Chapter 1 Up and Down the Rabbit Hole (Draft)

Harold the White Rabbit was dreaming.  This was, no doubt, due to all the things he had to do today.  There were summons to issue to the Hatter and the Duchess’s cook.  And the croquet game, to say nothing of the actual Trial of the Knave of Hearts.  And what of this summons for Alice?  He was to issue  a summons to an Alice, but he had no idea what an Alice was.  He was dreaming of the court room, when suddenly all the cards burst up in a flurry in his face.  He awoke to find his wife Ruthie brushing some leaves away that had blown in the window of their “neat little house.”

“Time to get up, dear” said Ruthie “you know you have a lot to do today and I shall be off to my mother’s for Un-Mother’s day. Remember Mary Ann has the day off.”

Harold dressed quickly.  He put on the waistcoat that his mother had given him last Christmas.  And put the pocket-watch his father had carried every day of his adult life into the pocket.  He didn’t care for the watch, but his mother would expect him to have it.  He preferred his own wristwatch.

“No time for breakfast” he said.  “I hope Mum will have prepared tea.” As he left the bedroom, he paused for a moment, tapping his paw as he thought. The first decision of the day was an important one but he had no time to ponder.  To get to his mother’s,  he must get across the river and that meant either heading the long way round toward Holland and taking the tunnel.  Or going up his rabbit hole, across the drawbridge, and then down the other rabbit hole leading to the hall of many doors.  Going the shorter way was fraught with danger, as he would be above ground and who knew what might happen, while exposed up there?  But it was getting late, and he felt that he had no choice, and so quick as his old paws would carry him he started toward the hole.

Once above ground, he bounded as fast as he could toward the bridge. Drat, it was up.  This would cause a further delay, and he hid timidly in the bushes beside the bank.  He could retrace his steps and go the other way but that would just make even him later, and so he waited.  There was little activity along the river and once the bridge went back down he was on it in an instant.  Suddenly there was a burst of traffic in both directions and Harold had to jump from side to side to dodge the oncoming vehicles and those coming from behind him.  Finally he reached the opposite side and he ran along the bank toward the other hole.

Along the way he passed by two girls sitting on the bank, one was reading and the other seemed to be dozing, and they looked, to him very much like sisters. As he passed them, he said out loud,  “Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be late!” and took his pocket-watch out of his waistcoat pocket, checked the time and carefully put it back in his pocket so as not to lose it and ran to the rabbit hole at top speed.  He looked over his shoulder and noticed that one of the girls, the smaller one, was following him.  Oh, dear, oh no, he thought, not a good sign, no not at all, I hope she won’t follow me down the hole. Oh my, I shouldn’t have come this way.

To make matters worse, Harold noticed that he had started to change. At the top of each hop, he felt a tingling sensation and looking down he realized that his clothes were changing and probably his appearance also. This often happened when he was above ground. “Who knows what I will look like when I get back down,” he thought. “I hope I don’t end up in some outrageous costume or with an appearance that will scare mother!”

He scurried under the hedge and stood at the entrance of the hole. He continued into the tunnel, and as he approached the dip he took a deep breath and jumped nervously into the well-like opening.  He had always hated this fall, it seemed so long.  But there was no shorter way to his mother’s.

At first Harold stiffly held his arms close to his side and as he got used to the fall he relaxed a little.  Then he started to tap his toes.  He often did this when waiting or thinking, it helped to pass the time.  But as he was falling through the air, his toes had nothing to tap against, and it was quite unsatisfying simply having them wiggle about.  As the fall seemed to never end, he tried a back flip, then a front flip.  Finally he pantomimed three full body twists, as if he were a diver heading for the pool.  At last he straightened out again, feeling as young as a bunny.

As he fell, he noticed a map of the southern hemisphere on the wall.  “That wasn’t here the last time I came down,” he thought, “it must have been put there by cousin George.”  George had been to New Zealand, and whenever Harold talked to him, he always thought that it was Tomorrow!  And that Harold was living in Yesterday.  “I prefer to live in Today,” thought Harold but he decided that he would have to consult with the Hatter, who always seemed to be in good standing with Time, to see if he knew when it was when.

