Sunday, February 12, 2017

Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Pinocchio

This is in part an answer to a posting, "Things From Another World," by Tom Mason, dated July 27, 2009, on a site called (unless I misread things) COMIX 411. Tom Mason seems to have felt very uneasy about a story he found in WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST #23, July 1970, called "The Magic Brew," mixing up characters from Duckburg, Pinocchio, and -- since there is no wicked witch in PINOCCHIO (either Collodi's original or Disney's version) -- one who looks very much like the villainess of SNOW WHITE in her witch disguise. Mr. Mason doesn't seem to like crossover stories. Me, I love 'em. Yes, I confess it. (Adv.: My own BLOODY HERRING mixes up at least one character from each of the 14 G&S operas into a single storyline -- e.g., Princess Ida takes over Castle Bunthorne -- while my DANGEROUS PERSUASION is a mashup of characters from RUDDIGORE with Jane Austen's NORTHANGER ABBEY and, of course, PERSUASION. THE BLOODY HERRING is available right now from Wildside Press, DANGEROUS PERSUASION is included in my projected HAUNTED MURGATROYDS OF RUDDIGORE MEGAPACK planned to appear from Wildside Any Year Now.) My fascination with crossovers goes back to early childhood. I already suffered from it the Christmas -- must have been 1954 -- when on a family visit to friends, I encountered a story bringing together Huey, Louie, and Dewey with Pinocchio. With keen interest, I set in to read it. Alas, I had read a mere three pages when, in a figurative sense, Midnight Struck, and we had to go home. That friend tended not to keep comic books around very long, and before my next visit, it was gone. Had I been able to finish reading that story in 1954, chances are that my memory would have swallowed it down, disgorging only a stray image here and there. Left with HLD watching in horror as the wicked witch flew away with Pinocchio, I wondered all my life, in odd moments, what happened next. Such an odd moment taking me in autumn 2016, in curiosity I ran in Internet search on "Hudy, Louie, Dewey, and Pinocchio," and to my gratified astonishment, it turned up that very story, telling me it first appeared in WALT DISNEY'S VACATION PARADE No. 5, 1954. Apparently this is not among the costliest collectors' items, because Comic Book World had a copy available for under $20, incl. S/H. (Another adv., but take this one with caution: not long after buying this comic book, my bank account got hacked and it could have cost me hundreds of $$$ had the bank not refunded. I can't say for sure it was Comic Book World: I have two or three stronger suspects. But CBW did start peppering my e-mail and home page with ads, apparently based on the assumption that anyone who buys an old comic book MUST, q.e.d., dote on superheroes. The only superheroes I ever made an effort to collect were the Inferior Five: otherwise, superheroes rather bore me, and I feel quite sure that Huey, Louie, and Dewey, armed with the Junior Woodchucks' Handbook, could defeat Superman if by some strange quirk they found themselves on opposing sides.) So at long last I was able to finish reading the story; in the 1954 printing, I can find no title except "Huey Dewey and Louie," so am guessing that "The Magic Brew" was a title added in the 1970 reprint. On initial perusal, it did not quite come up to that lifetime of wondering about it. But as I let it percolate in my brain, more of its virtues surfaced. Tom Mason summarizes it, but knowing that not everyone immediately looks up every cross reference, I shall do so again. HDL accept Pinoke's invitation to visit him in his hidden tree house. Seeing them go there together shows the wicked witch where it is, and she manages to kidnap Pinoke and dunks him into her magic brew, turning him into a solid gold statue, which she plans to sell for big bucks. HDL have meanwhile started running away (this was the point where I had to stop reading in 1954), but as they cross the bridge, they see their reflections show yellow in the water. So they go back, catch the witch by surprise, and threaten to dunk her unless she tells them how to disenchant Pinoke. She tries to trick them by giving them directions that in practice turn Huey and Dewey into (talking) apples. To her frustration, Louie happens to be out of range at the crucial moment, so he dunks her into a golden statue, then explores her house until he finds a book with true directions: touch the person to be disenchanted with a feather and say "Abba Kadabba." He uses one of his own tail feathers, and soon Huey, Dewey, and Pinoke are themselves again. Also (first being bound) the witch, whom they tell from now on to dig for her gold like everyone else, and then leave her to get herself untied. The story ends with the nephews gratified to see their reflections are no longer yellow. It has holes. Leaving aside the detail that Pinocchio is still drawn as a wooden puppet -- he becomes a real boy at the end of both Collidi's story and Disney's version, but everybody always ignores that and remembers only the puppet (just as everybody always ignores Ebenezer Scrooge's conversion) -- having seen HDL go into the treehouse with Pinoke, why doesn't the witch capture them right away, too? Surely four golden statues would bring more money than one. And then, a life-sized statue of solid gold would surely be much, much heavier than the story seems to imply. And just leaving the wicked witch as they do hardly seems the most secure long-term solution. On the other hand, the bridge over a small river looks like a solidly folklorish signal of entering a faery realm, especially when the water reflects some quality in whoever is crossing the bridge. And what a pregnant piece of symbolism, to have Louie pluck one of his own feathers for the magic tool he needs! True, Pinocchio seems very much a passive plot device: but the opening panel identifies this as a story about "Huey, Dewey, and Louie," not about "HDL Meet Pinocchio." And it is primaril about the newphews, how they find their courage. With the slightly cynical adult touch that courage alone does not always or necessarily save the day -- had Louie not by good luck been out of range, all three would have been turned into helpless apples for having done the right and courageous thing. I have tried to figure out how it could have been written not as a crossover story, but with only characters appropriate to the disney Duck cycle. Carl Barks could have pulled it off -- using, say, Magica de Spell, with Don himself in the Pinocchio part, and the disenchantment formula turning up in the Junior Woodchucks Handbook. But I cannot remember HDL ever showing run-away cowardice even temporarily in a Carl Barks tale. Perhaps, even though this one is not by Barks, we might take it as a prelude to his saga: how HDL got to be the plucky juvenile heroes they are in the tales by Barks. So far, my efforts to run down two other non-Barks Duck Tales I remember from my 1950s childhood -- one about Don and nephews on an alien planet, and one in which the nephews share Don's dream of himself as a medieval knight, by lying down and dreaming themselves into it -- have failed to meet the surprisingly instant success my "Huey, Dewey, Louie and Pinocchio" search had. I ventured once onto Facebook. Was immediately hacked and even without this -- which COULD of course have been coincidence -- found the experience so unsatisfactory that I plan never to go back there again. It is probably as safe as anything can be in cyberspace, however, to post my e-mail address here:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Eucharistic Miracles Being Catholic does not mean you have to believe in these things. In fact, at a conference some years ago when I asked a priest whether or not, as parish librarian, I should leave a VHS about "The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano" in the parish library, he said angrily, "Get rid of it, it's heresy!" (Well, I wouldn't have gone quite that far. I'd have called it just silly.) The thing is, the Catholic tradition holds that the "species" (the consecrated bread and wine) become the actual Body and Blood of Jesus, this being God's loving way of sharing the Divine Essence with humanity as intimately as possible. Now, finding this principle a worthy base for my spiritual life, I absolutely revolt at the idea that this great and all-loving God would cancel out the sublime and meaningful wonder by turning the species into a form that most civilized worshipers can't comfortably consume. Sort of defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it? What a pitiful cheapening of the greatest miracle of all! What, does Jesus want us to barbecue His dead raw flesh and make czarnina (Polish duck's-blood soup) of His disembodied blood? And what ELSE can one do with Communion species that have been "miraculously" rendered inedible? I guess where such things are purported to happen, that's what the churches concerned in fact do ... but what a housekeeping nightmare! Of course, they can always trot them out for paying tourists to look at, so I guess it's a source of income ... As for the alleged "scientific" testimony: well, say you've miraculously got something you think might be the actual substance of Jesus: doesn't your sense of responsible belief demand that you turn samples over to none but scientists you can trust to handle and test it with Abject Respect? The very scientists who are most likely to bring in exactly the right results to bolster your belief. Not that atheistic scientists would be any better or less biased! As for the scientific results: as I remember that Lanciano VHS, they have seven separate lumps of purported human flesh, and all seven weigh exactly the same as a single one. What the heck is that supposed to prove? I was always taught that the entire Christ was present in every individual Host. So shouldn't even a fragment of one of those seven lumps weigh as much as Jesus Himself weighed in life? For that matter, what do we have, even by the most pious "miracle" interpretation, but DEAD human flesh? Myself, I trust, hope, and pray that all these things are either outright hoaxes or some have some such explanation as bacteria. IF they are in fact actual dead human flesh and blood, then either we have a rather cruel practical joker of a God, or the Devil's hand is more likely to be in it than that of the "Good God" (though for myself, I can't stop toying with the idea that the Devil is simply the "Shadow Side" of God), or we have evidence that would seem to favor the theory, which I understand has become respectable in scientific circles, that we are all of us living inside a computer simulation, and we've got mischievous programmers. My best understanding is that the Catholic Church does not require all its members to believe any miracles at all outside the ones recorded in the Bible: Rome simply declares certain alleged miracles, after due investigation, to be "worthy of belief," meaning you may or may not believe them, as you consider best. I consider best to regard such "miracles" as those of Lanciano as at best pieces of folklore. I don't believe that the famous Shroud of Turin was the burial cloth of Jesus, either ... but won't reopen that particular can of worms just now. And happens I also think that to "believe" in the miracles recorded in the Bible is not necessarily to believe they literally and historically happened. Many of them, especially those in the Gospels, may well have allegorical and symbolic meanings. As for the famous O.T. one when Josue made the sun stand still: I have long suspected there was some kind of idiom in the original language conveying the idea that they had plenty of time for what they needed to do, and later generations forgot the idiom, and/or translators were unaware of it, and so took literally what had been no more than an exaggerated figure of speech.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tone Deafness?

