Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Entering "Another" World...

This post isn’t related to writing or storytelling, nor is a "tidbit" about me. Please forgive. :)

I just wanted to say that I have finally entered the world of online gaming. I know, it seems like I would have jumped in a long time ago. However, I play video games much less frequently than I used to and when I do they are not on a computer but a gaming console. And I am a Nintendo guy [one word: Zelda] so I haven’t had much exposure to online games. But last night I gave it a whirl with Mario Kart Wii. A very strange yet satisfying experience. Not that I expected differently, but as Nintendo does not have a “headset” for chatting yet, it played the same as if I merely played against the game’s AI. It occurred to me that there might not actually be anyone there. I don’t believe that of course. Until I am connected to a friend such as Doc Holiday it will just have to be very similar to regular play with the bizarre twist of shooting red shells at someone I don’t even know.
Just in case you play Mario Kart Wii and are curious if you’re playing against me:

Mii Name: p-t-pi

Monday, April 28, 2008

Peter Pan, the AvengerS?

Well, I made some phone calls to my local comic book shops and found one which still had the MARVEL Comics Avengers Fairy Tales Peter Pan issue that I posted about last time. On the internet I would have paid nearly $12 all told with shipping, but I picked it up with a mere short train ride for cover price. Not to mention avoiding the waiting for it to arrive and the hassles that go with the mail system.

It's very clever, just as I hoped. The "casting" is damn near perfect. For instance, the MARVEL character Klaw lost his hand during the course of his storyline. Take a wild guess who he plays. And who better for Tinker Bell than MARVEL's Wasp? I'm far from being a comic book aficionado, but I thought they did a nice job with the vivid colors and drawing style. Very reminiscent of a storybook of old. Also, I do like the way in which they played around with Barrie's story while still sticking to it rather well. They even put the hook/klaw on the correct hand. My only nitpick would be saying "pixie dust" instead of fairy dust. But then, the whole comic is a stretch of the imagination. And an entertaining one at that.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Re-Imagination Avenged

Well, this page certainly shows quite the turn of imagination. MARVEL Comics has taken its Avengers into familiar terrority with Avengers Fairy Tales. An inventive play on their characters taking on the roles of famous fairy tale personas. The first issue is a retelling of Peter Pan. I must say what have seen from the wonderful post on the link is nothing short of delightful. Clever nuances make it worthwhile. Plus it seems that they've tweaked the story enough to make it their own. I'm going to have to get my hands on this one.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Baron Conundrum

Another wonderful movie that challenges perceptions of reality is Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. His film is based on a collection of stories (both oral and in print by various storytellers) which themselves were derived from the outlandish tales told by 18th century Karl Friedrich Hieronymus [Freiherr von Münchhausen] who shall we say embellished the events of his life serving as a page to Anthony Ulrich II [Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg] and later in the Russian military. Besides the outrageous escapades of the Baron from the stories (such as sailing to the moon, consorting with Vulcan and riding cannonballs) Terry Gilliam’s film has some oddity of its own.

I’ve watched it quite a number of times and each time I had been determined to unravel its mystery. I’ve since resigned it to being a well-crafted and purposeful enigma. What is the dilemma that arises? It’s impossible to figure out where reality begins and ends in the movie. From the onset, one would imagine it to begin in an established reality. And it probably does – but which is it? The real world or the mind of the Baron? The fantasy of the Baron (who proclaims that he never lies) weaves in and out of alleged real events in the movie. But then, the Baron is relating his exploits to an audience from on stage, correcting the story from the way a troupe of actors had been performing his adventures. To make it even more complicated, flashbacks and past stories intermingle into the present. Also, some of the actors have dual roles (one in the supposed real world and one in the Baron’s stories) which also adds to the confusion. Sure, it’s easy to say that he just included people he met into his tale. But other factors ensue that challenge the nature of the reality of the film. "Real" becomes malleable.

If you have not seen it, give it a whirl. By the time you get to the end, you won’t know if you’re at the end of another story or the beginning of a new one or if it had all been a story or where you or the Baron stand. I admire the film for being simultaneously enchanting and infuriating. See if you can figure it out. I certainly cannot. And at this point, I never want to…

Recounting the Baron's Tales, Finally (or Again.)
Barren Munchausen??

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obsession Isn't All Bad...

