Friday, October 29, 2010

Tell It to Me Again...

I’m a little muddled on the concept of the “re-telling” of story.
From what I've seen lately, I think the term has become quite confused and ill-used.

Webster’s Dictionary defines it simply as: a new version of a story gives a little more info with this entry:
a new, and often updated or retranslated, version of a story.

I always took it to mean someone else is conveying a previously told/created story using their own flair, wit and words and possibly adding a new element here or there, or (as the online Dictionary suggests) updating it to meet current trends.

For instance, the story of Cinderella has been around since, for all intents and purposes, the dawn of time. One version or another of a tale of a bedraggled and abused person coming to happiness and fortune by the aid of a presence beyond the normal scope exists in every culture for century upon century.  Along the way, storytellers have put their own spin, so to speak, fleshing out the well-known facts of this rags-to-riches narrative in another light, changing a bit to give it their own pizazz or making it seem fresh.  Take Charles Perrault, who brought us the glass slipper as opposed to the golden footwear. Is it the spirit of her dead mother in a tree or is it a Fairy Godmother that comes to her aid?  In essence, it doesn't really matter... so long as she does have a “supernatural” helper to some degree. And so, Cinderella is “re-told.”

So my idea of a the reason/form of retelling would simply be for an author to “put it” as s/he would in her or his own style and way but ultimately following the original plot.

Where it gets complicated, it would seem, is when it's applied to a story that is not derived from an undiscernable source (a la fairy/folk tales passed down via oral tradition) but rather a tale conceived of and set down by a particular author.  Lately I have seen the word describing stories that use such an established tale as a springboard to send the characters and/or plot in a new direction.

For instance, let’s say one wants to retell Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This new version starts off with her following the White Rabbit down the hole and meeting most of the same wacky bunch of characters but now Alice finds the cookbook to control the potent size-manipulation and uses her knowledge of the chessboard (as we can assume that the new storyteller wants to bring in elements of Through the Looking-Glass as well) to become the supreme ruler of the wondrous place and does so permanently, never leaving 'Wonder-Glass World.'

Okay... to me, that’s not a retelling. That’s something else...a... hmm... I’m not really sure. The word “reimagining” is often bantered around, but I don’t think that quite applies either.

As I see it, a reimagining would be something that takes the premise and tweaks it into another way of looking at it. For instance, the Alice tales reimagined: Alice is a quantum physicist who stumbles into another ‘string’ of reality and becomes increasinly more insane as she tries to apply her knowledge of how our universe functions in a place where the behavior of matter (and customs) are quite different and 'break down' from our own.  However, for all this imagined-differently, Alice still winds up at a banquet table, plays lawn darts with a Queen, is put on trial and then escapes...hence, recounting, more or less, the original events through this lens of our modern scientist Alice.  But then... since this "version" follows the semi-exact path of the stories by Lewis Carroll, does it then become a retelling rather than a reimaging?
Let’s take an example that actually HAS built upon Alice. The Looking-Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor has been labeled a retelling, so it's a prime candidate for this argument. For those who don’t know, heir to the throne Alyss escapes from another world (you know where) into ours and tells mathematician/deacon Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Carroll) her harrowing tale of her aunt (the Red Queen) having taking over the throne and the land with a bloody and iron fist. The main characters are there, but in almost complete other forms. The ‘rub’ is that Dodgson/Carroll got her true stories all shuffled up, mistaking her plight for fantasy and "told it wrong" thus creating the wacky “children’s story" we know. And so, Beddor presents us with the "real" story of Alyss/Alice.  But that’s not a retelling... is it?  Again, the Alice stories aren’t quite being TOLD in it... they’re being used.

For another example, would Sarah Gray's Wuthering Bites be a retelling?  (See this post.)

I don’t mean to suggest that new elements cannot be brought in, nor that the events of the new version/vision must follow the sequence of events to the letter. Far from it... as evidenced by the Cinderella example. But when one takes the story itself FAR FROM IT, that’s, well, another story...

