Wednesday, February 22, 2012
And picks on his little brother.
He's not a villain. He just plays his role well - perfectly, even. But from his little brother's perspective, he's a big jerk. He's stronger. He's better looking. He's the apple of his father's eye, so he gets away with everything and always gets what he wants.
But in our tale, things don't play out in the typical fashion. Prince Charming doesn't get to be the hero, and that frustrates Sandstone to no end. The princess needs rescuing, and that's his job. Who the heck do these other wannabe heroes think they are? An evil sorcerer needs defeating! A giant needs slaying! A troll is blocking the path! Sandstone's got his sword and shield. Why is everyone trying to talk through their differences?! It's madness! So, the brave knight lashes out. He knows how it's all supposed to go, and anyone who thinks they can crash his party has got another thing coming. He's built for the hero business, so everyone better fall in line behind him and follow him to victory.
Sandstone is the antagonist of the Princess Knight, but again, he's not really a villain. He's not Gaston. Gaston's just plain nasty and, well, evil. And Sandstone isn't the spoiled Prince Charming from Shrek. He's more like Prince Edward from "Enchanted". The epitome of The Hero Prince. Imagine how Philip would've felt if he went to save Aurora from Maleficent and there was a sidekick level shrimp there successfully sneaking the Princess out the back door. All his hard work! Or what if Prince Ferdinand from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (yeah, that's his name. Didn't know that, did you?) showed up and Dopey or Grumpy was kissing Snow awake? (...actually... That's not a bad idea... Has anyone done that yet? I should write that... Anyway...) He'd be very disappointed. These princes are the heroes, but there are plenty of others who could save the day, and that's something Sandstone isn't prepared for. Especially if it's his silly little brother who is doing the saving.
Now, my older brother and I don't fight like typical brothers. In fact, we've never fought. Once, after the first time I saw "The Karate Kid", he walked up behind me and touched my shoulder, and I flipped him over my back like a boss, but that was the only physical confrontation we ever had. And a fluke. I had no training for such things (except from Mr. Miyagi). We never wrestled or rough housed like other brothers, so instead, my basis for Sandstone the mean older brother is everyone of my best friends from growing up. They were all older brothers, and they all smacked their siblings around in that typical fashion. My brother is a pacifist. When he was upset, he would lay face down in the middle of the hallway. We'd all just step over him like he wasn't there until he got it out of his system. I believe one of his daughters now uses the same tactic. Anyway, my only experiences with bullies are from other forces, not my wonderful big brother. And Sandstone is a bully to Chester. They are so opposite of one another, they just don't get along very much. Sandstone is like Chet from Weird Science. He's just cooler and better at everything. He doesn't understand his weirdo little bro. And because he's the first born prince in the Kingdom, he is expected to be ruler one day, so he is pampered and fawned over. Some of that goes to a person's head after long enough. He's proud of who he is and what he's been able to accomplish, and he's so good at it all that he's quite the popular guy in the lands.
MAKE WAY! MAKE WAY! HERE COMES THE KING!
HE'S A HERO TO THE PEOPLE AND ALL GOOD THINGS!
WHAT MORE COULD WE ASK OF OUR LEADER TO BE?
GATHER UP IN ONE VOICE AND--
All Hail Me! HA! HA! HA!
Yeah! WOOO! Hooray! etc.
(The crowd goes wild for HIM Ladies swooning and men cheering, Even the suitors don’t seem to mind. SANDSTONE is a celebrity. Everyone moves about in merriment as Sandstone walks among them.)
YOU’VE HEARD THE TALES
OF THE DEEDS HE’S DONE.
AND I ASSURE YOU EVERYONE OF THEM IS TRUE.
HE’S ALL SNIPS AND SNAILS
AND THE BATTLES WON
THERE ISN’T ANOTHER MAN ALIVE WHO CAN DO WHAT I DO.
AND HERE HE IS, OUR BRAND NEW KING
A MAN OF GLORY AND PURPOSE AND ALL GOOD THINGS
WHAT MORE COULD WE ASK OF OUR LEADER TO BE
GATHER UP AS ONE VOICE
AND ALL HAIL ME!
Yeah! WOOO! Hooray! etc.
I’VE CLIMB BEANSTALKS TO THE GIANTS
AND CAME BACK WITH ALL THEIR GOLD.
I’VE ROAMED THE WOODS KISSING BEAUTIES AWAKE
AH! AND THAT NEVER GETS OLD.
