Paintings in the New Year

The new year began with two more paintings. These were done in four days: the first on January 1-2, and the second on January 3-4.

So here we go. The first is called The Hungry Hills.

Fairly bizarre, huh? As with stories, I often don’t know how a painting is going to end when I start it. I would even say usually there’s something I discover along the way that gives the picture its real focus. With this one, I set out to paint a fantasy landscape. I knew I wanted it to have caves, stairs, and a central chasm (because I liked those parts of the Balrog painting — see previous post).

The Hungry Hills


The Hungry Hills -- gray daylight shot

As I worked, I wasn’t happy with the painting at all. It had no theme, no central focus, nothing that interested me, and it didn’t even seem to be underground as I’d intended. Then I thought, “Hey! Those caves with their white stalactites look like mouths with teeth!”

The Hungry Hills -- a sunlight shot like the first

In this one, although you still can’t see quite to the bottom of the canvas, you can glimpse the stairway inside the mouth of the very lowest figure.

So then I realized that the cave areas should be faces, and they should have eyes and, in some cases, noses. At that point, I started liking the painting.


The face in the top right corner looks fish-like to me. I’m reminded of Dagon, who appears in the Old Testament as a god of the Philistines, and who may have been a god of the sea. He is also featured in the horror tales of H.P. Lovecraft.

The cavern beneath him, with the red eyes, looks just plain evil. If the top figure is Dagon, I would name this red-eyed fellow “Malev.”

Did you notice the winding stairway on that tower in the top center?

The top left figure has no eyes. He’s a blind hungry hill. The tree-faced tower next to him is wild-eyed, howling and mad, but probably not as dangerous as most of the other caverns.

The cavern beneath them on the left I call “Bomarzo.” Who or what is the gargoyle-like figure who seems to be gazing down at our heroine? Are his intentions good or ill?

A dark journey through the hills

Would you believe that putting in our heroine was a last-minute inspiration? It seemed to me that the hungry hills were all watching, waiting . . . their attention seemed focused inward on someone journeying among them. Then it hit me — of course! Someone is on that stairway! Someone is alone, and courageous, venturing into these hills on a quest!

I don’t have a name for the deep green one in the abyss, though he’s the one whose gaze told me exactly where our heroine was.

The face with a stairway where his ear should be looks Mayan to me, or maybe like a Kachina doll of the Hopis. He has two stairways in his gullet, climbing in two directions. The figure above him looks very cobra-like. I guess that’s Nagaina (remember Riki-Tiki-Tavi?).

Nag and the Lamia

Over here on the right are Nag and beneath him Lamia. Do you see the face on the wall of the chasm? It’s the only figure with a closed mouth. I think that because of its position, no one can possibly pass into it; no path leads there. So this hungry face has to draw its nourishment from the entire hill country of which it is a part. It’s a bored, resigned, frustrated face.


And our heroine, she who journeys above the hungry gorge . . . this may well be Dragonfly, or someone very much like her. Her coloring is certainly like Dragonfly’s. Maybe this is an illustration for that Dragonfly sequel, the very first manifestation of the yet-unwritten story! Certainly I love the title “The Hungry Hills,” which may be a chapter! The atmosphere of this painting truly captures the spirit of Dragonfly, doesn’t it? She carries the sword in her left hand. Does that mean she’s left-handed, or that she thinks she’ll need the lantern more than the sword? I like the fact that she wears a skirt: the best heroines are courageous, strong, capable, and feminine — just as the best heroes are courageous, strong, capable, and yet sensitive and gentle in their masculinity.

The Hungry Hills

A final thought on this: in the media of the near future, wouldn’t it be interesting to design an on-line storytelling format in which you’d have a picture like this, and you could click on each cave, each section of the image, and you would be ushered to a different story? A collection accessed through a single painting! Something like an Advent calendar, with wonders hidden behind each window waiting to be opened!

Our second painting is simpler: Three Princesses.

It’s a comedic image, a play on “Rapunzel.” Here, the prince is imprisoned by some sorcery in the tower deep in the forest. By the look of the plant life, he’s been in there for years, though he never ages. Three princesses have come to rescue him, but they’re engaged in a heated argument. The prince is unhappy, and the quest is at a standstill.

Three Princesses


Three Princesses

What is the nature of their altercation? Is the prince not quite so charming as they were led to believe? Or is he charming enough, but the three (who pooled their resources and skills to have made it this far) are now realizing that there’s one of him and three of them? Or does the argument concern whose responsibility it was to have brought a rope, or a ladder, or the spell to enter the doorless tower?

the owl

High above the characters’ heads, quite remote from them, perches an owl, who appears at a loss. My theory is that the owl represents wisdom. The meaning is that wisdom is all too often lacking in human endeavor.


