Friday, January 29, 2010

Suspension Strength Speculation


In my previous post about Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, I mentioned I wanted to bring up another topic related to it.

Let me start by saying that I do not have an answer or a decision on this issue. (Which is kind of funny, given what it’s about.) I’m just bringing it up for discussion, as it were. I’d love to be able to figure it out, but alas, I have not yet been able to do so. Any theories you’d like to present would be great.

I don’t mean to be picking on this movie. As I have said, I enjoyed it as a fun flick. It’s just that this issue came to me once again while watching it, so I’ll be using it as an example.

The problem, in a nutshell, is exposition. Or in another term: explanation.

It would rather appear that Mr. Magorium is a magical entity. He says to another character (Henry Weston [Jason Bateman]): I've been inventing toys since the 1770's. Weston then calculates: You know, that would make you at least 240 years old, sir. Besides his longevity, Magorium seems to have other magical powers at his disposal - or at least is surrounded by magic: objects (toys) and doors/rooms of the shop. It’s quite delightful - except for one bit. I’d like to know the wherefore of it all.

Now, it certainly could be (and probably is) just me. For I asked Bart (who also enjoyed it but didn’t deem it stellar either) and he said that he didn’t mind not knowing about Mr. Magorium. He took him at face value, as some sort of magical being, and that’s that. That’s fine, it can (and for some) does work as such. But not for me. At least…not here.

What’s interesting is that there have been similar cases in other stories where not having some sort of explanation of a character’s attributes or abilities didn’t bother me at all. A very good example is Willy Wonka. He’s got a “magical thing” going on - as well as the longevity factor. I never wanted to question it - he’s Willy Wonka, damnit. You’ll also find a post in which I say that in Burton’s version of it I am put off by the addition of an explanation of sorts (i.e. a backstory.) I even got into a discussion about it with someone in the commentary. I should state, however, that Burton’s “past” for Wonka doesn’t give an explanation of his magical qualities. So that bewonderment is intact.

So the question is: Why am I readily able to accept Willy Wonka’s oddity but not Mr. Magorium’s?

One explanation (HA!) might be that I first viewed Willy Wonka as kid. Had I been less discriminating as a child? A good theory, but I don’t think that’s it. For I’d been the type of kid who found the plot holes. I still am. [Incidentally, I wrote a novel based on a particular fairy tale, spawned out of the plot holes I wanted to fix as a kid.] And yet… sometimes, it just doesn’t concern me. Take for instance, the beloved character with whom I am all too familiar: Peter Pan. As a kid I’d been fascinated by and accepting of the nonsensical in it. I’m STILL willing to suspend my disbelief (rather interesting choice of words for that story) however - it should be obvious at this point that I’m also “concerned” about it. After all, I’m writing a novel that helps explain some of its mysteries. By the same token, I am not trying to eliminate the mysterious either. I’m working within the boundaries of what’s established by Barrie to do it. A betwixt-and-between of rational and irrational elements.

I also recently posted about Disney’s Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. I talk about how she’s just a bad egg, inherently evil for the sake of it - and somehow… somehow this is okay in that particular story. Usually when a character is evil “just because” it does not make for a good tale. Villains are “people,” too… and in general we need to know what makes them tick. How is Maleficent so charming and perfect just the way she is without having to know why?

Back to Mr. Magorium. As I also mentioned in the first post, the movie is written and directed by Zach Helm. Now, in another of his works [also mentioned prior], Stranger Than Fiction, we are expected to swallow the idea that a character and author are linked in the real world. Inexplicably. And yet… I not only swallow it, I eat it up with a spoon. Okay, this one might be able to be chalked up to the fact that I often tell people I “talk” to characters. But even so, it’s a fancilfully written story, and it works, sans explanation. Case in point, I found a “hole” in that story that readily has a self-contained solution. I’d been bothered by that hole until I figured out how it’s not one at all… but still, there remains no reason given why the aforementioned “link” occurs. It just does. And I’m fine with it. Interesting, since both of these stories are written by the same man.

So I put forth: When and why does “it just is” work? What makes an explanation moot? Is it the quality of the rest of the tale? Is it a compelling enough characterization? What’s the tensile strength of disbelief when stretched?

Does anyone else fall victim to this sometime-curiosity?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Great Turned the Final Page...


Farewell to another legend.

Love it or hate it, one cannot deny the power of arguably his most famous novel, The Catcher in the Rye. I, for one, loved it. For each of the many levels it represents. I've identified with Holden, I've chastised Holden and I've been moved by Holden Caulfield.
In fact, I even have character Jeremy Strache read the book as a school assignment in my novel What If It's a Trick Question? (Not willy-nilly, of course... there are some parallels between the two stories.)

