Friday, May 31, 2013
"OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL" (2013) Review
I have a confession to make. I have always liked "THE WIZARD OF OZ", the 1939 adaptation of Frank L. Baum's 1901 novel, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". I used to watch it on a yearly basis as a child. But if I must be brutally frank, I have never developed a deep love for the movie. So when I learned that the Disney Studios had developed a prequel movie to the 1939 film, I did not exactly jump up and down with joy.
I was surprised to learn that the Disney Studios' history with Frank Baum's fantasy world of Oz proved to be a long one. Walt Disney had wanted to create an animated film based on the 1901 story, but he and his brother Roy Disney discovered that Samuel Goldwyn had first purchased the film rights before selling it to Louis B. Mayer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Disney managed to purchase the rights of Baum's remaining Oz novels in 1954. And in 1985, the studio produced and released the sequel movie, "RETURN TO OZ". However, the film proved to be a box office bomb. And the movie rights to all of Baum's novels ended up in public domain. Twenty-seven or 28 years later, Disney tried their hand at another Ozmovie. The result is the prequel to Baum's 1901 novel and MGM's 1939 film - "OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL". Set twenty years before the novel and the film, "OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL" begins in 1906 Kansas with barnstorm and small time magician Oscar Diggs working in a traveling circus. Oscar is also something of a scam artist and ladies' man who has no qualms with seducing the young wife of the circus' strongman. Oscar is also in love with a young local woman, who has been encouraged by him to marry a respectable farmer. When the strongman learns of Oscar's flirtations, the latter escapes the circus in a hot air balloon. But he is sucked into a tornado and finds himself in the "Land of Oz".
Once in this new land, Oscar meets the first of three witches who will turn his life upside down - Theodora. She believes he is the prophesied savior who will overthrow the Wicked Witch that killed the King of Oz. While she escorts him to Emerald City to meet her sister Evanora, Theodora is seduced by Oscar, leading her to fall in love with him. The pair also meets a flying monkey named Finley, who pledges a life debt to Oscar when the latter saves him from a lion . . . at Theodora's instigation. Upon their arrival in Emerald City, Oscar is charged by Evanora to prove that he is Oz's prophesied savior by traveling to the Dark Forest where the Wicked Witch resides and kill the latter by destroying her wand. During Oscar and Findley's journey to the Dark Forest, they meet China Girl, a young, living china doll whose home and family had been destroyed by the Wicked Witch. When the trio reaches the Dark Forest, they discover that the "Wicked Witch" is actually Glinda the Good Witch of the North. She tells them that Evanora is the true Wicked Witch. And when Evanora sees this with her crystal ball, she manipulates Theodora against Oscar by showing him together with Glinda, claiming he is trying to court all three witches. Evanora offers the heartbroken Theodora a magic apple, which she promises will remove the younger witch's heartache. Theodora eats the apple and transforms into the heartless, green-skinned future Wicked Witch of the West. Oscar, Glinda, Findley, China Girl and many others soon find themselves in a war against Evanora and Theodora for control of Oz.
"OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL" earned mixed reviews upon its release, despite becoming a box office hit. Many complained that it failed to live up to the "magic" of the 1939 movie. I do not know how to respond to this complaint. After all, everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. Were there any aspects of "OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL" that I disliked? Well . . . I do have one major complaint and it has to do with the relationship between Oscar and Theodora. What I disliked was Oscar's failure to apologize to Theodora for exploiting her feelings toward him when they first met. Instead of admitting that he had been wrong to seduce her in the first place, he merely offered her the chance to live in the Emerald City in peace if she would allow goodness back into her heart. And nothing else. Instead of an apology, Oscar offered her a sanctimonious offer of redemption. What an asshole. In other words, Mitchell Kapner's screenplay refused to allow Oscar to consider that his careless seduction of Theodora gave Evanora the opportunity to transform her into an evil and heartless witch.
Despite this unpleasant exercise of relationships gone wrong, I actually enjoyed "OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL". In fact, my feelings of the movie seemed to be the same as the 1939 film - I enjoyed it very much, but I did not love it. It was fun, entertaining in its own way. And I could see that the movie greatly benefited from Kapner's well-paced screenplay and director Sam Rami's twisted sense of humor. This especially seemed to be the case in Oscar's relationship with the long-suffering Findley and one of Emerald City's citizens, the tart-tongued herald and fanfare player, Knuck. Rami and Kapner also did a clever job of allowing the plot to mirror certain aspects of 1939's "THE WIZARD OF OZ". The Kansas sequences at the beginning of both movies were filmed in black-and-white, both protagonists (Dorothy Gale and Oscar Diggs) arrived in Oz via a tornado. Both acquire sidekicks during their journeys through Oz. In Oscar's case, both Findley and China Girl become his companions on the road. After meeting Glinda, he also acquire the friendship of Knuck (sort of) and the Emerald City's Master Tinker. And both movies end with Oscar providing gifts to most of the protagonists.
