(aka Interview With the Vamp, as conducted by Cody)
Name: Michelle, aka Gidget or Angry Prom Queen
Cody: *adjusts tape recorder* All set? Okay, ya’ll, get ready to learn everything you ever wanted to know about everyone’s favorite proofreader. J Let’s start with an easy one. What’s your favorite color? As if we didn’t already know! ;)
Gidget: Turquoise and most shades of blue... it’s the color of my childhood home (turquoise in the 70’s, then a more muted blue later). There are no bad shades of blue. Our house used to be turquoise. Sometimes combined with black, it’s my signature color. And my fanfic character Joanna likes it too.
Cody: Yeah, it’s one of
my faves, too. *consults list* Okay, next question: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Gidget: A princess. *chuckles* Seriously, I didn’t know and kept changing my mind. I hated school and wanted powers to smite my enemies --- like Jaime Summers, the Bionic Woman (played by Lindsay Wagner in the early 70's). Before those Ford commercials, this lady could tear telephone books in half, squeeze a tennis ball until it exploded, and beat the bad guys with brains and bionic strength. Remember that neat ticktickticktick sound whenever the Bionic Woman ran, jumped or swung her arm? Jaime, a rising tennis star with a bionic boyfriend (the REAL Steve Austin, not the wrestling star) has a parachuting accident. They rebuild her and upgrade both legs, her right arm and left ear (super hearing). Then she becomes a teacher by day and secret agent by night. It was neat to see her running and jumping over high fences in slow motion. A flap of artificial skin on her wrist concealed all these wires and circuits. She was the first Xena-type heroine on TV. I still treasure my Bionic Woman t-shirt --- I want another one that fits!
Cody: So besides surfing the ‘Net, do you have any hobbies or pastimes?
Gidget: Oh yes. I love to read and draw. Writing, of course. Spending all day at libraries, bookstores and comic stores. Solitude. I collect a few dolls, especially hard-to-get Barbies and what I call ‘gimmick dolls’. The 70’s produced neat toys with gimmicks --- like GoBots, Blythe (a doll with a huge head and eyes that changed color when you pulled her string). I’ve got an old doll named ‘Saucy’ --- when you pump her left arm she makes faces, winks, closes her eyes and opens them --- totally cross-eyed! The Crissy Family dolls of the 70's had hair you could shorten and grow with the twist of a knob on their backs. I’ve recently gotten interested in going to classic auto shows too. Comic conventions are a lot of fun, because you meet people who are genuinely interested in pop culture and aren’t afraid to be a little wacky. I once brought my then nine-year-old brother to one and we met Paul Dini and Bruce Timm (creators of Batman: The Animated Series). They drew the fans’s favorite characters and signed them (I got Harley Quinn and my brother got the Joker). I photocopied both and he got to keep his original on the condition that he protect it with his life. :D
Cody: That’s awesome! What do you like to read?
Gidget: Everything. Anything that interests me at the time. How-to-Write manuals, biographies about people I admire (eg: Helen Keller, Stephen King, Dr. Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, to name a few) ancient religions, cannibalism, cults…
Cody *backs away slowly*: O-kaaay…
Gidget (cheerfully oblivious to interviewer’s growing discomfort): I’m a voracious reader and will try anything from comics to classics. I like almost any well-written genre, but especially hardboiled murder mysteries with police procedures, medical examiners and gutsy heroes who give the bad guys what they deserve. I don't like 'cozies' (mostly wimpy mysteries with 'quirky amateurs sleuths' whose adventures take place in charming bed-and-breakfast inns and cute picturesque cottages. I'm proud of the fact that I've never read a single Danielle Steele novel. I know she’s very popular, but I automatically dislike books that are treated as a franchise. You know, author’s photo on the back flap instead of a plot summary of the frickin’ novel. Stephen King’s like that too, but he did write a very good ‘how to write’/autobiography, so he has more credibility, IMO. I don’t read all of his books anymore --- they’re just too damned long. I still prefer his earlier works, like the short stories and especially the classic Carrie.
Books I’d Take with Me on a Deserted Island
Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
Jubilee Trail and Calico Palace by Gwen Bristow
What movies do you enjoy most?
Gidget: A mixed bag, much like my reading tastes. Depending largely on my mood, I'll watch almost any genre. As most people who know me can attest, I have a decidedly sick and twisted sense of humor…
Cody: No! Really? ;)
Gidget: --and laugh at art that pokes fun at sacred institutions like true love, marriage, death, anything serious (The Coen Brothers, Todd Solondz). I suppose that’s my way of dealing with my wariness of the unknown. Yet I admit that I'm a closet romantic, but my tastes lean toward impossible love. The couples in my favorite romances have tremendous odds against them (death, homeliness and in the case of ‘Witness’ --- Amishness. I can't help but be moved.
Here's my personal guide to smart rentals... I am rarely disappointed.
Bring a dependable movie guide
with you (Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide is a good bet… or
anything by Roger Ebert). Don’t trust
the box covers for accurate, honest reviews sans spoilers --- you’ll get suckered
and lose a few hours of your life that you’ll never get back. They cover the 'real' video boxes with these
heavy plastic cases and give inanely positive blurbs about every movie, so you
really don't know what you're getting until you take it home and find out it
blows. Do the research! Beware any movie that gets a raving
review from a critic who isn't famous, like Siskel and Ebert, or Leonard
Maltin, for example...