Of course that's not all that J.D. Salinger is known for... and his body of work will continue to be enjoyed beyond his passing.

I also should say I admire him having been "reclusive." It's a testament to his words and craft to be able to stand on their own without "major appearances" as per the trend in these times.

Thank you, sir, for bringing a great amount of dignity to a noble profession.
You will be missed, rest in peace.

P.S. - Do you now know where the ducks go?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Tease of Another PAN


An anonymous commenter tipped me off to a few teaser trailers for the upcoming movie adaptation of the graphic novel series by Régis Loisel. They're teasers, indeed! It's a French film, and will be released in France. (Thus the trailers are also in French with no subtitles.)

For those who don't already know, Loisel created a new version of the Peter Pan story in "comic book" form. It's a new telling of it. By which I mean it's not meant as a direct adaptation of J.M. Barrie's tale. Loisel has provided a whole new backstory and seems to have added some to the adventure as it goes along. Many elements are the still the same from Barrie, of course, such as Peter cutting off Hook's hand - but here we get to see it happen.

If you're wondering, no, this "rewriting" of it does not really anger the purist in me. Since this is not supposed to BE Barrie's, or a prequel or sequel meant to be a direct continuation of it, it therefore does not have to adhere to the "laws" or "world" of Barrie. A re-telling is a fairy of another color.

So that one of these trailers makes sense to you, in Loisel's imagining of Pan, he runs away from a dysfunctional home.

The truth is I have not obtained nor even read Loisel's version. For it seems difficult enough to procure the whole set of them in French, let alone in English.

Enjoy... you'll find the
page with the trailers HERE (there are 3 of them, scroll down a little!)

I've another post about Loisel's Pan here.
(As you can read in the comments of the previous post, the video posted on the page is not a trailer for the movie as I had previously thought, but a promotional bit for the graphic novel series.)

THANKS, Anonymous Commenter!

A word (or 126) about that, though - I'd prefer people not be "anonymous." I understand not wanting to use one's real name. However, it allows for ANY moniker. It's a little disurbing (just a little) that someone wouldn't take advantage of that and be creative! And once you have one, why not stick to it? Some of you might already know I have a repeat commenter who prefers to remain Anonymous, but even this person eventually saw the confusion it could cause when I attributed an "Anonymous" to this person which had not in fact been one and the same. THAT Anonymous now goes by another name on here. So, please, give thyself a name... it's a golden opportunity wasted otherwise... not to mention boring.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NOT Taking a Number


Yes, I'm still thinking about and/or writing
Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between

I'm happy to say that I've just figured out how to handle a "sensitive" issue about Peter Pan's history. Not that it took any great amount of tinkering, not in the least. But it's also the simple answers that make this story (i.e. Peter Pan in general) great.

So you're not all wondering what I'm talking about... it's this:
How old is Peter Pan?

Aye, that's the rub, isn't it? There isn't a definitive answer per se, although there are a few schools of thought on it.

So the challenge had not only been how to make Peter Pan "grow up" (to the boy in the Neverland from an infant in Kensington Gardens) but at what age he ceased to continue aging. And not contradict Barrie in doing so...

I'll be recycling a line of Pan's from Barrie's Peter and Wendy and applying it elsewhere in a "new scene" of the past. It will be in conjunction, of course, with some other bits from Barrie as well as a peppering of some real world logistics/research.

So don't worry, Pan fans. I am not going to impose a specific number on him. It will retain the charmingly ambiguous answer style indigenous to Barrie's storytelling. So you'll all still be able to decide for yourselves about Peter's "age." (In terms of growth, of course... for Pan is actually EVER so "old" in terms of timeline of story!)


And no, the pipes are not any sort of hint. I just didn't know what picture to use.
However, they do factor in to Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between in a few instances.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Crossing Between the Lines...


One of the questions I am often asked about
Peter Pan’s NeverWorld:
Is it for kids or adults?

Well, that’s a tricky one to rejoinder. Although I don’t express my reply as such, the answer centers around a return question:

Is Peter Pan (Peter and Wendy) for kids or adults?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to present a case for either in an effort try to convince you. But surely it’s crossed your mind, too. There’s a great deal of material that only adults will enjoy in Barrie’s work. It’s also much darker and more violent than people who are only familiar with the basics (or the Disney feature) might initially realize. Or, on another level, it's quite obvious that the meaning of it changes when one (ahem!) grows up. Thus, suffice to say that Peter Pan is not specifically for children any more than it is specifically for adults.

