Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pellistair - Chapters 4 & 5

Chapter Four

Fedore strode down the street. This was not good. He had assumed, they had all assumed, that the space ship had been wrecked in the crash. They wouldn’t be happy to find out they were wrong.

Something would have to be done. But what, he mused as he turned the corner into a back street. They had lost touch with their agent inside the Bureau years ago, and all information about crashes was kept secret. Most of the crashes weren’t even known about by the public.

He shook his head. Those at the Bureau knew what they were doing, and they would make a difficult adversary.

He arrived at a door, so covered in grunge it was hard to tell apart from the wall. He pushed it open with some difficulty, the hinges screeching in protest.

“We really must change those hinges” a lazy female voice said from inside.

“Do you want to pay for someone to come change them? And do you want people to see where we’re hiding, and go tell other people where we are?” A high energy voice near the ceiling said in reply.

“The hinges don’t matter right now” Fedore said, stepping inside a small room. There was a flight of stairs leading up into the darkness in the back of the room, and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The floor was covered in old tattered blue carpet, and the walls were hung with faded red wallpaper. “There are more important things to worry about.”

“You mammals worry and rush around too much. It makes me tired just watching you” the female voice said. Fedore turned to see a lady ghila monster laying on a couch in the corner. Her eyes were half closed.
“Maybe we do, Ellora” Fedore replied. “But this really is important”

“Important. Pha” Ellora said, yawning. “Nothing important ever happens, not here on Pellistair. Everyone makes sure of that” she finished sarcastically.

“Let him talk, Ellora. Fedore doesn’t make needless fusses” a quiet voice said. The two of them turned to see a gray panther standing on the landing of the stairs.

“The spaceship wasn’t destroyed in the crash, contrary to what we were lead to believe” Fedore said.

Ellora hissed out angrily, “The Bereau deliberately deceived the public, so we wouldn’t know. They know we’d make trouble if we found out.”

“How did you find out, Fedore?” the panther asked.

“I talked to the girl who crashed” Fedore said.

Ellora looked at him with shock. “I thought the two of them were going to be supervised at all times” she said, looking surprised.

“That’s what I’d heard, too, but there was no one with her in the inn” Fedore said.

“This will take some looking into” the panther said, looking grim. “Habliz! Can you get into the mechanic lab in the Bereau?”

An albino monkey wearing a rubber trench coat and boots dropped from the chandelier, where he had been sitting. “I can try” he said, “but it’ll be hard. They’re very careful about who they hire, and you know how unpopular I am among employers”

“Just try, that’s all I can ask” the panther said. “Fedore, you try to get more information. Ellora, try to get in touch with all our contacts in the city. Try to see if they have any useful information.”

“What will you be doing?” Ellora asked, stretching lazily and getting up off her couch.
“I have something to go look up” the panther said, turning around and going back up the stairs.

“I wonder what” Ellora mused, pulling on a pair of black boots.
“Sometimes I think he keeps more secrets than are good for him.”

“Well, I don’t want to know them. Who knows what sorts of trouble he’s been in, in the past.” Habliz said, heading towards the door. “Besides, I’ve got other things to worry about.”

The door shut behind him. “He’s really nervous about this, isn’t he?” Ellora said.

“Well, you know what happened at his last job” Fedore said quietly.

“Yes,” Ellora said, growing serious. “I hope it doesn’t happen again”

“I hope so, too” Fedore said, sighing and going up the stairs.

“What are you doing?” Ellora said. “I thought you were supposed to go get more information.”

“I will, later” Fedore called down. “There’s something I need to go look at, first”

Ellora shook her head, all alone in the downstairs room. “So many secrets. Do any of us really know the others? And will these secrets get us into trouble?” She mused, sighing.

Maria stared around the street outside the inn in fascination. There were all sorts of animals all over the place, yelling and talking and gossiping. Stalls selling everything imaginable, and some things unimaginable, lined the street. She saw a stall selling flowers of colors she’d never seen, a stall selling what looked like giant earrings, for those with bigger ears, a stall selling scale die kits, and many more things that she couldn’t figure out what they were for.

Ishka had to drag both Robert and Maria through the street. Neither of them noticed where they were going, they were so busy looking. Ishka was too worried about their meeting with the Bureau to be interested, although this was her first visit to the capital. She hoped neither of them had said anything they weren’t supposed to in the inn, while she had been away. The problem was, she had no idea what they were supposed not to say. The Bureau had not been very forthcoming on that.

Robert was enthralled by all the smells. He could smell the pungent smell of dies for clothes, scales, fur and anything else you could think of, numerous strange flower smells, the smell of every street vendor with exotic food, even the unusual smell of the paving stones. He couldn’t believe that the people lived here with all these smells, all the time. It was overwhelming, but at the same time, intoxicating. I wouldn’t mind staying a lizard for a while more, if it means still being able to experience this, he thought, tasting the air.

They neared a large stone building, which stuck out like a sore thumb against all its neighboring wooden buildings. Several words in a different alphabet were carved onto the front of the building.

“What does it say?” Maria asked.

“It says, “The Bureau of Off World Visitors,” Ishka explained.

Maria and Robert stared at the building nervously, all their wonders and questions about the street forgotten. This is where we find out what will happen to us, they both thought, nervously.

Andrew Duval was waiting for the mechanics to come tell him about the ship, so he could tell Maria and Robert. It’s been such a long time since I heard human names, or saw human faces, he thought. He hadn’t been allowed to see any of the other human visitors. These two were the first the Bureau had trusted him with.

He sighed. Gaining back their trust, after the mess of things he’d made when he landed here, had taken almost twenty years, and he still didn’t think they trusted him entirely. He wasn’t sure if he trusted them.

The door opened behind him. He turned to see Ishka, Maria, and Robert heading up the stairs towards him. He started towards them to greet them, wondering what he’d say. He still didn’t know the state of their ship, or what the Bereau had in plan for them.

Maria looked around the building as they walked up the stairs. All of the buildings she had been in on Pellistair had been welcoming, whether it was the sunny openness of the hospital, or the dark clutter of the inn, but this building was just depressing. The walls, floor, and ceiling were stone, and the lights were electric, giving off a cold blue light.

No wonder Andrew Duval always looks depressed, she thought, shivering slightly. Anyone would be if they worked here.