From the realm of the silver screen, I put up Sydney White as an example of what a completely overhauled story can be like and yet STILL be considered a re-telling.  Sydney White reconstitutes the story of Snow White but on a college campus.  Is it one-for-one with the fairy tale?  Okay, no, not exactly.  But then again, the SPINE of the story is there.  The major elements from the original tale exist in one form or another -- the magic mirror is a social networking website at the school showing student popularity, the poison apple [very easily yet smartly done (I won't reveal how!)], the seven dwarves become the 'seven dorks' [all wonderfully 'translated:' Sneezy has major allergies, Doc is a grad student, Bashful has social development issues, etc.] -- and the story takes serious turns from the original such as an election for Student Body President... yet it flows along, quite obviously parallel to the famous tale we all know.  It's marvelously done.  Bravo to writer Chad Gomez Creasey!

So I put this question out there:
What is a retelling?
Can something be a “retelling” if the original tale is not actually being told?

And if not, what DOES one call such a novel/story that borrows the locales, concepts, characters and a smattering of events from another author's  (whether specific or not) story? 

And if you’re wondering: No, in my mind the bold & marvelous Hook & Jill by fellow author and friend Andrea Jones is not a retelling.  Andrea's work is grounded in the adventures the Darling children are having in the midst of Barrie's tale, but then veers from his events into a brand new adventure for every character in it.  Thus it’s a... an alternate timeline, perhaps?  Yet this term does not cover many (or most?) of the other such adventures (ahem!) re-told.

Is the word we need for such storytelling re-envisioning? Or maybe reworking?

Is it just me?  Why are we labeling things a retelling when they are merely based on another tale?  Am I unclear on the meaning of "retelling" or has the world gone mad with a misnomer?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Scrambling Scribbles

I’m still developing the new novel. I’ve drawn one of the main characters and he turned out pretty well. I did wind up learning more about him just from drawing him. [Yeah, that's the top bit of him on the left.]  The other guy, though, is a little trickier. I didn’t draw him correctly, for both he and I are objecting to how he looks. So I’ll keep plunking away at him. He’s a little more shy, so he’s not very forthcoming, plus there’s a story reason why he wouldn’t quite be defined yet in terms of his appearance. (Then again, there’s a story reason why he would, too.) Confused? Yeah, I am a little bit, too.

The fact of the matter is, however, that even though I’m generating cool ideas and/or scenes, I still haven’t found the thru-line, a la the main plot or what the protagonists “want.”

And just when I thought perhaps I should put the whole novel idea(s) off to the side... lo and behold, I’m struck with what might be the very piece I’ve been missing. I’m going to have to have another gander at all I have written down and see if anything locks into place. But at least this new spark is the kind that might ignite the rest of it. I do know right off the bat that part of it connects directly to something the main guy told me. But I also know that I’ll still need a motivation from another one of the guys, since it would be he who is responsible for setting said spark in motion.

However, if I do find that I just can’t get my wonderful collection of snippets to be anything more than a collection I will have to set it aside for the time being. After all, it isn’t as if I don’t have other books to give a whirl. I’ll either try and pick up the pen for the sequel to What if It’s a Trick Question? or perhaps the third book in Thom’s series (both of which do have the overall plot set already.) I tried once before to get Thom’s final adventure to flow... but he just wouldn’t have it at the time.
All in all, I’m grateful for the fact that I’ve got plenty to keep me going. And in terms of this book that’s slow in development, I still do love the characters.

 Meanwhile, I’ve got another person who is about to read about my boy named Jeremy (on left) in What If It’s a Trick Question?   Hosah.  I've got quite a good number of people who want the sequel... hmmm.  Maybe I should try and tackle it?

I’ll see what happens.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Heads Up for a Disney Classic

Every year about this time, Bart and I watch the Disney animated short of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  Last night proved to be this year’s “when.”

As far as Disney adaptations go, Ichabod Crane is one of their best. Why? Because the character designs are a delight and you get to hear Bing Crosby croon a little. Oh no wait, actually it's because it’s quite faithful to the Washington Irving tale. Anyone who knows me (or has been following along with my posts) is aware that I’m a purist. In this case, Disney’s cartoon does not veer much from Irving’s tale. And still they manage to insert many signature House of Mouse visual quips. Truth be told, I am also rather fond of the bit they added that (it often seems) has become ingrained into the story: the flaming Jack-O-Lantern thrown through the covered bridge. It’s just so appealing and if thought of in the right frame of mind is actually kind of terrifying. The best part about it, though, is that it’s not entirely foreign to Irving. At the end of his story we’re told all that had been found left remaining of poor frightened Ichabod had been his hat and smashed pumpkin. It pleases me that they were able to take part of the story and expand on it so well.