Cody: Gee, what a surprise. Whoops, we’re getting to the end of the tape. Just a minute. *takes it out, flips it over* There.
Gidget (clears throat): They have reputations for being tough and honest. They love movies for their own sake, not just the ones that are ‘good for you’, like foreign films or old classics --- although some of those are certainly worth a look.
Ignore raving reviews from:
-Anything that brags of being ‘directed by’ or ‘from the producers’ of [insert blockbuster hit here].
-Some no-name critic from a rinky-dink TV station
-Movie Mom-type reviewers --- they blow the best parts (see Parental Warnings blurb below)
-Run away screaming from anything recommended by Michael Medved.
For example, some video cases have parental warnings like these:
-Tension and scariness
-Man and woman yell at each other
-Man gets stabbed with a harpoon
-Burglar is beheaded
Totally blows the film for me if I don't resist the urge to read the parental warnings (I like to read!). I don't want to know what happens. When that burglar is beheaded, it should come as a complete and delightful surprise. ;)
Yeah, those warnings take all the fun out of movies.
Gidget: They do. Also, you know the movie guide books (those thick ones) that they post along the shelves of Blockbusters or Rogers? Don't trust 'em. They recommend practically everything in the store.
Of course! If they told the
truth, they’d lose a lot of business.
Gidget: It’s disgusting. I see people grab the latest Tom Green comedy off the wall and literally cringe. I’m a total film snob, and I don’t waste my time with two-star films. It’s three or four out of five or nothing. A movie that’s just ‘okay’ or ‘fair’ isn’t worth it to me. That’s two hours of my life down the tubes, you know? When you’ve had filet mignon, you never go back to Spam, so to speak. That’s not to say I don’t have my guilty pleasures. I enjoy a good old B-movie like Tremors, Eight-Legged Freaks, for example --- they’re intentionally cheesy and don’t have pretensions of being high art. What I don’t like is being tricked into seeing films that the suits in Hollywood know is crappy, yet still pump them out to make money. They don’t care about quality or insulting the viewer’s intelligence. And people go right on paying to see crap, just to get out of the house.
Cody: Yes. Well. So, specifically, which movies are your favorites?
Gidget: I never tire of these ones:
Action / Adventure
Cool Hand Luke, Die Hard, L.A. Confidential, Pulp Fiction, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Sin City, Speed, Superman I & II, Thelma and Louise, Titanic
The Incredibles, Shrek, Toy Story I & II, most Disney animated features (esp. The Lion King, Mulan)
Comedy / Satire
Any Coen Brothers film like Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Raising Arizona
Chuck and Buck, Election, Freeway, Heathers, In the Company of Men, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Serial Mom, Storytelling, Swimming With Sharks, That Thing You Do!, To Die For, The War of the Roses, Welcome to the Dollhouse
Drama / Mystery
Crash (2005), Double Indemnity, Heavenly Creatures, The Last Seduction, A League of Their Own, The Miracle Worker, Mr. Holland's Opus, Rosewood, The Shawshank Redemption, A Simple Plan, Slingblade, A Streetcar Named Desire
Horror / Sci-Fi
Aliens, The Birds, Carrie, Final Destination, The Fly (1986), Night of the Living Dead (1968) The Scream trilogy, Terminator 1 and 2
Calamity Jane, Chicago (the play), One Moonlight Bay, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Singin’ in the Rain, The Sound of Music
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Gone With the Wind, It Happened One Night, Marty, Witness
Bound, Kalifornia, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, One-Hour Photo, Seven, The Silence of the Lambs, The Stepford Wives (1975)
The Beguiled, The Quick and the Dead, Tombstone, Unforgiven
Gidget: And these are a few of my favorite entertainers:
The Evil Dead series, Hercules (TV), Xena: Warrior Princess (TV)
Romancing the Stone, Ruthless People, The War of the Roses
The Beguiled, Play Misty For Me, Sudden Impact, Unforgiven
The Last Seduction, Men in Black
Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars trilogy, Witness
Barton Fink, Matinee, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, One Night at McCools, Raising Arizona
Philip Seymore Hoffman
Almost Famous, Happiness, The Talented Mr. Ripley
Boogie Nights, Far From Heaven, The Hours
In the Heat of the Night, A Raisin in the Sun, To Sir --- With Love
The Big Kahuna, L.A. Confidential, Swimming With Sharks
Election, Freeway, The Importance of Being Ernest, Legally Blonde
Batman: The Animated Series, Daria, Justice League, Kim Possible, King of Queens, King of the Hill, The Sopranos, That 70's Show, X-Men: Evolution, The Zeta Project
Shows No Longer on the Air That I Miss
TaleSpin, Swat Kats, Batman: The Animated Series, Looney Tunes (uncensored), The Carol Burnett Show, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, The Twilight Zone (the old Rod Serling version)
Cody *holds up hand*: Just a sec. Gotta put in a new tape.