When they reached the top of the stairs, they found Andrew Duval there to great them. After a polite round of hellos and how-do-you-dos, Duval said apologetically, “I don’t know what to tell you. The mechanics report hasn’t arrived yet, so-“

A polished voice interrupted him. “If you’ll all come this way, I believe I can answer your questions about your ship.” They all turned to see an extremely well groomed black panther standing at the bottom of another flight of stairs. Maria noticed out of the corner of her eye that Duval tensed slightly at the arrival of this new person. Duval, she mused. I know I’ve heard that name somewhere recently, and it wasn’t that actors name. Before she could think any more about this, they were all ushered upstairs to a room so neat it was almost creepy. They all sat down on uncomfortable chairs (except the black panther, who stood at the end of the room).

“You’ll be glad to know that your ship is repairable, although it may take some time. You’ll also be happy to know it’s navigational logs are intact, so you should be able to find your way back to your planet,” the black panther said, after introducing himself as Adelon.

Maria and Robert sighed with relief, but Maria noticed that Duval didn’t relax at all, or look relieved. If anything, he looked more tense than he had before.

“However,” Adelon added smoothly, “There is something I must talk to you about.” Maria got a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“When you get back to your planet, you must tell nobody about your time here, or that Pellistair even exists. You’ll have to delete your travel logs, and any evidence of Pellistair you might have. No one from your planet may know that we are out here. Do you understand?” Adelon said all of this with a frightening intensity. “If you can not keep our existence a secret, we won’t be able to let you leave.”

Chapter Five

Ishka was the first to speak. “I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t they be allowed to leave? All the humans who have landed here have been peaceful, and they haven’t caused any harm. Also, it sounds like we’re so far away from their planet that it wouldn’t be practical for any of them to come here.”

Adelon shook his head. “We’ve been lucky that the humans who landed here have been peaceable, but they aren’t all that way, as I’m sure you two will agree,” he said, directing the last statement to Maria and Robert. They both nodded, thinking of the horrible things some humans had done on Earth. On a different planet, populated by animals, who knows what havoc they could wreak. “And as for our being far away from out planet, I’m sure that the distance wouldn’t keep everyone away. People running from the law, people who want a live without the confines of human law, they’d want to come here, and we don’t really want them coming here.”

Robert frowned, and asked, “What about my scales? If I stay a lizard even when we go back, we’ll have to say something.”

“I’m fairly sure that the transformation wouldn’t last long if you left Pellistair. I assume there’s something about the atmosphere that makes people transform, and if you left it’s influence, you should go back to the way you were originally were” Duval said, speaking for the first time since they’d enter the room.

Robert sighed in relief. As interesting as it was, being a lizard, he didn’t want to stay one forever.

“Then you’ll agree to our terms?” Adelon asked.

Maria and Robert nodded. “We won’t tell anyone, and we’ll erase our travel log. It’s the least we can do for you, after everything you’ve done for us” Maria said, Robert nodding in agreement.

“Good” Adelon said. “In the mean time, Ishka is needed back at the hospital, and I’ve arranged for a new person to show you around Pellistair and answer any questions you might have”

Ishka frowned. “Why do they need me back so quickly? We don’t have very many patients at the moment” she asked.

“I don’t know the details, but they said you were needed badly” Adelon replied. “They asked that you go back as quickly as possible.”

Ishka nodded reluctantly. “Who’ll take care of them when I leave?” She asked politely.

The door opened, and, much to Maria and Robert’s surprise, Fedore walked in. “This man has politely offered to escort you around the city in the time of your stay here. He came here after talking to you in the inn, and expressed his concern over your welfare. I asked his employers at the accounting shop what they thought of him, and they highly recommended him.” Adelon said.

Fedore bowed to Maria and Robert. “It’s a pleasure to meet you again” he said, straightening up with a smile.

“It’s nice to see you again, too,” Maria said, meaning it. She was surprised at how happy she was to see a familiar face.

“Now that that’s all settled,” Adelon interrupted, starting to look a bit bored, “the mechanics have some questions about the designs and the workings of your ship, which they need answered before they can go on working. If you’ll all come this way.” He lead them out of the room, and down many flights of stairs until they reached a heavy metal door. He keyed in a number on the number pad beside the door, and it slid open.

Stepping inside the biggest room they had ever been in in their lives, Maria and Robert looked around with wonder. Their ship was in the middle of the floor, with lots of mechanics swarming all over it, making adjustments and calling to each other. Hanging from the ceiling were the remains of all the space ships that had landed there. Most of them were similar to Maria and Robert’s ship, except all in much worse state. Maria noticed Duval glance briefly at a ship in the back corner. That must be his ship, she thought, filing away the information for later.

As they walked towards their ship, Maria noticed a gray tabby cat standing a little ways from the space ship, making notes on a clipboard. She was shaking her head in displeasure when they walked up. “This ship of yours is not very well thought out” she said, making more notes on her clipboard.

“Does Modgen have questions about the ship?” Adelon asked her.

“Yes, he does” the cat said, tucking her clipboard under her arm.

“Modgen!” She yelled, cupping her paws to her mouth. They heard an indistinct shout from the other side of the ship. “He’s coming” the cat said satisfiedly.

They only had to wait a few minutes until a small lemur came hurrying over. “These are the humans who own the ship” Adelon said, indicating Maria and Robert.

“Good, good” Modgen said, bowing to the two of them quickly. “Do either of you know how the engine of your machine works?” He asked, blinking at them expectantly.

“Well, we did have to work on it a bit, to get it into working order, so we do know a-“ Robert was cut off by a siren sounding. A bat hanging upside down on the ship yelled out, “Electrical overload!” Everyone on the ship hurried off, dropping tools in all directions. The ship began sparking all over the place, and finally let off a huge spark, lighting up the whole room for a minute.
A shape flew off the ship, thrown off by the electricity. Nobody moved for a few minutes, until they realized that it was one of the mechanics. He hit the floor and didn’t move.

They all rushed over. It was an albino monkey, wearing a rubber trench coat. “Get that off of him, so we can see if he’s burnt at all” the cat ordered, kneeling down besides the mechanic. She let out a hiss as the coat was taken off.

“What is it?” Adelon asked.

“This,” the cat said, getting up and motioning to the lifeless mechanic. They all crowded closer and looked.

