But the one above gets extra points for tackling a tough challenge. It was posted by crises_crs to Flickr’s CubeDudes group in 2010.
Here’s another take on the same subject from Angus MacLane. That one actually shows the green trunks.
This week’s exploration of OIP Derangement Syndrome comes from Norm Ornstein of the center-right American Enterprise Institute writing in the National Journal
When Mike Lee pledges to try to shut down the government unless President Obama knuckles under and defunds Obamacare entirely, it is not news—it is par for the course for the take-no-prisoners extremist senator from Utah. When the Senate Republicans' No. 2 and No. 3 leaders, John Cornyn and John Thune, sign on to the blackmail plan, it is news—of the most depressing variety. . . .Reuters reported on another aspect of this campaign:
to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its [the health-insurance reform law’s] implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one's breath away.
Americans for Prosperity launched a $1 million TV ad campaign against the healthcare law this summer to test its message in swing states of Virginia and Ohio. The 30-second ad presents a young pregnant mother who asks questions that suggest the law will raise premiums, reduce paychecks, prevent people from picking their own doctors and leave her family's healthcare to "the folks in Washington."That group’s old ally, FreedomWorks, is actually trying to convince young people to refuse to join the health-insurance system. That’s right: these right-wing groups are campaigning to convince young pregnant women and men under thirty from obtaining health insurance.
The group plans a bigger push on TV and social media to persuade young people, especially men under 30, to see the healthcare law as a high-cost liability directed at them.
I should realize this by now, but the current GOP clearly believes it is the only legitimate governing party in the US and its response to a loss is to intensify its rage. They never forgave Clinton for being re-elected; and the idea they’d let a black president leave a legacy behind is obviously inconceivable to them. And yes, that’s calling them irrational and not a little racist. But how else do you explain people who are actively attempting to persuade young adults not to get health insurance?
On May 16, I sent Roald our American copyeditor’s queries, three closely typed pages of minutiae, most of it involving using American English rather than British English. Roald wrote, “I don’t approve of some of your Americanisms. This is an English book with an English flavour and so it should remain.” Here are a few examples:I’m pleased that even though Dahl began with a broad statement about “Americanisms,” he made his actual choices based on how well the text would communicate to young American readers.
“elevator vs. lift: I agree elevator for ‘lift’ because most American children simply won’t know what ‘lift’ means.
“candy vs. sweets: I do not agree ‘candy’ for ‘sweet.’ Your children will know what sweets are and anyway it’s important for the witch to say “Sveet-shop.” So no candy or candy-shops, please.
“tuna fish vs. fish-paste: I won’t have ‘tuna fish’ for “fish-paste.’ Please keep this Anglicism. It’s a curiosity even over here.”
DbM has it from reliable sources that our friends at Imagineering are finishing up concept and show design for an Oz land (or area) and Oz attraction based on the movie Oz the Great and Powerful. It will be located where “Big Thunder Ranch” now stands. An alternate location was at the old Motor Boat Cruise next to it’s a small world, but fire-safety issues with the monorail precluded it.I don’t know the Disney jargon or how reliable this source is. Many of the blog’s commenters are skeptical or dismayed by the prospect. There’s plenty of time for plans to change or develop before the threatened sequel.
It is anticipated that the area will have one E-ticket ride and two C-ticket attractions. A restaurant similar to the Magic Kingdom’s “Be Our Guest” but placed in the Emerald City, and a Munchkinland-themed retail store will also be included. Show elements will include a hot air balloon, tornado effects, giant bubbles, and Dark Queen Evanora’s army of Winkies and flying baboons. Word is that China Doll will be featured in the ride. The final attraction mix will be decided shortly, and DbM expects that the announcement about Oz land will be made at D23.
I was in my New York studio one day, sketching on transparent tracing paper, and I had the window open. The wind simply took a picture of an elephant that I’d drawn and put it on top of another sheet of paper that had a tree on it. All I had to do was to figure out what the elephant was doing in that tree.Charles D. Cohen’s “visual biography” of Seuss is titled The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss in part, I suspect, because it seeks to get to the truth behind such anecdotes.