I’ll also admit that the envisioning of the Headless Horseman himself (as well as his steed) is equally appealing. Quite spectre-like indeed. There’s something grand about the simplicity in the animation, a shadowy depth of a menace. However, there’s also a part of me that likes to imagine him as realistic as possible, as in wearing the traditional uniform of a Hessian soldier from the Revolutionary War era.

I wound up looking that up once... and then wound up describing the outfit in detail on the page. No, I didn't decide to do a version of Sleepy Hollow... rather I liked the character so much that I borrowed him to pit against Jeremy in a scene within What If It's a Trick Question? which culminates on Halloween night.   I put my own twist on it, of course, and I've been told by a few people they rather like the scene.  It's one person's favorite in the whole book.

I also want to point out that aside from Disney's flaming pumpkin, this is another tale that years of retellings have embellished to the point of people often thinking certain parts are in fact in part of the original - such as Brom actually dressing up like the Headless Horseman to scare Ichabod [prior the real Horseman showing up later.]

And last night, while watching, something else struck me in Disney's - the colors of the clothes.  As if back in the day they had such vibrant and excessive pigments on each article of clothing.  Sure, it's possible, but it's also the cartoon trying to be visually engaging.  This probably only came to mind since I recently looked into the clothing of that era in regards to research for the new novel I'm developing.

I guess you can gather that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorite tales.  And how great that it's a bonafide folktale... in a real place!  Spooky.

Some points I've made are clarified in the comments... especially regarding the 'interpretation' of Irving's actual narrative elements that would otherwise appear as if I 'missed the point.' 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

From the mouth of a puppet.

One more bit that jumped out at me in The Adventure of Pinocchio.
Don't fear, it's not a complaint of the story structure.
Rather, it's an observation of how something I normally think of as contemporary had also been used as early as the late nineteenth century.

I'm sure you've heard someone say this before, if not having said it yourself.  Have a read:

Then Pinocchio, losing all patience, grabbed the knocker with both hands, fully determined to awaken the whole house and street with it. As soon as he touched the knocker, however, it became an eel and wiggled away into the darkness.

"Really?" cried Pinocchio, blind with rage. "If the knocker is gone, I can still use my feet."

See?  The inclination to say the word "really" in miffed sarcasm existed even back then.  I don't know about you, but in my mind that had been 'invented' by Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Live.  No, I don't really (ha!) believe that she'd been the source of it.  I just know that after I heard/saw her do it a few too many years back now, it seemed to be on everyone's lips.

Oh - and note the "What the...?" regarding that eel.  ;)

The Lies and No’s of "Pinocchio"

* The comments have a little more on the logic of this post.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Lies and No’s of "Pinocchio"

I asked Bart a question regarding the story of Pinocchio. It had probably been in comparison between the real thing and Disney. Bart had at least part of the answer, but promptly reported that he did not so much care for the original story as the little wooden boy proved way too awful for him when he had tried to read it once upon a time.

To the internet! As I suspected, Project Gutenberg came to the rescue... and I began to read The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.  I’m kind of appalled. Not just by the unexpected horrid events in the story, but by the quality of the story itself.

Bart told me (and the internet confirmed) that it had been written as a serial at first - and Bart suggested the “made it up as he went along” as a probable “excuse” for the writing.

What got my goat? Well, the work is entirely off the wall for one thing, but more importantly, the narrative doesn’t seem to care one whit about logic. No, I don’t mean the fantastical elements of the tale such as a living marionette and a talking cricket. I’d been put off by the seemingly sheer disregard for sense and cohesion. For instance, at one point our mostly naughty protagonist comes across chick peas when he is very hungry (he’s very hungry quite a bit!) and we are informed that Pinocchio has always hated chick peas. How does he know when he’s never come across them before in the story? (Yes, we’re given blow-by-blow of his eating habits.) Oh sure, you might want to chalk it up to a kid turning his nose up at the sight of something but consider that it’s not written to be construed as such.  And I suppose a previous tasting could just have been left out. But if that’s not enough to convince you, other such "abrupt absolutes" exist such as the fact that Pinocchio, on his own, without having (yet) gone to school or having been taught by Geppetto (who, by the way, has at this point in the story landed himself in jail because the townspeople fear for the puppet’s life given his horrible temper) knows not only what an egg (by name) is when he finds one, but what an omelet (and other cooked forms) is as well as the procedure on how to produce said entrée. In fact, he knows all sorts of words and concepts right off the bat. Perhaps I am over reacting, as it is a children’s story and what does it matter? Two responses to that... first, it matters because it is one of many apparently careless absurdities mounting in an non-ignorable pile throughout the story up until then (and beyond) and I should like to think a child is more discerning than that. I, at least, had been, and know many other kids whose reaction to such occurrences in stories would be similar. It did not, you see, have a charming nonsense to it as one finds in the Carroll's Alice tales, nor does it have a self-contained indiscernible logic to it like Barrie’s telling us that fairy dust makes one fly. And that second response? Well, I’ll get to that in a bit...

