Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. Peter Von Brown

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I  it.

I'd probably known about the comic, but admittedly I'd never read it.  And when I'd seen news of its release, I also admit that I dismissed it as something I need not see... because I mistakenly thought it would be along the lines of a "little wannabe rock hero climbs his way to the top into that all-important big competition" story.

Then I'd been to the movies with Bart, Clara & Banky to see something else and a trailer for it played.  BOY, had I been wrong.  Gladly wrong.  Suddenly I needed to see it.  We all did.

And we have.  And we all loved it.  (Buttercup and Josiecat, too!)  Banky said what a joy it is when a movie actually lives up to the way the trailer made you feel.  Yep, our own personal hype for it had been fully delivered...in spades, or in this case, in coins.

I have to say, I am the target audience. I haven't had that much fun laughing with a film in the theater since Napoleon Dynamite.  A special shout-out to the Legend of Zelda references. (The use of the 'Fairy Fountain' song is priceless!)

It's not a hyperbole when I say that it instantly moved into my top five favorite films of all time.

Needless to say, the series of graphic novels it's based on is now on my Wish List.

UPDATE:  I have since read the books.  Here's the post:  Scott Pilgrim vs...Scott Pilgrim?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Write It Right?

They're destroying my world.

Okay, not literally.  Well, okay, maybe literally.
Just a little purposeful over-reation to the fact of progress.

I have a novel that I put on the back burner.  It takes place here in Chicago.  As such, I've gone around town and took notes (mental, written and general impressions) about specific places.  Then I wrote them, specificially, into the story.  I'd hoped it would have an authentic feel.

Well, as it turns out, some of the places I have the boy and girl visiting no longer exist.  Drat.  It's not all for naught, though.  There are locations that (goodness forbid) will not change.  It would require a major re-landscaping and there is no (it would seem) conceivable reason to do so.  But then there are spots such as a particular restaurant in Greektown.  You'd think that those would be safe.  For right now, yes, but consider that one of Bart's favorite restaurants has gone bye-bye.  He's in his thirties and he'd been going there as a six-year-old and has ever since.  If even an "institution" like Matsuya can suddenly disappear... is anyplace a safe fictional bet?

I'll of course be revamping that back-burned novel whenever I wind up getting back to it so as to make it a little less exact... but then, some of the places and 'objects' are heavily woven into the story!  Besides, I had wanted people to be able to visit these places themselves (if the spirit so moved them.)

Makes me wonder if it's better to create a fictionalized city like Jeremy Strache's "Chicago" or if the realism adds that extra believability.  Seems like there's good reason for both ways.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tweaking Perfect

What a crazy world we live in...
...and my, how it's even changed the very way we think.

I recently took note of an actor (Chris Evans) in a movie and thought to myself... Wow, this guy would be perfect for the role of Zihn in a movie adaptation of my novel Midnight Chaser.  (Should such an occasion ever arise.)

There's just one thing.  They'd need to use CGI to make him shorter/smaller.  Isn't it wacky?  That such a notion would occur to me... and delightfully worse still, that it is in fact possible!

Also, it's the little things...  Even though I had seen him in a film or two, I hadn't pegged him as my character before....  not until he sported facial hair and had a certain flair to his attitude.

So a word to the wise in terms of casting... sometimes perfection needs a little tweaking.

And to be honest, no matter who winds up playing him one day, CGI work would have to be applied to match a particular facial feature or two anyway.

For the record, that's my personal "photo" of Zihn.  See here for more.

Yet another unforeseen "whoa" of the 21st Century.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On the Table

I snapped this on my phone last week
and forgot to take the picture off until now.

Remember that Peter Pan's NeverWorld is available at
Bananas Foster Café?

Well, look what John did for me.
Now there's an "ad" on every table!

What a great surprise this had been when we came in to have a bite.  Buttercup joined Bart and I that day, just for the record. 



Friday, August 27, 2010

EUReKA - Still Has It!

I've posted before that I am a fan of the SyFy Channel original series Eureka.  I still am.  Yesterday I mentioned how I'm impressed with the story arc of Cartoon Network's Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated! and the same holds true for the current season of Eureka.

This season promised:  Same town.  Big changes.

