A Very Large Telescope, Verily Said

The frequent usage of the adjective “very” is something some English teachers abhor, even going so far as to state that the very user might as well substitute the word damn. We disagree. There is a large cutting-edge telescope somewhere atop a south American mountain and it’s called a VLT. One guess allowed as to what the V stands for. Now, does that very abhorring English teacher want the telescope renamed the DLT?

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3 Paths With Vaguely Related Thoughts

JM is lending this painting to Ed’s memorial art exhibition. It’s a landscape which he bought a few years back, shortly after reconnecting to Ed and their friend Wali. JM thinks he bought the painting because it reminded him of a photo of his wife, Cassandra, on a path curving to the right and disappearing. She is walking on the path and looking back to smile at the camera and maybe the cameraman.

One of Vincent van Gogh’s last paintings – maybe his very last – entitled, Wheatfield with Crows (1890), depicts a path disappearing into a field of wheat and then a flock of crows rising from the field. On first glance the painting appears simple enough with its elements countable on one hand: wheat field, sky, path, ascending crows. However, Van Gogh attempted to kill himself in a wheat field shortly after creating the painting, so there have been many words written on the painting’s symbolism. For a good article on various interpretations of perceived symbolism, read this: Vincent van Gogh, Wheat field with Crows. Continue reading

Working with an Illustrator, Ed Roxburgh

Tonton Jim is not sure when or how the idea popped into his mind for what was to become the Hound’s Glenn series. He’d mentioned the concept to Ed, his longtime friend, who liked it well enough to enlist the help of a professional editor, Linnea Dayton. She, as good fortune would have it, was about to start a print-on-demand publishing business.

So, Tonton began to write the first book and Ed began thinking about doing the illustrations. As soon as Tonton completed the first draft, Linnea would work with Ed on how many water-colors to do. Because it was to be a chapter book, there had to be a set amount of full page illustrations and so many partial page illustrations. Ed and Linnea both being experienced in the publishing business, the completion of the book, Max and the Low-rider Car, occurred smoothly.

Now, Tonton can’t recall exactly how much effort went into the composition of the text. But whimsical storytelling seems to just bubble out of the non-entity, so we suspect that regardless of how many hours it took, no sweat ever beaded his forehead. Besides, with a professional editor guiding him, re-writing parts of the text must’ve been a breeze.

It was in the creation of the first book Tonton learned that in many respects the illustrator has the more daunting task. Evidently, this is news to the many writers who think all that needs to be done is to hatch a great idea for a children’s chapter book, write the simple and usually short story, and have an artist friend do a few dozen oils, water-colors, or what-have-you. To begin with, publishing houses don’t want writers to submit a work with illustrations, unless your name is Maurice Sendak. They prefer to hire their own illustrators.

Secondly, and most importantly, illustrating a chapter book is a lot of work for the artist. Ed never complained to Tonton about the work, but the writer did witness first hand the amount of labor that went into bringing to life the characters and the situations of the text. And he very much appreciated it. It is an almost magical experience to see one’s characters visually displayed. It’s like sharing a vision. Thank you, Ed.

What’s in a Name

We have forgotten the exact moment and circumstances when Ed said he’d illustrate a story of Tonton Jim’s. The author himself can’t remember when he’d told Ed that the book, later to be Max and the Lowrider Car, would have the nom de plume “Tonton Jim” on the cover. Ed so liked the idea that he invented a pseudonym of his own: E. Felix Lyon. The publisher and editor, Linnea Dayton, indulged the two.

There is a story behind the worthy name of E. Felix Lyon. TJ vaguely Continue reading

Magnum Opus Nullus

After JM returned from his Swiss trip he put in extra effort and time to finish Storybook Land’s sixth story (The Tarzana Treehouse). His intent was to finish that story, take a recess from writing children’s stories and create his magnum opus. It was to be a three-act play based on real people and real events in his eventful life. Well, the recess bell never sounded, or the playground had turned barren. In any case and after pounding the recess metaphor lifeless, he found himself without a hint of how to write it. Continue reading

Tomorrowland is difficult

In a previous post JM wrote a paragraph touching upon the difficulties Walt Disney and the imagineers had with reinventing Tomorrowland. In Tomorrowland Au Naturel he alludes to Disney’s problem: How to set a predicted future in brick and mortar. His main characters don’t solve the Disney difficulties – they have their own issues to contend with. They resolve the TL question into one of deciding which of two futures is desired. One future involves lots of hi-tech hardware, gadgets, and artificial environments; and the other future favors a more natural final destination. Continue reading

Book Review of Little Man of Disneyland.

Little Man of Disneyland

is a short book so hopefully this will be a short post. The setting is Anaheim, 1954 or possibly 1955.

The minor characters are Donald Duck, an anthropomorphic duck, Mickey Mouse, an anthropomorphic mouse, Goofy, an anthropomorphic dog, and Pluto, a dog. The main protagonist is Patrick Begorrah, an immigrant leprechaun. Continue reading

Gadzookery 2: Is Mark Twain Guilty of an Anachronism?

Ed Roxburgh painted this for a great story based on a riverboat. See his bio in this website.

In a previous posting it was pointed out that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer used the word “gay” as a superlative much in the same way as I used my favorite teenage superlative “bitchen”. Mark Twain wrote that book in 1876. Nine years later, Twain has the boys (and an old-timer) exclaiming “bully” and only once did anyone describe something great as, “gay”. Continue reading

A Goldmine of Gadzookery; Pithiness is a Virtue

My friend, Wali Lewis, took this photo. He lives in Utah now.

In doing research for the Disneyland stories, J. M. has been reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and has discovered that Mark Twain’s dialogue and prose is a goldmine of archaic expressions and words. I shall borrow many nuggets from that source. One of the slang expressions used by the boys is, “gay”.

Has the modern definition of “gay” made its old usage archaic? Of course, most everyone nowadays titters when a not so old movie is mentioned: Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. I only ask because Mr. Twain has Huck Finn (whose diction is always rough and ungrammatical) use the word “gay” the same way as “bully” would’ve been in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Just before it became the polite way of referring to homosexuals, “gay” simply meant the same as joyful or elated. However, young Mr. Finn seems to be using the word in a different sense than joyful. Witness the difference: “Tom, that would be ever so joyful.” Versus, “Tom, that would be ever so bully.” If Huck had been around in my teenage years, he would’ve said, “Tom, that’s going to be so bitchin.” (I suspect the reason we liked using that superlative is because it sounded similar to the word, “bitch” which had a vaguely dirty word quality to it.) Continue reading

Zootopia II, Hound’s Glenn III, and the Nature of Sequels.

I read somewhere the Walt Disney Company is making a sequel to Zootopia. The writer mentioned something about the two main characters Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde becoming romantically entangled.

And that will lead to what? Marriage? A little cottage surrounded by a white picket fence so their offspring can play safely? Offspring is the key word here.

Suppose cartoon Judy and Nick did produce a cartoon litter. Where, in a zoo, would such creatures be found? Next to the jackalopes and the chimeras?

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