I love the color called “country tan,” which I used for the lighter backpack, the blonde girl’s pants, and the middle girl’s moccasins. It goes smoothly onto the canvas and dries with a wonderful soft quality.

Three Princesses

This painting was a lot of fun. I love doing dark forests with no sky visible, but those stones in the tower wall were a pain.

When I was younger, I was embarrassed to draw women that were shaped like women. On these princesses, I pulled out the stops and made them as feminine as my abilities allowed.

If anyone wants to, why not try writing us a very short story to go with either painting? Just a paragraph or two would be enough! What quest brings our heroine into the hungry hills? What are the princesses arguing about, and what will the outcome be?


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56 Responses to “Paintings in the New Year”

  1. tandemcat Says:

    Dragonfly sequel–yes! And a Rapunzel turnaround tale from the master storyteller would be great! (Sorry I can’t take a stab at these myself, but Ithuriel is still inside the Penitentiary, and Serun Darkinglow has his hands full outside, leading his griffins in fighting the triadactyls [like pterodactyls, only larger, and with three heads], with Ithamar’s assistance; Griseld, Crowell, and the other golden-armored warriors from Ralsoth have yet to come to the rescue, so Ithuriel and Tam Lin can get married!)

  2. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    At long last I have grown tired of coming up with phrases to place before the icon; this will no doubt sit well with Fred, no will no longer have to moderate my changing name with each one of his new postings!

    Uhh…methinks the Memnons, our beloved vigilante and, above all, our deeply treasured Eian are being used to a post-Verralton context here. And the ‘real’ Serun would NEVER have his hands full!

    With the talent that hosts this blog and the other talents that visit it, I dare not attempt a short story re: the paintings. However, it could be that our three heroines are most upset because, after a long and perilous journey full of danger, they arrive at princie’s place only to discover he could have easily leapt from his tower, as it is less than 20 feet tall! (I know, I know …) πŸ™‚

  3. Daylily Says:

    Fred: I like the looks of the heroine in The Hungry Hills and your reasoning as to why she wears a skirt. However, I feel bound to comment that hiking, climbing, running, and fighting are all made unnecessarily difficult by the length of said skirt. Kilt-length would be more practical. I am wondering about the quest; it must be of great importance to be worth braving such danger!

    I believe that the three princesses are from three different kingdoms and that each found out about the prince in the tower in a different magical way.
    So each assumed she was the only one to know about him. Having each made the perilous journey through the forest alone, they have now all converged on the tower at the same time and are arguing about who has the best right to rescue the prince. It’s an argument that could go on for quite a while, to the prince’s great dismay!

    • Daylily Says:

      Here are some thoughts on outcomes. Our heroine looks to be strong and resourceful. I believe that she is seeking her heart’s desire, and that she is willing to search for long hours and to fight to reach her goal. I think that she will prevail and that the Hungry Hills will not defeat her. As for the three princesses, the brunette is thinking of a plan. While the other two continue to argue, she will quietly walk away, plant her magic bean seed at the foot of the tower and whisper the magic words over it. Within a few moments, a thick and sturdy beanstalk will grow to the top of the tower. The prince will be able to climb down to the ground easily. Being a level-headed fellow, he will not immediately propose marriage to his rescuer, but will invite the three princesses back to his family’s castle, where he can observe them and converse with them. The brunette will win a prize of gold for rescuing the prince, and all three princesses will be honored at a grand banquet for their bravery in attempting the rescue. Perhaps one of the princesses will eventually wed the prince.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Bravo! Very good ideas! I’d thought that probably the cloaked princess with the bow and arrows was the most capable and formidable.

        And what, I wonder, are their names? πŸ™‚

      • Daylily Says:

        The blonde princess is Angelica, the redhead is Ruby, and the brunette is Princess Olympia. As for the heroine with the lantern, I wouldn’t give her a name, because I think that so many women would identify with her!

  4. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Daylily β€” I love your take on the princess problem! Ditto the skirt! (Fred: Do you think that, as a southpaw, you simply put the sword in her left hand as ‘natural’?)

    I think the prince is calling out is despair: Wherefore art thou, Shieldmaiden? Whither hath Jedibabe gone? Hath Morwenna and Swordlily forsaken me? Is Daylily the only Lady of the Blog still with us?


    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      We are here, we are here! Just really busy. By the way, I love your now i phrase Mr. Brown Snowflake πŸ™‚
      The art, posts, and comments have been incredible!! I have intended to comment many times…. didn’t happen. Sorry I have been so scarce. I will try to ring in more often. Thanks for all the great reading everyone!!
      P.S. Morwenna: I finished and LOVED The Three Musketeers and have it in my small pile of favorite books. I read the version translated by Pevear and highly recommend it to anyone in the mood for a very big book.

