victim) manages to escape death by rocking his head and such down into the gravel, allowing him to be just flat/far down enough that the train goes over him. Ernie and Raymond are sorely disappointed they didn’t get to watch him be murdered. They see a swan on the lake and decide to kill it. Again, for no good reason. Peter protests, both about killing the swan and that the lake is law-protected territory. Ernie and Raymond don’t care and shoot the swan in the head. They force Peter to fetch it. To mock his crying, Ernie says he’s a magic man and can make the swan fly again. Of course, what this really means is he cuts off the wings and ties them (with lots of blood mentioned) to Peter’s arms. Peter is then, at gunpoint, made to climb a tree and told to fly out over the lake. Yes, he is shot at for his reluctance. I won’t tell you what happens next in case you want to read the story yourself. But I will say that it’s “out there” and it doesn’t, in my opinion, justify the rest of the pointless bullying and violence.
In another story, The Hitchhiker (which involves Dahl as a character in his own story, by the way), a pick-pocket relishes his ability to never be caught - even at the expense of stealing from a policeman. Additionally, Dahl (as the character of himself) purposely and knowingly breaks the speeding law, racing his car just to see prove how fast it will go.
In The Boy Who Talked with Animals, we again see how cruel people can be to animals. And the ending (also “out there”) made me wonder as to the otherwise point of this crazy short story.
In The Mildenhall Treasure, we find nothing but greed and deceit. Comeuppance does occur to a degree, but someone also gets royally screwed who does not deserve it in the least.
The collection also includes A Piece of Cake. This is actually Dahl's first published work. Although I could see the “point” of this one, I did not like it much either. I’m not a “war story” kind of guy, so an account of his troubles as a World War II RAF pilot did not sit well with me. Especially his "dementia" in the hospital after his crash. Just a little more horrifying than I needed it to be. But it’s well written, yes. C. S. Forester is the one who encouraged Dahl on this one and made the publication happen, for the record.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, however, is a cute story in a story in story in a story. Overall, it's about a man who develops the ability to see through playing cards. Just imagine being at a casino - gambling man Sugar certainly does. But unlike the other characters in the tales of this collection, he is not a despicable fellow and winds up using his “power” to do great good. It is, well, wonderful. I just don’t think it belongs in this dark collection.
That all said, take note of the top line on the cover. Another "deceitful" measure given the real nature of these tales, wouldn't you say? So, there you have it. Dahl actually left me with a bad taste in my mouth, outside the realm of his usual delightful darkness.
Monday, January 12, 2009
My thoughts on remakes have been posted before. In general, I am against them. But there are times when it makes sense. Well, this re-do is one I consider worthy, if not necessary.
The acting has been slammed. I won’t tell you it shined. All I will say that it does the job. And I think Keanu’s trademark coldness and blasé worked rather well as a disinterested alien.
It’s cited as heavy-handed and preachy. It’s said to drag, to stand still itself.
Hold off on your tomatoes when I address those last two issues:
Do you remember the original movie at all? It’s very much the same.
It had been quite a long time since I'd seen the 1951 version. So Bart and I watched it a month or so before the release of the new movie. Yes, we enjoyed it. But let’s be honest, isn’t it also a bit slow in places? By slow I don’t mean uninteresting. Just not as wham-bam as other alien encounter flicks tend to be. Maybe those put off by the pacing of the 2008 movie fueled their own initial dislike of remaking it, or their unwillingness to see the merits of the movie. And to those who bitch about how beat-you-over-the-head-with-the-message the new movie had been, again, I say: Re-watch the first one. A man comes down from the sky with a degree of magical powers and says, “Hey! Be nice to each other, or else!” He is then hunted down, killed, brought back to life, gives a final warning and ascends back into the heavens. If you can’t see how heavy-handed and steeped in lore that is, then keep thinking until it hits you.
What makes the new version good, for me, are the shifts made in the story. Here, the alien Klaatu is not made out to be a Christ figure. Yet, they do not throw out the Biblical connection. They merely trade it for another. Instead he is akin to Noah, gathering species of the Earth to rescue them from our horrendous treatment of the environment. Maybe people are sick of hearing about this issue, I don’t know. But tiresome or not, it does not lessen the message or danger one bit. If anything, being as blasé about it as some claim Reeves to be is precisely what's wrong with us. Likewise, the film does not entirely dispose of the original film’s warning either. Violent reaction and general stupidity is still rampant. (Yes, they again shoot the alien visitor without asking questions first.) And you know what? The way I see it - since the “original” Klaatu’s message STILL needs to be delivered 57 years after having heard it, then we DO have a problem.