And so, I usually wind up saying that my book is on that same fence. It’s no more or less violent than Barrie’s and the darker and more mature aspects are there. It is in this “Betwixt-and-Between” place is where I tend to find my own work.

The hero(ines) of my books are pre-teens and teenagers (or in a specific case - early twenties.) But does that make them for that age group? They seem to be stories written about kids for kids… and yet they’re also enjoyed by adults.

For instance, in What If It’s a Trick Question?, the shenanigans Jeremy finds himself mixed up in at high school might strike a chord with a teen, but also serve as nostalgia for an adult. Oh sure, I know, it can be argued that such is the case with any work. But that’s precisely what “troubles” me -- where do these tales belong?

The popular series about the boy wizard is, of course, a very good example of this phenomena, for lack of a better term. Many adults enjoy his escapades just as much as grade schoolers.

In the field, this is often known as “Crossover Fiction” and it’s a general rule of thumb not to strive to write a book with this genre (if it even is one) in mind. Hence, my dilemma. No, I wouldn’t say I'm intentionally writing to achieve a “crossover.” It just… happens.

However, I have found that I am in good company (besides Barrie.) I’ve posted before about The Graveyard Book - a wonderful novel by Neil Gaiman. Well, on the Mouse Circus website, in the section devoted to this work, there are clips of Gaiman answering questions - and this very subject comes up.

Please do take the time to check out the video at this link. I didn’t embed it because apart from having no embed code, it’s better to get sucked in poking around the site anyway. (And I’m not about to copy and paste it without permission.)

So, please, listen to what he has to say. He answers a question about The Graveyard Book before the part I wish to "present" to you.

Nobody’s Name & Neil’s Audience

And yes, I agree with him in terms of his answer. Dead on, Mr. Gaiman. (And thanks again for your masterpiece.)

P.S. - You can also listen to him read the entirety of the novel on the site!


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

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"I'm 'so' done with these, thanks."

Just for the record, here are four subjects for stories of which I am sick to death:


Post Apocalyptic Vampires

Zombies Nazis

You can all go ahead and continue liking them of course, but I for one have had my fill of them.

So I guess the best way to annoy me would be a tale of Vampire Zombie Nazis in the aftermath of a nuclear war (which caused the zombism and awoke the vampires, presumably.)

(Quite an interesting use of the Swastika. I'm hoping they are from the era before the symbol had been chnaged into its present iconography.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Have the Cape and Read It, Too

Time for another “useless secret” regarding an aspect of Peter Pan’s NeverWorld.

In my novel, Peter Pan now wears a capelet, i.e. a small cape. No, Barrie didn’t describe him with one in Peter and Wendy. So where did I get it from - and why did I include it? Even Andrea Jones, author of Hook & Jill, asked me about it during her visit.

Here’s the answer:

Truth be told, I’d rather liked the inclusion of it in Fox’s Peter Pan & the Pirates. It brought an extra certain something special to him, a neat touch out of the routine. But I knew very well that this could not be reason enough to impose it upon the eternal boy. So why else?

As can be expected, one reason for the capelet does in fact come from Barrie. In the original production of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, Nina Boucicault’s costume has something draped over Peter’s shoulders. I figured since Barrie had been involved with the show, if he objected to the small cape it would have been removed. Thus, I’d already found just cause for the addition of it in my novel.


But there’s also another reason. The very first public depiction of Peter Pan, it would seem, is art by Charles Buchel from 1904, used to promote the play before any other bit of it had been released. As you can see, Peter Pan is shown with a big flowing cape. It’s a great piece of art, but the big cape is a little much, I think. Yet it does give another reason to have Pan with something over his shoulders.

And there you have it. I really like Pan with the capelet, so I put it in the book. I of course made sure to have a line or two stating that it’s something “new” such as: Luckily she had a knack for catching hold of the capelet he’d taken to wearing.

Later on, as I learned from the recent Peter Pan at Kensington Gardens prodcution in London, it can also serve as a “reminder” of his wings from having been a bird.

My personal “rationale” for it is thus: It’s a given fact that fairies can weave cloth from leaves, as learned in Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens: … a fairy who had been gathering skeleton leaves, from which the little people weave their summer curtains… So for me it only stands to reason that eventually Peter would have clothing made from such an endeavor. (In fact, that’s precisely the case for Peter’s entire outfit in my book.) And even more importantly, I reckon that some of Peter Pan’s “mothers” (descendants of Wendy) would have left their own marks on the Neverland and sewn him some new togs.

