Five Things I am Into Right Now, February 2017

Snoopy Attempting The DreamEver since the election in November writing feels… trite.

It feels silly and, dare I say, hollow to worry about my next book or blog or even think about fiction. I can’t even name the last piece of fiction I read (maybe Neil Gaiman back in October?).

“Look at what is happening to reality!?!” A part of my mind keeps screaming.

Writing fiction is like being Nero with the fiddle while Rome (the real world) burns. And when you consider climate change, “burn” is not a bad word to use in that context.

But now it has been some time since the inauguration (even though it feels like freaking years), and if I don’t do something I will go stir crazy. I need to figure out my next step with my latest novel (Agent? Publisher? Furnace?), what I am going to create next, and, more vital, finding what feels important.

That’s the trick right there- “important.”

Of course, the irony of this is as I look over my latest five things I see a few time fillers there. I guess I would argue that for the last few months I just wanted to turn my brain off. Now I am ready to turn it back on and see what it can do. Today we need all of us to be active. We can’t simply wait for the next election.

No more fiddles. Continue reading

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3 Questions I Am Struggling With

Question MarkQuestion 1: Is it wrong to judge a person for supporting a racist candidate? Does that make me questionable as well for my own judging?

First off, I’m not going to go into a long discussion about who Trump is and his history. If you don’t know about him, well, I don’t know what to say. Personally, I’m a big fan of how the Huffington Post ends every article about him, listing that he is a racist, liar, etc. (All undeniably true.) The fact is we have NO idea how he would govern; all we have to go by on what he would do is his words. And his words are bat-shit crazy.

But Trump’s craziness is not my struggle. I can wrap my brain around that. There has always been crazy in this world.

The thing is I am I judging people when they say they support him. I hide friends left and right on Facebook, drop people on Twitter. Because I immediately think they are crazy and racist too. I mean, who you support says a lot about you, right? Continue reading

My Struggle to Like Batman V. Superman

Look up in the sky! Is it a bird? No, it is spoilers!

Mr. BatmanI’ve always considered myself a DC guy.

While I appreciate Marvel and enjoy the movie empire of it (especially the Captain America films), my heart belongs with the 52 worlds of DC Comics. One of my dreams has always been to write a Captain Marvel film, for example. Granted, I know that will not happen (they are planning to make a film soon and, sadly, no one called me).

I remember the thrill of seeing Christopher Reeve fly. I saw Michael Keaton’s Batman three times in the theater. And I remember loving the Super Friends each Saturday morning. I still watch the DVDs with my kids!   

Yet, as I sat there watching the latest DC film, it felt just off for me. Something was off the rails. It was as if the heart and joy of what I loved about DC was gone, replaced with a brute and hopeless vision of our world. This is a film that begins with imagery that feels like 9/11 and there is little humor in a world still living in terror. Maybe for the writer and director there is a deeper meaning in doing this with beloved characters, but for me it just left me feeling… removed. Maybe a better explanation is stranded, left behind by a comic book universe I felt very at home in. 

Here are my four biggest gripes with this new film. I don’t know if it will change anything by me saying this in the big scheme of things, but I am certain I will feel better after. Much like a therapy session, I guess. So here we go… You, dear reader, are my psychologist. Sit back as I lay down my problems with the winged bat and the big boy scout’s latest film. Continue reading

Rewatching E.T. as an Adult

ETYou don’t expect movies to change.

Let me correct that, you don’t expect movies to change unless they are made by George Lucas. Then the rules are thrown out the door. I didn’t even buy the last version of the original Star Wars trilogy. Why? I didn’t like that he changed Obi-Wan’s scream to scare off the sandpeople and added in Darth Vader shouting “No!” during the end of Return of the Jedi. Didn’t we have enough of Vader shouting “No!”? At least he didn’t add more scenes of him walking around like Frankenstein’s monster.

I’m sorry, I had a point here when I started.

The fact is most movies are locked in. So you assume the experience will stay the same with each viewing. For example, I can tell you which parts in To Kill a Mockingbird and Casablanca I will cry during each time (each bloody time), and I can tell you which moments of Monty Python and the Holy Grail always make me laugh… because I am a very silly and predictable man.

So when I decided to watch E.T. for the first time since I was a kid, showing it to my own children, there was a lot I was assuming going in.

Elliott, the alien, some scary grownups, flying bikes, Drew Barrymore, classic Spielberg- got it.

The shock for me was how much different the experience was as a grownup watching the film. I’m not saying I forgot the movie. No, I’m pretty sure I saw it four or five times in the theater (I was the target audience then), the scenes I remembered were all there. It was just different. And I walked away actually loving the film more now than I did then.

