Friday, July 29, 2011

Double HECK, YES!

Back in May of last year, we discovered that a cartoon series of Napoleon Dynamite would be forthcoming.  As I said in the post, I'd been on board from the start, as I really wanted to see more of these characters and places.

Well, fortunately the outcome is looking pretty Sweet.
The cast does return to reprise their roles.  Can't ask for better.

Due to the recent San Diego Comic-Con, we now have clips of the show.  Before I saw them, I'd been a good boy and held off until I watched each and every video interview with the actors (5 of 'em) to hear their take and thoughts on the cartoon-izing of Napoloen & his crew.  And with each one, my anitcipation grew.  I really liked what they had to say about it.

And then came time to watch the clips.  I laughed as much as I did with the movie.  Looks like it's going to be great, folks.

Not sure if I'm going to get what I initially desired, which is bigger screen time for some of the minor characters like Trisha's parents, but even so, the fact that it hasn't lost sight of what made the movie great is encouraging.  Something that oddly did not occur to me at first - animation allows for lots of 'other' avenues as well.  Such as our favorite blasé antihero's dreams.  Thus, we now get to see him in a robe on Tina the llama as a steed meeting the King of the Ligers.  Gosh!  ;)

Hooray for more Napoleon Dynamite.
He'll be back to entertain us with his wackiness "midseason" on FOX in 2012.
Here's one clip so you can see what I mean... you can find more here.  [It's not the site I originally found them on, so it doesn't have the individual cast interviews.]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh Simple Thing...

Yesterday I began the day by finishing up the latest illustration for Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between.  Quite pleased with it!  Turned out better than I imagined.  Then I met up with Buttercup.  We headed to one of my favorite haunts, the Dixie Kitchen in Evanston, Illinois.  Fortunately we'd been able to order off the brunch menu.  Any time that I am able to catch their brunch, there is but one choice for me...Eggs Sardou.  Imagine Eggs Florentine but with the addition of fried green tomatoes, artichokes in the Hollandaise sauce atop cornbread versions of English  Muffins.  Not to be missed!  Buttercup's first brunch at the Dixie Kitchen.  She's a fan.

Afterward, we saw Winnie-the-Pooh.  Buttercup had not yet seen it.  She loved it, but of course.  And I'm happy to report it loses none of its magic the second viewing.

Buttercup wanted to get coffee, and at first we thought of going to Metropolis coffee house in our neck of the woods...but then I remembered we wouldn't have to go that far.  I used my smartphone to lead us (literally, with a moving dot on a map as we walked) to Kafein, a snazzy little coffee house in Evanston.

I had the White Chocolate Mocha, but that's not really important.

What you are about to see (and read) is 100% true, I swear in the name of the creator of the eternal boy of the Neverland.  On the tables, Kafein has 'Trivial Pursuit' cards.  Thought I: Wouldn't it be cool [to quote my nephew] if the first card I picked had a question about Peter Pan or Barrie?  I present to you the first card I picked out:

None shall ever convince me that Great Spirit doesn't pull a few strings in theory.

P.S. - It might be 17 pictures after all.  ;) 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Idiot, Idiom.

Well, as the saying goes, I have egg on my face.

Math is not my forte.  Never has been.  So I've a little correction to yesterday's post.  A little too pleased, I suppose, that there'd be more pictures, I stupidly added the 3 in that chapter to the total.  Really I should have just added 2.  For there'd already been 1 expected for that section... hence, it's not 17, but 16.  Sorry about that.  More on "math" here.

Egg on your face - what on earth?  What's the origin of thais idiom?  To the internet!

This idiom has two possible origins both coming from the 1950s. It may have come from a sloppy eater who had a lot of food on his or her face and was embarrassed by it. It also may have come from audiences throwing raw eggs at a performer on the stage that they didn't like. The performer would get very embarrassed.   Quoted from this site.

Just this past week, Bart's Dad and I wondered about the expression "Frog in my throat" when he said it after clearing his.  He looked it up later that day and sent me the answer.  This one, folks, is quite strange.  Apparently one answer to how it began is the 'ancient' medical practice of putting a frog in a patient's mouth as the secretions of the frog were thought to cure a sore throat.