The good news from Comic-Con: IDW will publish new adventures of Winsor McCay’s little Nemo in Slumberland by top comics talent.
The great news: One of those creators is Eric Shanower.
The baffling news: He’s doing scripts, not art.
I've seen Eric’s McCay homages, most prominently in Promethea. I can’t imagine anyone doing them better. The other guy had better be good.
The Treasury inspector general (IG) whose report helped drive the IRS targeting controversy says it limited its examination to conservative groups because of a request from House Republicans.This week George said he had never seen the documents about scrutiny of groups on the left. But Issa hadn’t asked him to look for them. Under OIP Derangement Syndrome, he was convinced that wasn’t necessary.
A spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, said they were asked by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”
J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are overstuffed (sometimes literally). Fellow fantasist Bruce Coville credited her, especially at the start of the series, with putting more neat stuff into every chapter than anyone else. But the books also hit all the buttons for several storytelling genres at once.
There’s the genre of the British school story, itself a subsection of coming-of-age narratives. There’s the mystery genre, as Ken Jennings noted. In some books there’s the sports-book genre, where conflicts get worked out on the playing field. And of course there’s the chosen-one-battles-against-evil genre, which many people mistake for all fantasy.
In fact, I don’t think fantasy is a genre at all. It’s what I call a mode. Genres are defined by the plots readers expect: detective solves puzzling crime, couple gets together, gang pulls off heist (or not), soldiers carry out mission, chosen one defeats evil, and so on.
In contrast, modes are defined by their settings and what is possible in those fictional worlds. The major modes I see are:
Last week’s revelation that J. K. Rowling has published a pseudonymous murder mystery sent folks back to the archives for clues they wished they had seen all along: her remarks that she might publish under another name, a brief mention of a Scottish mystery she was trying out.
But the most perspicacious commenter was probably trivia master Ken Jennings, who wrote back in 2007:
I read the Harry Potter books as enormously sophisticated Scooby-Doo mysteries.And couldn’t Rupert Grint play a fine Shaggy?
Rowling seems to draw more from the Agatha Christie tradition: a multiplicity of colorful “suspects,” many with hidden agendas; red herrings galore; and a final drawing-room exposition-fest in which Hercule Dumbledore explains How It Was Done.
Just as in a murder mystery, the guilty party is always the least likely suspect. . . . Some of these reveals even involve the Hogwarts equivalent of a Scooby-Doo rubber mask coming off the crotchety caretaker: Quirrell’s turban, Pettigrew’s Animagus disguise, Barty Crouch, Jr.’s Polyjuice Potion. “Like, zoiks, Hermione–it was Old Man Milligrew all along!” . . .
I bet Rowling’s first post-Harry Potter book–talk about a hard act to follow–will be a classic mystery of some kind. I don’t know if it’ll be a hard-boiled gumshoe case, a true-crime police procedural, a classic manor-house throwback, or what, but it’ll be a mystery novel. She’s been writing them all along, after all. It’s just that no one’s noticed.
Circus Smirkus isn’t the only American youth circus offering an Oz-themed show this summer.
Summer 2013, audiences will encounter a curious gypsy-circus wandering a bleak and windswept landscape, sweeping along an enigmatic magician, an odious fortune teller, and an organ grinder with a mischievous monkey—but watch out for the Kansas-sized twister that will sweep you up, twist you dizzy, and hurtle you over the rainbow.This production runs 1-18 August. Unlike Circus Smirkus, it’s not a touring show: all the performances are at Circus Juventas’s home in St. Paul.
Come face-to-face with acrobatic Munchkins and a glittering witch afloat in a bubble, and of course a ruminating scarecrow with no brain, a tin man with no heart, and a quaking lion with no courage. Beware the wrath of a wicked witch or two on your way to the dazzling Emerald City, where the great and mysterious Wizard will grant your wishes only if you accomplish the impossible—finding your way home again via Circus Juventas!
