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Learning to fly. November 17, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Crazy baby, Flying Principessa, MA, Neil Gaiman, The Principessa Files.
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Yep. It’s been a while since I last posted, but I have been sinking under theories hidden in the depths of the fairytale forest. That being said, I’m finding that some of these wolfish critics are maybe a little too attractive, turning me into Little Red and stripping my perceptions and inviting me into bed… Only for me to discover what big concepts they have as they devour my simplistic views on what I thought I knew. Ho hum!

Anyway, I’ve taken a step away from the books today to help Princi learn to fly. She asked me if I thought she could after watching the Neil Gaiman-penned short film that’s circulating around the nininet (thanks for that one, Sleepy Hollow!) at the moment. So we’ve been playing about with carefully timed jumps and clicks that give the impression that she is flying.IMG_4715

As you can see, the timing and framing of some of the shots




didn’t quite cut the mustard…

So we persevered. And then the magic started happening. I know the framing of the last one isn’t *quite* there, but it gives some sense of movement past the camera, as if she’s just zoomed into the room and past me. And it also allowed Princi, for a little moment, to find her invisible wings.




So now I have a happy, flying Principessa. All I need now is to have a happy, not-flapping-around-like-a-fish-in-a-chip-bag me when it comes to getting my head around all of these theories. As long as I have only a few botched frames before the magic clicks, I’ll be chuffed. I do hope it happens soon, as the first piece of written work is due in at the beginning of January. Yikes! *Fingers crossed* that I, like Princi, will fly.

The Price. November 28, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Christopher Salmon, Neil Gaiman, The Price.
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I know I haven’t blogged in ages. I’ve been meaning to, but there have been a few distractions. Anyway, this is just a quick blog to see if anyone is interested in backing an animated film project by Christopher Salmon based on Neil Gaiman’s short story ‘The Price’? Here’s the outline:

If this interests you, then go here to pledge to the fund. Thing is, you now only have 57 hours to pledge if you do. So be quick!

And it’s over on Court 18. June 24, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Neil Gaiman, tennis, Wimbledon.
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And that image says it all… Except the actual score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68. Amazing! But you have to feel for Nicolas Mahut. The man played his heart out as he was continually on the catch up. And the records broken?

  • Longest match in tennis history: 11 hours and five minutes
  • Longest set in tennis history: 8 hours and 11 minutes
  • Most number of games played in a single set: 138 games
  • Most number of games played in the match: 183 games
  • Most number of aces in a match by an individual player: 112 aces
  • Most number of aces in a match: 215 aces

I am so glad I had the opportunity to watch it to it’s conclusion. Some of the points were fabulous and the match as a whole was amazing. I’m not sure there’ll be a game that can compare to it. Ever!


And in other non-tennis news, Neil Gaiman has been awarded the Carnegie Medal for The Graveyard Book. It’s the only book to have been awarded both the Carnegie and the Newbery Medal.

Congratulations, Mr. Gaiman.

Words and pictures. April 9, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Bog Child, books, Charles Vess, Children's Literature, EA300, ECA, Essay written, Instructions, Neil Gaiman, OU, TMA06.

Well, this has made me even more excited for the release of ‘Instructions’ by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. I can’t wait, I tells ya!


And for a second squee, I have finished the dastardly essay. Woohoo! I am going to leave it over the weekend, maybe even the whole of next week, before going back for a final read through and tidy up, then it’s gone and outta here! All I have to do before the course finishes is write a 4,000 word essay on how Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd fits into the history and tradition of children’s literature. So, I have decided on the critical essays that I need to read through again to write the essay I think I should be writing, and I shall put this plan into action next week. Still, it’s a ‘Yikes’ moment knowing that the course is nearly done. I’ve really enjoyed (so far) the challenge it presented and I really want it to carry on. Once the degree is done (another three years. Bah!) then I feel an MA in Children’s Lit might be worth pursuing. And I never, ever thought I’d say that!

What’s that coming over the hill? March 25, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in BtVS, Children's Literature, Coraline, EA300, Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman, OU, Princess Mononoke, TMA06.

It’s a monster! That’s what it is! Could even be Godzilla!

From not having any idea of where I wanted to go – even where I wanted to start – with TMA06 a couple of days ago, I have now had a Promethean spark of muse-like inspiration. I have direction!