Gidget: Of course.
Cody *inserts second tape*: There. *consults notes* Now… what sort of music do you like?
Gidget: Anything from the mid-50's to early 80's (yes, I love disco!). I enjoy soundtracks (Pulp Fiction, Grease, Muholland Drive, to name a few) I tend to appreciate music about twenty years after its heyday. I am definitely not cool. :D
Cody *eyes widen, startled* : Geez… how old are you?
Gidget: I remember The Bionic Woman, don't I? ;-) I admit I have an inner twelve-year-old in me sometimes --- especially when I’m around kids. I supposed some people might consider me immature because I refuse to give up things I enjoyed in my childhood, like stuffed animals, comics, cartoons and eating chocolate cake batter instead of baking it. Try it… it tastes way better. :D
Cody: You seem to be a
nice, if strange, person. What are you really
Gidget: Well, occasional snotty sarcasm aside, I think I’m a genuinely nice person. I don’t make friends easily, because I’m shy and somewhat awkward at making small talk, so I keep people at a distance in the beginning. When I do loosen up, watch out --- a couple of hours and you’ll want to put me back in my box. J Some people are so afraid of being dull that they laugh too loudly and overcompensate with the wisecracks; that’s me. I’m an acquired taste. But despite the fact that I cheer on evil characters in books and movies, I would never intentionally harm another human being. I hate cruelty in real life --- I can’t even stand it when people raise their voices at each other. Can’t handle conflict. I do try to be a true friend, but if I screw up, I apologize (only when I mean it, though. It has to be sincere, whether doing the apology or accepting it); I sometimes tolerate bad behavior from others longer than I should, because I can’t stand the idea that I might have been wrong about them. When you take pride in having a reasonably sharp BS detector in human nature, it comes as a major blow to realize that you’ve been fooled. I have a very sarcastic, bitchy side if pushed too far and can be impatient. And I have the attention span of a gnat, so don’t bore me with long-winded speeches.
Cody: So no dating the
captain of the debate team for you. ;)
Gidget: My humor is very warped, as my friends would probably attest --- extra points for laughing at my sick jokes. I love the company of little kids... they say whatever's in their head and it's always interesting...or disturbing. ;-) If I'm babysitting, and they don't want to go to bed yet...that's just fine. We'll play tag in the house until they drop dead from exhaustion --- I’m a fun babysitter. :D All in all, I’d say I’m eccentric but harmless.
Cody: Any pet peeves?
Gidget: I don’t have any pets. ;)
Cody: Bah-dum-ching. Thanks, folks, bad jokes are free. J
people who hum or whistle in public. Long-winded speakers, gossip and small
talk, people who cough or talk during the movies. I didn't pay
twelve bucks to listen to you snort up phlegm. People who don't wait
until the commercial to start a conversation. Get this through your thick
skull: Any show I'm watching is likely to be a lot more interesting than you are ---
wait your turn.
Cody: Okay, one more question and then we’ll move on. Do you have any favorite expressions?
Gidget: A few, including: ”Sarcasm is an art, my dear!”
”Anything for you, honeybee!”
"I know how to be evil...
I just choose not to be."
“Stupid cattle!” (muttered in a crowded mall or anytime I’m forced to walk slowly behind a bunch of people)
”Thanks, Superman!” (in a squeaky voice)
Cody: Why TaleSpin? Why do you love it so much?
Gidget: Well, I’ve always liked animal toons. In Disney TV, I like TaleSpin the best, with Darkwing Duck a close second. Baloo is definitely a factor, being my favorite character from the Jungle Book. TJB wasn't a great movie, IMO, although beautifully animated. The storyline was a bit too loose for my liking --- but Baloo just added some magic. He's a brilliant character. I'm also a sucker for nostalgia --- old cars, clothes, anything from the 1920s-1960s. I find that kind of thing in TS fascinating, because it's such a different world from today. I like old movies, as well as other kinds. But the Cape Suzette world is a time capsule, of a sort. It’s like being transported into another world. The nostalgic 30’s-40’s atmosphere of Cape Suzette, Louie’s Place and all those exotic locales reminds me of old movies. Women wore hats and gloves and exchanged cool wisecracks with the poor sap they’ve ensnared in their web of deceit (eg: Double Indemnity). They drove cool cars with sideboards, like Roadsters. Baloo has always been my favorite (plus he has a deep sexy voice). I’d follow him anywhere.
Cody: Well, there’s no
accounting for taste. How ‘bout
Gidget: I think of Rebecca Cunningham as a challenge to Baloo's famous line from The Jungle Book line: "Forget about those...they ain't nothin' but trouble!" Well, when I was growing up, there were hardly any female cartoon characters except when the hero needed a love interest or a nagging mother or something. The classic Warner Bros. cartoons were awful for that… Mel Blanc even did the females by speaking in a weird falsetto, as if that would fool anybody. Today it’s much better --- we’ve got PowerPuff Girls, Kim Possible, practically anyone from the Batman Animated Series. Rebecca is something of a maverick in the Disney TV world --- she’s tough, no-nonsense, runs a business, keeps the Mollybeast fed and happy. She also has an appealing design for a cartoon bear --- when you compare her and say, Cindy (of Yogi Bear lore), there’s no contest. She has a pretty face and a cute, trim little figure and yes, is much better dressed. Cindy runs around practically nekked --- nothing but a skirt and a flower behind her ear --- sometimes a hat, but no top. It always bothered me that Cindy had no compunction about running around Jellystone Park topless. Becky is this weird hybrid of idealism and pragmatism --- if a profit can be made, she’ll try anything --- which makes her best episodes (truffle-hunting with a wild pig (The Bigger They Are,), learning to fly from a manual (I Only Have Ice for You) for example).