While writing about Elizabeth Vassall Fox, Baroness Holland, over at Boston 1775, I came across anecdotes of her literary judgment and hosting in the Dictionary of National Biography that I had to share:
Lady Holland possessed a remarkable power of making her guests display themselves to the best advantage. Traits in her character that were by no means attractive rendered her power of fascination the more extraordinary.
[Thomas] Moore tells how on one occasion she asked him how he could write those ‘vulgar verses’ about Hunt, and on another occasion attacked his ‘Life of Sheridan’ as ‘quite a romance’ showing a ‘want of taste and judgment.’ To ‘Lalla Rookh’ she objected, ‘in the first place because it was eastern, and in the second place because it was in quarto.’ ‘Poets,’ says Moore, ‘inclined to a plethora of vanity would find a dose of Lady Holland now and then very good for their complaint.’
To Lord Porchester she once said: ‘I am sorry to hear you are going to publish a poem. Can’t you suppress it?’ ‘Your poetry,’ she said to [Samuel] Rogers, ‘is bad enough, so pray be sparing of your prose.’ To Matthew Gregory (better known as Monk) Lewis, complaining that in ‘Rejected Addresses’ he was made to write burlesque, which he never did, she replied, ‘You don’t know your own talent’ . . . .
In [George] Ticknor, the historian of Spanish literature, she met her match. Referring to New England she told him that she understood the colony had originally been a convict settlement, to which Ticknor answered that he was not aware of the fact, but that in the King’s Chapel, Boston, was a monument to one of the Vassalls, some of whom had been among the early settlers of Massachusetts.
She kept a tight rein on her guests when they seemed inclined to monopolise the conversation. [Thomas Babington] Macaulay once descanting at large on Sir Thomas Munro, she told him brusquely she had had enough of the subject and would have no more. The conversation then turned on the Christian Fathers, and Macaulay was copious on Chrysostom and Athanasius till Lady Holland abruptly turned to him with, ‘Pray, Macaulay, what was the origin of a doll? when were dolls first mentioned in history?’ This elicited a disquisition on the Roman doll, which in its turn was cut short by Lady Holland. On another occasion she sent a page to ask him to cease talking, as she wished to listen to Lord Aberdeen.
She…often overcrowded her table. ‘Make room,’ she said to Henry Luttrell on one of these occasions. ‘It must certainly be made,’ he observed, ‘for it does not exist.’ Lord Dudley declined her invitations, because ‘he did not choose to be tyrannised over while he was eating his dinner.’ Lord Melbourne, being required to change his place, got up with ‘I’ll be d—d if I dine with you at all,’ and walked out of the house.
Nevertheless her beauty, vivacity, and the unrivalled skill with which she managed the conversation so that there should never be either too much or too little of any one topic, atoned for everything.
I figured that First Second was looking for my (cartoon-y) interpretation of the script, otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted me for the job in the first place, so I wasn’t worried about trying to portray the characters in a photo-realistic manner. I did, however, want to capture the feel of each character’s story, and this “feel” (or rather “emotion”) is something that can come across regardless of style.As above.
Robocop is awesome, so is Indiana Jones. Star Wars is the best.
I went through a period starting in high school and continuing through college where I was only interested in the critically acclaimed and respected, which very often is not the same as the awesome. I would be all about those realistic 1970’s movies that start out at depressing and then grind their way to completely hopeless.
Now, I’ve kind of gone back to the twelve-year-old me. He’s right.
The fifteen-year-old me, however, he was clueless and a liar. He said, “I read Gen 13 for the story.”
I know that as a working writer I should answer this question in such a way as to make me seem intelligent; maybe Twain or Dickens, even Hesse or Conrad. . . .In 2005 Mosley got to show his love by spearheading a project to republish Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s first Fantastic Four adventure at giant size, one panel per page.