Here are three reasons it really hit me and I recommend you check it out.  Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, February 2016

Sherlock Coloring BookHi readers! It’s good to be back. Sorry about the dust. I’ll try to clean up around here in a bit.

I’ve been off for the month, working on my latest novel, but now I am back and…

What is the deal with coloring books? Okay, this is a tangent, but recently I bought a coloring books for adults, based on the TV show Sherlock and I find it all very calming.

There I am, right next to my kids (while they work on their superhero or Little Pony books) and I am coloring a picture of a corpse hiding in some weeds. My daughter asked me “Who is that?” I replied, “Someone sleeping.” That was a lie, it’s a dead body! Yet, there I am coloring a picture of it. I’m feeling calm from doing it. It’s a freaking dead body and I am lying to my daughter too and I’m calmed by this and…

Okay, I really missed having this blog! Let’s see what else?

Oh, I introduced my eight-year old son to Monty Python! We watched Holy Grail. And, yes, I did fast forward through the naughty virgins scene, but the rest he ate up. Ever since then he has been quoting the film back to me, asking “Dad, do you remember when King Arthur asked if the monster was behind the bunny?” or “Flesh wound? He said it was just a flesh wound!” I can’t stop smiling about it. My son fits so nicely into my Monty Python world. Next up Flying Circus. Man, he is going to love the Spanish Inquisition. And spam! Who doesn’t love spam?

Man, did I miss venting here about things.

Deep Breath Scott, get your head back in the game and focused. Now here are the five things I am into right now. Enjoy! I’m off to color questionable scenes with Monty Python playing in the background. Bliss! Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, October 2015

Downton Abbey Season 3You 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

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, January 2015

This is Lightning. She only has bad daysSo I’m going through a thing with a video game.

Do you remember this post? (The reference is only a few paragraphs, it won’t take you long.) There I am praising Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

You can feel the love.

It could be argued that it was the honeymoon stage of my relationship with the game.

See, I’ve had a long relationship with Lightning and her role-playing world, playing both of the installments before starting on the third and final part (I’m sure it could almost equal entire months if the hours were embarrassingly added together). And, as you can guess from the post then, everything was going swimmingly in our relationship. We laughed at the same jokes, enjoyed discussing our past history…. Then this damn monster called Grendel appeared in a desert world and ruined everything for us.

Ruined, ruined, ruined!

Now, I love the literary reference in the monster’s name, so the creators get points for that, but that monster destroyed my infatuation with the game and world and Lightning and sent me away. (Actually, over to Gotham City and a Batman game.) It’s not often I leave a game unfinished, especially a Final Fantasy game, so it was rough. I like to think it felt that way to Lightning too.

So here I am, it’s a new year, and I am looking for new beginnings, new possibilities. And since Lightning and I have such a long past I decided to give it another shot….

Of course, this time I am wisely playing on easy.

I have no video game shame.

Here is my first list for 2015, and speaking of video games… Continue reading

How to Fix Love Actually

Love ActuallyI demand a new edit!

Since 2003, Love Actually has become almost a part of the holiday season. It is on TV, the DVDs are on sale. Some people love it, some people don’t; for me, I always have viewed it as a beautiful mess.

What I mean by that is that I see the well-intentioned heart under the surface, but there is a lot of embarrassing junk covering it up. You know what I mean, the stuff you throw away that you hope not even the garbage man sees.

The film also makes me sad, because it is a slipup of a writer I actually enjoy most of the time (and it could be argued should have known better). While in the movie world he is known mainly for romantic-comedies (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones), in my opinion his genius has always thrived in television. Richard Curtis is the man who gave us Black Adder, Mr. Bean, The Vicar of Dibley and probably one of the greatest Doctor Who episodes of all time (“Vincent and the Doctor”). If you don’t know what I am referring to here, check them out pronto!

But here is the kicker, while most movies after they are completed are what they are and we have to accept it, there is so much going on in Love Actually that a little correcting doesn’t feel impossible.

It would be like going to a barber but for films. A snip here, a snip there and suddenly we have a film that maybe the whole family can enjoy. Granted, some of my hopes are beyond the skills of the editor (unless we are lucky and there are deleted scenes out there), but quite a few of these could be done almost easily, all it would take are a pair of sharp scissors. I will even put a Christmas bow on them if it helps. Continue reading

Merry Christmas to my now 1548 blog followers! And my attempt at the worst Christmas movie ever!

Seriously, the worst Christmas record cover ever. I don’t know why I always get shocked by bad holiday stories. I already complained this year about the cruel Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (here) but this weekend I found something even worse. Wow, this is bad.