On April 10 I posted that I had just finished watching the movie Paprika. I have to admit that I am obsessed with it. I bought not only the movie, but the soundtrack. The majority of my musical diet has been a selection of songs from it. And most of those are variants of the same song. I find that I am always hearing either the “Parade” song or one of those which is a variant of “Meditational Field” in my head. I know how corny this sounds, but they make me happy to be alive, appreciative of the world around me. I’m one of those who likes to analyze films and books and such. So after a while I figured out why I enjoyed it so much. For me it carries within it the same message as The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s as if the songs in Paprika are playing the chords that I had said Narnia struck within me.

My friend Le Trix is also a Narnia fan. After discussing it with her, it seems she did not get the same message/philosophy as me. Neither of us is wrong, we just each got something different out of it. Which means it’s likely that my perception of what’s going in Paprika is not necessarily intended either. But so long as it makes sense to me and brings me comfort, that’s all that matters. Or so think I.

So, since it’s entirely possible that neither work is saying what I believe it to be, I will one day write a novel that presents these ideas in my own format. For I have been thinking about how to easily explain what I grok from those two very different tales. I’ve come up with a metaphor that does so, albeit in simplified form. Thus, I would want to expound upon it in a novel. But I’m not about to put it down in writing before that. ;)

*Note: Paprika is not for everyone. It's certainly not a kid's movie. It does contain nudity, but not gratuitously (believe me I wouldn't like it so much if it were) and it also has many disturbing images. So before you rush out to rent it, make sure you can handle the oddities of anime.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Parents & Teachers Are Right...*sigh*

You’re not going to believe me. Then again, maybe you will.
For it certainly surprises me. Math is required to write fiction.
I’m not a math person. I respect math, I just don’t like it. I’d rather not do it. But parents and teachers are correct. You do need math to accomplish tasks.

Okay, so what on earth could be part of fiction writing that would necessitate math?
Oh, things like figuring out how long a character spent away in relation to her or his age when they left, dealing with time zones, the number of pages per chapter, making timelines of varying length (from minutes to eras), the amount of distance a character travels – many factors. These may not be the best examples. Maybe I’ll start making note of each time I find myself doing arithmetic to get the job done.
For to my chagrin, it comes up more often than I’d like.
C’est la vie.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Not Just Me II

For anyone with lingering doubts, here's a link to show that it's not just me who feels Vitalist Theatre's A Passage to India deserves high praise. Bravo!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Meetings and Inspirations

I had the pleasure of hearing the legendary Isaac Asimov speak. However, this event took place so many moons ago that I still walked the halls of high school. So sadly I don’t recall much of the actual lecture. Though I do remember a single piece of advice. He said to think of a magnificent ending, then do everything in your power to reach that ending. I sometimes stray from this advice, but I do believe in its merit. I tend to think of story tent poles, including the ending. Generally, however, I find that the characters (and I) will re-shape the events as the story develops. Thus, sometimes that great ending becomes either an even greater one or else completely askew from my original conception. Either way, it’s still a journey. But the sci-fi master had been right, one must keep sight of the ending. I have his signature on a piece of notebook paper.

I also stood in line just over ten years ago at a book signing of Richard Bach. As he is one of my favorites, I felt a little shaky standing before him. But he proved as charming as his philosophies and I soon had a little seagull drawing accompanying the touching line he wrote. As I exited the store with my signed books under arm, I realized: I did not have a copy of my favorite book signed! The reason for this oversight is simply because I made a habit of buying the book and giving it away on purpose. I had passed along my own copy to a friend. For you see, this is precisely how I acquired it in the first place. So I turned tail, grabbed Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah and rejoined the line. Some forty minutes later, when my turn came again, Mr. Bach looked up and, seeing me, brought a sparkle to his eyes and mouth and said, in bemused shock, “You’re back!” I explained my habit and that I decided I needed a personal, signed, copy of Illusions. I received not only another seagull sketch but the wonderful words “For Peter – Happy Flying!” I took them to heart.

I am flying, Mr. Bach. And I have a destination in sight, Mr. Asimov.
Thanks for the words.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Culture Weekend!

Quite a packed few days! On Friday night Bart and I attended the American Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty at Lyric Opera. The story is one of Bart’s favorites so his joy made up a large part of the treat for me. Truthfully I had never attended a full length ballet before. Quite stunning. Though I appreciated it greatly, it’s not quite my thing. But I sat amazed at their craft, by which I mean the exquisite set, dancing and costumes. And Tchaikovsky’s score is a delight just by itself. We topped it off with a late dinner in Greektown.

On Saturday Lemonie came to Chicago. She, Bart and I, as well as our friends Cassidy (from the suburbs), Mina and Sunshine had a scrumptious Pan-Asian dinner and then had our funny bones tickled and senses reeled by The Drowsy Chaperone. We went to one of the last two performances of the touring company of the show which lovingly pokes fun at musicals and won 5 Tony Awards doing so. Quite entertaining and even more so given its originality.