That had been a huge red flag for me.   I had thought it to mean a gimmick or some ludicrous twists.  I'm sure there are some who feel that they have treaded into that realm.  But I'm happily watching.  They did make some huge changes.  In a nutshell, in the season opener five or so of the main characters accidentally went back back in time to the founding of Eureka (on the celebratory Founder's Day, no less) and when they managed to return, they found they'd altered their timeline a little.  The statue of Archimedes is now bronze rather than marble.  One of the characters is married and had not been before (and thus he doesn't have the memories of his times with his wife, or even know her!)  A child who had autism no longer does.  The geeky-fun character is now the head of Global Dynamics... that sort of thing.  Like they said, big changes.

And they're handling them well.  The problems that are created from such mix-ups are just enough to fuel some new episodes.  Yet they also do feel stand-alone.

Oh - one of the men (the founder, in fact) came back to the future with them, which also helped create the variances in the timeline.  And right now, that is tonight's episode, they're going to be playing one of my favorite Time Travel cards.  Someone has figured out that he's not who he claims to be (as they set up/falsified documents to give an identity for him and explain his presence) and the reason they have -- well, they've been waiting a long time for him.  As in, people from the past had to 'catch up' to him in the future.

I've said more than I imagined I would... but suffice to say I'm giving a BRAVO! to the Eureka's storyline this season.  It's more than a gimmick and it's working out (and in) very nicely to create a great deal of fun.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scooby Dooes It

Back on July 20, I gave my initial thoughts on Cartoon Network's new Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated in this post.  I've now seen seven episodes of it.  I thought I'd give an update.

It turns out that, yes, the obvious had been/is true - this Scooby Doo adventure is contiguous.  The never-be-seen-in-a-Scooby-show idea of creating a story arc not only is happening, but it's being done to fantastic results.  It's an arc that is always lurking, but not in your face.  They're doing a great job of stringing a thread through each episode, while still creating stand-alone pieces.  Of course, that cannot entirely be the case, but the referential bits to other shows are not so clandestine that someone just jumping in will wind up lost for that episode.  But don't let that fool you - it's not as if they're over-simplified either.  I'm quite impressed with how the overall elements are woven into the single stories.

I'll be honest - twice now it has thrown me for a loop.  It utterly suprised me with a twist or two.  That's a rare thing in a Scooby show, don't you think?  It's a nice and even balance to the "I can guess what the mystery is" of the original series.  Since it can often be a bit of a let down when you already are already steps ahead of the Scooby gang, how exciting and cool is it to have an myserty that spans over all of them that you are hard pressed to solve?  P.S. - That "Mr. E" charatcer is heating up!

On to my other concerns... the kids' parents and their "relationships."
It turns out that having their parents/siblings does lend itself to some poignancy.  Whereas before we wondered what the deal with thse "teens" had been driving around aimlessly in a van finding people in costumes everywhere they go, we now have a 'base' for them.  They go to school together and the like, so having their parents concerned (or not) with what they are doing creates a dimension also unhithero seen in Scooby cartoons.  Sure, their folks might be just a peppering (which led me to wonder why they even had them) but the truth is that it is a spice nevertheless.  And it's becoming an acquired taste.

Now, the thing about Shaggy and Velma being a secretive couple... although ultimately it still doesn't sit right with me, I am warming up to it.  Why?  Because it's not just "there."  It factors into the storylines, such as their strain affecting the outcome of a successful capture or creating a 'mystery' among the gang itself.  (e.g. perhaps Fred wonders why Velma isn't where she's supposed to be - and it's because she's been spying on Shaggy instead...)  So, it's not just a wacky add-on, it's a full-fledged story element.  Daphne has always been sweet on Fred... but now, there's depth to it.  When have you (besides the movies) ever seen a Scooby character be anything more than 2-Dimensional in terms of personality?  Yep, it's done here in Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated.  Not just in their potential hook-ups, but of their lives in general.  This Scooby gang learns and grows and holds grudges and... you get the idea.

Lastly, it pays homage wonderfully.  It's just like watching old-school Scooby, but fresh and with 21st Century markings.  They even make fun of the original in a loving way, such as variants on the "And I would have gotten away with it to, if it weren't for you meddling kids."  So far (I think) none of the 'villains' has actually said those words.  Instead they tweak it so as to be included but different.  For example, one of them had been known to be studying Latin earlier in the episode.  So they say it in Latin instead, with the remark of something like 'Loosely translated that means:  I would have succeeded if not for you interfering young people.' (Not exact, of course.)