Some years ago, running an Internet search on "tone deafness" got me very little. Trying one a few months ago got quite a lot, which is promising. Maybe people are starting to notice that there is indeed a legitimate disability here. But ... One of the most prominent sites i found offered a free online test for tone deafness. Out of curiosity to learn how they'd classify mine, i took this test ... and actually got contratulated on scoring 17 out of a possible 20 and having excellent tonal hearing! With more than half a century of direct evidence and testimony to the opposite, i knew better than to take these test results at face value. I must in fact be about as tone deaf as we come short of total and general deafness (which would probably be more socially acceptable). How could the professionals (i assume) who devised the test have gotten it so wildly inaccurate? A little thought showed me the answer: All it really tests is recognition of correct intervals in simple and very well-known tunes (e.g. "Happy Birthday to You") when played in simple, unadorned melody line. THIS, i can hear. But add instrumental accompaniment, and i'm hopelessly confused. Add harmonization of any complexity, and i don't even know where the melody line is, let alone recognize it. As for singing along in the same key as everybody else -- forget it! I can neither hear the difference nor understand, except as a purely intellecutal exercise, why it should be important. Nor do i possess enough sense of rhythm to clap along with everybody else, a lack which accompanies tone deafness. My fear is that other people as tone deaf as myself, but with less experience to recognize the fact, may suffer a false sense of security from such a flawed and imperceptive test as this. Incidentally, one sometimes meets the opinion that "there is no such thing as tone deafness." Of course there is! Though i will admit the name we commonly use for it is misleading, causing many of us -- including some who are actually affected -- to suppose that tone deaf people cannot hear music at all, only monotones. After years of casting about for a better tag, let me propose "untunable" as one to which i would feel little objection.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Curioser and curioser