But the truth is that the most beloved and the most formative books of my childhood were comic books, specifically Marvel Comics. “Fantastic Four” and “Spider-Man,” “The Mighty Thor” and “The Invincible Iron Man”; later came “Daredevil” and many others. These combinations of art and writing presented to me the complexities of character and the pure joy of imagining adventure. They taught me about writing dialect and how a monster can also be a hero. They lauded science and fostered the understanding that the world was more complex than any one mind, or indeed the history of all human minds, could comprehend.
People always say that a story must have a beginning, a middle and an end. If that is true then by far the most important part is the end. Before you set off on a writing project it saves a lot of time to have the end in sight.The last part of Fickling’s comment runs directly counter to what American agents and editors say about synopses: you have to divulge the ending. Otherwise, they won’t trust you to supply a good one. But perhaps Fickling is now used to working with authors who’ve built up trust with him.
That doesn't mean you have to know exactly what is going to happen at the end of your story, but you should have a sense of the ending note in mind. This may also help tell you how long your text is going to be.
And you don't need to tell the editor or publisher what will happen or what it's about either, that's your business. All the editor or publisher really needs is the reassurance that there is an ending and that the narrative will be good. Editing is all about trust.
The one thing I did that he [Dave] said he really liked was that -- and I don't know how else to do it -- I didn't do a script that looked like any normal comic book script I know of. In other words, it doesn't look like a movie screenplay. I diagram all the pages out. It's very specific with me showing "This is how big this panel is, and this is what's happening in the panel, and this is the dialogue." Dave said he liked that because it did a lot of his work for him, and that was the idea -- to put as little guesswork in as possible.The image above is from the back of the finished book showing a page from Kidd’s script. Each box is a panel, with a description and speech balloons in small type. Taylor sketched his ideas for those panels in the spaces. (Andy Khouri reported for Comics Alliance that “Kidd said that he also included sketches but that Taylor rightfully asked him to stop.”
But where he pleasantly surprised me was where he would deviate from that. There's actually one big huge deviation at the beginning of the book that just shocked me, and it didn't make me angry, but I had to go "Hmm. Wow."
In the discussion of “multicultural” children’s books that Lee and Low hosted last month, a couple of the respondents said that in order to publish more books about non-white kids American children’s-book publishing needed to become more inclusive.
For example, Prof. Sarah Park Dalen wrote:
I don’t have evidence for this, but I think that most publishers have not diversified their staff enough, have not trained their staff enough in cultural competency, and are still hesitant to take a chance on new authors. Although they know that diversity continues to be an issue, they maintain that all they’re looking for is a “good story,” but perhaps their criteria are still determined by what they already know and are comfortable with.And Prof. Jane M. Gangi said:
One theory is that editors are quite often white, and quite often supported by husbands who make more money than they do. We tend to choose books that “mirror” us.I think publishing has become more ethnically inclusive over the past eighteen years, the period which Lee and Low highlighted. So while more diversity among editors might help, it doesn’t appear to be a big part of the solution. Furthermore, Gangi’s use of the word “husband” highlights another form of homogeneity in children’s publishing.
Although there are plenty of men such as myself writing and illustrating picture books, the gatekeepers in the world of picture books are overwhelmingly female. It’s predominately women publishers that select picture books for publication, women teachers that choose which books to read in nurseries and infant classrooms and women customers that purchase picture books for reading at home. Women aren’t keeping men out of these gatekeeper roles, the imbalance is there because relatively few men are interested in occupying them, but as a consequence picture books tend to reflect female tastes more than male ones.Emmett’s essay builds off his Cool Not Cute writings. He puts a lot of stock in studies showing that boys and girls have affinities for different types of toys. (Other studies have found that adults often offer a diapered infant different types of toys depending on whether they’ve been told the baby is male or female, so those affinities may not be fully natural.)