So on the whole, what had been a little scary about the new version has been unmasked.
Looking forward to more - and finding out the answers to the mystery of the old-tyme Mystery Incorporated!  (I speak of a clue from Daphne's locket...)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Last Draw

I just heard sad news. Satoshi Kon, the marvelous mind behind many amazing animated features, including one of my all-time favorite films, Paprika, has drawn his last line.  Thank you, sir, for bringing me such joy. I don't think a day has by has gone by that I have not brought Paprika to mind since I first saw it. I have shared your visual feast and marvelous adaptation with many people, all of whom have asked to see it again. You will be missed, and your gifts cherished.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hot Pockets

Oh. Here's an addendum to the Thursday's post...

Another reason to love Johnny Test:
The boy is in cargo pants!
I love cargos, too.  The chances of seeing me in something other than cargos are pretty damn slim.  (Though I wear cargo jeans [as you can see in my cartoon self above], but I do like his green pants!)

I don't know about you, but I need my extra pockets.  Pockets rule.

“And you could darn our clothes, and make pockets for us. None of us has any pockets.”   How could she resist?  - Peter and Wendy

No, Not Depp
TWOting a Horn
I'm Still a Test Subject 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

TREADing Lightly?

Perhaps you remember how excited I'd been to see the trailer for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the next installment of The Chronicles of Narnia on film.  I still am excited.  But there had been quite a few things shown that I did not remember.  Understandable on two accounts:  1) My memory can sometimes go the way of Peter Pan's.  2) The movies are beset with fascinating and welcome changes to the story (without sacrificing it.)

What stood out in my mind (besides their apparent obsession with plaguing poor Edmund with visions/visits from Jadis, the White Witch) are the snow falling for Lucy in the room with the book of magic and the man turning around suddnely coming into visibility.  Oh - one other: the faun leaping in a battle as well as other animal-based characters (besides Reepicheep the mouse.)

In my recollection, Lucy didn't stand amid snow.  I did recall that characters were invisible... I just didn't bring to mind a scene in which a man turns around as shown.  And as far as I knew, no fauns show up in this book. 

So, I just finished re-reading it.  The answers?  Well, I can certainly see why they would make Lucy enchant some snow into the room.  The spells that Lewis does have her perfoming would be fiendishly difficult to bring to the screen.  (They involve seeing visions of scenarios that are best explained via text.)  And since the scene in the The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe of Lucy beholding the snowy Narnia in absolute delight is so good, it makes perfect sense for her to try and recapture that moment. And yes, the magician had also been invisible.  However, it seems they're making it a little more interesting by having him come into reappearance while "we" ( and presumably Lucy & someone else!) are watching.  I didn't think there were any battles in this book.  But it turns out there are in fact two places that one could insert a bit of such action, given their penchant for adding it.  And who is to say fauns and such are not welcome on the deck of the Dawn Treader?  Certainly King Caspian would allow it!

There are a few parts of the book that I also wonder greatly how to accomplish on screen.  And there are some marvelous parts I'd forgotten that I can't wait to see realized, assuming they are.

But you know what?  I so loved the first two movies of Narnia (tweaks and additions) that I trust them.
The last two times I thought they actually improved the book(s).
I still wish they could have had Jeremy Sumpter as Eustace Scrubb... but it's just as well, since he shot up rather tall before it went into production and thus became too big for Eustace.  Of course, I'd wanted Sumpter as Caspian, too, but other than not having blonde hair, Ben Barnes is wonderful.

Bring on the voyage!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm Still a Test Subject

Way back on February 25 2010,  I said I might eventually get around to giving some other reasons I love the cartoon series Johnny Test.

The truth is... I still can't get enough of him.  I often have little Jonathan Test as the wallpaper on my computer and my phone.  I look forward to Mondays because that [currently] means another episode/segment.  My TiVo still faithfully records them and every so often I'll watch a episode I haven't seen in a while.  Just the other day I realized that there is only ONE episode where Johnny isn't wearing his blue overshirt* for a large chunk of the story... and that doesn't include when he's dressed otherwise.  [i.e. in the episode the rest of his standard outfit is intact sans the blue shirt.]
*perhaps it's a jacket, but I think of it as an overshirt since I tend to wear shirts like that myself

Some of my not getting back to it on here is due to forgetfulness, some of it chalks up to laziness and a smaller chunk of it seems to be that I must have been particularly "hopped up" on Johnny that day, since I've come to realize that my other reasons aren't really all that interesting.  But, I'll state them now just to get it over with...

