Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And Season 3 Adds Up to...

Well, in my opinion, they have turned something intelligently ridiculous into something pointlessly ludicrous. My standard Monday night TiVo recording might no longer be required.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Come Into One of My Worlds...

Exciting news!
I've alluded to a novel on this site a few times in posts as well as the semi-cyrptic message of the little clickable fox on this page.
You can now read this novel for FREE!

Publisher HarperCollins has a site Authonomy, which is designed to help launch the careers of new authors. Novels (either portions or entire manuscripts) are uploaded and made available to read online. Readers may then place books on a "shelf" indicating that they enjoyed and recommend it. As a book gains popularity, HarperCollins pays attention. "Shelved" books might then go on to be picked up by the publishing house itself.

Thus, I invite you to read my urban fantasy novel What If It's a Trick Question?
Natrually I hope that the increasingly dangerous world of Jeremy Strache strikes your fancy and you include it among the submissions to HarperCollins.

Start the adventure here!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Rose By Any Other?

I’ve been struck with one of those ideas which is either vaguely brilliant or alarmingly dreadful. The kind that both wants to be seen and also never come to light. At least I think so. Before I tell you what it is, please note that I do not intend to tackle any such project. I’m just as much on the fence about it as I suspect you will be.

Let me begin with a terse rant about the Hollywood remakes. Yes, they exist. And yes, they always have existed. Lately they seem to be dominant. Love them or hate them (generally I hate them) they are here to stay. Some have been good, most bad. But I’m not going to pontificate on those. Point being they do exist, for better or for worse. If you want to hear me rant more on this subject, you can find it here.

Sometimes, however, a good reason or outcome is included with the re-do of films. I’ll give you two examples. Oddly (or not so oddly), they both deal with horror movies. Not surprising, I suppose, taking into consideration that horror movies, especially, are getting remade. (Now that’s an entirely different subject of exploration: why are we bent on remaking horror?)

Clive Barker had been approached to remake Hellraiser. For those of you who do not know, the Hellraiser series, as it pertains to Barker, is more than initially appears. I’m not trying to convince you it’s good nor that you should like it. I’m just relating that a great deal of thought and inventive mythology went into its creation. (As well as the comics it spawned.) When approached, Barker declined. Told that the remake would be done with or without him, Barker responded (paraphrasing): “Okay then, I guess I could stand to revisit my work and see what I can come up with now…” I love that…an author “invited” to rework their own work.

Sam Raimi, before Spider-Man, had a big hit with the Evil Dead series. This series has its own inherent oddities of creation, but perhaps I’ll discuss those another time. When the prospect of an Evil Dead remake came up, Raimi gave his blessing! I love the reason why. He wants to be able to watch his story through the eyes of another director and creative team. Curious how else it might be done, he allowed it gracefully. Very cool. I have to say I had not been charmed to remaking Evil Dead. Until I read Raimi’s reaction.

Now I’d like to turn your attention to the comic book world. I’m the peripheral sort of comic book guy. I like them a lot and a know quite a bit about a great much of it. In other words, enough to get by. But one of the things that anyone can see is: character design evolves. It may be obvious that it would…but that doesn’t make it any less important. New artists draw the character differently. Or perhaps new elements are introduced. All in all, fresh styles and visions come about. There may be exact guidelines touching upon it, but it’s a new perception all the same.

It also applies to characters from other than the comics. It might seem that they are static at first thought, but even icons Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse have undergone changes throughout time and artists.

Another area that has benefited from re-imagining is video games. From "re-inventing" 2-D to 3-D to upgrades in character desgins and the like, there is no denying that the world of video gaming has had many guises under the same umbrella.

Let us not forget the stage. Re-staging is a common term and practice, one that is even desired.

The music industry is no stranger to the idea either. Songs are "covered" all the time. To both sweet and sour results. And it's not just the "mainstream" music. We are always delighted to hear a different orchestra's rendition and/or a noted conductor's take on classical pieces.

Wondering what my point is? What is this "big, crazy-enough-to-work but please don’t try it" idea? Remakes of Novels. An author who writes the same story of another author into his or her own style. All of the same story elements, characters (and names) would exist and the sequence would be the same…but written anew, with different language and words to tell the story. For instance, what if Stephen King “rewrote” Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Re-read Peter and Wendy written afresh by Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions).

I bet you can think of a great many “What Ifs?” along this vein. I’m trying not to…

(I’m sure someone will tell me that it’s already been done. If that is the case, then it’s mea culpa for not hearing about it. But it's just as well I not know.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Do the Math-ew.