Rebecca is not afraid to speak her mind, except in front of prospective customers --- and even then she’ll tear a strip off them if they piss her off. Despite her faults, she’s a lot of fun to watch --- she’s kinetic and conniving. She’s different from the usual band of toon females in that she’s not merely a girly version of Baloo with long eyelashes and a pink bow. She has a life of her own besides fretting over the Big Guy’s silly antics and being rescued from danger. In the show, she has no interest in setting a ‘tender bear trap’ and getting him to marry her. As pro-B&B as I am, I applaud the fact that Becky’s way too busy competing with the traditionally male-dominated field of business and raising her demon spawn to bother playing the traditional damsel in distress. Also unlike her predecessors, she doesn’t nag the hero for a fur coat or play stupid games to make him jealous when there’s a ‘competitor’ in the picture (eg: Covington in Mollycoddled --- she just goes ahead and blithely dates him. I’m surprised she didn’t ask Baloo to babysit.)
Cody: When did you
become part of the TS fandom?
Gidget: April 1999. To quote every cheesy coming-of-age movie there ever was: “I never was the same after that summer…”
Cody: How long have you been
a TS fan?
Gidget: I've been a fan of TaleSpin ever since it aired in 1991. With the exception of the Plunder and Lightning pilot, the first episode I saw was either I Only Have Eyes for You or The Bigger They Are, the Louder They Oink.
Cody: What is the
definition of ‘B&B’?
Gidget: (excerpt from an essay I was working on with Lizzy… someday I’ll finish it)
Baloo and Becky --- the epitome of opposites
attract. Their mutual animosity
develops, over time, into a deep friendship built on shared experiences and
grudging respect. Despite their faults, they always come through for each
other. And that’s only scratching the
surface of why I think they would be happy together. Theirs isn’t the usual cartoon-style candy-and-flowers
mushfest. Actually, I think their
relationship is one of the few animated examples of how a real romance would
develop. They vie for power at first,
argue about money, tease each other, and gradually learn to respect each other
during the course of their adventures.
They complement each other too.
He teaches her to enjoy life and not take everything so darned
seriously. She teaches him to be
responsible for his actions. (Thanks,
Lizzy!) She also teaches him to dress for the occasion.
Cody: She teaches him to bathe.
Gidget: I don’t think the tub would hold both of
Molly: Mommy, can we have a pool?
Rebecca (to Baloo, meaningfully): Yes… let’s.
Baloo: Hot diggity! *jumps into the pool, his bulk making the water spill out* Hmmph. They’re always puttin’ too much water in these things…
Cody: LOL! Nice ‘A Goofy Movie’ ref. So, who are your favorite one-shot
characters and why?
Gidget: Hmmm… I’d have to say Katie Dodd. Katie is the best-looking character on the show, IMO and I like her nasty put-downs and resistance to being a trophy for whoever rescues her. I love the way she solved the problem of who to go out with --- Baloo or Louie --- at the end of For Whom the Bell Klangs. I also like Covington a lot --- he’s so precious, the wimpiest villain in the world. He uses his pseudo-charm and Errol Flynnish good looks to get what he wants. His dialogue is a hoot. “If only I wasn’t allergic to pain!”
Cody: *grins* That’s
one of the best villain lines ever invented.
Okay, what are your favorite episodes and why?
A Star is Torn
In the beginning, Baloo and Rebecca are leaving a fancy restaurant, obviously on some sort of ‘date’ and are just starting to move from their stormy boss-employee relationship to something else. After all the adventures they’ve been through together, bonding was inevitable. They’re proceeding with caution. Then nasty movie star Kitten Kaboodle is added to the mix --- she is the catalyst that nearly destroys the growing bond between B&B in A Star is Torn --- it’s great fun to see ol’ BaIoo fall for a pretty face, despite his mantra, “Forget about those --- they ain’t nothin’ but trouble!”
My Fair Baloo
This is the closest thing to a date that B&B go on in the series. What B&Ber could resist an adventure with gangsters that end up with our duellin’ bruins dancing in their underwear?
The Bigger They Are, the Louder They Oink
Rebecca gets it into her head that she can sell truffles (wrinkly mushrooms) at $50 a pop --- with the tracking skills of one humongous hog. Dressed in a safari outfit, she drags Baloo and Kit to the jungle to collect mushrooms, encountering a slow-witted border guard, a hungry lion and a group of pissed-off pigmies!
