Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scooby-Doo It Some More

Way back in this post, I expounded on the latest incarnation of eveybody's favorite enigma-solving and ghost chasing pooch - Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorportated.

This is a quick status update.

I’d spoken of how it has brought a much needed new element to the Scooby-verse - a narrative story arc. Well, it hasn’t lost sight of that. Far from it. It’s not only kept it up, but has layered it upon itself. What on earth do I mean? Simple.

 I’d told you of how the Scooby gang had been receiving strange leads and clues from someone hailing as Mr. E. Well, we’ve since learned who he is. I don’t want to spoil it for you if you’ve yet to see the whole saga, but suffice to say it’s not a superfluous character. Rather Mr. E is imbedded into the tale already. And once we learn more of this pre-established backstory, it doesn’t stop there. We’re suddenly privy to a clearing up of what happened long ago in Crystal Cove’s past. Yet it still doesn’t stop there! We delve into the mystery that had been around long before, one that the mystery-solving team prior to Scooby’s took on and only partially succeeded in figuring out. Thus, we have fresh story with backstory in a backstory derived from a backstory. Wow. They really took their time developing this concoction. It may sound as if it were convoluted, but I assure you, it’s not. Well, it’s not so far as a Scooby Doo cartoon is concerned.

And all the while, they have not dropped any of the side issues among characters, nor ignored any of the great avenues to explore.

On the whole, they’ve managed to bolster the world of Scooby into something practically logical. And we all know how preposterous it had been in the first place.

I should mention that a friend of mine who has long moved away now and happens to be a big Scooby fan also enjoys the show, but he feels that the overlaying storylines get a bit thick and out of hand, perhaps even unnecessary or in the way. But by the same token, he didn’t pooh-pooh them or wish they were entirely absent.

And then there’s Zoey, who watches it peripherally when her kids do. She thinks it truly awful what they’ve done with the franchise. She specifically cited the Shaggy and Velma “romance” (which fails- no mystery there!) as one of the offenses. You might recall that I also raised an eyebrow at this notion, but kept on with it only to see how well it had been handled - and that it brought along with it a character development that had been sorely needed after so many manifestations. So I told her she’d have to see it all from the beginning and let it do its thing, since it most definitely relies on the power of the Story Arc to work.

So, to the entire team who brought us Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorportated, I say:
BRAVO! Bravo, indeed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Extra Visitor

As I said in the last post, I had another visit with fellow author and friend Andrea Jones.

Most of the weekend might be boring for those who aren't Pan-fanatics such as ourselves.  As usual we spent a good portion of our time discussing aspects both grand and minute, attempting to hammer out mysteries in the text and sharing details of our novels-to-be as well as bouncing ideas off each other.  Can you blame us?  Usually we're with those who merely tolerate our obsession and grudgingly listen to our prattle.  To have someone eagerly fine-combing Pan lore along with you?  Ever so glad she's around.

In the last post I promised to tell of the mystifying event which took place.  I'll get to it.

For I must first express my joy to have my copy of Andrea's new novel in the Hook & Jill Saga, Other Oceans.  There it lay, waiting for me on the car seat.  (She picked me up at the train station in her town.)  The next morning, during a simple (best kind) breakfast she prepared,  Andrea signed it for me.  Now it's truly my copy.  Thanks, Andrea!

Another treat had been to finally see her home.  Up until now I could only wonder and speculate.  As I suspected, she had a giant bookshelf taking up an entire wall.  A fairy could be found in nearly every room.  And knick-knacks and curiosities of all kinds vied for attention.  It even has an oddly-placed and shaped angle to the kitchen.  I'm quite the fan of weird angles in architecture. I saw her workspace, where her magic happens.  I had the pleasure of walking in her expansive backyard.   Best of all, I finally saw the swan "fainting couch" she'd told me about which she put into the pages of her novel.  (Yes, I made sure to sit on it.) 

Okay, I shan't wait any longer.  Bear in mind the timing of this event.  It isn't as if we didn't stop for gas or leisurely drive along as Andrea pointed our sights in her town.  So one has to wonder if we weren't actually meant to see this strange phenomenon.  As we walked up the path to her front door, Andrea chanced to look in the sky.  "What IS that?" she wondered aloud.  I looked.  I also didn't know what to make of it.  An orange-like flame of sorts moved in the night, right over Andrea's house.  It flickered, exactly the way a flame does, yet maintained a ball-like shape.  It didn't wobble haphazardly the way a paper bag lantern set adrift might.  Rather it flew horizontally, a near perfect line.  Sure, it could have been a plane.  But it did ever so much look like a wisp of fire.  We kept watching, unable to discern what it could be.  "It's a UFO," I said, "in the literal meaning.  It's an unidentified flying object."
My quick rendering

I wanted to film it.  After all, we live in the age of mini-computers and video recorders tucked into our pockets.  But two things stopped me.  Okay, three.  First, I could barely keep from watching.  Second, I'd been bogged down with items - my bag for my visit, Andrea's satchel, the snacks, etc.  It would have taken me a bit to even get to my phone.  And third, even if I had done so, I realized that there's no way it would have shown up with any sort of justice to how it actually appeared to us.  Too small and the like.  Besides, I didn't want to be one of those people.  ;)

We laughingly decided it HAD to be a fairy, there to bless our long overdue get together.  Maybe it has another explanation.  But I don't want to know.  For in OUR book, there is no other option.  And yes, by Crichton, it really did occur.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Beyond ADMIRABLE with Andrea

This past weekend had been a true delight.