Yet in my mind it’s not one of the “mothers” who presented him with the capelet. Nope. I have something else in mind as to where he obtained it. I don't want to reveal that just yet… as I’ve got a scene in mind for another tale on NeverWorld which will explain its appearance. Nothing major, but I think it would be more fun to find out then rather than now.

Lastly, I also knew that even with these“justifications” for the inclusion of a capelet for Pan, I had to have at least one good reason story-wise. I surely do. The lesser of these is quoted up there, when Amy Alexis Richards grabs hold of it as tries to fly away. But there’s a better reason, too. What is it? Why, it’s in the book, of course! ;)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Now Shall You Deal with HER, O Tim....!


Tim Burton is reportedly being "Wicked."

A new project is underway to put the Gregory Maguire spin* on Disney's best villain. ("Best" is just my opinion, of course.)

Yep, he'll be making a movie called Maleficent, which would be the tale of Sleeping Beauty told from the point of view of the snubbed "dark fairy" herself.

Bart actually beat me to the punch on this one, meaning he came across an article on it first. I'm happy that he did, as Disney's Sleeping Beauty is his favorite of their animated features. In fact, it's the very reason we have a Blu-Ray player and a big (wide and flat) screen TV.

I have to say I'm both happy and shying away from this idea. Maleficent's backstory (or whatever it is to be termed) would certainly be intriguing, sure. But at the same time I rather liked just knowing that she's plain ol' evil. For no reason. Okay, yeah, there's the argument that "simply evil" does not make for a good story. In rare cases, however, it does seem to work. Take, for instance, Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight. Many people liked how he's just... cruel for fun. And here we have Maleficent - the Mistress of All Evil. Does she NEED a reason beyond that fact?

Yet at the same time I can certainly see why one would do it. She's the most interesting part of Disney's Sleeping Beauty and the tale is really about her and the good fairies more so than it is about Princess Aurora/Briar Rose and Prince Phillip.

I'm not putting thumbs down on this venture. I just need to be convinced. It's going to take QUITE a tale/reasoning to make this worth it. Bart's not bouncing off the walls about it, but given his penchant for liking Burton's work and that his favorite villain is getting more attention... he seems okay with it.

Lastly, I found this mention on MTV's movie blog about Burton's Maleficent, which wondered about "Wicked-ing" other Disney villains: Peter Pan essentially baited Captain Hook into having his hand forcibly removed by a menacing crocodile, only to meet his maker at the same crocodile's jaws later down the line. Meanwhile, Pan gets to fly around, command a group of wild, homeless children and look like the hero. There's a word for that kind of group: it's called a gang. I'd be bitter too if I was Hook — it shouldn't be difficult getting mainstream viewers on board, as well.
Here's a link to the article by Josh Wigler.

I wouldn't say Pan baited Hook into losing his hand (and the boys are not exactly homeless), but I found the rest rather amusingly true. Peter Pan does have a "gang" in the 'modern' sense from one point of view. And I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Precisely what I thought Spielberg's movie would be.

Let's hope Maleficient proves worthy.


*[If you're somehow not already aware, Maguire wrote Wicked, the story behind OZ's Wicked Witch of the West - telling us how she came to be 'wicked' - putting her in a sympathetic light. A very successful Broadway musical cropped up out of it, too.]

Note: The Blu-Ray restoration of Disney's Sleeping Beauty IS rather impressive.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Comrade Pan


Well, bust my buttons.

We've all been slightly wrong!

Peter Pan by P.J. Hogan is not, technically, the first live-action movie of Barrie's story (with sound.)

Thanks to Jason A. Quest's Neverpedia [a thorough (but still gathering info) database of all things realted to Peter Pan] I've just learned that a Soviet version had been produced in 1987 by Belarusfilm. It's also a musical. So, perhaps, if we want to get very technical, this is not a true straight adaptation of just the story and Hogan still has the distinction of being the first live-action. But that's splitting hairs. (Either way, Hogan's is the first Hollywood edition.)

You can find out more (and interesting) information about "Питер Пэн" (the Soviet Peter Pan movie) on this page from Neverpeida.

You can watch a clip from it below. (What ISN'T on YouTube?) The YouTube page of it has the lyrics translated as well.



Here are my thoughts:

(None of these are meant as complaints. Just observations as per what I'm used to or one would normally expect from the story.)

The Underground House set is quite wonderful — have to wonder about that bedspread, though.

Peter Pan's outfit is quite interesting - a far cry from the leaves. A little more like Disney's tunic and tights yet that doesn't come springing to mind at first either.

It's on the correct hand, but my word, what a different type of hook for the Captain! Very angular! It's almost (if not) scarier!