One of my copies of Peter Pan (Peter and Wendy) has an Introduction by Anne McCaffery, best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series. I'm a little perturbed by something she wrote. It seems she did a great deal of research to be able to write her insightful Indroduction...except for the author's name. It's not the greatest quality picture, I apologize. But I hope you will be able to see what's wrong.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Losing Myself in Another Read...

LOST. No, not the television show.
Lost by Gregory Maguire of Wicked fame. He works with pre-existing stories here, too. This novel supposedly ties together Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice Adventures” and also, yes, Sir J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.

So far it’s clever in how they show up. As of right now, they are merely referenced by the character, a writer. Such as Pan having been brought to mind by something and then later, when she’s alone in a storm and freaked out, the window shade goes up and she wonders if Peter is trying to get in…as an amusing thought, not wondering in earnest. It also certainly seems like she is a descendant of the real Scrooge on whom Dickens based his story. It has the potential to be rather fun. Especially now, as it's ghost story in some capacity.

I have noticed, though, that he misspells the name of Barrie’s famous fairy. Frankly, this appalls me. Either Maguire or an editor should have checked on that, don’t you think? I believe Maguire should have, as he is the one referencing the character.

I’m not very far into it. I’ll give a report when I’m done. It will probably be a while. It’s a pretty good-sized book and as I’ve said, I primarily read in transit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lights Out on "Ember"

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
My initial post of it is here.

Well, I can’t say I didn’t like it. I enjoyed it, yes. My theories proved wrong. (Oh well.) I discovered shortly after buying the book that it is in fact a series of (currently) four novels. But I’m sorry to say that I will not be picking up the others. Again, it’s not bad…I just didn’t feel such a love for it that I needed to know what happens next. In fact, the first chapter of The City of Sparks had been included in my copy. I almost didn’t even read it. But since I had to wait for someone to arrive, I did. And with my apologies to DuPrau, I’m not interested. Ember itself is a bit heavy-handed. I do not intend that as a slam, as I have also been guilty of this literary ‘crime.’ All in all it’s very well done. Well paced, clues and answers neatly in place to keep the interest and momentum. But I just can’t say I love it. I did have a lot of fun discussing its ramifications and symbolism with Sunshine.

I am still going to see the movie. My copy had photos from the movie (yes, I wound up with one of those “Now a Major Motion Picture” editions) and half of the pictures make me wonder where on earth they got such a notion or objects or scenes. For practically none of it is in the book. Having watched the trailer again, they seem to have beefed up the “puzzle” and “adventure” aspect of the novel beyond what is actually there. So it will be interesting to see what their spin on all if it is. My guess is that it will end up being much the same as my reaction to The Spiderwick Chronicles. I longed for a hybrid of the movie and the book, as each had elements that were missing or could have enhanced the other. I’ll let you know when I see the movie version of The City of Ember.

Villainous or Venomous?

Heroes: Villains
Well, I can’t say I didn’t like it. For that’s not true. Let’s just say that it felt more like an eclipse than the usual radiance shining behind it. Much of what transpired made me wonder where and why they were going with it - and not necessarily in the good sense. But it “got better” (as the saying goes) toward the end. But it just seemed all over the map, I questioned characters’ choices and it didn’t draw me in per se. And yet…I am thoroughly intrigued. So, well, I suppose I am drawn in, for I keep asking “What the HELL?” and must know. It just doesn’t feel the same to me. It’s not a “must know” because I must know. It’s an “Okay…explain yourself…and this better be good.”

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome to "Level 5" *

For those of you for whom the left is "important" I say Happy Viewing!

Let us hope the ride is as thrilling as the first time around.

And yes, I liked the second season as well.

Bart and I are having over two of our Heroes-watching friends. We were to have three, but one of them must tutor someone who is going out of town and can only meet with him at the most inopportune time of the Heroes season premiere. Actually, Bart is not a fan of it, though he appreciates and recognizes it as good from what he has seen. However, he is sweetly providing a meal of appetizers and is looking forward to spending time with friends.
Who knows...maybe this season will lure him into Tim Kring's world.

*Tagline from this season.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

May I Have a Word?

It's every writer's perogative to invent new words. Sometimes the correct word does not hitherto exist. Or perhaps a combination of words is best suited to the situation being described. A creative effort to really convey a concept better than existing words will allow. My opinion of it is that it is acceptable in stories (or poems) so long as the word's meaning is clear from the context.