To begin with, I had picked the wrong option of the two I’m allowed to choose from. The first option had me arguing against a statement, but I couldn’t get my head around how it was to fit with the set books for the block. The set books are all contemporary, yet the statement seemed to require a wider reading span over a greater period of time. Confusion abounded! Option 2 consists of looking into the role of adaptation since 1990. I had planned to leave this as it could be/probably is appropriate to the ECA. But after reading an essay on the translation of Harry Potter into Chinese, well, my brain suddenly exploded with possibilities.

The translation process and problems therefore of reconstructing character names to fit into Chinese interpretation totally had my thoughts in overdrive. I’m sorry, but I love things like that! The difference in meaning of Voldemort in Chinese and Taiwanese really intrigued me. This then got me thinking about translation of Japanese Manga/Anime into English, leading me to have a look at Princess Mononoke, as I knew this had been translated for the Western market by Neil Gaiman. (Yes, I know. Feeding my addiction. Again.) So I’ve looked up some interviews and such, discovered that the film has recently been broken down into a series of comics (though as an adaptation this may be tenuous… We’ll see.), and found an annotated script. Yay! On the way to working an essay.

Then I thought, as I’ve already bought Gaiman into it, I could go on to mention how his work has been adapted, taking Coraline as the source material. I mean, this has been twisted and converted into so many different forms of media, how could I not? Not to mention that it has been translated into about 15 different languages. So, with that final key in the other-worldly door, I have my somewhat tenuous plan sorted. Now all I have to do is fit it in with some of the critical essays within the course, find a way to drop in a mention of the block’s set books, and I’m good to go. Rock on!

Now I’ve got some sort of plan, I have to hope that 2,000 words is going to cut it. If not, I might just take a look at Buffy instead!

If I only had a brain… March 22, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Dave McKean, EA300, Neil Gaiman, OU, The Wolves In The Walls, TMA05.

I think I’m finally breaking free of my Scarecrow brainlessness. ‘Twas TMA morning, and all through the net, results – they were looming, are they good? What’s your bet?

Well, as always, I tentatively opened up the course homepage. Screwing up my eyes, I crossed my fingers, repeated ‘85%’ like a mantra (even though I didn’t think I’d get anywhere near that. Still, doesn’t hurt to hope!), then clicked on the link to the results. Eeps! I allowed a quick glance before staring wide-eyed at the screen. That couldn’t be right!

Blow me down with a cat’s whisker! Never, ever did I think I’d reach that! Let’s just say, it was better than the last two results I achieved. I have no idea how I can keep up the standard in the next essay. No idea at all! I don’t even have a starting place (at least I have a beginning for the ECA, not that that’ll help me with TMA06), but this result has buoyed me a little. OK, it’s buoyed me a lot!

Anyways. Enough of my celebrations. I need to carry on studying. And I need to discover the opening for the next essay.

There are no more wolves at my door. March 9, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, EA300, Neil Gaiman, OU, The Wolves In The Walls, TMA05.

Until Princi’s bedtime that is (in 15 minutes), when she’ll be asking for Wolves in the Walls!

I am finished writing my essay. Woohoo! I’m not sure if I like Wolves in the Walls much anymore, though. Hmph! Trying to understand what my brain wanted me to write in any coherent structure was like taking woodchip off the walls. Argh! Sapped my soul! But it is done. Done, done, done! And dusted. It’s been sent off and is now waiting to be marked. And as per my usual mantra, I’m not expecting anything good to come of it. I kind of had secret hopes that the last essay was good enough for the 90%, and it was thankfully, but I have no doubts in knowing that this essay will not reach such a grand result. Sigh. I tried.

Onto block 6, and reading Mortal Engines, Coram Boy, Junk, and The Other Side Of Truth. After a nice day off, that is!

See you on the other side.


Argh! Now I’ve had an hour or two to allow my brain to wind down, I have reailised I have missed the point about destabilisation created by the open ending. Butt nuggets!

Decoding picture books. February 23, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Bloody books, Charlie and Lola, Children's Literature, Dave McKean, EA300, I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, Neil Gaiman, OU, reading, The Savage, The Wolves In The Walls, TMA05, Wolves.

Phew! Who knew reading picture books could be such hard work and so taxing on the poor gray matter? I didn’t, that’s for sure.