Unless he's been using a wig for the rest of it, I'm not so sure about Hook's haircut given this description from Barrie: ...his hair was dressed in long curls, which at a little distance looked like black candles, and gave a singularly threatening expression to his handsome countenance.

Hook is sufficiently creepy.

Peter's leg arching while he sleeps is a great touch, as you'll find that in Barrie. (Missing the arm over the bed, however.) One arm dropped over the edge of the bed, one leg was arched...

As for the music, it's a little (ahem!) 80's but then again, it came out in 1987. I do like the melody. And Hook singing isn't bad in the least. It's more of a gleefully evil singsong speak which to me seems more appropriate for the Captain.

I would love to be able to see the rest of this movie!

Thanks again to Jason A. Quest at Neverpedia as well a thank you to yamino4444 who posted it on YouTube.

UPDATE: Since came to realize - "Питер Пэн" had been made for TV - which also pencils in another reason Hogan can be considered the first, if we are talking about theatrical release.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mr. Magorium Left Me Wondering...


When I saw the trailer, I had thought the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium looked rather charming. But I’ll be honest, it didn’t sparkle so much that I felt I needed to see it in the theater. I finally got around to watching it this past weekend.

I did not expect it to be the most wondrous film this side of the imagination. Plus, I (quite randomly for her) asked Sunshine the other day if she had seen it and what she thought. After some jogging of memory as to which film it might be, she said she had seen it with the comment: Eh, it’s a movie. Doesn’t suck, isn’t fantastic. Thus, I didn’t have the highest of hopes for it.

I’m not about to say that it exceeded expectations or even blew me away. I suppose I agree with Sunshine. Entertaining, but nothing to write home about, as the saying goes. So why am I writing about it? A couple of reasons.

First, I am sort of contradicting myself when I say that my hopes for it did raise a little when I saw who wrote it - Zach Helm. He’s the marvelously demented man who brought us Stranger Than Fiction. From the moment I saw its trailer up through this very moment, Fiction has been one of my favorite movies. (My commentary on it is here.) Mr. Helm also directed Mr. Magorium, just to note. And each of them star Dustin Hoffman who’s delightful in both. Thus, I thought maybe Mr. Magorium’s store just might win my affections just as much. But not so much. Don’t get me wrong. I did like it. It just didn’t thrill me the way Stranger Than Fiction did.

Second, I just wanted to “ask” if there’s supposed to be a sequel. Or if not a sequel than more to this story? For the way it ends, without spoiling it, a whole great deal more is about to happen. Sure, it could be one of those tales in which the audience is meant to do all the imagining as to what comes next. For anyone who has read my novel Peter Pan’s NeverWorld, there is a whole bit about “finished from done.” It didn’t seem as if this film knew the difference. That’s not meant as an insult or slam of any kind. I’m not saying the film felt unsatisfying or lacking. Just that there seemed to be...more to this story. It ends rather abruptly. And yet, it’s entirely able to stand on its own, too, as per the aforementioned allowing the audience to create their own adventures for the characters. It's also quite possible that the entire point had been that we must live our own adventures, not knowing quite what will happen next.

But on the whole, it's a fun ride. If you’re looking for a sweet, charming, “eye candy” movie, this won’t let you down. But it won’t necessary leave you on Cloud 9 either.

Incidentally, there are two not so hidden references to the movie in this review. ;)

Actually, there’s one other aspect of this film I want to discuss. But I’ll leave that for another time…

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Midnight Time AT LAST

It’s midnight time for me.
No, not by the clock, by the book.
After a LONG time of revising it,
I’m finally sending out the query letter for

Midnight Chaser.

Wish me luck.

[I know it’s official, for I already received a ‘rejection.’]

Moving on…

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Peter, a Break Through!

Last night proved quite productive for the writing of Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between.

Besides finally getting through what I had initially scribed the first time I worked on it, I also finally felt good about the one section of it. Part of the reason I hadn't read through it all had been because every time I would sit down to write/read, I couldn't help but back track to that section. You see, it's a rather delicate matter and I wanted to polish it. It's one of those Barriesque moments of being "clearly ambiguous." In other words, a kind of purposeful confusion wrapped in specifics which seem just beyond one's grasp and yet stands as a satisfying answer. Try making sense of that... and then try writing such a thing.

I also then found myself ahead of myself. What do I mean? Well, I'd have 'just come up with' an idea and write it in the notes I keep at the end of what's written... only to discover that I already had that same or a similiar idea once before which I discovered upon reading some other notes I found. It's quite a great feeling, to be on the same page, so to speak, then and now. Such an event leads one to the believe that one is definitely on the right track, especially since the "new" note extends and amplifies the "old."