He wondered how long he had been falling.  He had meant to time this fall sometime so that he could anticipate the landing and then reaching the bottom wouldn’t be so startling. However, unlike his wristwatch, his father’s pocket watch did not have a stopwatch and anyway he did not want to be holding the watch when he landed. Were he to break it he would be forever after so embarrassed when his mother asked about it. So he would just have to land whenever it was that he landed, and be startled as usual.

Just then he noticed a bottle labeled “DRINK ME in one of the cupboards along the wall. He snatched it, thinking it could be useful later, especially if the girl really was following him.  Likewise, when he saw a glass box with a cake decorated by the words “EAT ME” written in currents pressed into the icing, he took that along as well.

He felt that he was nearing the bottom and so he peered up the well, but it was complete darkness overhead.  Besides he wouldn’t have seen much even in the light without his spectacles.  However he thought he heard a faint voice above speaking about cats and bats or something like that.  Not good, he thought, not good at all.

At last, the White Rabbit landed softly on the pile of leaves at the bottom of the well, checked his pocket watch again nervously and quickly bounded down the long passage mumbling to himself, “Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it is getting.” Suddenly he realized that the girl was still following him and he scurried into the long, dark, low hall and hid from her behind the curtain.  The girl entered the hall without noticing him and he thought silently to himself, “Oh this is going to be trouble, what shall I do?” While she was busy trying the doors, he snuck quietly back into the long passage and luckily she was too preoccupied  to notice him. He observed her as she discovered the golden key and then the location of his previous hiding place behind the curtain. He thought, oh my, I can see I moved back to the passage just in the nick of time. She is awfully tall, isn’t she? I shall place this little bottle on the table and maybe she will drink it, shrink to a reasonable size and then perhaps she won’t be quite so frightening.

As the girl was engaged in opening the little door, he bounded to the three-legged table.  Jumping up, he held on its edge as it wobbled but it did not fall. He hoisted himself to the surface and left the bottle on the top, jumping carefully down so that the table would not move.  He hid again in the entry corridor, peeping out in the direction of the hall from time to time. He noticed that she had left the little door unlocked and open.  “That won’t do!” he said to himself (He always closed and locked doors behind him.) “The mouse, or some other unsavory creature will get in if it’s left open like that.”  Timidly he watched her return to the table and consider whether or not she should drink from the bottle labeled “DRINK ME.“ As he had hoped she would, she does follow the “DRINK ME” instructions.  Quickly, while she was drinking, he returned to the little door and closed and locked it (he had his own key), and then stealthily he scampered back to the corridor without being seen. He witnessed the girl growing smaller and smaller. Then after a time, she went back to try the door. “Oh my she forgot the key, not very clever is she? Luckily I brought the cake too,” he says to himself. With this, apprehensively he made as mad a dash as his age would allow for the table and left the little glass box with the cake inside beneath it.  Cautiously he returned to the long passage to wait for the right moment to sneak out by way of the little door behind the curtain.

As he waited he thought, “I am late, terribly, terribly late. And there are very few things in this world that make a fussy rabbit such as myself, more upset than being late. Except, of course, being chased by a wild and not very clever little girl.” Finally, the moment he had been waiting for arrived.  By the sound of sobs, he was certain that little girl was so busy drowning in her own tears or was that “crying me a river?” that she would never notice him. He raced to the little door, opened it and bounded through, carefully closing and locking it behind him.

Finally he thought he was rid of this annoying intruder, and he happily continued in the direction of his mother’s house.  But not too happily, as he was already late and his mother would be sure to remind him of this, and with the many things he had to do today it did not seem to him that things were going very well at all.

Copyright © 2014 Walrus & Carpenter Productions LLC

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Rabbitwinks First Animation: Down the Rabbit Hole

In Alice’s Adventures, Alice follows the White Rabbit and falls down his hole.  This fall takes quite a while and Alice spends her time looking around and then daydreaming. Here is part of the animation from Alicewinks on YouTube.

But what about Harold? It’s his hole, how does he pass the time during the long fall? Here is our notion.

