Gorillas… Singing?

Bear in mind that these are wild gorillas, not gorillas in a zoo; and the candid camera filming them is disguised as a baby gorilla so they won’t get shy and hide from it.

Here we have gorillas young and old vocalizing as they eat. Well, heck, most of us humans do that, too, don’t we? But are they really singing? They might be making table talk. Jungle gossip. Tarzan could tell you, “Don’t get them started!”

Is It Time to End ‘Bell Mountain’?

The Bell Mountain Series - Reformed Reviews

Agatha Christie kept writing Hercule Poirot for many years after she got tired of him, mostly because readers wanted him. Ditto Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes: when Doyle killed off Holmes, readers practically rose up in arms and forced him to bring Holmes back. And Edgar Rice Burroughs kept writing Tarzan long, long after he’d lost all interest in the character… because Tarzan paid the bills.

Lately I’ve been hearing from people who say enough’s enough already, please, no more Bell Mountain books! Happily none of them are my editors or publishers. But if the readers are tired of my books, what excuse would I have to keep on writing them?

Twelve of the books have been published, with No. 13 waiting in the wings and No. 14 being written. No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever, has not been well received. Even though it has giant hyenas in it.

A few comments don’t constitute a groundswell of non-support. Then again, several books ago, I wasn’t getting any “too much” comments at all.

So I have to decide what’s right to do. I pray for guidance. I listen to what readers have to say.

(No! I am not going to switch over to Oy, Rodney…)

Zero Mostel as… Tarzan?

See the source image

Sometimes all it takes is just one wrong decision to overturn a zillion-dollar dream.

In 1969 Jidrool Pictures, according to my exclusive Hollywood sources (they’ve excluded practically everybody), raised $75 million to break into the big time with what was intended to be the biggest, best, and most bodacious Tarzan movie ever–Tarzan’s Revenge. Loosely based on two great novels, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Tarzan at the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan’s Revenge would feature state-of-the-art special effects and a script to knock your socks off.

And best of all, they hired a truly gifted big-name actor to play the title role.

Zero Mostel.

“He was a star!” explained ex-producer Monty Gavone. “Fiddler on the Roof! The Producers! Zero Mostel! He couldn’t miss!”

But as co-star Raquel Welch remembered it, “No matter what we did, it just wouldn’t work. Zero looked just awful in a loin cloth. He looked awful riding on a dinosaur. He looked even worse swinging through the trees on a vine. And his Tarzan ape-yell sounded like he was selling fish on some street corner in New York.”

One by one and two by two, the investors demanded their money back. The last straw was when Mostel accidentally shot himself with an arrow and then fell off the tree. The injuries weren’t serious, but they were serious enough to convince Mostel to quit. And by then the project had such dismal prospects that no one wanted to take his place in the role.

“Even Cecil Kellaway turned us down,” Ms. Welch recalled.

Today, the few surviving feet of footage (is that how you say it?) from Tarzan’s Revenge repose in a CIA vault, ready to be used against our country’s enemies.


How Thugs Celebrated Easter

Tarzan was raised by apes. Mowgli was raised by wolves. They can probably both be thankful they weren’t raised by modern-day parents in America.

This weekend, Easter egg hunts at Orange, Connecticut, and Proctor, Vermont, turned ugly, very ugly, as parents jumped the starting signal and raced onto the fields to scarf up all the eggs ( http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/pushy-parents-create-mess-at-easter-egg-hunts/ar-BBqZPIR?ocid=ansmsnnews11 ). The scene in Proctor was a near-riot which had to be broken up by police.

Last year they had an even bigger fiasco in Sacramento, California, as parents trampled and cursed at small children in what was intended to be the world’s biggest Easter egg hunt.

So our culture’s all right, is it? Nothing wrong here?

I can’t even imagine my father or my mother behaving like that–or any other adult I knew in my childhood, either. The whole community would have been appalled, and the offender packed off somewhere where he could never trouble us again.

