I love having this blog where Eric and I can take you behind the scenes for a little peek into the inspiration for our books. We must be careful, however, not to reveal too much and give out any spoilers! We don't want to ruin any of the surprises.
With that in mind, one of my favorite minor characters whom you'll meet in RISE OF ALLIES, Part I, is Constanzio, King of the Tenors! It is actually very rare that we would take inspiration directly from a real person, but when I saw this classic clip of the late, great Luciano Pavarotti, I knew we had our opera ghost.
Since the arts play such a prominent role in this book, it seemed like the perfect chance to pay a humble fictional tribute to one of the greatest musical artists of the last century. Enjoy this brief clip of the larger-than-life Pavarotti ~ or maybe, like Jake, you're just seeing a ghost!
Amazing voice aside, I love his crazy facial expressions and contagious smile. I can see why millions around the world hailed Pavarotti as the rightful owner of the title, king of the tenors! But did you know that Pavarotti was actually an elementary school teacher for two years before becoming a worldwide star? Can you imagine having him as a teacher?? Now that would be a fun day at school!
La Donna e Mobile ~ from "Rigoletto" (1851) by Guiseppi Verdi
Everybody's heard this classical song in commercials, but what does it mean? Now you know!
(Translation from www.classicalmusic.about.com)
To watch an excellent mini-biography video of Luciano Pavarotti, click here.
Looks like "G" when she's trying to help me with yard work. Sometimes it's easier to just do it myself, ha ha.
G: Hey! I heard that. :P
So there you have it! That's how the Victorians kept, well...sort of, warm.
Did you see this amazing tribute to this week's 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address? These guys are amazing! Enjoy. :)
Hello, gang! Well, earlier we had mentioned we'd chat a little about some of what was real versus pure fantasy in JAKE AND THE GIANT. I'm guessing you already know which category Professor Higgins's Rosetta Stone Babble-Gum falls under. *gg* But guess what?
Many of the inventions and inventors Jake and company encounter at the Invention Convention were actually real. Thomas Edison's first phonograph. The earliest prototype of moving pictures. Dr. Schliemann's discovery of the the city of Troy (really!) and the golden Mask of Agamemnon. All real.
Newly discovered dinosaurs, Egyptian mummies. Also real was Sir Francis Galton, the cold-eyed man who invented the dog whistle and later became known as the father of eugenics. Don't even get me started on that one.
One of the other real things we discussed in a previous post was the discovery of the Tune ship, an ancient Viking vessel, on the shores of the Oslo Fjord in 1867. This discovery was the real-history model for our Professor Langsund and Miss Astrid's Viking ship - including the little ship museum they house it in right on the college campus.
But here's a brain teaser for you. Bet you thought we made up Archie's Super Sub-Compact Camera, right? It sounds made up, but it was actually real! Check this out.
Photography had really come of age by the Victorian period. Scientists had worked out a lot of the physical and chemical shortfalls of earlier models. Cameras, not unlike early computers, used to be the size of rooms. So, for Archie, the boy genius and inventor extraordinaire, it wasn't a big stretch for us to give him a camera. But were the Victorian cameras so sophisticated and small or were we taking some steampunk liberties with our creativity?
Well, you might be surprised to know, that mid to late Victorians had perfected the camera to such a degree that hand held versions were readily available. Archie could have easily fit a collapsable camera into his toolbag or satchel. It was just a few inches across. Pretty neat, huh?
I know we found it surprising because you usually picture Victorian photographers with huge clunky cameras on tripods that can't easily be moved and make you sit there for five minutes without smiling before it goes off - you know, where the photographer went and ducked under a cloth and then there'd be a big blinding puff of the flash going off. But that sort of camera was from previous decades. Innovation was moving fast.
Cameras became widely used by detectives who would conceal them in a pocket watch, a walking stick, behind a shirt button, or even in a hat. Cameras for the first time in history, became important tools in crime solving. Enter Sherlock Holmes...
Of course, as often is the case, people will always figure out a BAD way to use new technology. Since almost anyone with the means could purchase a camera, it was the first time in history that creepsters could run around snapping photographs of famous people or ordinary people for that matter whenever or wherever they wanted. It's just like the photographs in those rag magazines at the grocery checkout where people are caught in embarresing situations. Like this guy who was caught with his head off. They used to call these loons, "Kodakers lying in wait." Now we call them paparazzi. Some things never change, Eh?