One of the aspects of the new film I liked is how uncomfortable it made me feel. Alien invasion movies are a dime a dozen. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve come to be jaded by the prospect. It’s no longer “scary” on screen. Well, I can honestly say watching this movie I felt threatened. The sense of terror shone through for me like never before in a space attack movie. I felt uneasy, trapped and worried. I like to think that those who saw the original movie felt the same way at their viewing. So I enjoyed this new flick’s ability to bring on that same sense of wonder and fear which is sorely lacking in these kinds of movies. A creeping horror instead of a yawning thrill.
Gort. We all love Gort. And dare I say it, I liked the new Gort much better. First of all, talk about threatening - he’s huge! I’m not sure how large he is, but I want to say he’s at least fifteen feet tall. However big, this menacing metal man is magnified majestically. And thanks to CGI, when his eye-slit closes the effect is much more satisfying - and disturbing. Instead of being able to see a ridge where the slat slides down , the seam dissolves entirely, producing a faceless terror. And as I mentioned in this post, I read there had been an attempt to re-design the famous robot sentinel, only to discover deviation just did not work. Gort is Gort and must be. He’s just the same with the minor tweaks (as stated) but sleeker, not like a guy in a clunky silver suit.
The new film had also been critiqued for the fact that Klaatu is not necessarily a peaceful fellow, here to issue his warning. He’s really here to destroy us. Some claim this to be too far off course from the original. But again, I site the fact that we are STILL a war-mongering people. Maybe we deserve it. (Take that with a great big grain of salt.) Also, the method with which the annihilation occurs has been laughed at and despised. I’d been quite surprised by it… if not creeped out. And it, too, harkened to the Biblical touch of the first film. I liked the synthesis of Nature and Technology. It added to the “humans are primitive and subject to forces” aspect while playing up the otherwise lost creepiness of old infestation movies.
But one aspect, above all, is what I truly enjoyed about the movie. The shifting of a particular event. I’m not going to spoil it for you. But I will say that I deem it brilliant. Yes, brilliant. It packs quite a punch. A real impact. In fact, the re-placement and its consequences alone make this movie a remake to be reckoned with…and I am quite pleased with the results.
Finally, a remake that has a purpose. That’s pretty rare.
Maybe you are laughing at me. But if you are doing so without having seen both films, then have a look at each and then tell me that this rewrite isn’t worth it. If you have seen both and still don’t like the 2008 version, do have another think about the actual re-written elements I mentioned and how poignant they truly are. And if you still don't agree with me, that's fine, too. As my mother says, "That's why there's chocolate and vanilla."
Lastly, consider that the original is not so at all! It is also a re-do, of sorts. It's based on Farewell to the Master, by Harry Bates. Even the 1951 The Day the Earth Stood Still is quite different. You can read about the original story here.
Bravo to writer David Scarpa! And bravo to all who worked on this movie.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Familiar with that one? Fortunately, the book cover explained it as a story taking place during another story of the series. Interesting. I have to say that the actual word didn’t quite sound right to me… but then I didn’t have a better suggestion. Plus, it’s probably just due to not having had time to get used to the term.
I wondered, of course, how common such a term is amid the storytelling world. So I did the quick solution: To the internet! Google yields some pages, but not very much. Typing it into Amazon in a book search, only 5 entries show. I feel a bit better about not knowing it. It’s probably a newer term.
One of the sites that mentions paraquel led me to find some interesting words/concepts on Wikipedia. Though paraquel does not appear, quite a bit is categorized under sequel. Paraquel is but one of a bunch of “quels” that exist. You can check out the full article yourself if you’d like, but allow me to condense it for you.
Sequel – But of course. The narrative of events following an established narrative. Certainly you’re familiar with these.
Prequel – Another well-known term. The narrative of events that occurred before an established narrative, often those that led up to those circumstances that comprise a story.