Weird little world we live in...

...sorry about the math mistake.  16.

As of now, there are 16 illustrations in Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between.

Monday, July 25, 2011

17 Is the New 14

Well, folks, I'm almost done with the illustrations for the interquel Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between.  Actually, I probably would have completed the batch already but for one thing...

...and that one thing is good news for readers.

There will be more than the original amount promised!  Yes, really.  I'd said I'd aim for a picture each chapter (there are 14, like the number of the Darlings' house) but now there truly are some extras.

A chapter two-thirds of the way through is much longer than the others.  I couldn't decide which scene to depict.  So I took on the challenge of making all those I considered.  For it would have been a crime not to show certain characters and yea, I've now three pictures in that chapter.

I'm halfway through creating the next chapter's - and that leaves but four more to produce.

Truth is I don't decide on what to illustrate until I've read through and format-tweaked each chapter, so I can't exactly give an estimate on when I'll have those four ready.  And even if I did plan on which ones, I'd still have to gather the necessary bits to create the scene, which also takes time.

So hang in there, readers.
Every day is a day closer to getting your hands on the "missing" part of Peter Pan's life.

*Correction to the # in next post.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Kind of British TV

I used to envy the way in which the television schedule worked in the United Kingdom.

Let me explain.  When I'd been a kid, all the new shows (whether it be actual new programs or a new batch of an old one) came out in the Fall.  That meant that all Summer (and sometimes Spring) long, you'd have to settle for reruns.  It seemed way too long for a kid, believe me.

Why couldn't we do it like the BBC, I'd wonder.  For I came to learn that their new shows were done in small chunks.  When a program aired, it only had a handful or episodes, 6 or 12 at the most.  When the episodes ran out, there'd be something else to take its place.  If the show had been successful, more were made and it came back in many less months of waiting... plus you had the other shows to boot.

Well, in today's world of "too many channels" it's almost as if we have the BBC way of doing the "telly."  It seems like when one show wraps it up for the time being, another old favorite has a slew of shows to air.  Then there's the "mid-season replacements" ... when networks test out a new show to see if gains a viewership.  Instead of a mammoth chunk of time when nothing new narrative-wise is on the small screen, we now have a constant stream and renewal of programs all throughout the year.

I, for one, am glad about it.  And now I no longer need to envy the British!  Well, at least not for that reason... if any other reason turns up, I'll let you know.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What Is Too Much to Be a Coincidence?

Yes, again,
Peter Pan and Barrie
on Jeopardy!

There's something at work here, whatever it is... Other Instances



The contestant correctly responded with "Who is J.M. Barrie?"

(If you're wondering why I don't report these on the date of airing, it's because I don't always get to watch Jeopardy! on the actual airdates.  Sometimes I store them up and watch about 3 in a row.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Opposite Orphans

Quite often I see that people have a tendency to think of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys as orphans.  I guess I can understand that notion, but only if one's knowledge of the story comes from not having read the book.

Peter Pan, esepcially, is not an orphan, folks.

In fact, thinking that he is undermines the very heart of the tale.  It pulls the punch of the gut-wrenching tragedy that is the events of the story.  It's not that Pan doesn't have a mother & father and thus flew away to the Neverland.  Quite the contrary, he sort of "oprhaned" his parents!  He's the one who went away suddenly and without warning, leaving them to pine for their lost boy.

So what about the Lost Boys?  It's the same with them.  They "abandoned" their parents, not the other way around.  I suppose it can be argued that the heart-strings aren't pulled as much as with Peter Pan, since Pan made a conscious choice to leave his home.  The Lost Boys, in a sense, are just that:  boys who are lost.  As Barrie puts it they:  fall out of their perambulators when the nurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in seven days they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray expenses.  So you see, it may or may not be the case that the boys of the Neverland (or NeverWorld, for that matter!) meant to be separated from their original family.  Barrie's boys tend to talk about their mothers and long for a "life" on the mainland (as evidenced by their interest in Wendy's stories of the mundane) so it's more likely that they didn't intend to end up as Lost.