I bet you could see this one coming... in some ways he's like Peter Pan.  Johnny Test falls under the heading of the 'puer' mythos.  (That's really just Latin for boy.)  He's a boy hero who gets himself tangled up into all sorts of adventures which often turn dangerous or deadly and in most cases they are by his own doing.  Besides diving headfirst into recklessness, Johnny, like Pan, can be insentitive to others' feelings.  He's in it for himself, and to hell with everybody else.  But don't be fooled by either of them.  Given the right circumstance, Johnny and Pan will care.  (If you need a Pan example, why else would he bring Wendy with him for the Lost Boys?  [Yes, sure, okay, it had been for himself, too.  But even so, there's a part of Pan that will do the right thing when it comes down to it - such as saving Michael Darling from the sharks to appease Wendy... or how about saving Wendy and the boys from Hook?])  Likewise, Johnny will not stand for others mistreating his sisters, even if he himself does it.  You'll also find him being nice on purpose from time to time.  I suppose I just like the "semi-heartless boy" idea.  And as Dukey (Test's talking dog) says in an episode [wherein Johnny's "bad" self is extracted from him and accidentally runs amok and "good" Johnny is utterly, annoyingly sweet]: AIH!  I don't like Good Johnny.  I'm not crazy about a totally Bad Johnny.  But a caring yet mischievious Johnny is what I love.
(And yes, I slapped together the "Johnny Pan" pic.)

Another reason is his hair.  Yes, really, his hair.  Over and over on the show he's referred to (even in front of him or to him) as the "flame headed boy" (or some variant thereof).  I like characters aflame, it seems.  I used to draw little wisps of flame with feet.  And in What If It's a Trick Question? Jeremy's favorite video game features an imp with flames for hair.  Now, granted, Johnny's hair isn't moving like fire.  But the idea is there, and that appeals to me.

Okay, see... I said they weren't that interesting.

If there's another reason, I'll be sure to burden you with it when I remember.

In the meantime, Viva Johnny Test!

No, Not Depp
TWOting a Horn

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Chirp Out to the Cricket Team of Barrie...

I've known about Peter Pan's First XI by Kevin Telfer for some time now.
But I've only recently gotten around to getting a copy.

I'm just reporting that I do have it... I have yet to read it.
I'm not so much in the mood for a non-fiction book.

It tells the tale of Sir J.M. Barrie's cricket team, the Allahakbarries.  What's special about it other than being his and its nifty title?  Well, the members of it, of course.  It's a star-studded team of literary giants:  A.A. Milne, P. G. Wodehouse, Jerome K. Jerome, Walter Raleigh and Arthur Conan Doyle to name a few.

I will get around to reading it... and I'll be sure to say what I think of it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Please, sir," replied Oliver, "I want some more."

Allow me to go to Burton’s Alice once more. I’ll just be using it as an example for a moment. I find myself wondering about the previous history of the realm. Assuming that what the movie presents is true, I want to know more about the lives of Mirana of Marmoreal and Iracebeth of Crims (The White Queen and Red Queen respectively.) What of their childhood?  I’m also curious about their parents. What had the land been like during their realm? At what point and why did the Red Queen move from chess pieces to playing cards? Also, why had Nivens McTwisp, the White Rabbit, entered into our realm in the first place? (i.e. when child Alice followed him down the first time)

There are of course no answers to these questions necessarily. But that’s my question, of sorts. Are there answers? Should there be?

For another example, Anon wanted to know more about the histories touched upon in my novel What If It’s a Trick Question? Tell of the battles, the betrayals and the alliances, and the one called Choke. Main character Jeremy’s very first fan also inquired about getting to read the past the novel speaks about.  And yet Buttercup (about halfway through Jeremy's plight and loving it) doesn't feel any such need.

My novel Midnight Chaser, intended as a stand-alone piece, also prompted interest for more (both past and future) from readers, Banky especially.