Here’s where we get a little funky. What happens when a story is a prequel to one tale but simultaneously a sequel to another? Interquel. What? Here’s an example, using a subject I talk a lot about. Sir J.M. Barrie wrote a book called The Little White Bird, where the character of Peter Pan first appeared. Later the chapters concerning him got republished as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. It provides Pan’s origin story. Barrie then decided to expand on his idea and wrote the play, Peter Pan or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. He then penned the novel version, Peter and Wendy, published in 1911. However, there’s an enormous gap between how Peter went from being an infant on Bird Island in Kensington Gardens to being a little boy fighting pirates on the Neverland isle. Therefore, a story that bridges this gap would be an interquel. (For the record, this "problematic" gap of Barrie’s has always been of great concern to me – and I’ve been working on an interquel to explain it. I just had never called it an interquel.)
Midquel – This odd term is what Wikipedia lists to describe something close to a paraquel. A great example occurs in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. The Horse and His Boy is the only one which takes place entirely in Narnia. It occurs during the reign of the Pevensie children as Kings and Queens of the magical land. But at that point in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy had grown up into adults. The Horse and His Boy is one of the adventures they intersected and took part in during that span of time. Though I’ve never seen these movies, Wikipedia states that Saw IV takes place during the events of Saw III. Other examples can be found, too.
Parallel – Okay, this does not follow the suffix rule. But it’s what Wikipedia seems to call a paraquel. It cites Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Shadow as a parallel. For it runs through the events of the first novel, Ender’s Game, but from a different character’s perspective. Also listed is BURN•E, a short film on the WALL•E home videos. It’s a lot of fun, starting with WALL•E’s ascent into space as seen in the Pixar film, but quickly focusing on another droid whose humorous plight intersects the rest of the movie at various points, with BURN•E’s woes being shaped by the events of the actual movie all the way up through the end. One of my favorite “paras” is Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which centers on those two characters. We follow their philosophical bumbling on the “other side” of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Instead of R & G entering a scene to interact with the main characters, the principles enter their scene instead, exiting to leave us with only R & G for yet another scene not otherwise in the Bard's play.
Sidequel - The last one worth mentioning. A sidequel takes place within a pre-established fictional world but using unrelated plots or characters. However, it could also refer to a side story for a particular character, sometimes referred to as a gaiden (a Japanese word meaning side story.) Think The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which transports Link from Hyrule to the realm of Termina.
I hope you found this as intriguing as I did. I have to say I rather like the idea of a paraquel. It allows for quite interesting stories. Perhaps instead of flooding us with over-worked extensions, Hollywood could do more like they did with Saw (assuming the paraquel of those films worked well.)
And perhaps one day I’ll get back to my interquel, Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between.
UPDATE: I did complete the interquel. Click the title in the Subjects below for more about it.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The above passage from Peter and Wendy brought forth an interesting interpretation:
The flying pirate ship.
It’s in all three major movies of Peter Pan: the silent film, Disney’s animated feature and the live-action version. Disney took his inspiration for the incident from the silent movie. It’s possible that P.J. Hogan did as well, or maybe even from Disney, as he also made use of the “living shadow” which I talk about in this post.
My question is: Does (or should) the pirate ship actually fly according to what Barrie wrote?
I say no.
As with the “living shadow,” I can see how the concept is enjoyable. Yet I also think it’s a bit of a stretch. Yes, we are dealing with fantasy, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. But then, is it something that can happen as per the “rules” of the magic in the Neverland?
Note that Barrie does not specifically state the ship sails in the air. He merely makes the distinction that they sailed first and then flew. It’s a leap to think that the ship itself took to the air. Wouldn’t it be just as (or even more) logical that the kids darted into the sky themselves? After all, they flew with Peter Pan to the Neverland without a vehicle. It’s not inconceivable that they would fly back without one. Especially since it would not be as exhausting as the journey to the island had been, having already sailed on the water a good portion of the way.
Next consider that the pirate ship is not a living entity. In order to fly, one needs fairy dust and lovely thoughts. An inanimate object (as far as we know) does not think. Therefore it has no happy thoughts. Sure, it’s possible the children’s capacity for them lifted the ship. Be there is no precedence for such an occurrence. This idea, too, seems to be a magical stretch.