I’VE CLIMBED GOLDEN HAIR TO THE TOP OF TOWERS
I’VE SLAIN WITCHES THAT BECAME MONSTERS
PIERCED ACHILLES HEELS
FACED LIONS AND EELS
I’VE FOUGHT FEARLESSLY TO FREE FORGOTTEN WARRIORS
SANDSTONE IS SO CHARMING
HE’S HANDSOME BRAVE AND BOLD
HE’S BEEN ALL OVER FAR FAR AWAY
AND ALWAYS MAKES IT HOME
HE’S BEAT BRIGANDS IN BOOMING BATTLES
WON WARS WHILE WEARING A SMILE
THOSE TEETH, THAT HAIR, THOSE MUSCLES AND EYES,
THAT TENACIOUS VALOR AND GUILE
HIS NERVE IS NEVER FAILING
HIS BACKBONE NEVER SLIPS
NO FEAR, JUST GUTS, TAKE THAT YOU PUTZ
WAVING SWORDS AND WHIPPING WHIPS!
NOW REMEMBER WHAT WE ARE HERE FOR
THERE’S A PRINCESS IN NEED OF SOME LOVING
AND NOW THAT I’M HERE
THERE’S NO NEED TO FEAR
LET’S MAKE WITH THE KISSING AND HUGGING!
Woo! YEAH! Yay!
SO IT IS CLEAR TO ME
THAT YOU ALL AGREE
I’M THE MAN FOR THE JOB AS YOU CAN SEE
AND I AM CERTAIN SCARLET
WILL SEE IT JUST THAT WAY
WHAT MORE COULD A WOMAN ASK FOR THESE DAYS
THAN STRENGTH AND SPEED AND DASHING GOOD LOOKS?
WHEN IT COMES TO THE BEST, I WROTE THE BOOK.
WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?
WHAT MORE CAN HE SAY?
ALL HAIL ME!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
And then i thought of something to solve both the issue of similarity to the Troll and scope: What if this giant was played by the shortest, smallest of actors? What if the giant only thought they were a giant? What if they were not-so-giant?
Suddenly, i had struck a well of comedic possibilities. I imagined my niece playing the role and could see how wonderfully silly that could be. I didn't change a word of dialogue, and the sheer ridiculousness of it all was perfect for this world of Trolls who want to be knights, witches in love, and villains with anger management therapists.
One of my favorite comedic personalities is Short-guy Syndrome or a Napoleon Complex. If any of you have ever read my tcomics, then you are aware of one of my favorite characters (and whipping boy) Tim. Tim struts around with so much tenacity and bravado, but he isn't much taller than a child. There is just something so funny about a little guy who thinks he can take on the world. And it's even better when they are completely clueless about their size. It's all in the attitude.
(While LILY is babbling, SCARLET sees the sleeping GIANT.)
What is that?
(Looking at the GIANT just as SHE snores.)
(Jolting awake and screaming automatically.)
ROOOOOOAR! (Crashing around the GIRLS a little out of it, looking about for the threat or something to squash.) Where? I’ll smash ya! I’ll pound you into the ground! I’ll step on every last one of ya!
Whoa! Easy, there! Take it easy!
Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum! I smell the blood of...(Stopping the rampage, fists on the hips and looking right up at SCARLET.) Oh, hello. Did not see you way down there little ones. I could have crushed you in to a fine paste if I had not ceased my giant’s rampage.
I am the great and terrible giant who tromps through these woods. I use these enormous feet to pound all that pass the Troll’s bridge. I use these elephantine meaty fists to crush all who sneak into these accursed woods! Accursed as I am cursed by the Baron to be this voluminous size until I someday can break the magic that confines me. I. Am the Giant!
Now I’ve seen everything.
Hold! I hear something with my titanic ears.(SHE looks off SL.) I see something with my mighty eyes.(Squinting to get a better look.) What is this?! The woods are teaming with knights and nobles! They must have overpowered the Troll! Knights! In my woods!... waitaminute... YOU are a knight! Are you here to slay me?
No, no we are on our way to the Baron’s fortress.
The Baron! Boy, I have quite a rant about THAT guy... (She just stands there not elaborating)
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
there was a smelly and slimy family of trolls. There was a Father Troll and and Mother Troll, though to be honest, there wasn't much to tell the difference between the two of them, but maybe that's one of those things that people say happens. You know, that thing that when couples are together long enough they start to resemble one another. And this pair was equal parts spit, drool, and boogers. Yes, lots of boogers. But they were not alone in their smelliness nor their snottiness. They had many troll children. There were twelve large and aggressive troll brothers who all followed in their much larger and much more aggressive father's over-sized and toe-jammed shoes and trolled all over the lands. The twelve of them hid under bridges and ate billy goats. They hid on the forests and attacked children. Bob bombarded the Land of Make-Believe. The triplets Bert, Bill, and Tom were known to argue over the best way to eat little furry-footed men. A few chased gnomes. Some lived in caves, others dwelled in isolated mountains. No matter where they were though, they were rarely described as helpful or friendly - they were never describe that way actually. Mostly, they were all described as being extremely strong, but slow and dim-witted, and some were even man-eaters! None ever turned to stone in sunlight though. That seemed to be one of those variations of troll lore that was developed in stories, like genies being friendly or vampires twinkling. Silliness and false. and dumb, in this writer's opinion.
