Five Things I Am Into Right Now, October 2014

It's The Great PumpkinSo 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?”

“Well, it’s…”

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

Advertisements

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, February 2014

SteamengineWhen I started February I had steampunk dreams.

See, I have this book I had written a few years ago and I’ve been debating what to do with it. It’s not a bad book, I’m proud of it; it’s just I want to add a special flair to it. Something that would make it stand out more. So I considered the idea of adding some steampunk to it.

The book already had steam engines and hot air balloons, so adding more elements didn’t seem too difficult a concept. But the fact is the more I read and study steampunk the more I begin to wonder if this is too much an undertaking. Frankly, steampunk is like joining a literary masonic society with their own phrases, handshakes, words, etc. I really dig the vibe of it, but the last thing I want to do is fight the idea that I was writing a phony steampunk book or not embracing it enough. Jeepers! Writing a regency book in the voice of Jane Austen feels less intimidating if you can believe it.

Maybe I am just overwhelmed by it all right now and need to take a deep breath. Honestly, it’s hard to take on too many big ideas right now and I think it is the weather. I feel trapped and tired, and I think we all do by this nonstop snow and ice. You can see this in my five choices this month, because it is all about escape and comfort for me. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Shadows

It seems every year that Thanksgiving becomes more and more the great afterthought of the holiday season.

It is the hub between the ever more popular Halloween and Christmas, the great holiday hump day; in other words, like Wednesday it is not a weekend, but at least it isn’t Tuesday or Monday.

There are no Thanksgiving trees at Hallmark. No one has a turkey ornament. I have never received a Thanksgiving card

Worse, if you go to many stores today it is almost nonexistent in our world, except being remembered as the day before we can all shop like fiends… Well, some stores open Thanksgiving evening now, so maybe for the next generation Thanksgiving will become something akin to the food and water station at a marathon, the haven for that bit of energy before you get to it!

Run, my little shoppers, run…

Could it be argued that Black Friday has taken over Thanksgiving in importance? Possibly.  Our economy couldn’t live without Black Friday (and Cyber Monday); no one would say the same for Thanksgiving, save the Turkey farmers.

Gobble gobble, indeed. Continue reading

Starting School

“Can you believe our firstborn is starting school?” My wife asked me this question a few days ago, her eyes going wide as she said it, and it ridiculously enough took me completely by surprise.

My son is about to start Begindergarten, which is a cute way of saying an “Early Fives” class. He is going to attend it in an elementary and he will be there all day just like all of the bigger kids, using their same cafeteria and their playground (not at the same time, of course). My wife and I were so focused on getting him into the right school in our area for the last eight months that I didn’t realize until recently how much this change meant for all of us in our little family and for him.

This was about to be something new…

In preparation of this first day over the weekend we drove him to his new school and allowed him to play in the playground for about an hour. While he loved playing in the playground (trying everything he could), I kept noticing things, my parental eye kicking in.

  • Who was it that left these empty beer cans here on the playset? Will these people who would drink at a kids’ playground be around the school? Heaven forbid, or will they actually be attending?
  • Why are there so many weeds?
  • And are those soccer nets going to be fixed?
  • Is that rust?

Yes, while this playground is better than anything I had growing up (and this is a great school district), I still was catching everything I possibly could. This could be a super power of mine. A lame super power, but still a power. You can call me “Protective Dad.” And I am here to shake my head and wag my finger at others! Irresponsible people of the world be warned! Protective Dad is among you now! Continue reading

Living With Snoopy

Charlie Brown taught me how to read.

My father, growing up in the 60’s, collected Peanuts books and they filled up almost an entire bookshelf in my grandparents’ house. For a child, those four paneled black-and-white sketches were an untapped goldmine. I knew there were riches there; I just had no idea how to translate them. I was like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, standing over the miniature landscape, trying to figure out how to use the map to find the Well of Souls where the Ark is housed.

Like Indy, I was not the kind of child to give up on something easily. So slowly and with many questions over time, I learned how to read the panels; memorizing one word after another. My curiosity drove me. So while others of  my age were learning words like “Cat” and “Dog,” I could read “Blockhead” and “Wishy-Washy.”

Over time I began to take the books home, even going so far as to buy “Scott” stickers, putting them in the front cover of many of the books, claiming them from my dad (Of course we have the same first name, so it probably didn’t bother him too much). As a result, when I think of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, my thoughts always return to those old comic books, with their aging yellow pages and the smell of time; picturing myself sitting on a chair (my feet not able to reach the ground) trying to figure out one of the longer words in front of me. Continue reading