Going On The Account: Some You Win, and Some You Don’t…

And as we get to the end of the year, we find a few folks going on the account, one doing it way better than the other…

I had the pleasure of seeing THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (and yes, the link provided can take you to a site devoted to the books as well as the film; don’t worry, the books are worth looking at too…) where they had something for the old salty dog in us.  There are spoilers after this point, as well as writing that could only have come from someone spoiled to the point where he is in danger of becoming an enfant terrible

As part of the film, there is a recollection had by one of the characters concerning an ancestor of his that had captained an SOL with two gun decks and three masts, which it turns out is a major plot element  that plays out in the present.  Said ancestor and ship, it turns out , had themselves an encounter with a pirate using a sloop to make a fast raid upon her.

The resulting conflict has to be one of the better swashbuckling scenes set at sea seen in a while.  It even beats the pantaloons off anything seen in the other big pirate movie released this year.  There was a lot to recommend the sequence, and about the only thing to test credulity was having the masts of the two vessels getting entangled during a storm, which compared to some of the wild WTF coming out of the other series seemed like a NatGeo special in terms of acceptability.  About the only thing missing was a Hans Zimmer score; hey, we all have our favorites from every franchise, right…?

Which made up nicely from the other member of the Brethren of the Coast I got introduced to over the holiday, when my nephew asked to view DISNEY’S JAKE AND THE NEVERLAND PIRATES on the tube.  Which in and of itself is not all that offensive; sure, we could use another show of this ilk now that Dora the Explorer is all grown up and all (or at least her first audience is these days…), but my issue is with one of Jake’s crew:  Izzy.

Why would I have an issue with her, you ask?  Not because she’s a female pirate; if you don’t know where my interests lie these days, you probably hit this URL through a random linkage with something else…  No, it’s because in the episodes I watched when I was around my nephew and a few afterwards it, it seems Izzy has one principal role with the crew, as Holder of the Fairy Dust.

Which means she basically stands around and is on standby to give them an airlift out of there.  No actual fighting alongside the boys, who admittedly don’t pull out their wooden cutlasses all that much, no getting her hands as dirty as the rest of the crew (both of them), no nada.  What is she, a pilot in Heinlein’s STARSHIP TROOPERS? Consider this: the only other female pirate out there this year was played by Penelope Cruz, who before she was a pirate was also in the film BLOW as someone who held dust that could make you fly that wasn’t given to her by pixies…

Which I’m sure was an honest mistake that no one over there even considered before now, but still…

So all said, going into the New Year with some good to point to, and some not so good to eye warily from across the room.  And with things essentially on an even keel in real life with the seizure of the MT Enrico Iveoli off Somalia, it looks like we’re going to keep seeing pirates everywhere we turn…

Going On The Account: It’s A Wonderful Film

It’s that time of the year:  The tree is up, the presents are under it, there’s enough rum in the galley to have with the egg nog…

…and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is going to be on tonight.  Just tonight; after Republic Pictures reclaimed the copyright, the tradition I grew up with, where every station would run the film wall-to-wall at every chance they could, had to come to an end.  Nothing is forever, not even public domain apparently, but that’s not worth bitching about now…

What comes to mind, prompted by a character in Jeremiah Conway’s FIVE BUCKS TO FRIDAY who attempted to do an updated version of the film, a scene that was both brilliant and horrifying in just how likely it could come about.  If you thought the colorized version was a mistake, this ain’t for you, folks…

Still, I can’t blame Pete for wanting to take a crack at that script; I myself sometimes thought the film didn’t go far enough in showing the horror of a life unlived (below modified from copy of script found at http://sfy.ru/?script=its_a_wonderful_life):


MEDIUM SHOT –– George and Clarence approach the tree from which the “Bailey Park” sign once hung. Now it is just outside a cemetery, with graves where the houses used to be.


Are you sure this is Bailey Park?


Oh, I’m not sure of anything anymore. All I know is this should be Bailey Park. But where are the houses?

The two walk into the cemetery.

CLARENCE (as they go)

You weren’t here to build them.