Another disturbing factor in The Adventures of Pinocchio is that Bart had pretty much been correct. You may think Peter Pan is a horrid boy but at least he’s not throwing a hammer (and thus killing) an innocent talking cricket at his first encounter with one. Yes, he kills the (unnamed) cricket... sort of... the cricket comes back as a ghost and then at the end it appears as if (rather confusingly and ambiguously) that the cricket had only been pretending to be dead. But still, who would have thought that Pinocchio throws at hammer at the ‘beloved’ insect character because he doesn’t like that he’s told he’s a bad boy?

Pinocchio is bad from the start. As Geppetto is making him he kicks the old man. Oh... the blue fairy that comes to bring him to life? Forget about her for now. She doesn’t show up until halfway through the book, so no, she’s not the one who bestows life on him at Geppetto’s wish. (Geppetto never makes any such wish, actually - he creates him to make money performing with him.  And furthermore, Pinocchio doesn't seem to care about being a real boy until three-quarters of the way through the story either.) When he makes the mouth, Pinocchio instantly laughs at and insults him...when told to stop, he pokes out his tongue. Perhaps you’re wondering Geppetto’s reaction to his creation being alive as he makes it? So am I. There really isn’t one except for him thinking he deserves it...but otherwise, inexplicably, he just accepts it as it happens. In fact, NO ONE in the story is wide-eyed at a living marionette. Not the townspeople, the police, nor the Fox and Cat, the (alleged) evil puppeteer, the kids at school nor the teacher, Lamp-Wick, the fisherman... no one. Furthermore, it just seems to be a fact of the story that marionettes are alive. Indeed, the other puppets in Fire Eater’s (yes, that’s his name) theatre are alive. With no strings. Folks, Disney added that concept! In another example of the horrific nature of the story, Fire Eater wants to cook his dinner so he’s about to throw Pinocchio on the flames. Our dubious hero’s ramblings about his poor old father that he wronged who will be left all alone (which seems to be not so much actual concern as clever manipulation since he otherwise appears to hate Geppetto) and whatnot cause Fire Eater to spare him, so Fire Eater decides to use the Harlequin marionette (as throwing living puppets on the fire is a routine occurrence with his troupe) but then in another example of out-of-the-blue absurdity Pinocchio protests that he should be used in place of his best friend. Best friend? He met the other puppet naught but a scene ago! What’s more, the other marionettes recognized Pinocchio by name without ever having encountered or hearing of him before.

Other notable “whoa” moments: Pinocchio’s feet are burned off.  He is hanged.  He’s jailed (for being a victim of robbery and released four months later for admitting he’s also a thief.)  Laughing at Pinocchio tripping, a serpent bursts an artery and dies. Pinocchio is forced to be a watchdog, complete with a collar/leash and little doghouse. Unlike Disney portrays, Pinocchio fully becomes a donkey at the place of pleasure [translated here as the Land of Toys], is sold and made to perform in a circus - only to be become lame and thus re-sold, then drowned for the purpose of taking his skin to make a drum but the fishes eat off his donkey flesh and he’s a puppet boy again.

So there you have it, the story is filled with an unforgiving strangeness, all wrapped up in an overly heavy handed moral. It’s fine to have morals and lessons in a story but these are all too directly stated. And relentless.  (As in every other chapter.)