I am now gearing up to write TMA05. This essay is an analysis of a couple of pages from a picture book. Now, while this may seem simple enough, it has so far been nothing short of a befuddlement.

Problem number one: What picture book to use? The two set books for this block are Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Anthony Browne’s Voices in the Park. OK, so I’ve become slightly addicted to Browne’s books since starting this course, his use of intertextuality is fabulous, but as the book was a set book I felt too much will have been covered by the course materials. Ditto Peter Rabbit – besides, I’m not a fan of Potter. I don’t quite know why, but I don’t like her style. There’s no questioning that she was a clever writer, illustrator and designer of children’s books, they just don’t appeal to me. So a new choice had to be made so I am able explore my understanding of the subject. I have narrowed my choices down to:

  1. The Wolves in the Walls

    The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean. I have been desperate to fit some Gaiman into the course somehow, and this seems the logical point. I also love McKean’s illustrations, so this appears to be a double whammy. But I am now struggling with the decisions regarding which pages to use!

  2. The SavageThe Savage by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean. Yep, more McKean. What can I say? I love his illustrations! But this is a good story, dealing with the subject of death and loss. It made me cry! The illustrations show the wildness of the savage, which in turn explain the feelings of the main character, Blue. There  are plenty of areas of analysis – graphically, textually, and semantically. A strong contender. Oh, and if you haven’t read it, then I recommend it.
  3. WolvesWolves by Emily Gravett. I discovered this book after reading a critical essay. I had a look around, found some of the illustrations, loved it! The idea of a rabbit borrowing a book about wolves from the library and the wolves then stalking the rabbit was too good to pass up. It’s on order and I can’t wait to read it, it looks so interesting and funny, and there appears to be a lot there that would be worth analysing.
  4. I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child. There had to be some Charlie and Lola in the list. They’re Princi’s favourite and best! And c’mon, there is so much in there to get your teeth into! There is one image in this that always sticks in my head. When Charlie is giving the alternative description of mashed potato, the shape of the text fits the image, if you know what I mean? He describes it as ‘cloud fluff from the top of Mount Fuji,’ and the words are shaped into the roof of a Japanese building. Just fab!

Problem number two: Understanding a whole new set of terminology. Again. This time the codes of picture books. I didn’t even know there was a code! More fool, me. I am working my way through an excerpt of an article by William Moebius called ‘Introduction to Picturebook Codes.‘ (Not all of it is included here, but you get the gist.) For me, it’s interesting reading even if I’m having a hard time retaining all the info. But another read through should sort me out. Then it’s applying this new knowledge to the pages I choose to analyse. Looking forward to it! All that’s left to do then is attack the post-modernist angle, which means another crash course. I think I may end up with concussion from all of the crashing I am doing!

So that is my current predicament. I think I am probably more or less settled upon Gaiman/McKean unless it twists my brain too much and becomes too wolfish for me. One thing is for certain, though. I am looking forward to writing this essay. And that’s not something you hear me say very often!

To read or not to read? November 20, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in Bloody books, Charlie and Lola, Coraline, Films, Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman, Twilight.

This post is generally a reaction to a post on Noble Savage‘s blog about Twilight and young adult literature. Now, while I was not offended per se, I did feel a little begrudgingly towards it.

So I will put my hand up and admit that I read children’s books. Well, of course I do at the moment, it’d be a bit daft if I didn’t considering I am immersed in a children’s lit course. But I enjoyed reading kidlit before the course began. There are many reasons that I do.

  1. I have a child.
  2. It’s a little bit of light entertainment. (Books like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl.)
  3. Sometimes it’s the best way to get large themes across succinctly. (Books like Northern Lights and Little Brother.)
  4. ‘Cross-over’ fiction is some of the best fiction around. (IMO)
  5. I would like to write a cross-over novel, so keeping an eye on the market is a must.