Under the coat, the monkey was wearing a white shirt, and protruding from his arms were…. Bat wings? Maria peered closer. Fringing his arm were the beginnings of bat wings, enough to be noticeable, but not enough for him to be able to fly. “You have flying monkeys here?” Maria asked, looking up at the cat and Adelon, thinking of The Wizard of Oz.

“No,” Adelon said, looking grim. He turned to Modgen. “Who hired him?”

“I did,” Modgen replied, staring down at the mechanic with worry. “His name’s Habliz, and he managed to fix the automatic door locks, which no one’s been able to fix in months. I hired him this morning.”

“You should have been more careful” Adelon said. Modgen looked up angrily.

“He’s just been electrocuted, and he might be dead, and all you care about is the fact that he’s a hybrid?” He spat out, kneeling down and lifting Habliz up with help from the mechanic. The two of them carried him out of the room.

Maria turned to Adelon. “What’s a hybrid?” She asked.

“A hybrid is a mix between two species, a person with one parent of one species, and the other parent of a different species,” Ishka said, looking after Habliz worriedly.

“Why is that a problem?” Robert asked. “With all these different species here, it must be a common thing.”

“I’ll explain,” Duval said, taking Robert’s and Maria’s arms to lead them out of the room.

Adelon opened his mouth to object. “I’ll explain” Duval said firmly, pulling Maria and Robert out of the room, Ishka and Fedore following behind. Maria looked back to see Adelon and the tabby cat talking together and looking disapproving.

Duval took them to a different room this time, with more comfortable chairs. After Maria and Robert sat down, Duval started to explain. “A hybrid is, as Ishka told you, a person with mixed parentage, a mix between two species. They are looked down on all over the world, for no other reason then their parentage, a fact they can’t help” Duval said bitterly. He obviously didn’t like this.

“But,” Maria said, “as Robert said, there are so many different species that this should be usual, shouldn’t it? It doesn’t make sense not to marry someone of another species, because there are so few of each species.”

Duval sighed. “Adelon will kill me for saying this,” he said with a smile. “There are very strict rules in society here. Members of different species can talk to each other, work together, and even be friends, but on no account are they allowed to marry each other or have children. You are supposed to stick with your own kind. There are even some species who will not talk to each other, who will not serve the other species if they come into a shop where they are working. For instance, you’ll almost never find a cat in the same building that a dog works in, and the deer and the wolves never talk to each other, and always live as far apart in cities as they can manage. Hybrids are looked down on as direct violations of these rules. They find it hard to get jobs, and if they’re found out, they’ll be ignored, ridiculed, and even in some cases, beaten up and left for dead.”

Maria and Robert looked at him in horror. “That’s awful!” Maria cried.

“It is,” Ishka said, Fedore nodding in agreement, “but it’s the way things are.”

“Why hasn’t anything been done about it? Why hasn’t anyone spoken out against it?” Robert asked.

“Because of the species divide, it’s hard to get anyone to help you, or agree with you” Duval said. “And most people don’t even think about it, since they were raised that way.”

“You weren’t!” Maria cried.

“No, I wasn’t, but my word doesn’t count for much, being human originally,” Duval said, smiling slightly bitterly.

There were the sounds of footsteps outside. “You’d all better go. There won’t be much work on the ship today, so you’ll have to come back later to answer questions about it” Duval said, escorting them out of the building. He bowed and went back in.

“I need to go arrange some things with my employers,” Fedore said, bowing and heading off.

As they watched him go, Ishka said, “Before I leave, is there anything I can do for you two?”

“Well, my clothes don’t really fit anymore, since I have a tail now” Robert said. “If you could perhaps tell me where a clothes shop is, that would be helpful.”

“I won’t just show you, I’ll take you to one. Maria, can you find your way back to the hotel?” Ishka asked.

“Sure! You two go on.” Maria waved the two of them off, and when they were out of sight, she turned around to go back to the hotel. It was then that she realized that she’d been so busy looking at the sights and the sounds on the way there that she had no idea how to get back.

Well, it shouldn’t be too hard to find. We didn’t walk for very long until we got here, she thought, heading off in the opposite direction that Ishka and Robert had gone.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pellistair - Chapters 2 & 3

Chapter Two

Maria woke up the next morning, and was glad to feel that her head felt completely better. After breakfast, Ishka escorted her to Robert’s room again. “I think he’d like to see you” Ishka said. “He’s a bit… Distressed.”

Upon entering Robert’s room, Maria saw that there was a new person there, a lizard with a long, emerald green tail. Then she realized that the lizard was Robert. He was staring at his tail in perplexation “Is it normal for me to turn into a lizard so fast?” He asked Ishka, looking worried.

“Everyone takes a different amount of time to complete their transformation. You appear to be going exceptionally fast. But don’t worry, you won’t suffer from any side effects or anything. In fact, other than your unusually fast transformation, you appear to have completely recovered from the crash.”

Ishka paused here, and looked at Robert and Maria consideringly. “Which brings me to our next topic. The hospital heads have decided that you are both sufficiently recovered, and you may leave the hospital. We’ve also discovered that your space craft wasn’t very badly damaged by the crash, and that some of our mechanics might be able to fix it. Our capital, Pellangua, has the best mechanics on Pellistair, and it’s also where the Bereau of Off World Visitors is. Andrew Duval, the man you talked to yesterday, works there. I will be escorting you to the capital to talk with him and other experts on matters like these, and your space craft will be brought along with us. We leave in two hours.” With that, she stalked out of the room, leaving Maria and Robert by themselves.

“She’s escorting us? Oh dear” Robert said, looking displeased.

Maria laughed. “She’s not that bad, even if she is a bit cold, and has an odd sense of humor. She’ll make sure nothing happens to us.”

“If you say so,” Robert sighed. Then he blinked, and asked “Are you beginning to transform yet?”

“Not that I’ve noticed” Maria said. “Of course I might have started some subtle changes that I haven’t noticed yet.”

Robert sighed again. “Nothing subtle about what’s been happening to me. I get covered in scales, grow a tail, and my ears are starting to sink into my head.”

“They are? It’s a good thing you don’t wear glasses” Maria commented. Robert laughed.

Maybe this is what he needed, Maria thought. A place to forget about what’s going on back on earth, and other things to concentrate on. She looked forward to the trip to the capital with more enthusiasm than she had before.