I also think a pirate ship floating along among the clouds would be a little more than conspicuous. Would Peter Pan risk such a discovery? Well, actually, he probably would given his thirst for adventure and his cockiness. But let’s hope that Wendy might have had more sense. After all, she felt strongly about returning home as soon as possible. Why would she want to draw attention to themselves? (Of course, in Disney’s movie, the ship is then seen as a cloud shape. With the other circumstances given in their final scene, the suggestion is it had all been a dream. However, that does not explain (and perhaps contradicts) the use of the flying ship in their poorly executed [and otherwise wrong] Return to NeverLand. As I recall, the ship flies right up to Wendy’s window. Talk about being conspicuous! [Furthermore, I'm curious as to how Hook reclaimed his ship and is able to use the magic to make it fly.] )
In the silent film, the ship simply starts flying. In Disney’s movie Tinker Bell rises to the top of the mast and doles out her dust which somehow spreads over the entire ship. That’s quite a feat for one little fairy! Hogan must have realized this peculiarity, too. In his, Peter Pan whistles and a great many fairies fly rush to his call, spreading over the ship and sprinkling dust. Point being, it must take an awful lot of fairy dust to make the “unthinkable” ship fly.
But for the final word, Barrie’s own screenplay (ignored by Paramount when making the silent film) must be examined. Taking a look at this “final draft” of his story, we find the open sea in reference to the sailing, as well as the wording (to appear on-screen as per silent movies) After many days the gay and innocent and heartless things reach home. Combining those with We have a picture of Westminster and the Thames again with a suggestion of the pirate ship there we are thus led to believe that they did in fact sail on the water the whole time. So, the flying pirate ship did not come from Barrie’s imagination. It’s possible, I suppose, that he thought of it later and then suggested it to Paramount. We have no way of knowing at this point. However, since it’s known that the filmmakers took their own advice rather than his, it’s not likely.
Thus another ingrained image and incident from the tale of Peter Pan is not actually from the story at all.
As I said in the “living shadow” post I do not wish to offend by correcting the fanciful notion. It’s just that misrepresentation can be quite frustrating for a Pan purist like me.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
In this post I expressed my feelings on the remake of Forbidden Planet. In short, this is one update I can understand. Assuming it is handled with care, I am quite enthusiastic. Well, just before my Holiday break, I came across encouraging news. James Cameron has reportedly taken interest in tackling the project. Perhaps for some the over-saturation of Titanic leaves a sinking feeling. But one cannot deny it is beautifully filmed and executed expertly. And who can sneeze at the first two Terminator movies? His upcoming Sci-Fi venture Avatar features innovations in combining live-action photography and photorealistic CGI in 3-D invented by Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment. Supposedly it will revolutionize film and has Hollywood who’s-whos dropping their jaws. Who better to transport us to the Krell’s techno-magic on Altair IV? Let’s hope he’s not forbidden from doing so…
Though I am only vaguely familiar with the next film’s source material, I am much more familiar with the source of the source material. Kenneth Branagh has stepped up to direct the film version of the Marvel comic Thor. The fate of this movie has (like so many others) been all over the map. At one point the desired direction by the studio had me already buying a ticket. Shortly after, though, I felt ready to boycott it. Let me explain. Reportedly the majority of the film would take place in Asgard, the home of the Norse gods. (Drool!) But budget and production concerns scrapped the idea, opting to show very little of Asgard and focus on Earthly action. (Yawn!) Well, as of now, I’m thrilled that it is once again hailed as primarily about Norse mythology, with events unfolding in that realm. Myth is a passion of mine yet I am hard pressed to come up with a live-action film about the legendary Norse stories. I can think of two… and one of those had been a single scene that didn’t make the final cut. The film The Mask originally opened with an assemblage of the gods banishing the troublemaker god Loki into the infamous mask. Not the best depiction, but a depiction nevertheless. The other is the movie Erik the Viking. My apologies to anyone who liked this flick, but I did not. Except for when the gods appear toward the end. I quite enjoyed the spin put on it. But again, it’s not enough and/or feels non-existent. If there’s one complaint oft repeated about Hollywood it’s that nothing “new” is being done. Hollywood ransacked much of the Greco-Roman stories again and again – it’s time to see Norse myths. Well, Mr. Branagh, bring it on!
