Friday, August 16, 2013

Nosey About the Nursery

You know how it’s Wendy’s last night in the nursery when Peter Pan comes to take her away?

I don’t.

It’s not in Barrie, folks.  Neither book nor play.
Disney seems to have concocted this wrinkle as well.

Nowhere in Barrie’s texts does it suggest Wendy is being made to grow up.  Neither Mr. Darling nor Mrs. Darling approach (or even reproach) Wendy about her time in the nursery.

But as with many other errors, it has become ingrained into popular thought.  P.J. Hogan, too, used this concept in his, the only live-action [& not silent] motion picture of Barrie’s tale.  Although I did enjoy the added* character of Aunt Millicent who wished to impart her womanly knowledge on Wendy by taking her away from the nursery, I wish Hogan had not done the “last night” shtick.
*or rather replacement for Liza the Maid

To me, the actual story makes the situation all the creepier.

Consider that in the popular skewed scenario, Wendy has cause to leave.  After all, she’s being made to do something she supposedly doesn’t want to do - become an adult.  So she retaliates by flying off with Peter Pan.  She’s afraid/angry/curious/take your pick!  For she’s not really any of those emotions.  She doesn’t go for that reason at all!
Think about it the other (ahem! actual) way - Wendy & her brothers leave.  Without warning.  Without being admonished.  [Unless one counts the debacle with Nana, but that’s not an incident to incite children to run/fly away.]  Wendy leaves because she wants to go be a mother and have adventures.   So she abandons her own mother to do so.  There’s no “This will show them!” or “They don’t really want me!” mindset involved.  She leaves.  Period.  Just before Xmas, mind you.  Much darker than one might first realize, no?  Just like the rest of the story.

So please let Wendy not be fearful that she’ll grow up.  It’s in her nature to do so, just as it’s in Peter’s to not.

UPDATE:  So much to recall in Barrie!  When my friend and colleague Andrea Jones (author of The Hook & Jill Saga) read this, she reminded me that Barrie does indeed have a line which tells us Wendy did not fear the fate of adulthood.  Must have sunk in to me, even if I didn't recall it specifically:  You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than other girls.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LEFT with the RIGHT Answer

On which hand does the captain have a hook instead? 

This is one (among many) pet peeves I have regarding people’s perception of the Peter Pan story.  Seemingly invariably, people tend to be wrong.  Most likely because of the majority of Captain Hook depictions on stage and screen.  Usually they show the left hand with the claw.  Why?  Well, it’s likely that would-be Hooks can’t swordfight with their left hand.   So it’s a detail that’s switched.  The result?  The wrong image/idea becomes ingrained in people’s minds and pop culture.

But does it really matter?  Am I just nit-picking?
Far from it.  It’s the only valid choice.

My new (relatively, I’ve known him months now) friend Darling had not been sure which hand the infamous pirate lord sported his menacing iron.  But he didn’t want me to tell him.  He wanted to reason it out.  He DID!  Correctly.  And Darling doesn't even fully know the story!  Here’s what he surmised:

Assuming James to be part of the right-handed majority trait from the start, the hook would HAVE to be the right hand.  Why?  Darling figured that James fought valiantly with it against his foes, and therefore that hand would be prominently in position for hacking off. 

Besides this simple logic, there’s the bit that Darling does not yet know:  The issue of infliction rather than circumstance.  Cutting off someone’s hand is ‘wrong’ enough.  Yet when it’s the most often used hand, the one which allows someone to function (let alone swordfight), it’s something else entirely.  It’s not only problematic, but more humiliating.  Most of us realize that part of the reason Hook is bloodthirsty for Pan stems from the fact that the flying urchin mutilated him.  If Peter had chopped off his left, it would have been dreadful, but not as debilitating.  Pan knew that.  So whack went the hand on the right.  It doesn’t work the other way.

Think about it.

Side Note:  Jason Isaacs [the best Hook!] had been asked if he had swordfight training.  Of course, said he.  “With your left hand?” came the follow-up question.  And so, Isaacs learned to fight with his other hand instead.  Bravo.  Thanks for not “copping out”, director P.J. Hogan and Jason Isaacs!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Revising MySELF & My Work...

What have I been up to?
Lots, actually.

I’ve been rather busy in both the areas of pleasure and work.

First off, I suppose I should talk about the drawing here.  Obviously it’s just the ‘cartoon’ of me from up on the left tweaked to reflect my new haircut.  I didn't seem know what to do with it these days, and I’d been letting it grow out.  A few months back the joy of it became a chore and -sinp- cut.  I'd rekindled my passion for hats.  Since then, I’ve made a new friend, Darling.   He suggested I go shorter.  As I said, I didn’t have any particular way I wanted my hair to go at this point, so I ventured.  I like it. I don't use the hats anymore, at least not right now.   I’ll change the upper left picture eventually.

So some of my time is filled hanging out with Darling, and that, coupled with the general wonder, events and surprises one encounters in Life accounts for the pleasure I spoke about.

On the “work” side I re-read two of my novels.  Is that work?  Sure, when your intention is polishing and revising.  A bittersweet sort of work.  I of course, then, needed the queries to go with them.  One never knows and it’s easy to get too close to it, but I feel them to be solid.  Many approaches, angles and the like.  Special thanks to Doodles who took an axe to one of them.  So much better!   And so, I am now ready begin the grueling process yet one more time.  I already have, in fact.  Did the required homework and I’ll be submitting any day now.