Ishka stalked down the corridor. True, she was glad to be having a break from the hospital, but she felt like they were trying to get rid of her for awhile. She thought she had heard one of the head nurses muttering something about her needing a break, but she couldn’t be sure.
Maybe I should try finding a different job, she thought, heading down the stairs to the first floor. One where I could actually speak my mind, and not have to worry about everyone else’s well being. At least the two human seem to be able to take care of each other. She’d have to watch out for them in the city, but they seemed sensible enough not to do anything stupid, like wander off and get lost, or insult one of the alligator guards.

Well, maybe I will enjoy this, she thought, stepping out the front door into the sunshine. She could feel herself unwind a few notches. Maybe a break is exactly what I need, she pondered, heading off to arrange their traveling vehicles.

Two hours later, Maria and Robert were standing outside the hospital with two bags full of what they’d been able to salvage from the ship, ready to begin their trip. Maria looked around the town, wishing they could stay longer. All of the buildings were set far apart, with lots of trees between them. Wait a minute, wasn’t that a building in a tree? She peered at it, and was surprised to see a bunch of blue bird people fly out. They looked like children. They swooped around, chasing each other and pulling on each others feathers. She could hear a sort of twittering laughter.

“Are you two ready to go?” A voice asked them from behind. Maria and Robert both started, and turned around to find Ishka standing behind them. She had changed out of the loose green clothing she wore in the hospital, and was dressed in red and yellow clothes.

She smiled at their surprise, and said, “Our transportation is over that way”, elegantly extending a paw towards the left.

As they followed Ishka, Maria and Robert both looked around in wonder. The buildings were brightly painted, and the streets were paved in bright tiles, so bright they were almost hard to look at. A group of lemurs and monkeys played in the trees, throwing a ball to one another and performing elaborate flips and leaps. A turtle lay elegantly in a window, basking in the sun. Everywhere they looked, there were animal people, engaged in some activity or another. Buying, selling, playing, gossiping.

Before they knew it, Ishka had stopped in front of a large metal sled-like thing. Their space ship was perched on top of the sled, and there were several emus and ostriches tied to the front of it. They were preening themselves and talking with each other. One of them saw Ishka, Maria, and Robert approaching, and yelled (more like squawked, Maria thought), “Hey, boys! They’re here!”

“Boys? I’ll remind you that two of us are girls!” An EMU with particularly long eyelashes humphed.

“And very pretty ones at that. Now, we’re going to Pellangua, right?” An ostrich, who looked like the leader, said, trying to prevent an argument from starting, and directing the last question at Ishka.

“Yes, Pellangua. I hope that’s not to hard a trip for you” Ishka said, teasingly.

“Too hard a trip? Why you just watch, we’ll get there before you do!” The ostrich who had spoken first boasted.

The rest of the emus and ostriches joined in the boasting, each one trying to yell the loudest, and each one trying to best the others in tales of distances run and loads pulled. Ishka shook her head. “They may be loud and full of themselves, but they get the job done quickly and efficiently. They’ll be pulling your space craft to the capital.”

“How are we going to get there?” Maria asked. She hoped they wouldn’t have to ride on one of the ostriches or emus. That would just be weird.

“We’ll be taking this,” Ishka said, walking on a bit further and motioning towards their vehicle. It looked a bit like a motorcycle, except all gray, and much rounder than a motorcycle. There were two roomy side cars attached to each side of the vehicle.

“It’s a steam powered motorcycle”, Ishka said, rummaging around in her bag. She fished out three pairs of goggles, and handed a pair each to Maria and Robert, and put a pair on herself. “I’ll drive, and you two will travel in the sidecars.”

Just then, the ostrich and emu pulled sled sped by. “The last ones to Pellangua owe the others winners a meal!” an ostrich hollered.

“Well, we’d better get going, then, hadn’t we?” Ishka said, grinning widely and jumping on the motorcycle. Maria and Robert got into the side cars. As soon as they were in, Ishka started the engine, and they hurled off at a frightening speed. Maria thought she could hear Ishka laughing, but it was hard to tell over the noise.

They traveled all day, and into the night. Except for a few breaks to get out and stretch, they traveled non-stop. Maria must have fallen asleep at some point, because before she knew it, she was being woken up and helped out of the side car. “’re we going to go see the bureau now?” she asked sleepily.

“No”, Ishka said. “It’s the middle of the night, they wouldn’t be very happy to see us now. We’re going to get good nights sleep, and then we’ll go see them.”

Maria hazily saw a big room with long wooden tables, and a dark shadow working at a counter at the end of the room. She was led up a flight off stairs, and then shown into a bedroom. “I’ll wake you up tomorrow. Good night” she heard Ishkas voice say, and then the door closing. Maria plopped down on the bed. I’ll just rest here for a few moments, and then I’ll unpack my bag, she thought, as her eyes closed.

Andrew Duval looked out the window of the steam bus. He was heading back to the capital, after giving a speech at a small, worried town out to the west. Ever since he had arrived, and completed his transformation, the Bureau had been sending him all over the world, talking to people about humans, and what they were like, and whether they were a threat.

Pellistair had no military, and had very few weapons, and everyone was getting increasingly worried about the human visitors. More had been arriving in the last few years, presumably because space ships were becoming better, and the range that they could explore was expanding. A lot of people on Pellistair were worried that one day the humans would find Pellistair on accident, without crashing into it, and that they’d see the lush, pretty much unspoiled planet, with little defenses, and try to take it.

Duval sighed. Part of that was his fault. When he’d first woken up, with all these strange people around him, he had told horrible stories about earth’s weapons, in case the Pellistarians were thinking about taking over earth. This had been a bad idea. Some of the Pellistarians wanted to abandon or even kill him right there, since he seemed like such a violent, ill mannered being.

Thankfully, they hadn’t harmed him, and he had tried to undo some of the damage he’d done by telling them all the good things about earth, and going around giving talks about what to do if humans landed. He was kept very busy, and even after twenty years, no one really trusted him. He didn’t mind, though. It was better than what he had had on Earth.

He just hoped that these two humans hadn’t heard of him. It would complicate things greatly.

Chapter Three

Maria woke up to find sunlight streaming in her window. She got up, wondering how long she’d been asleep, and whether Robert was okay. She got dressed, and realized that she was very hungry.
She headed downstairs to the big room with the tables in it that she had seen earlier. Maybe there would be food there.