At the same time, both Rami and Kapner were wise enough to remember that "OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL" is the product of early 21st century Hollywood, and not the film industry of the late 1930s. As I had stated earlier, the humor featured in the film struck me as slightly perverse at times - which I loved. And Oscar Diggs' moral compass proved to be a lot more ambiguous than the innocent Dorothy Gale. Mind you, I disliked his handling of Theodora. But one has to remember that his character has always been something of schemer and opportunist - even in the 1939 film. Speaking of ambiguity, I was surprised to find a few hints of it in China Girl's character - especially in her enthusiasm to seek and kill the Wicked Witch. In regard to the film's villains, they seemed to be a different kettle of fish in compare to the Wicked Witch of the West in "THE WIZARD OF OZ". Although Evanora proved to be evil in a one-dimensional manner, she seemed to be more subtle and manipulative in carrying out her deeds. And Theodora proved to be a real surprise. Her evil seemed to be born from a broken heart thanks to Oscar and her sister's manipulations, making her the most sympathetic character . . . at least for me. Many reviewers - especially male reviewers - seemed confused over Theodora's transformation from the naive young witch to the green-skinned, heartless evildoer. It almost seemed as if they did not want to acknowledge the part that Oscar played in her transformation into evil. And I find that rather sad and a little disturbing.
Speaking of the characters, they would not have worked without the first-rate cast that portrayed them. James Franco did an excellent job in conveying Oscar Diggs' journey from the cheap and womanizing showman to the responsible civic leader that helped free the Emerald City from the evil Evanora's grasp. Michelle Williams gave a luminous performance as Glinda the Good Witch. Although her character did not strike me as particularly complex, she managed to inject some much needed mystery into the character, making her more interesting than the 1939 counterpart. And Rachel Weisz seemed to be having a ball as the sly and manipulative Evanora. The movie also featured some solid performances from the likes of Bill Cobbs as Master Tinker, Tony Cox as the sardonic Knuck, Abigail Spencer as Oscar's naive, yet very married Kansas assistant May; and a humorous appearance by Rami veteran Bruce Campbell as an Emerald City guard. But there were three performances that really impressed me. One came from Zach Braff, who added an expert touch of the long-suffering in his outstanding voice performance as winged monkey Findley. Another first-rate voice performance came Joey King in her portrayal of China Doll, who expertly conveyed both the character's vulnerability and exuberant aggressiveness. And finally there was Mila Kunis, who did a stupendous job in her portrayal of Theodora, the naive young witch who became the murderous Wicked Witch of the West. I was more than impressed by Kunis, for I believe she had the difficult job of making her character's transformation believable.
"OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL" is a beautiful movie to look at. Production designer Robert Stromberg did a solid job in bringing the land of Oz to life. Thanks to him and cinematographer Peter Deming, audiences were able to enjoy the movie's rich and colorful look that brought back happy memories of the Technicolor featured in the 1939 movie. My only complaint are the few moments when it seemed I was looking at matte paintings instead of CGI during Oscar's first moments in Oz. I was especially impressed by the scene that featured Theodora's first appearance as the Wicked Witch of the West. Thanks to Rami's direction, Deming's photography, the make-up department's work and the special effects team, I was more than taken aback by this frightening moment.
In the end, I really enjoyed "OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL". I did not love it. Then again, I do not love the 1939 movie. But I do believe that this new movie more than made up for the failure of 1985's "RETURN TO OZ". Thanks to screenwriter Mitchell Kapner, a talented cast led by James Franco and some first-rate and slightly twisted direction by Sam Rami, "OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL" proved to be a surprisingly entertaining film.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Now on sale is a collection of button rings and necklaces that can be found on this Etsy SITE!
BUTTON RINGS AND NECKLACES FOR SALE!
Owner Thelizabeth11 created the rings and necklaces from a collection of vintage accessories that date as far back as the Victorian Era. Costs range from the low prices of $6.00 to $15.00, along with a shipping cost.