  5. fsdthreshold Says:

    Today I had to go in to the university to do some on-line work, and I looked at the blog to see what these paintings look like on another monitor. I was pleasantly surprised! Maybe I shouldn’t have apologized for the colors so much! However, the prince’s face still isn’t too visible; I think that’s the fault of my photos.

    On the Balrog issue, Chris’s friend (whom I’ve met years ago) Dr. Grant Sterling came through with excellent Tolkien expertise. He reports that David Day has a tendency to make stuff up; and Dr. Sterling points to the passage in The Two Towers where Gandalf is recounting his battle with the Balrog. After the fall into the abyss, the Balrog’s fire is quenched, and he becomes a thing of slime, and Gandalf says something about how the fell one clung to him like a coiling serpent. I would be willing to bet money that Dr. Sterling is right in suggesting that’s probably the passage that inspired David Day to make the leap to “the coiling power of serpents.” So most likely those aren’t Tolkien’s words at all. For years, I have believed something about Balrogs that is most likely a fallacy.
    HowEVer — I would contend that there’s nothing in my illustration that contradicts what Tolkien wrote. It’s unclear whether the Balrog in Moria had actual wings, or whether the shadow about it was like wings — I think my painting has that covered either way. “Claws” are mentioned in First Age Balrog lore — I deliberately drew clawed feet, and you can’t see the fingers on the hands. I tried to combine shadow and flame. My four-thonged whip may not have “many” thongs, but at least I’ve got the whip and the sword in the correct hands. And it’s basically a human-like shape in the midst of the shadow. Also, I think my “coiled” limbs are feasible. The Balrog can wield weapons as Tolkien intended. The limbs can shoot out like prominences from a black sun. It’s an artistic interpretation, to be sure. It’s from my perspective.

    It IS fantastic to hear from Shieldmaiden again!

    Daylily, I also really like your theory about the three princesses! They all converged on the tower from three different directions, each believing she was the only one coming. Now things are getting ugly.

    You’re also right about the skirt. It’s dragging the ground. It’s voluminous enough to allow freedom of movement, but that’s bound to be one frayed, soiled hem! It will be tattered up to kilt-length before long.

    It’s possible that I put the sword into her left hand because of my left-handedness — but I was careful in the Balrog painting to get the swords into the right hands of Gandalf and his foe, and notice how the three princesses are wearing their scabbards — they all seem to be right-handed.

    Yes, tandemcat is indeed using the characters shared between Verralton and The Threshold of Twilight! He’s nearing completion of a sequel to Threshold called The Delving. I’m sure we’ll be talking more about it right here when he gets it finished!

    • Daylily Says:

      Tatters for our heroine? Oh, I hope not. I rather think that it soon will occur to her to use that sharp sword to shorten the skirt herself, preferably before she trips on the hem while going up the stairs. By the way, when I saw all those caves and stairs, I thought “Pittsburgh!” The darker side of Pittsburgh, perhaps?

  6. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    It was not my intention to say your Balrog was incorrect β€” only that Mr. Day was wrong. You can have your “scourge of fire” however you want it; mine does not have serpentine limbs.

    Some two decades later, I still await reading Threshold. Ahem, ahem. And a certain item I was asked to read has been sitting in my desk after two friends had it passed to them. Any word on it?

    Hooray for hearing from Shieldmaiden! Hooray for Daylily keeping up with us! Hooray for all of us, to have such a wonderful and thought-provoking host!

    ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! Fred’s birthday is Jan. 12. Let me be the first to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to our gracious host, and to my dear friend of nearly 40 years!

  7. morwenna Says:

    Brown Snowflake, the Ladies of the Blog will never abandon the Fellowship!

    Fred, what atmospheric paintings! First comes your story about The Hungry Hills. Then it’s on to the musical: “The hills are alive with the sound of screaming.”

    Shieldmaiden, great to hear from you. The Three Musketeers is simply marvelous. I’ve just finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. December is always a perfect time to reread this classic because of the snow scenes and the wonderful moment when Father Christmas finally gets back into Narnia after being barred for so long by the White Witch.

  8. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    The L.O.B. are essential to the vitality of the blog! They help keep the balance and are wonderful at bringing the boys back to earth when we get carried away on some tangent or the other (like following old Obi-wan on some damn fool idealistic crusade).

    We have not heard from Scott or Chris on the paintings and Marquee must also be busy.

    BTW Marquee β€” as a fan of Tron I, should I go and see Tron II at the IMAX in Des Moines, see it on our local 70ft screen or avoid it entirely? (I am no Jeff Bridges fan and liked the original in spite of him)

  9. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Blizzard hitting Central Iowa as I write (1-10-11, 1:20 p.m. CST). Three inches already on ground, 7-9 more expected in next 12 hours. Little wind (for now) temps decent at 25. Inconvenient? Yes. Potentially dangerous? Yes. Better than 95 and humid? Damn straight!

