Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thy Language Needs Thee

Sexist language.
Back in college, first term of Freshmyn year, we had a whole session on the idea that the English language is sexist.  "To each his own."  Why 'his'?  Why not 'her'?

We debated about it for quite some time, as you might imagine.

Not that it didn't come up in the discussions then... and not that it will solve all problems contained therein, but I think we need to bring back some of the archaic words.  Namely:  thee & thy

It certainly fixes the above statement.  "To each thy own." So why aren't we doing it?   It also avoids the space-hogging & awkward "his/her" or "his or her."  And moreover, why is "his" usually written first?

Changing "you" to "thee" would provide just the jolt needed to stop moments like "Bless you" (when someone sneezes) from seeming so common.  In other words, we hear it so often that it has lost its impact.  We damn well expect it.  Would you expect "Bless thee"?  Nope.  Hence, it would draw attention to what's being said and thus re-instate the sentiment lost by over-usage.

Thee is also useful in fun moments such as this passage in Peter and Wendy:

“Proud and insolent youth,” said Hook, “prepare to meet thy doom.”
“Dark and sinister man,” Peter answered, “have at thee.”

It's kind of weird... words go out of usage and then never seem to return.  Why do archaic terms cease to be used once they fall from favor?  Especially when they could be handy once again!  Can they not be resumed in conversation?

I, for one, am going to try and incorporate THY and THEE into my utterings.  (Not necessarily in my writing - only if it's warranted there...or if I wind up with a character who feels just as strongly about it.)

So go about thy way and I hope the sheer sense of resurrecting these words will hit thee.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Whatever Works

On my stream of tweets that I follow, there's a bunch that are tips, quotes or advice about writing.  I'd also recently been interviewed (I'll be sure to let you know when that interview is posted to the web) and I'd been asked advice on writing and/or the writing scene.

Know what I've found?  Not surprisingly, there's a lot of conflicting advice.  For example, when I had the good fortune to meet Isaac Asimov (see here & here) I walked away from his lecture with this wisdom:  Think of a great ending first and then write until that ending is reached.  Sound advice from a master of the craft.  And yet, here's another tip from author Rose TremainIn the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.*

Well, gee, which is it?

I can see the case for both.  It's important to know where you're headed in a story... but you need to be able to take detours.  Characters are very often tricky in that they've reserved a whole ball of wax that can be fashioned into the very light of the tale.  Sometimes it's planned guesswork.

I also recently (on Twitter) read that I should give myself a ritual...for the discipline of creating a mindset...yada yada yada.  I don't disagree with it, I can see the potential.  But upon following this advice I found it did nothing for me.

We should create lush and rich descriptions of the landscape and the interior of a room, for it paints the mood and infects the reader with the very environment of the novel.  No, sorry, that does nothing but bore the reader into putting the book down.  Adamantly.  On both views.  Depends on who you ask.

Obviously, then, it comes down to whatever works for each particular author.

* Thanks to Jon Winokur  for tweeting that!     

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Is 'JEOPARDY!' Loves the Boy?

It happened again.  Yep.
Peter Pan turned up in an answer on Jeopardy!

Double Jeopardy! Round - $200
Category:  Terms of Endearment
(They were having fun with a theme of movie titles as subjects.)

Yes, the contestant Questioned correctly.

I'll wager someone likes Pan in the writing staff.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I've been told I'm something of a teaser when it comes to talking about my as of yet unseen work... and that seems about right.  But only because I'm the type who doesn't like flat-out "spoilers" so much as quips of info to trickle around in one's thinking.