Okay, sure, kids might like this kind of thing, right? Well, I said I’d get back to that and here ‘tis:  The Adventures of Pinocchio had not been intended for kids. Well, half of it anyway. Collodi deemed the story over at the part where Pinocchio had been hung and he meant it (a la that overbearing moral) to show what a gruesome end one comes to for being disobedient. Someone encouraged him to write more, however, and that it could be a tale for children. Apparently children’s literature had been a brand new idea in the early 1880’s. Thus, he continued it and the Lady/Fairy with Blue Hair [who claims to be dead, by the way] saves Pinocchio. From then on the “Blue Fairy” is part of the narrative (but it’s not her that makes him a real boy.)

I suppose we can “forgive” the tale for its ill-crafted non-sensibilities given that children’s lit had been fresh out of the gate. But still, it just makes my skin crawl that someone writing a story would not pay attention to details.  I did suspect that the story had been meant as a tongue-in-cheek comedy, probably even a dark comedy.  But even on that level I don't see how it would have been engaging for an adult.

There are reportedly two (at least two) new movie adaptations of the little wooden boy coming to the big screen...and I’m curious how they’re going to handle it. After I read it, Bart and I watched the 1996 version starring Martin Landau and Jonathon Taylor Thomas. Not so bad, actually, but it resembled the original story only vaguely and loosely with plenty of MAJOR rewrites along the way, which, as evidenced, might not be such a bad thing. And Jim Henson productions really came through with some amazing spectacles.

I’ll tell you, though, this is one tale that Disney improved! But even theirs had a heavy-handed, beat-the-horse-dead moralistic tone to it. Curiously, though, they only have Pinocchio’s nose grow once in theirs... it does happen a few times in the original. (There’s even a scene where he cannot get out the door because his nose is so long [of which by the way, I fail to fully grasp the logic.])

So, once again, we have a tale that is completely overshadowed by the erroneous perceptions and elements thrust upon the original by others.   A story that everyone thinks they know by heart - but truthfully "no one" really knows the half of it.  Normally I recommend reading the real thing... but this one seems best when letting someone else pull the strings.

From the mouth of a puppet.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fly By Right

It could just be me...
(and in fact I asked Bart, but it doesn't really bother him...)
But it just doesn't seem right that anyone flies before the eternal boy himself.

What am I talking about?
In the latest Disney video featuring their version of Peter Pan's companion fairy a la Barrie, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, the little girl in the story is given the power to fly by the fairies.  No, I haven't seen the movie, but I know this as anyone else would by watching the advertisements.  (I've seen the first of their Tink video ventures and I actually didn't hate it.  However, I didn't see any reason to continue with the series since I'm not really a Tink fan and it's within the Disney scope of Barrie's world, whereas I am rooted in Barrie's actual [as well as wading in the alluring alternate Barrie reality of Andrea Jones.])

ANYWAY, I just don't cotton to the idea that someone is given the power of flight without, or especially before, Peter Pan.   For one thing, Peter didn't originally obtain it from the fairies (but yes, he did fly again later via them.)  For another, it just seems wrong to steal his thunder, doesn't it?

Of course, it is possible that Peter Pan's flight from his nursery window, life in Kensington Gardens and arrival at the Neverland has already happened within the arc of the storyline of films up through Great Fairy Rescue.  As I haven't seen them, I don't know for sure.  (And if it's mentioned in the first one, like Pan, I don't recall.)  But even so, it just doesn't seem like something the fairies would want humans doing without the insistence of the eternal boy.  Granted in this case it is to save a fairy and probably prevent the exposure of their existence...and desperate times call for desperate measures.  But still, it just doesn't seem "fair" to Barrie's boy, nor fit within the general sense of the phenomenon.  Plus, I'm not optimistic about the correct placement and time-frame of the film given Barrie's ambiguous history of Pan.*

Perhaps Tink has now HEARD of Peter Pan in the films and allows it to happen given her knowledge of Pan having done it?

Either way, I just don't agree with a kid flying without Peter Pan present.

What about you? Are you somewhat perturbed by a little girl flying (seemingly) before Peter Pan [and friends]?

* Naturally since I am obsessed with Pan and would also have to do so by necessity in order to write about and within Barrie's world, I've worked out a timeline and dates for the events of the Peter Pan stories using the evidence, allusions and facts presented within Peter and Wendy, the play and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jeopardy! Blooms Again

You have to wonder if someone at Jeopardy! loves Peter Pan.
Nah, it's probably just due to the fact that they have to come up with so many facts a day and Barrie's story just keeps showing up.