However, there are cases where it's just so alliterative or ingeniously non-sensical that it just doesn't matter what the word means at all. The definition is not the point. I am thinking specifically of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky. For example, what is "a frumious Bandersnatch" or a "vorpal sword" that produces a "snicker-snack" noise when used? It doesn't matter. It's the playful sound and mysterious allure of seeming definitive. And yet, it does mean something, as the "feeling" of the poem is clear. The mystique is marvelous, telling a clear story even though the words are unfamiliar. So perhaps what I've come to accept as the "rule" applies to the great rhyme of the mythic monster as well.

Of course, many scholars have examined Carroll's terrrific nonesense to the point of actually defining the words. Whether based on context or clues from Carroll himself, many feel they have deciphered it. For instance, the poem begins 'Twas brilling... Apparently, "brilling" now means boiling water at approximately four in the afternoon in prepartion for cooking dinner. Who knew?

Well, I have recently broken the rule. The other day, out of the blue, I uttered: filiquious. It sounds like a real word, doesn't it? "Don't be so filiquious." Having been burned by not having coined the phrase "ridiculously ubiquitous," I made sure to do one of my favorite things and consult the Dictionary. (You can find out why this is "fun" to me here.) Hosah! I did not find "filiquious." The next question of course is: What does it mean? So I sought out the root words, prefixes, suffixes and similiar words. But I still didn't arrive at an obvious conclusion.

Using the miracle of chatting instantly online, I present my "findings" to Sunshine. She came up with what had initially figured as well. That "fili" would be related to a son or daughter. I explained that I'd thought that, but also that I discovered it to be actually more akin to the root of words such as filament...which meant that it refers to "thread" or "strand." "Quious" it would seem is something not unlike the "who" that is involved. Example: obsequious. In order to be obsequious, there must be a person who is displaying servile complaisance. Thus, I figured filiquious must be done with or to or by someone. Presented with this information, Sunshine typed, "Or are you just stringing me along??" Excitedly I told her that I'd also had this thought, but had not been sure of its worthiness. However, since both of us derived this concept from the new word, we decided this must be the answer. Sunshine came through again with this example sentence: After the filliquious discussion, he finally told her what she needed to know.

So there you have it. It's a word to succinctly say a common occurence, one that most people would prefer not happen. Filiquious- the quality or state of dangling information or stringing someone along.

I did not mean to be filiquious with her in my pursuit of the matter, but I am glad that she helped solve my self-created literary dilemma. Thanks, Sunshine!
*I have one other question: In the famous illustration by John Tenniel, why does the Jabberwocky wear a vest?

Friday, September 19, 2008

It Be a Gloriful Day, ARGH!

ARGH! Avast, ye!

This is th' day we be callin' "Talk Like a Pirate Day" me bucko!

It be a real nation'l day of mirth. Ye can learn more on t'subject here, argh!

Bein' that th' boy who don't be agin' (goes by th' name of Peter Pan) likes to spar w'pirates, I be figurin' it me responsibility to inform ye. Avast! Methinks, perhaps, I be a wee bit bitter, as th' bilgerat Dave Barry helped create. His novels that be writ with Ridley Pearson...methinks have tainted th' good name of me matey Sir J.M. Barrie's work. But enjoy it, n'evrtheless! Argh! Me parrot concurs! ARGH!

So raise a cup o' mead to Captain Hook, Captain Quinn*, Blackbeard, Long John Silver and Captain Jack Sparrow! Argh! Ye can be throwin' in other scurvy dogs to th' mix if ye wish it!

*From Peter Pan's NeverWorld

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Glow of Hope from a Fizzled Night

After a trek which turned out to be pointless due to some misinformation I'd been given, I decided to placate myself by buying a book.

Sunshine is reading The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau with her class at Cool School.

I had seen the movie trailer a while back when Bart, Cassidy and I went out to see The Forbidden Kingdom. We all knew we'd be back to see it.

Thus, when Sunshine mentioned the book, I perked up.
She says it's quite fun. So I'm looking forward to it.

I'll be reading it in transit, as per usual.
And also as per usual, I shall give a report about it when I am done.

Oh - for the record, all three of us enjoyed The Forbidden Kingdom. It's not utterly spectacular, but it did entertain greatly. If you like watching the incredible feats of Martial Arts combined with fantasy, then I recommend it.
As for the movie of The City of Ember, here's the trailer:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pan vs. Poppins?

Having recently read the first set of adventures of the most famous creation of P.L. Travers, I couldn’t help but think of a match up between her and Sir J.M. Barrie’s most famous creation. Is it a coincidence that they both use initials? [Of course it is, but it’s fun to note!]