Just as I imagined would happen, I did indeed decide to dispense with an entire set of characters. They'll only convolute the story needlessly.

However, even more momentous than ironing out that tricky bit (for now!), having great match-ups of storyline, weeding out the useless and finding new ways to tie it all together nicely, something happened in the figuring which threw me for a loop.

My perception and belief about part of Barrie's tale shifted — to the very opposite of what I once thought! No, it doesn't negate anything I have already written. And no, I am not yet sure about it. I still need to ponder it further. I suspect I will just forge ahead and let Peter Pan and the other characters of this book sort it out and/or dictate it to me. But I certainly did have my mind proverbially blown when this development arose.

What part of "Peter Pan" am I talking about? All I will say for now is that I had meant to discuss it one day as a post. In fact, the very idea is brought up in another post and in it I say I will one day get back to the matter. Little did I know the matter would get back to me!

I'll continue to keep you posted about how Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between progresses.

(The title of this post is, of course, a play on the first chapter "Peter Breaks Through"of Peter and Wendy)
Oh... and I whipped up the drawing just now.

Song (Little White) Bird?


I came a new song from teenagersintokyo.

It's called "Peter Pan." They allow you to listen to it on their MySpace site, and you don't have to be logged in to MySpace in order to hear it.

It reminds me of the "techno ditties" of the 80's... and truthfully doesn't seem to have much to do with its namesake. That is not a criticism, just an observation. For I could very well be missing something. Either way, I'm glad to know the eternal boy inspired them.

"Peter Pan" is from their (at this time) forthcoming album.

Just thought I'd report on it. If you wish it, you can listen to it here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

RebooterMAN


Yes, yes, I know. I need to stop getting so worked up over what’s brewing in Hollywood. I would, I Reallywood, if they’d stop giving me stuff to rant about. It’s just ludicrous.

Back in this post, I (I’ll say it) bitched about their remaking of The Amityville Horror so soon.
As in about 5 or 6 years after the first remake. Seriously?

Okay, when I first heard the term “reboot” applied to moviemaking, I did think it had appeal and merit. Taking a long running series that ran itself into the ground, so to speak, and starting fresh.

Now, however, they are rebooting Spider-Man. Oh sure, I couldn’t even sit through that last one they tried to pass off as a movie, and the second had its muck ups, and even though I loved the first one I had a few issues on which I had to look the other way…

But a “reboot” so SOON? Why not let it die down first? Let US have a fresh take on it, too, with the first set out of our minds before re-presenting it? (Out of our minds - that’s about right.) And it’s entirely new - cast, crew, director, etc.

All this is said with my current disdain and growing intolerance for superhero flicks aside. If it had been any recent franchise rebooted so soon I’d still be exasperated.

Good gravy.

(Just for the record, I did eventually watch Iron Man, even after my “sick of superheroes” stance. And I have to say - I did love it. I do not have a single bad thing to say about that film. Executed beautifully.)


(And no, they're not going with Spider-Ham... I just felt it deserved it.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Look What iFound


Coming across Peter Pan related material that hasn't passed my way before has become something of a rarity for me. Ah, obsession! But everyone once in a while, I'll stumble upon a way to find one that's been hiding in the Neverland jungle. Such as iTunes. Truth be told, I don't purchase much from iTunes. In general I tend to prefer actual CDs and also in general I don't hunt for music very often. So, while browsing (it does happen sometimes) the other day, I typed in "Peter Pan" (imagine that!) and found a treasure.


A CD with 33 tracks, outlining the story in an orchestral score. I pecked around at such titles as "I Do Believe in Fairies" and "The Room" and "The Injured Peter on the Rock" and quickly made my decision to purchase.


Having listened to all of it several times through now, I feel the piece captures the mood of the tale quite well. Intense, sweet, powerful, soft, precious and spooky all at the right moments laid out in a wonderful composition. Bravo to Stephen Warbeck! For he's the man who crafted this musical retelling of Barrie's classic in classical style.


By now you may have already read the words on the picture. Well, I did not at the time. Two reasons. 1] Buying it through iTunes (and quite eager to hear the snippets of sound) I didn't fully examine (or make larger) the cover art. 2] When downloading from iTunes, the full track name didn't show up in my particular window setup. And when I said quick to purchase, I meant it. So I did not, then, initially realize the reason for this fantastic score. Ballet! But of course.
Yes, it's David Nixon's Peter Pan as performed by the Northern Ballet Theatre. So another Bravo! to the Northern Ballet Theatre Orchestra and conductor John Pryce-Jones.