I've been typing a lot about my forthcoming interquel Peter Pan: Betwitxt-and-Between.  So I thought I'd not be a tease for once and put up the first two pages of the book.  Oh.  Wait.  That counts as a tease, no?  Nevertheless, here it is.  I hope you enjoy it and it causes you to want to read the rest!  (No, really? ;] )
            One night, of all nights, it happened.
            Peter Pan lay in the grass amid the trees of Bird Island, an infant kicking his legs gaily, looking up at the many stars and wondering.  The stars winked back occasionally, making Peter even more good-spirited.  He thought for sure they could hear his thoughts and often he would think things out to them.  He never did get a reply other than friendly winks and when Peter caught forty of them, he fell asleep.  He normally slept during the day, so that he could have his reign of the Gardens during Lock-out Time.  Perhaps due to the irregularity of it, this night nap produced a troubling dream, the first of many throughout Pan’s life.
           At first the dream went pleasantly wherein he left his Thrush’s Nest boat and took to the air delighting in his power of flight restored.  He zipped around the Kensington Gardens, happily sailing in the sky without a care.  So much did he enjoy his aerial maneuvers and devil-may-care journey that he took no heed of where he flew.  So not long after, unfamiliar territory stretched around him.  He heard crying.  He assumed it to be his own and took to crying himself.  After a bit, though, he noticed that some of his sobs did not match up with the others.  He quieted himself.  After a few leftover gasps, he listened intently to the weeping in the distance.  The gasps from this weeping became more frequent.  Eventually, these gasps turned into sharp little quips of sound.
          Peter Pan hovered in midair, unable to move from curiosity.  He could not figure from which direction the strange cries came.  He kept listening and before he could tell that a switch had been made, the sound turned to a sharp laughter.  The laughter surged through him and gave him a chill like the very first night he spent in Kensington Gardens after his triumphant escape from the nursery.  He did not like the feeling even one little bit and wished, for the first time in too long, that his mother could have comforted him.  Thinking of his mother within the dream while the boyish laughter still cackled must have been too much to bear and he awoke with a jolt.

© Peter Von Brown - Please do not quote this book without permission.

P.S. - For those who've read Peter Pan's NeverWorld and have thus figured out the laughter part - it's a continuity reference only, he doesn't show up in this book.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

3-D Falling Flat

Back on March 9 of last year, I ranted about 3-D movies.  To recap: Really?  Over & over and everything that comes to the screen?  Pick and choose what would work best and don't over-saturate.  It's getting tiresome.

If you don't believe me, how about the new movie version of S. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.  It will be in 3-D.  To quote Mrs. Estelle Costanza in SeinfeldMay I ask WHY?

And if you still don't believe me that this has becoming an annoying gimmick, apparently the film-going populace is also silently speaking out.  How?  Ticket sales for heavily promoted 3-D versions of movies are stacking in favor of their 2-D counterparts.  The article I read is here.

Future of film?  It didn't stick around the first time... why do they expect it to now that it's more flashy?

Don't get me wrong.  3-D is and can be cool.  And some films make perfect sense to be featured with that extra kick.  Just not every blasted thing that hits the screen.  It seems 3-D is only effective when it's rare.  It's only going to pop out at you when nothing else does.   Makes me wonder how the sales of 3-D TV are doing...

Trio of Tinsel Treats

Happy finds in Twinkle Town...

Three movies about Snow White are coming to screens, each with its own "take."  I'd wondered about how the dwarves would be "done."  Would they go the route of shrinking actors as seen in recent epic fantasy movies or would they use actual talented little people?  Well, for one of the films in which the dwarves are now Shaolin monks, the answer seems obvious.  We now have an answer for the other two, though.  The untitled back-to-and-beyond-the-roots-of The Brothers Grimm version will feature a cast of great actors (including the marvelous Danny Woodburn) who just happen to be smaller than most folk.  Snow White and the Huntsman, focusing more on their relationship, has cast guys who are going to need computer magic to be a dwarf.  Granted a lot more than this issue will factor into what makes or breaks the movies, but it will be fun to see how they fare given their choices of actors.