And that’s just to name a few of the reasons. But reading children’s literature when you’re an adult seems to have a social stigma attached to it. People tell you to get a life, to grow up and stop living vicariously through books aimed at teenagers. But do you know what I say? It’s my life. I enjoy these books and I will stand by them. And guess what? I also enjoy reading books for younger children, such as Neil Gaiman’s kids books (usually aimed at the 5-8 years – Wolves in the Walls – and 9-12 years market – Coraline and The Graveyard Book), and even Charlie and Lola books have their appeal for the interaction of word and image. What I have to ask is why do the people who think it’s childish for adults to read kidlit have such an averse reaction? It’s not like we’re smoking in public. It’s not harmful to their health. So why the problem? The simple statement of having been mortified about your mother enjoying teenage fiction doesn’t seem enough. I mean, I would have loved for my Mum to have read the books I was reading so that I could have talked with her about them, and I would hope that when it comes to Princi being that age that we would be able to share whatever type of literature, be it Shakespeare or Harry Potter or whatever is popular then. I think it is silly to ignore certain books because they are not demographically aimed at your ‘age market’.

Now, I wonder, how many adults would own up to something like Little Women, a book directly targeted at girls – or dare I say it, young adults – being one of their favourite books? How about Treasure Island? Alice in Wonderland? Anne of Green Gables? Tom Brown’s School Days? Are these acceptable because they are considered classics? So what’s the difference with people quoting Harry Potter or Twilight as their favourite books now?

I understand that some books are directed at kids. I wouldn’t read Hannah Montana (sickly sweet Disney pap) or Sweet Valley High (not my kind of book), but I have read the Potter series and Twilight. While I enjoyed Harry Potter, I hated Twilight despite my vampire addiction. For me, the advantage of reading Twilight was the lesson in how not to write (while the story had potential, the execution was dire. Still, it hasn’t stopped the books selling in their millions).

Twilight was the main problem in Noble Savage’s post. Yeah, the papers have focused on the release of the film (as is the way of media relations and advertising these days. Bandwagon, anyone?), but as with the books if the newspaper articles don’t interest you then don’t read them. Not only that, as young adults, aren’t teenagers reading newspapers too? Don’t they want to appear more mature by reading “respectable, grown-up” media? So why shouldn’t the papers try to sensationalise these films? Not only does it garner attention for the film/book/whatever, it also increases their unit sales. As for the arguments about adults jumping on something that is targeted at teenagers, well, why should that stop someone who is not in the targeted age demographic from reading them? Isn’t that one of the reasons why authors, librarians, teachers, and the general public petitioned against age banding on children’s books? Okay, the argument there was for younger children vs. older children, but it’s still relevant to this argument (young adult vs. adult).

So, as it is, I’ll continue to read and enjoy the stories found in children’s and young adult literature. It’s only fiction, after all. And, as C.S. Lewis said:

I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story.*

I think that says it all. Fiction, whatever it is and despite who it is marketed to,  should be enjoyed by those who want to enjoy it whatever their age.

*Quote can be found here.

Picture books, poems and Princi. October 21, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in books, EA300, Instructions, Neil Gaiman, OU, The Principessa Files.

So I’ve just pre-ordered ‘Instructions‘ by Gaiman and Vess. Oh, how I am looking forward to getting this book. But, I shall have to wait until next June. Such a long wait. And such a pity. If it had been released in February then I would have been able to use it for the picture book essay on the kidlit course. As it is, it’s just hard luck. Ho hum. But still – eximacited!

It’s getting very stressful here. There’s still loads to do with moving things out of the back room, sorting the little bedroom out, and general decluttering, yet no matter what we do it feels like more stuff magically appears. There is just TOO MUCH STUFF! It’s even come to the point where I’ve had to start thinning down the book collection to make room, so Skidaddles dropped a big bag of books off at a charity shop the other day. *Sob* My beautiful books! But I suppose it’s better that way, I doubt I’d ever read the books I gave away again. After all, there are plenty of other unread books that need my attention.

Speaking of attention… Gaz came around last night, so that meant a climbing frame for Princi. Not an actual climbing frame, but tall, lanky Gaz! At one point she jumped on Gaz’s shoulders, grabbed under his chin, and started to lean backwards (good job Gaz happened to be sitting down). Gaz asked Princi, “Are you looking for attention?” To which Princi replied, “No, just trouble!” Little terror!

(Oh no. The postie has just delivered a box of choccies. I will have to remember to cancel that membership to the choccie club – although I thought I already had. Now I’ll have Princi begging for chocolate all day.)

Well, I should go and do some Jolly Phonics and learning to write with Princi. I may call radio silence Twitter and blog wise over the next week while I fight my way through the end of the LRRH essay and its further rewrites. I think I need to give myself some away from the internet time before it makes me feel paranoid.