Archives for February 2015

Guest Post: Hermi Emma and Beauty Belle — Lady of the Rings?

This Guest Post and brilliant ring exegesis is from Susan Raab (, a marketing strategist, high-conversion copywriter and best selling ghostwriter who not-so-secretly (she told me!) prefers reading the latest HogPro recommendation late into the night, or teaching another “Christian Content in Harry Potter” class for her contemplative prayer group, or architecting ring structure for her own book (not as easy as it looks).

Emma, Belle and Rings

With the news that Emma Watson has been cast as Belle in the upcoming live version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the Internet has developed a rash of comparisons between Hermione and Belle.

Beauty and Beast WatsonBeauty and the Beast shares a lot more with Harry Potter than just Emma Watson.

Have you ever noticed that as musical theater, Beauty and the Beast is virtually indestructible?

A couple of summers ago, our local outdoor theater company produced it with local talent, and the result was more than a little rough around the edges.  But the truth is, no one’s gloomy or complaining when the flatware’s entertaining… especially with knives, forks, spoons and salt and pepper shakers gleefully skipping about, all under the age of eleven and terminally cute. And those napkins! Completely adorable. Well, be that as it may… it drew more patrons and made more money than any other family show since the last time it was produced, beating Peter Pan, Shrek, Once Upon a Mattress and others less memorable.

So WHY is Beauty and the Beast indestructible, even by the most rank of local talent? Faithful readers of Harry Potter as Ring Composition and Ring Cycle will not be surprised… yes, there’s a ring in there, even in musical theater. Here’s the illustration, John Granger style.

Beauty and Beast Ring

This didn’t happen by accident.  I’m sure Howard Ashman & Linda Woolverton created this symmetry intentionally.  And that whoever is chosen to direct this movie will not be able to screw it up!

I look forward to this great story’s continuing edification of those who choose to believe in the power of love in your heart.


Thoughts on Harper Lee’s “new” book

Mockingbird bookYou’ve probably heard the news:  Harper Lee is finally publishing a “long-lost sequel” to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Some consider Mockingbird one of the best young adult novels of all time—even though it was published before that genre was recognized—others argue it is not a YA work at all, and many think it doesn’t matter. But few would hesitate to classify it as one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century, and, as I have argued before the movie probably came the closest as anything in recent times to an authentic capture of the book’s magic. The American Film Institute named Atticus Finch its top movie hero of the last 100 years and even the current Superman says it’s his favorite.
Mockingbird boxOf course, once you read beyond the headlines, it becomes clear that the word “sequel” is a bit inaccurate. Apparently, this book was Ms. Lee’s original novel, depicting the adult Scout returning to Maycomb to visit her father, and looking back at the events of that summer with twenty years’ hindsight. She was advised to re-write the story from the child Scout’s point of view, though true book and movie fans will remember that the original book and movie still opened and closed with narration by clearly a grown-up Jean Louise Finch.

No doubt many are delighted to hear this news, but, in today’s world of Big Business Young Adult fiction, what will readers, old and (hopefully) young think of the different point of view? My two favorite Tweets on the matter:

Kaylee Webster: Is there going to be a midnight releasing? If so, I’m totally wearing a ham costume.
Kelly Lawler: If they make a movie out of this Mockingbird sequel, it’s totally going to be split into 2 parts.

atticusPersonally, I can’t help but hope that the book proves un-marketable to Hollywood, just because I can’t see anyone but Gregory Peck doing justice to Atticus.
The news of the release is also marred by suspicions about the text, and how it just happened to be “rediscovered” three short months after the death of Alice Lee, Harper Lee’s older sister and lawyer who staunchly protected her sister’s interests and privacy for decades, until she retired from her law practice at the tender age of 100. News stories about how Lee may have been cheated out of her Mockingbird copyright and about a recent maybe-authorized-maybe-not biography harper leehave re-surfaced and have raised questions over whether the 88-year-old author is in any shape to give informed consent to the publication of this material. Certainly she has a long-standing pattern of avoiding publicity and it seems odd for her to change her mind at her age. I sincerely hope there is a way of having someone with no financial stake in the matter look into the arrangement and confirm that everything is happening with kill a mockingbirdMs. Lee’s full understanding and in accordance with her wishes. As much as I’d like to revisit Maycomb, I would never want anyone to take Miss Maudie’s snow without her permission, even to build a rare and wonderful snowman for the neighborhood’s enjoyment.

If this story teaches us anything, it is that we need more Atticuses (or is that Attici?) to shield the Boo Radleys who prefer to stay indoors, advocate for the voiceless Tom Robinsons, and recognize the dignity of those as old and frail as the Mrs. Duboses. But then, we learned that back in 1960, didn’t we?