Guillermo del Toro wants to direct Maleficent.  Yes, please!  It's not entirely likely that he will be able to do so, but I ever so wish for it to happen!  Sounds like he's the man for the job:  And let me tell you how much of a fan I am. I have a collection of over two or three dozen Maleficent figures, some of them four or five feet tall. I own about 10 pieces of conceptual art from Sleeping Beauty that include the dragon and a lot more pieces that are just from Sleeping Beauty. It's one of my three favorite Disney films. [Quoted from this article.]  Hmmm.  Director Guillermo del Toro and writer Linda Woolverton.  Double yes, please!!

Danny Elfman is re-teaming with Sam Raimi for OZ: The Great & Powerful.  Hosah!  That could be divine.  I'm uber-fond of Elfman's score for Alice.  I bet he'll devise something great and powerful indeed!


Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Looney & I Like It

Despite myself, I just can't hate The Looney Tunes Show.  It's just a really fun spin on a classic.  Given some of the recent manifestations of Bugs Bunny and his cohorts such as Loonatics Unleashed, we obviously could do far worse.

Loonatics Unleashed - Really?

But quite honestly, I can't find anything wrong with the new Merrie Melodies program.  And frankly, I laugh out loud at it consistently.  You see, they've managed to capture the what made the originals great.  Whether it be spot-on snide humor or the expression on the face of the characters and their personalities, it's tapping into the 'Old School.'

One of the aspects which make it different, of course, is the character and setting designs.  When first promoted, it didn't sit quite right with me.  I never outright disliked it.  But it seemed off... Well, that changed once I actually saw it in action.  It fits well with the whole package.  As do the voices.  Okay, yes, they're not dead ringers for the originals.  But really, how could they be?  No one, not even relatives, can be the master vocalizing genius Mel Blanc.  That said, they're more than unacceptable.  They're excellent.  A bit off, but again, like the newly drawn version, it's enough to pay homage but keep it as it own version.

What has really changed, however, is the entire premise.  Imagine if you will:  Bugs and Daffy are roommates.  Well, more like Daffy is mooching in Bugs's house.  Yes, house.  They live in suburbia, where their neighbors are the likes of Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig and Witch Hazel.  I know what you might be thinking... and I didn't think it would work either.  But it does.  It's as if the mundane life of everyday activity is precisely what these beloved characters needed to bring them into the spotlight again.  It's delightful to see these strong personalities evoked into minutia.

Perhaps you don't believe me or don't agree with me if you've seen it.  In fact, not so long ago I'd been "defending" to an acquaintance of mine.  She'd been saying, and rightly so, that Bugs and Daffy aren't meant to be shown in daily lives.  I told her I thought so, too.  Until I watched it happening.  She agreed to give it a try... as she also admitted that she avoided it on circumstance and preview alone.

One other thing... one of my favorite Looney Tunes characters has always been Wile E. Coyote.  In The Looney Tunes Show his misadventures with Road Runner are CGI.  That's just not right.  Looney Tunes shouldn't be computer renditions of themselves.  But, darn it.  It's funny.  It, too, harbors the core of what we love about the coyote's capers.  And darn it, it looks good.  It's not fully rendered to a horrific degree, nor is it watered down or "over-smooth" looking (if that makes sense.)  It's pleasing, and as I said, despite myself I just can't hate it.

They also have musical vignettes during the show.  They've written clever songs about characters and feature them in music videos for the tunes.  They're good, but not great.  But they are entertaining rather than annoying.

Another music mention:  The theme song is wonderful, too.  It's a tweaked version of the original.  It sounds familiar yet fresh and in my mind also matches the spin that's come to be so appealing.

So, yes, send me hate mail if you must, but I love The Looney Tunes Show.

And that's all, folks.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Mr. Darling had a passion..."

Happy Father's Day!

Well, last year the birth date of Sir J.M. Barrie coincided with Mother's Day.  This year, Father's Day lands on the same day as the date that Barrie went to "the other place."  Granted, it must happen quite a bit and the Mother's Day connection had been of particular interest since it had been a milestone of 150.  (Today is one year shy of a milestone: 74)

Nevertheless, I like that the calendar lined up for both in a row.  Especially with a story that relies heavily on parents as influential characters.

