Friday, December 28, 2007

"I'm the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and you can't catch me..."

I took the family to see Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd last night, which I absolutely loved (even down to a couple of grace notes, the St Dunstan's market and the Bell Court street sign -- in the earliest versions of the Penny Dreadful, Sweeney's shop was part of St Dunstan's Church and Mrs Lovett's was around the corner, in Bell Yard). I even loved Johnny Depp's early-Bowie-when-he-was-still-doing-Anthony-Newley singing style. (At least until, on the way out, I found myself trying to imagine a blood-spattered Sweeney Todd singing "The Laughing Gnome" as he waited for customers, and was unable to explain to anyone else why this was funny.) I think it just edged out Ed Wood as my favourite Tim Burton movie.

Puzzled as to why we had to drive many miles to see it in the only screen showing it outside of the Twin Cities, and sad that the room we saw it in was mostly empty.

Dear Neil,

I wonder how you feel about both Beowulf & Stardust being among the top 10 most P2P traded movies of the year?

Are you glad that they're popular, or do you wish people would actually pay for them?



I'm simply glad that they're popular.

I suspect that in a few years you'll be able legitimately to download a film the same day it goes on general release, and go to cinemas for an experience you'll not be able to get elsewhere (Beowulf is a much better film in 3D, and, interestingly, did 40% of its first week business on 700 3D screens. The 3D thing is not something you can experience from a pirated download, not yet,) and one day the people who made the film (including the writers) will be properly compensated for it. Because mostly the solution to piracy seems to be providing the pirated thing yourself...

My 12-year old daughter chose Stardust for a school book report. We purchased it in paperback at Barnes and Noble. From the packaging, it looked like an appropriate fantasy story for her age and her 6th grade teacher approved it. We were very offended to find that it had an explicit sex scene and the word "fuck" in it. The marketing of this book was misleading. Were you intending to mislead children into reading it? Why would you do this?

Nope, not trying to mislead anyone, and I'm sorry you were offended.

was written and published as an adult novel. In 2000 it was awarded the Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award given to adult books that young adults enjoy. Because of this, and because of the demand from schools, Harper Collins decided to bring out a Young Adult edition of the book as well. That would be the "Stardust Movie Tie In Teen Edition" up on Amazon these days.

While I'm sure there are many twelve year-olds who would qualify as Young Adults and who can happily read books intended for and marketed for teenagers, just as obviously many of them wouldn't and can't, and if you feel yours doesn't I'm sure you're right. I'm not as convinced as you are that the sex scene is "explicit", although the word fuck is definitely there, printed in very small letters. But Stardust is definitely not one of my children's books, like Coraline or Interworld, or (when I finish it) The Graveyard Book. It's an adult book, with, in the US, a Young Adult edition as well.


The first real online community I encountered was the Compuserve Comics forum in late 1988 or early 1989, more or less the week it started in the UK. I'd messed around on bulletin boards and such before, but from 1989 until around 1995, the Compuserve Comics forum was the place to be, and a lot of that had to do with the reassuring and wise presence of Paul Grant, who went under the online name of Zeus (because he was huge and bearded, not because he wore a toga and flung lightning bolts). John Ostrander mourns Paul's passing, and a lot of old-time Compuserve people come out of the electronic woodwork to join him.

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