Bart's been hearing me play it (since I've been writing Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between to it) and loves it as well. He now wants to see the ballet should it ever come to Chi-town. At this time the show is still running. More information can be found at Northern Ballet Theatre

I've compiled a 60 second mix of some of the music. I wanted you to be able to experience a bit of the grandeur for yourself:

video

Buy at Amazon.com
(iTunes link seems only available through iTunes program)

Note: If I'm infringing, my sincere apologies, and I will remove it if instructed. Please consider though, that merely one minute of 1.2 hours of music is being used to entince others to purchase this composition and/or see the show.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Me? Tragic??"


The title quote is from P.J. Hogan's movie Peter Pan, not the actual story or script. But it fit so well with this post.

These poor actors... this poor show... oh, my. To quote Hook in Hogan's film (which is really said by Starkey in the novel): Oh evil day!



If you're in need of more "tragedy," here's a link to another production's woes which I posted before. It's not a video, but a review to end all reviews.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Planning the Neverland Arrival


I don’t know whether you have ever seen a map of a person’s mind…
There are zigzag lines on it, just like your temperature on a card…
- J.M. Barrie
Peter and Wendy


That’s how my mind feels right now. Or at least it describes my current process of writing.

As you may know, I’ve gone back to Barrie’s world to finish my interquel novel Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between. In a nutshell, it bridges the gap between Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy.* In order to do so, I’ve been zig-zagging back and forth between ideas scampering around in my mind (both new ones and playful thoughts which have been skipping about for some time) and back into Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, over to my notes, back toward research (both Barrie and otherwise) and again to the Barrie book, to my book… here, there, back again…you get the idea. Oh sure, this sort of activity happens all the time when writing a novel. But I do believe much more so this go around, as I’m contending with Barrie’s universe in addition to my own work.

Having re-read his prequel story, I came upon quite a few bits which struck me in a new light. So I’ll be using more elements from the original to craft my tale. I’ll need to insert some scenes into what I’ve already written. But no matter - as I’ll enjoy doing so. I’m following my general rule of writing out of sequence. I have a couple spots with “placeholder” text, detailing in most general terms the nature of the action and dialogue. I’ve also chopped out a few chunks, both large and small.

And last night, after staying up way too late working on it… I lay in bed, unable to think about anything but this story. Then an idea came. One I could not ignore, one I built upon then and there…next, quite possibly what are to be the final two lines of the novel. I had to leap back out of bed to write it down.

So, in essence, it’s going well. I’m pleased, as all of the additions and cuts will strengthen the novel immensely. Puzzle pieces are falling into place.

And I have YET to get through all that I’ve written thus far upon the first go at this novel, having revised and reworked and backtracked and consulted and…
okay, never never mind…

* Note: It does not bridge the entire gap of the books.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Check. Please?

I snapped this photo of the floor when Bart, Lage and I saw
The Princess and the Frog.

Taken in an AMC Theatre in downtown Chicago. (Since we also dined downtown, we did not go to our usual haunt.) I'll specify which theatre in a gross exaggeration: After the feast, I found myself a little ill and a lot annoyed.

But seriously, I did cringe exasperatingly. For right there on the floor, large as ever, a glaring misquote. "Play it again, Sam." In the classic gin joint story of Casablanca, Sam never hears that line for Rick never exactly utters it.

Jeepers! Shouldn't they check before it gets "set in stone?"


For the record, the comma is there. The snapshot cuts it off.


And even the great Jeopardy! slipped up the other day,
with this miswriting of Barrie's famous fairy name:
(Cross off one of the choices on that quiz question!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Have at Thee! (A tough 'Peter Pan' Exam!)

PETER PAN - The Really Tough Quiz
Think you know the story of the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up?

As per being asked to do so once (maybe twice) I've concocted a "tough" exam of Pan.

See how well you fare against both common (mis)conceptions and uncommon minutia.

Click the picture when you're ready.

Don't worry. It doesn't ask about Kings of England or verbs that take the dative.



Feel free to post your results as a comment! ;)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Crabs & Frogs for 2010

2010. Jeepers!

All righty, I suppose I should get back to the virtual world of this site.

I'll start the posts off by telling you how I rang in the New Year.

On New Year's Eve, Bart and I had our usual and annual feast at Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. Bart's sister Lage joined us this time. Once again, I found myself defeated. By which I mean the crab legs (as big as a baby's arm [which is only a slight exaggeration] without the shell) proved too much for me to tackle. Of course, that probably wouldn't be the case if I didn't also dine beforehand on scallops and stone crabs and stone crab bisque and butternut squash. I just never learn, as it's all so damn tasty that I/we can't stop ourselves... I skipped the lobster tail this year, although Bart and Lage had some. If you haven't (and want to) read it, Bart's guest post "report" about the experience from last year can be found here.