Just imagine it…
Mary Poppins trying to discipline Peter Pan.
They’d be quite the nemesis for each other, don’t you think?

Pan would hate her. And she’d certainly be cross with Peter.

Sunshine suggested that he’d want her umbrella and bag. I then countered that Peter would probably turn both of them inside out. Actually, I can see him being as fascinated as Jane and Michael Banks with the bag and then turning it inside out in frustration when he can’t fathom its magic. He would probably not be so interested in the umbrella since he can fly himself and make fun of her for needing it. Not realizing that she can float on her own [think Uncle Albert's tea table] and her surprising him to dismay.

Mary, on the other hand, might not be able to cope with a flying boy. She’d be given a taste of her own medicine, for sure. By that I mean not being the only one with special powers. She might even be able to be lulled to sleep by his pipes. Then what mischief would he dish out for her?

I can also see her being so damn severe in her tone and look that he feels the need to obey her - for a time.

They might just do each other some good - if they don’t kill each other first!

This isn’t the first time I paired Pan with another character for fun. I also did it here.

But how about you? Any scenarios you can envision between Mary Poppins and Peter Pan?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fox's Boy Who Never Grew Up

Fox’s Peter Pan & the Pirates

For a long time this had been my favorite adaptation of Barrie’s tragic boy hero. Sure, it has some differences in character appearance from his tale, but I looked the other way because everything else had been so right. And at the time, my only “options” were Disney’s and Mary Martin’s. The silent movie hadn’t been readily available. I have a theory as to why the discrepancies existed. I believe they wanted to differentiate from Disney’s. And much of it has to do with…color. For instance, Captain Hook has black hair (in Barrie’s and Disney’s.) Disney shows him in red. Wendy is in blue. Tinker Bell is in green. And Peter Pan himself also wears something green. According to Barrie he is “clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that ooze out of trees.” Now note the difference: Fox’s Hook has white hair and he is wearing dark blue. Wendy wears pink. So does Tink. And the eternal boy? In brown. It seems like they wanted a complete contrast to make it their own. For the most part, those are the changes. Otherwise, they took Barrie’s text seriously. They even list the title correctly in the opening sequence: A new and independent series inspired by J.M. Barrie’s original novel “Peter and Wendy”

Like the Japanese series Peter Pan no Bōken that predated it (which I had no knowledge of then) Fox’s animated television series is based on this part of Peter and Wendy: Adventures, of course, as we shall see, were of daily occurrence... To describe them all would require a book as large as an English-Latin, Latin-English Dictionary, and the most we can do is to give one as a specimen of an average hour on the island. A simple, yet rich with potential idea for a TV show. How wonderful to be able to experience more Peter Pan adventures without straying from the story. I enjoyed this series. Quite a bit. As I said, it provided the best Peter Pan I’d ever seen.

Unlike no Bōken, however, there is no semblance of a story arc to this show. It's simply a series of separate adventures. It's not a Finite Cartoon.

The deliciously wicked Tim Curry lent his voice to bring Captain James Hook to life. He had a particular way of saying “boy” that tickled me. It conveyed the pirate’s grumbling and annoyance with Pan quite well. He won an Emmy for his performance.

And I’m happy to say that Peter Pan is portrayed just right, too. Cute, cocky and unconcerned half the time. Plus a lot of “pointless” mid-air hovering around. I described this in my post about no Bōken. (Here you will find a Peter who stands on a ship’s mast and appear to fall only to quickly zip-curve around behind you. A Pan who sits crosslegged in midair. A Peter who jumps down and falls fast, then slow, then throws out his arms and legs and darts off another way. ) As I said in that post, no Bōken does it better, actually. But when I’d been watching Fox’s it had been the first time I’d been exposed to the idea, so it delighted me greatly.

What I admired most about Fox’s effort is their ability to create new characters and places which seemed quite Barrie-like indeed. The place name that springs to mind is Small Monday Island. As I recall, it’s sort of a fair for fairies and gnomes and the like. Small Monday Island…what on earth does it mean? Not that I actually want to know. It has the Barriesque quality of sounding logical and for-certain yet being born of gibberish and ambiguity. The character who springs to mind is…well, it’s a tie. Either Uloch the troll or King Kyros, Lord of Ice. Uloch feels incidental…as if he’d always been there and you just never noticed. And Kyros’ irritation with Peter boy added to the idea he is often an unwelcome troublemaker. “Stop this pitiful nonsense, Pan!” I remember being very happy that he just called him Pan. There is also a new Indian character worth mentioning. A boy named Hard-to-Hit.