Here are a couple of links to the same thing but not youtube.

Rabbit falls on Vimeo

Rabbit falling QuickTime mov

Directed by Laura Scholl, animated by Brittney Owens, based on imagery by W.H Walker and Margaret Tarrant. Story by myself, William McQueen and Laura. Co-produced by myself and Laura.

Copyright © 2014 Walrus & Carpenter Productions LLC

Timelessness of Alice in Wonderland

One of my favorite things about AAiW is that it is not grounded in any particular time. There are very few trappings that would suggest a particular era. The rabbit carries a pocket watch, there is a wheelbarrow at his house. But mostly things are just people and tea and croquet and the seashore. The royalty is a bit anachronistic, but then it is anachronistic in reality too.

This is harder to capture today. Why doesn’t he have an iPhone? Or at least a kindle reader?

In our original draft of chapter 1, we will talk about a wristwatch instead of a pocket watch. And then just as we finish, Apple will probably come out with the iWatch.

So, what things are timeless? Especially in this age of flash-in-the pan technology?

How we are writing Rabbitwinks

wrwBoard01
We have been “writing” mostly by talking.  Dave and William get together with a whiteboard and map out a scene, usually with AW=Alicewinks (Alice’s path) on one side and RW=Rabbitwinks (Rabbit’s path) on the other. We also show where they intersect, that is where both Alice and Harold are in the same scene. At right is an example. Then we start talking about the scene while recording the conversation. We come up with the dialog in this way. We may modify the diagram as we go along. At the end of the session we take a photo of the whiteboard as an aid in the transcription process.

At first, we would try to each take a different character, but it so often happened that each of us would come up with better lines for the other character than for our own. So we abandoned trying to be “in character” and just spouted lines, as in “The hatter would say ‘blah’ here.”

Laura was not in the same physical place as us (she was in California, later Kansas while we were in Colorado.) So Dave would transcribe the best parts of the dialog along with the scene descriptions. Laura would take Dave’s turgid prose (kind of like what you are reading right now) and turn it into something halfway readable. Then we would iterate on that.

At the end of this process we have a draft of a chapter. We will be uploading such drafts here for comment. At the same time, Brittney Laura and eventually Dave (when he returns from a sojourn to New Zealand) will be working the animations, perhaps revising the story as well. We will probably need some additional illustrations to work from, as we come up with characters and scenery not in the original Alice story. Anybody interested in helping out with illustrations?

When the dialog is finalized, William will record it, finding other voices as appropriate. And the final step will be syncing the voices with the animation.

Rabbitwinks backstory

We started thinking about Rabbitwinks in June of 2013. Alicewinks had finally been accepted by iTunes as an iBook and we had our marketing started so the logical next step was a sequel. William had noticed that Grace Slick, who boomers like us will remember for writing and performing the song “White Rabbit” with the Jefferson Airplane in 1967, had turned to painting and many of her pictures had an Alice or Rabbit theme. We thought that mixing her modern art work, music and our classic images into a new but companion story to Alice was a great idea.

We produced a demo animation, with a jazz piano riff on “White Rabbit” done by our friend Doug Riecken, and with Brittney Owens animating Ms. Slick’s painting “1965”; which shows the rabbit at the piano, with sheet music of the song. (Unfortunately, since we don’t have her permission, you will not be able to see it—we’re not GoldieBlox are we?) We sent a “term sheet” to her agent outlining the idea. After a few discussions, it became clear that the amount of money required upfront was not in our budget, so we abandoned the idea of using that material, but not the Rabbitwinks idea.

Rabbit at piano
So, we redid that animation with our existing imagery with a photo of a vintage piano photoshopped to look like an illustration. The piano music is by Lucy Broadwood from 1922 (used in Alicewinks as well.) That animation will be posted here shortly, once it is a little more polished. Here is a still.