Arriving in the room, she saw that it was packed with people of all sorts of different species. A giraffe was hunched up in one corner, gossiping with a mouse, and a group of what looked like cuckoo burras were all laughing uproariously together. There was even a large fish bowl, with a goldfish sitting in it, eating a muffin and nodding in response to what the antelope next to it was talking about.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it here” Maria muttered, looking around her in bewilderment. A tall alligator was cooking something behind the counter. He looked up and saw her, and his face split into truly frightening grin.

“Well, here’s our new visitor” boomed the alligator, coming out of behind the counter and striding towards Maria. Should I run, Maria wondered in the short space of time it took for the alligator to reach her. Before she knew it, the alligator was shaking her hand up and down and talking loudly.

“You’re the first human visitor to this inn while I’ve been working here” he boomed, still shaking her arm up and down. “It’s an honor to have you here, and I hope you enjoy your stay. Would you like some breakfast?” This last thing was said with another frightening grin. Maria wondered whether it was safe here.

The goldfish seemed to notice her agitation, and said, in a bubbly voice, “Don’t worry. He’s perfectly harmless, and by far the best cook I’ve ever met. Go on, let him make you some breakfast”

This reassured Maria a bit, and she followed the alligator up to the counter at the front, wondering what he would cook.

Robert woke up to find that his ears had completely sunken into his head. Where they had been were two holes. He could still hear fine, though. The thing that surprised him the most, though, was the fact that his tail was now two feet longer. He flicked it experimentally. It was a nice tail, he supposed, but he’d rather go back to the way he was.

He hoped Maria was OK, and that she hadn’t started transforming yet. Once she started, there was no way of knowing if she could ever turn back again.

He sighed, and opened his door. He stopped in shock, as a barrage of new smells assaulted him. He could smell food, cooking downstairs, the soap a maid was using down the hall, the varnish on the floor, the smell of peeling paint, and many more smells he had never smelled before. I wonder if this building just has more pungent smells, or whether this is due to my transformation, Robert wondered, heading slowly down the hall.

He had to stop several times before he got down to the dining hall, so that he could pay more attention to the smells. He found he could smell better if he opened his mouth and sort of tasted the air. No one looked at him oddly when he did this, and he saw several other reptiles doing the same thing. Maybe this transformation thing isn’t so bad, he thought, turning into the dining hall.

After just standing in the doorway and sampling all the smells for awhile, he looked around for Maria. He finally saw her sitting at a long counter on the end, in between a hippo and a ferret. He frowned slightly, hoping they weren’t bothering her, and then he noticed a large alligator cooking behind the counter and laughing at something the hippo had said. He headed towards them, wondering what was going on.

Maria was uncomfortable. The hippo had just come up, and was telling lots of loud, bawdy jokes, and talking non-stop. The alligator chef, who she still didn’t know the name of, was cooking and laughing appreciatively at the hippos jokes, and telling a few of his own. She didn’t know why the gray ferret was here. He hadn’t said anything yet, just given her sympathetic looks every so often as the hippo had laughed loudly in her ear.

As the hippo became more engaged in talking to the chef, the ferret spoke at last. “I hear you crashed here on Pellistair a few days ago. I hope you and your companion didn’t suffer any injuries from the crash” he said softly.

Maria was relieved that he didn’t speak loudly, or laugh in her ear. “Yes, we crashed a few days ago, but we managed to get out of it with just a few bruises and bumps.”

Just then, the hippo laughed so loudly that the ferret winced and put his hands over his ears. When Maria looked at him questioningly, he uncovered his ears and said, “I have unusually sensitive hearing, and Martha is particularly loud today”, he nodded towards the hippo. “She’s always particularly happy when something new and unusual happens. I haven’t seen her so happy in months.”

“Am I the new and unusual thing?” Maria asked.

The ferret nodded. “It’s not a bad thing, it just means she’ll probably follow you around for awhile, showing you off to all her new friends.”

“Are all of her friends as loud as she is?” Maria said, looking worried.

The ferret laughed, looking happy for the first time. “No, no one is as loud as Martha. She means well, though, and if you’re in a tight spot and need a friend, she’ll be there for you.”

Just then, Robert showed up behind Martha. “Oh!” She said, noticing him immediately. “You must be Maria’s companion! I’ll let you two sit and talk” she said, grinning widely (her grin was almost as frightening as the chef's, Maria noticed. Martha had a bigger mouth, after all), and hurrying away.

“No doubt hurrying off to tell all her friends about you two, and how she met you two first” the ferret said dryly, shaking his head.
Robert looked at him questioningly. “Oh, I forgot to introduce myself” the ferret said, smiling. “My name is Fedore. I work in a accounting shop, a few blocks away. If you ever need anything, I’ll be glad to help.”

“I’m Maria, and this is Robert” Maria introduced the two of them. “We, as you know, crash landed here, and we’re here in the capital to see the Bureau of Off World Visitors, and to see if our ship can be fixed.”
Fedore straightened slightly. “I thought your ship was destroyed in the crash,” he said carefully.

“No, our ship is actually in pretty good shape” Maria said, “apparently in better shape than any of the other ships that have landed here were. They think they might be able to fix it, so we can go home. Not” she added hastily, “that we haven’t been enjoying our stay here, but we do need to get back.”

“Breakfast’s served!” the alligator interrupted, handing both Maria and Robert plates with piles of food on them. The food smelled and looked so good that Maria only dimly heard Fedore say “If you’ll excuse me” and walk away.

“This looks wonderful!” She exclaimed to the chef, digging in.

“I’m glad you like it”, the alligator said, grinning widely.

After devouring what was on their plates, Maria and Robert sat back, feeling much better, and much more ready for whatever the day brought. “Oh!” Maria said. “I just realized I didn’t introduce myself, or my friend. I’m Maria, and he’s Robert. Thank you so much for the breakfast, but” she stared uneasily at the empty plates, “we don’t have any money to pay you with.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. Breakfast is free, complements of the inn. And I’m Ambrose, the cook of this inn” the alligator said, shaking both Robert and Maria’s hands at the same time. “Pleased to meet you.” This was said with a large grin.

Martha came bustling back up. “Oh, Ambrose, you’ll never guess what I just heard!” she said excitedly.

“Do tell”, Ambrose said, settling down to hear her story. This left Robert and Maria to themselves.

“I wonder where that ferret, Fedore, went” Robert mused.

“I don’t know, I was too busy staring at the food” Maria said, sighing at the memory of it.