Just Googled my own name and found a very curious entry in Japanese. It appears to be advertising for some kind of skin care product or establishment. It might be superlative, but, knowing nothing about it beyond what I see on my screen, I can hardly endorse it. How did it get so prominent, right beneath the Wikipedia entry? Does this kind of thing happen to other people?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rebecca's Choice

Have recently watched (about the fifth time) the 1952 MGM movie version of IVANHOE, which occasionally strays to somewhere more or less in the near vicinity of the novel. (Took me years to learn to enjoy the movie on its own terms.)Just before the final, climactic battle, Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor) stands at the foot of the stake, between Brian de Bois-Guilbert (George Sanders) and Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor). The two knights are about to engage in a trial by combat to the death. If Bois-Guilbert wins, Ivanhoe will die and Rebecca will be burned at that stake. Bois-Guilbert is in an unwelcome situation: he really loves Rebecca, though he will owe it to his knighthood to fight his best. At the last minute, he tells her softly that if he should concede the trial by combat, he will be forever disgraced in his knighthood but Ivanhoe will be declared the winner (without any danger to himself at all) and Rebecca will live. Bois-Guilbert is ready to bear the disgrace and humiliation, if only Rebecca will come live with him and be his love. (I paraphrase somewhat; I have not yet learned the movie line by line.) At this point, something very large in me always wants Rebecca to answer, "Brian, baby, you're on!" Now that they can do so much with computer graphics, think they'll ever be able to give us a doctored version of the movie with that outcome?
Critical and popular opinion seemed always to be asking about the novel, all through the 19th century, how Ivanhoe could prefer Rowena to Rebecca. (Joan Fontaine as Rowena leaves less of a question mark in the movie.) The question that always hits me, even in the movie -- where they managed to give the hero a lot more heroic stuff to do -- but most especially in the novel, is what on earth can Rebecca see in Ivanhoe? In her place, I'd certainly at least take Brian's offer under serious consideration.

Friday, November 18, 2011

All But a Pleasure

I have just written a novel of about 73,000 words in approximately two months, from initial idea to finished holograph draft. It was an invigorating experience, and one i cannot remember ever happening to me before. I seemed to be more "at play" than "at work" on ALL BUT A PLEASURE. Now, i've been in this game long enough to know that such ready inspiration is no indicator at all of the ultimate worth of any work, and may as easily point to pure trash as to pure gold. The best thing would be to let it mellow about a lustrum (5 years) and see if i still like it myself. Unfortunately, right not i need royalties and have to try bouncing it in its as good as "raw" state off a few editors at once. Starting with a search for a new agent to replace my last one, who unhappily moved out of his body a few years ago.
As i was beginning it, the host on TCM spoke of how Faulkner wrote his novel SANCTUARY, the basis for the movie they were premiering that evening, in 3 weeks, for the money. Obviously, my two months is a snail's pace compared with Faulkner's effort; and he at least did -- presumably -- make money with his novel, where mine could easily fizzle. It's aimed at the romance market; and who ever heard of using a mildly masochistic sesquipedalian virgin as the hero of a modern romance novel? (My toes got cold enough that i added a second pair of lovers with a hero more nearly fitting the template, just to play it a little safer.)
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Enough, already!

No longer do I feel flattered by invitations to add me to online contact lists. They mean that either these people are paying no attention to my blog, or else they think I'm a liar.
To anyone out there who has paid attention to my blog and refrained from inviting me, MANY THANKS!
Send me a good, old-fashioned email, and I will try to answer it, sooner or later. Depending on what may be going on in my life away from the computer, it can sometimes take me a little while. Meantime, LoL.