Also available for sale are colorful picture frames with illustrations such as the one pictured below:
The cost of these combinations of picture frames and illustrations range from $25.00 to $45.00, along with a shipping cost.
Don't miss the opportunity to purchase any of these beautiful gifts for your enjoyment!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Below are images from "THE GREAT GATSBY", the recent adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, the movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton:
"THE GREAT GATSBY" (2013) Photo Gallery
Monday, May 27, 2013
"LIFE OF PI" (2012) Review
It has been a while since Hollywood went into a tizzy over a movie directed by Ang Lee. His latest opus turned out to be"LIFE OF PI", an adaptation of Yann Martel's 2001 fantasy-adventure novel. The movie earned at least eleven nominations and won at least four, including a second Best Director Academy Award for Lee.
"LIFE OF PI" begins in early 21st century Canada; when a local writer is advised to interview a middle-aged immigrant from Puducherry with a very interesting story to tell. Pi Patel then proceeds to tell the writer about his family and childhood in Puducherry. According to Patel, his father owned a zoo and it was there he first met the zoo's new Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. When Patel was 16 years old, his father announces his intention to move the family to Winnipeg, Canada. There, he plans to sell the zoo animals and live. Pi, saddened by the idea of leaving his family and his new love, does not tell the news very well.
The family books passage aboard a Japanese freighter called the Tzimtzum. During the voyage, the Tzimtzum begins to founder during a heavy storm, while Pi is on deck. Before he can find his family, a crew member throws him into a lifeboat. As the ship begins to sink, a zebra leaps into the lifeboat and injures himself. The rest of Pi's family along with other passengers and crewmen die as the Tzimtzum sinks. Once the storm is over, Pi discovers that other animals had made their way into the lifeboat - an orangutan and a hyena. The hyena angers Pi by killing the zebra and then the orangutan. Before he can do anything about it, the tiger Richard Parker suddenly emerges from under the lifeboat's tarp and kills the hyena. Pi is left alone with Richard Parker, in which the two continue the journey as wary adversaries. By the time their journey ends on the Mexican coastline, they have become friends before Richard Parker disappears into the jungle.
When I first saw the trailer for "LIFE OF PI", I did not want to see it. Period. Despite my knowledge that the movie had been directed by Ang Lee - of whom I am a fan - I did not want to see it. I did not want to see a movie about a boy surviving God knows how many days in a lifeboat with a tiger. End of story. When the movie was finally released in theaters, I went out of my way to avoid it . . . despite the positive press from the film critics. And even when it accumulated so many Golden Globe and Academy Awards nominations, I still refused to see it. I finally came around and saw "LIFE OF PI" when it was finally released on DVD. Did I regret missing it while it was in the theaters? Hmmmmm . . . not really. But I must admit that it was a pretty damn good film.
One . . . it had a good story. Lee, along with screenwriter David Magee did an excellent job in setting up Martel's story on screen. The movie devoted at least a good half hour into Pi's family background and his childhood. They especially took care in revealing his parents' philosophies - something that would profoundly affect his harsh ocean journey from Puducherry to Mexico. They also did an excellent job in utilizing the literary device of the flashback, using middle-age Pi's interview with a journalist. In fact, I believe that this device, along with Pi's first-person (whether he was the 16 year-old boy or the middle-aged man) narration help keep the story alive for me.
There were other aspects of "LIFE OF PI" that impressed me. Mychael Danna won a much deserved Academy Award for writing the movie's score. Mind you, I could not remember it for the likes of me. But I do recall how perfectly it meshed with the film's narration. I also have to commend the beautiful visual effects created by the now bankrupt Rhythm & Hues Studios. Their visuals - especially of the animals featured in this movie - struck me as breathtaking. Although some of the animals, like those featured in Pi's lifeboat, seemed real; while others like the meerkats on the floating island seemed more artistic than real. I especially enjoyed the sequence in which Pi's lifeboat encountered a breaching Humpback whale and the school of dolphins.