“And I was to busy smelling it” Robert laughed, telling Maria about his newfound sense of smell.

Maria was envious. “I wonder when I’ll start transforming. It would be so cool to have a better sense of smell, or a better sense of hearing. I wonder how long it took Mr. Duval to transform” she wondered. “Andrew Duval… I’ve heard that name somewhere.”

“Maybe you’re thinking of the 20th century actor, James Duval” Robert offered.

“That’s probably it” Maria agreed.

“Time to go.” They turned around to see Ishka standing behind them.

“Does she enjoy scaring people, I wonder?” Robert whispered to Maria. Maria only had time to grin before Ishka whipped them out of the inn, waving to Ambrose as they went, and out on the street.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

This is a practice essay I wrote for the AP U.S. History exam. It's for the first free response section, in which your shown 10 historical documents, and then asked to incorporate those topics into an essay on a certain subject. 15 minutes are provided for reading and planning, and 30 for writing.

"Manifest Destiny was a driving force in 19th century politics. The belief that it was the United States duty, even destiny, to spread Freedom and Democracy throughout North America shaped both Public and Foreign policy. It led to war with Mexico, and even inadvertently led to the Civil War.

It is clear that Manifest Destiny was a widely accepted and widely defended view. Various Presidents used it to gain new territories and to follow their own agendas. But politicians weren't the only ones to embrace Manifest Destiny. Celebrated writer Walt Whitman enthusiastically proclaimed the United States mission to "People the New World with a noble race" in an editorial in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. John O'Sullivan, another 19th century writer, penned a book entitled "Manifest Destiny" in which he stated that the United States was "The Nation of human progress" and that no earthly power could put a stop to its onward march.

Such lofty views and ideas were very beneficial to the U.S., but Mexico, the United States more volatile neighbor, suffered from them. Manifest Destiny is part of what drove the Mexican-American War, which the U.S. profited from, greatly. Although President Polk claimed that the war was because of "A long-continued series of menaces" and the shedding of American blood on U.S. soil, the desire for new land, such as California, was also a great factor. California had little to do with the rest of Mexico's and the United States's relations, so it's seisure during the Mexican-American War undermined President Polk's claims.

This did not go unnoticed. In 1848, Abraham Lincoln's "Spot Resolution" called on Presidetn Polk to answer questions about the validity of the Mexican-American War "Fully, fairly, and candidly". He also questioned the claim that American blood was first spilled on U.S. soil.

Lincoln's involvement in the "Spot Resolution" foreshadowed a greater consequence of Manifest Destiny, the Civil War. Acquiring new territories was all well and good, but deciding what to do with them afterward proved to be a greater difficulty. The main issue surrounding new states was whether or not to make them slave states. The conflict over slavery versus nonslavery in new states eventually lead to the creation of a new political party, the Free Soil Party. Not all results of slavery tension were so benign, however. The Bleeding Kansas affair shocked many citizens, but it was only a small example of what was to happen in the Civil War.

So despite all the lofty views Manifest Destiny first espoused, it eventually led to one of the bloodiest and grimmest events of American History, the Civil War. This proves that even the noblest of intentions can go wrong, in the long run."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Maundy Thursday and “The Other Boleyn Girl”

Today I was lucky enough to join the choir at my church, for the first time in almost a year. I really enjoyed being a part of it last year, and was very sad this year when one of my classes was scheduled for Wednesday evening, meaning I couldn’t make it to choir.
Since it’s less then a week until we sing all of the music we rehearsed this evening, I was dumped headlong into a blur of music that everyone else has been practicing for weeks. It was very hard to keep up, but I enjoyed the challenge.
All the pieces were lovely, as usual, but one in particular struck me. It was called “For God So Loved the World”, and it’s the song we’ll sing on Maundy Thursday (which is a Holy Day I always forget about). The opening lines are “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son”
Normally, these words wouldn’t strike me in particular. I’ve gone fairly consistently to either the Catholic or Episcopalian churches for most of my life, and these words are repeated throughout Lent, in hymns, sermons, and readings.
However, for the last few days, I’ve been deeply immersed in reading “The Other Boleyn Girl”, by Phillipa Gregory. It’s a very good book, with intrigue, lust, passion, suspicion, romance, love, and of course, beautiful Renaissance outfits. The whole book is lush and sweeping, and all the characters are believable and intriguing, and the romance is spell-binding. But above all of these things, one of the things I’ve been enjoying about it the most is the deep love and affection the main character has for her children. I’ve read very few books where the main character was a mother, and this is one of the focal points of the story.
So, all week I’ve been immersed in this vivid book about this fascinating character and her love for her children, so when we sang “That he gave his only begotten son”, I was immediately brought to tears. As I said before, I’ve spoken or heard these words so often that they make almost no impact on me. But tonight, I thought of Mary Boleyn, and the fierce love and protection she feels as a young mother for her children, and really realized, for the first time, how hard, how painful, it would be to give your child up to death, willingly. And it’s not even in death for good or wonderful people, it’s for all sinners, all of whom have done wrong. As Paul says in Romans, “It might even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. But God has shown us how much he loves us – it was while we were still sinners that Christ Died for us!”
This is one of the things I’ve been trying to accomplish, this Lent. I wanted to come to Church and view it with new eyes, and examine everything with a wonder and awe that I haven’t ever really felt, having grown used to all the rituals and sayings in the church. I’ve had a few moments in Sunday school (when I’ve been able to actually concentrate on something other than all the weird emotions I have wrapped up in church), where I’ve really thought about the meaning behind all of the responses I’ve grown so used to saying. But I’ve never really thought in depth about what all of this means spiritually, and emotionally, until tonight. Until that one line, and “The Other Boleyn Girl”, brought it all home to me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pellistair - Chapter 1

I've decided to post my first NaNoWriMo book, chapter by chapter. It's very bad, at the moment, have had almost no editing done on it. So please keep that in mind, when you read it.
The name of the book, at the moment, is Pellistair, for lack of a better title. If you think of a better title, please tell me!


By Kristin Emery

Chapter One

Maria woke up in a hospital bed, with a nurse dressed like a cat standing next to her bed. On closer inspection, Maria realized that the nurse was a cat. This cat, however, was displaying some remarkably human behaviors, like standing on two legs, and wearing loose green clothing.

Maria decided she must be hallucinating. It was the only explanation.