  10. Shieldmaiden Says:

    Morwenna, if you have read through the comments on this blog (and I know you have) then you know how I feel about Narnia. I’m so happy to hear you read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe this winter. Yes, December is a perfect time to read or re-read it! So many of my friends are reading the series right now. I can’t wait until my daughter is a few years older and I can read them all over again with her.

    I did see Voyage of the Dawn Treader with my son. I thought the cast did a great job and I liked the movie a lot, but wished they didn’t change so much from the book. Best movie I’ve seen in a while was Tangled believe it or not. Laughed so hard!! I had the best time with my kids who equally loved it. Finding a movie that a 6 year old girl and a 13 year old boy both like is no small event. I am also wondering about Tron.

    P.S. Mr. Brown Snowflake stay warm!! πŸ™‚

  11. morwenna Says:

    Happy birthday, Fred!

    Shieldmaiden, sharing the Narnia series with your daughter when she’s old enough will be so special. My mother read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe aloud to us (way back when that book was labeled as the first in the series, which of course has changed). I still remember the excitement and joy of stepping into Narnia with Lucy for the very first time.

    The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is another favorite. Memorable mouse characters — and there are many in children’s literature — just don’t get better than swashbuckling Reepicheep!

    Brown Snowflake, take care!

  12. morwenna Says:

    Shieldmaiden, I do the same. Despite the relabeling, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe still comes first! πŸ™‚

  13. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    As of 1-11-11 at 3:55 p.m. CST we have officially received 8.5 inches of snow. Another 2-3 is expected later this evening. It is all light and very powder-like and the wind, which is really picking up now, is blowing it all over tarnation.

    We expect wind chills Tuesday overnight of -10F, with Weds wind chills of -20/-25F on 25-30 mph NW winds. Ahh, winter πŸ™‚

    Shieldmaiden and Morwenna I thank you for your concern and well wishes.

    • Daylily Says:

      Here in Connecticut this afternoon, we had twelve inches next to the garage, sixteen inches further out in the driveway, and twenty-one inches in the backyard (I shoveled a path to the bird feeder and paused to measure the snow depth). And it was still coming down. This after having nothing to shovel this year until December 26! I think I can stop saying, β€œWhat snow?” now!

  14. Scott Says:


    With the time difference, I probably should have posted this my yesterday.

  15. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Scott: I am craving Cozy Dogs, dammit! And Route 66 Root Beer! Any chance you could teleport me 6 cozies, large fries and a four-pack?

    • Scott Says:

      It wouldn’t be the same without the atmosphere. Why didn’t you go there while you were home?

      • I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

        I did, ONCE. They closed for the holidays 12/24-1-5! Dang. But I did get to Bill’s twice and Gringo’s twice.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        I honestly don’t know what restaurant you guys are talking about! Where can one get “Cozy Dogs” and root beer?

  16. John Says:

    Fred’s birthday is today? How come I didn’t get the day off of work? What an unenlightened society we live in!

    Anyway, Fred, I hope you had a wonderful birthday.

  17. Marquee Movies Says:

    Greetings, Blog Dwellers! Have been away for a while. A few catch-ups – Mr. B.S. – I never make recommendations on films I haven’t seen, but as I said last year, if you had fun with the first Tron film, and have a chance to see the next one on a huge screen (if that’s still possible), my advice is to go with lowered expectations (which is different than a bad attitude), and try to see it as a kid would see it, and have fun. Must confess that I am puzzled by your not being a Jeff Bridges fan – he’s so good in so many things! Love, love, love Starman, especially. Chris, I’ve been blessed enough to visit New Zealand as well, and I’m sure you found it as beautiful and awe-inspiring as I did. I think I understand your insistence on not visiting any spots where they filmed LOTRings – seeing a bunch of touristy t-shirt vendors and such might ruin it for you. Well, I can tell you that there is virtually none of that in the one area I visited. Some family members and I were driven in a van for a few hours, then ate at a ski lodge (though no snow), then rode in a 4×4 vehicle through locked gates and across streams and fields to get to…..Edoras. You know that shot where Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf are approaching Meduseld? I have been on the top of that mountain. The vehicle parked at the bottom, and we climbed up – it was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done in my life. There is NO indication whatsoever that filming was ever done there – the Kiwis are so careful about their environment that they didn’t even want any sign of their filming activities to disrupt the natural landscape. Our guide (who was one of the drivers for one of the Nine, though he said a confidentiality agreement forbade him from saying who) had pictures from the film, and we could actually line up the very rocks and amazing mountains in the background so we could stand in the ACTUAL spot where filming took place. You know that moment when Eowyn comes outside, and sees the riders arriving, just as the flag breaks free? I’ve stood right in that very spot. Got a picture and everything.
    So sometimes the touristy thing doesn’t take over and ruin a site. (I have been to the Field of Dreams with some wonderful friends over the years, and even though there are a few stands there, it remains a special place to be.) Anyway – I respect your choice, but can reassure you that it’s not like it would be in other parts of the world, where they choke the specialness out of the place with knick-knacks. And Narnia fans – at one of the libraries I visit, I found a wonderful collection of CD’s that feature actors and sound effects acting out all seven of the books – gosh that was fun to listen to! Makes cleaning or working SO much easier, when I’m secretly on the Dawn Treader while emptying the dishwasher!
    Fred, happy birthday! Many happy and warm thoughts are coming to you from many places in the good ol’ US of A – may they keep you comforted all day and night.