But in all those cases, it’s just not a story worth telling. In other words, nothing I could tell would be any better than what they might imagine. What’s presented is all one really needs to know. The outcome of the past is what’s important and giving blow-by-blows leading up to it would just be, as the saying goes, “milking it” in the bad connotation. The same goes with the future of the main characters in Midnight Chaser. Story needs conflict, and there’s nothing I can see (nor want to) thrust upon these characters to spark up story. Sure, you can imagine them in all sorts of adventures. But nothing that would warrant or sustain a book. It’s much more fun to have the freedom to create the vignette scenarios anyway.

I know some are put off by Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles having a book for nearly every minor character. (I exaggerate to make a point.) And yet, there are those who still cannot get enough. I understand both schools of thought. Similarly, Buttercup read through one of my favorite series (at my suggestion), The Incarnations of Immortality by Piers Anthony. She liked it a lot. I recently discovered a handful more books have joined the series. But to be honest, I don’t want to read them. One, especially. It’s about a character that had been ever so mysterious in the novels. I, for one, do not want to clear away the clouds surrounding her. And neither does Buttercup, who obviously also feels that it’s entirely possible to push too far into a world.

So, then, when is enough actually enough?

My response would be it that it’s to be figured case by case. Of course, personal taste factors in as well. But it all boils down to story – is it worth telling… or is just knowing about it sufficient?

Friday, August 13, 2010

a DIFFERENT kind of TEXTing in this 21st Century

How clever is this?

That's Hook & Pan engaged in combat shown in reverse silhouette, cut into the entire text of Peter and Wendy!  I like the design of the characters and the simplicity of the overall image.

Yes, it's bigger:  24x30" - 61x76cm

I just might have to get one of these.  But I need to find a place for it among the other Pan stuff on my wall.  Hmmm.  Maybe I can move the Labyrinth poster...

If you want one of your own, you can find it here on Postertext.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ollive Juice

Want to see a delightful animation?   It's ever so fluid and quite an homage to the dawn of moving drawings on film.  And - I bet you could see this coming - it has elements of Peter Pan in it.  It winds up misquoting it at one point.  But I had so much fun watching I hardly seem to mind.  Plus, it's not entirely nor exactly Peter Pan... and one could argue the main character in this short is the one remembering incorrectly.  Either way, it matters very little if any, as the cartoon is so charming.  I especially like the way in which the Peter character flies, twisting and turning gracefully for no reason.  (I also like that a certain appendage is placed correctly.) 

The Night Visitors animated short is by Richard Ollive.  Looking him up, I learned he also worked on Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.  Other credits include cult classic Heavy Metal and a (seemingly) lesser known Peanuts movie: It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown.   I'd love for him to do more.  Maybe he'd consider a faithful animated Peter and Wendy.  ;)


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Just wanted to say that Tim Burton's Alice has yet to leave me. I listen to the enchaunting* theme by Danny Elfman at least once a week, if not a dozen times. I still want the Cheshire Cat to live with me. Bart still quotes some of his favorite lines from the Queen of Hearts.  I keep hearing one of Alice's speeches in my head.  Not so long ago Buttercup said she wanted to watch it again. I last saw it two weekends ago when my best friend Laughter had been in town. He'd only seen it once and took his kids, so his attention had been divided. How mesmerized he sat! Being a set designer, he takes a special interest in the artistry. I have now seen it seven times.

I've taken to saying "Fairfarren" as a salutation. I'd been getting bored with my usual "goodbye" words anyway.  Screenwriter Linda Woolverton coined Fairfarren. It means "May you travel far under fair skies." It fits perfectly into the world(s) of Lewis Carroll.

Note the paranthesis around the S there. Carroll brought Alice to two distinct places. The movie combines Wonderland and the Looking-Glass World. It seems like something that should ruffle my feathers. But I find myself loving it. Of course, I'd been warmed up to the idea by the "Mad Hatter and March Hare Connection" derived from Carroll's words and Tenniel's drawings. Plus, American McGee's Alice video game exploited this "through-hole" with expert ease. But in the case of Woolverton/Burton's, there is ever so much more interaction and intermingling of both places that it ultimately becomes one place, different regions.