I Only Have Ice For You
Baloo loses his flying license for a week, so Rebecca decides to fly the missions after buying a manual entitled, “Learn to Fly in Three Easy Lessons”, complete with a learner’s license. With her at the controls, poor Baloo can only hang on and pray she doesn’t get them all killed. This is also one of the few times he isn’t a total buffoon and tries to give her advice, but she’s too stubborn to pay attention.
Cody: Didn’t you win an
award for your writing?
Gidget: It was just a fun thing we Spinners did one time --- voted on best site, art, fiction, etc. My adaption of Dev Ross’ screenplay of A Star is Torn won two awards --- Winner of Best Comedic Story and Best New Author of 1999. It was an acknowledgement --- I didn’t get a statuette or a free meal at Denny’s or anything. Still, I was very happy to know that people enjoyed it enough to vote for my labor of love.
Cody: What happened to the TS awards?
Gidget: I dunno --- I think it was a one-time thing.
Cody: Who are your favorite character besides
Gidget: Of the Elite
Eight, I’d say Shere Khan. He’s makes
evil look elegant. Actually, he’s not
exactly evil --- more amoral than immoral.
He’s not out to crush the little guy so much as just flicking him out of
the way. J
The Character pages are slowly (but constantly being updated)...voice actors are being added. Thanks to my source, the Voice Actor section of Greg's Unofficial Kit Cloudkicker Home Page.
Cody: How about your artwork? What influences your cartoony style?
Gidget: I don’t pretend to be an expert in drawing, but I appreciate many styles, especialIy looser, toonier ones, like Warner Bros., Tex Avery, Batman: The Animated Series, Disney, Nelvana (The Devil and Daniel Mouse, Rock ‘n’ Rule).
Cody: Why not draw more
Gidget: No patience. Besides, my real people look deformed, especially their hands and feet.
Cody: Do you like anime?
Gidget: Not especially. I used to enjoy Star Blazers and Robotech (good storytelling) but those glassy doll eyes give me the willies. Also, I can’t get used to the strange hair colors (blue, green, purple). I hate Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!
Cody: You seem to favor
female characters. Why is that?
Gidget: I’m just better at drawing them than males. Also, they’re more fun --- I love doing their faces and hair --- and male characters don’t offer the same variety of hairstyles that female ones do.
Cody: Would you want to work for Disney?
Gidget: Never worked for a dead guy before. Cool! ;) I used to think so, but I’ve heard horror stories of how badly animators are treated. Also, there’s no creative freedom, as former Disney animator Tim Burton could tell you. If I had the money and business savvy, I’d rather strike out on my own and have complete creative control. Who needs censors breathing down your neck? That’s partly why I never went to art school --- being told what to draw would sour the experience for me. I don’t like being judged or graded. *mutters under her breath* And I’m afraid of rejection.
Cody: Where did you learn to draw? How long have you been drawing? Have you had formal training?
Gidget: My grandmother and great-aunt (we have a lot of female artists in my family), but I didn’t really get into it until I was about nine. Some high school and adult day classes too, but I didn’t enjoy those as much. I prefer to take out library books and buy comics and learn that way. More fun, y’know?
Cody: Do you do requests?
Gidget: No. Don’t have time. It takes hours to draw a good one.
Cody (checks watch again): Do you do art exchanges?
Cody: Do you post artwork by other artists?
Gidget: Not anymore (no room), although I make the odd exception in an art exchange or if it’s especially well done and they don’t have a site. It’s a whim thing. ;)
Cody: Remember that, you
would-be artists. Butter her up and
you’ll have a much better chance of getting your pictures posted. J Will you accept pictures of Kit for your site?
Gidget: Not individual ones. If he happens to be in a group pic, fine. This is a B&B site. There are lots of Kit sites out there (see Links). I added a new stipulation in Submissions (to artists): If you have more than 20 pictures posted here, maybe you should consider creating your own art site. Sorry, but I need the space. I'm grateful for the art, but I have to set a limit or I won't have space for my own stuff. Please try to understand.
Cody: How long have you
Well, I wrote about four really bad books at thirteen and fourteen ---
on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter too --- they don’t make those
clunkers anymore! They were all about
sixty pages, but one was over one hundred.
They will never see the light of day again.
Cody: Have you ever published anything?
Gidget: No, not really… but I don’t care as much anymore… I’d rather write what I enjoy than adhere to some editor’s ‘vision’. I hate writer’s tip sheets for formula writing. I mean, there are guidelines to fanfic writing, which is very helpful. But would you really want all authors to sound exactly the same? That’s what I object to --- Harlequin books are written by a multitude of authors --- but nobody stands out as much as someone, say, Janet Evanovich (author of the Stephanie Plum mysteries). She started out writing formula romances but found success when she broke away and started her own series. In fact, lots of successful authors started out submitting short stories to magazines and pulp novels (Stephen King, Lawrence Block, to name a couple). If that’s what it takes to pay my dues, I suppose I’d give it a shot, but I wouldn’t take as much pride in the result.
you go to writing school? Do you
believe that writing well can be learned?
Or do you have to be born with it, like athletic ability? Or blue eyes?