    • Chris Says:

      We ATE A RESTAURANT IN Te Anua WHERE SOME OF THE ACTORS FROM LotR HAD EATEN! They had a signed t-shirt on display with McKellan’s and other signatures on it.

      That was as close as we knowingly got.

      Actually we didn’t specifically avoid the sites, we actually just didn’t plan for it. We had some things we wanted to hit (geologically speaking like White Island and the Ruakuri caves as well as kayaking in the fiordlands, so we simply didn’t have any time to visit anything related to LotR. And it wasn’t high enough priority when, as you noted, pretty much everywhere in NZ is amazing!

      Oh and we did spend a significant portion of time in touristy shops looking for tchatchkies for friends back home. However I somehow avoided buying anyone the omnipresent “sheep shagger” print (featuring the exceedingly happy sheep and the assualting happy kiwi replete with lolling tongue…easily the most tasteless thing we saw there…and we usually gravitate toward the tasteless. Still we couldn’t bring ourselves to buy anything with this print on it.)

  18. Daylily Says:

    Fred: In the last half-hour of your birthday (EST), I wish you a happy birthday and many blessings in your next year of life! Have a great year, and don’t forget to write! πŸ™‚

  19. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Marquee: You got me on Starman. I guess that makes up for the horrific King Kong remake he was in. And I am exceedingly jealous that you climbed Mt. Sunday! Wow.

    Chris: I appreciate not wanting to be near all the tourists. A good friend of mine is the sports editor for the Dyersville paper and he hates having to deal with tourists throughout the summer.

    Daylily: My brother lives just outide Providence, R.I. so I know about the huge recent snowfall and the terrible dumping on Dec. 26! For the record, our overnight low on Weds-into-Thurs was -9 with wind chills at -33, so we survived. The high on Fri 1-14 is expected to be a balmy 22.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      So your brother lives in H.P. Lovecraft country! I will always picture him as being about seven years old and living in Kyrgyztan (which two conditions never coexisted in the real world!)

      As for that King Kong remake, I had that entire movie memorized and drew it all out in storyboard/cartoon form — it may not have been much, but it was King Kong!

  20. Marquee Movies Says:

    Ooh, Fred, you beat me to it! 1976’s King Kong is not a great film, but it was an exciting film of its time. I LOVED every second of it – I even had a notebook in school with the great ape straddling the Twin Towers in New York! (Wish, wish, wish I still had that.) Jeff Bridges did a great job, Charles Grodin was terrific as usual – Jessica Lange was great – in fact, it was her performance in this film that got her the Oscar-winning role in Tootsie, my all-time favorite comedy. One scene that still amazes me is the one that takes place on the ship, when Dwan’s scarf blows off, and drifts into the giant cargo hold. Kong sniffs this tiny snip of material – and learns that THE WOMAN IS ONBOARD! His slamming of the walls, knocking sailors out of bed, threatening to sink the ship, frightens Jessica Lange into revealing herself on the grid far above Kong. Upon seeing her, he begins leaping up to get to her – he’ll never make it, but he keeps trying. Suddenly she falls in – but Kong catches her. He then begins to sniff her, taking in her very scent, her presence. Once he is sure she is safe, he puts her down, lets her climb safely out, and closes his eyes and sleeps. It’s a powerful scene in a film that was huge in my childhood.
    Now I learn in Fred’s, as well. Fred, was this a carryover from your love of Planet of the Apes, or did you love Kong independently? I wonder if the Planet of the Apes genre was part of the inspiration for this remake?

  21. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Inasmuch as someone can be wrong when it comes to their personal opinion, both Frederic and Marquee have gone off the deep end. The Kong remake in question was a sickening joke. Over and over and over again we see this dumb shot of Bridges (and the worst beard ever on film) gawking up at Kong, the Twin Towers, whatever, with this stupid look on his face. Grodin’s character is a paper-thin characature (sp) of the greedy oil type and while Jessica Lange looks great that is about it.