In my last post love letter to this film, I mentioned that I'd been disappointed that the Mock Turtle and the Griffin had not been in the movie.  Technically they are in it - as a grand portrait and part of mural respectively.  Their fates are easily detemined, too.  The Griffin is shown fighting the Jabberwock.  Fairfarren, Griffin.  The Mock Turtle must have ended up as stew as per the Red Queen's statement of loving caviar.  My only "Aw, shucks" that prevents it from being 103% perfect for me comes in the scene of the White Queen's kitchen.  It seems a shame to have the March Hare be the one cooking.  Why not the use the character of the Cook here?  Although I do see the importance of showing the Hare having fled to the Queen.  An addendum to this is Alice remarking that it needs more salt.  Perhaps this is a nod to the There's certainly too much pepper in that soup! line in the original.  But I would have preferred she say "Needs more pepper" to have another indication of her grown-up tastes.  Other than that, just the title.

I've spoken to three people recently who were a little put off or confused by the title of the movie. As I mentioned in the other post, it is mis-titled. It's not a direct adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland nor even Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.  All three of them had thought it would to be.  See?  It needs a different title.  (Watching the film should make you aware of that title.)
* Enchaunting - at once haunting & enchanting
Fairfarren, all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Staging the Past

Just came across this one...
A theatre company, PuppeTyranny!, is doing an adaptation of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens this weekend in Philadelphia.  Wish I could go out and see it.  Puppetry, when done right, is quite effective.  Here's a link to their site.  I've got the image of it below, though, since it's likely to no longer show up in the future (as it is on an "upcoming" page.)  I like that they say "forgotten prequel."  And that there is a male fairy on his shoulder, who incidentally, looks (correctly!) mauve.  I do have one question, though:  Giant invisible goat?  Umm...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Closing the Book on Hook

Captain Hook.
He's an enigma, that's for sure.
Take this passage from Peter and Wendy, for instance:

Hook was not his true name. To reveal who he really was would even at this date set the country in a blaze; but as those who read between the lines must already have guessed, he had been at a famous public school; and its traditions still clung to him like garments, with which indeed they are largely concerned.

Barrie gives us quite a bit of information about his pirate. We know he's the only man that Long John Silver feared. We know he served under Blackbeard. We know that school to be Eton.  We're given a bunch of other sundry details. But as for his past and his real name?  I bet you can believe I've tried to decipher the riddle. But every time a piece of the puzzle locks into place, another pops out. The identity of of Hook and his personal history is too convoluted, it would seem. I've pored over the details, but always come up short. Recently I had a revelation, one that I brought to the attention of Barrie guru Andrew Birkin. We discussed it a little bit, but even Birkin is unsure, or perhaps unable, maybe unwilling to hammer out the truth. And I don't blame him one bit.

I don't normally think about Hook. For most intents and purposes, he's dead to me. Since he met his demise in Peter and Wendy, I didn't have a need to over-explore him when writing Peter Pan's NeverWorld. Barrie gave me enough to remember and chew on with the rest of the characters, and a great deal of it has to do with the eternal boy alone.

I've often toyed with the idea of presenting the past of this infamous sea captain. But so far I've had no real need to do so. I've yet to come up with a compelling storyline or reason to compose such a history. And even if I did, I'd still be faced with the challenge of interlocking all the componets.

I do have hints of Hook in my interquel Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between. So, for those of you wondering (or expecting) to see the first encounter between the flying boy and a Hook with two hands, sorry to disappoint you, but no, he's not seen in that novel. Why? Because it's simply not that story. Captain Hook meeting Peter Pan (or vice-versa) is a tale that takes place after the events of the novel.

The other day, while referring back to Peter and Wendy in order to make revisons to PP:BaB, I re-read the exchange between John Darling and Peter Pan. A red flag went up and I shared the new-found dilemma with my #1 fan, Anon, who also thought it utterly curious. In a nutshell, John seems to know Hook by name and reputation, but not the fact of Pan cutting off his (fore)arm and that it became replaced with an iron claw. How is that possible if Hook is not his true name? I knew I'd be seeing Andrea Jones, author of Hook & Jill in a couple of days (at the time) so rather than type it to her online, I got to present it to her in person. It rattled her for a moment or three. But she came up with a solution mighty quick. A plausible one at that. (I don't think it's my palce to share it.) Thank goodness, though, since it really did plague me.