There are few bizarre additions, such as the episodes with the Girl in the Moon and a brother, Captain Patch, for Hook. But they are not offensive to Barrie’s work, just a bit more jarring than the rest of their creations.

They also oddly portrayed the Twins. In their version, one is tall and the other is short. One is dark skinned and the other fair skinned. But they’re inseparable and seem to have one mind. They will finish each other’s sentences. Barrie explains that Peter never quite knew what twins were. So, perhaps…just maybe…Peter’s lack of knowledge resulted in him believing their situation to be Twins. That’s my answer for it. Again, I found myself willing to let the oddity slide amid all the rest of the accuracy.

In the final two-episode, Ages of Pan, Fox practically crossed a line. Peter Pan captures Hook and has a large device that will shoot spears at him. In an effort to save his life, Hook makes a speech with complete serenity and control of thought. He does not plead for his life to be spared. Rather he tells Pan that he may be killed - for he has had a full life. He has been a youth, an adolescent, a young man and an adult. Unlike Pan. Something Peter can never do. Not to be told he can’t do something, Peter Pan lets him go. He begins a new game - growing up. But it’s no game. For true and make-believe can be the same for Pan. He starts to age. Okay, now, see, that’s just not right…but they made it compelling… believable. Instead of simply making him a disgruntled lawyer with parenting issues, they showed his agonies and grief at forgetting his fun as a child. At odds with the strangeness and the yearning to know his identity. The Neverland dies around him. And considering that one of Barrie’s own fascinations had been what on earth the old age of Peter Pan would be…Fox gave us their spin on it. At the end of the episode he is an old man, with a long white beard. It takes the love and words (and single tear) of Tinker Bell (who is barely existing herself) to restore him. A bit hokey, perhaps. But when held up as a parallel to Peter Pan asking that Tink’s life be saved, it’s a touching moment. Don’t worry. Peter returns to his normal self. As with everything, Fox handled it the situation with great care.

Despite the risks it took and the small changes it made, Fox’s Peter Pan & the Pirates never seemed to leave the world of Barrie. His mocking logic and child-like playfulness always flew along, like wind keeping the stories aloft.

Sure, some episodes are leagues better than others. But that’s always the case.

The series lasted for 65 shows.
It premiered on September 8, 1990. The last air date: December 2, 1991

The picture is the first I had seen of the show.

The Silent Boy Who Never Grew Up
Japan's Boy Who Never Grew Up
P.J. Hogan's Boy Who Never Grew Up
Disney's Boy Who Never Grew Up

Friday, September 12, 2008

Devise THIS.

One of storytelling's great advantages is that anything is possible. (Well, within the bounds of the elements and realm of the tale.)

There have been many great, albeit fictional, achievements in stories. And sometimes, yes, sometimes, they inspire us to make them part of our own reality.

For example, Jules Verne thought way ahead of his time and presented the world with the very idea of a submarine. Thanks to the grand vision of the Nautilus, we now have deep-diving water craft. Lasers. Granted, they do not yet spout from actual guns nor have the power to explode or damage something on contact. But still, we have Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER). Okay, yes, the technology for them predated the most famous lasers of all in the Star Wars saga. But even before George Lucas made them a household word, writers such as H.G. Wells, Mikhail Bulgakov and Alexey Tolstoy came up with surprising similar concepts in The War of the Worlds (1898), Fatal Eggs (1925) and The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin (1927) respectively.

In my opinion, there are two technological devices from the movies that we should be focusing on bringing into reality. I'm convinced that with these two items we really would be able to save the planet. Or at least bring much of the poisoning and destruction to a halt. I'm not saying it will be easy to actually create them...or even that existing technology is sufficient enough that we are close. But I don't think that should prevent us from finding a way. I hope you will agree that we need these two things:

Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor
Back to the Future

In part two of this Sci-Fi masterpiece (which has but one flaw that I can see) Doc Brown scrambles to fill this tank with trash. Old beer cans (even with swishes of beer still inside), wrappers, banana peels...like it matters. Garbage. Mr. Fusion will convert trash to pure, clean energy. Think on that. Imagine a world where Garbage Disposals are a thing of the past. With Mr. Fusion in your home, your trash becomes power. Pretty cool. And besides being an all too easy renewable source of power, we'd be elminating garbage altogether. No more landfills, poisoning of the seas, city dumps or sewage. Hell, even your toliet could be pumped into good ol' Mr. Fusion.

