Sunday, January 26, 2020

Bat signals out west

From January 21-24, 2020, I spoke at five schools in California, two in Los Angeles and three in Bakersfield (my first time).

The schools got into the bat-spirit. I didn't document every banner but here are two (which have similar color schemes):

 Curtis School, Los Angeles

Veterans Elementary, Bakersfield

Thank you to all the Cali schools who kindly hosted me. I had a wonderful time despite the unavoidable traffic.

Fun fact: Bakersfield is where Sherrie Swafford, she of the Steve Perry song "Oh Sherrie," lives. We had plans to meet; it didn't work out this go-round but I think I'll be back in Bakersfield before long and we're both determined to make it happen then.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

"Back to the Future" houses

From mid-1997 to late-1999, I lived in Los Angeles, but did not visit (or even think to visit) any of the sites that appear in my favorite movie, Back to the Future.

On 1/21/20, I finally did seek out two particularly iconic locales from the film: the houses of Marty McFly and "Doc" Emmett Brown.

Marty's house is at 9303 Roslyndale Avenue in Arleta/Pacoima (I don't know why the name of the city alternates depending on the site). It does not look that different from 1985.

Doc's house is at 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena; this house is an architectural landmark that was famous before the film.

From this angle, you can see the garage where Doc built the 
not-to-scale/not-painted model of Hill Valley to demonstrate 
how they were going to send Marty back to the future. 
You can also see a historical plaque that 
does not mention Back to the Future.

Other sites I considered swinging by ended up being too far (Marty's high school, in Whittier, CA) or not real (the stone structures marking the entrance to Lyons Estates).

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...well, yeah, I did. And though I didn't get there in a DeLorean, it was indeed a wild trip back in time.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Before you "up, up, and away" at Cleveland Airport...

The two positives of a mechanical issue that forced my Ohio connecting flight to deplane:

1) lives possibly saved
2) finally getting to see the "Superman is from Cleveland" exhibit in baggage claim (installed in 2012, which was after my last trip here, in 2010)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Novels about the Cottingley fairies and Nobuo Fujita

In 2018, two nonfiction picture books I wrote were published, Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real and Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot's World War II Story.

I recently read two novels inspired, respectively, by those two true stories (the actual stories, not my versions of them):

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (2017) was inspired by the Cottingley fairies incident, which started in 1917 in Yorkshire, England and maintained an air of wistful intrigue until a new revelation in the 1980s (and, to some, even still). 

The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan (2015) was inspired by Japanese naval pilot Nobuo Fujita's historic bombing of Oregon in 1942 (and the unexpected and touching relationship that developed after).

These two true stories have almost nothing in common other than the fact that I have written about both (well, and that both feature figures who fly).

Yet interestingly at least to me, the novels echo each other in multiple ways. 

Both alternate between the historical story and a present-day story that has a teased-out connection to it. 

The historical stories-within-a-story are told via similar devices: in Secret, an unpublished memoir; in Hummingbird, an unpublished (and possibly discredited) nonfiction manuscript.

Both take certain liberties with the nonfiction aspects, and must, understandably, include dialogue and thoughts that are imagined, if based on extensive research.

In both, themes from the past (of course) have impact on the main characters in the present.

In both, the main character of the contemporary segments is female, and her struggles involve love.

Of smaller significance, both novels are published by the HarperCollins imprint William Morrow. 

Of no significance, I'm not formally reviewing either here but will say that if you're interested in either real-life component, the corresponding novel is worth reading.