Either way, they used his story as an "answer" yet again.

I rather liked the 'obsucre' description/reference to this character.  The person who needed to give the question had to think about it!

Oh - and it's purple around the edges because it showed up as the
Daily Double!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Raj's Magical Investigation

I’m a sucker for a good analysis of literature, especially when it deals with a subject close to my heart. Well, I came across just such an examination of the building blocks of storytelling dealing with none other than Sir J.M. Barrie and Peter Pan. In conjunction with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, a blogger named Raj gives us marvelous insights into how a child processes the difference between fantasy & reality in ways other than an adult. I applauded him on his post, particularly liking his command of the finer details of Barrie’s idea of the Neverland as well as the attributes and comparisons of Wendy in mythological terms. I asked if I could mention and link to his article. He said yes, so I invite you to delve into his words...

Children seem to know about consciousness, regardless of how we as adults come to define that mysterious process. Children seem to know about magic, too. Is it a stretch to say that all perception in youth is inherently magical?

Read the rest of
Childhood Disclosure – The longings, ideals and possibilities of magic in youth and children’s literature here.

Thanks, Raj!
By the way, I love your profile blurb.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Louis Pan?

Louis Vuitton & Peter Pan?
Um, yes, apparently so.
The 13th exhibition at the Espace culturel Louis Vuitton takes inspiration from Barrie's masterpiece, bringing the visions of thirteen artists to the task of re-presenting his marvelous mythos.  They ask the question Qui es-tu Peter?  (Who are you, Peter?)  Three of my favorite descriptions of the answers:  Jerôme Zonder ventures into the amplitude of love and hate...  Jean-Philippe Illanès presents Peter Pan’s house, in which the objects have been strangely revisited... and Janaina Tschäpe proposes the ecology of Neverland.  Quite a spurt of imaginative forces.

Some other rather choice bits from the Press Release that particularly tickled me are this recognition - Peter Pan has become a contemporary myth as well as this one - sketching a portrait of the troublemaker.

The exhibition is going on now, but alas, one needs to be in Paris to enjoy it.

You can find out more about it here, though there seems to be no direct link, so navigate your way toward it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't RUN it That WAY

I admit that I am a fan of Project Runway. Yes, it’s true. Here’s how it happened.

A friend of a friend (I honestly don’t remember which friend and that extended friend I had never seen before and have never seen since, just by circumstance) had been visiting (along with first friend) and she said, “Hey! Project Runway is on... can we put it on?” Begrudgingly, we allowed it to happen. It just seemed like one more idiotic reality show and I had wondered who on earth would ever watch such a thing. Well, about a third of the way into it, I wondered: I’m not watching this WHY? And we have ever since (for about 4 or 5 seasons.) In fact, Banky, Clara, Buttercup and Josiecat come over every Thursday to watch (as well as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and at off-seasons it’s just “movie night.”) I’m not even into fashion. Really. Just look at my drawing of myself, that will show you. Outside of the program, I don’t give a damn. But in the context of the show I find myself critiquing with the rest of them. There's something about seeing the creative process and its execution.  I also have to say that if it were not for Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn I don’t think I’d be watching. Their personalities and presence are a good chunk of what makes the show.

Okay, now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, I want to express a complaint about the advertisement editors.

First, another explanation. Yes, I am well aware that “marketing” is part of the deal.  For instance, at the glimpse of next week’s show they’ll have a particularly nasty (and humorous) comment by a judge and then show the designer’s reaction. However, that “the” is erroneous. It won’t actually be the designer the comment had been directed to, possibly not even a comment that had been meant for the runway critique. In other words, they arrange the facts so as to be enticing.  I’m fine with that... it’s actually kind of fun to see how it really “goes down.”

But last week they went too far. Way out of line. All season long during the commercials they have been hyping that someone is accused of cheating. We’re now at the tail end of the season and it finally just occurred. No, that’s not the complaint. For the week leading up to the show, we hear (and see) Tim Gunn saying “You will not be returning to the show.” GASP! What intrigue!  What scandal!  Naturally, we sat on the edge of our seat to see who had been ejected for their dishonest practice.  Well, here’s what really happened. Tim Gunn informed a designer that his model had an emergency and she “will not be returning to the show.” The word “You” did not begin that sentence. Thus, they didn’t just creatively adjust what’s there, they purposely manipulated and altered the facts and sound bites of what had happened! (For the record, the accusation of cheating fizzled away into a non-issue.)