I can see many shaking their heads over my review so far. How could I have enjoyed this movie so much, if I did not regret missing it in the theaters? Remember my reason why I originally avoided the film in the first place? I did not want to see a movie about a boy and a tiger in a lifeboat. While watching the movie, I found myself wishing that the entire sequence featuring Pi and "Richard Parker" could be shorter. It almost seemed to go on . . . forever. This sequence also brought back some not-so-pleasant memories of Tom Hanks and a volleyball named Wilson in the 2000 film, "CASTAWAY". I felt relieved when Hanks' character was finally rescued by a freighter in that movie. While watching "LIFE OF PI", I eventually fell asleep before Pi and "Richard Parker" reached the floating island of the meerkats and Mexico. I woke up just in time to witness the escape from the meerkats island. Why did it have to take so long? I realize that the movie was about Pi's emotional and spiritual journey. But did it have to take so long? Oh well. It was still a damn good movie that ended on a very satisfying note.
From what I had read, Ang Lee personally selected 17 year-old Suraj Sharma to portray the 16 year-old Pi. And I must say that Sharma gave a stupendous performance. Along with Lee's direction and the visual effects, Sharma really made that movie. He did an excellent job in conveying Pi's journey from innocence to heartbreak to spiritual maturity. And I am astounded that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to nominate him for a Best Actor award. What in the hell were they thinking? I realize that the competition was pretty tough for 2012, but still . . . he should have been considered among the top three nominees.
The cast also benefited from excellent supporting performances from Irrfan Khan, who was excellent as the mature Pi. Rafe Spall was charming as the Canadian writer who interviewed Pi. Tabu gave an emotionally satisfying performance as Pi's mother Gita Pitel. And I was certainly impressed by Adil Hussain's commanding portrayal of Pi's father, Santosh Patel. Gérard Depardieu was certain memorable as the Tzimtzum's unpleasant cook. And James Saito added a great deal of intensity to the heartbreaking scene featuring an interview between Pi and the older Japanese insurance investigator. It was good to see him again.
What else can I say about "LIFE OF PI"? It was a beautiful and heartbreaking adaptation of Yann Martel's novel. Once again, Ang Lee proved to the world that when he puts his heart and soul into a film, he can create something beautiful. And he was ably supported by an excellent cast led by the very talented Suraj Sharma, Rhythm & Hues Studio's visual effects and Mychael Danna's score. I do not think I would ever love this movie. I am sorry, but I could not deal with so many minutes devoted to a boy and a tiger in a boat. But I must say that I enjoyed it very much.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
"STAR TREK VOYAGER" RETROSPECT - (4.23) "Living Witness"
The STAR TREK franchise has aired a good number of episodes featuring the "Mirror Universe" - an existence in which the Federation is solely a Human-controlled, fascist empire. This universe was first introduced in the "STAR TREK" Season Two episode, (2.04) "Mirror, Mirror". The "Mirror Universe" was also featured in several "STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE" episodes and most memorably in an "ENTERPRISE" episode called (4.18-4.19) "In a Mirror Darkly".
There have been parallel universe episodes featured in both "STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION" and "STAR TREK VOYAGER". But none of these episodes featured the "Mirror Universe". But if there was an episode that could almost seem part of the "Mirror Universe", it would have to be the Season Four "VOYAGER" episode called (4.23) "Living Witness". Directed by cast member Tim Russ, the episode began with an "evil" Captain Kathryn Janeway negotiating a deal with Vaskan ambassador Daleth. He wants to use Voyager's fire power in a war against the Vaskans about fighting a war with their Kyrian neighbors. In exchange, he will give Janeway directions to a wormhole that can get the U.S.S. Voyager closer to home. Janeway and Daleth come to an agreement. But the Federation crew's violent and aggressive methods lead Daleth to harbor second thoughts about the deal, especially after a Away team led by Chakotay managed to kidnap the Kyrian leader Tedran and a few of his followers . . . and Janeway murdered them in an effort to garner information about the Kyrian resistance movement.
It turned out that the above scenario was merely a historical simulation of the incident created by a 31st century Kyrian historian named Quarren. Sometime in 2374, the U.S.S. Voyager actually had an encounter with the warring Vaskans and Kyrians, in which the real Tedran and a handful of followers managed to board the Federation starship in order to stop what they believed was a weapons deal. The encounter resulted in Voyager losing a few debris, including a backup module of the Doctor's program. Using tools from Voyager, Quarren was able to activate the Doctor and discovered that he had been wrong about Janeway and the crew, along with their actual encounter with the 24th century Kyrians and Vaskans. The Doctor's revelation about the truth regarding the two species' encounter with Voyager led to another outbreak of violence that resulted in the near destruction of the Kyrian museum for which Quarren served as curator. Using one of the museum's artifacts, a Federation medical tricorder, as a source of information; the Doctor and Quarren eventually set matters straight.