Gidget: Yes, I do. Like art. Just don’t expect to write/draw exactly like someone else. Your own style will develop, but only if you write what you’d enjoy reading. If you don’t care what happens in the story, why should anyone else? It can’t be a chore… you have to love it enough to spend the time nurturing it.
Cody: What would you say are your strengths and
weaknesses in writing?
Gidget: Strengths… I’m a good proofreader and
speller. I have a pretty good ear for
dialogue, but that comes from watching a lot of movies, frankly. I try very hard to be entertaining, whether
it’s a fan-fic or a letter to a friend.
As for weaknesses, I’d have to say I have a tendency to overwrite. I try too hard to avoid writing ‘flat’
characters by overcompensating, giving them a ‘deep, dark secret’ to carry
around, trying to make them more realistic.
That can drag a story down, especially if it’s for a minor
character. I used to write too many
big words from my thesaurus, hoping to sound intelligent, but that just annoys
the reader. Who wants to have to look
Cody: How do you define ‘good writing’, as opposed to ‘bad writing’?
Gidget: Anything with sloppy spelling, and predictable (or just plain idiotic storylines). And don’t bore me. If I spend time with a character, I want to be entertained. I don’t care if they’re flawed, or even nasty --- if they’re fascinating people, I will follow them anywhere. That’s why Hannibal Lector is so popular.
Cody: What advice would you give an aspiring writer? Will you ever write any original stories (not related to TS)?
Gidget (stroking imaginary beard): Ah, what a question...
Cody *makes ‘speed it up’ motion*: Well?
Gidget: Okay, okay! First, the advice:
1. Learn to spell and punctuate --- this is a must. Editors won’t dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Be considerate of their feelings --- and their eyesight!
2. Read everything. Eventually you’ll discover an author you admire and try to learn his/her method. Don’t copy --- learn. This isn’t plagiarism. For example, if you’re a horror fan, you can read about how Stephen King (or whoever) got into the writing game and research how he does it. There are excellent reference books out there (for all genres) that give easy-to-understand advice to aspiring writers. They are entertaining and relevant. Use them.
3. Do it because you love it. Fame and fortune is never guaranteed, no matter how good you are.
4. Write what you’d like to read, not just what a tip sheet requests (Spielberg made movies he wanted to see, so write what you want to read).
5. Listen to people speak (pauses, inflections, accents, nuances). What is BEHIND the words? Does the facial expression belie the words? (movies are great for this).
6. If it doesn’t add to the story, get rid of it! The rest is padding. Either keep it in your notes for another time or delete it if it stinks. I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s like trying to fool your English teacher by writing your essays double spaced, in large letters. You won’t fool her or anyone else.
As for writing original stories unrelated to TaleSpin, I'm starting to dip my toes in the water. I'm writing an untitled Big Al short story, which takes place about ten years before AFTR. Nobody from the show is in it, which is on purpose. I don't want to owe everything I write to ideas germinated by the Disney company. I would like to do Joanna, as well as her contemporary counterpart, Gloria --- a character I created years ago. See below for details.
Cody: How do you feel about crossovers?
Gidget: Can’t stand them. I realize that some people like to entertain the possibilities of ‘what if Baloo and company ran into the Olsen twins, but ain’t one of ‘em. J I like stories that are plausible, or else I can’t get into it. --- just the way I am. My brain keeps tapping me on the shoulder with comments like, “How could the characters from TaleSpin meet Chip and Dale? Or the cast from Goof Troop? They exist in two totally different eras. Rescue Rangers has humans in it, the others don’t. Concepts like ‘Baloo meets The Rescue Rangers’ make my head hurt. Or Scooby Doo meets Batman and Robin (and Cher, Mama Cass, Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges). Wait a minute… they did that! Ow. Ow. Ow….
Cody: There, there. Put that thought out of your mind and let’s move on to something more interesting. When you write a Tale Spin story, do you find more creativity in letting the words flow through the keyboard? Or, do you find it more useful to create some type of outline?
Gidget: I prefer setting up a loose outline; I like to have an idea where the story is going, no matter what changes I make on the way. I used to write a story from beginning to end, hoping to surprise myself with the revelations when it came time to unmask the villain. Doesn’t work for me. I learned that you have to set up clues in strategic ways in order to get a satisfying payoff.
Cody: Ah. Like ‘seeding’, right?
Gidget: Yeah. If you don’t establish a foundation, it weakens the story’s fabric. Nothing is set in stone… I can always change something if I need to.
Cody: Why don’t you ever write stories about Kit
and Don Karnage?
Gidget: There are many other writers willing to make
the sacrifice. ;)
Cody: Well, it’s your loss. J I'm wondering one thing, will Baloo and Rebecca ever get together or not?