I'm very excited to be able to share some pictures with you.  I wish I could say I took them myself, but alas, I did not.  They were sent to me by someone online and permission has been granted for me to repost them.  I've had them for nearly a year now... but I had to wait until today, obviously.

Here are a slew of pictures of Barrie's final resting place:

Sorry to post something a that could be construed as morbid for today... but I can't control the non-fictional calendar.
Thank you, Barrie!  We are all indebted to you for your fantastic parody of fatherhood in the story of Peter Pan.  By showing the stressful antics of a man who is only trying to do right by his family such as keeping the books tight and attempting to add levity to a situation, he shows us how difficult a job it is to keep a family running smoothly.  So here's to all the fathers (of all varieties - natural, step, adopted, in-law, figures...) in the world.  Applause to you for your often unappreciated and overlooked efforts of love. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Floral Inspiration

The picture on the left is the current "wallpaper" for my phone.

It's a perfect pic to have as I am once again dealing with the fairies in Kensington Gardens.  Ever so reminds me of the way they might make their clothes.  [Although a la Barrie/Rackham and my own imaginings it seems they more so weave/crochet/sew such elements of Nature into garments rather than just use a tulip for a skirt... but who's to say they don't ever?  :) ]  It's just a darn cool photograph.

I found it on this page of photos taken at "just the right moment."  Do check it out, since they're all great!  I came across it in a retweet from Jason Alexander.  Yes, I'm still enjoying Twitter...

I can't say how long it will remain the pic on my phone.
I like to change it up every so often.

Also, as I re-read my interquel Peter Peter: Betwixt-and-Between yet again figuring out which pictures to make and taking advantage of the different look (font, page size format, etc.) to do another proof/revision... I found something that I think I'm going to have to expound upon in a future Pan adventure.  It's just too good of an idea not to let it show up again.  And that's not self-praise since the idea referred to is a direct outgrowth (pun noted) of a bit from Barrie.  No guarantees, but I do think it might happen in another novel.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Expect MAGIC Much?

Amid the myriad of potentially problematic elements or moments of the MGM movie The Wizard of OZ, one always stood out to me.

The Wicked Witch of the West turns over an hourglass and tells Dorothy that’s how long she has to live. The trio of misfits who befriended Dorothy come to her rescue... but once she leaves the room, the hourglass is still running. Dorothy leaves and lives. Wait, so, if she exits the spell is broken? I thought she’d die when it ran out!

Well, that’s what I thought. I’d expressed this “hole” to many folks and made said folks ponder. Why is it that Dorothy still lives?

Then, over the weekend, I told this dilemma to Bart’s Aunt. Instead of suddenly wondering why, she presented her viewpoint on the matter. She has a very logical solution. And chances are she’s right.

It’s not that there’s a spell on the hourglass. Rather when the sand runs out, the Witch will come back and take care of Dorothy herself.  After all, she's seen with it and throws it at them so she's been back to the room.  Makes a lot more sense, no?

So what had I (and the others I’d infected) been thinking? That she’s a witch, so she’d use magic to exact revenge. Thus, it follows that the hourglass would be enchanted with the death sentence.

But apparently not.

Funny how we get locked into believing/expecting certain things.
I suppose I just wanted the Wicked Witch to have more power than she does.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

HOWL if You Want More!

More werewolves!

Oddly, it comes at a strange price, of sorts.  But hey, I'm willing to ignore the "status" of it and cheer it on...

What am I talking about?
The now ever-prevalent "reboot."

This time it's for Universal Studio's The Wolf Man.  You'll probably remember the recent remake, The Wolfman.  Naturally, being a werewolf fan, I went to see it.  My review is here.  However, not everyone had a warm reception to it.  So the prospect of a sequel is apparently out.  Thus, the reboot plan.  Word is that it will this time be called Werewolf.  Who knows how much of the original story they'll keep.  Frankly, I'm okay with either lots or none.

You see, I just want more werewolves.
I'm also looking forward to the remake (closer to the book, allegedly) of The Howling.