Lemonie and Cassidy came back to our place for a little socializing and the next morning I brunched with Lemonie (who stayed the night, of course) and Sunshine. Dragonfly meant to join us, but a flu took him, as well as poor Bart.

On Sunday I saw Vitalist Theatre’s A Passage to India again. Besides being a show that warrants another viewing, I came especially for the poetry readings after the show. Vitalist merges many artistic mediums and will often host such events. I had the honor of hearing the vocal performances of Indian and Napali poet Yuyutsu R.D. Sharma, internationally renowned American poet and translator David Ray and Aeronwy Thomas, Dylan Thomas’ daughter. A wide range of emotions, from light-hearted fun to deep insights about culture.

My weekends aren’t normally so crammed with culture, but it’s nice when they are.
Thank you to everyone involved!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fact vs. Fiction, again.

Another movie that hinges on the nature of what we believe is HouseSitter. It stars Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn at their wacky best. I would love it just for this line alone: “Half of what we tell ourselves is fiction.” It’s…er, true. What are you willing to believe and how far are you able to deceive others and yourself? I’m not suggesting deception, but think about it the next time you make up a reason why something can or cannot be. Besides this profundity, it’s hilarious. Lemonie (the one who introduced me to Stranger Than Fiction) and I watched it twice in college. Friday night and again Saturday morning. But, then, I have a soft spot for Martin and Hawn.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

That Spice of Life

I just finished watching Paprika. No, really, I just left the television. I adored it. I'd seen a trailer for it online and knew I had to see it, but it never seemed to make it to my area. Or if it did come, I missed it. Quite worth the wait. I'm posting it here because it has a lot to say about truth and fiction. It uses a number of conventions, some of which have arguably been done to death. But the packaging both in animation and script makes it anew. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I like what it brews and stirs up in the mind. Bravo.

*Note: Paprika is not for everyone. It's certainly not a kid's movie. It does contain nudity, but not gratuitously (believe me I wouldn't like it so much if it were) and it also has many disturbing images. So before you rush out to rent it, make sure you can handle the oddities of anime.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Passage to Excellence

Last night I attended the opening of Vitalist Theatre’s A Passage to India. Once again they have shown true artistic prowess. As Laughter (the Scenic Designer and my best friend, see my previous post Serendipity Anyone?) put it after the show, the staging is poetic. Poetry is a theme and Forster's novel is lyrical in and of itself. Thus, when adapting the words to the stage, it had to become a visual poem. And it did. The clever way in which the caves and rocky terrain surrounding them is done illustrates this concept alone. Bravo! And you have to believe me, I’d be attending Vitalist productions even if I were not friends with its founders and team. It’s just downright impressive theatre. If you live in the Chicago area, do go see it. You can find info at the link in my “Also Visit” list.

After the show Laughter came to our place for some much needed socializing. You might recall that I barely get to see him anymore. And as the saying goes…just like old times. Prior to last night, Laughter had yet to experience the Nintendo Wii. Once he got the swing (literally) of it, he too realized the genius way that the big N once again revolutionized video gaming. He wants one, of course. But he also knows his schedule would not permit the time he should be putting into it. I hope he does, however, so we can play Mario Kart online along with Sunshine and her husband, Doc Holiday.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Questions You're Not Supposed to Ask

I found another list of mine from years ago. I added one to it. Granted, I know the "answer" to some of these is simply you would have no story otherwise, but're "not supposed to" ask. The very fact that questions like these can arise seems problematic to me. Oh well, life goes on...

* Where do the rest of the Transylvanians go in The Rocky Horror Picture Show?
* Why do Doc Brown and Marty take Jennifer outside the car in Back to the Future II?
* Why aren't we using the metric system?
* On the Superfriends cartoon villains ensnare heroes in fatal situations from which they cannot escape except through the help of other heroes. Why don't the villains use these tactics in single-hero shows?
* Why do you park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?
* Who shot J.F.K.?
* What's going on at the opening of The Dick Van Dyke Show?
* Why doesn't Harry Potter use the Time Turner and Invisibility Cloak in conjunction to solve all problems?
* Why did the Gilligan's Island castaways pack such extravagant and abundant costumes?
* Isn't Wonder Woman's invisible plane an air traffic accident waiting to happen?
* Why does Superman pushing a curl down and wearing glasses constitute a disguise?
* Why do they call them apartments when they're so close together?
* In The Flintstones, why doesn't the cat ever appear other than the closing credits?
* House. Houses. Blouse. Blouses. Mice?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Back in St. Olaf...