At any rate, I told her that I came to a decision. Other than the semi-cryptic mentions in Betwixt-and-Between and the little bit that will arise in the third book of NeverWorld (no, I don't have Hook resurrected or anything of the sort) I am dropping my pen when it comes to James. Why? A few reasons.

1) The above mentioned "impossibility" of pinning down his past.
2) As I said, I've no story worth telling about him and given reason 1 and the amount of years I've had to think on it,
I don't foresee one coming up.
3) Andrea Jones already has a handle on him. She does such an excellent job bringing us more of the wonderfully wicked character of Barrie's that there is no need for me to do so. She's a pirate and I'm a Lost Boy, so to speak. I should note here that she has a backstory on Hook worked out. A small part of it appears in Hook & Jill. But then, her Hook is technically not quite the same as Barrie's. As I said in my review of her novel, she's earned the right to timeline tinkering. She owns a very magnificent alternate Peter Pan universe and I'm looking forward to seeing what unfolds. (Her solution to the "John Darling Problem" works in both universes.)

So, there you have it.
To the best of my knowledge, I won't be writing about Captain James Hook other than referentially.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Following Suit

You know, I seem to often forget that Disney's Pan's outfit is derived from stage productions of it. My apologies. I tend to focus only on the literary adaptation of it, since it's the place where Barrie could 'finalize' and include what he actually wanted to, both in terms of story cotent and color commentary. Plus the fact that I like to deal in terms of books. Shocking, eh? ;) Nevertheless, it has taken quite a hold on the Pan perception as opposed to the description in the book. Shown on the left is Maude Adams.
Oh well.
Now if we could just get people to stop saying "star" in the directions to the Neverland...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Howl Is It Done?

Then she heard it.
The howling.
I've been having fun with those lines. Yes, it is a quote from the book The Howling. I've shared it with just about everyone I've come into contact with since reading it. It gets at least a chuckle every time.

To be fair, I'm taking it out of context. Hence, the comedy aspect. Immersed in the actual scene, it is indeed creepy. I mean, hey, if you were in bed with your honey in a cabin in the middle of a woodsy nowhere and you heard a preternatural howling you'd be unnerved, too.

So... did I like this book? I'm sorry, but I have to give a wishy-washy answer: Yes and no.

First off, I'll say it's nicely done. It's very straightforward writing, with just the right amount of details and a good pace. I admired the chapter structure. Each one is quite short, while still creating a setting and mood, but as compact as it needs to be to deliver the punch of its events. Also, the novel is peppered just right with hints as to the identity of the werewolf so as to keep you guessing the entire time and switches your mental gears for second guesses. Of course, I knew the answer to this question having seen the movie. (And yes, the "answer" is the same in the book.)

But that's partially why it didn't fully grab me ― I knew what would come next. My fault, I know. However, shouldn't the book deliver the same thrill and terror? Well, possibly, but that brings me to another reason it fell slightly flat. It's one thing to read about hands becoming paws and another to see them do it. Truth is, I'm not much of horror reader. The same "revelation" came with Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart which became the movie Hellraiser. I immediately understood why they made the film. No matter how well an author will craft the words and set the mood, there's always just that much more in visual form for such things as transformations and guys with no skin. I'm not belittling anyone's skills. As I said, Gary Brandner does a good job of bringing the horror to mind. But for me... well, I don't want to read about werewolves, I want to see them.

There'd been way too much explicit sex in the novel for me. (And no, that doesn't count as a I'd rather watch than read ― not a bit!) I'm not saying the sex scenes had been gratuitous either. Certainly they worked alongside and with the plot. But one whole chapter is, essentially, wild (literally wild) sex. Just not my cup of tea. Upon hearing this remark, Bart pointed out that the book had been written in 1977. Kind of goes with the era.

I also, to be honest, liked the movie a bit better. Not for the visual aspect. There are quite a few differences in the film from the novel. The basic story is just the same, however. But the elements brought to this tale on the screen really enhance it. Instead of being just a regular person tormented in an isolated town, we get a popular news anchorwoman. (And yes, that becomes purposeful in the film.) In the book she is sexually assaulted (again, a little too much description for me) whereas in the movie she meets a guy (a mysterious informant) in a sex booth and has an encounter with him turning into a werewolf. (Sorry to spoil that for you, but I think you would have seen it coming.) The trauma of not knowing how to deal with seeing someone become a wolf before your very eyes and then being attacked by it is, to me, much more engaging than dealing with a rape only. (I'm speaking dramatically and for the purposes of story only. I am certainly not disavowing the terrible ordeal of such a heinous crime.) The two incidents work together in the movie, whereas the attack and the character's "get away and rest" in the book don't click as puzzle pieces quite as well.