I don’t know the title of it, but it involved talking puppies. Okay, talking animals I can get behind a little bit, but the family they are staying with have their house go into foreclosure. They sneak away, leaving the mommy dog and her puppies in the house. Then animal control shows up and takes the mommy dog away, leaving the puppies! But wait! We aren’t done. Then the house is broken into by a group of teenage hoodlums, who want to sell the puppies on the black puppy market…. Okay, it was then I stopped watching. (I expect better Netflix!)

So it got me thinking, can I come up with a worse Christmas movie idea? Can I?  Also, it turns out it has been a while since I have done something fun to thank my blog followers. The last time I did it was when I reached 1300 followers, but now I am at 1548. So… yeah… I am due for something silly.  (Oh, and thank you for following!)

So, to my wonderful followers and readers, I wish to proudly present my advertisement for the worst Christmas movie ever- 24 ‘Til Snow!

24 ‘Til Snow!

Dickie Wayne III (frat brother, smooth playboy and eternal mischief-maker) has just inherited his grandfather’s ski lodge. But there is no snow! And if there isn’t snow by Christmas all of the guests will cancel and he will be ruined before he can even start! What is there to do? Why have a wild Bikini Christmas party of course! But what will happen when that snooping sheriff and his talking deputy dog learn that Dickie doesn’t have a liquor license?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Oh no! Santa drank from Big Lug’s secret family recipe moonshine! How will the guys ever get him sober enough to deliver the rest of the presents before Christmas morning? Keep your clothes on Santa!

24 ‘Til Snow!

Trixie (Dickie’s younger sister) has sneaked into the party and wants to learn the true meaning of love. How can Dickie, the playboy to end all playboy, protect his sister from his frat brothers and teach her the truths about the heart?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Aliens!

24 ‘Til Snow!

In a very heartfelt moment with a poor family, Dickie and his guests learn the true meaning of Christmas… now back to partying!

24 ‘Til Snow!

It turns out that grandfather’s lodge has been a secret meeting spot for Russian spies since World War II. And the Russians have hidden their top-secret codes inside of the lining of Dickie’s grandfather’s fedora. The same one Dickie has been wearing all night! Can the rookie (and hot) FBI agent save Dickie’s life… without falling in love?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Fun for the whole family! (Rated R)

Forward to Christmas Past! Christmas Blogposts to Check Out…

Santa on his SleighThere are a few things that I really enjoy writing about.

A favorite author or book? Bring it on! A television show I like to watch? Sure. Something odd going on in my life? Well, within reason of course. I do like to keep some privacy. There is a line there and certainly someday I will find it.

One of the things I get a kick out of each year is Christmas. Heck, I even wrote a bad Christmas song on this site in the past (here). Let me add to that- One of my favorite pieces of fiction I have ever done is a holiday movie screenplay. I still dream someday I can sell that script and see it made.

This holiday just gets me going. Basically, it is the artistic equivalent of drinking one too many glasses of hot chocolate. Here are some of the blogposts I have done about my favorite holiday. Enjoy!

The New Kid in the Audience: A Holiday Confessional. One of the first things I ever wrote for the internet was about Christmas. Want proof? Here you go. It’s my own agnostic/atheist view on a holiday I love. With a helping of Snoopy throw in for good measure.

Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I’ve done over 30 reviews on my local NPR station now, but this is easily one of my favorites. I have always loved this book and it really gave me a chance to share that love. Also, I got to read selections from the book. Check it out! You can even hear me do Tiny Tim!

Losing the Grinch: When I Became a Who. On a Christmas Eve, my house was broken into and all the Christmas presents and electronics were stolen. My oldest child was only a month old at the time, so it would not leave emotional scars for him, but it is something his parents will never forget. When I was a kid I used to have trouble falling asleep on Christmas Eve because of the excitement, now it is a very different feeling each year.

The Littlest Angel Is the Worst Holiday Story… Ever. Yes, the holiday story gauntlet has been thrown down and this is the worst in my opinion out there. Oh, it is so, so bad. The fact that people still read this every  year gives me the shivers. Seriously, I am shivering right now.

The Christmas Accordion: Holiday 2012 Thoughts. I had just finished seeing the first Hobbit film and was sitting in a coffee shop with my dad when I heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. My son was almost the same age as many of the victims. This post is about how Christmas should feel in a school, or at least how it did for me.

Neil Diamond’s “A Cherry Cherry Christmas” is the Worst Christmas Song Ever! A Holiday Musical Rant. I know, I know, Neil Diamond fans, I know. This is Mr. Diamond referencing his own work. But that doesn’t change the fact that this song is so utterly bad and inappropriate. You don’t believe me that this is the worst holiday song? Go ahead and read my post and then listen to it. If you have real courage, watch the video.

Writing a Good Christmas Story: Four Things to Consider. This is my most recent post on the holiday and here I put my writing educator hat on, trying to lay down some ground rules for what makes a Christmas story work… because honestly, most holiday stories don’t.