CLOSE MOVING SHOT –– George wandering like a lost soul among the tombstones, Clarence trotting at his heels. Again George stops to stare with frightened eyes at:

CLOSE SHOT –– a tombstone. Upon it is engraved a name, Harry Bailey. Feverishly George scrapes away the snow covering the rest of the inscription, and we read:


CLOSE SHOT –– George and Clarence.


Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.

George jumps up.


That’s a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional Medal of Honor! He helped us win the war!


Well, unfortunately not.


What- wait, what?


The battle was lost when those two transports went down, and the tide turned.  Washington sued for peace in 1946, and I understand that things are very, very unpleasant everywhere Imperial Japan flies their flag.  There’s millions of people in pain in Asia and across the Pacific because Harry Bailey did not save the lives of every man on that transport.


No… No, no, no…

CLARENCE (sadly)

Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them because you weren’t there to save Harry. You see, George, you really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?


Now mind you, I can think of a few good reasons why in 1946, Frank Capra wouldn’t want to entertain such a thought.  And anyone who got high commendation for the WHY WE FIGHT series of films, you don’t question his choices about how to remember the war…

However you view reality, wherever you are and however you honor the day tomorrow, I wish you a merry one, and a happy new year; let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.

Going on the Account: Sighting a New Heading That-A-Way…

Annalee Newitz over at io9.com has just shared and invited others to use ten ways to make a better Peter Pan reboot.


She of course had me with the first one, about Tiger Lily the Amish ninja.  It’s early enough in the current work that I can do some re-writes further into the piece for an inclusion; after all, the Amish Trail in New York State ain’t that far from Buffalo…


For that matter, there’s a lot in the article about making a very pirate-centric rethought Peter Pan.  Hook as a modern day pirate offering bootlegs; having the dashing Hook save poor Wendy from the obnoxious man-child; giving Hook a submarine-


-OK admittedly the submarine might confuse some folks expecting James Hook and getting an entirely different bloke


Why, you may ask, is she giving away these ideas about doing a reboot right after SyFy just did their version of the tale?


Did you actually  see  the new version…?

Yeah, there’s a lot you can say about it, like that there was fifty minutes of reimagined origin drawn in a thin coat over four hours, but for the sake of our focus in this domain let’s concentrate on the character of Captain Elizabeth Bonny.  Who, admittedly, was something of a draw for me early on…

Caveat emptor.   Admittedly, as the person who makes James Hook realize his full potential before handing over the crew (complete with a well-worn Smee to boot…) before bowing out, she didn’t have much expected of her, but what time she was there wasn’t used to the best.

The big problem was that she tended to trade favors with the crew for their loyalty, which would have badly undermined her in the long run.  And considering that she proclaims that they’d been plying the Sweet Trade in Neverland for 200 years and she was still making invitations to her cabin, I’m surprised the crew didn’t parley and make her crock bait at least 150 years ago…


And since we’re on the subject:  Does anyone working in entertainment today realize that pirate crews were not led then by captains who could get away with whatever they wanted?  Unless she had iron-clad ship’s articles that kept her in that position forever (wipe that dirty smirk off your face, you!), she’d be facing an angry crew ready to switch to a new leader quickly, and even with such articles there’s always the possibility of mutiny.  We saw some of this over the summer too; why can’t we get intelligent folks who know something about pirates writing this stuff, eh?

And speaking of showing intelligence, the one moment Captain Bonny gets to show her wits, it’s ruined by a piece of obvious logic:  She shows Hook the stars, and the constellation of Orion being in the wrong place, which means she can tell they’re not on Earth anymore.


Unfortunately, if she wasn’t on Earth, the whole constellation would not be visible.  A star or two in the sky she could recognize in the wrong place, fine; the entire pattern viewable from another world even 20 light years away, no.


So yes, she knows her starts like any good navigator.  I’d rather be lost at sea with her than the folks that wrote that painful piece of dialog…


Still, a pirate-heavy retelling of the tale with Hook as the main protagonist would be an interesting version of the tale.  Make Wendy his second, and we’d really have something, then…

Oh Hell, let’s just assume Tiger Lily garroted Hook with her hand-made simple and plain kusarigama and takes over the Jolly Roger, and then let it ride from there…