Then again, some parts of the book had it over the movie, too. One of the characters (missing in the film) I quite liked. But she also had a touch of the "standard" about her. And the climax (when the secret is revealed) is handled ever so much creepier in the novel. However, it also immediatley goes to "Gee, I'd rather see it."

Did I find it scary? Well... no. But then, I don't find the movie scary either. Werewolves don't frigthen me. You'll probably find me rooting for them instead of their victims. (Yes, coming across one in real life would terrify me as much as the next person.)

I want to watch the movie again now. Fortunately Bart said he'd like to see it again as well. I'm itching to remember/see how the film characters manage a particular situation, one that does not show up in the book. (Well, it does, but not in quite the same way.) Just in general I'd like to a do a compare/contrast.

All told, it's a good story. Both the novel and book follow roughly the same path, though not without horror cliches. But cliches, if crafted well, can work beautifully.

I wonder how the next transformation will go... will the Hollywood remake be a hybrid and create the ultimate tale of werewolves? We'll have to wait and see... and one night

...in the woods not far away, the howling.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Not Just 'Jeopardy!' Loves Peter

I'm a Cash Cab fan.
For those of you who don't know, it's a TV game show. Contestants are surprised at the beginning of their ride by host (and cab driver) Ben Bailey, told that they will win cash money by answering general knowledge trivia along the way to their destination. Three wrong answers and they're kicked out of the cab and lose the money they'd accumulated. They have two "Shout out" options - a mobile call or asking someone on the street. If you haven't seen it, it's a delight (assuming you like trivia shows.)

Peter Pan had been the subject of a question in a recent episode I'd watched. Ben gave the title of an earlier draft of the play, The Boy Who Hated Mothers and wanted to know what it's now known as... Yes, the players answered correctly. Ben then commented, saying thank goodness it had been changed!

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's Panning Out

Last night, (or the wee hours of this morning if technicality is your thing), I finished the minor rewrites to my interquel Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between. Faithful reader and fan Anon had been kind enough to give me not only critiques of the story but editing remarks as well. This sort: combine these sentences, add a comma, please clarify... I’ve gone through all of them now. In most cases I took Anon’s advice and sometimes did exactly as suggested while in others I rewrote the lines entirely. I even cut out whole sentences. There's something quite satisfying about deciding to axe passages.

Now I can move on to the major revisions, the kind that will alter the story structure a bit. Actually, I have already tackled some of these changes along the way. While editing and looking right at a part that is known to be getting an overhaul, it only made sense to plink away at it then. I imagine the minor changes would have gone much more quickly if I didn’t fiddle around with the story aspect as I went along, too. Plus, I had already redone two chief chunks of the tale before handling the little bits.

At any rate, I can already see that it shall be (and is) a much better novel than it had been at first draft. I’d be worried if that were not true! I even managed to strengthen some ties between Barrie’s two books. Anon had wondered why I didn’t include one of Peter Pan’s skills in the mix. I hadn’t wanted to make a one-for-one back history. After all, at least some parts had to remain indigenous to Barrie lest I would ruin their impact, especially the scene where Pan demonstrates that particular skill in Peter and Wendy. But as I revised, I realized that this skill had actually been included all along and apparently neither one of us noticed. I simply re-tooled what had been written so as to subtlely hint at what happens in Barrie’s. As it now stands, Peter Pan will have developed this ability as time goes on… and thus in Peter and Wendy we are shown how well. It also gave Pan a little more fuel to his emotional fires and woes in the Betwixt-and-Between novel.

So all in all, it’s shaping up. Soon enough it will be off to Andrea Jones, author of Hook & Jill. Even though there is no actual appearance of Captain Hook in this tale, she has agreed to take a look at it anyway. (Yes, that's meant as a tongue-in-cheek comment.) What luck to have access to such an esteemed Barrie enthusiast.

Thanks Anon, Andrea, and any who want to read this book!