Vampires have had their day in the sun... I mean.. oh never mind.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crayons in Stone

When out with Clara & Banky one night, we couldn't help but create with the crayons on the tables.  Unfortunately they'd already been well used.  Here's what Clara decided to draw with the stumpy colored wax.

I added the blood to the sword to put in the grit of Barrie's work.  I also drew the hook at the bottom.  Clara quickly came to Pan's rescue, though, bringing the crocodile to the page.  Tink is in yellow rather than white because of limited color selection.   I suppose I could have just made the 'spark' with merely the black, but it wouldn't have stood out as much, right?  Especially since Clara had been filling in the sky...

Banky?  He'd been busy making a song request big enough for the band to see.

I rather like how this picture turned out.  To quote Patsy Stone in Absolutely FabulousWhat the hell is the difference between a painting done by a person who wishes to paint like a child, and a child's painting?

Yes, I'm aware the rhetorical above is tongue-in-cheek, but it does have a certain wisdom about it.  And it can't help but bring to mind shades of Peter Pan.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wendy? Yes!--Why not!

Madeline Zima (not) as Wendy
Can it be--yes--no--it is--the fair Wendy!
- Chapter 11, "Wendy's Story" Peter and Wendy

No, actually.
But couldn't it be?
It's Grace, the youngest girl on The Nanny.
It's one of Bart's favorite shows.
And watching an episode,
he said this reminded him of Wendy.
I'm inclined to agree.

In a Barrie related picture of another sort, both Andrea Jones and Anon* have seen my initial illustration for Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between.  Andrea says Yes! and Anon remarked I don't know why not! to the question of whether I should continue making the pictures along this line.  Good to know.  Got a thumbs up from Bart, too.

So I guess I'll proceed!

* Barrie enthusiast and my faithful reader and #1 fan

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quoth Barrie & Me

Well, the test run of the illustration method for Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between turned out quite satisfying.  I also put in one of the characters (though most likely not one that would be expected.)  Thankfully that works rather well, too.  It should be fun to keep working at it.
(not the "inspirational" drawing)

This little progress report  came about this way:  I'd been paging through Rackham's drawings for Barrie's Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens story (using this highly recommended book.)  I'd nodded my head, thinking that yes, so far the PP:B-a-B 'drawings' could be construed as sharing a relative kinship to his when I saw a caption underneath one of them.

That caption struck an idea.  It's nothing major, but it will be a nice use of a bit of Barrie.  And so, I need to add it to the novel.  It's not even going to be a new scene, rather a line or two which will tie it into his book a scooch more.  I wouldn't bother except that a particular scene in my book does warrant the callback from Barrie.

Now that I know the pictures will 'work' (and they also have Bart's approval) I suppose I now need to officially decide what the illustrations will be!

To quote Peter Pan's NeverWorld: Wisdom knows finished from done.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ever Nearer to the "First Flight"

I've just finished the revisions to the interquel Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between.  There might be a little more ahead, or might not.  Andrea Jones (Hook & Jill) is kindly looking over a portion of it, in a "check" of one of her suggestions.  I wanted to know if the problematic part she had pointed out has been solved.  I'm confident that it is, but we shall see.  As always, Life keeps her plenty busy and this soon-to-be-over weekend she's in Port Washington, Wisconsin at the Pirate Festival.  I bet she's having a trove of fun what with the greetings and costumes and shenanigans.

What's next then?  Well, I need to format the novel and such.  Included in that "such" is the creation of illustrations.  I've thought of a clever (or at least I think so) way to produce drawings for this book.  So I'll be taking some time to try and get those done (assuming it works out.)  I need to decide upon which scenes to depict.  Oh sure, I have some ideas already - and the method in which I'll be creating them can be started upon right away.  I also suppose I should be 'studying' Arthur Rackham's artwork in the mix, too.  Not that I'll be trying to replicate his style, but since this book is in many ways an extension of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens it only seems appropriate to have a kinship.