Either way, it's another misconception of the story of Peter Pan.  Orphaning implies a sentimental outpouring for his loss.  Instead we are to be horrified by the loss Pan created in the other direction.  And for those who've read Peter Pan's NeverWorld, we know who else felt hurt by his decision to leave, now, don't we?

Why is it people tend to "soften" the blow of the tragic and disturbing elements in the tale of Peter Pan?

(A link to more misconceptions is in the sidebar)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lil' Neverland

Back in January, I posted about a new friend I met online who lives in Kirriemuir, Barrie's birthplace.

As I am "friends" on Facebook with her, I saw these pictures she posted this past week.  She gave me permission to re-post them here.  It's a playground right beside the cemetery where you'll find the final resting place of Barrie (pictures of which are here, as granted by someone else.) 

It's nice to think there's a place for the kids (and kids at heart) to run around in with a theme of the Neverland to help spark their imaginations.  I bet Barrie would have approved.

Enjoy!  You can click on them to make them larger!

Thanks very much, "Mrs. Kirriemuir"!
*P.S. - Is Hook's iron claw on the wrong hand or am I just not viewing it correctly?  'Tis a pity if 'tis.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Old School POOH - The Stuff(ing) of Legends

Perhaps you remember from previous posts that I've been "jazzed" for a long time about seeing the new Winnie-the-Pooh movie.

Fortunately, it's every bit as grand and reverent as I'd gleaned and hoped it would be.

It's the Pooh we remember.  There's nothing but charming scene after charming scene and it's not afraid to slow down.  At so-called "slow" parts the characters' personalities and interactions shine through and we eat it up like Pooh eats up honey.  Truth is it never truly becomes fast paced at all.  Sure, the characters are hurried and bothered, but the story remains at the leisurely comfort of curling up with a stuffed animal.

The animation is glorious.  Not just the production itself, but the re-production of Disney's classic Pooh shorts.  They've really found the niche.  The artwork is a sheer delight, as is the fluidity of the animation.  Bravo to the artists and animators.

There are also a number of musical sequences.  And I bet you can guess... they're delightful.  Each is funny, catchy and moves the story along without feeling out of place, forced or unwelcomed.  They even have the Tigger song.  You know, "The wonderful thing about Tiggers are Tiggers are wonderful things...." - that one.  But it's truncated.  Just a peppering to top off a scene with Tigger.  We didn't need the whole song again, and Disney knew that.  Just as they knew we needed a small smackerel.

I went with Bart and Josiecat, both of whom also adored the film.  Yes, they, too, deem it 'Old School' and just pleasing all around.  Josiecat hit the nail on the head in what they'd done to make this movie.  It's really only one chapter from the A.A. Milne Pooh stories, the one with the note that reads 'Bisy Backson.'  From there it which we mean rerouted, heightened or inserted parts to create a new tale without ever losing sight of the origins.  Truly a remarkable feat.  But somehow it felt effortless, guided all the while by the shenanigans of Pooh and his friends.

I'd like to say it had been quite "Goldilocks."  In other words, just right.  It could have gone too far with the slapstick humor, but it does not.  It's stirred in gently and never reaches "too much/far."  It could have been an emotional fest, oozing a sappy feeling or message, especially when intending it to be such a nostalgic piece.  But it's not dripping with too much honey in the least.  (Metaphorically that is!) It would have been easy to push the envelope boundaries what with all the aforementioned 'expansion' but no, it all fits, nay flows nicely together. 

I also want to give a special mention to John Cleese and Craig Ferguson.  They lend their vocal talent as the Narrator and Owl respectively.  You couldn't ask for a better Narrator than Cleese when it comes to Winne-the-Pooh.  Yes, I agree, many people would be great like Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie or the like.  But there's something about the timbre of Cleese that fits right into the Hundred Acre Wood.  Ferguson is a wonderful Owl.  He's got it down and yet adds his own twist...and keeping suit, in a Goldilocks fashion.