    I remember watching (in distress, as the movie had not yet come to our town) a report on TV that the studio had to pull the promotional materials (those not already produced) showing Kong straddling (stupid, stupid, stupid!) the Twin Towers WITH A CRUSHED JET FIGHTER IN HIS HANDS! on the grounds the scene never appears in the movie. Egads…

    The blue screen effects looked cheap, Bridges’ whole eco-spiel got old quick (he kept coming back to it lest the audience should forget) … I could go on and on. I am shocked at both of you (Fred and Marquee), I really am!

    Fred: How can you, in good faith, have liked this? Don’t you remember “Gorilla!” πŸ™‚
    (I await, with relish, the verbal assault I already feel coming my way!)

    p.s. β€” I bet Chris hated it, too!

    • Chris Says:

      I never really formed an actual opinion about the King Kong remake of the 70’s. I do, however, recall doing everything within my limited power to get ahold of the ancillary merchandising (glasses) that some restaurant in T-ville carried. I’m sure Fred still has his copies of these drinking glasses somewhere “in storage” (kind of like a King Tut’s Tomb of our Collective Childhood it sounds).

      I remember being impressed by the “effects” of the 70’s. But beyond that it wasn’t really on my radar as much as one would think.

      I like the original because it is so strangely distant in time. And the stop-motion animation was amazing.

  22. fsdthreshold Says:

    Ha, ha! πŸ™‚ Mr. Brown Snowflake, lighten up! We’re talking about King Kong, for crying out loud! Yes, I remember “Gorilla!” Of course the original King Kong is the ORIGINAL (may it live a thousand years!). I’ve got a story about that, too. When I was in gradeschool, I made a King Kong Scrapbook. It was a sickly lime-green folder. I drew a picture of King Kong on the cover and probably added some block lettering. Inside, I clipped articles and photos from various film magazines of the seventies — all sorts of grainy photos from the original film. I’m sure I still have that in storage. I think I kept it in the same satchel as my Planet of the Apes magazines. πŸ™‚

    But, Marquee Movies, no — King Kong has no direct connection to Planet of the Apes. I loved (and love) King Kong quite independently. It’s more akin to Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World — a lost, isolated realm of dinosaurs. The heart of Kong is that Great Wall on Skull Island — the vast gate. What could possibly be behind that gate? It’s the strange, giant door at one end of the basement of the Book Center . . . the doorway into the unknown . . . the whole spirit of Moria, of D&D . . . I loved, loved, LOVED the fact that Peter Jackson talked in interviews about how King Kong was a TREMENDOUS influence on him as a kid.

    Remember the awful Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings when we were teenagers? I swear, the soundtrack sounds for all the world like it was recorded by a high-school band, and they ran out of money at Helm’s Deep. But it was what we had then, and it was LOTR, and we loved it accordingly. When we grew up, LOTR was finally made properly as a movie (as three movies). But would we rather not have had that pathetic Bakshi version in our teen years? I say — THANK YOU, RALPH! You gave us kids a temporary fix — a voice in the wilderness, a type of the things to come. King Kong was the same: poised between the glorious original and the definitive Peter Jackson version, there was the funky 1976 Bicentennial King Kong. As a fourth-grader, I loved every minute of it!

    • Chris Says:

      So, how many of your Planet of the Apes model kits (built or unbuilt) do you have in the now-famous “Storage”?

      Some day you need to inform all the former T-villians on here when you are going to be back in Illinois and convene a two day “Opening of the Storage” celebration for us all to come there and meander through our collective past!

      I have lost so many things over the years and over so many moves that I T-ville and my former life are fading away into dim hazy memories of faded photo prints.

      (As an aside, Rita and I were having dinner the other night and the discussion came around to me describing to her “Tim the Robot”. It felt surreal explaining Tim when he was such a…”normal” part of life! Tim just was that he was!)

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Ha, ha! Well, of course all of my Planet of the Apes model kits are in storage! Do you remember how, on the Dr. Zaius model, I insisted on not following the directions when constructing the base, and one half of a wall (of the “ruins” the apes are all standing among) was just haphazardly glued to the side of the base, while the other half was clearly without its . . . other half? And then I painted the whole thing orange — Zaius’s face, hair, clothes, and the ruins he’s standing among? Between my construction and painting, I’m confident I had the worst-looking Dr. Zaius model ever built!

        Yes, my storage room would be treasure trove of our childhood memories! The next time I’m there, I want to dig out the 8mm movies.

        Ah, “Tim the Robot”! (What a fantastic name for a robot, eh? So ultra-high-tech-sounding! And this was in our pre-Monty Python days, so we didn’t know about Tim the Enchanter.) I like how Tim the Robot had a smokestack! I guess we were steampunk long before the genre existed. And he had internal components that were made of various toys of mine that could never again be played with, because they were serving duty as Tim’s internal components.