I’ve also been working on, for a lack of a better term, a special edition of Peter Pan’s NeverWorld.  It will include annotations, other artwork & more.  It’s often on the backburner.  But I do return to it.  Right now I’m focused on the querying.

And in the category that’s a little of Column A & a little of Column B, Darling and I had become mildly obsessed  for a time with “Princess Alice” – a character from a serious psychological study by Jesse Bering.  It’s designed to examine how children’s behavior is affected by an invisible person watching over them. The Princess Alice Effect shows that children are less likely to cheat when they believe in an invisible figure looming over them.  There's more to the study than that, as it also explores  at what age and how  complex cognitive processes form.

Anyway, given my penchant to wonder and immerse myself, Darling and I have been pontificating about the nature of the character.  We enjoy over-analyzing the sparse information we have about Princess Alice, trying to glean the nuances of her psyche, powers and the like.  It also yields deep probing into the nature of reality.  Please understand that it’s all for amusement and yet we mean no disrespect to Bering, his work or the study.  On the contrary, we were rather taken with it, hence our desire to expand & create with it. Darling’s lightly considering composing a piece inspired by Princess Alice and I hope to write out the notes and ideas we have as an essay, with the citation/justification for the claims of her highness.  Maybe one day for both projects!

After all, the chatter of other characters is never (thankfully!) turned off.  Always plunking away at the other books in my head, too… more tales of the NeverWorld and other books’ sequels.  I’m leaning toward one in particular.  In fact, it would be book three of the very book I’ll be submitting.  I found some writing scraps lost in the shuffle and it rather got me thinking…

By the way, here’s a link to how the study appeared on Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Super Detail

Truth is I've had my FILL of superhero movies.

However, I'm going to go see Man of Steel, but ONLY because I want to see how it's handled given the intentions of the film. By which I mean: It's a just a Superman movie. Don't ask if it relates to the other versions - it doesn't. It's not really based any you already know. Don't expect a flat-out & full origin story, a la a reboot. It's a different take in that his secret identity is Superman, not Clark Kent. (Think about it. He's been brought up/taught not to use his powers. They're too dangerous/conspicuous/etc. Thus, he has a difficult time adjusting to everyone's "love"/appreciation of his powers. Nice way to make him vulnerable, no?) Also because of the horrendous, insipid, lousy and incomprehensibly bad Superman Returns, I want to see this character redeemed, as the filmmakers also reportedly set out to accomplish. I'm cheering for them to do it. He may be lackluster in my eyes, but this famed character deserves better. Otherwise I could not care less about him or any other superhero. (The only exception is Thor.  I still want/need Norse myth on-screen, even if it is the Marvel version. Thus, I'm looking forward to Thor: The Dark World)

Anyway, as the 'Man of Steel' is popping up everywhere now, a query popped up in my mind. It's a very simple question, but it causes a great deal of trouble to the logistics of the mythos.

How does Superman/Clark get his hair cut, nails trimmed, etc.?
Technically he can't. He's invulnerable. Bullets bounce off and knives curl on his body. So how is it ever possible to groom himself? Oops.

It's a minor detail, yes. But it's always in the details.
Storytellers must and should and cannot ignore them by any means.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Scooby DONE, It Again!

I’ve expressed before how delighted I am with the latest incarnation of Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated.  Now has come the time to report on it once again.  For it ended!  And what a treat.  I’ll explain.

The show’s return surprised me.  TiVo of course knew it would be on and voila, it appeared.  Then another, every day thereafter for a while.  I noticed two things.  Perhaps you recall that one of the great strides this version takes is the introduction of an overlying story, an arc that plays out amid the standard type of episode we expect from a Scooby Doo show.  Well, the overall story being told seemed to be drawing to a close.  I would have been quite surprised if it didn’t.  Everything in it all pointed toward the last episode being nigh.  Especially due to the other bit I noticed.  The Chapter number.  Chapter 50 proved not far away.  And then it came, but we did not get to the end.  You know how it is - expanding the climax to greater glory, and then the denouement.  

 I’d talked to my best friend Laughter about it.  He’d not been able to follow the show, but liked it very much.  High praise, believe you me.  So I told him that it appeared to be ending.  He liked the idea of it resolving, but felt sad that there wouldn’t be anymore.  For I wound up making that clear.  It wouldn't just end… it aimed to end the whole thing.  The Scooby Doo story, over.  Or it seemed it would, at the very least.  The reply, paraphrased, “No more shows???  But it’s so good!”  I said how I wouldn’t WANT more.  I love Finite Cartoons and it just wouldn’t feel right because I’d expected a great shebang closing.

Well, it turns out that I’d been mostly right.  50 seemed the logical choice of episodes, but then, 52 cards in a deck is more like a clue.  Not of anything in particular, just for the fun sake.  52 episodes it turned out to be.   And what a triumph!  A fantastic bit of storytelling.  It had so much to love – from callbacks to other episodes, to pathos, to exciting and gut-wrenching scenes, the perfect use of “Scooby Doo!  Where are you!?” and parts that made you watch in horror because you never thought you’d see it happen.  I really liked it, can you tell?  And then we get to the end. I’d been right.  It’s difficult to explain without ruining it, but the whole premise of the Scooby Doo programs is no longer valid.  The larger mystery of it all is solved.  In fact, I cheered as Fred actually said, “Okay gang, let’s solve this Uber Mystery!”  But guess what.  The writers proved themselves one last time.  In an unexpected maneuver of plot that calls back to what drew me into this version in the first place, they set up a sequel.  Don’t roll your eyes.  The new premise, a callback itself, is one that I cannot wait to see.  Bring it on, Mystery Inc.!