Why would they be so deceitful? I seriously doubt that someone who does not watch Project Runway would be swayed into doing so by that “scandal” they had you believe. If anything it would make them roll their eyes at such petty drama and not want to watch ever. So why re-edit it for the regular fans so that Tim Gunn is misquoted? He should sue for misrepresentation if you ask me.

Shame on them.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not Too Flighty!

In case you were wondering about the status of my Barrie interquel Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between, Andrea Jones is still in the process of reading it. She’s quite a busy woman and yes, that’s the truth, despite the cliché.

Anyway, since it’s been a little while, I’d been wondering myself. As I had something else to bring to her attention, I thought I’d inquire about my novel... admitting to being paranoid (a la: did not hearing from her mean she’d soured on it suddenly?) Not the case at all. She replied (with a “spoiler” removed):

Yes, I still love B&B, no worries! Peter hasn't yet arrived in the Neverland, just got back to Kensington Gardens after his pow wow in.... Which concept I love, by the way. Wonderful.

(Eternal) Boy! Had I been glad to hear that! You see, the concept she’s commenting on is the very one that I’d been wary about. Perhaps you recall in previous posts I’d been a bit worried that the idea would be too outlandish. I always did and still do like it, of course, but my fear had been that over-exposure to it (while composing) made it more acceptable to me. But it rather seems that I do not have cause for worry. For both Andrea and Anon enjoyed it. (it did require some cutting and tweaking as per Anon’s perusal, but the idea itself had not been rejected.)

So it’s great to know... quite a relief, actually, that two Barrie-fanatics are on board.
Just wait until Andrea gets to the Neverland!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Few Things...

So that new The Thing movie?  That's the thing.  It's also (and still) called The Thing.  They're not sure what else to call it.  In that article I quoted in the last post Marc Abraham talks about the difficulty in naming the movie.  Call it The Thing Begins and someone will balk that it began with John Carpenter and how dare they call it as such.  The Thing Prequel?  Nah.  So, right now it's just called The Thing.  Again.  Although keeping that the title is somehow appealing, it smacks too much of a remake.  I have a suggestion.  After jokingly going for the obvious Another Thing, I realized a very viable solution.  Since the movie Carpenter used as a springboard had been The Thing from Another World, why not call this one: From Another World.  Yes, I realize the order isn't right to continue from/as the original title (meaning that the new film is a prequel) but it does work in the sense that the new film will be more so about the thing that came here a la the crashed ship and removing the lifeform inside only to have the same type of chaos ensue which, as we know, will lead directly into the Carpenter film.  So how about it?  From Another World.   Any takers?

Bart, Buttercup (who has not seen it) and I are going to watch it tomorrow night.  She's excited.  I am, too, since it's been a great while for me since I last saw it.

Meanwhile, I'm still tossing around ideas and researching for the new novel.  I now have all the character names.  Okay, okay, that's a lie.  I have all the main character names.  To be honest, I'm not exactly sure the supporting characters are going to have names.  I'll have to see if I can get away with it, but right now I'm thinking it could work even better to just have them observed by the principle players.  It seems as if what those around them are called would be of little interest to them.  So, if the principles don't know their names, why should we?  I'll see how it plays out and works best, of course.

Anyway, with the characters named, their personalities are starting to come through and they've started, just started, to help me understand their story.  I'll keep figuring, listening and poking up some research to find out what their spiritual (ha!) journey turns out to be.  Hmm.  That just gave me an idea.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Doing the Right THING

Okay, this is the kind of (ahem!) thing I love to hear.  But first, what I'm talking about:

Another movie of The Thing is currently filming.  It's not a remake, actually, but an extension of the original in the form of a prequel.  It even promises to end the way the original movie begins.  I've known about it for some time now... and after my initial uninformed eyeroll, I wound up very intrigued and interested in the project.   Truth is I could use a little more of The Thing myself and it sounded like a fine idea, especially since those involved really seemed to care.  It's also good to know the paleontologist whose presence is needed in (and thus comes to) Antarctica is female.