Repulsor Lift
Star Wars Saga
We all love it - the way some objects in the galaxy far, far away defy gravity and float along with very little effort. It's just cool. But forget about the fun factor for a moment. It's practical! Think of the space-saving in your home. No need for a table to hold up that sculpture. Just equip it with Repulsor Lift and store something underneath it as well. Okay, so that's not exactly world-changing.
But that's just scratching the surface. We could stop paving over lush expanses of Nature. No more cutting into the dirt, making tracks, skid marks or anything of the sort - not if you simply float along! (And yes, I am aware that "anti-gravity" devices appear in Back to the Future II. But A New Hope introduced it to me first, so I give Star Wars the credit.)
How about a Repulsor Lift speeder bike with a Mr. Fusion built onto it? It definitely sounds worthwhile! Saving the environment through fiction should be a reality.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams.
-Willy Wonka
(who is really quoting Arthur O'Shaughnessy)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not Spit-Spot, But Ingeniously Imperfect

In an earlier post I mentioned that I picked up Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, having never read it before. I love the Disney movie, so I decided to rectify my oversight and compare the two.

For everyone who enjoys the Disney version but has not read the book, fear not. You can go on loving the movie. No, it’s not a one-for-one adaptation. But then, movies rarely are. However, Disney certainly captured the tone, flavor and feeling of Travers’s work.

I’ll note the major differences briefly. As I mentioned in the last post, Mary Poppins does not arrive by gently floating down on an umbrella. However, she does leave via umbrella. (And it does have a parrot handle, though it does not talk.) The Banks have four children, the other two being John and Barbara. They’re babies, so it’s understandable that they’d be removed. Bert exists in this first book, but only as the chalk drawing artist. The entering into the sidewalk picture occurs, but the children are not present. It’s just Mary’s outing. (And there is but one waiter, who is not a penguin.) The parents are barely in the book and there is no “father and mother must be taught to reconnect with their children” aspect. Not in the least. Disney’s Mary says she is never cross, when in fact: All day long Mary Poppins had been in a hurry, and when she was in a hurry she was always cross. She’s cross a great deal. But to Disney’s credit, her crossness in the book is akin to her “sternness” in the movie. Mary Poppins is in fact much more vain than she appears in the film. To the annoyance of the kids, she can never not admire herself and clothes in shop windows. And she is certainly not as sentimental about the children.

The adventures from the movie that are in the book: the magic bag (but it’s more fun to actually see it), Uncle Albert’s laughing and floating tea party (though Bert is not there and the circumstances are different), Admiral Boom (though no blasting cannons and their “routine” handling of it), the Bird Woman at the Cathedral (though Mary Poppins is there with them and she did not “predict” it) and the appearance of Andrew the dog (yes, Mary can really talk to him). Otherwise, Disney concocted the rest. It’s possible that they ransacked P.L. Travers’s other Mary Poppins books to make up the rest of the scenes in the movie. I have not read them, so I cannot be sure. I looked into it a bit, but nothing I found sounded specifically like the Disney additions.

But it really doesn’t matter. Here’s why: Mary Poppins is non-linear, crazy, episodic book. Think Carroll's Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or Dahl's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. It’s a series of vignettes, with no cohesive plot or arc. In the case of Mary Poppins, the only “story” is that she arrives and says she’ll stay until the wind changes. (In the movie this seemed to mean the state of the family…in the book it’s literally the wind changing in Spring.) It would seem to make very little difference which order you placed their outings.* And anything outlandish that Disney put in it (such as the torn papers rising up the chimney, the room cleaning itself or climbing a smoke staircase) fits right into the world of P.L. Travers. Don’t believe me? Conisder: Mary Poppins’s birthday occurring on a full moon warrants a night party at the zoo where talking animals lavish over her and people are in cages (including Admiral Boom…a penguin does plays a role here), Mrs. Corry - a very old (as in before Time!) woman candy store shopkeeper breaking off her fingers which turn to Barley-Sugar and her fingers growing back (we’re told they will be a different confection next time), Mary Poppins along with Mrs. Corry and her daughters pasting the paper stars (from atop gingerbread squares) to the sky from extremely long ladders to become real stars, a magical compass that zips you to the ends of the earth in an instant.
* In fact, some of the later Mary Poppins books have adventures which occurred during the first few books. Travers realized her constantly "popping in & out" to be ridiculous, so she placed some other escapades within the other books. Which is a flat out confirmation that the order is of no real consequence.

I am not knocking these “random adventure” books, they’re obviously great fun. But as with the 1971 movie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder, the film of Mary Poppins is better than the original book in my opinion. It brings more focus and overall action toward a gradual conclusion.

