Monday, January 25, 2010

Wicked Good

If you've read my bio, you know that I'm a big fan of fairy tales. Heck, if you even glanced at my website, you'll see my tagline, fairy tales with a twist, in the header. But I don't just mean the traditional Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty. I also love the classics, of which Wizard of Oz is one of them.

In elementary school, we had the whole L. Frank Baum series in our library. And I read 'em. Boy, did I read them!

And when the show would come on, once a year, it was a huge event in our house. Popcorn and pjs, sleeping bags on the floor in front of the tv, and staying up late. I was terrified of Elmira Gulch (who, sad to say, had more than a striking resemblance to my late music teacher who came to my house every Wednesday night for organ lessons), loved Glinda the Good Witch's dress, wished I was one of the ballerinas, and wanted a Toto all of my own. (Later got him, by way of a miniature poodle that Mom insisted we name Jamie. But he was THE best dog!) And let us not forget that Dorothy's real name is Judy.

So, when Mom surprised me with tickets for Wicked as an early birthday present, to say I was excited would be an understatement. I even went out and bought the book--I'd had it on my TBR list, but I've got tons of things on my TBR list. But these tickets moved that book up the list.

I started the book, knowing there were some political overtones. I didn't know much else about the story--and no spoilers here--other than it's about the witches as girls and how they became who they became. Other than that, nothing.

Once I started reading the book, I was a little less enthusiastic to see the show. It read, to me, like Orwell's Animal Farm, and I only finished that book because it was a class assignment. Thankfully, one of my writing friends told me to put the book down and read it after I saw the show. She said I would love the show.

OMG, was she right!!!

It was wonderful! Beautifully done!!! I had no idea there'd be the humor! The songs! The story! The characters! I kept saying to my mom that it was so sad that I was liking Elphaba (Wicked Witch of the West) because we know what happens to her.

Boy, was I wrong. The story was so well crafted, the actresses were unbelievable ("It's Ga-linda. With a 'Ga.'") There was no shame in knowing anything about what happens to anyone.

The coup de grace, however, and the reason my friend said she knew I'd love it: the nods to the original story.

I love "nods."

In my Mer series, and now in the Genie series, I do "nods". To many things. And they make me giggle as I hope they do to others. Judging by the reaction of the audience at Wicked, more people than just I like "nods."

Here's one that popped up in Catch of a Lifetime that still has me both giggling and rolling my eyes. I honestly have to say I didn't plan this - I was naming the shark after the city in Jersey he reminded me of: Atlantic City. Where it went from there... that's the beauty of writing.

Harry swung his tail back and forth, lining up his troops a hundred meters offshore. The sun had crept over the horizon, beginning the countdown to sunset.

Angel's time on land was limited.

Harry knew it, and he knew that Angel knew it. And he knew that she knew that he knew it.

“So how long do we have to wait here?” A.C., the most recent addition to the pack he’d recruited off the coast of New Jersey, didn’t like taking things on faith, and the bad-ass attitude was starting to piss Harry off. The kid thought he knew it all, but then, the young always did. Harry eyed the tail. For a self-titled tough guy, A.C. was short on battle scars. He’d had an entourage, which was what had caught Harry’s attention in the first place, but the shark wasn’t living up to his own press. Nah, Mr. A.C. Hammer could take that punk demeanor and stick a harpoon in it. Harry was the boss here. He called the shots, and if the kid didn’t learn to take orders, he’d be out on his tail.

“Okay, guys, here’s the plan.” Harry eyed the rest of the Hammerheads he’d assembled. Seven of the most battle-scarred, meanest bounty-hunting ’Heads he could find. “We’re going in, in sphere formation, the opening closest to shore. That’s where we’ll herd her, but no one takes a bite.”

“What in Hades is this?” A.C. added a swagger to his stroke. “I didn’t sign on to be a shepherd.”

“You’ll be whatever I say you are and like it.” Harry went snout to snout with the kid.