Another long gestating project is the big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Now in this instance it’s not what’s being brought to the screen that makes me smile. It’s the fact that as of now, it won’t be coming to the screen. According to a MovieWeb article, the movie has been kiboshed on account of Card’s “disappointment in the film's thematic direction.” He won’t allow the movie to degenerate into a “action hero” flick at the sacrifice of the complex human relationships within his novel. In other words, he wants “an honest presentation of the story.” Can you blame him? Bravo, Mr. Card! My friends Sunshine and Doc Holiday adore this series. Despite their praise over the years, I am guilty of not yet reading the books. I know, I know…shame on me. I’ll rectify it. Let’s just hope that if a movie is made, it will both rectify the current situation and satisfy the author and his fans.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Naturally, this time around I grabbed more strands of the woven culture. Such layering! The simplistic becomes complex just by reference. For instance, Anung is subjected to school. Not the teachings of his Tribe, but that of Western culture…Christian culture. The nun is horrified at the mention of anything Native. One of Anung’s friends shows him the Sears catalog, teaming with magnificent goodies - toys, clothes - you name it. He thrills Anung with White Beard who rides in the sky with his magical elk. Ah. The familiar Santa Claus story. But for a young Native American boy, the story is not so common. But how UNcommon is it? Is the wacky mythology of Kris Kringle and all its fantastical elements really all that different from the imaginative tales and legends of Native Americans? Trade descriptions all you want - you will end up with the same substance. A passion for giving, a devoutness for Nature and creativity. By the way, the boys pronounce it Seers [as in See-ers.]
The interlocking is everywhere… from a snowy Christmas tree comprised of white wings to a heroic Native American youth assuming the role of the Little Drummer Boy. And for the record, Mary of Nazareth is depicted as the great woman many expect her to be - except perhaps a bit greater. For this Mary is full of the compassion and wisdom to observe and accept the connectivity of Native and Nativity.
I don’t want to spoil all of it for you… because there’s wonderful news. The show is expected to return! Despite a few who couldn’t dig deep enough into their own shallow view, the response to the show has been great. The founders of Vitalist had been asked by many, “You’re doing this show again… right?” And it’s been very well received by the First Americans as well. Apparently it captures the spirit of their legends, presenting their culture accurately and with reverence. (I whole-heartedly agree!) Corporate backing may be involved... plus, there are plans to take the show to London! BRAVO!
If you missed Anung’s First American Christmas by the incomparable Vitalist Theatre, don’t make the same mistake the next time it comes to life.
Oh… quite honestly, the intensive, triumphant drumming stayed with me long after the blackout once again. I heard the magical pounding still as I helped out with striking the set after the show. There’s something truly sad about dismantling a 14 foot Dreamcatcher.
But it makes little difference… for Vitalist Theatre will continue to catch dreams!
Monday, January 5, 2009
Thus, may I present his delicious remarks:
It is my fervent hope I will entice your seafood loving readers to go to Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab.
Without further ado, Gentle Readers, here we go…
Picture it: Chicago on a very cold evening. Just five and a half hours until 2009.
I alighted the Grand Ave Subway station and walked, nearly breathless with anticipation, east towards my destination: Joe’s.
It was at Joe’s I would greet my beloved and indulge, alright gorge, on a well deserved annual deluxe sea food meal. The likes of which gastronomes close their eyes over and sigh the sigh of le petit mort.
I greeted the vibrant Host who was gaily bedecked in a teal bow tie with a “Happy New Year” and informed him that my other half would be arriving shortly. I didn’t have to wait long at all as Peter arrived early as well. He quickly checked his coat and returned to the Host station where I stared at him with my mouth a gape. Peter was dressed up with a new dark blue dress sweater with an orange button down collar! I gave him a big hug and we then told the vibrant host that we were ready.
Once our table was prepared we walked through a velvet curtain which led into the huge main dining area. As I walked by I noticed all the glitzy outfits the ladies were wearing and the hustle and bustle of the staff all in their well groomed tuxedos. The main hostess festooned with a bespangled jacket handed us our menus as we sat ourselves down and exhaled taking the room in. We then held hands and looked into each others eyes. I then said: We’ve made it to Joe’s!
Glory, Halleluiah! We had survived 2008 and could know have our rewards from the sea.
Our server, Mark, introduced himself and asked if we’d be cocktailing. When Peter asked for a Bloody Mary, Mark asked if it was OK if it arrived with a jumbo shrimp cocktail on top. Oh, Mark, thought I, it was more than OK. Being the shrimp whore that I am I ordered a Bloody as well. As we waited for our drinks we decided on our fair.
Once Mark returned I requested that he take control of the courses but here is what we wanted:
Stone crab bisque – Velvety smooth and redolent of sweet, sweet sherry.
Jumbo shrimp cocktail - Enough said. Smartly served on a bed of shaved ice on a silver tray with a cocktail sauce served with a generous helping of horseradish and lemon.