Thank goodness the cover is already designed and has received a universal thumbs up.

It's a tad smaller word-wise.  Last check had been 63 words over the general 'book-length' of 50,000.  It's now quite a bit under at 49,626.  No worries, though.  For shouldn't it be just the right size to tell the story?  Also consider how many of the "had been"s I'd taken out!  (See this post.)  Besides, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens is only about 21,850 words.  To be fair, however, it's really just a selections of chapters (the ones that deal with Pan, of course!) from Barrie's novel The Little White Bird.

And so, getting ever closer to bringing this book to you.  I'll keep posting the progress, to be sure.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tinker Bell & Hook: 'Frenemies'?

Remember when Tinker Bell is captured by Captain Hook and they strike up a sort of kinship against Peter Pan (because Peter had banished her)? I don’t.

This, folks, is another of the misconceptions about the story of Peter Pan. I’d been almost exactly positive that it doesn’t happen in any versions of the story by Barrie.  But just to be sure I just had a gander and, no, sorry, Barrie never has Tink and Hook together in any capacity (play, novel or screenplay.)

It’s another invention of Disney. It’s a fine one, to be sure. For it’s not like it doesn’t make sense, given how moody and flighty the fairies, especially Tinker Bell, can be. But it’s technically not correct, nevertheless.

It’s also another of the ingrained-in-pop-culture bits that P.J. Hogan used in his movie. I rather like his image of Tink sitting on Hook’s iron claw... and I love the fact that Hogan had it so that Hook understood the fairy directly whereas Disney had her ‘speak’ to him most of the time in pantomime [although at one point it does seem he hears words yet if so, they're still accompanied by a shaking finger.] Hogan has it precisely right.  Having been in the Neverland so long, Hook must have developed the knack for translation of the fairy language.  But again - Tink siding with Hook just does not actually happen in Barrie.

There’s also a short story called Never Never by Bruce Glassco in The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm in which Hook and Tink are seen together as well.

And the last place the two of them are seen together in cahoots that I can think of off the top of my head is in Hook & Jill. And this, folks, is probably the best use of this idea. No, not because author Andrea Jones and I are friends. Because in her Pan tale, the scene happens after the point in which the storyline has been skewed. Therefore, Andrea uses the popular (and appealing) idea to great advantage. She includes it but in a way entirely separate from anyone else. I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll just have to read Hook & Jill to see how it plays out. Incidentally, it’s precisely this scene that Andrea read aloud at the bookstore when I first met her (at a book signing/reading.)

In Disney’s showing of this otherwise non-existent scene, Hook tricks Tink into revealing the location of Peter Pan’s hideout.  She walks along a map and locations are seen (not found in Barrie) such as Cannibal Cove. (Cannibal Cove? Really, Disney? I mean hey, I’ll be the first to point out that the island can be a horrifying place... but cannibals?? Egad!) In doing so, it winds up sacrificing a rather fun part of Barrie’s tale and at the same time denying Hook some of his thunder – that he finds the hideout himself. Granted, he does so by accident when he’s rambling on about his woe of his infamous encounter with Pan that cost him a hand and how the crocodile lurks around for him, but still...

In Hogan’s version, it’s not an asking of Tink as to Pan’s whereabouts. Rather Tink tells him the name of the girl/mother now on the island (Wendy.) Interesting that they changed this around.  [Also interesting is that the film, too, omits Hook finding the hideout as Barrie has it in favor of that damned parrot (an addition) following Tink.]

Naturally, this cancels out another fun image - a fairy (namely Tink) trapped in a lantern.  It appears in both Disney and Hogan.
Oh well. It’s a shame that this lantern concept has become so over-used. (I’ve seen it a bunch outside of stories or movies, too.) I’d like to do it myself in a tale though I have nothing particular in mind... and since it’s now sort of hackneyed it’s more than likely that I won’t.

So as much fun as it might be - there's no "frenemy" of Tink & Hook in Barrie.