I’ve always been a fan of a good pun, assuming these exist. I will always remember a particular segment of The Golden Girls. In the episode "Dorothy's New Friend" she attends 'The Writer's Symposium' where the menu is a hardcover book. I've never seen a menu with a Table of Contents before, said Dorothy. The menu is divided into Chapters. Chapter Five is the Lunch Menu. The offerings given in the episode are, in order: The Crêpes of Wrath, Old Man and the Seafood Salad, For Whom the Stuffed Bell Pepper Tolls, Catcher in the Rye Bread, George Bernard Slaw, Edgar Allan Potatoes, The Ice Water Commeth.

Given my penchant for such wordplay, I created a list of my own. I'm sure other people contributed to this list and thank you, whoever you are. Fortunately I saved the piece of paper for years, scanned it in many years later and just found the CD it's burned onto so that I could share it. Lucky you.

Feel free to add more!

Peter Pan Pizza
J. M. Berries
Treasure Island Dressing
Red Wine of Courage
Yeast of Eden
Mark Twinkie
Isaac Fig Newton
The Cadbury Tales
Flounders for Algernon
Flounders in the Attic
A Brie Grows in Brooklyn
A Tale of Two Entrées
The Scarlet Pumpernickel
Olive Twist
Isaac Asimuffin
Ray Cranberry
Cask of Amontillado
Tequila Mockingbird
Peas and Prejudice
The Scarlet Lettuce Soup
Raisin in the Sun
A Clockwork Orange Duck
Don Quicheote
Henry David Flambé
Ralph Waffle Emerson
Lewis Carrots
The Glass Meringue Pie
War and Piece of Pie
Rhubarb Kipling
Upton SinEclair
Nestlé Tolstoy Cookies
Ezra Poundcake
Robert Frosting
The Ice Cream Cometh
Carl Sandburger
Grated Expectations
Prince and the Potpie
Gulliver's Truffles
The Wonderful Gizzard of Oz
Robinson Croutons
The Legend of Creamy Hollow
Arthur C. Clarke Monolith Bar
Astrid Linguine
J. D. Salisbury Steak
Catch of the Day-22

UPDATEShould Have Cooked This Up Before...

Friday, April 4, 2008

It's Not Just Me...

*Sunshine, one of my favorite people and a high school teacher, shares my dislike of the “forbidden” word. She discourages her students from using it. When they complain about how hard it is to write without it, she refers to me. She lets them know that her author friend has written entire books without a single instance of it. Naturally this surprises them.
Perhaps I should have dubbed it a “deplorable” word in honor of the one in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. But then, it certainly doesn’t do as much damage as the one we learn Jadis the White Witch used in The Magician’s Nephew. Maybe just to my sanity.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Even More Serendipity

Bart wanted me to share some another serendipitous event that surprised him yesterday. Just like that, very expensive tickets for quite the popular show fell into his lap. Fortunately for him, someone had to pass on seeing Jersey Boys. Although we admittedly did not originally understand the appeal of the show (it appeared to be yet another “jukebox musical” and something akin to Beatlemania about The Four Seasons) he knew he’d be foolish to not accept a free $125 ticket to see what would be a good night of theatre if not great. He liked it. A terrific spectacle, well put together and a lot of fun. Bart's gratitude to the nice people who gave him the ticket extends into his desire that they, too, be rewarded serendipitously in return.
Me? I plugged away at a computer for most of the night and then watched Ellen.
Let’s hope Great Spirit continues the good fortune! (Well, of course.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The "Forbidden" Word

There is a very common word that I do not use in my writing. I banished it after finding four instances in a single paragraph. I won’t even allow characters to say it. I deem it weak, lifeless and lazy. Blasé sentences can be made dynamic by the disuse of this word. It took some doing to eliminate it from my writing vocabulary. I often sat pondering how to rework sentences and still convey the same meaning sans the word. At first it proved rather cumbersome. But now sentences flow easily and I am quite glad to be free of it.

However, it does exist in Peter Pan’s NeverWorld. But only for two special cases. First, I am quoting passages from another author (not Barrie, as one might imagine) and cannot very well make a revision to his work. Second, one of the Lost Boys uses it in a play on words with an old adage.

Which word do I shun? Don’t worry about it. You’ll never know it’s missing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Okay, I'm Done.

Seeing my name in print made me realize it's just not what I wanted.
That's it. I've given up writing.