New Movie

All righty, back to what I'm happy about hearing.  A new interview/report has just come out which gives some more insights into the production.  Music to my ears.  Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. seems like a man, as they say, after my own heart - a dedicated and purist storyteller when using another's work as a base. Said in this article at MovieWeb:  You find the axe in the door in this movie, there's an axe in the door and you see how the axe got in the door.  The interviewer says: It's obvious to anyone that steps foot on the set that the filmmakers are bending over backwards to make this film connect to the original as best they can. 

WELL HOSAH!  Marc Abraham (the interviewed) goes on to talk about the process of Hollywood, just shy of saying it's shame the way it is.  But they're taking the opposite approach.  With The Thing they're sticking to their guns as well as to the original.  Thus, they're able to be super-inventive while oddly locked into many restrictions... like that axe.  On a purely creative level we knew it would be difficult. On a much larger bird's eye view you say to yourself, hey that's the deal. I think that when we looked at it, it was more of a challenge. Its kind of fun that you see an axe in a door, an ice block, a spaceship or this mayhem in this radio room because it's like CSI, it's a crime scene. What happened? We had to go back and go, at one point someone picked up an axe thinking...

Original Movie
And if that's not dedication enough for you, Abraham said:  Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. has it on his laptop. Not only screen captures of it but the entire movie and there isn't a moment when he doesn't go back to the original. He's so careful about where the axe is in the door, what the ice block looked like, or the spaceship, where they stand when we see the spaceship. Because we can do so much more, so many things we could do, but when it came to being anything that was referenced in that movie, we have absolutely stayed with it. Thousands of hours he's spent looking at that movie. He knows and is respectful of every aspect.

Bravo!  Shouldn't it always be like that?  The real shame is that respect such as this is the anomaly.

And you know what?  I don't even remember an axe in a door!  I guess it's been a while since I've seen John Carpenter's half of The Thing.  I'll just have to watch it again, I suppose... hmm, I wonder if Buttercup has seen it.

(And yes, I'm well aware that Carpenter's isn't the "original" but it is in a sense.  He didn't just remake the 1951 original The Thing from Another World, he thoroughly reinvented it.)

Just the THING You to Want to Hear

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Second Stab...

In a book store I came across the book on the left there, Wuthering Bites.
I guessed at what it could be and to quote Laurie Anderson Oh boy.  Right again.
I am not condoning this book, nor am I condemning it.  But I'm not going to read it.  Why?  It's just not my thing.

In case you didn't already figure it out, Wuthering Bites is a spin on Wuthering Heights, with vampires.  It seems everyone's favorite gypsy boy has a little more than Bronte originally bargained for...

...and as I've said in this post, I'm done with that particular creature of the night.

To reiterate, I've nothing against this book.  I actually think it rather clever.  It's a nice bit of mind-jumping.

So why am I bringing it up?  Just to point out that there really does seem to be a "genre" of as I call it "second-hand writing" that's reared its head recently.  Look at Seth Grahame-Smith's popular 2009 novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Or Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters also published in 2009.  Granted, these are referred to as 'mash-up's but either way it's borrowing from cherished authors.  Less humorously, let us not forget Gregory Maguire's Wicked, which spawned a series of books to present other histories of the Land of OZ.

Naturally, I have interest in this "genre," having written a continuation of the adventures of Peter Pan based on the remaining notes of Sir J.M. Barrie.  Not to mention (thank you, paralepsis) an interquel to bridge a gap in the story.  I also have another novel which is a retelling of a fairy tale and it has spawned what will be a quadrilogy.

Anyway, well wishes to Sarah Gray on her insightful use of a character's existing history to breathe a fresh take on a cherished classic.  Thanks for helping bolster the business of "second hand writing."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Don't Be Afraid of Fuller...

When Bryan Fuller wrote for Heroes, it rocked. When he left, it fell a little from grace. When he returned, it picked back up to a high degree... and again, when he left, it didn't work as well.

His Pushing Daisies series had been an innovative masterpiece and I think it's a shame that it didn't click with more people to remain on the air.

Well, Mr. Fuller is taking a stab at a reboot.
I, for one, am very interested in what he shall do with The Munsters.

His wacky and tender sensibilities just might do wonders with this concept.

Oh... and I still think they need to go with Brad Garrett.  It doesn't take a mad doctor to figure that one out.  He does a truly impeccable impression of Fred Gwynne.
Enough said.

A Little "Munster Cheese"