The cat looked up. “Oh, so you’re finally awake. That bump on your head was so large, I was afraid it might have caused some serious damage. How are you feeling?”.

Maria stared at the cat, willing it to go away. It didn’t. Instead, it blinked at her expectantly. “Ummm, my head hurts, and I’m hungry," Maria finally said, undone by the cats stare.

“Well, after crashing in your space craft, it’s natural that your head would hurt. It’s a good sign that you’re hungry” the cat said approvingly. “I’ll go get you some food.”

As the cat walked away, Maria closed her eyes and tried to figure things out. The last thing she remembered was being with Robert in the spaceship, with the lights all over the dashboard going crazy and the sight of a strange looking planet with purple clouds out the window. Was she on that planet now? And was Robert all right?

Robert. She was concerned about him. On Earth, people were getting all riled up about how “pure” peoples' looks were. It didn’t matter what sort of looks you had, they just had to be definitely one thing or another. For her, it was fine. She came from a long line of Vietnamese families, so she didn’t have any problems. Robert, however, had a father from Egypt and a mother from Norway, and definitely looked like a mix of nations.

The area where they lived was one of the more tolerant areas, but she could still tell that people had been nasty to him. Around her, nothing happened, but she had the sneaking suspicion that when she wasn’t around, people made nasty comments, or ignored him. He had been getting increasingly depressed, until she had suggested that they go and take the second hand spaceship they’d both bought for their seventeenth birthdays for a ride. They had spent the last six months fixing it up, until it wasn’t half bad. She thought a road trip was just what he needed

She had arranged for one of the spaceferries to take them out past the confines of the solar system. They had both been to or seen all of the planets in the solar system, so she wanted something new to look at.

Unfortunately, the chart they had bought of the region of space they were dropped off in was extremely confusing. Neither of them was able to read it, and they had gotten lost. The ship had a built in memory, so they could have found their way back to the ferry pick-up spot, but something had started to go wrong with the ship. They veered way off course, and eventually the engine failed. She assumed that they’d ended up here.

The cat came back, with a bowl of steaming porridge. At least, it looked like porridge. Porridge wasn’t generally orange with yellow and green bits in it, though, was it? As the cat set the bowl of porridge in front of her, Maria looked at it doubtfully.

“Don’t worry,” the cat said. “It won’t hurt you. In fact, it’ll help your head stop hurting.” Maria got the impression it was laughing at her softly behind its whiskers.

Reluctantly, Maria took the spoon and started to eat it. To her surprise, it was pretty good. Rather like vegetable soup and bread together.

As she ate, she took the opportunity to examine her nurse. The nurse had gray fur, and a white chin, with two black stripes on its cheeks. Its eyes were yellow, and it sat and stared at her unblinkingly .

When she finished, the cat took her bowl, and asked, “How are you feeling now?”.

“Better” Maria answered, glad that the throbbing in her head had turned into a minor twinge.

“Do you feel better enough to go see your friend?”, the cat asked, tipping its head to one side curiously.

“Do you mean Robert? Definitely!” Maria said, jumping out of bed. A minute later, she regretted doing that. Her head hurt more now.

The cat made a mysterious hissing sound, rather like it was clucking its teeth. “Careful, now. Here, let me help you down the corridor.”

As they headed down the corridor, Maria realized that she had been so hungry, and so concerned about Robert, that she had forgotten to wonder where she was, or why she had a cat attending her. She looked hesitantly at the cat, wondering if it were male or female, and how come it knew English.

The cat, sensing her stare, turned its head to smile at her. This was a strangely disturbing sight, since its teeth were much pointer than any humans.

“How careless of me. I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Ishka, and I’m a Pallas’s cat. Also, I’m a girl, in case you were wondering”, Ishka added, grinning wider. Maria again got the feeling that Ishka was laughing at her.

They stopped outside a door. Going through it, they were met with a sunny room, with a large bed at the end of it. There were several other nurses surrounding the bed, but Maria paid more attention to what was in the bed than to the other nurses.

“Robert!” She cried, running towards the bed. She stopped in horror when Robert turned to face her. Instead of his normal light brown complexion, his face was covered with green scales.

He stared at her ruefully, and said, “I think they have some explaining to do,”, gesturing at the nurses.

Ishka stared in amusement at the two humans. At least she supposed they were humans. Only a few off worlders had visited Pellistair, and she had never met any of them. From what she had read in the computer, after the two of them had crash landed, she supposed they looked more or less human.

She tried to feel sorry, or at least concerned, for the two of them, but couldn’t manage to. It was all too amusing to take seriously. She had often been reprimanded for her inability to take things seriously, and her lack of sympathy towards other people. Still, she knew what she was doing, and she made a good nurse, so they couldn’t get rid of her.

However, she didn’t know quite what to do in this case. The few instances of off worlders crashing had happened far away from the hospital, towards the more populated cities, not the little town she lived in. She had read up on the few cases of crashes in the computer while her patient was asleep, and she had sent a message to the nearest city to ask for someone with experience in these matters to come out here. However, she didn’t know when he’d arrive. Until then, she had to do the best she could.

Ishka stepped forward. “Would you two like an explanation?” She hoped she could give them one.

“Would you like an explanation?” The cat who had come in with Maria asked. Robert nodded, his face grim. He had enough problems at home, without having to worry about being stranded on some alien planet with scales all over his face. He hoped there was something he could do about that.

The cat sighed. It seemed a bit reluctant to begin. “You are on a world called Pellistair. All of the inhabitants of Pellistair look like us,” it said, sweeping its paw around to include all of the nurses. One was a mouse, another a wombat, and the last a ring tailed lemur. “We’ve lived here for centuries without any contact with people beyond our world. Then, twenty years ago, a spaceship, much like yours, crashed here. We managed to save the man who was in it. We modified our translating devices,” here it fingered a small black thing hanging around its neck, attached to both its ears (Robert had noticed that both he and Maria were wearing similar devices) “ so that we were able to talk to him. He came from the same world as you, and was anxious to get back. Unfortunately, his ship was too damaged for us to fix.”

The cat trailed off. “What happened to him?” Maria asked, curiously. “Did he ever get back to his home?”

“No, he didn’t” said a voice from the door. Maria and Robert turned to see a light green gecko with white hair standing in the doorway.

“How do you know?”, Robert asked, suspiciously.

“Because I’m him” the gecko said, walking into the room.