Gidget: Yes, but not in this story. AFTR is the first part of a saga. At first, I wasn’t going to get B&B together until part 5 or 6. I’m seriously considering speeding up the process, to maybe part 3 instead. I take my time writing, and want to do this particular project before I burn out. It’ll be done with care --- I take pride in doing things as well as possible. So they can have adventures as a married couple as well --- and go to sleep laughing at Don Karnage or whoever. J Before then, B&B will get closer and more ‘aware’ along the way. It's important to me that they don't just go, 'Wow, I love you!' and get married right away. One, it's more fun for me to write about a romance before the wedding than about them as a married couple with kids. Limits the adventure potential somehow. Two, I want them to earn each other. Their romance should be the stuff of epic adventure (like Titanic or Gone With the Wind), and fun to read about, as opposed to just meeting at a party and hitting it off, the way people do in real life. Anyway, there's lots of pictures of them in romantic poses, even if the fic hasn't caught up yet. I'm working on a wedding picture (based on a needlepoint picture I did years ago). You'll see.
Have you read Smuggler's Baloo by Herodotus on Baloo Lagoon?
It's terrific and very inclined to a B&B union. I loved it. And he's
writing a sequel. Also Susie's TaleSpin page has a few fics by
Bunny, which relate to the B&B romance.
Cody: You sure picked an interesting one-shot character for a villain in AFTR. Why him and not one of the more popular ones like Karnage or Spigot or Broadcast Sally ;)?
Gidget: I love writing Covie! He's so much fun and I end up laughing at his dialogue sometimes. It's too goofy to be believed.
Cody: Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Where did you come up with the idea for AFTR?
Gidget: For years, I used to fantasize that Rebecca wasn't just a stern businesswoman and mother, but was concealing a much more scandalous past.
Cody: Becky? Scandalous? Well, she was Khan’s mistress for a while…;).
Becky (defensively): “Hey, the money was good and so was he. How do you think I got the money to buy Higher for Hire?”
Cody: Who are the most popular of your original
characters? The least? And why?
Gidget: The most popular, I'd have to say is definitely Joanna. She's the most complex too. The least: Pearl Clambake and Strummer Haley. Pearl is a man-crazy ditz, but she has somehow evolved into a sympathetic character, which pleases me to no end. Most people can’t stand her, because she doesn’t exactly command respect.
Cody: By the way, what inspired your stories? How do you get your ideas?
Gidget: Wishful thinking, mostly. My fanfics are what I wish would happen in the series. Joanna Midway, my anti-heroine in A Fair to Remember, started out as my idea of how Rebecca might have been. I fantasized that the Boss from Hell act was just that --- an act, and that perhaps she was hiding a criminal past. My brain’s pretty fertile… the slightest sound or smell could trigger a mental picture, for example. It doesn’t take much for me to come up with ideas for a story. Or I'll read a mystery novel and learn of a novel way to kill off a character and how it gets solved. That’s where my references to forensics and police procedure come in. That stuff just fascinates me.
Cody: Who are your favorites of other people’s
Gidget: In no particular order, I’d have to say: Scarlet Karnage, Katarina Hindenfur and Cody Hawkins.
Cody: *grins* Gee, thanks. *consults list again* Joanna is a favorite original --- how did she come to be?
Gidget: The Rescuers --- major obsession that gave birth to a mutual friend of theirs --- a bitchy mouse character named Tia (named after the Kim Richards character in Escape to Witch Mountain...yes, she had powers). I drew her as a mouse, then she morphed into a bear.
Cody: It’s the Mighty
Morphin’ Power Mouse! She turns into a
bear to fight the forces of evil! Or to
eat evil people. They’re a delicacy. ;D
Gidget: Joanna's 'birth' actually stems from the late 1970s (after The Rescuers obsession), taking on different names and personas and hairstyles. In a comic I used to draw, her name was Gloria. Since she was a contemporary chick, I had to invent a 30’s version of her but changed her name when I started writing TS fics. Joanna and Gloria look alike and share a sarcastic sense of humor, but that's it --- for now.
When TaleSpin came along, I got obsessed with B&B, but as I said above, I imagined Rebecca with a secret past, that she was actually pretending to be a respectable, law-abiding businesswoman. I started reading TS fics and realized that naturally, I couldn't alter her character to suit myself in the fics, so the past I imagined for her became Joanna's past, so I invented a rival for Baloo's affection, So Joanna ended up with the dangerous past. I modified it since then, so it intertwines with the TS universe.
Cody: Joanna sure seems
like she's trying to keep them apart.
Gidget: Joanna's enjoying Baloo's company for the time being, but she's not the type to settle down... well, not with him, anyway. In future fics, their relationship will gradually change and Baloo will find out about her, say... less endearing qualities. In turn, she gets tired of his undependable ways and realizes that he’s kind of a flake sometimes. And she doesn’t share his corny sense of humor. They’re just too different to last a lifetime.
Cody: Is she evil or just misunderstood?
Gidget: Like most morally flawed characters, a little of both, I think. She was a sullen little girl, unloved by her own mother, ignored in favor of her ‘cuter’ little sister. Then life got a whole lot worse after she turned twelve, which I won’t reveal here.
Cody: You’ve obviously spent a lot of time working on her character.