But the kid didn’t back down. “So if we’re not taking a bite, what are we going to do with her? She’ll start singing bloody murder, and we’ll end up with a feeding frenzy around us.”

“You only get a feeding frenzy if you actually bite her, punk.” Harry considered shredding the kid just to make a point to the others, but he’d recruited lean and couldn’t afford to lose one member of the formation. Angel, for all her Human studies, was one smart Mer when it came to tactical maneuvers. All the Tritones were. Their father, Fisher, had seen to it. Probably for just this reason. Sharks weren’t known for taking direction well from Mers. Especially when the members of The Oceanic Council didn’t give them one ounce of say in governing the oceans. Not even a seat on The Council. Even after Vincent had saved the day all those selinos ago—much as it pained Harry to admit it, he’d thought The Council would recognize the rights of chondrichthyes. But no.

“So what are we supposed to do with her?” Gianni, another recruit, asked.

Great. Just what he needed. A mutiny of the bounty hunters.

“She’s our ticket in. The Council will realize we mean business.”

“So we’re not going to eat her?” Lou, a hunter lured out of retirement by the promise of a royal target, started frothing at the mouth—never a good sign. “Then why did you trawl me along, Har? This is bullsharkshit.”

Okay, so maybe Harry hadn’t exactly explained what this job would entail. But, dammit, he’d needed the best, and Lou was it. Too bad Lou had settled down to raise little ’Heads. But that’s what you did when you landed a trophy wife apparently.

Harry couldn’t see it. Lou’s mate had more air between her eyes than water, but, hey, to each his own.

“Look, we can eat her, just not right off the beach. Give me some bargaining power, and if The Council doesn’t cave, you each get a bite. But if we turn her into chum right away, we lose any hope of negotiation and will put ourselves on the endangered list. Fisher will be back in the hot seat and rally his troops out in full force, so let’s not do anything rash.”

“Rash?” A.C. rolled his eyes. “Rash was following you off on this wild grouper chase. I’m outta here.”

Harry flicked his tail, propelling himself in front of the deserter. He inhaled enough water to inflate his gills to three times their normal size. He could do intimidating better than any punk kid.

“You aren’t going anywhere. You signed on for this, and you’ll finish it.” Harry grinned, all of his teeth gleaming white. He knew because he’d paid those Spanish hogfish to do an extra good job. Intimidation could work wonders in a showdown. He wasn’t about to get beat by this piece of floating garbage.

“Before this is over, The Council will acknowledge us. They will hear us out, and they will pay attention.” He stared A.C. back into the lineup. “It’s time we sharks got what we deserve.”


So, who else does "nods" that you can think of? (Funny, on any other day, I could name a good 10 people; the day I have to write this blog, I can't come up with one!)


  1. Sorry Judi, it's too early in the morning to think, coffee hasn't kicked in. I'll try to come up with someone or two by the end of the day.

  2. Mutiny of the bounty hunters! LOLOLOLOL

    I too love nods. Men In Black is full of witty visual and musical nods to other sic-fi movies. They make me laugh every time I watch it.

  3. I think there's at least one Star Wars or Star Trek "nod" in every one of my books, and I love finding new ways to slip them in there. Whether they're subtle or blatant, they add to the fun!
    My favorite nod to Star Wars was in The Pirate Movie when the hero's sword turns into a light saber and Obi Wan's voice urges him to use the Force.
    Then, of course, there's every Mel Brooks movie ever made...

  4. Hi Judi!

    Fun post! I think my favoirte is Robinhood Men in Tights (men in tight tights! lol) Love it!

    Another is Shrek and all its sequels. There are so many "nods" to other movies. It is definitely one kid's movie I don't mind watching over and over! :)

  5. A lot of funny commercials give nods to movies or TV shows or pop culture. The good ones make us seem like we're in on the joke.

  6. SHREK! That's the one!! God, I love that movie! And Mel Brooks is hysterical - History of the World Part I (I sooooooo wish he'd make a Part II)... love that one. Young Frankenstein... The list goes on. And yes, Cheryl, all the Star Wars references - I did that in In Over Her Head. Ernie the pelican tells Reel, "May the forecast be with you." Giggled myself silly with that one.