I cannot say that "Living Witness" will ever be considered one of my favorite episodes of "STAR TREK VOYAGER". However, I must admit that I view it as one of the best episodes from Season Four. On one level, it allowed the series the opportunity to present its own version of a mirror universe - similar to those episodes featured in "STAR TREK", "STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE" and"ENTERPRISE". But on a deeper level, it questioned the validity of written history and considered the possibility that a great deal of history has been written by those with a particular point-of-view or agenda. Screenwriters Bryan Fuller, Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky's portrayal of Quarren and the Kyrians seemed to hint this approach.
Looking at Quarren's take on the Voyager crew as military and political monsters, I found myself wondering why the series never featured an actual "Mirror Universe" episode. Perhaps in that universe, circumstances prevented an actual Federation starship from being catapulted into the Delta Quadrant. Pity. When I first saw this episode, I was surprised to see that the mirror Voyager had a few Kazons as part of its crew. The Quarren character made an interesting comment: "Voyager had many weapons at their disposal, including species they'd assimilated along the way--Borg, Talaxian, Kazon. They were captured and made to work as part of Voyager's fighting force." The ironic thing about this comment is that the same could be said about the real Voyager crew. Think about it. Even before the starship got pulled into the Delta Quadrant, Kathryn Janeway collected her first wayward individual - Thomas Eugene Paris. After the starship ended up in the Delta Quadrant, she collected other individuals, who became members of her crew - Chakotay and the Maquis crew under his command, Neelix, Kes, Seven-of-Nine, Icheb and the other Borg children.
However, there is one aspect of "Living Witness" that I found slightly disturbing. After my recent viewing of the episode, I came away with the uncomfortable feeling that the screenwriters - especially Brannon Braga - harbored a low opinion of what they considered "revisionist history". What exactly is revisionist history . . . or historical revisionism? According to Wikipedia, it "is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event. Though the word revisionism is sometimes used in a negative way, constant revision of history is part of the normal scholarly process of writing history." Namely, some of the traditional history we learned from textbooks in the past have been "revised" or reinterpreted, when new material comes to light . . . or in some cases, when certain parties want to revise a past negative view of historical personages or events. Historical revisionism can be both positive or negative. Braga, Fuller and Menowsky seemed bent upon presenting revisionist history as something completely negative.
Although the episode featured both negative actions committed by both the Vaskans and Kyrians, only the Kyrians have been portrayed as unlikable or in a negative light. Even after the Doctor made it clear that Ambassador Daleth was responsible for the death of Kyrian leader Tedran seven hundred years earlier; the Vaskans kept their cool and demanded more of the truth, while the Kyrians reacted angrily to the Doctor's deconstruction of Quarren's earlier summations of the incident with Voyager. I found that odd. The screenplay portrayed the Vaskans as cool-headed, logical and desirous of the truth. Their only reason for sacking Quarren's museum was due to their angry belief that his historical theories were wrong. The Kyrians reacted with less ration - including Quarren, himself. And more importantly, the Doctor made a peculiar comment. He said the following in a caustic voice -"Revisionist history...it's such a comfort." What were Braga and the other writers trying to say? That revisionist history is something to ignore altogether . . . and that it is better to simply blindly accept the history presented in the old textbooks of the past? I feel that the screenwriters should have considered the possibility that revisionist history could be both good and bad - considering what history is being revised, and whether that revised history has evidence to back up the scholars' claims. Is that so hard?
There is one thing I can say about "Living History" - it featured some first-class acting by the cast and the episode's guest stars. Roxann Dawson was missing from the episode, due to her recovering from the birth of her daughter. But the rest of the cast were a hoot as the "evil" counterparts of the Voyager crew. I was especially impressed by Robert Beltran's take on the evil, yet "compassionate" Chakotay; and the insidious humor expressed by Tuvok's evil counterpart. Kate Mulgrew was frightening as the evil Kathryn Janeway. The woman could have scared the living daylights out of the Borg Queen and Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine. And Rod Arrants was very effective in presenting two completely different aspects of the Ambassador Daleth character. But the episode really belonged to Robert Picardo and guest star Henry Woronicz. Not only were both outstanding as the Doctor from the backup module and Kyrian historian Quarren, but the relationship they developed between the two characters proved to be the heart and soul of this episode.