This troll family was successful in their trolliness. There was however, one brother that was not quite so successful. The thirteenth troll brother was a sad disappointment and a stain on the family's reputation as the grossest of troll families. The thirteenth troll brother never succeeded in anything. No matter how hard he tried to be like this brothers, he could never get the hang of being a troll. Yes, he was slow and dim-witted, but he had a natural curiosity that all trolls frown upon. The thirteenth brother wanted to know things. He wanted to know why flowers smelled like sweet things when they came from the same dirt he bathed in. He wanted to see what was over the mountains instead of always living under them. But most of all, he wanted to feel the excitement of heroics.
The poor unsuccessful troll did not want to let his family down though. He went out and found a bridge in need of a troll. He became the sentry tasked in stopping all who tried to cross that bridge. He wasn't terrible, it turned out - not as terrible as everyone in his family had come to expect - but he wasn't good either. Every time a knight would appear, they would beat him up and pass over the bridge. But still he tried. And secretly he dreamed of other adventures.
One day, while attempting to spit farther than his brother Snori had been made king for, he inhaled too deeply and swallowed a particularly large bug that had been fluttering by. He began to choke. He stumbled through the trees and came upon a young human female who appeared to be doing nothing more than singing to sparrows and woodland creatures. He attempted to communicate his situation but only managed to sputter and gurgle. He attempted charades, but she wasn't paying enough attention to his movements. She seemed more concerned with screaming at the top of her lungs. And just when he thought all was lost, a man in a shiny metal outfit came out of nowhere and and struck him across the back. The bug flew from the troll's chapped, cracked lips and soared into the sky. The man in the shiny outfit scooped up the hysterical female and rode off into the forest. As they galloped away, the Troll got a glimpse of the look of joy on the female's face and the way she beamed up at the man in the shiny outfit.
it was then that the thirteenth troll brother knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a knight! He wanted to see that look on the faces of those who looked upon him, instead of the looks of terror and disgust he had learned to expect.
And so, though he often forgot just what exactly he was supposed to do or what exactly he would rather be doing, the unsuccessful, slow and dim-witted, and kind at heart Troll guarded that bridge while imagining a life in a shiny suit and saving things.
and then a small knight appeared one day and didn't outright attack him...
I would like to believe many of the fights that occur in the world could be avoided if the opposing forces just talked things through instead of jumping to conclusions. We all make snap decisions based on what we assume. But as Tony Randall always said, "When you assume, you make an ass out of you and..." something... I forget the rest... But the point stays true. We can't just assume that because a big stinky troll looks threatening that they are a threat. Maybe they just look the way they do because of certain circumstances in their lives. We won't know what those circumstances are if we just attack!
The Troll is sweet and simple. He's not the menace that other trolls are. And he's not Shrek, (though I will admit there is a certain amount of similarity here). Shrek's an ogre, first of all, but Shrek wants to just be who he is and damn whatever the world says. The Troll wants to be more. He wants to go beyond the expectations of his family and the world. He's like a friend of mine who came from a family full of people who never went to college, some not even high school graduates; a family of janitors and gas station workers who never strived for anything more. My friend went to college. He teaches kindergarden full time. He went further than the expectations. The Troll is not what we assume.
I am reminded of a story from the stand-up comedian Ant. He was performing in Harrison, Arkansas, which is, as the Welcome sign leading into town states, "Proud home of the KKK." Ant is a gay comic, and he's not a little gay. he's a proud Queen. He was up on stage performing for a room of the whitest bunch of down south good ol' boys you could imagine, and once he really got going into his regular shtick, the crowd was growing aggravated. This huge guy - biggest guy in the place - Bubba, was sitting in the front row. Tattoos all over his body, gigantic beard - a Viking. After only a short time of Ant's set, Bubba stood up, climbed onto the stage, and literally picked Ant up. Bubba carried him, kicking and screaming, right out of the backstage door. The massive Viking threw Ant into the back of his beat-up black Toyota and said, "We gotta get you out of here, little buddy, or they're gonna KILL you!"
And Ant was safely wisked to the airport by this gentle and heroic troll of a man.
Friday, February 10, 2012
there was a wolf who stalked and roamed the gnarled and twisted lands of the Briar Patch. This Wolf had the unfortunate task of being the spy - the covert eyes and ears of the evil Baron Von Briar Thorn. And more unfortunately, he was very, very good at it. Having lived as long as he could remember within the dark lands of the Patch, the Wolf knew every twist and turn, ever nook and cranny, every knot and bend. He could slide through the land with ease and hide where he could hear every whisper and hiss. And all of this - all of his great skill - was most unfortunate because he dreamed of more.