Gidget: I have! She’s definitely my favorite to write about. Pearl and Big Al are also near the top of the list, because they’re so prone to screwing up their lives. I love torturing them. ;) They both like to think of themselves as irresistible to the opposite sex. Pearl’s dialogue is mostly baby talk (when cooing over her latest victim---er, crush), but she has a temper and is surprisingly strong physically. She likes to think of herself as beautiful and mysterious (hence the tight clothes and clown makeup) but blows the image the second she opens her mouth. Big Al is intimidating a bit of a chauvinist, but underneath it all, he’s just a decent, lonely guy with lousy social skills. Strummer is also fun, although he is getting more difficult to write now. I’m so mean to him that he borders on caricature, and some readers want him to have heroic moments, to get the girl or whatever.
Cody: Which of your characters is most like you?
Gidget: Oh, Joanna, for sure. We’re both loners, impatient, imaginative, sarcastic, quirky and lovably evil. We both get our feelings hurt easily. I’d like to point out, however, that ‘s where the similarity ends. She’s been around the block a few times and she’s a criminal. Me, I never even skipped class for a smoke in high school. We share the same warped sense of humor. A bit of Helen too, who is based on my beloved Australian grandmother. I miss her very much. She was fun, loving and a very talented dressmaker, artist, pianist. She had to quit school in eighth grade to work and it always bothered her. She tried to educate herself later by reading vocabulary books and anything that interested her. I think she was brilliant, because I admire people who are self-taught. She was a special lady.
Cody: That’s a really neat way to remember someone. You seem to be fairly well known in the fandom as a proofreader and give good…
Gidget: … feedback?
Cody: Yeah, that’s right. You’re even called the Queen of Feedback,
aren’t you? How did that happen? Why do you do it?
Gidget: That sort of happened by accident. After writing the adaption of A Star is Torn, people who had read it started asking me for help. I love to read and I’m a stickler for spelling and genuinely want to help their fics be the best they can be. There are a few people who don’t really need as much help and are very capable writers themselves (like Scarlet (Pirate Island) or Herodotus, for example) --- we exchange ideas and try to catch each other’s mistakes. With less experienced but enthusiastic writers, if I can help them improve, and instill an appreciation for the power of language and have them come out of the experience with pride in their work, then why not? I try to help others write better without getting in the way.
Besides, they often help me too. They might be very knowledgeable about airplanes, weaponry, history or whatever I need to make my fics more authentic. If I need to write about someone getting injured, they might be able to advise me about first aid, for example. Once I was stuck on a crucial scene in Chapter 15 of A Fair to Remember and asked several people how a roller coaster worked and learned something about the laws of physics. I still don’t know much about it, but their expertise got me through a tough writing block, and I’m very grateful.
Cody: Would you co-write a fan fic if someone asked?
Gidget: Probably not, although I might agree to proofread it if time allows. Not being much of a team player, I prefer to work alone. The exception is someone like Cody (*ahem*), whose writing style is so similar to mine that we work very well together (Episode reviews for example).
Cody: Okay, now for the question that everyone’s
dying to know: Will you finish A
Fair to Remember?
Gidget: When I have the time and energy to do it right. It takes time to construct the plot, weed out the bad stuff (yes, I write dreck too!) and make sure it’s the best I can do. Sometimes I ask close friends to check it for me --- as the author, I could easily miss a goof that jumps out at someone who isn’t working with it so closely. Trust me, it will get done. I don’t do things half way.
Cody: You have over 10,000 hits on BL. How would you explain this success?
Gidget: You know, someone asked me via email, “What made you set up a website for this show?” I just noticed that there weren't any sites that gave any special attention to what I thought was an interesting part of the show... the Baloo/Becky relationship. Most of them were about Kit or Karnage. I like them too, but I wanted a B&B site to visit, so I decided to make the kind of site that I would enjoy. People eventually started getting interested and supporting it by sending some artwork or stories. I like to create, whether it's writing or drawing, so building this site was the right thing for me. To answer your question, though, I’d have to say other contributors, quality materials, caring that whoever visits is entertained, never bored and gets something good.
Cody: Can people link to you? Will you link to them?
Gidget: Sure. Just let me know. If your site is TS-related or a similar situation, sure.
Cody: Well, I guess that's it, then. *clicks off the recorder and holds out hand expectantly* So, uh, you gonna pay me so I can blow this popsicle stand? ;P
Gidget: Wait… you’re leaving already? This was so much fun!
Cody: I’m out of tapes.
Gidget: Hey, I could buy you some. Come on, I think FutureShop is still open.
Cody: Uh… that’s okay. I think I heard my mother calling me. (shouts over her shoulder) Coming!
Gidget: I didn’t hear anything.
Cody: I did. I’ve got, uh… super-hearing.
Gidget (perks up): Oh, like the Bionic Woman? She could hear things from miles away. Did I mention that she could make a tennis ball explode by squeezing it?
Cody (edging toward the door, smiling nervously): I knew a guy who did that when he had a blister.
Gidget (reverently): Cooooool. Tell me more.
Cody (almost making it to the door): Well, gotta go. To quote Katie Dodd, thanks for an ‘interesting evening’.
Gidget: How about a spirited game of Go Fish? Or Tic-Tac-Toe? Hangman?
Cody: You know what? Forget the money. *Cody makes a break for freedom*
Gidget: I got checkers! I got Ker-Plunk! I even got Twister! *starts chasing Cody* Come baaaaaack!!!
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