I think "Living History" could have been a personal favorite of mine, if the screenplay did not seem hellbent upon viewing revisionist history as some kind of scholarly evil, instead of something that is a lot more complex . . . like everything else in this world. But it still proved to be a well-made episode that featured excellent direction by cast member Tim Russ, superb performances by the cast and an interesting peek into what a "Mirror Universe" Voyager could have been. And I still believe it is one of the best episodes from the series' Season Four.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
"BRIDE OF BELTHAZOR"
Both Olivia and Cole stared at the tall and slender, robed figure that stood before them. "Is that it?" the red-haired witch asked. "I mean . . . I guess I had been expecting something a little more . . ."
"Bloody?" The Gimle priest broke into a teasing grin. "Not all daemonic bonding ceremonies require blood, Miss McNeill." The priest, whose name happened to be Riesen. Ridges around his forehead and nose gave him a reptilian appearance.
Cole added, "The wine represents the blood. Like it does in many mortal religious ceremonies." His blue eyes gleamed wickedly. "Of course, we can still use real blood, if that will make you feel better."
Elise McNeill and an elderly, yet affable-looking man of medium height looked on with interest. Olivia's grandmother commented, "Wine is also used in Wiccan rituals, as well. It's too bad that many people are unable to see the similarities in many religions. Right Arthur?"
The affable-looking man turned out to be a Wiccan high priest named Arthur McMannus. He replied, "Apparently, the similarities go beyond mortal religions."
"I suppose so," Riesen commented. "And there is no need to worry, Miss McNeill," he said to Olivia. "I assure you that no blood will be part of the bonding ceremony." He gave Cole a slight, reproving look. "Right, Belthazor?" Cole merely sighed and rolled his eyes.
Olivia glanced at the drawing-room's door. Paige had arrived, along with two surprising visitors. "Is that Paige with Phoebe and Uncle Brion?" she asked.
Cole's eyes followed Olivia's gaze. He frowned. "This doesn't look good," he murmured.
"Excuse me." Olivia flashed a brief smile at Mr. McMannus and Riesen. Then she, Cole and her grandmother joined the new arrivals. "Paige! I see that you've finally arrived."
Warily, Paige nodded. "Yeah, I know I'm late. Uh . . ." She glanced uneasily at Brion. "We were . . . delayed. By someone in particular."
Cole nodded at his ex-wife. "Phoebe. What are you doing here?"
Her cheeks turning pink, Phoebe answered, "Um, we . . . I mean, I have something to tell you. Both of you." She took a deep breath.
"You had a premonition last night," Cole said, taking the two sisters and Brion by surprise. He chuckled lightly. "Yeah, I had figured as much."
Brion added in a slight supercilious tone, "She had one of you . . . marrying some woman other than Olivia. Possibly a daemon."
Paige glared at the Welshman. "Dude! Couldn't you have been subtle? Or at least allow Phoebe to say something?"
Olivia allowed herself an inward chuckle. She had never heard a fifty-two year-old British male be referred to as 'Dude'. Taking a deep breath, she asked her uncle, "Excuse me Brion, but how did you get involved in all of this?"
"I was there when Miss Halliwell had her premonition. On the terrace." Brion's green eyes glimmered with suspicion and hostility, as he stared at Cole. "And I had asked her about it . . . this morning." Then he rounded on his niece. "I must say, Olivia that you don't seem particularly upset that Cole might have some other female acquaintance that he apparently has not revealed."
An equally chilly Cole retorted, "Perhaps the reason why she isn't upset is that she knows about Idril."
A long silent pause followed, before Brion frowned at Olivia. "You know about this woman?"
"Yes, I do," Olivia replied wearily.
"Why did you not say anything?"
Cole shot back, "Because it was none of your damn business!"
Brion's face turned red with anger. "Now look here . . ." the Welshman began angrily.
"Look here . . . what?" Cole continued. "I have no intention of telling you a damn thing! Unlike everyone else here, I don't know you!"
Realizing that some semblance of peace was needed before sparks of any kind began to fly, Olivia spoke up. "Brion, Cole had told me about Idril not long ago. Their relationship wasn't that serious. At least from Cole's point of view." The half-daemon shot a quick glance at her. "And if you must know, Cecile had a similar premonition about Cole and Idril."
"She did?" Phoebe demanded sharply. "When?"
Olivia replied, "About two days ago."
Brion angrily rounded on his niece. "I cannot believe that you had remained silent about such an important matter! Miss Halliwell has a premonition of him marrying another woman . . ."
Cole rudely interrupted, "Spoiled the impact of your little revelation, didn't it?"