The Wolf dreamed that maybe one day he would earn the chance to see everything that the world beyond the Briar Patch has to offer. He dreamed that if he served the evil Baron long enough and well enough that somewhere, deep in the dank corners of the Baron's... heart... the man would find it in him to allow the Wolf to go free.
Free to learn what the world has. Free to learn where he, the Wolf, came from, for you see, the Wolf was once a man... At least, the Wolf believed that he wasn't always a wolf. He believed that he was once a man. Somehow, for some reason, the Baron cursed him and transformed him into the Wolf, and somehow, he will learn who he was.
But until that day does come, he is stuck in his role waiting for a hint of a chance to see and find his true purpose in this world.
There are characters that just know - just know deep down in their very core that they are meant for so much more. Luisa in the Fantasticks knows she is more than just a girl sitting in front of a mirror. Tom Wingfield secretly dreams of much more than stacking shoes in a warehouse. The Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Lion all want something to allow them to move further in the world. And the Wolf, along with his fellow captives of the Briar Patch (who we'll meet next), dream of a life free of the Baron's power.
The trio in the Wizard of Oz were definitely an inspiration in the creation of the Wolf and his compatriots, but in many tales of journeys into realms unknown the lead meets a bunch of odd folks. The Phantom Tollbooth, Labyrinth, Alice's adventures, James and the Giant Peach - gathering a group of strangers from different walks of life offers far more opportunities than a group of people and characters who are all too alike. Would the Narnia books be all that compelling if it was just the Pervensie kids? Thankfully we get Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, Fox, Reepicheep, and many others who spice it all up.
To me, the supporting characters can take a so-so story and launch it into greatness. The supporting characters (if you haven't been able to see from Vesper and the Therapist) in the Princess Knight are ripe for stealing the show with their various oddities and with their songs!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
THAT'S RIGHT! ISN'T HE GRAND?
BARON VON BRIAR THORN
HE'S SO EVIL AND I HOPE THAT HE KEEPS GETTING WORSE.
YOU CROSS HIM, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT WILL OCCUR
HE'LL PUT A NASTY SPELL RIGHT ON YA THAT'S THE END OF YOUR WORLD!
See ya later, Doc! Let me know if you need anything for that new stump. Bandages. Ointment. Lemon juice. (To the BARON and smiles like a school girl with a crush.) Are you ready for your “loyal” and “respectful” subjects, my handsome sir? Or should I just tell ‘em to bugger off leaving just the two of us?
And why would I want that?
We could practice...(Striking an apparently seductive pose.) Incantations on one another.
(HE stifles a gag and waves to VESPER.)
Send in the subjects.
Oh, Very well, Baron. Ingrates!! Enter!
Vesper is the very loyal servant of Von Briar Thorn. A witch by name only, she doesn't have any powers of her own other than her cruelty, and Vesper... she likes the Baron. She loves how vile and evil he is. Nothing thrills her more than when his temper flares and he starts blasting everyone and everything around him, even if it's her in the cross-hairs. She is much more like Smee than the Therapist - loyal to the very end no matter what. It fills her with such glee. Of course, the Baron has zero interest in this witch, but that doesn't stop a... um... "girl" from wishfully thinking.
Everyone has their thing, right? Some people have tastes that defy explanation. I hear conversations all the time that are something like:
"I think Amy Poehler is pretty."
"Jesse James is sexy."
"Jesse James the guy who dressed up like a Nazi and cheated on Sandra Bullock?"
"...um... well, not because of that but... yeah, that guy."
"...Sure. Whatever you say."
It's opinion. Can't be wrong. Just really, really messed up sometime.
So, Vesper is totally into guys who fist fight the elderly and literally steals candy from babies. She thinks the guy is dreamy despite his utter-bad guy-ness. Maybe she's never tried dating outside her type (though that certainly implies that she's dated at all). Whatever her reasons, she knows what she likes and she's actually patient and determined enough to wait for his heart to sway in her direction. That is, of course, until the Baron gets the crazy notion to go and get a princess. Vesper isn't too thrilled with this development and is ready to take this blasted Princess Scarlet out and away from her dreamy and dastardly dude!
Vesper came out of nowhere as I wrote this show. I really don't know where the notion of this wicked lady with a penchant for bad guys developed from. She's certainly not an avatar of girls who go for the bad boy, at least not in a typical fashion, though I suppose that's what she is at her core. Most of the characters in the Princess Knight are versions or amalgamations of my favorite characters from every type of story. Vesper? She just sort of emerged from the story itself. As I developed the silly and complicated characters that fill our world, Vesper elbowed her way through my imagination and hopped out onto the page. And her large, ostentatious personality is one of my favorites in the show. She has so many opportunities to steal the show. Even better, she can be played by any type or age. I am quite excited to see the way people think Vesper can be portrayed...