Even picture books that are intended to appeal primarily to boys reflect the tastes of the mother or grandmother that will usually be buying them as well as the child they’re bought for. Picture book pirates are less prone to combat than their counterparts in other media, monsters and aliens less frightening, vehicles and machines less technically detailed. Elements of danger and threat are tamed or omitted altogether on the grounds of being unappealing or inappropriate. In short, picture books with boy-friendly themes tend to be cuter and tamer than similarly themed TV shows, films or video games.
I think the failure of picture books to accurately reflect the full range of boys’ tastes is deterring many boys from developing a reading habit.
“Obama Spends $100M on African Trip But Cancels Marines’ July 4th Fireworks,” the headline on FoxNation read. “Shocking! While Obama Funds Syrian Rebels, Military Bases Must Cut Fireworks Celebrations,” another read. . . . Fox gave the controversy airtime twice this week, also contrasting it with the spending on the presidential trip to Africa.But Seitz-Wald noted the real reason for cutbacks in Independence Day fireworks: the federal-budget sequestration. He wrote, “a handful of military base commanders are deciding to forgo their annual Independence Day festivities, which can cost up to $100,000, in order to devote their diminished resources to other arguably more important things like keeping people employed.”
I’m looking at successive drafts of the Declaration of Independence while considering Craig Fehrman’s Boston Globe essay on revision in writing.
Fehrman says that Hannah Sullivan’s The Work of Revision posits that “revision as we now understand it—where authors, before they publish anything, will spend weeks tearing it down and putting it back together again—is a creation of the 20th century.”
More specifically, she argues that approach to rewriting is a product of the typewriter, cheaper typesetting, and word-processing programs. In days when paper and printing were rarer resources, authors didn’t see so many versions of their work and therefore took fewer opportunities to rewrite.
Yet the article omits some counterexamples. It cites John Milton’s “Lycidas” as an example of a writer making “local tweaks instead of significantly recasting.” It doesn’t mention that Milton issued Paradise Lost in two forms, the first divided into ten books and the second into twelve, as he revised his work. Alexander Pope published three versions of The Rape of the Lock within a decade.
Fehrman says Sullivan cites the Romantics as a school that “made resisting revision a virtue. The best literature, they believed, flowed from spontaneous and organic creative acts.” Yet no great English poem was more fussed over and rewritten (not always to good effect) than William Wordsworth’s verse autobiography, posthumously published as The Prelude.
The Work of Revision doesn’t appear to go deep into English literary history, or to find the same trends in the literature of other languages where the same typesetting technologies applied. The catalog copy names only Modernist authors, contrasted with a nameless swarm of “Romantics,” and the earliest name in the table of contents is Henry James.
It might be more accurate to say that the Modernists, in contrast to their immediate literary predecessors, talked a lot more about revision, and about what hard work it was. And that would be significant in how they, and we, think about art. But are writers really driven more to revise now, or do we just see and hear about it more often?
Last month Lee and Low asked on its blog, “Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?” That’s an important question, and the posting attracted a lot of attention, mostly echoing the concern without offering new insight. Roger Sutton at The Horn Book was one of the few I saw who asked some follow-up questions.
I didn’t see anyone noting the huge missing voice in the discussion. Lee and Low had invited responses to its question from six professors of children’s literature, one book review editor, two authors, and one librarian/author, Betsy Bird. All important perspectives, but by no means a cross-section of people in the American children’s-book field.
In those responses, Kathleen Horning of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center explicitly blamed Barnes & Noble, though not based on direct knowledge. Poet Nikki Grimes spoke of “blockbuster-craving bookstore markets.” Rudine Sims Bishop of Ohio State mentioned ”my closest big chain bookstore” as an example. Several people spoke of the lack of “marketing.”
And yet the discussion didn’t include one bookseller or person working with booksellers. None of the respondents described working in a bookstore. None described seeing how most families actually buy or choose books. None indicated any experience in marketing a product, much less in working with the publishing industry’s minuscule marketing budgets.
And information from the commercial sector is vital to this conversation because individual sales are more important and influential in children’s publishing than ever before.