        Also, Tim was located inside the Top Secret Spy Office, which a sign on the door boldly proclaimed as such.

        As I recall Tim, he was perched on a wooden stool, right? His main body was a cardboard box full of toys, and his head was a shoebox standing on end, probably also full of toys (“brains”), and he had some kind of eyes, nose, and mouth taped on. (Masking tape was our universal engineering medium.) And the smokestack (a burned-out fireworks fountain) was located on his shoulder.

      • Chris Says:

        Yes, that was my recollection of Tim that I passed onto Rita. I forgot to tell her about the smokestack. As I also recall at one point we even had a tuft of cotton taped to it so as to simulate “smoke” from the smokestack. The one thing I seem to recall being inside Tim’s “chest” was an unopened “talking car” toy. I don’t recall what went in Tim’s head, but I believe there was stuff up there as well (it would be fitting).

        And yes I recall your Dr. Zaius (completely orange). In a very real sense that was very cool. Very avante garde.

        Remember: if you have your 8mm films transferred to DVD send a copy to me as well.

  23. jhagman Says:

    I’m with MBSFM! In the face of abysmal moviemaking, it is impossible to lighten up! King Kong sucked! I did not trust Jeff Bridges for a long time after that, and Bakshi’s LOTR, I grow ill at the thought of that movie. I liked Bakshi’s “Wizards” (remember that film?), and “Fritz The Cat” was very cool, so when LOTR was in production, I thought it had promise- uuggh, was I ever disappointed. To be fair, I have not been a great fan of Peter Jackson’s version either. I took my girlfriend to see “Return Of The King”, and she elbowed me in the ribs more than once to stop me from groaning.

  24. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Touche dearest Frederic in regards Bakshi’s LOTR. Looking back on it … wow is it horrible. No need to waste time tearing it apart … but, YES, it did fill a niche. And if you recall, all of us (you and I in especial) often dreamed aloud of the day they would do a live-action LOTR, AND IN 3 PARTS! In retrospect, thank God it took another 20 years to do it right.

    JHAG: I, too, enjoyed Wizards (I dont recall much, but do remember liking it when I saw it on HBO).

    My only groaning in Return of the King was repetitive as well, but there was enough to love to overcome it. Again, thank God we have it rather than not.

  25. fsdthreshold Says:

    So, Daylily — please tell us about your names for the Three Princesses and how you arrived at those names!

    • Daylily Says:

      When I looked at the redhead, I thought, “Ruby!” It’s the name of a red jewel, which seemed appropriate for a red-haired princess, and it’s a strong name. Ruby has a younger sister Opal, who is pale and quiet, shy and retiring, and not at all the type to go on a quest. When I studied the other two princesses, their names did not come to me. So I found a list of “princess names” online. Angelica is a good name for a blonde princess, since angels are often depicted with golden hair. I imagine that Angelica’s parents were delighted with their beautiful newborn daughter and surprised when she grew up to be an opinionated, confident adventurer (and anything but angelic)! Olympia is a good name for a strong, athletic, goddess-like woman who is capable of rescuing a prince!

  26. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    I could not agree more with Chris on the need for a T-villian gathering! I have been hearing about this “Storage” for years now. One rumor had it that it was the old FSD study, now sealed with strange glyphs, sigils and runes. Another rumor has circulated that it is actually a large warehouse-style room, accessible through the infamous “basement door” in the old Book Center, but only by those able to pass an ethereal boundary (and only Fred knows the passwords). My own personal belief is that this “storage” is, in reality, a secret cavern delved (and meticulously disguised) under the potato bunker/storm cellar at the famed Old Oak Rd. residence.

    • Chris Says:

      Personally I am not joking one bit about Fred convening some “opening ceremony” for the T-ville Diaspora.

      I would actually seriously consider flying back to T-ville for that very reason and these days I have almost no reason to go back to T-ville ever again other than that. Certainly none as INTERESTING as that!

      I would say we order a number of Angelos Pizzas equal to Nx3 where N=no. of attendees, and sit around looking at the collection, but since Angelos has changed and is no longer the same pizza I’d be at a loss for what else to do.

      This famed “Storage” is now the only point of interest in T-ville anymore. Like a neutron star holding all interest in the town within it’s small confines, wherever those may be.

      (Maybe buried along with the various “time capsules” on Old Oak Road).

  27. jhagman Says:

    Hey Chris,,, in defense of Taylorville; a place is only as interesting as the person looking at it, or, you get from a town what you bring to a town! And I did live in San Diego for two years, I prefer Moorpark, Calif.