Maria and Robert stared at the gecko. “But.. You’re a gecko, not a human”, Maria said hesitantly, not wanting to hurt his feelings.

The gecko smiled tiredly. “Yes, I’m a gecko now, but I was a human when I arrived here. You see, all the people here resemble animals, as you’ve seen. That alone is very interesting, but the most interesting thing is, we humans start to look like animals after awhile. Each human takes a different amount of time to complete the change. I took about a year, and it seems that you”, he gestured towards Robert “take even less time. Other than changes in appearance, and some changes in the things your body is able to do, you’ll remain pretty much the same as you were before you came here.”

“Is there any way to reverse the effect?” Robert interrupted.

The gecko shook his head grimly. “Not that I’ve been able to find.”

“What if we leave? Then what would happen?” Maria asked.

The gecko turned to her. “No one’s been able to leave. All the spaceships that crashed here were damaged beyond repair, and Pellistair has no space ships. Even if they did, I’m not sure anyone would be able to find their way back to Earth.”

Outside, a gong sounded. The gecko looked out the window and sighed. “I must be going. I’ll leave some papers about Pellistair for you to read, and I’ll try to come back soon.” He put down a briefcase like thing he had been carrying, unsticking his fingers from the handle. He had a brief conversation with Ishka, and then he was gone.

Maria frowned, suddenly.

“What’s wrong?” Robert asked.

“He never told us his name” Maria said. “And he looked so worn out…”

Maria and Robert spent the rest of the day looking at the papers the gecko had left for them. The nurses left them to themselves, except to give them water and food occasionally. They seemed to understand that Maria and Robert needed to be left alone.

Maria found the papers fascinating. The translating devices that Ishka had talked about had been designed so that the different species could talk to each other. Since the avians vocal cords were very different from the reptiles, and the reptiles vocal cords were different than the mammals, they couldn’t just come up with one global language. So they had designed translating devices, that translated what you heard into your own language. They had taken almost a hundred years to perfect the devices, and make them available to everyone.

She also found out that every species that was found on earth was to be found on Pellistair, and even some that weren’t. All of the species that were extinct on earth was also found here, although there weren’t very many dinosaurs.

“I think,” Maria announced, “that if I’m going to turn into an animal, I want to turn into a gecko. Then I can hang on the bottoms of ceilings and scare people.”

Robert laughed, more freely than Maria had heard him laugh in months. She looked at him speculatively.

Robert noticed her looking at him. “What?” He asked, curiously.

“Oh, it’s nothing”, Maria said, rubbing her chin. “Only even with the fact that we’re crash landed on some planet far away from home, with maybe no hope of getting back, and you’re turning into a lizard, you seem more relaxed than you have in months.”

“You’re right”, Robert mused, looking thoughtful. Then his eyes widened. “I know why it is”, he said. “It’s because no one has looked at me funny, or made any comments on my skin color, even when I started turning scaly.”

I cringe, every time I read that. It definitely needs editing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Amadeus reviews

I've been doing some freewriting lately, for the Essay writing book I'm working from. I realized today that some of those freewrites would make interesting blog posts, so I decided to post some of them. However, these are freewrites, so there's not any coherent train of thought that runs through all of them, and they don't really have conclusions.

This freewrite was supposed to be on the different styles of movie reviews, and what sorts of writing tools they use to get their point across. I chose reviews of Amadeus to read for this, which means that in the freewrite, I kept getting distracted by the film, and forgetting that I was supposed to be writing on the reviews.

There's spoilers in here, so if you haven't seen the movie, don't read.

"Many reviews (more than I would have thought) seem to think that Mozart is portrayed as some kind of rock star. Their arguments for this are that he pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable in music and in conversation, constantly. This is sometimes thought to be one of the only redeemable, grown-up traits about Mozart, is his odd dedication to pushing the boundaries of speech and music, even if he does do so obscenely, most of the time. They also cite his rock star wigs and bizarre coats as references to rock stars. The director is also fond of stories of outsiders, like Hair or One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, so many think that he turned Mozart into an outsider who doesn’t fit into the norms of society. Mozart’s fondness of drinking and partying, and the way he stays up at all hours, is also used in the rock star allegory.
Most of the reviews, even the disfavorable ones, seem to approve of the way music is used during the movies. In most movies, music is just used to underline the emotions that are taking place. In Amadeus, the music is used on many, many layers. It is used to show Mozart’s writing process, near the end of the film, as he dictates to Salieri, it is used to show the Aristocracy’s views on music, when the Emperor says the music has too many notes, and when someone complains that there’s no suitable bang at the end of songs, so you never know when to clap. Music is used to show the differences between Salieri’s music and Mozart’s, where Salieri’s is very good, but nowhere near the same level as Mozart’s. The excess of Venetian society in the late 1700’s is shown through music, at Operas, balls, and parties, even hairdressers. There are many scenes in which there is no dialogue at all, there is just Mozart’s music. Many scenes featuring characters walking through the streets, or the countryside, have only music, not even including the sounds you would hear on the streets. Mozart’s burial in a pauper’s grave is backed up by music, as well.
The thing that made all the reviews interesting to read was the way they all viewed the movie as something different. Some viewed it is as the tale of a misunderstood rock star, some viewed is as a tale of envy and betrayal, some viewed it as a conspiracy theory film, some viewed it as an entertaining film about Mozart’s life. Almost everyone liked it, which would’ve normally made all the reviews boring to read, but since they all had a different take on it, they were still fascinating to read. Even those who didn’t like the film grudgingly agreed that the use of music in the film is exceptional, the sets and costumes are fantastic, and that J.J Abrams performance is wonderful. The things that were generally disliked were Tom Hulces performance, and the actress who played Constanze (I agree with that one). Some also thought the film was to labored and overdone, and over thought.
However, even the bad reviews would’ve made me want to see the movie, if I hadn’t already seen it. All the reviews managed to convey the grand and sweeping style of the film, and the gorgeousness of all the visuals. They also all convey the treachery and plots of the movie, the secrecy and underhanded maneuvers Salieri uses to bring down Mozart.
All the reviews were thoughtful, taking such things into account when they were writing such as directing, the fact that it is an adaptation from a stage play, the film being cast with unknown American actors, instead of well known British actors, the decision to film the whole film in natural light, and many other things."

The reviews comparing Mozart to a rock star can be found here and here, if you're interested in reading them.