Select Stone Crab Claws – Delicate in flavor with a delightful texture. Served with a cold mustard sauce. The True gems of the Gulf of Mexico and so fun to pull apart.
Twin Canadian Split Lobster tails – Broiled up spicy and sweet with drawn butter.
Alaskan King Crab Legs – To be seen to be believed. These giant legs arrive table side and are cracked for you so all you have to do is take out the succulent meat, as big as a baby’s arm, dunk it in butter and savor the sweet fresh crab. Once you swallow you feel as though you’ve been gently kissed by a water nymph and you want more and more!
And so we’d get some greens in us we also had sautéed spinach with garlic and olive oil along with a marvelous mixed green salad served with a spicy French dressing.
To wash down all of the above we imbibed in Pellegrino with lime, a fantastic Alsatian Gewürztraminer , and loose leaf Earl Grey Tea.
Being as it was a holiday I forced myself to have a Gold Brick Sundae. Imagine two huge scoops of vanilla ice cream in the shape of snow balls covered in a light chocolate shell with chopped pecans. Incredible and so, so delicious.
Our server, Mark, was sensational. Between courses he asked us to cup our hands as squeezed fresh lemon on to our hands. After we washed our hands in lemon juice Mark wrapped hot towels over them so we would be unfettered as we bravely conquered another course. He supplied shiny silver bowls to discard shells. He was just plain excellent.
As I languorously sipped my tea I counted myself so lucky to have had this experience and then grinned as I new I’d be back to ring in 2010.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
I came across this bit of “news” over the holidays. I believe that I’d already known this (as I tend to seek out Peter Pan related material.) However, when I told Bart about the article, it "shocked" him. I tried to figure out where I might have seen it, such as Bruce K. Hanson's book The Peter Pan Chronicles: The Nearly 100 Year History of 'The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up' but no, it’s not in there. I checked other sources, too. As it stands, I’m not sure how I knew… but here it is.
From the files of “What Might Have Been,” we learn that we almost received the treat of Audrey Hepburn as Peter Pan, fighting Sir Laurence Olivier as Captain Hook!
But the movie never came to fruition, due to a nasty tangle with the House of Mouse. It seems Disney claimed ownership of Peter Pan and the scuffle caused the potentially interesting live-action version to be scrapped.
It also helps explain why there had never (ha!) been a "talkie" film of Barrie’s story until 2003. The Hepburn-Olivier version would have been entertaining, that’s certain. It would also be nice to have some other basis of comparison on film from yesteryear.
But if I’m going to be honest, I’m not so sure I would have liked to have seen a "grown" woman in the role on film. That’s a theatrical tradition…and one that only exists because of the circumstances of the original production. Plus, it didn't quite work for me in the silent film. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Hepburn isn't a fabulous choice if keeping with tradition. But Olivier as Hook? Hmmm…somehow I doubt he would be a comedic Hook. Which, as you might know from this post, is the Barrie way. So yes, I would have enjoyed the great actor as the great villain.
The article that crossed my screen is here.
Well… dare to dream…
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Bart and I had a lovely visit back in my hometown with my parents. A low-key but relaxing Xmas, filled with cookies, relatives and nice times.
Bart and I spent New Year's Eve back here in Chicago and then had our Xmas with each other... among other gifts, he had my Metropolis poster (which had been sadly stuck in a tube for way too long) gorgeously framed in a double rim of red and gold! Thanks, Bart! He's going to "guest blog" about our Eve, so you can wait until then for the details.
Tonight we have our THIRD Xmas, with Bart's Dad, his sister Lage and Aunt. And yes, we have a FOURTH on the way, too... with his Mom, her best friend and Bart's psuedo-cousins. A FIFTH is likely with my buddy Laughter.
I'll be back to regular story/writing related posts in the next one...
I'll start now.
I finished a chapter of the latest book on the plane ride. Somehow it's thrilling to know that part of the story had been composed sky high. For the handful of you who know the plot of the novel, you realize the added "cool" of it being written while crossing a Time Zone. And for the record, I did not type on a laptop. I wrote the old fashioned way... on whatever scraps of paper I had with me... like the other side of my printed out Boarding Pass. It's all since been typed in. And revised. On to the next chapter!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!
I gathered up quite a few ideas to post about, so until then...
HAPPY 2009. May it be bring us all Fantasy.