    Glad you liked that one, MM. Me too.

    Ah, Sarah, yes, Men in Tights. Another Brooks masterpiece.

    Shana, I know. I just can't think of any at the moment, but I do love those. I have a friend who doesn't let her kids watch any tv at all, including Sesame Street when they were younger and I always wonder how they're going to do on pop culture references. Granted, you can live your life without getting the joke, but why? LOL

  7. "...mutiny of the bounty hunters." LOL! I spit coffee all over my keyboard with that one! I just love 'nods' in books and movies, and I'll be looking for Cheryl's Star Trek/Wars references as well!

    I love to watch Mel Brookes back-to-back with the movies he's parodying. Star Wars immediately followed by Space Balls. The original Frankenstein then Young Frankenstein. Vertigo followed by High Anxiety. And the all time BEST matchup, Robin Hood followed by Robin Hood-Men In Tights.

    Judi, I know you also drop nods to lesser known people and things in your work, and it always gives me a smile to read them!

  8. I have lots of nods but names right now? Same here, not enough coffee.

    One of my favorite books was Fairy Tales Around the World.

  9. Brain in gear. Da Boyz in Supernatural.

  10. Galaxy Quest is my all time favorite with its references to Star Trek. The guy who complains because the captain always gets to take off HIS shirt in the show. And the other guy who doesn't have a last name, and anyone without a last name in a story ends up dying. Just too many cute references. :)

  11. Yep, Kat, that I do. (Gee, anyone we know??)

    Linda, surprisingly I don't watch that show. Odd, I know. But tv is very limited these days.

    Terry - I LOVE Galaxy Quest. Sadly, my kids don't get the humor like Hubs and I do. Someday...

  12. Hi Judi,
    I'm still trying to get past your enjoyment of Wicked! Never read the book but it wasn't my favorite Broadway Play. I'm sure it's just me because my daughter saw it in NYC this past December and loved it. For me, there are just some things you don't mess with and the Wizard of OZ and Gone With the Wind are two of them for me. Never liked the sequal to GWTW either. Hey maybe I could write a blog about that!

  13. Gotta say that I'm in the Galaxy Quest camp. Absolutely hysterical.

  14. Amelia,

    What I loved about it was, first, the storyline. Without giving anything away, I LOVED the ending. It really made the whole show for me.

    And the part of Ga-linda was so utterly hysterical! The humor was right up my alley.

    And then there was the incorporation of the Wizard story that we knew, as it was happening in the background of the show. I thought that was really clever.

    Hi VA!

  15. Judi--loved both Wicked the book and the musical! The book is very different and it has a darker tone that one might not expect. Mama Jackson LOVES Wicked, too. It's one book that even if you don't like it, she'll convince you otherwise. :) She's an evangelist for it!

    There's a book that came out a few years ago called "Special Topics in Calamity Physics," by a very young, very clever (almost too clever) new author named Marissa Pessl. She nods at everyone from Ovid to Shakespeare to Ken Kesey--and that's just in the table of contents!

  16. I loved Galaxy Quest, cracked me up. I also love Men in Black for their one liners and *nods*, Shrek for sure.

    Judi, we used to make a big production out of watching Oz once a year too. Lots of popcorn and mom made us our favorite Kool-aide. One year Dad set the TV up outside on the porch and in the dark--pretty cool.

  17. OK people, help me out...Galaxy Quest?

  18. Jessica - you HAVE to rent it! Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver. They're the stars of a television show (a la Star Trek) and aliens think it's real. OMG, you have to see it!

  19. Will check back in the am.

    Talk amongst yourselves. :)

  20. We watched Moon last night on DVD - many nods to many familiar movies. Loved it.

  21. Hmm, Judi, I may be beyond just a nod. :} My Unfair Lady was an emphatic nod to the movie, My Fair Lady, and my new elven series is a sultry, sexy nod to Legolas in Lord of the Rings. :}