I took a walk this morning and passed by some incredibly large poppies that looked like they were from Little Shop of Horrors. It reminded me of that delightfully quirky musical and how someone came up with the idea of it - sheer genius! I looked it up. Howard Ashman who is described in Wikipedia as lyricist, librettist, and musician; he wrote the screenplay. I consider myself fairly ignorant of all he's done. Despite leaving this earth at age 40, he won the Disney Legends award for "extraordinary and integral contribution" and joins the ranks of Milt Kahl (animation), Les Clark (animation), Norman Palmer (film), Julie Andrews (!) and lots more. Ashman won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics (I love the lyrics!). You won't know this if you're as ignorant as I am, but Howard Ashman, along with Alan Menken, wrote all of the songs for the film. When I think about it, I'm astounded. But wait Ashman pitched to Disney the idea of an animated musical adaptation of Aladdin and with Alan Menken (I am in awe of him too) wrote songs for Aladdin also. According to what I read on Wikipedia, during the early production of Aladdin, "Ashman and Menken were approached to help "reinvigorate and save" the production of Beauty and the Beast, which was apparently going nowhere as a non-musical. The film was released just a few months after his death and is dedicated to Ashman. Two Golden Globes, two Academy Awards, two Grammy awards, and here I am totally ignorant of this man. If I hadn't seen an extraordinary poppy this morning I wouldn't have looked up Little Shop of Horrors and discovered Howard Ashman (and Alan Menken). I regret that Howard lived so short a life and hope that others, even if they don't know him, find his work, his legacy. Note to self: Sure, you're no Howard Ashman, but take a moment to ruminate and be inspired. Howard and Alan didn't write to be famous. They simply loved the hybrid of story and song. And (in my tiny life) I don't write to be famous. I write because I love stories and language and characters and because I hope those stories will be read and to have an effect on people. So..I thank Howard Ashman and the poppy for reminding me of this.
C. D. Finley
Opinionated, wry, sometimes corny, observational humor mostly about writing, but you never know.