You always got the feeling that Julian Fellowes was winging it with Downton Abbey.
Oh, for the first season and the spectacular second season he knew exactly what he was aiming for and doing (I’ve written about the show a few times on this site, like here), but for all the years after that there was this general feeling (at least for me) of someone improving on a world stage. (“Do you like this? No? Maybe this? Okay, we’ll do this for a bit.”) And whenever he hits a roadblock, he jumps forward in time; like a reset button.
I’ve been watching the new season and while I felt everything after the second season was pretty weak, this final year is just… okay, I have to say, boring and lazy.
There. I said it. And I feel so better afterwards. Is Fellows so done with his juggernaut that he just wants it over? There is no real action or point so far to the season. He erases major plot points with a simple conversation (this is where the lazy bit comes in, things just happen and life moves on), and nothing really seems to move forward. Soap operas are not this bad. In a way, the show has almost become a parody of itself.
There are things I will always like about Downton Abbey (some of the characters, the period it is taking part) and things I will never understand (the series has jumped forward about 20 years since it’s beginning and no one has freaking aged!), but at least, for all its faults, it was in the hands of Fellows and he is a really good screenwriter.
Now, I just see him as a good screenwriter who is very tired. A lot of fans are going to be very disappointed. I hate to say it, but it’s true. Maybe the second half of the final season will erase my concerns, but right now I see it going out with something less than a grand whimper- a reluctant shrug.
Okay, onto five things I am actually enjoying right now. Continue reading
So I have to accept the fact my kids are not going to be into the Peanuts. I truly see the generational gap there. While I can write a post dissecting the interworking genius of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (which I did do here), my kids would rather watch something else.
Actually, my son had a really good answer for not wanting to watch the show. He said they used bad language. Which is true, if you consider the word “stupid” a bad word, as we try to do in our house.
And while my son loves looking at my old comics (especially Calvin & Hobbes), he has no interest in looking at Peanuts. So while I’m busy each year collecting the complete works (thanks to the releases by Fantagraphics Books), my old paperback copies sit gathering dust on his shelves. Once I tried reading him the books and he was startled by them.
“Why are they so mean to Charlie Brown?”
Now how would you answer that? Is it funny to be mean to someone? Are we laughing at a child’s pain? In our age of fighting bullying, is Charlie Brown a victim? Granted, in the later years of Schulz’s writing, Charlie Brown took a back seat and much of his torture disappeared (usually everything seemed to be about Rerun), but it is there in the early years tenfold.
In the next year we’ll be getting a new Charlie Brown movie. The trailer looks beautiful, but I wonder how they will handle this stuff. It could either be a rebirth for the franchise or the final nail in the coffin. When Charles Schulz died he made it very clear he wanted everything to stop after his passing. His family seems to have done everything possible to keep it going though; yet, a part of me believes Schulz had it right. Especially now.
Now on to my October list! Continue reading
Randomness from the last few days…
Do both Paul and Ringo dye their hair? They are both in their 70s so the answer is probably yes. My wife also believes Ringo dyes his beard. How does one do that?
Because of the Disney film Tarzan, my kids like to run around in their underwear. I’m still working on my counter-argument to this practice because it is kind of hilarious.
I’ve locked down the Table of Contents for my new nonfiction book Me Stuff. Started with two hundred posts (I’ve done over 520 on this site total), then cut it down to 70. Now I’m ending at 30 or so.
I think Georgia font is pretty friendly. I want a friendly font for Me Stuff, one that says, “Sit down, I have a story to tell.” Continue reading
This is the first time I have hated a winter.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to complain about the lack of seasons. It threw off my natural clock! I couldn’t feel the shift in the world, in my mood and energy that came with the seasons. And when “winter” did come around in that warm land, I would dream beautiful dreams of perfect white snow.
Now, with this harsh winter, Jack Frost and Suzy Snowflake can both go suck it.
I want warm weather.
I want to lay on a beach and get a sunburn. I want to pretend again that wearing a long sleeve shirt is a “cold” weather day. Oh, LA, I am so sorry. Take me back!
This month’s list has one overlapping theme to all of my selection… They involve things that help distract you when you are stuck inside for long periods of time. Don’t believe me? Check out my first choice! Continue reading
As an adult, it takes a certain amount of courage to put on a costume. Let me correct that… it takes a certain amount of courage and alcohol to put on a costume.
A costume draws people’s eyes towards you almost like being on a stage except it’s more personable. There isn’t the protective separation because of spotlight and distance. It’s real, you are a dude dressed up and they can see you… and talk to you.
I have always been impressed with people that have the strength to put on a costume. I look at them with a certain amount of awe, even those that attempt the cheaper creations. Of course, there is nothing like a great one though. For example, there is a woman down the street that on Halloween will dress-up as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and she has the look and cackle down perfectly. It can take a fan’s breath away… and also instinctively take two steps back in fright.
For me, I never feel more like an introvert than at this time of the year. I go into my shell as I hand out candies; always being sure to give a little bit more to the kids who look truly great.
Oh wait, does that make me a bad person? The fact I judge a kid’s costumes and award accordingly?