Lastly, the title.  It's simply Winnie-the-Pooh.  It's direct, it's simple.  It's not some attention grabbing headline like Pooh: The NEW Movie or a story-informant such as Pooh and the Backson.  No, just a plain ol' Pooh movie for you.

I'm convinced.  The people who made this movie are the ones who, like me, waited all year for the Pooh TV special to come on, and when it did you can be sure the Footie Pajamas embroided with Pooh were on and the world stopped.  Joy radiated for who knows how long after.

If you have a Pooh bear (that's ours in the picture) give him a hug.  But go see this movie.  On the big screen.  When will you have the chance again to see a Pooh of this calibre on the big screen?  Go!  Relive the days when if you missed something when it aired, you missed it entirely!

Folks, Winnie-the-Pooh won't be in theaters forever.  Take this opportunity to see Pooh at LARGE.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Plundering Pan Again

Perhaps you've already come across this preview - but somehow I'm just discovering it now.

I "reported" on this upcoming TV show back in March 2010 and now we have something to actually show for it.

First let me say that the animation quality is quite nice.  The camera angles, the way Peter flits about et cetera are quite pleasing.  But on the whole, I just can't accept it.  Sorry to everyone involved.

They're supposed to be fighting Captain Hook again.  Strike.
They've absolutely re-created the Darling children, beyond the idea of descendants.
They've a Wendy, Michael and John.  Strike.
Tinker Bell is still with him in this, the 21st Century.  Strike.
Oh.  That's three.

Maybe there IS a good explanation for any or all of the above.  But from this vantage point it just seems as if they're trying to regurgitate the elements of Barrie.  If we wanted all those characters, why not do what Fox's Peter Pan & the Pirates did and base their new adventures around this passage in the novel:  There were, however, many adventures ... to describe them all would require a book as large as an English-Latin, Latin-English Dictionary...

I also frowned at the "second STAR" being shown.  That's one of the reworkings of Pan I wish we could relegate back to Disney alone.

I did sort of like the use of the statue in Kensington Gardens, though.  That's something I haven't decided on myself.  Within the world of Pan (see last post), IS there a statue erected to him?  If so, it would have to have a different history to it, wouldn't it?  I mean, it could not have been paid for and put up Barrie his creator as it had been in our own 'real' history.  If it's there in the Pan-universe it would also not be in honor of a great piece of literature, rather a great urban legend.  (I always wondered about the use of it in the Spielberg sequel movie, too.)

I just have a couple of other questions.  The Narrator in the video hints that the Neverland doesn't change.  Er, yes, they do.  He also says  fairies sparkle with gold dust.  Gold?  Okay, perhaps, but gold isn't one of the colors of fairies.  Peter heard the call of thimble again... what on earth?  Yeah, I get the thimble part.  But HEARING it?  I don't get it.  Have a gander for yourself.

Oh least it will likely cause more folk to seek out Barrie's original. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lovely? Happy? No worries!

Here’s another bit from Peter Pan’s NeverWorld that one might construe as a discrepancy.

From Peter and Wendy:
“You just think lovely wonderful thoughts,” Peter explained, “and they lift you up in the air.”

Said by Pan in PPNW:
“Now think happy thoughts and wriggle your shoulders.”

Happy thoughts? Shouldn’t it have been “lovely wonderful thoughts”?

Well, perhaps.  I’ll let you in on my rationale for this one.

We know from Barrie that Peter Pan can be quite scatter-brained and also that he’s prone to saying whatever comes into his head. Thus, we cannot necessarily rely on him to repeat the same exact phrase.

And that’s a factor, too... repeating Barrie’s exact phrasing of those two modifying words for ‘thoughts’ would seem a little over-the-top, no?   Maybe even stilted.   Thus, I don’t have Peter Pan saying the same thing verbatim.   It just wouldn’t happen.