The current team of Laura Scholl as director, with Dave Neal, William McQueen and Laura writers and Brittney Owens as lead animator was put together in September. Dave and Laura are co-producers. In parallel, we were working the marketing plan for Alicewinks with Silicon Alley Media (Alexandra Levy and Mark Barker). The marketing execution turned out to take up most of our time and resources, including those of Colleen Finley who watches our facebook, pinterest, etc. Laura and Brittney redid the web site and we all focused on getting the Alicewinks story out for the holiday season. (Alicewinks was named a “best of 2013” by Kirkus Reviews and was a finalist for a 2014 Digital Book Award.)

So, with the holidays over, we are back to concentrating on the development of Rabbitwinks.

Rabbitwinks – The Biopic of the Myopic White Rabbit

Alice’s Adventures from the White Rabbit’s point of view

An eBook or a story book app currently in development.

Story by David Neal & William McQueen & Laura Scholl (& you?)

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we read the story of Alice as she follows the White Rabbit down his hole and then encounters the many inhabitants of Wonderland. The White Rabbit appears at several points in Alice’s story, but what is he doing the rest of the time? That is what Rabbitwinks will explore.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

The White Rabbit lives in Wonderland as do the other characters. They know each other or at least know of each other, but Alice is a mystery, an outsider.

As Harold (the name we have given to WR) encounters the other characters there are two possible scenarios, i.e. either that character has already seen and spoken with Alice or they haven’t. The scene will be somewhat different in the two cases, but there are also the individual character’s other interests, such as the Hatter’s interest in time and watches, the Mouse’s fascination with his own tail/tale, and so on.

We may do the story-line both ways and allow the reader to do a “Choose Your path” through the story. That will entail almost twice as much work (or more if it requires an app to accomplish) so it will depend on the time and resources available. We may start with a single narrative line and add the other choices in a sequel or “release 2” version.

Alice is doing things that upset the status quo in Wonderland, such as crying the pool of tears and questioning the powers that be. She also changes size (and maybe other attributes, such as appearance and dress, which is based on the artist’s interpretation that we use in a particular scene.) The characters will be reacting to these things.

Harold is near-sighted. He is almost blind without his glasses. In addition he is “short sighted” in a figurative sense, that is to say, he does not always think through the consequences of his actions and speech.  “Burn the house down” (his own house) he is heard to say, for example in AAiW.

Another point is that we are not going to change Alice’s story. So when the WR and Alice are in the same scene, the dialog will be exactly as it is in AAiW. However, the reactions will be those of the WR rather than those of Alice.

Copyright 2014 Walrus & Carpenter Productions LLC

Character sketch of the White Rabbit

In his article “Alice on the Stage,” Carroll wrote: “And the White Rabbit, what of him? Was he framed on the “Alice” lines, or meant as a contrast? As a contrast, distinctly. For her ‘youth,’ ‘audacity,’ ‘vigour,’ and ‘swift directness of purpose,’ read ‘elderly,’ ‘timid,’ ‘feeble,’ and ‘nervously shilly-shallying,’ and you will get something of what I meant him to be. I think the White Rabbit should wear spectacles. I’m sure his voice should quaver, and his knees quiver, and his whole air suggest a total inability to say ‘Boo’ to a goose!”

Wikipedia puts it this way: “Overall, the White Rabbit seems to shift back and forth between pompous behavior toward his underlings, such as his servants, and grovelling, obsequious behavior toward his superiors, such as the Duchess and King and Queen of Hearts.” For example, in Chapter 4 of AAiW the White Rabbit says to Pat, the gardener: “Do as I tell you, you coward!” and “‘Digging for apples, indeed!’ said the Rabbit angrily.” Whereas in Chapter 12 he says to the king: “‘UNimportant, your Majesty means, of course,’ he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.”

So, the White Rabbit is oldish (middle aged?), and changes between haughty and grudgingly fawning. He is near-sighted (hence the spectacles) and basically cannot see anything at even a short distance. He is indeed “myopic” both literally and figuratively.

As to the rabbit’s name, we have chosen to call him “Harold.” Most of the animal characters in AAiW are not named explicitly, being called what they are: Mouse, Lory, March Hare, etc. Bill the Lizard and Pat the gardner are exceptions to this “rule.” The White Rabbit is not given any other name by Lewis Carroll. The King refers to him as “Herald” when commanding him to call the first witness, so we have jumped on the name as a pun.