Actually the more I think about it, the more I am embarrassed I admitted that. Because even those in a bad costume are braver than me at that moment. But if I was to dress up… Continue reading
Every night my children go to bed with cheetah cubbies that may be leopards.
They are cheap stuffed toys, the kind you see at the front of lesser family restaurants. Nothing extravagant, but wherever they go in the house, they are usually in the same room, many times next to each other. And each evening, they are needed for nighttime or there might be tears.
The cheetahs started with my son when he realized how fast they were.
My son has always loved to run. Back when he used to go to daycare and I would pick him up, on every nice day he would be in the playground racing with his friends. The teacher would just shout “Go!” and watch the kids run around and around again, not considering it was the parents that had to deal with the kids with sweat-soaked hair that would always need a bath later.
Now my son wasn’t always the fastest, he did good, but there were always kids a little faster since they might be older or just plan bigger. But that didn’t matter to my son, he would always tell me on the way home how he won… even when we both knew he didn’t.
He was Dash from The Incredibles for Halloween when he was four then the year after that The Flash. Whenever either costume was put on he would get this look in his eye, scream “zoom” and take off running around our house hoping to find a bad guy some place.
A red blur of speed!
Last Christmas, my daughter gave her brother a giant stuffed cheetah. (Well, actually the parents did but she happily took credit for it, she was one then.) My son immediately declared it was the mommy cheetah, and they both happily agreed. The cheetah cubbies were grabbed and quickly were reunited.
They are now a family of cheetahs. Continue reading
Superman was always my favorite superhero. There was always a lost operatic elegance to his story in my opinion. Yes, he saves cats from trees and helps old ladies cross the street, but he is alone among us. One of us, and yet not really one of us. A lost relic of another world, another time.
One of my favorite character debates comes around Superman. See, I love breaking down what makes a character or a story work, and here is the one I always like to throw at writers, is Superman pretending to be Clark Kent or is Clark Kent pretending to be Superman.
I love that!
See, Christopher Reeve had Superman be the real person and Clark Kent the performance, but more recently, TV shows like Smallville and Lois and Clark had it the other way around. What does that mean really? Everything to the character, little to us in the real world, of course. Our boring and drab reality where men don’t fly, and magic and superpowers only survive in our imaginations.
I’ve been thinking a lot about superheroes over the last few years. Mostly that is because of my son. The one nearby me as I write this, wearing Justice League PJs, Star Wars slippers, and holding a Superman toy from the film Man of Steel. He is five. Continue reading
I don’t know if I can say this as the dad of a five-year old, especially one who changes who his favorite superhero is every week, but for me, my favorite superhero has always been Superman.
And as a fan, it s a good year to be one of us (did you see the trailer for the new movie yet? Wow!). Today marks his 75th year on our planet, so I thought I would link to some of my earlier posts on the man of steel.
Book Review: Superman by Larry Tye
This is a book review for a great piece of nonfiction by Larry Tye. If you are curious about the origins of the character, the people that have played him, and the struggles of the creators (if you are a writer this stuff will floor you), grab this book. You can read the review here.
Recommending Four of GraphicAudio’s DC Audiobooks
I love GraphicAudio. If you have not heard a GraphicAudio audiobook you are really missing out. Basically, they are extremely well-produced audio readings of books with special effects, music, and a full cast of actors. Their tagline is “A Movie in Your Mind” and that is fairly accurate to what you get from them. In this blog post I recommend four of their audiobooks, many containing our favorite man of steel. They have a new Superman audiobook coming out in May and just recently did their first Marvel title. Trust me on this. Learn more via this link.
The Superhero Books of Ralph Cosentino
Ralph Cosentino has written three books for kids about superheroes; one on Batman, one on Wonderwoman, and, of course, one on Superman. They are beautifully illustrated and a fun way to introduce a child to comics and their heroes. After writing this review, I became a fan of some of his other children books. His books have a lot of wit and are in many ways modern-day classics. If you are a parent of a kid who likes to tie a towel around their neck and pretend it is a cape, I highly recommend you track his stuff down. My review is here.
Up, Up, and Away!
Yesterday, the writer Becky Flade mentioned me in a blog post on her site.
The post was called “The Blog that Wasn’t” (which you can find here) and she said this about me and my site:
“When I need a nerd fix, Scott’s my man.”
Now, I’ve considered myself many things in my life; but never “nerd.”
Yes, I would say I’m a snob. I can get behind “snob.” I have all the earmarks of a snob! I could have it tattooed on me without a problem. It could be on my arm near where my sweater vest ends (yes, I am wearing a sweater vest), or even above my reading glasses, right on my forehead. Let me give you some examples of my snobbery:
- I have in my dining room pictures of some of my favorite authors, and many times I have used them as a test for visitors. If, for example, you call Mark Twain “Einstein” well, you might not be invited over again.
- I have been known to tease my friends who praise Twilight on their Facebook pages. (And they should be teased, especially if they are an adult.)
- I write novels (while adventurous and surprising) that contain art, music, and literature references.
- On my desk I have a Shakespeare action figure and an autograph of Woody Allen.
- Oh, did I mention I have a master’s degree?
You see, I sing snob!
But nerd? Continue reading