Why, then, does he say “happy” when it’s become the standard in pop culture’s thinking about how one flies in the world of Pan? Well, precisely for that reason. You see, it’s not just in our own real life that Pan is known throughout by young and old alike. It’s within the world of the Barrie’s stories of him as well. Tales of Pan are passed down for generations... and not just via the Darlings’ descendants. Here’s the beginning of the chapter titled for the boy in The Little White Bird:

If you ask your mother whether she knew about Peter Pan when she was a little girl she will say, "Why, of course, I did, child," and if you ask her whether he rode on a goat in those days she will say, "What a foolish question to ask, certainly he did." Then if you ask your grandmother whether she knew about Peter Pan when she was a girl, she also says, "Why, of course, I did, child," but if you ask her whether he rode on a goat in those days, she says she never heard of his having a goat. Perhaps she has forgotten, just as she sometimes forgets your name and calls you Mildred, which is your mother's name.  Still, she could hardly forget such an important thing as the goat. Therefore there was no goat when your grandmother was a little girl. This shows that, in telling the story of Peter Pan, to begin with the goat (as most people do) is as silly as to put on your jacket before your vest.

And let us not forget this passage about Wendy’s mother in Peter and Wendy:

At first Mrs. Darling did not know, but after thinking back into her childhood she just remembered a Peter Pan who was said to live with the fairies. There were odd stories about him...

... which just go on and on.

There you have it. I hope you’re happy with the lovely way I’ve manipulated the wonderful world of Pan.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What is "You Better BELIEVE It!," Alex?

Go figure.
So soon after the last one, a character from Barrie is mentioned on the best trivia show ever once again!
My my MY my MY!

Granted, it's referring to the Disney incarnation this time, but for certain the "question" to the $200 "answer" on Jeopardy! is "Who is Tinker Bell?"  I mean, what ELSE would be first in a categoty of 'TINKER,' right?

Also interesting to note, right next to it there'd been a category "EVER"s and one might think a mention of the N'ever'LAND might be inculded.  No, though.  But this entire category had been played before they ever touched on 'TINKER.'

Seriously, folks, WHO *IS* the Barrie & Pan fan on the Jeopardy! team?  My friend Buttercup who'd been watching and playing along with me agrees that there's got to be someone!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who is the Pan Fan, Alex?

Although this one is much more understandable since it came during Jeopardy! Kids Week, my my my but if Peter Pan didn't show up as a clue on the famous and beloved quiz show yet again!

It came in a category of 'Quotations in Literature' and held the top box of $200.

Yes, a child catching up to the lead delivered the correct question.

I also need to point out that when they came back to the category, Treasure Island came up at $600.  An "answer" about the link between the two books would have made my day. 

Perhaps Jeopardy! uses Peter Pan and Barrie so often because they're just so well permeated in culture across both sides of the pond at the very least.  Makes good trivia material.

Still, it's uncanny.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tree-son Against Barrie?

At the end of Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan says where he will now live:

“With Tink in the house we built for Wendy. The fairies are to put it high up among the tree tops where they sleep at nights.”

So why isn’t he living there in Peter Pan’s NeverWorld? Is this a glitch in the novel? No. What Barrie wrote is (but of course) true... and stayed true for quite some time. But as with many things, it had to come to an end. Why? What’s the rationale for that?

Simple. First off, there is quite an extensive amount of time between the events of Barrie’s conclusion and my novel. (We’re talking decades!) That alone should be (and is) a factor. Peter Pan would most likely get bored with living in the same simple and small place, espeically when remembrance of Wendy isn't fresh in his mind.  Yet that’s but a mild reason among those that exist.

Here's another:  Crowding issues. Since Lost Boys are always coming to the Neverland, eventually there’d be one too many of them trying to fit in the Wendy House.

Also, the Wendy House atop the trees is not as well hidden as say, a home under the ground. Think about it... there are other nasty shenanigans going on around the magical isle besides pirates. Would it behoove Pan to stay out in the open? He’s smarter than that.

The way I figure it... on one of Peter’s daily adventures in the Neverland, he came across the Home Under the Ground and found it again for what he believed to be the first time. Whichever Lost Boys were with him would delight in such a place as well.  Perhaps whichever mother had been with him would poo-poo the idea, but then, sometimes there’s no arguing with Peter Pan!  Having re-found it, he’d also (re?)realize what a boon the hideout proves to be. After all, Barrie didn’t think it up for nothing!

