Friday, February 29, 2008

Presenting Hogwarts....part 1

Just so you know - it took Mike, Julia and me several hours just to put together this part 1. The whole thing is pretty awesome....and now that it's built, here's where the hours of stories and imagination come in.

As much as it's pretty incredible - I still miss the days when Legos didn't have instructions. I feel like kids today have lost the ability to putter, to daydream, to be bored, see where boredom leads them. Is it we don't allow them to be bored?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fare Thee Well Frogwarts - Hello Hogwarts...

Sometime a few months ago, Julia and I found some origami paper my sister had slipped her last year and a Jewish Holiday Origami book that I don't really know how I got but I have a dim memory of buying at a gift shop in Little Tokyo pre- Julia and pre-Michael as a gift for more uber-Jewish friends that I never gave them. Anyway, there's instructions for origami frogs (the plagues, the frogs...stretching I think but that was the Passover origami, which was better than the origami matzah cover, which was just lame.). So Julia wanted me to make her a frog (better made with index cards because then they actually can jump) and she drew Harry Potter glasses on it and for the next week I was making Dumbledore frogs and Dobby frogs and you get my drift.

And then...the icing on the cake....Julia built Frogwarts from cardboard boxes and toilet paper rolls. Frogwarts proudly occupied a corner of the living room - added to every time we finished another roll (seriously, you never saw a kid's eyes light up the way her's did when I waved a little cardboard tube at her). But this weekend Julia finally scored her Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Legos - long awaited because she had to scrape together her own money for it and she spent a lot of time calculating how many more teeth she needed to lose to make the $16 she had left to get. We had a yard sale on Saturday and my rule is is that if she sells her old toys she gets to keep the money (great de-cluttering incentive) so now she has about 2 dollars and 73 cents but she's also got Hogwarts.

And stunner for mom, here. Legos aren't the legos of my childhood where you spent hours puttering around with them, creating and pulling apart and creating. Legos now have instructions, legos have a right way to do them, legos have a wrong way to them. On Sunday Julia actually said (having spent the afternoon constructing with her pal W and his mom and me) "I'm not very good at legos." How can you be not good at legos??? - is my thought - but these days you actually can be. And no, I didn't tell her that. This was actually her first major lego set and they're for 7-12 year olds and she's 5 1/2 and hell, her dad (retro guy that he is) just blithely opened plastic bags at first, neglecting the numbers, neglecting the instructions! And as the weekend and the many hours passed with help from me and him, and W and W's older brother N who is a freaking lego genius, she got a little better.

Crap, now legos can give your kid an inferiority complex? What is the world coming to?
And for that - dusty and messy as it was, ruining the (ha ha) aesthetic of my living room - I'm going to really miss Frogwarts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Mensch who lived?!

Defamer claims Harry Potter (aka Daniel Radcliffe) is a member of the tribe (or my tribe) - wow, a magical jewish son-in-law-to-be.

Rowling a creative copyright hog? Oh please!

This from yesterday's New York Times - Joe Nocera has decided that Rowling is a "copyright hog" because she doesn't want to allow the publication of a Harry Potter encyclopedia (Harry Potter Lexicon) that won't even consult with her and her publishers about the content. She may want to publish her own lexicon some day (for charity). Oh man, she is just being so greedy. And what if she doesn't publish her own? Why should the Harry Potter Lexicon guy have the right to do so because he's turned his obsessive website (which she does allow) into a book? Just how is she stifling creativity by not allowing someone else to profit off her characters?

Here's the deal guys - it's her choice. Harry Potter came from her imagination; she wrote seven novels over however many years, and strangely she wants to be paid for work that is derivative of that - and, at least have some jurisdiction over it. Rocera likens this to a parent who was told to take a video of their baby off YouTube because there's a Prince song playing in the background - and although I personally think, what harm is there in that because there's no personal profit in posting something to YouTube I get Prince's point. Wasn't this partially the reason I just spent three months walking in circles carrying a big stick? Oh - I get it, Nocera's poor friend wasn't allowed to use a clip from 24 in a documentary and he's standing up for the little guy.

A few years ago I wrote a short play about two girls auditioning for "The Crucible" that used 63 words from the text because I was told that 75 words was the fair use limit; the whole thing really started as a playwriting challenge from a group I was involved with. When I found out that it was going to be produced at a major festival I sped up my efforts to get the rights to those words, to be fully on the up and up. I couldn't - Miller was sick, I couldn't get it pushed through his people, I was incredibly anxious I was going lose the production. I went back to the original Salem Witch Trial transcripts, hoping the words I had chosen were something Miller had pulled from there. He hadn't.

I rewrote it - "The Crucible" became inspiration and I didn't use a word of Miller's play in it. And you know what - I think version 2.0 became a much better play.

Deciding someone can't use a huge chunk of your creative work without compensation or permission doesn't have to stifle creativity - it can engender it.

Perhaps "fair use" needs to be defined as what the author/creator deems fair - not the other way around. It's a risk if you want to co-opt someone else's work - good thing Shakespeare isn't around anymore because he'd be up to his ying-yang in copyright lawsuits.

And now back to how Harry Potter has inspired my child.

Friday, February 8, 2008

London baby (Scotland too)

Aunt Miriam lives in Scotland and we're going to visit in March, stopping in London on the way.

Seriously, the fact that Harry Potter lives in London and goes to school in Scotland has nothing to do with it. Really.

Perhaps we'll manage to sneak in seeing the Queen and riding the London Eye between scouring the crowds for badly dressed Wizards and hoping to catch a ride at platform 9 and 3/4s

Monday, February 4, 2008

Double Happiness

Thursday night Julia complained about something hard in her tasty pasta at Swingers where we were enjoying the free meal anonymous-actor-guy-who-everyone-claims-to-know has offered up to the striking WGA writers (as a matter of fact, we made friends with the striking family in the next booth) - Anyway - the hard thing, apparently was not a reason to call the health department about a violation but was her second tooth...which passed down her esophagus before we realized what was happening. The news she'd swallowed her tooth made her burst into tears into I assured her the Tooth Fairy would still visit. She cheered up enough at the writing of the above letter (translation: I don't know why I swallowed my tooth but it's the truth) - and yes, her dollar was under her pillow in the morning.

Double Happiness - that night we read the last few words of Goblet of Fire...ahh the blessed "The End". The chapter at night is always followed by the cries of "One More Page"...after the end of Goblet of Fire she cried "One More Book!"

I'm holding off - she wants to go back into Goblet of Fire again but Mommy Needs A Breather!