Olivia shot an exasperated look at her fiancé. "Cole? Please!" When he looked away, she continued, "Cecile had figured from her vision that . . ."
"Is someone using my name in vain?" Cecile appeared before the others. She glanced at Paige. "Oh! You're finally here. Good. Now we can do the full rehearsals for both ceremonies."
Brion turned to the Vodoun priestess. "I understand from Olivia that you had a vision of Cole marrying another woman, a few days ago."
Cecile paused, as she assumed a wary expression. "Yeah, about two days ago. Um . . . when did you find out?" She glanced at Phoebe, who shifted uncomfortably from one foot to another. "You had one?"
"About Cole and this other woman?" Phoebe nodded. "Last night. Mr. Morgan had found out about it."
"And Mr. Morgan demands to know more about this Idril woman, who will end up marrying Cole!" Brion demanded angrily.
Rolling his eyes, Cole heaved an exasperated sigh. "Idril is a daemon I had once dated back in the late 60s. She belongs to my order, the Thorn Brotherhood. And it wasn't serious . . . at least from my point of view. I broke up with her and she tried to kill me. We had a brief reunion in the late 90s that only lasted a few days. And I didn't lay eyes upon her, until the party in the Melora dimension, nearly two weeks ago." He glared at Brion. "Satisfied?"
"And Olivia knows about this . . .?"
Olivia sharply added, "Yes, Brion! I know. I've known about her since the engagement party!"
But Brion refused to brush aside the matter. "Nevertheless, until this Idril matter is dealt with, I believe you should consider postponing the wedding."
"Are you serious?" Olivia exclaimed in disbelief.
Brion continued, "Yes I am, Olivia. I realize that . . ."
Cole interrupted, his blue eyes radiating cold fire. "I don't give a damn what you think! And apparently, nor do the others. If you continue to insist upon this ludicrous idea that we need to postpone the wedding, I'll make sure that you will end up under Idril's spell and married to her!"
Confusion, anger . . . and a touch of fear illuminated Brion's green eyes. "What the bloody hell did you mean by that?"
"I mean . . . if you continue being such an annoying shit, I just might transform you into me," Cole continued in a chilly voice, "and make sure that Idril finds you!"
Olivia allowed herself a quick smile, as her uncle's face turned sheer white. Cecile surreptiously directed her gaze elsewhere. Paige smirked at Brion, while Phoebe regarded Cole with a shocked expression. Brion blinked momentarily. "I see," he finally said in a stiff voice.
Cole shot back, "And it's about damn time!"
Brion's jaw twitched momentarily, before he gave a stiff nod. "Will you all excuse me?" And he then marched away.
Silence fell between the small group. Then Paige broke the silence, as she turned to her sister. "Now that he's gone, don't you think that you should be heading for P3, Pheebs?" The older sister stared at the youngest Charmed Ones with confused eyes. "You're supposed to help Piper decorate the club for tonight. Remember?"
"Oh!" Phoebe gave her head a slight shake. "Yeah, of course. Um . . . I guess I'll see you all later." Her face slightly pink with embarrassment, she turned away from the others and left.
Cecile nudged Paige's arm. "Let's get ready for the rehearsal."
The couple drifted to an isolated spot near the fireplace. Olivia regarded her fiancé with curious eyes. "Would you have done it?" she asked. "Carry out your threat to Brion?"
Cole responded with a direct look. "Let me put it this way, he either would have ended up in Idril's clutches or I would have incinerated him on the spot."
Olivia added, "Unless Dad had beaten you to the punch and blow up Brion, instead."
A satisfied smile curved Cole's lips. "Now that would have been a pleasant sight."
With a sigh, Olivia patted Cole's arm. "Listen, I think you should know that this isn't about you. Brion's . . . hostility. It's about me." Again, she sighed. "As far as my uncle is concerned, you're just another example of me fucking up by endangering the family. Richard is another. And I don't think he still hasn't forgiven me for Dafydd."
Cole frowned. "Who?"
"One of my Welsh cousins. He, uh . . . after Richard and Aunt Rhiannon's deaths, Dafydd had came here to escort Rhiannon's body back to Wales. We were at the Orchid Hotel, when Dafydd made a disparaging remark about Richard. I, uh . . ." She broke off to ask Cole a question. "Do you remember that time when we had meditated together on your birthday, and tapped into each other's memories?"
"Sure," Cole said with a nod.