My phone photo
I’d been in the company of one of my favorite people, the illustrious Andrea Jones, author of the Hook & Jill Saga.  And like I say about the Fairy Council in my novel, we didn’t meet for any small affair.   Besides the grand occasion of getting together to talk about Peter Pan face to face, we attended a performance.  Not just any show, but one of Barrie’s!  No, not his work that overshadows all the rest.  Rather The Admirable Crichton, a comedy predating the infamous eternal boy in 1902.

Andrea brought it to my attention that it’s being performed up in Wisconsin.  After a ‘Jeepers, why don’t we go?’ which became a ‘Why not, why waste this opportunity?’ and a comparison of schedules, we joyfully realized it would come to pass.   It would be quite a drive, but by golly, we were up for it.  After all, all we really wanted to do is talk shop anyway, right?

The American Players Theatre, an outdoor theatre literally in the woods, staged the marvelous social commentary.  Quite marvelously.   We had great seats, too.  Andrea scored front row!

I’d have to say what Andrea and I agreed upon as our favorite aspect has to be a rewrite of the play.  Zounds!  How could a rewrite be good?  Rewrite might be too strong a word.  You see, it incorporated Barrie’s stage directions.  What a wonderful idea!  For his stage directions are some of the most salient bits, with a humor and knowing all their own.    One only needs to start reading the play from the beginning and this becomes immediately apparent:  

A moment before the curtain rises, the Hon. Ernest Woolley drives up to the door of Loam House in Mayfair. There is a happy smile on his pleasant, insignificant face, and this presumably means that he is thinking of himself. He is too busy over nothing, this man about town, to be always thinking of himself, but, on the other hand, he almost never thinks of any other person. Probably Ernest's great moment is when he wakes of a morning and realises that he really is Ernest, for we must all wish to be that which is our ideal.

Thus, the clever folks at APT present these words just as they are over the sound of a car pulling up, a gate and the like – with the actor coming down through the audience aisle.  All throughout the play, but perfectly peppered and careful not to intrude, the pleasant and calming voice of David Frank in the role called “Speaking for Mr. Barrie” did precisely that.  I adore bringing his extra wit to light.  Andrea agrees. But would you believe they took it one step further?  They actually did write new material for it!  Andrea looked it up afterward, and to be sure, they created a stunningly convincing and perfectly in tune addition at the end – by way of this Narrator.  A nice touch that didn’t undermine the impact of Barrie’s ending nor did it change it.  Rather it seamlessly wrapped it all up given their conceit.
Naturally we must commend the actors and crew.  A top notch performance by all.  From the very start it became clear that these folks truly “got” Barrie’s humor and knew how to walk his fine line.  Bravo to director Kenneth Albers.

The set proved just as clever, with unfolding panels unleashing jungle scenery – oh, if you’re not aware, The Admirable Crichton has aristocrats finding themselves shipwrecked on an island (Barrie’s fond of those) and Crichton, the butler, naturally knows what to do… or does he?  At any rate, the staging is first rate.  I especially like the set dressing for the island home.  It all had a whimsical quality, including the English estate, which is an asset and hallmark in any Barrie work.

I must remark on an “uh-oh moment.”  During one of the more serious private exchanges between two characters, the strong breeze one toppled a flat set piece decorated like a stone urn planter, crashing from its platform to the stage.  The actors, in true form, ignored it.  The show must go on!  Then, when more characters arrived someone naturally picked it up and replaced it with little attention drawn.  But… yes, CRASH again later on – thanks Nature.  Hats off to Crichton (James Ridge) who, while the play went on, came onto the stage as nonchalantly as could be and carried off the offending set piece with a sigh, all while fully in character.  Well played.

What an absolute treat to see one of Barrie’s plays performed!  Both Andrea and I could not stop reveling in this good fortune, especially one so artfully done in such a lovely place.  Neither of us had ever seen a Barrie play (other than Peter Pan) and we couldn’t have asked for a better companion for the first!

O ye who appease the god Dionysis… heed this advice:  Do not overlook Barrie!  If you’re looking for that next great play to produce, check out his body of work.  You can’t be disappointed.

The Admirable Crichton runs through October 6.  If it’s within your grasp, both Andrea and I recommend you go.

That’s enough for now.  I’ll write of the truly unbelievable incident Andrea and I shared in another post.  Not to mention the rest of our latest awfully big adventure.