    • Chris Says:

      I can’t think of a good defense of Taylorville! πŸ™‚ But you are correct. I tell everyone that I am proud to be FROM Illinois (emphasis on the “from”). It actually was a good place to grow up. But I couldn’t get away from it fast enough.

      As for where we currently live, my brother-in-law liked to refer to it as “Escon-doody”. He lived down here for a while as well. The wife and I actually kinda like Escondido (just north of San Diego). It’s small townish enough without being too small town.

      But in general I am not overly excited by SoCal that much mainly because it is a bit too “pretty weather” all the time. If it weren’t for constantly having to battle black widow spiders, earthquakes, wildfires and non-stop Chupacabra attacks it’d be hard to distinguish one day from the next here.

  28. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    I still have plenty of reasons to return to Taylorville, which is a 415-mile drive and I would hop in the car tomorrow if I knew the famed “Storage” was being opened!

    I, too, desperately desire transferred 8mm movies. I can think of few things from my childhood I would want more to see “come back to life” than some of those old films (including one in which Mr. Brown Snowflake builds a cairn over the multilated corpse of Chris, who was fatally mauled by … BIGFOOT!)

    While I don’t recall Fred’s Dr. Zauis model, I had one of Cornelius standing before the ruined promenade of the New York Stock Exchange. For some reason I painted him with a red shirt (every boy scout knows the chimps wore green!).

    Oh to yell “Gorilla!” once more and then go tearing into the living room! Oh to conduct “The Tradition” (sorry everyone, but Fred will know). Oh to sit at the Durbin kitchen table and talk about nothing that really matters for hours upon hours upon hours …
    (Ohh to not be such a nostalgia sop!)

    • Chris Says:

      Everytime I looked at Fred’s “Cornelius” model all I saw was the “Exchange” sign. Someone (maybe an older relative of yours, Fred?) had determined that it was the name of the character: “Exchange-o” (since it had the little flower-like figure after the word “Exchange” on the piece of building).

      At least that is how I remember it. But now everytime I see that particular model on E-Bay I think “Oh, it’s an ‘Exchange-o” model!” (E-bay: a great place to relive your childhood, fyi…just go on and look at pictures of toys you recall from childhood…it’s a trip. I often am shocked to see what the toys look like compared how I remember them!)

  29. jhagman Says:

    Whaaat Chris, the Chupacabra and Spiders again? If you move they will probably follow you- along with some of Cthulhu’s relatives. I’ve heard they are known to blog, I had better be careful,, my girlfriend (and myself) were born in Oceanside- way too close to Escondido.

    • Chris Says:

      Oh, Oceanside! The only thing that keeps the Chupacabras away from there is the overwhelming firepower available at Camp Pendelton!

  30. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Poor Californians! You don’t get winter. At 11 p.m. Thurs it was 6F here, with wind chill of -10. Later on Friday it is supposed to dip to 2F, with a Fri/Sat overnight low of -10 and wind chills of possibly -30F. Daylily and Shieldmaiden … this cold blast is headed your way … be ready come Sunday!

  31. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    well, the weekend is here .. and the blog dies again …

    • Daylily Says:

      Hey, maybe everyone (except Chris) is too busy shoveling snow to write anything! Over here in CT, we have had our third blizzard in a month. I built a snow statue of a cat after the second blizzard. Then came the icy rain which will nicely preserve my creation for a while. Then came the third blizzard, and snow drifted around the cat almost up to its neck. Hmm, and this is only January!

      • Chris Says:

        Instead of shovelling snow my wife and I spent our recent long weekend digging up her community garden plot, pulling out all 72 concrete blocks, cleaning them out, and replacing them (mostly with new blocks). I haven’t been that physically active for a long time.

        Thankfully the daytime temps are only the low 70’s. So you don’t get too hot. It is the end of January, afterall.

        Oh yeah, and there’s lots of gardens with stuff actively producing right now. Rita just replanted and put in some new seeds once we got the blocks replaced and all the dirt put back in.

        What I wouldn’t give to have snow to shovel. I hate all this warmth! Grrrrr.

        I was recently thinking back to last November when I was in Maastricht Netherlands walking across town at 6:00AM to catch the train to Amsterdam to get my flight to the UK and how wonderful it was to have a very, very cold dark morning to walk in.

        Then in the UK they were in the midst of their “snowpocalypse” so I was barely able to get into the UK and had to take the train across form Manchester to Leeds instead of direct to Leeds. Lots of nice snow to see!

  32. morwenna Says:

    Daylily, we’d love to see a picture of the snow cat! With only its head visible at this point, I am thinking of the vanishing Cheshire-Cat.

    • Daylily Says:

      I will see what I can do about a picture, although I’m not sure how well a white snow cat on a field of white will photograph!

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