At one point, libraries and schools comprised a large and influential segment of the market for children’s books. Today they represent a much smaller portion of the overall sales. Professional book reviewers have become less influential and ordinary readers’ feedback more so.
At one point, publishers and bookstores were mostly family-run, and managers could take a risk or even a loss on certain books they thought were important without having to justify their actions to higher powers. (Lee and Low is a mission-driven press of that sort.) Today most children’s books come from publicly-traded corporations under pressure from stockholders to maximize profits, and bookselling is dominated by two more publicly-traded corporations, B&N and Amazon.
At one point, booksellers and publishers had no real-time systematic data about what books were selling. Now they have weekly reports from BookScan, Ingram, the big chains, and other sources. Amazon can track not only what its customers buy but what other titles those customers buy and what they look at without buying.
The strength and danger of profit-seeking corporations is that they want to make money any way they legally can. They may forgo immediate opportunities to increase long-term profitability (e.g., stepping away from a deal with cookbook author Paula Deen after she became a shameful punchline), but they’re always chasing those profits. And with the data that companies like Amazon and BookScan are collecting on book traffic, they can spot and chase unexpected areas of sales.
When Horning wrote, “I’ve heard many times from publishers that the ‘buyers at B&N’ believe multicultural books don’t sell,” the obvious next question is whether that’s true. Do B&N buyers still believe that? Does any data support that belief? Does data from other booksellers refute it? Have things changed over the past two decades? Only when we’ve probed the reality of bookselling can we dismiss any such belief as “a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
I understand why Lee and Low’s round-up didn’t include voices of booksellers. Chain buyers are a private bunch. Sales data is proprietary. Sales and marketing people at publishing companies (including Lee and Low itself) wouldn’t want to upset their major customers by complaining. And no one in this discussion would want to be the sole voice saying that “multicultural” books are less profitable than mainstream books.
But if the problem is, say, the inequities of wealth and education in a country affected by structural racism and growing inequality, with one result being disproportionately low sales and profits for books that are clearly about non-white children, then we’re not going to find the solution within the profit-seeking corporate sector.
Yesterday’s New York Times Book Review included Adam LeBor’s
essay on the challenge of writing thrillers after journalistic training:
In theory, writing a thriller is simple. The basic formula reaches back through the ages, to the “Odyssey” and the Bible. Take a flawed but likable hero, send him on a perilous journey where he is forced to confront his inner demons, increase the danger at every stage, have an ally or two betray him, but ensure that he eventually vanquishes the enemy, emerging bruised, wiser and triumphant.I recall hearing Mark Peter Hughes, author of A Crack in the Sky, speak to the same point in a workshop. Part of making a good plot is to throw up obstacles and frustrations in the way of your protagonist, he said—but what you’re really doing is throwing obstacles and frustrations in the way of your readers.
The practice, however, is rather more complicated. At first, I found my experience as a foreign correspondent a positive hindrance when it came to fiction. . . . The essence of journalism is revelation and explanation: We present the causes and consequences of an event for the reader. We answer the questions, convey the complexities and do the thinking so you don’t have to. Or not too much.
The essence of fiction, especially thriller writing, is exactly the opposite: obfuscation, mystery and deception loop through a maze of switchbacks — ideally strewn with the dead bodies of double agents, dupes, femmes fatales, sinister businessmen. “It’s important to be judicious with the facts in a novel,” the writer Alan Furst told me in a phone interview. “Not to give too much away too soon and to move the story along to keep the reader hooked.” A large part of the reader’s pleasure in reading thrillers and crime and mystery books is finding his way through and making the connections himself…
J. L. BELL is a writer and reader of fantasy literature for children. His favorite authors include L. Frank Baum, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. He is an Assistant Regional Advisor in the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, and was the editor of Oziana, creative magazine of the International Wizard of Oz Club, from 2004 to 2010.
Living in Massachusetts, Bell also writes about the American Revolution at Boston 1775.