Olivia hesitated, before she continued, "And do you recall seeing some guy fall out of a hotel window?"
A pause followed before Cole nodded again.
Taking a deep breath, Olivia added, "That was my cousin Dafydd. He, uh . . . had ended up in one of the hotel's swimming pools, after I had flung him out of the window, using my telekinesis." She paused. "Only, I didn't know about the swimming pool."
"I see." Cole let out a gust of breath. "I suppose this little incident is one of the reasons why your grandfather didn't show up for the wedding."
Olivia's mouth twisted into a smirk. "What do you think? Most of them are convinced that I might be the next Briana Morgan."
"I think . . ." Cole hesitated. "I think that Brion and some of the other Morgans need to get their heads out of their collective asses. And out of the past. I can only imagine what your uncle might do, next."
If she had to be honest with herself, Olivia realized that she would rather not.
Ignoring the sounds of activity from downstairs, Brion sat inside his guest bedroom, brooding over his niece and future nephew-in-law. He sighed. It galled him that once again, Olivia had become involved in someone with a dangerous past. Only Cole Turner aka Belthazor happened to be a more dangerous kettle of fish than the late Richard Bannen. And this extremely dangerous and powerful creature is set to marry his niece within twenty-four hours. What the hell had Olivia been thinking?
And now it seems that Cole might end up forming a dangerous union with someone other than Olivia. Both Cecile Dubois and Phoebe Halliwell had visions of the half-daemon marrying some demoness - an ex-girlfriend. Brion did not know whether to accept Cecile's claims that a spell might be the reason for Cole's possible marriage to this demoness. At first, he had viewed this theory as a desperate attempt on Miss Dubois' part to divert any suspicions from the half-daemon. Now, Brion began to suspect that the Voudon priestess might be right. Cole did seem contemptuous of his former lover. But how can he prevent this potentially dangerous union from becoming a reality? Killing Cole seemed out of the question. The half-daemon was too powerful and neither the McNeills or Nimue would forgive him.
Several minutes of pondering led Brion to realize that the solution to the problem would be to kill Cole's ex-lover. He could examine any books on demonology or the supernatural inside the McNeills' library for information on Idril. Or perhaps any of the personal Books of Shadow that each member of his sister's family possess.
Brion left his room and slipped downstairs. Avoiding the activity inside the large drawing-room, he headed straight for the library on the other side of the foyer. After searching the bookshelves for nearly ten minutes, the Welshman came across a book titledPARRISH'S ENCYCLOPEDIA ON THE COVENS, ORDERS AND SECTS OF THE SUPERNATURAL. Brion could not imagine where the McNeills had discovered this book. He noticed that it had been published in 1975.
It did not take Brion long to come across a chapter titled "The Brotherhood of the Thorn". He recalled Cole mentioning that Idril belonged to the half-daemon's former order - the Thorn Brotherhood. The chapter provided detailed information on the daemonic order's origins and its more infamous deeds. It also listed the Order's top members. Brion found entries on both Belthazor and Nimue. It also included Cole's uncle, but mentioned that the former assassin had left the Order for the morally superior Gimle Order back in the 19th century . . . and had been killed by his nephew in the late 1960s. It also struck the male witch odd that the Thorn Brotherhood's members had not been listed alphabetically. Perusing the chapter even further, Brion discovered that the Order's members had been listed chronologically, based upon the year of their births. And how this Parrish person managed to discover this seemed like a miracle to the witch.
According to the book, Marbus had been born in 1760, Nimue in 1779 and Belthazor in 1885. Brion examined a few pages, until he came upon an entry on Idril. Born in 1911, Cole's former lover had come from a race of daemons that originated in the Kenotês Dimension. Recruited into the Thorn Brotherhood by its leader in 1949, Idril's specialty became acquiring the souls of those involved in the entertainment business. As a high-level daemon in the Thorn Order, it would take a blood-based potion, or very powerful magic practitioner to vanquish Idril. Or one could also consider using a potion based upon a resin from trees and shrubs called amber. Apparently, daemons from the Kenotês Dimension seemed to be susceptible to amber - no matter how powerful they happen to be.
Brion paused. Hmmm. Amber. An excellent possibility. It should not hard for him to find any. Once he acquired the amber resin, all he had to do was make the potion, find Idril and use it against her. Finding Idril, he realized, might prove to be difficult. Brion concluded that he would have to use another spell to summon the daemon. And he would have to do it as soon as possible.
END OF CHAPTER EIGHT