But before our meal, we saw Disney's latest animated feature, The Princess and the Frog.

All three of us thoroughly enjoyed it. I figured I might, given what I had seen of it. But I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. I've never been that much of a fan of the Frog Prince storyline, to be honest. But the House of Mouse spin on it certainly seemed intriguing. If you don't know - and this is not spoiler for they want you to know this part - the twist happens to be that kissing the frog turns the lady into a frog as well. So off they go on a quest to restore themselves to humans by seeking the help of Mama Odie the voodoo queen who lives deep in the bayou. (Also for those who don't know, it's set in New Orleans.) But what I really didn't expect: The other twists in the story.

First (too late), let me say why I didn't think I'd be that entralled besides not being all that keen on the source material. The firefly character seemed overly annoying in the trailer and advertisements. As if they tried too hard. The same goes for the alligator. They had the potential to be overdone and quickly tiresome. But on the contrary, Ray (firefly) and Louis (alligator) each proved to be a hoot. I loved each of them. (Bart and Lage, too.) Both characters really came into their own, developed beyond their all-too obvious visual jokes. Ray's a cajun, ugly rascal with huge rump/light and big-bellied, scaredy-cat Louis blows a trumpet. Sometimes disliking a character can sour a whole picture. But as I said, they brought quite the smiles.

I'm quite happy to report that Disney didn't skimp on the scary. Not that it terrified me per se, but it certainly had its share of freaky frights. After all, it is dealing with voodoo! Dr. Facilier [a.k.a. The Shadow Man] delivered a lot of spooky delights. The Mouse House allowed such elelmets as needing blood for spells and dark, sinister demons. Not that they've ever been so squeaky-clean that they didn't have such material before (such as Maleficient screaming "...and all the powers of hell!" while transmogrifying into one of the greatest dragon designs ever, Chernobog the Devil summoning ghastly entities from the infernal depths and the overly creepy rise of a titaness Ursula the Sea Witch.) But given that Princess and the Frog is Disney's proverbial "return" to '2-D' animation, it's nice to know they haven't lost their edge among the cute parts.

As for those twists I spoke of, well, I will not spoil them for you. But I did not see either of them coming, I can tell you that. Very clever indeed. One is almost like an exploited loophole. However, it's quite effective, as it catches the characters off guard, too. Well, most of them. One of them knew the whole time. ;) Glad I didn't.

The animation's top notch. No lack of effort there. Nothing like the cranked out direct-to-video stuff. Quite beautiful. It even changes styles here and there (dream sequences) and they handle each of those very nicely, too. Quite [ahem!] stylish (as well as stylized.)

Although I really haven't heard or read any bad reviews of the film, I have heard some complaints, as it were, that characters were too similiar to other films. Dr. Facilier, for example, has been called a rehash of Jafar from Aladdin. Louis the Alligator has been said to look exactly like the crocodile in Peter Pan. In addition, Louis also floats on his back in the water, with characters riding on his belly - which brings to mind Baloo the Bear in The Jungle Book. Kaa the Snake from that film admittedly does share much in common with Mama Odie's snake helper. But I don't acknowledge these as rip-offs. They're most definitely homages. Disney's notorious for homages. Both to and in their own films as well as other movies. They don't feel like re-uses at all. They're most definitely nods. If you want an example of a rehash, try the giant octopus in Return to Never Land. Now that's a recycled, unimaginative bit - down to the eye movement and the tick-schlock noise of the suction cups - to say nothing of the exact same storyline as the original. But I digress. Dr. Facilier, Louis and the serpent all have their own personalities entirely. They're not trying to recreate the same characters, merely tipping a hat to them.

They also managed to reference some key fairy tale elements - such as the infamous needing to be finished by midnight or all is lost.

Lately a lot of music (words and score) in some musicals have made me yawn, but these tunes are rockin' - just as one would expect from a New Orleans setting. Very fun and sweet lyrics, too. The kind that advance a scene or idea, as a good song in a musical should.

It's not the crown jewel in Disney's treasures, but it deserves a place in their trove for sure.


After the movie and dinner Bart and I counted down the time to midnight watching Season 1 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which Banky gifted me with for Xmas. We just got into Sunny this past year, so it proved quite a treat to begin our "catch up." Thanks, Banky!

All in all, a very satisfying ringing into 2010.