And let us not forget that the whole affair was blasphemous. Easter is the day we proclaim the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Redeemer of us all.

But then I doubt very, very much that that would ever have occurred to any of these post-Christian parents.

Idiot: New Nancy Drew Will Be ‘Diverse’

Vintage Nancy Drew–soon to be demolished by CBS

CBS is planning a new TV series, this one dedicated to making a shambles of the iconic girl detective of kid-lit, Nancy Drew.

According to one of the idiots running CBS, the new Nancy Drew–instead of being a gifted 16-year-old with quick wits, steady nerves, and her own roadster–will be a New York cop in her thirties. Oh, boy. But wait, there’s more!

Whatever else she winds up being, the new Nancy Drew will not be white. Blithered the idiot, “She is diverse.” ( http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/cbs-nancy-drew-will-be-854972 )

Now what the dickens kind of English is that? An individual human being cannot be “diverse.” It’s impossible–unless this unhappy person is able to be several ethnicities at once, change colors like an octopus, and speak every other sentence in a different language. It’d be a great novelty, but it would also wear off fast.

Nancy Drew came along in the 1930s and has been delighting young readers–and some old ones!–ever since. So why can’t they leave her alone?

Because they can’t leave anything alone.

What next? The Hardy Boys as a pair of aging homosexuals? How about Rick Brant the pill-head? Or Tarzan played by Linda Hunt as a Chinese midget living in a gated retirement community in Marlboro, New Jersey?

Will no one defend Nancy Drew from the culture-killers at CBS?

Aging Your Characters

As my Bell Mountain books go on, I find myself forced to acknowledge the fact that my characters are getting older. It just snuck up on me. I remember when the kid who starred in Lassie had to leave the show because he was growing a mustache and talking like Steve Reeves.

Well, I’m stuck with it now, and my two original protagonists, Jack and Ellayne, are just going to have to keep on getting older until they grow up (if the series runs that long). I missed my chance to dodge the issue.

What are my options now?

1. Stay with all the original characters and let them age naturally–at the risk of losing a big part of my small audience. I could let them grow up physically while remaining completely immature, but I don’t think my publisher would like it.

2. Replace these kids with other young protagonists as needed. Yeah, that would work. Only I’m attached to my original characters and would hate to part with them. But yes, new kids are going to have to come along.

I missed my chance to go with characters who never age, no matter how many books wind up being in the series. There are a few ways of doing that.

In his “Rick Brant Science Adventure” series that ran for some 20 years, J.G. Blaine (aka Hal Goodwin) simply ignored the whole issue. Rick, Scotty, and Barbie remain teenagers throughout the entire series. In fact, none of the regular characters ages at all. And readers didn’t seem to mind. Same with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, come to think of it–teens forever.

When Agatha Christie first introduced Hercule Poirot to the reading public in 1920, in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, she presented him as a retiring police detective whose best days were behind him–a man of about 60. Little did she dream that she’d be writing about him for the next 50 years! She is said to have calculated that Poirot must have been some 130 years old when he finally died. While she was writing about him, she had to ignore the age issue. Again, the readers didn’t seem to mind.

Edgar Rice Burroughs tried to explain why his characters never seemed to age, not wanting anyone to remark that ERB’s need for money seemed to be as evergreen as Tarzan. So David Innes didn’t age because there was no means of telling time in Pellucidar, at the earth’s core. It would be hard to get around the treetops in a walker, so Tarzan didn’t age, either, and neither did his wife, Jane–the result of secret immortality pills invented by the Leopard Men. And John Carter of Virginia and Barsoon was just plain immortal: always was, no telling how or why.

I think I could have gotten away with not aging any of the Bell Mountain cast and crew, provided I’d stuck with it from the beginning. But it’s a decision the writer of a series has to make from the git-go.

Once the kids in your story start growing up, you really mustn’t try to make them stop.