One last thing - she never says, "Practically Perfect" in the first book, but does say "Spit-Spot."

So go fly a kite (not in the first book) for Mary Poppins and her special brand of orderly disorder.

One day I’ll tell you which part of Mary Poppins is especially Barriesque. [Update: This post can be found here.]

Here’s a gem. It’s a re-cut trailer of the movie which makes it appear like a horror film. It’s not as good the one which makes The Shining look like the feel-good movie of the Summer, but it’s still a treat.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Ellen's new season starts today, in the new studio.

I'm glad for the return of a daily dose of laughs and edutainment.

Let's dance.

Internet Out = Character Connectivity Up...

Nothing like an internet outage to make us realize how dependent we have come on riding the Information Super Highway. You know, it's funny. We barely hear that term now. And somehow we don't drive on it, we surf. On a web. Somebody has a wacky imagination.

Well, the characters in my current novel finally told me how the rest of the scene played out. Thank goodness. I'd begun to worry I'd never get out of New Zealand. Here's to hoping they're not so terse with me again regarding information...then again, I suppose I need to pay them more attention.

Perhaps I could USE more outages? (Let no deities of any kind take that to heart!)
Besides, I really could have used the 'net to look up plenty as I wrote.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Haitian Didn't Take My Memory After All...

I had not meant to make the lame joke toward the end of this post. I really did forget.
But I've remebered...and there were two more comments.

3) Some of the characters and their arcs are wearing on me the second time around. Since I know how they turn out, they have become lackluster. Not the case with all characters and situations...just some of them. If you know Heroes, I am talking about Ted and Maya & Alejandro.

4) Any questions that arise, such as: How did Peter Petrelli get D.L.'s power when they never met? seem to have already been pontificated and theorized ad nasuem online.

There...now are you better for having known the rest of it? Okay, fine...

Places We Popped Into and What Resulted

Bart and I had brunch today at one of our favorite haunts in Andersonville. Nothing like a delicious Swedish breakfast.

After boring him with musings about Peter Pan, I somehow remembered that I'd been meaning to read Mary Poppins. I love the Disney movie. Color me silly, but Disney's Mary Poppins is a movie of the sort that movies should be. Delightful, tender, meaningful, mysterious and all around fun. Yet I never read the source from P.L. Travers. Shame on me. Thus, we popped into a bookstore and I picked it up.

I began it as I waited outside for Bart who wanted to browse around a shop I didn't have interest in today. Alrady there are some noticeable changes even as early as page 2. To be expected, right? Apparently there are two other children, John and Barbara, the Twins. And Mary Poppins did not, in fact, come to the house descending gently through the air via an umbrella. She has an umbrella tucked under her arm in the original illustrastions by Mary Shepard. But no mention is made in the text. What actually happens is a gust of wind blows her through the gate to their front door, a bang, and the house shakes. She does slide up the banister, though.

I'll give a full report later, of course.

As we strolled along, Bart suddenly realized how "funny" that I purchased Mary Poppins and the result of his shopping had been a new umbrella. Unintended.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Dark and Stormy Write...

It’s around 3:00 am.
You’ve gotten up (or are still up, as the case may be).
You need to relieve yourself.
So there you are…and then…the thoughts come.
You can’t help but imagine footsteps coming down the hall…
and that you will turn around to see something truly unwanted.

Like the sack headed kid from The Orphanage. Or the evil white scarecrow from the BBC mini-series of Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective. Toshio from The Grudge. A headless flannel-shirted man. That sort of thing. You know it’s silly. But still, your “creeped out” meter is off the scale. Why is it so easy to scare ourselves?

Then you get back into bed with your spouse. You try falling asleep. But despite the hour, you’re just not tired. So you keep right on thinking of those horrors…and more. A horned glowing alien who comes to sit on the edge of your bed with you. And it doesn’t help when your spouse wakes up and asks if you heard a thumping coming from somewhere in the room. After comforting your love, you settle down yourself. If you’re lucky, you can turn it around and be creative. Since you’re already creating mucho macabre, why not craft it into something that you can use?
Such as in terms of writing.
And that’s what I did.

Suddenly I had an absolutely unsettling image and situation for the ghost story novel that I will one day write.
And then…I could get to sleep.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Heroes of Writing

I'm re-watching Seasons 1 & 2 of Heroes before the big day of its return.