That’s why you’ll find Peter Pan, Denny and the Lost Boys living in the underground house on the island.

And yet...I didn’t want to replicate the very same idea for his adventures on NeverWorld. It’s certainly possible and plausible that he'd live under the ground again, sure. At the very least one of the kids who helped dream it up could have even placed an exact copy of it someplace on the planet. [In fact, that just might have been done!]  However, from a standpoint of storytelling, it would also feel utterly rehashed.

So I decided on a solution that would refer back to the very same Wendy House that he’d “supposed to be” living in at the end of the novel. Thus, they live in a house on the trees.

But as with everything in Peter Pan’s NeverWorld, the stakes are raised. As an example, Mothers are without a doubt an important key factor in the tales of Peter Pan. Raised a level, that becomes Mother Earth/Planet. So when the Wendy House is considered, an upgrade from a house is none other than a mansion, or to be exact: ...a multi-level tree house with more rooms than necessary.

You might be thinking that an even bigger “Wendy House” is therefore an even bigger sight that could attract unfriendly and unwanted guests. What’s more, the novel says: It did, however, lack one thing – a ladder. They could keep enemies away who didn’t have the power of flight. Why can’t “baddies” just climb up, you might be wondering? The tree is rather daunting, I tell you. Honest. In my mind, it’s a very thick, hearty tree that’s able to support such a grand house atop itself. Not to mention it’s quite high up indeed. Not the sort of bark stalk that’s either inviting or particularly easy to climb. Oh, sure, I suppose it could be done if need be.  But to use the opposite direction - that’s like saying you could jump off a cliff if you really wanted to do so.  Or maybe it's better to say it's like scaling a cliff.  Suffice to say, it’s no effortless task to clamber up their tree!

So there, you see, I strove for a blending of the old and new. Barrie wanted him in a Tree House. So I gave Pan the greatest Tree House of them all!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another Thumb Up

A little addendum to yesterday’s post...

Our friend Gil stopped by last night. He asked what I’ve been up to... so naturally I said making illustrations for my latest Peter Pan book. I explained what I’m doing and he wanted to not only see the ‘drawings’ but have a gander at how I’d been doing it. So I showed him.  And I gave a quick demonstration of the process.

He marveled at both what I’d created and how I created them.

So... I guess it’s really not just me.

Let’s hope the rest go just as well.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm B-a-B Finishing the Interquel

The progress report on Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between...
just over half done.

Sorry if you were expecting more.  If only I were able to spend every moment working on it.  Alas, that is not to be.  Also, I don't want to rush it.  After all, they're the pictures for the tale and I want to be happy with each and every one.  So far that's true.

Part of the delay process is both selecting which parts to illustrate and another factor lies in what illustrations I am feasibly able to do.  For instance, I'm using actual photos (my own) of Kensington Gardens wherever I can... but not all scenes take place there!  So the hunt for more is on... (one picture in particular is composed of three - and you should have seen Bart get wide-eyed at that news.  He'd no idea that had been the case.) 

More importantly, recall that I wish it to have the 'feel' of the original drawings for both Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy.  Sort of a hybrid of the two.  For is it not a story that lies somewhere toward the middle of the two?

I'm not the only one who likes the pictures I have completed, either.  Like I said, Bart's been impressed.  He doesn't placate me, especially when it comes to something important such as pictures for a novel.  [This after I got the "go ahead" from worthy critics Anon* and Andrea Hook & Jill Jones who each saw the first illustration.]

I've also been revising the novel once again.  And that includes "maintenance" so to speak, as I tend to not want a page with, say, only two sentences on it or whatnot.  Sometimes, but not often, such undesirable results wind up unavoidable.  But I'm doing my best to prevent them... without sacrificing the original text.  That can be tricky.  But I'm happy to say that so far it's only caused a better flowing narrative.

And yes, I spent a good portion of the past holiday weekend working on the book.

So hang in there, Pan fans.  I'm only trying to produce something I can crow about!
(I should also mention that the work is going by much more quickly than I anticipated.)

You'll be able to crow about it soon enough.

*Barrie enthusiast and my faithful reader and #1 fan