I've learned three things, not in order of importance:

1) It really is a damn good show. I take off the hat I used to wear all the time to the writers. Each scene is crafted beautifully...allowing for both important content and "throw away" entertainment. I wonder if I'd be able to compact story chunks like that episodically. Then I tell myself, Yes, I do that with book chapters. Still, I think it would require a certain amount of extra skill. And then to collaborate with other writers the way they do! It seems writers each take control of a character/arc...and check in with creator Tim Kring who has the final nudges and say.

2) My memory worries me. I forgot SO much.

3) Case in point. I've forgotten #3.

Looking forward to Heroes: Villains

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Flash in the Pan

The way I heard it, the creators of 1980 Flash Gordon movie expected to have a grand space epic on their hands. They believed it to be of a high calibre. In other words, they didn't see it as a cheesy mess to be laughed at (or with, depending on your view.) And that's what it is - a mess. I knew the Queen song from the movie and loved it to pieces. Still do. The sound bytes in it are delicious over-the-top wackiness that will always give me a smile. How many times have I found myself saying, Flash! Flash! I love you! But we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth! with reckless abandon? Too many. Sadly, though, this controlled silliness did not carry over into the film. I'm sorry, I couldn't even get into it as campy fun. (For the record, I did not like the recent TV series either.)

Now a new Flash Gordon movie is in the works.
The way I heard it, they're going for the camp factor.
Which got me to thinking... can one set out to make a campy "cult" style and succeed?
Or do these only develop from a film made in earnest that goes horribly awry?
I don't necessarily have an answer either way.
What do you think?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Coraline" Tows the Line

Hollywood moves rapidly.
What's a "go" one day is a "no" the next.

In this post, I spoke about finding the book Coraline unexpectedly and the movie of Neil Gaiman's work currently in production. Well, it seems that the movie is completely stop-motion animation. I seem to remember in the film's planning stages there had been talk of a combination with live action. If it so happens that I'm wrong, please forgive me as information about this movie gives a release date of 2007. It is now scheduled for February 2009. Quite the lag time.

I finished the book. Quite good. In my view, it did everything just about perfectly. It provided formidable challenges to overcome throughout the story and still had a satisfying climax. But nothing overly showy. A good mix of the character using wits and tension-buidling action. As with many "other world" stories, there is an hint of "did it really happen?" Gaiman skillfully navigates through this point and leads on with a curious extra adventure for Coraline. The nature of Coraline's plan soon becomes clear. Even though what happens next is obvious, Gaiman gives us some finely written, unexpected details.

Two other aspects of it please me, although they may seem a bit like opposing thoughts. First, I don't usually enjoy when a story dwells on a bizarre bit only to have it remain unused. I like the loose ends twisted up nicely. Coraline certainly delivers. However, I also like when a definitive answer remains unexplained. If the desire to have an answer outweighs the question itself, it's a problem. The mysteries of Coraline do not make this mistake. For example, without a spoiler, it's immediately apparent that the nature of entities Coraline meets can be called into question. Are they phantoms? Demons? Lost souls? Anti-matter clones? Witches? Don't worry, I don't know either. And that's the beauty of it. Having a for-sure answer is not as important as the palpable scares they provide by meering existing. I did not turn the last page wishing Gaiman had given me more. Knowing the true nature would not add anything to the story.
Perception vs. presentation.

I recommend this book.

It reminded of Clive Barker's The Thief of Always, another great book.

And to close with how I began, Thief has been in Hollywood production hell since before 2004. The following is an excerpt from the Official Clive Barker Resource website here.
...After the animated, live action and the ILM CGI versions all fell by the Hollywood wayside (see 'Films That Got Away...'), the project became stuck in limbo. However, new plans were made for Thief in 2004 - giving growing optimism that a great movie adaptation of this much-loved novel could finally be made.
And here we are in 2008 and still no movie. Sure, they take a long time to be made, especially one with heavy laden effects like Thief demands. Yet, the most recent update is April 2008 saying it is still in development. It, by the way, is currently live-action.

Naturally, I'm hoping Coraline the movie lives up to the book and is not a pale parody of itself like the "other house" Coraline discovers.

Coraline Sewn Up with Slightly Irregular Stitching

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another's Allusion...

I came across a delightful, wacky post. Have a read.

It's a bit of silly fun. Yet one cannot deny the insights.

The allusion alone is quite stirring.

Bravo, Ted!

As for the picture on the left...can you believe this exists?

I didn't expect to find a Peanuts reference.

Third Snoopy out of the blue today, in fact.

Also for the record, the name Ted seems to be coming up a lot.


On second look, why does Snoopy have an accordian type instrument and not pipes?